JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

How the Pet Food Industry Has Helped Create "Carnivore Metabolic Syndrome"

Story at-a-glance
  • In part two of Dr. Becker’s three-part interview with Dr. Michael Fox, they continue their discussion of Dr. Fox’s latest book,  Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health…, and how the notion of One Health reveals itself so often in veterinary practice.
  • Dr. Fox discusses the pet obesity epidemic, which he has very fittingly dubbed “Carnivore Metabolic Syndrome,” and the fact that this is a much more serious, potentially devastating problem than we imagine.
  • Dr. Fox also points out that the results achieved through sustainable organic farming should be viewed as evidence-based medicine… as should the health benefits we see when pets are switched from processed commercial pet food to real, whole food, organically grown.
  • Dr. Becker and Dr. Fox also discuss the challenges and benefits of becoming “kitchen anarchists” … taking control of what we eat and what we feed our loved ones, including our four-legged companions.

Video:  Dr. Becker Interviews Dr. Michael W. Fox (Part 2 of 3)

Download Interview Transcript

By Dr. Becker 

Last week in part one of my three part interview with Dr. Michael W. Fox, we discussed his latest book, Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health…, which I absolutely love. We talked about the vision of One Health, which is the concept that human well-being is the sum of public health, plus environmental health, plus animal health.

We talked about how pet owners are beginning to recognize that many human health problems these days are related to dietary choices and sedentary lifestyles – and that poor nutrition and other lifestyle-related diseases are also having the same negative impact on companion animals.

"Carnivore Metabolic Syndrome"

One of the things I love about Dr. Fox’s latest book is how he ties the vision of One Health over and over again into the contents of each chapter. For example, in chapter four, titled "Harm and Be Harmed," he discusses the fact that pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are totally foreign to the natural world. When we introduce these alien agents into the environment, we should expect an unnatural and adverse reaction.

A similar situation is created when we feed our dogs and cats processed pet food, and when we vaccinate. We are introducing totally foreign substances into the bodies of our companion animals — and so we shouldn’t be surprised when our pets become ill as a result.

In Healing Animals, Dr. Fox refers to the pet obesity epidemic as Carnivore Metabolic Syndrome, or CMS. He blames the mainstream pet food industry and veterinarians who refuse to see any connection between diet and the exploding number of overweight and obese dogs and cats. He explains what happens to an animal’s body after ingesting a meal containing highly processed cereal carbohydrates:

"The ‘sugar rush’ and insulin surge (until the pancreas becomes exhausted) make many dogs and cats constantly hungry, so they quickly become obese. Owners think their animal companions love the dry food because they always want to eat it."

He also makes the excellent point that animals who become obese as the result of a biologically inappropriate processed diet are not simply being overfed and under-exercised. They are also likely developing a host of serious, chronic, often debilitating health problems in part because they are actually undernourished. This can be even more severe and include the suffering of constant hunger when overweight and obese dogs and cats are put on low cal, high fiber, but nutrient deficient diets. CMS isn’t just a simple fat storage issue – it creates long-term, systemic damage in companion animals.

In his book, Dr. Fox also explains why we are seeing so much gluten hypersensitivity and dysbiosis in both people and their pets today. He ties these problems and other immune system abnormalities to, among other things, the use of herbicides.

Sustainable Organic Agriculture is Evidence-Based Medicine

I shared with Dr. Fox that even in my relatively short veterinary career (not quite 20 years), I’m having trouble seeing light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the damage we’ve already done to the environment, our own bodies, and to the animals in our care. I asked him if he feels more optimistic.

Dr. Fox’s response is encouraging. He makes the point that our bodies (and those of our animal companions) are incredibly resilient, and so are the soils of the earth. He explains it takes five years for a farmer to transition the chemically laden soil residues from conventional farming over to fully certified organic farming. At that point, the crops become healthier and the farm animals fed those crops and byproducts becomes healthier as well.

Dr. Fox says this is evidence-based medicine. The adoption of sustainable organic agricultural practices is being shown by economic analysts to be the better way to feed the hungry world. According to Dr. Fox, we don’t need the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation providing genetically engineered crops and ever more powerful chemicals.. Practicing ecologically sound, sustainable organic agriculture makes crops more nutritious and those who eat the crops will be healthier.

