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Help Your Dog Overcome These 3 Common Allergies…

Story at-a-glance
  • Three very common allergies in dogs include flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies and environmental allergies.
  • Treating your dog’s symptoms is only a temporary fix.
  • It’s extremely important to find the root cause of an allergic reaction.
  • Tips to relieve the suffering of your allergic dog.

By Dr. Becker

If your dog seems to have an allergic condition, it’s important to get an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you can.

Unlike the vast majority of traditional DVMs, I wholeheartedly disagree your pet should be started right away on a regimen of anti-allergy drugs and antibiotics and/or anti-viral medications.

There are safer ways to relieve your dog’s symptoms than pharmaceuticals while you and your vet work to discover the root cause of the allergic reaction.

Relieving symptoms without addressing the source of the problem is a short term fix to what can become a lifelong health problem. And certain drugs used to stop the allergic cycle have significant, potentially very serious side effects.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Flea allergy dermatitis, which is actually sensitivity to flea saliva, is a very common condition in dogs. It’s not the bite of the flea that causes most of the itching in dogs with FAD, it’s the saliva.

The saliva causes irritation way out of proportion to the actual number of fleas on the pup.

Lots of dog parents assume if their pet isn’t infested with fleas, the itching can’t be caused by fleas. But if your dog has FAD, the saliva of just one or two fleas can make him miserably itchy and uncomfortable for many weeks (long past the death of those two fleas).

Suggestions for flea control:

  • If you suspect or know fleas are a problem for your dog, I recommend you comb her at least once daily, every day during pest season with a flea comb. Do this on a white towel or other light colored cloth so you can see what’s coming off your dog as you comb. Flea ‘dirt’ (actually flea feces) looks like real dirt, but when suspended in a little rubbing alcohol or water will dissolve and release a red color (blood) allowing you to discern real dirt from flea dirt.
  • Bathe your dog often. A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy. Also, clean animals aren’t as attractive to fleas. Pick a non-grain (no oatmeal) herbal shampoo.
  • Make liberal use of an all-natural pest repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense during flea season.

For some dogs with a serious case of flea allergy dermatitis, I prescribe an oral drug called Comfortis. It is a chemical, but it’s considered the least hazardous of all similar drugs. All drugs can have side effects, but Comfortis has reportedly fewer than topical insecticides.

Food Allergies

If your dog has an allergy to something he’s eating, it may show itself not only as digestive upset (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), but also as one or several of these symptoms:

  • Itchy or oozing skin
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing or sneezing; asthma
  • Inflamed ears
  • Swollen paws

If you suspect your dog is sensitive to something in her diet, there are a number of things you can do to learn the source of the allergy and solve the problem:

  • If your dog is over a year old, consider using Dr. Jean Dodds’ Nutriscan saliva test to determine if your pet is allergic to beef, corn, wheat, soy, eggs and/or milk (the most common antigens for dogs). Dr. Dodds will be adding additional antigens to the test in the near future.
  • If your pet has been eating the same food every day for months or years, there’s a good chance she’s developed an allergy to it. Contrary to what you’ve probably been led to believe, pets need diversity in their diets just like humans do. She might be sensitive to the single source of chemically-laced protein she’s been getting (chances are the meat is loaded with antibiotics and hormones causing immune system over-reaction). She’s also probably grown sensitive to certain allergenic ingredients in the food, typically grains and other carbohydrates.
    Work with your holistic vet to develop an allergy elimination diet to help pinpoint the source of the problem. I recommend a three-month diet, which is longer than what many vets suggest. I like to give adequate time for an animal’s body to clear the allergenic substances, detoxify, and clean out cellular debris.
    At the end of the elimination diet, new foods are added back in slowly, one at a time to gauge your dog’s response. It’s not uncommon for pets to be able to re-incorporate previous problem foods or clean proteins into the diet once the body is detoxified and the GI tract is healthy again.
  • Your holistic vet should also suggest natural supplements to help with detoxification, allergy relief and immune system support during and after the elimination diet.
  • To be optimally healthy — which includes avoiding food sensitivities and building resistance to all types of allergies — your dog should be fed a balanced, species-appropriate diet. The diet I recommend is preferably raw, either homemade (again, as long as it’s balanced) or commercial. Rotating the protein sources your dog eats is extremely important, as is strictly limiting or eliminating grains.