Again, this is evidence-based medicine according to Dr. Fox. He has a thick file from pet owners who have either adopted his home-prepared diet for dogs and cats, which can be found on his website (www.drfoxvet.com), or they’ve gone the organically certified route and found pet food manufacturers who use clean ingredients in their formulas. And lo and behold … their pets get better.

Prenatal Diet Affects the Viability and Resilience of Offspring

Dr. Fox points out that there’s always a genetic component to consider when discussing issues of health.

The term epigenetics describes how environmental factors can affect the tuning of our genes and our response to nutrients, and later, to environmental stressors. This influence is prenatal, which means what a mother eats affects her offspring.

Scientists at the Royal Veterinary College in London fed the equivalent of human junk food to a group of pregnant rats. The rats developed diabetes, and their offspring were born preferring junk food. The baby rats became obese and diabetic as a result.

So along with problems of inbreeding and the health issues deliberately bred into many dogs and cats, we also must consider what the mothers are eating during pregnancy that may affect the viability, resilience and general well-being of their offspring.

The Rise of Kitchen Anarchists

Rather than just plugging along, doing what we’ve always done or what seems to be right without really thinking about it, Dr. Fox encourages us to become what he calls "kitchen anarchists."

He explains that when we start taking charge of what we feed our families, including the four-legged members – though it does cost more – the investment will be well worth it in terms of future health costs. And Dr. Fox reminds us there are no shortcuts when it comes to eating well, and there never will be. It does take time – and it does cost more.

He goes on to say that certainly the government, health insurance companies and drug manufacturers have a real problem with holistic and integrative healing. They’d prefer we keep eating garbage food and get sick, because it’s all part of a very profitable system – the food and drug agribusiness complex. Dr. Fox asserts that, "While we may enjoy freedom of speech in what is left of our democratic society, it’s what we choose to put into our mouths that can have more political as well as personal health significance than what comes out of them."

As a practitioner of integrative, holistic veterinary medicine, I operate from the premise that if you nourish the body with healthy, unadulterated whole foods, you will create not only genetic resiliency, but immune system enhancement and overall vitality. All these things play a role in promoting a stronger, more balanced, resilient species, generation after generation.

I try to help people understand that yes, your food costs will be higher, and yes, you’ll be spending more time and energy preparing truly nutritious foods for your family. But there will be countless immeasurable benefits from that expenditure of resources. Dr. Fox does a great job defining many of those benefits, including long term cost-savings from the health benefits, in Healing Animals, which is invaluable.

He also discusses supplements like fish body oils and trace minerals such as Sacred Earth in the book. Many pets, as we know, eat dirt from time to time. There are a wide variety of trace elements and beneficial microbial life in soil that science doesn’t know much about yet. But if we observe what goes on in nature – if we take notice that many dogs and cats eat dirt, for example – we can give nature a chance to demonstrate its bounty.

As Dr. Fox so eloquently states at the close of this second part of our interview:

"Ultimately, we’re all derivatives of nature. We can’t play the role of the dominant pioneering exploiter without causing great harm. Because when we harm the Earth, we harm ourselves. And when we demean and exploit animals, we do no less to ourselves."

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of my interview with Dr. Michael W. Fox. We’ll discuss his suggestion that humanity is at a crossroads. Will we decide to take responsibility for what we’re doing to the Earth? Will we develop reverential respect for all life? Will we obey the Golden Rule? … Or will we just make chaos out of it all, becoming less than human, and suffering physically, mentally and spiritually?

Realted:

When Raw Food is NOT the Right Food for Your Pet

Surprise, Surprise… the Best Food for Dogs Is Homemade Food

Free Homemade Dog Food Recipes

The Importance of Bones in Your Pet’s Diet

The Nutrient Your Pet Needs More of As They Age: Protein

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Good Diet and Advice for Dogs with Pancreatitis

“Holidays Are Great and Fun To Share With Our Pets, As Long As We Avoid the No-No Foods”

Gourmet Doggie Biscuits and Some Holiday Snacking Tips

Beef Verses Bison for Dogs – Variety is critical for your pet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants necessary to thrive.