Environmental Allergies

In addition to flea saliva and certain foods/ingredients, your dog can also be allergic to an infinite variety of irritants in the environment. These can be outdoor allergens like ragweed, grasses and pollens, as well as indoor irritants like mold, dust mites, cleaning chemicals and even fabrics like wool or cotton.

As a general rule, if your dog is allergic to something inside your home, he’ll have year-round symptoms. If he’s reacting is to something outdoors, it could very well be a seasonal problem.

Also, your pet’s immune system is partly genetic, so he can actually inherit a tendency toward environmental allergies.

Finding the root cause of this type of allergy is extremely important, because what usually happens is the more your pet is exposed to an irritant, the more his sensitivity and reaction to it grows.

Some suggestions for finding and resolving environmental irritants:

  • Clean up your pet’s indoor air environment. Don’t allow smoking around your pet. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products. Consider investing in an air purifier to control dust mites.
  • Make sure your dog’s drinking water is high quality and doesn’t contain fluoride, heavy metals or other contaminants.
  • Don’t allow your dog to be over-vaccinated or over medicated. Vaccines rev up your pet’s immune system – too many vaccinations can send it into overdrive. An over-reactive immune system sets the stage for allergic conditions.
    Antibiotics wipe out good bacteria right along with the bad guys. Since the majority of your pet’s immune system is in her GI tract, the right balance of gut bacteria is crucial for her health. There’s also the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in pets.
    Steroid therapy (prednisone, for example) is often prescribed for pets with allergies. What these drugs do is turn off the immune system so it stops creating the allergic response. It does work for symptom relief, but unfortunately, the side effects make this a very serious, potentially dangerous drug.
  • Bathe your dog. If your pet has irritated skin, bathing will rinse the allergens away and make her feel better immediately. Don’t be shy about how often you bathe your pet, especially if she suffers from allergies that itch and irritate her skin.
    If you suspect something outdoors is irritating your dog, in between baths, do foot soaks. Chances are the allergen is coming inside on your pet’s feet. She can’t escape it, and she’s spreading it around indoors to every room she visits.

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holistic Medicine Cures Estie of Her Seizures and Allergies

Story at-a-glance
  • Estie, a darling Italian Greyhound, was growing progressively sicker with a seizure disorder and allergies. Fortunately, her smart parents located an integrative veterinarian who successfully treated their pet using homeopathic remedies and natural supplements. Estie was well on the road to a complete recovery in less than a month.
  • Between now and March 17, 2013, $1 donated to the AHVM Foundation will be automatically tripled. That’s right – Mercola Healthy Pets will contribute $2 for every $1 donation to the foundation from March 11 through March 17, 2013.

Dr. Becker:

From the AHVM Foundation

EstieWhen my dog Estie, an Italian Greyhound, was about 2-3 years old, she developed seizures and severe allergies. We visited several veterinary clinics around the South Bay area of southern California to find out the reason for her seizures and to control her allergies.

We received the same advice: once a day medicine for seizures.

We decided not to take that route and tried to control it with diet instead.

Sadly the food changes we tried did not work well and her allergies were getting progressively worse. She would scratch her jaw area all day and night until she bled. Her eyes would have constant discharge. Every time we went to see a vet (at least once a month), we would receive steroids and antibiotics. They would lessen her symptoms, but never cure her completely. Every two weeks following the medicine, her symptoms would start again and become more and more severe.

About a year into her declining health, we heard about integrative medicine for animals. First visit with the integrative veterinarian changed my dog’s existence. It was explained to us that she had a "tired" liver from processing the toxins associated with allergies. With a few homeopathics and natural supplements; i.e. enzymes, natural eye drops, etc., my dog’s allergies began to disappear. She stopped itching in about two weeks. The discharge from her eyes was gone in about two to three weeks. Her hair became shiny. Her seizures became very rare, unless she had fatty food.

Managing her diet was important but she needed more tools and these really helped her.

None of the symptoms ever came back. Estie is 11 years old now and we hope others learn more about integrative medicine. Our family certainly supports such research.

Signed,

Alla K

See Video: How can you make a difference?

I’m tremendously excited to announce that now through March 17, 2013, all donations will be automatically tripled. That’s right! For every $1 donated, Mercola Healthy Pets will donate an additional $2. So please, take a moment right now to Be One in a Million and make a donation to the AHVM Foundation.

March 11, 2013 Posted by | Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If Your Dog is Itchy or Your Cat is Wheezy, You Need to Read This

Story at-a-glance
  • According to a recent survey, over half of pet owners aren’t aware their dog or cat can also be miserable with seasonal allergies in the spring and summer months.
  • Allergies are extremely common in today’s cats and dogs, and take the form of either food or environmental allergies, including seasonal allergies. Some unlucky pets develop allergies in both categories.
  • Symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs and cats are most frequently skin-related and include itchiness, inflammation, and hot spots. Allergic animals can also have ear problems and respiratory issues.
  • Seasonal allergies can turn into a year-round problem if steps aren’t taken to prevent exposure, aggressively manage symptoms, and insure your pet’s immune system is strong and resilient.
  • There are many things you as a pet owner can do to help diminish the effects of your pet’s allergic condition.

By Dr. Becker

Did you know your dog or cat can suffer from seasonal allergies just as you do?

According to a survey conducted by Novartis Animal Health, over half of pet owners aren’t aware their fuzzy family members can also spend the spring season feeling miserable thanks to pollens and other environmental allergens.

Two Categories of Pet Allergies

There are primarily two types of allergies: food allergies and environmental allergies. If your pet gets itchy during spring, summer or fall, she’s probably reacting to seasonal, environmental allergens. But if her symptoms continue year-round, it’s more likely her sensitivity is to something more constant in her environment, or to something in her diet.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, however. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a hard freeze in the winter, environmental allergens can build up and cause year-round issues for your pet. In addition, seasonal allergies can progress to year-round allergies, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Signs Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies

Unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs and cats more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation – a condition called allergic dermatitis.

If your pet has allergies, her skill will become very itchy. She’ll start scratching excessively, and might bite or chew at certain areas of her body. She may rub herself against vertical surfaces like furniture, or she may rub her face against the carpet. She’s trying to relieve the miserable itchiness by any means possible.

As the itch-scratch cycle continues, her skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.

Hot spots can develop as well in dogs (hot spots are rarely seen in cats). A hot spot is inflamed, infected skin that occurs when your dog’s natural bacteria overwhelms an area of his skin. Typically the skin will be very red, and often there is bleeding and hair loss.

Other Signs to Watch For

Pets with allergies also often have problems with their ears – especially dogs. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed as part of a generalized allergic response, or they may grow infected with yeast or bacteria.

Signs your pet’s ears are giving him problems include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odor and a discharge from the ears.

While respiratory symptoms aren’t common in pets with allergies, they do occur. A running nose, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing are typical allergic symptoms in both two- and four-legged allergy sufferers.

Typically pets with seasonal allergies to ragweed, grasses, pollens, molds and trees, also develop sensitivity to other allergens inhaled through the nose and mouth. Animals with weaknesses in their lung fields can develop sinusitis and bronchitis, just as people do.

Another sign to watch for if you suspect your pet has allergies is generalized redness. Allergic pets often have puffy red eyes, red oral tissue, a red chin, red paws and even a red anus.