Fatty Acids May Improve Mobility In Osteoarthritic Dogs

Pets and Toxic Plants

Natural Pet Remedies For Everyday Problems

Allergies and Springtime Ailments in Pets

Do Vaccinations Affect the Health of our Pets?

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pet Recipes, Pets, responsible pet ownership, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Nutrient Your Pet Needs More of As They Age: Protein

Video:  Carnivores and Protein

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In this video Dr. Karen Becker talks about your carnivorous pet’s lifelong requirement for a diet rich in high quality, natural protein.

Sources:

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

Dogs and cats need 22 amino acids to be healthy.

Dogs can synthesize (make) 12 of those 22; cats can synthesize 11 of them. The remaining amino acids must come from the food they eat, which is why they’re called ‘essential’ amino acids.

Pets get amino acids from the protein they eat. And the quality and quantity of protein is extremely important for carnivores – it’s the very foundation of their health.

Not All Protein is Created Equal

Protein quality is extremely variable. There are highly assimilable and digestible proteins (proteins your pet’s body can easily absorb and make use of), and there are proteins that are wholly indigestible. For example beaks, feet, hides, tails and snouts are 100 percent protein, but all 100 percent is indigestible.

All protein has a biologic value, which is its usable amino acid content. Eggs have the highest biologic value at 100 percent. Fish is a close second at 92 percent. Feathers, as you might guess, have zero biologic value. They are all protein, but they are neither digestible nor assimilable.

Now there are some foods high in protein that are not species-appropriate for dogs and cats. Soy is a good example, with a biologic value of 67 percent. Many popular pet foods contain soy as a protein source, as well as corn. This is an inexpensive way for pet food manufacturers to increase protein content on the guaranteed analysis printed on the label.

But because soy and corn are not species-appropriate, I don’t recommend you feed pet foods that contain it.

Unfortunately, digestion and assimilation are not measured for dog and cat foods, so manufacturers can include other types of protein that have no biologic value for the species of animal eating it (this is also why melamine was added to pet foods that killed thousands of animals). You can be fooled into thinking you’re feeding a higher-protein food, when the reality is the protein isn’t biologically appropriate for your pet.

Rendered Pet Food – The Worst of the Worst

Asking a dog’s or cat’s liver and kidneys to process low-quality, indigestible protein over a long period of time is exactly how protein in pet food got a bad rap.

In the 1940s and 1950s, there were really no high quality commercial pet foods on the market. Formulas at that time contained 100 percent run-off or rendered byproducts from the human food industry.

Pet food companies took all the pieces and parts left over at slaughterhouses, mixed them with discarded vegetables and grains not fit for human consumption, added a synthetic vitamin-mineral supplement, and called it pet food.

While there was a fair amount of protein in pet food back then, the quality was just terrible. Because the protein was so difficult for dogs and cats to digest, kidney and liver function suffered.

That’s why veterinarians around the mid-century mark started recommending lower protein senior pet foods. Senior formulas came into being because of the terrible quality of dog and cat foods on the market.

That’s why I strongly recommend if you’re feeding a rendered pet food formula – food that contains protein that is not digestible or assimilable – that you reduce the amount of protein you’re feeding. Your pet’s organs can’t process a steady diet of terrible quality protein.

Your Pet’s Protein Requirement Increases with Age

The good news is the quality of pet food has increased dramatically in the last 30 to 40 years.

And in 1992 Dr. Delmar Finco, a veterinary nutritionist, discovered protein requirements actually increase as pets age. Even in animals with kidney failure, restricting protein didn’t improve their health or longevity.

In fact, Dr. Finco’s research proved cats on low protein diets developed hypoproteinemia. They had muscle wasting, became catabolic, and lost weight. The more protein was restricted, the more ill these kitties became. Fortunately, Dr. Finco discovered it was the level of phosphorus in foods, not necessarily the amount of protein that exacerbated kidney disease.

Since that research was published, veterinary recommendations have changed. What we’re recommending for animals struggling with under-functioning kidneys and livers is that you feed really good quality protein that is highly digestible and assimilable.

We also recommend you restrict phosphorus in the diet, but not necessarily protein.

We know that cats and dogs, as carnivores, require lots of high quality protein not only to maintain good organ and immune function, but also to maintain healthy muscle mass as they go through life and the aging process.

Whole, Raw, Natural Foods Are Best

Some foods are metabolically stressful and some create low metabolic stress on your dog or cat.

Foods that generate the least amount of metabolic stress are whole, raw, unprocessed, and in their natural form. Foods that have not been dehydrated or processed are the most assimilable for your pet’s body.

These foods are biologically appropriate. All the moisture in the food remains in the food.

Foods that have been dehydrated, extruded or processed can have drastically depleted moisture content. It can drop from 70 percent down to as low as 12 percent, in fact. Your pet’s kidneys and liver become stressed due to chronic low-grade dehydration.

Dogs and especially kitties must drink lots of water to rehydrate their bodies after eating dehydrated food. This situation can stress organs that are congenitally defective or are experiencing age-related changes.

I recommend serving your pet food in its natural state to provide needed moisture, and to insure the highest level of biologic assimilation and digestion.

Appropriate Food for the Species

‘Species-appropriate’ for your dog or cat means a food that is high in protein in its natural form, and low in grain content. Your pet is a carnivore – dogs are scavenging carnivores and cats are obligate carnivores. Carnivores need to eat animal protein and fat in order to be healthy.

Foods that cause metabolic stress – those that are highly processed and/or dehydrated – are not species-appropriate. Take high-protein kibble, for example.

In recognition that dogs and cats do better on higher protein, low-grain diets, over the last 15 years there’s been movement by veterinarians and pet food companies toward formulas containing more protein and fewer carbohydrates.

I can certainly agree with that, except in situations where the food is not biologically, species-appropriate.

Pets eating a protein-based diet do just fine as long as it contains 70 to 80 percent moisture. But when you take moisture out of high protein foods, they become difficult for your pet’s body to process because of the dehydration factor. That’s why I prefer foods that are unprocessed and therefore not dehydrated.

Feed Your Pet Exactly What His Body Needs

When you’re contemplating the issue of protein for your dog or cat, it’s important to recognize you can’t save kidney function with a low protein diet.

Your carnivorous companion needs protein to be healthy throughout life, and especially as she deals with the muscle wasting that comes with the aging process.

I recommend you feed your pet food in its natural form, full of moisture and unprocessed. This will provide the best species-appropriate nourishment for your dog or cat, with an optimum level of digestion and assimilation.

Related Links:

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Dr. Becker
Dr. Becker  -  Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

*Many people now cook for their pets because they don’t want to feed raw, plus there are great recipes out there that you can actually feed your pets and eat yourself, if you are time taped, on a budge or it is just you and them..  But make sure they get what they need. Adding probiotics and vitamins to their diets, plus exercise, also does wonders!

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, dispels the long-held myth that “table food” is bad for your pets.

Animals Like People Benefit From Live Foods

Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, dispels the long-held myth that “table food” is bad for your pets.

Human, edible foods can be very healthy for your pets. Throw away the concept of “cat” food and “dog” food, and just think “food” — food that grows in the ground or comes from animal products.

A whole generation of pet owners is afraid to feed anything but over processed rendered food to their pets. But there’s no way you can create abundant health in an animal by providing only the minimum nutrients it needs for survival. Dogs and cats have a living food requirement, just like you do.

The food you feed your pet should be biologically suited to meet your dog’s or cat’s needs. Dog and cat chow may be nutritionally “complete,” but it is akin to your drinking a meal replacement shake three times a day for the rest of your life … or giving them to your kids in lieu of fresh foods.

Yet, many veterinarians will often recommend you feed your pets kibble or canned food for the rest of their lives. Some will go so far as to say that feeding your pet anything that doesn’t come from a bag or can will be harming your pet!

This is a paradigm problem, and one that can be very confusing for pet owners.

In reality, there’s no way you can give your pet the food it needs to thrive if you do not feed it a biologically appropriate diet that includes a variety of fresh foods.

In fact, a growing number of holistic-minded veterinarians state that processed pet food (kibbled and canned food) is the number one cause of illness and premature death in modern dogs and cats.

So how did conventional veterinary nutrition positions get so skewed?