How Seasonal Allergies Can Turn Into Year-Round Allergies

Allergic reactions are produced by your pet’s immune system, and the way his immune system functions is a result of both nature (his genetics) and nurture (his environment).

I often see the following history with allergic pets who visit my practice:

  • A young pup or kitten, maybe 4 to 6 months old, begins with a little red tummy, itchy ears, and maybe a mild infection in one ear. His regular vet treats the pup symptomatically to provide him some relief.
  • The following year as soon as the weather warms up, the pet is brought back to his regular vet with very itchy feet, another ear infection, and a hotspot or two. Again, the vet treats the symptoms (hopefully not with steroids) until the weather turns cold and the symptoms disappear.
  • Year three, the same pet suffers from May through September with red, inflamed skin, maybe some hair loss, more hotspots, frequent ear and skin infections, and a tendency to chew his paws or scratch until he bleeds.
  • By year five, all the symptoms have grown significantly worse and the animal’s suffering is now year-round.

This is what usually happens with seasonal environmental allergies. The more your pet is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes.

With my regular patients (those who start out life as patients of my practice), I begin addressing potential root causes at the first sign of an allergic response, which is usually around six months of age. I do this to reduce the risk of an escalating response year after year.

Helping a Pet with Seasonal Allergies

Since the allergen load your environmentally sensitive pet is most susceptible to is much heavier outdoors, two essential steps in managing her condition are regular foot soaks and baths during the warmer months when all those triggers are in bloom.

Dermatologists recommend this common sense approach for human allergy sufferers. If you have hypersensitivities, your doctor will tell you to shower at night and in the morning to remove allergens from the surface of your body. I recommend you do the same for your dog or cat.

  • Frequent baths give complete, immediate relief to an itchy pet and wash away the allergens on the coat and skin. Make sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo.
  • Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over her indoor environment.
  • Keep the areas of your home where your pet spends most of her time as allergen-free as possible. Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding frequently using simple, non-toxic cleaning agents rather than household cleaners containing chemicals.
  • Because allergies are an immune system response, it’s important to keep your pet’s immune function optimal. This means avoiding unnecessary vaccinations and drugs. And I do not recommend you vaccinate your pet during a systemic inflammatory response. Vaccines stimulate the immune system, which is the last thing your pet with seasonal environmental allergies needs. Talk to your holistic vet about titers to measure your pet’s immunity to core diseases as an alternative to automatically vaccinating.
  • If you haven’t already, move your pet to an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods that create or worsen inflammation are high in carbohydrates. Your allergic pet’s diet should be very low in grain content.
  • Research has shown that ‘leaky gut,’ or dysbiosis, is a root cause of immune system overreactions, so addressing this issue with a holistic vet is an important aspect of reducing allergic reactions over time.

Allergy-Fighting Supplements

Quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I call it ‘nature’s Benadryl’ because it does a great job suppressing histamine release from mast cells and basophiles.

Histamine is what causes much of the inflammation, redness and irritation characteristic of an allergic response. By turning off histamine production with a quercetin supplement, we can suppress or at least moderate the effects of inflammation.

Quercetin also has some other wonderful properties. It inhibits 5-lipooxygenase, an enzyme that upregulates the inflammatory cascade. Quercetin inhibits the production of leukotrienes, another way the body creates inflammation, thereby decreasing the level of bronchoconstriction. Bronchoconstriction occurs in the lung fields as a symptom of asthma. Quercetin can actually suppress how much constriction occurs.

Bromelain and papain. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes that increase the absorption of quercetin, making it work more effectively. They also suppress histamine production.

One of the reasons I use quercetin, bromelain and papain together is they also suppress prostaglandin release. Prostaglandins are another pathway by which inflammation can occur. By suppressing prostaglandins, we can decrease the pain and inflammation associated with irritated mucous membranes and body parts. Using the three substances in combination provides some natural pain and inflammation control.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diet of all pets — particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies – is very beneficial. The best sources of omega 3s are krill oil, salmon oil, tuna oil, anchovy oil and other fish body oils.