Well, major dog and cat food manufacturers provide much of the veterinary nutrition information to veterinary students. It becomes engrained in many new vets’ minds that it’s wrong to feed pets “living” fresh foods.

This is a myth!

Your Pets Need Living Foods

Veterinarians tell you to never offer living foods to your pet. But your pets need living foods on a consistent basis to achieve optimal health.

So, yes, you can and should offer your pets some of the very same foods that you enjoy. And since those foods are at a much higher grade nutritionally than typical dog or cat foods, they may be the healthiest foods your pets have ever consumed.

As you know, I recommend you feed your dogs and cats an all raw, nutritionally balanced living food diet. In my opinion, the only viable excuse to not to feed your pets a species appropriate diet is cost. Feeding raw food cost more than dry food .However, raw fed animals have fewer health problems, which mean lower vet bills over a lifetime. If you cannot afford to feed your pet an all raw diet, don’t deny your pet’s access to living foods throughout the day, in the form of treats. Remember, treats (even really healthy treats) should not constitute more than 15 percent of your pet’s daily food intake.

Berries are one of the best treats you can offer. Bite size and packed with antioxidants. Many cats enjoy zucchini and cantaloupe. . My favorite training treats for dogs include peas, raw nuts (remember, the only nuts you should never feed your pets are macadamia nuts).

A salad without dressing, but with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, is also good for your cats — your pets are chewing on your houseplants for a reason, after all.

Avoid giving your carnivorous companions biologically inappropriate foods, including grains, such as oats, soy, millet, , wheat, or rice. Dogs and cats do not have a carbohydrate requirement and feeding your pets these pro-inflammatory foods creates unnecessary metabolic roadblocks to health.

Furthermore, there are certainly some foods that are toxic to feed to dogs and cats such as grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and onions. Never feed your pets these foods.

The Optimal Choice to Feed Your Pets

I highly recommend you give your dog or cat an opportunity to experience living raw foods like fruits and veggies as treats, and feed them a biologically appropriate, balanced raw diet the rest of the time.

Remember, your pet is resilient and can eat a variety of suboptimal, metabolically stressful foods on occasion and be fine, but because it’s my goal to provide a diet that most closely fits your companion’s biological requirements, I don’t recommend a lifetime of kibble or other “dead” over-processed food.

The goal is to provide a diet that mimics your pet’s biological nutritional requirements as closely as possible … in this case it means rethinking the “lifetime of dry food” or “canned food” theory.

If you are unable or unwilling to feed your pet a species-appropriate, nutritionally balanced, raw food diet, then I strongly recommend you compromise with the next best choice: USDA-approved canned foods (and supplement with raw)

My last choice would be a dry food (kibble), made from human-grade ingredients with little to no grains, and LOTS OF WATER.

But no matter which option you choose, remember that you can treat your dog and cat to berries, leafy greens, raw nuts and many other fresh fruits, veggies and meats on a regular basis.

I hope this insight will help you feel more confident offering foods and treats to your pets that are unadulterated and fresh. They deserve the same benefit of living foods that you get, and there’s no better way to start than by sharing some of these raw healthy foods with your dog or cat today.

We have always cooked for our pets, so always find it amazing, if not horrifying, that there really are pets who never get live food and who are doomed to eat the same dry food every day and that there really are pet owners who think that would be okay!!  This myth created by the pet food industry and perpetuated by pet stores who just want to sell animals, regardless of whether the potential purchasers should be pet parents and then accepted by the “ME” generation, is another one of those practices like keeping your pets in a crate all day or all night, or shock collars, electric fences and collars with spikes etc that defy all common sense and really fall into a category of pet abuse or neglect, perhaps pet abuse light… but unacceptable pet parenting to be sure!!

Would you want to eat the same packaged food everyday?  Would you want to be locked in a cage all day or all night?  Would you want to have to wait to go to the bathroom all night or most of the day, until some lets you out and says it is okay?  Would you want to receive an electric shock when you tried to talk or walk across a boundary area… or have spikes dig into you?  Would you do these things to your kids?

When making decisions for your fur-babies, you should ask yourself, “Would I want to be treated this way?  And would I make these choices for my human children?”, and then act accordingly!!  As Dr. Laura would say… Use common sense and compassion and “then go do the right thing!”.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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November 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Natural Pet Remedies For Everyday Problems

Pet FamThink natural health is for the dogs? You’re right! But it’s for cats, too, and just about any furry friend. Keep Fido and Fluffy healthy with these natural pet tips. Plus, are you spoiling your animal? Find out with our quiz…

For many people, pets are family. So it’s no surprise that owners want the best for their four-legged companions, and that may mean sharing their natural lifestyle.

“Millions of pet owners are realizing that a more proactive approach to pet health has a lot to offer,” including preventing disease and optimizing health and wellness, says veterinarian Carol Osborne, founder of the American Pet Institute in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and author of Dr. Carol’s Naturally Healthy Dogs  (Marshall Editions) and Dr. Carol’s Naturally Healthy Cats (Marshall Editions).

Many everyday pet problems – such as skin infections and arthritis – can be eased naturally. LifeScript asked animal experts for some common holistic health solutions:

1. Herbs
Herbal remedies can heal many pet irritations and illnesses.

They help the body to eliminate and detoxify, veterinarian Richard H. Pitcairn, Ph.D., says in his book Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats  (Rodale Books).

Used properly, herbs can help get rid of fleas, relieve itching and more.

  • Fill pet beds with cedar chips – fleas don’t like the smell.Repel fleas from the surroundings by sprinkling chrysanthemum flowers, lemon grass, mint, sage, lavender and basil. 
  • Vacuum floors and wash pet beds frequently.

Itching: Is your dog or cat scratching more than a kid with chicken pox?  Try Osborne’s holistic anti-itching remedy: Mix together five drops of licorice, five drops of dandelion root (a natural diuretic) and five drops of cat’s claw (a natural form of the anti-inflammatory aspirin). Give your pet five drops of the solution by mouth once a day for 14 consecutive days. 

“You give it as needed when it’s flea season or when your pet is itching because of allergies,” Osborne says.

Licorice, a form of cortisone, also reduces the urge to itch, Osborne says. “But because cortisone is a steroid, talk to your vet” before using it.

If your pet doesn’t gobble it up, try disguising the licorice with tastier flavors such as clam juice, baby food or chicken.

Car Sickness: Love to take your dog on car rides, but hate cleaning up vomit on the backseat? Good news for dogs, cats and their owners. Liquid ginger root – a natural motion sickness remedy – works like a charm, Osborne says.

 Don’t happen to have any on hand? No problem. Give Fido a ginger snap cookie to relieve nausea.

 Indigestion: An upset stomach can be uncomfortable for your pet and turn you into a 24-hour cleaning crew.

Osborne suggests holding food and water for eight hours, instead giving your four-legged friend cool or lukewarm peppermint tea to settle its stomach.

 A word of caution: Before using herbal treatments, talk to your vet. “Some herbs and supplements can be toxic if given in large quantities or to a species that cannot tolerate it,” says veterinarian Deirdre Chiaramonte of Animal Medical Center in New York.

For example, some herbs prescribed for arthritis can cause bleeding, which could be disastrous during routine surgery or dental procedure.

“You need to find a veterinarian who is familiar with natural therapies in pets so the outcome will be successful, safe and effective,” Osborne says.

2. Nosodes

Routine vaccinations can save your pet’s life, but some experts believe they also can contribute to cancers, autoimmune illnesses and allergies.

The alternative? Nosodes – or homeopathy oral vaccines – may offer protection against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus. (A nosode doesn’t exist for rabies.)

Like traditional vaccines, “they stimulate the immune system to protect the body from infection,” Osborne says.

They’re made from a dilution (one part to 90 parts alcohol) of the virus causing the illness. “Nosodes are safe, but their efficacy varies,” she says.

Even if you stick with conventional shots, your furry friend may not need them every year. An antibody titer blood test can determine if your dog’s or cat’s vaccines are still effective.

3. Nutritional Therapy

Foods can cure or prevent illnesses in animals, too. “Feeding your pet a healthy diet from the beginning will prevent many serious health issues down the road,” says Jean Hofve, a retired veterinarian in Denver, Colo.

So what should your pet be eating?