Coconut oil. I also recommend coconut oil for allergic pets. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast. Using a fish body oil with coconut oil before inflammation flares up in your pet’s body can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.

Advanced Allergy Therapy (AAT) for pets

Many holistic vets have added AAT to there medical bag.  Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT) is a non-invasive treatment that provides fast, long-term relief from the many symptoms associated with allergies and sensitivities, used for humans as well as animals.

Related:

Allergies and Springtime Ailments in Pets

Free Homemade Dog Food Recipes

June 22, 2012 Posted by | Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Allergies and Springtime Ailments in Pets

Help Stop the Itch-And-Scratch-Bite-And-Lick!

Itch Scratch Bite Lick

Allergies can cause misery for pets and humans alike. But allergies in animals are not always easy to diagnose and treat.

All dogs and cats can get allergies, and the most common reaction is scratching.

Allergies are a real head-banger. They are frustrating for vets, they’re frustrating for clients and the dogs and cats itch like crazy so we know it is frustrating for them. Allergies are very challenging to diagnose accurately because it’s a diagnosis of exclusion. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time. It takes a very dedicated owner.

There are four kinds of pet allergies: airborne (tree, grass and weed pollen; mold, mildew and dust mites), fleas, food and contact (like carpeting or detergent). The most common pet allergy comes from fleas.

People and pets can cause each other problems: People can be allergic to pet hair or dander and pets can be allergic to products humans use.

Most pet allergies cause scratching. Some other symptoms include discoloration of hair between toes, rashes, open sores, watery eyes, ear infections, runny noses, vomiting and diarrhea.

Most pet owners will try to help their pets with allergies, The signs are so annoying and so significant, it rarely goes untreated. The scratching drives owners crazy. Beyond money, it takes time. If a pet is hurting, the owner wants a quick fix and it can take months, going on years, to find the answer.

Flea allergies pose unique problems. “One flea can jump on a dog, bite it and keep it symptomatic for seven days.

h/t to the Arbor Hills Veterinary Centre

 

FLEA & TICK REPELLENT DOG FOOD RECIPE

NOTES:

  1. USE ONCE A MONTH TO CONTROL FLEAS & TICKS.
  2. IF YOU DO NOT FEED RAW EGG; THEN, ADD EGG TO THE MEAT WHILE STILL HOT.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked hamburger meat, fat drained
  • 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast
  • 1 fresh garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 raw egg

Directions:

  1. Cook hamburger meat in skillet until browned, set aside to cool.
  2. Combine egg, garlic, and brewer’s yeast.
  3. Add mixture from step 2 to hamburger meat, stir until blended well.
  4. Serve a little warm.

Related:

10 Dangerous Everyday Things in Your Home

Harmony and Health – Creating Wellness for Your Pet

Does Lead in Toys Pose Danger to Pets?

 

JustOneMorePet – Photo by PetMD

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How Cigarettes and Smoking Impact Your Pet’s Health

dog, pet, smokingA growing body of research shows there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke — for humans or for animals. And one new study shows that nearly 30 percent of pet owners live with at least one smoker — a number far too high given the consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS).

An estimated 50,000 Americans lose their lives to secondhand smoke annually and 4 million youth (16 percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. A number of studies have indicated that animals, too, face health risks when exposed to the toxins in secondhand smoke, from respiratory problems, allergies and even nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.

In addition, the ASPCA, one of the largest animal rights groups in the U.S., lists tobacco smoke as a toxin that is dangerous to pets. Said Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, medical director of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center:

“Nicotine from secondhand smoke can have effects to the nervous systems of cats and dogs. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans.”

In order to better protect dogs, cats or other pets, the foundation and ASPCA recommend that smokers — who often consider their domestic pets a part of the family — “take it outside” when they are smoking.

Source: Dr. Becker

Posted:  Just One More Pet

September 17, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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