A homemade diet of organic raw meat and whole foods is ideal, Hofve says. She suggests a commercial raw diet (look for pre-made frozen or freeze-dried varieties) or canned food with a little fresh meat added a couple times a week.

Brands such as Instinctive Choice, Newman’s Own (organic), Merrick, Nature’s Variety Prairie, BG (Before Grain), Wellness, Innova, Evo, Blue Buffalo, Wellness and Avoderm are good, Hofve says.

They can be found in specialty stores, some feed stores, pet superstores, many grocery stores and online (www.onlynaturalpet.com).

If your budget doesn’t allow anything more than kibble, add fresh meat (and steamed or puréed vegetables for dogs) to give dry food a nutritional boost, she says.

 Besides a diet that’s “as close to nature as possible,” Hofve recommends four nutritional supplements for all pets:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy function of the nervous system, immune system, skin and coat
  •  Digestive enzymes to help pets digest food fully and get the most nutrients possible from food
  •  Probiotics (“friendly bacteria”) to keep the gut balanced and deter disease-causing organisms
  •  Antioxidants for a healthy immune system, normal cellular maintenance and anti-inflammatory benefits  

Skin Allergies, Ear Infections and Hot Spots: These skin-related irritations can be combated with omega-3 fatty acids in dogs.

 Healthy skin needs these anti-inflammatory oils, but nearly all dogs and most cats are fed food that’s full of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid instead, Hofve says. 

“Omega-3s soothe inflammation, benefit the nervous system and provide the building blocks the skin needs to heal.”

 She recommends Nordic Naturals pet products for omega-3 fatty acids. Other rich sources are sardines, anchovies, herring and menhaden.

Gastritis and Vomiting: Dry food eaters are more prone to stomach issues because of additives and preservatives, Hofve says. A raw or homemade whole-food diet of cooked white rice and lightly browned ground lamb or turkey will eliminate the problem.

 Digestive enzymes and probiotics will also help support and balance the gut, she says. And blue-green algae, spirulina and chlorella contain antioxidants, trace elements and enzymes for healing.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): “This is almost purely a dry food problem,” Hofve says. “Diet is the primary treatment.”

 She recommends switching to a diet high in protein, high in moisture and low in carbohydrates. Canned, homemade and raw foods fill the bill.

Nutritional therapy aims to reduce inflammation and rebuild the bladder’s natural defenses, Hofve says. 

Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory action, while glucosamine sulfate gives the cells in the bladder lining the building blocks to maintain the protective mucus coat.

4. Acupuncture

Can’t imagine your dog or cat sitting still long enough for acupuncture?

“Most animals are much better than you would think,” says certified veterinary acupuncturist Nicole Schiff, who practices at Western Veterinary Group in Lomita, Calif., and City of Angeles Veterinary Specialty Center in Culver City, Calif.

Just like in people, acupuncture involves putting needles into specific points on your pet’s body to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue to promote healing and ease pain.

“It changes pain pathways that travel through the body and helps release endorphins, which help to block pain as well,” Schiff says.

The practice – which Schiff says should complement, not replace, Western medicine – can help reduce arthritis pain, lessen inflammation and intestinal problems, ease skin and ear infections, promote healing of wounds and aid post-stroke treatment.

 An average acupuncture session lasts 15 minutes and can cost $75 to $200 for the first visit and $50 to $150 for ongoing treatme

For the safest, best results, says Schiff, visit a veterinarian trained in acupuncture. Your regular vet may refer a certified veterinary acupuncturist or check the International Association Veterinary Acupuncture Association Web site at www.ivas.org

Adverse side effects are rare. The most common problem is that an animal simply doesn’t respond to treatment. Also, it’s not uncommon for a pet to feel tired for a day or two after treatment.

Want to know more? Get your own copies of Dr. Carol’s Naturally Healthy Dogs, Dr. Carol’s Naturally Healthy Cats and Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

By Shanna Thompson, Special to LifeScript – Published May 08, 2009

Visit the following Web sites for more about natural pet care:

Complementary, Alternative & Holistic Veterinary Medicine
www.altvetmed.org

 Academy for Veterinary Homeopathy

www.theavh.org

 American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

www.ahvma.org  

Posted:  Just One More Pet – May 08, 2009 3:45AM

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May 8, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Political Change, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments