Written by top op
Top tips to help your dog live a
long, healthy life.
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10 tips for a long life Top pet food ingredients to avoid Top 10 tips for training your dog The latest on vaccination 3 proactive ways to save money on vet bills 7 tips for safe, stress-free grooming Essential oils for your dog How to stop play-biting and jumping up Titer testing FAQs 4 top nutrients every animal needs
By Deva Khalsa, VMD
You want your furry friend to be with you as long as possible. Incorporating these suggestions into his care will help ensure his health and longevity.
You want to improve your dogâ€™s health, but it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many factors to be considered. Taking a holistic approach by looking at all aspects of his care and lifestyle is a good starting point. This checklist of ten tips will help enhance his health and lengthen his life (and maybe yours too)! Continued on next page.
4 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Nurture WITH NUTRITION As conscientious consumers, ingredient lists on our own food.
We need to do the same for our animals. Look for labels that state whole meat ingredients like chicken, beef or lamb – not poultry byproducts, etc. Choose superior brands of pet food that promise healthier ingredients. When you’re in the mood, you can do some good ol’ home cookin’ for your best friend. It’s easy and fun to make delicious treats at home.
I like to think of vitamins and minerals as a form of supplemental health insurance for animals, providing the nutrients needed to maintain health. A quality daily supplement is the most valuable contribution you can make to your dog or cat’s longevity. To be truly effective, vitamins and minerals need to be balanced, complete and able to be absorbed by the body. For example, powdered dry bone meal, often used in pet supplements, can’t be absorbed, so there’s no nutritional value. Read and compare labels carefully. Choose vitamins that state the milligrams or International Units on the label, and that contain high quality ingredients. Continued on next page.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 5
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A new puppy may be stressed – particularly if he just came from a shelter or rescue. Take him for vaccinations when his systems are strong and balanced. Never vaccinate an animal compromised by an infection or illness. Previously vaccinated dogs can get blood tests that register titers or immune memory in lieu of certain vaccines. Research has shown that after their one-year boosters, many dogs are protected for five to seven years or longer, depending on the vaccine.
Holistic treatments and therapies are powerful tools that complement and enhance the body’s innate ability to rebalance and restore itself, thus helping your animal overcome illness and disease. Holistic medicine provides gentle but effective guidance that can remedy many diseases and health problems without the side effects so often associated with more conventional forms of medicine. Many holistic modalities and techniques are available. It helps to know which treatment is best for your companion’s specific problem. Chinese herbs work wonderfully with diabetes. Acupuncture and spinal manipulation effectively treat back problems. Allergy elimination techniques like NAET work well for both dogs and cats, while homeopathic remedies treat a wide spectrum of medical problems.
Consider THE CELLS
Thinking small has a big effect on longevity. Your animal’s body has trillions of cells organized into specialized tissues and organs. Every cell is in the business of living, and if they all succeed, your dog will live a longer and healthier life. We typically evaluate food in terms of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. But the real value is in the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that food contains; these are the tools that cells need to maintain and prolong life. We couldn’t maintain our homes without mops, hammers and nails. Just so, our cells can’t clean out wastes like carcinogens and toxins without the vitamins and minerals that cells need to do their important jobs.
6 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Italian researchers have found that eating as little as one cup of raw vegetables daily can add two years to your life. Today, scientific research is proving what Hippocrates said hundreds of years ago: “Let food be thy medicine.”
Phtytochemicals, contained in what are now aptly dubbed superfoods, have well-documented health benefits. The beautiful colors of many fruits and vegetables are doing a lot more than just looking pretty. Dark vibrant green kale leaves are rich in compounds with long names like glucosinolates and sulforaphanes. These help cells “clean up after the party” and clear carcinogenic substances more quickly.
Adding a bit of green to your companion’s diet can do as much good for the planet as it can for him. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer. Our canine friends love everything from a piece of apple to a broccoli stem.
Create a dog-friendly outdoor environment by using natural fertilizers and pest control. In 2004, the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine linked bladder cancer in Scottish terriers to exposure to lawn chemicals. Rain creates a mist of these chemicals that lingers at the body height of dogs – and many of these animals enjoy chewing occasional blades of grass. “Green” toys accomplish the same goals as more traditional toys, but impact the environment less. Non-organic cotton uses more insecticides than any other major crop. Many companies now offer toys, collars and leashes made from organic cotton, hemp or recycled materials.
Regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for all of us – humans and dogs. Setting aside some time to play with her every day is a great way to give her the exercise she needs, and will improve your own quality of life. All dogs need exercise, even notorious couchpotato breeds. Taking your dog for a long brisk walk is the perfect excuse for you to get some exercise too!
A yearly health check helps detect problems before they become serious. Older animals should get yearly blood panels to monitor their health. Those that live in tick-infested regions of the country need yearly blood tests so any tickborne diseases can be treated promptly, avoiding long term complications.
Dogs are social animals. Social animals don’t want to be alone – they want company and interesting interactions.
Relationships are an important part of health. Strong bonds with others means protection from loneliness and depression. It works both ways. Healthier animals are happier and happier animals are healthier. Just as important is that both humans and animals benefit from quality time spent together. We enjoy walks more if we can take a dog along and watch him sniff and explore. Animals and people create a special winning combination. If our animals could tell us one thing, it might be, “Take time to stop and smell the roses, and enjoy life with me.”
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TOP PET FOOD INGREDIENTS TO AVOID By Ann Brightman
From by-products to soy to rendered fats – here’s what to steer clear of when buying food for your dog. Educating yourself about healthy nutrition for your dog may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. One of the best ways to begin is learning how to read pet food labels, so you can avoid the ingredients harmful to your pet’s health. A good pet food is made from whole food ingredients, including named meats, fresh veggies and fruit, herbs and healthy oils. But most cheap commercial diets contain things your dog shouldn’t be eating, such as by-products, corn, soy, unnamed meat or grain meals, rendered fat, artificial preservatives and coloring. If you see any of these bad guys in the ingredients list of a pet food, put the product back on the shelf. To help get you started, here’s a closer look at some of the worst offenders.
spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.” At first glance, this might not sound too bad, since wild carnivores consume the organs of their prey along with the muscle meat. The problem is, by-products in cheap pet foods often come from diseased, dead, dying or disabled animals, and that’s not healthy for your dog.
ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES, COLORS AND FLAVORS In the preservative category, the three main culprits are BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. They can cause or exacerbate allergies and may even be carcinogenic. Look for natural preservatives such as rosemary or vitamin E.
BY-PRODUCTS By-products encompass the waste left over from the production of feed animals, and in many cases may not contain much actual meat. AAFCO defines unnamed by-products as “non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs,
8 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
A lot of pet foods made from cheap ingredients contain artificial colors and flavors to make them look, smell and taste better. Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellows 5 and 6 are examples of artificial colorings. You can also sometimes tell by looking at the food whether or not it has been artificially colored, especially when it comes to kibble. Unrealistic pinks and reds are a sign that the food contains artificial colors. Also be sure to check labels for any artificial flavorings.
Quality foods made from nutritious ingredients don’t need these additives because they’re already naturally palatable!
CORN AND SOY Corn and soy are often used as cheap protein substitutes in commercial pet foods. However, they’re not an adequate source of protein for our carnivorous dogs. Corn provides more carbohydrates than anything else, and can contribute to a range of health issues, such as diabetes, weight gain and allergies. Soy is another common allergen in pet foods, and both corn and soy are usually genetically modified – another strike against them. The presence of corn and/or soy ingredients in a pet food means it contains more carbs than protein and isn’t a good choice for your dog.
RENDERED FAT AND MEAT MEALS It sounds innocuous, but rendered fat can contain a host of nasty substances. Rendering involves converting waste animal tissue into “value-added” materials. This tissue can include slaughterhouse waste such as fatty tissues and offal, restaurant grease, expired meat from grocery stores, meat from animals that have died on farms or in transit, and other questionable products. These materials are ground up and cooked for long periods so that the fat separates out from the solids. This fat is then added to commercial pet foods to help make them smell and taste better.
The solids left over from the rendering process become “meat meals” that are used as cheap protein sources in low end pet foods. Unfortunately, meat meals usually only contain around 50% protein – the rest is made up of ash (which in itself is not good for your dog), fat and moisture.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL Used to maintain moisture content and add flavor to low quality dog foods, propylene glycol is the chemical that’s also found in “pet-friendly” antifreeze. Though the FDA categorizes propylene glycol as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe), it’s not something you want your dog to be consuming on a regular basis through his food. In dogs, propylene glycol poisoning would typically be caused by the consumption of a large quantity of antifreeze. Quantities of this chemical in pet foods are not large enough to cause that level of toxicity, but the long-term consumption of small amounts of propylene glycol over time may be harmful, so it’s best avoided altogether. By becoming a savvy pet food label-reader, and avoiding these harmful, low-end ingredients, you’re taking a big step towards protecting your dog’s health and longevity.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 9
for training your dog
By Paul Owens
SET YOUR DOG UP FOR SUCCESS WITH THESE SUGGESTIONS FOR POSITIVE TRAINING.
raining simply means educating your dog in a safe and loving environment, and teaching her she can get whatever she wants through her actions, as long as she checks with you first. Training should begin the moment you first bring your dog home, whether she’s a seven-week-old puppy or a nine-year-old rescue.
1PLAN AHEAD Collect everything you and your new dog will need, including highly valued treats, a bed, a proper collar, a six-foot nylon leash, tethers and a training clicker if you choose to use one. Create an environment that will promote success by puppy-proofing your house (remove inappropriate chewing objects like shoes, stuffed animals and the remote control), and appropriately using kennels, baby gates and exercise pens.
2MAKE A BEHAVIORAL WISH LIST T Positive training isn't about teaching your our dog to stop doing something. It’s about teaching him what you want him to do instead. If you don’t know what you want him to do, he won’t be able to figure it out either, and both of you will end up barking at one another in frustration. For example, it isn't about how you can get Buster to stop jumping; it's about teaching him to lie down when people come through the door. It isn't about getting him to stop chewing slippers; it’s about teaching him to chew appropriate toys and ignore slippers. Make a wish list of likes (desired behaviors) and dislikes (unwanted behaviors). Then you can proactively teach your dog exactly what she is supposed to do rather than reactively try to correct unwanted behaviors.
10 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
4MAINTAIN REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS Older or larger dogs can’t always do what younger or smaller ones can do – and vice versa. Train at your dog’s individual learning rate and also take her physical and emotional abilities into account.
5BE POSITIVE AND HAVE FUN
3USE CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION We often inadvertently teach our dogs to do exactly what we don’t want them to do. For example, if you don’t want your dog to jump on you, don’t reinforce the jumping by occasionally petting him when he jumps. Be consistent and always have him sit or lie down before being petted. A big problem people have is getting their dog to “stay”. This also has to do with inconsistent communication. For example, don’t say “stay” and then walk out the door without releasing your dog from the command. She’ll quickly learn that she can get up whenever she wants. You must give her a clear signal when you ask for a behavior – and another clear signal to complete it.
If it’s not fun for you, it’s not fun for your dog. Physical punishment and aversive training methods are not necessary and do nothing to promote or foster safety, patience, kindness and compassion. If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated, ing session and stop the training try again later. Positive training methodss are or you far less stressful for and your dog, since the attitude is that ck. everything is a trick.
Mixed messages also often cause confusion and unreliable behavior. For instance, don’t say “sit down” if you mean “lie down”. Don’t say “down” if you mean “off”, as in “get off the furniture” or “get off me” when the dog jumps. Make sure every family member is using the same signals.
6TRAIN INCREMENTALLY Remember this line: “If your dog won’t do what you want him to do, go back to the step at which he was successful.” There are basically three steps to every behavior: 1. Get the behavior. 2. Add the command (e.g. sit, down, come, etc.). 3. Add the three “Ds” of distance, duration and distraction, in baby steps. The big secret of successful dog training is that dogs are contextual. This means if you teach your dog to sit on the living room carpet, you have to start over again on the tile floor in the kitchen. If you teach a dog to sit while you are kneeling, you may have to start over again when you stand up. Each of these is a distinct context or situation and you have to teach your dog what you want when you change the scene. If you find yourself thinking, “My dog knows this, he’s just being stubborn,” think again. Have you actually taught your dog to stay with the vacuum cleaner running, or while you are standing ten feet away from her? Continued on next page.
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7KEEP SESSIONS SHORT Training sessions can last from ten seconds to five minutes. That’s all you need. In fact, several twoor three-minute sessions a day are better than one or two lengthy ones. By keeping each session short, you can keep your dog highly motivated and anticipating the next one.
8REINFORCE SPONTANEOUS BEHAVIORS Half of all your training will not be done in formal sessions. Instead, by practicing the “Magnet Game”, you can reward your dog whenever you catch her doing something you like. For example, whenever you see her sit or lie down, or pick up a toy, or look at the cat instead of chasing him, reward her. All these unasked for behaviors can act like “magnets” that attract praise, affection and treats. Your dog will quickly learn how to attract you and your rewards and will start sitting or lying down more and more often. Or she will start bringing you toys or looking at you instead of chasing the cat. At first, give her the best treats you have when you catch her doing these behaviors. Gradually, praise and “life rewards” (getting to go for walks, chase a ball, get up on the couch, etc.) w will replace the food, and the behaviors will eventually becom established as rewards in and of themselves. become
9GIVE YOUR DOG A JOB TO DO If you don’t give your dog a job, she e will become self-employed by doing things you don’t want her to, such as digging up flowers, chewing shoes, barking excessively at people, etc. Become your dog's employer. Employment is important because it not only provides the stimulation your dog needs but it also promotes and develops a sense of self, purpose and pride. The objective of giving your dog a job is not to stop unwanted behaviors but to make you the boss. When you become his employer, you tell him when and where he should carry out a behavior…or not. This means the “gardener” dog learns to dig in a sandbox, while the “home decorator” chews on toys instead of chair legs or cushions. The “alarm system” dog learns to bark three times when the mail carrier or visitor arrives, and then to lie down quietly.
12 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
10ASK FOR HELP Last but not least, ask for help if you can’t figure out how to train your dog, especially if you don’t know how to solve a particular problem. Aggression always calls for a professional positive trainer. Get referrals from your veterinarian, your friends, or from apdt.com. Interview each one and ask questions about the methods they use. Do they ever use choke chains or shock collars? Or pin dogs on their backs? This isn’t how you want your best friend treated. Successful dog training is rooted in good old common sense, and in learning to anticipate problems before they happen. Train with love, affection and consistency and, above all, keep yourself and your dog safe.
The latest on
VACCINATION We’ve known about the risks of over-vaccination for awhile now, though many veterinarians, trainers, boarding kennel operators and others still promote yearly boosters. Learn which vaccines are really necessary, and when, and how to protect your companion from their side effects. By W. Jean Dodds, DVM
By now, many savvy animal lovers are aware of the dangers of over-vaccination, and are opting against annual boosters for their dogs. While there’s no doubt that vaccines effectively protect companion animals against serious infectious disease, there’s also no doubt that over-vaccination can cause serious disease of a different kind.
annual “wellness visit”. Another reason for the reluctance to change current vaccination programs is that many practitioners really don’t understand the principles of vaccinal immunity (that portion of immunity conveyed by vaccines). The accumulated evidence indicates that vaccination protocols should no longer be considered as a “one size fits all” program.
For more than a decade now, scientifically based information has lead to revised guidelines and policies about companion animal vaccines. So why are so many veterinarians, as well as training, boarding and grooming facilities, still reluctant to embrace and apply this knowledge?
This article outlines approaches that balance the need to protect animals against serious infectious diseases with the risk of adverse events from vaccines. As my colleague, Dr. Ron Schultz of the University of Wisconsin, states: “Be wise and immunize, but immunize wisely!”
Why the resistance to change?
Adverse reactions to vaccination
Veterinary practitioners may simply believe what they were taught about vaccines, so don’t take the time or have the inclination to change or “fix” what is perceived to be unbroken. As well, vaccination programs have been promoted as “practice management tools” rather than medical procedures. A “more is better” philosophy still prevails with regard to dog vaccines.
Vaccine reactions usually occur in puppies or older animals that are genetically predisposed to react adversely when vaccinated.
Annual vaccination has long been the single most important reason why most people take their animals to the vet for an
• The associated clinical signs typically include fever, stiffness, sore joints and abdominal tenderness, susceptibility to infections, neurological disorders and encephalitis, autoimmune thyroid disease, severe anemia and jaundice from destruction of red blood cells, and pinpoint or larger hemorrhages from platelet destruction. Continued on next page.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 13
Vaccine reactions – some stats for dogs
Check out these findings from a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2005.
Canine vaccine adverse events: • Retrospective cohort study; 1.25 million dogs vaccinated at 360 veterinary hospitals • 38 adverse events per 10,000 dogs vaccinated • Inversely related to dog weight • Vaccines prescribed on a one-dose-fits-all basis, rather than by body weight • Increased for dogs up to two years of age, then declined • Greater for neutered versus sexually intact dogs • Increased as number of vaccines given together increased • Increased after the third or fourth vaccination • Genetic predisposition to adverse events documented Factors that increase risk of adverse events three days after vaccination: • Young adult age • Small breed size • Neutering • Multiple vaccines given per visit Moore, et al, JAVMA, 227:1102–1108, 2005.
14 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Continued from previous page. • Liver enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may occur by itself or accompany bone marrow suppression. • Both modified-live virus (MLV) and killed inactivated vaccines, such as those for canine distemper and rabies, respectively, have been associated with postvaccinal encephalitis (PVE). This can result in various clinical and behavioral signs. • An augmented immune response to vaccines is seen in dogs with pre-existing inhalant allergies (atopy) to pollens, grasses, weeds and trees. • In dogs, aggressive tumors (fibrosarcomas) can occasionally arise at the site of vaccination. Other cancers such as leukemia have also been associated with vaccines. • Additionally, vaccinating dogs with rabies vaccine, either alone or with other vaccines, can induce production of anti-thyroglobulin autoantibodies, which can contribute to the subsequent development of hypothyroidism. Other issues that arise from over-vaccination include the increased cost. Having your animal receive annual boosters when they’re not necessary means you’re paying for a service that is likely of little benefit to his existing level of protection against these infectious diseases. Repeated exposure to the foreign substances in vaccines also increases the risk of adverse reactions.
Non-responders and low responders
Focus on core vaccines The concept of “core” vaccines was developed some years ago to distinguish vaccines that every dog should have, from those that are “non-core” (optional or depend on the region/ area where the animal lives).
Animals that don’t develop any or enough protective antibodies when vaccinated for a particular disease are known as non-responders or low responders. This situation is a genetic trait, and the animals will remain susceptible to the disease in question all their lives. It’s relatively rare, but some breeds are more prone than others: • 1:1,000 for CPV (parvovirus) – especially in black Labradors and Akitas • 1:5,000 for CDV (distemper virus) – especially in greyhounds
For dogs, there are four core vaccines: • Canine distemper virus • Canine parvovirus • Canine adenovirus (hepatitis) • Rabies virus Note that cross-protection against canine adenovirus-1 (CAV1, infectious canine hepatitis virus) is provided by canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2, kennel cough) vaccines; the original CAV-1 vaccines produced an immune precipitate in the eye called “blue eye”. But except for one incident at the Canadian/ US east coast border area several years ago, there have been no documented cases of CAV-1 disease in North America for at least 15 years. That’s the reason why veterinarians like myself prefer not to give this vaccine, especially to puppies, as it can cause immune suppression for about ten days when given together in an MLV CDV combo vaccine (you cannot obtain CAV-1 vaccine by itself). The first vaccination should not be given before six weeks of age and is best given later (e.g. eight to ten weeks), since most puppies of vaccinated mothers are protected by their residual maternal immunity. Either two or three boosters are given, with the last one at 14 to 16 weeks of age. Rabies vaccine should be given separately whenever possible, and as late as allowed by local, state or provincial law. These core vaccines are important for protecting dogs against the most serious and prevalent infectious diseases, and all puppies should receive them. However, even the core vaccines (including rabies) are being shown to have a much longer duration of immunity than previously thought, making annual boosters unnecessary.
• Zero for CAV (hepatitis, adenovirus)
7 things you can do There are several steps you can take to help protect your animal companion from the adverse effects of over-vaccination.
q Ask to have titer tests done on your dog in lieu of annual or three year boosters. See page 26 for some titer testing FAQs. w Concentrate on core vaccines, and avoid additional unnecessary vaccines. e Be cautious about vaccinating sick or febrile individuals. r Work with your vet to tailor a specific minimal vaccination protocol, especially for animals of breeds or families known to be at increased risk for adverse reactions. t With a puppy, start the vaccination series later, such as nine or ten weeks of age when the immune system is more able to handle antigenic challenge. y Pay particular attention to the puppy’s behavior and overall health after vaccination. u Avoid re-vaccination of individuals that have already experienced a significant adverse event. The problems associated with over-vaccination have been getting a lot of attention over the past ten years or so, and even though many veterinarians and other animal professional appear unwilling to accept what recent research has been telling us, the tide is turning.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 15
PROACTIVE WAYS to
save money on vet bills By Christina Chambreau, DVM, CVH
Keeping veterinary costs down means taking steps to BUILD your dog or cat’s health and help PREVENT illness.
Caring for your dog can get expensive. Once an animal becomes ill, especially if he’s treated in a conventional manner with a lot of tests and drugs, you end up spending a lot of money. Even if you use holistic modalities, treatment for an existing illness can be costly. Many insurance companies are now covering a variety of holistic approaches, which certainly helps, so look for these companies. But the best way to save money on vet bills is to help prevent him from getting ill in the first place. This article covers three strategies you can follow to proactively build your dog’s health, and avoid costly vet bills.
1. BUILD HIS HEALTH
If you aren’t able to home-prepare a raw diet for your dog, you can buy complete, high quality frozen, freeze-dried or dehydrated raw diets that you re-hydrate. If you’re opting for canned food or kibble, be sure to buy the highest quality, most natural diet you can. Supplement with fresh food as often as possible. Regardless of the type of diet, make it a practice to rotate protein sources. Supplements may be needed depending on your individual animal, and may include antioxidants, essential fatty acids, probiotics and/or digestive enzymes – because every dog is different, though, it’s best to work directly with a holistic or integrative vet when supplementing your pet’s diet.
Feed the best diet An ideal diet for building health is a variety of raw meats with raw bones, pureed raw and cooked vegetables, and a few supplements (e.g. calcium is critical if no bones are included). Healthy dogs can eat some grains, preferably the higher protein ones. When buying local you can dramatically lower your cost by getting “leftovers” from the farmer. Even if you can only feed several meals a week this way, you will save money and build health.
16 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Avoid toxins Use the fewest chemicals on and around your dog. Each animal is an individual and will respond differently to flea and tick preventatives, for example. (Healthy animals do not get flea infestations.) There are many natural alternatives to these chemicals that are very inexpensive – using a flea comb, bathing your pet with herbal shampoo, and vacuuming daily are just three things you can do that will help immensely.
Some dogs are also very sensitive to chemicals used in the yard or the house, as well as in vaccines. Vaccines also affect the immune system, so vaccinate minimally. Switch to natural household cleaners, and avoid using pesticides and fertilizers in your yard.
Learn home healing methods There are many safe healing modalities you can learn to use at home, with the correct training. Used regularly, they can help prevent as well as treat many illnesses, soothe symptoms while you decide if veterinary care is needed, and prevent negative reactions to stress. These modalities are 100% safe. Many, once learned, will be free healing tools for the rest of your life. Each one builds the immune system when used regularly and can treat minor problems to prevent expensive veterinary treatment. Each animal may prefer one to another.
q Reiki – Take a class to become a channel for this universal life force healing energy (attunements from a Reiki Master are necessary in order to be able to do Reiki yourself). Used at many hospitals for pain and healing. w Flower essences – These gentle remedies made from wildflowers are an easy and inexpensive way to treat emotional and some physical issues. Pressure point therapy/acupressure – Gentle pressure e on acupuncture points and meridians can resolve many symptoms. r Healing Touch for Animals – This modality helps you balance your pet’s chakras for improved well-being.
t Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – “Tapping” specific points on your animal’s body can resolve emotional issues. y Massage – Can increase circulation, ease pain, and alleviate stress and anxiety. u Tellington TTouch – A powerful way to heal using circular touches, ear pulls and more. Great for training, behavior and even physical problems. i Healing magnets – They’re easy to use and studies have shown they decrease inflammation. Sound and light therapies – Sound can heal at deep o levels. Different colors, meanwhile, can either stimulate or soothe. While the below approaches are also natural, they can cause harm if not used properly. Look for high quality products as well as products formulated for pets or recommended by veterinarians. Follow dosage instructions carefully.
oil therapy – Oils from plants are distilled to concentrate their healing properties. They’re very strong, so should always be used diluted in a carrier oil. Buy only pure, high quality oils. w Herbal therapy – Herbs are powerful healers that need high quality sourcing and some study to maximize their effectiveness and safety. Homeopathy – Deeply healing, very inexpensive, and e super easy to administer. First aid homeopathic remedies (Arnica, Hypericum, Apis and more) can be safely given to your pet, but for deeper healing purposes, more study is critical. Continued on next page.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 17
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2. KEEP TABS ON HIS WELL-BEING Train your dog to let you give him a simple physical exam on a weekly basis. Look in his eyes, ears and mouth (all the way back), feel his body for lumps or bumps, and take his temperature. Look for the early warning signs of ill health such as odor, red gums, wax in the ears, dull coat or dry skin. Keep a health journal and record other issues you notice, such as vomiting, diarrhea, eating stool, discharge from the eyes or nose, etc. This will not only help you keep track of what’s going on with your pet; it also provides a useful record for when you do need to take him to the vet. The most important measure of health is vitality. A dog can have only three legs and be completely vital. Another animal with itchy feet can be depressed, lethargic, grumpy, etc. When your dog gets sick with any condition, the first question is: “How is his vitality?” Note all this in your journal. Do understand that if your dog doesn’t improve in a couple of days, or is suffering and/or getting worse, you need to get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Home care is not a substitute for professional veterinary care and regular checkups, especially with
18 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
an integrative veterinarian. However, by using the above healing approaches when you notice early warning signs or symptoms of mild illness (along with building his health through diet, minimal toxin exposure, etc.), major and expensive problems are much less likely to occur.
3. WORK WITH AN INTEGRATIVE OR HOLISTIC VET By carefully selecting a holistic or integrative veterinarian, and other practitioners, you will have a team committed to building your dog’s health rather than merely resolving symptoms. For example, they will not assume that lifetime treatment is needed for low thyroid, diabetes, and other conditions. Acupuncture or homeopathy may be offered instead of expensive surgery for ACLs, disc problems and more. Again, saving money on vet bills doesn’t mean not going the vet at all. It’s important to take your animal in for regular “tune-ups”, as well as when you notice early warning signs of illness, or when he doesn’t respond to home care. But by taking these steps to maintain and build your dog’s health, you help prevent him from getting seriously ill, and thereby lessen the risk of expensive health problems.
7stress-free tips for safe, grooming
By Emily Watson
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 19
Grooming your dog has a lot of benefits. It helps keep his coat and skin in good condition between appointments with the groomer. It can be a wonderful bonding experience for both of you. It’s also a great way to get to know your dog’s body, so you’ll notice right away if he develops any lumps, bumps or other problems. By following the guidelines in this article, you’ll help ensure a safe, stress-free home grooming experience for you and your dog.
cheap commercial products. Harsh detergents can cause dry hair and skin irritation. A natural shampoo is also less likely to cause an issue if it accidentally gets in your dog’s eyes (see sidebar on next page). • Scissors and clippers – Avoid kitchen scissors and cheap human clippers, which aren’t powerful enough for a dog’s coat. It’s best to use scissors and clippers designed specifically for use in dogs.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT TOOLS Make sure you have the right equipment and that it’s kept in good condition. Dull clippers or the wrong brush will pull your dog’s hair and complicate the process. Below are a few basic tools you’ll need, but keep in mind that products may vary depending on your dog’s coat type and length – ask your groomer to help you select the best grooming tools for your own dog. • Brushes and combs – To get started, a de-matting comb and quality slicker brush (see sidebar at right) are important tools for the at-home grooming kit. • Shampoo – Use all-natural pet shampoos free of chemicals and synthetic fragrances. Don’t use human shampoos or
20 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
• Blow dryers – Dryers designed for dogs blow room-temperature air, and some even offer low-noise options for pets with anxiety. A human dryer is too hot for a dog’s skin, and can cause burns – unless it has a “cool” setting, in which case it’s fine.
SLICKER BRUSH: The fine bristles are especially useful for removing loose hair from the undercoat, and preventing mats and tangles. DE-MATTING COMB: These are designed to gently pick away mats without painful hair-pulling.
• Nail trimmers – A guillotine-type trimmer is the best for a dog’s nails. Stay away from human nail trimmers, which can split his claws.
CHOOSE THE BEST PLACE FOR BATHING Kitchen sinks or washtubs placed on a table are easiest for bathing small dogs. A tub or shower works for a larger dog, but avoid bending over while you wash him. Put a towel or bathmat on the floor and kneel to take the pressure off your back.
essences into your dog’s coat before grooming, or find an allnatural shampoo that contains calming essential oils in the ingredient list.
A rubber bathmat on the bottom of the tub will prevent your dog from slipping. Gather all the tools you’re going to need before you start bathing him, including a towel, so you don’t have to leave your wet dog unattended in order to retrieve something.
RELAX HIM WITH ESSENTIAL OILS OR FLOWER REMEDIES High quality essential oils are a great way to induce relaxation during grooming. Try massaging diluted lavender oil or flower
Common grooming mistakes
• Cutting the quick of your dog’s nails can cause pain and bleeding. Make sure your dog is sitting still before trimming, and don’t cut too much from the nail. If you do snip the quick by accident, give him a treat right away and apply gentle pressure until the bleeding stops. • It’s wise to keep shampoo away from your dog’s face, but splashes happen. Even a natural shampoo will be uncomfortable if it gets in his eyes. Gently flush his eyes with water or a mild saline solution.
Some dogs love being pampered, but others don’t. Get him used to new experiences like the sound of clippers and the feel of his feet being handled. If your dog is less than eager to get in the tub, scatter a few waterproof toys inside it and offer treats if he hops in. If the sound of running water is causing him anxiety, put a couple inches of water in the tub beforehand and use a cup or pitcher for rinsing. Secondly, don’t underestimate the time it takes to groom a dog. Set aside a couple hours for the procedure. Take it one step at a time, and move slowly through the parts that make you – or your dog – nervous. This is especially important when you’re trimming his hair or clipping his nails.
USE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT It’s important to be patient with your dog while you’re grooming him, especially if he isn’t used to it yet. Have plenty of healthy treats on hand to reward good behavior, and give him lots of love. Developing trust is an important aspect of the grooming process so never punish any signs of fear. Use soothing tones to coax him during moments of hesitation, and don’t ever force him or use physical restraint.
TAKE IT SLOW
GROOM HIM REGULARLY Set up a schedule so you’ll remember to groom your dog regularly. A routine will help him get used to the process and feel more comfortable about it. Even if you only bathe him occasionally, weekly brushing will help prevent mats and/or dirt buildup. Regularly wash his face with all-natural doggie wipes or a damp cloth to prevent tear stains, and invest in a natural waterless shampoo or detangling spray to freshen up his coat. Aside from these simple maintenance tips, feeding your dog a high quality diet will help keep his skin and coat healthy and make grooming easier. Supplements like essential fatty acids and antioxidants help prevent dryness, hotspots and other skin conditions.
WHEN IN DOUBT, CALL A PROFESSIONAL If you’re not feeling confident about grooming your dog at home, ask your groomer to teach you how to do it. If you’re still not comfortable with your abilities, or your dog is resisting the process, skip the DIY grooming and leave it to the pros. In most cases, though, with time and patience, along with the right tools, methods and lots of positive reinforcement, most dogs learn to tolerate and even enjoy being groomed, both at home and at the salon.
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ESSENTIAL OILS By Melissa Shelton, DVM
Almost every aspect of animal care can benefit from the addition of essential oils. In veterinary practice, I have been able to use these oils to provide natural and effective options for many health issues. All essential oils also have energetic and emotional benefits.
What are essential oils? Essential oils are volatile aromatic chemical compounds derived from selected plant materials. The oils help protect the plant against bacteria, fungi and pests. These characteristics are transposed to the effects desired from the use of an essential oil. Essential oils are lipophilic, and non-soluble in water. They do appear to have the ability to penetrate tissues quite effectively, and physical medical responses can be witnessed even through inhalation. Steam distillation of essential oils is generally considered the best for veterinary and medical purposes. (See sidebar on next page by Dr. Jodi Gruenstern).
for your dog
Using essential oils for anxiety and behavioral issues Anxiety presents in all species in many different ways, from dogs who tear up couches, carpets and doors when a pet parent is away from home, to birds who pluck and chew at their feathers. Symptoms such as increased respiratory rate, shaking, diarrhea, excessive vocalization, hiding, over-grooming, inappropriate urination, and even biting or aggression have all been attributed to fear, stress and anxiety. Within integrative medicine, essential oils are, in my eyes, one of the most complete and holistic modalities I have encountered. There are true and documented physical effects that also complement the emotional planes, whether it is our intention or not. Gut health and inflammation of the gastrointestinal system are becoming increasingly recognized as contributing to anxiety and behavioral concerns, as well as a plethora of other physical relationships. In clinical practice, we often noticed that when essential oil therapies were instituted to help with nausea or diarrhea, a calming effect was duly noted.
Quality matters Quality is highly important when selecting essential oils for medical and veterinary use. Trusting your supply source is key to obtaining true essential oil quality. Other keys: q High quality oils can be expensive; do not seek the lowest cost. w Bottles should be tamper-evident, without rubber dropper tops. e Each bottle should have lot numbers or tracking information.
22 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Single essential oils such as Geranium, Lavender, Bergamot, and Roman Chamomile are commonly thought of when referencing essential oils with anxiolytic capabilities. However, even essential oils that are not commonly considered, such as Cinnamon, Lemon, and members of the Anise family have behavioral benefits. Other essential oils such as Orange are very uplifting, and Clary Sage is well regarded for supporting the hormones, and seems to aid in hormonally-related behavior issues.
How to use essential oils: Diffusion A single calming oil or a blend of several (my preference) may be applied to handlers and/ or animals prior to a nail trim, car ride, thunderstorm, or other stressful event. Waterbased diffusion can be utilized to expose the entire household to calming benefits on a more consistent and widespread basis. Generally, three or four drops of undiluted essential oil(s) are added to one cup (8oz) of water to be diffused. Humans and animals alike can experience calming effects, which are always helpful when dealing with an emotional situation. When possible, bridging the use of essential oils with positive experiences prior to their use is especially helpful. For instance, exposing the animal to the scent of the essential oil while he is eating or spending “happy time” with his guardian, can link the scent of the oil(s) with positive and calm feelings. Although the physical and emotional responses to the essential oil chemistry will still be present, we can ensure a larger response when positive reinforcement bridging has been initiated. Examples of recipes that can be used vary, and almost any combination can affect an animal in a positive way. For example, if you only selected Lavender, you would most likely see results. However, if you blended Lavender, Bergamot and Roman Chamomile together – you would likely have better results than with one essential oil alone.
Topical uses of essential oils While dogs will benefit from diffusion in their environments, we can also explore topical applications of essential oils. Selecting a variety of essential oils known for calming effects, and mixing them together can create a base blend for your use. For most situations, additional dilution of the essential oils into a fatty carrier oil (I prefer fractionated coconut oil) should be performed for topical use. I would recommend using a concentration of 1% to 5% essential oil to carrier oil for most applications. When creating a base blend or a diluted blend, I recommend rocking
Steam distillation vs. chemical solvent extraction By Jodie Gruenstern, DVM, CVA
Steam distillation is the most authentic, time-proven and safe method of extracting essential oils. It does not always provide the highest yield of oil from the batch of plant materials, so the oils will come in small bottles at a higher price. Oils derived by chemical solvent extraction will typically be less expensive because it’s easier to get a larger yield of oil from a batch of plants. However, the chemical residue makes the oil less pure, less desirable and something which should not be ingested. I would avoid the use of chemical solvent extracted oils. the blend to mix it several times a day, and allowing the oils to “marry” for 24 hours or more prior to use, as this seems to result in a more harmonious and effective end product. Petting would be the method most often used for topical applications. In this situation, we would place several drops of the diluted blend into our hands, and rub them together. Ideally, I would bridge the scent of the essential oil blend with prior regular activities that the dog does not perceive as stressful, whenever possible. In some situations, I may layer multiple application methods to the calming blend; wearing the blend on my person, and also “petting” the blend onto dog. Depending on the sensitivity of the animal, I may use one to five drops or more in my hands, allowing them to be absorbed to varying degrees, before petting. I will often “pet” the oils onto the shoulder and heart areas – and focus on taking calming breaths alongside the animal. Essential oils are never the only therapy I focus on for cases in which we want behavioral improvements. All aspects of diet, health, nutritional supplements, training and behavioral modification should be addressed; however, even when we “only” use essential oils, we can see results.
SAMPLE ESSENTIAL OIL BLENDS
Blend for diffusion: Equal parts Lavender, Orange, and Lemon essential oils. Lavender-based calming blend: Three parts Lavender, two parts Lemon, one part Roman Chamomile, one part Geranium. German Chamomile calming blend: One part German Chamomile, three parts Clary Sage, six parts Bergamot. Both calming blends may be diffused or diluted to a 1% to 5% concentration in fractionated coconut oil for topical “petting”.
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STEP BY STEP tips to stop play-biting
Adopting a puppy from a shelter or rescue is exciting. A time full of laughter and fun, expectations and plans. And those plans need to include some proper and consistent training. As with all plans, it’s important to lay them out in steps and systematically progress through each step towards your goal. Learning to enjoy and celebrate each step is important. You will soon see that the best laid plans really are the best!
STEP BY STEP – STOP BITING It’s no fun when your puppy starts to bite you, and bite hard. His teeth can be razor sharp. In fact, some won’t even let you get close before they lunge out. But the fact is, puppies bite. For the sake of teething or to get your attention, they all do it. The main area of concern is what to do about it so that he grows up to be a nice adult dog with bite inhibition. There will most likely be times in a dog’s adult life when he may bite. It might be from fear, or because his tail gets stepped on by accident. Knowing this, you need to teach your youngster that if he does happen to bite by mistake later on, he should never bite down hard. This is something all pups and young dogs need to know. By teaching him to never bite at all, he will never learn the difference between a hard and soft bite. Your pup is biting on your hand but it doesn’t hurt.
1 This is fine. He is learning how to have a soft mouth. 2
However, the second that bite turns hard, you are called to action. Loudly say the word “yikes” and remove your hand. I find that word is great as it is easy to remember, easy to say, and usually stops the puppy quickly.
tips to stop jumping up STEP BY STEP – TO JUMP OR NOT TO JUMP Teaching an alternate behavior is the best way to go when training a puppy not to jump. Instead of telling him what not to do, you’ll be far more successful if you teach him what you would prefer, and reward him for it. By rewarding the behavior you want, with a favorite toy or treat, your dog is far more likely to do what is asked in the future.
24 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
By Gillian Ridgeway
put the flat of your palm directly in front 3 Immediately of his muzzle; you should find that he’ll lick it. At that time, you can use the word “gentle”. I find that 99% of the time, the pup will lick your palm as soon as it is presented to him, after the “yikes”. If he continues to bite at your hands after you have tried this, tether him on a small house leash away from you, for a timeout. This gives him, and you, a moment apart to cool down.
Helpful hint: It is very important that your youngster gets enough sleep. Most pups that are getting riled up and nipping a lot do better after a nap. Remember, he will not put himself down for a nap, so it is up to you. Young pups need a good three- to four-hour sleep midday.
your pup jumps up, take a step back from him. You 1 When will see he now has four feet on the ground. him to sit. Hopefully, he has already learned the word 2 Ask “sit”; otherwise, teach it separately. As you can see, training your puppy doesn’t have to be difficult. A positive approach that includes patience and consistency are the keys to success.
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FAQs By Shawn Messonnier, DVM
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS ALTERNATIVE TO ANNUAL VACCINES. Vaccinations can be both helpful and harmful. It all depends on how they’re used. In young dogs, vaccines help establish immunity from infectious disease. But repeated and unnecessary vaccines can be harmful if the immune system reacts to them inappropriately and makes the animal ill.
Titer testing is a safe way to avoid over-vaccination while ensuring your companion remains protected from disease. This article will answer some common questions about vaccine titers.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE TITER TESTS? Vaccine titer tests are simple blood tests that measure your animal’s antibodies to certain diseases. In most practices, these diseases include distemper, parvo and hepatitis virus for dogs, and rhinotracheitis and calicivirus. The titer is a number derived from testing your animal’s blood for antibodies against these diseases. A positive titer means your dog or cat has antibodies against a specific disease (the titer usually results from prior vaccination to the disease, or exposure to the disease). It indicates he is protected from the illness caused by that particular virus. For example, a positive titer to distemper virus indicates your dog is protected from distemper.
WHEN SHOULD TITER TESTING BE DONE? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Most holistic veterinarians do limited vaccinations for their puppy patients, using a series of immunizations to ensure adequate protective immunity without “overdoing it” like traditional doctors do. A limited booster series may be done one year following the final puppy vaccine visit, when the animals are approximately 18 months of age. Titer testing is then done the following year and continues annually for the life of the animal. Vaccines are given only when titer testing shows a need for them based on the dog’s immunity.
26 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Titer testing can also be done for stray or rescue/adopted animals with an unknown vaccination history. These animals can be immunized if needed, based upon their titer testing results.
titer testing. Hopefully, this will change someday. For now, vaccinating for rabies every three years is adequate as long as your animal is healthy.
IS IT EXPENSIVE? It depends. Some veterinarians, especially those who don’t routinely do titer testing, charge a lot for it. I’ve seen invoices for $200 to $400 just for distemper and parvo titer testing. But if you visit a doctor who routinely does titer testing, especially if it’s done in the doctor’s office, it is very reasonably priced. For my own canine patients, I do titer testing for distemper, parvo and hepatitis virus, plus a complete annual checkup, for under $200.
IF MY ANIMAL HAS A POSITIVE TITER, WILL ADDITIONAL VACCINES BE HARMFUL? Giving additional vaccinations to a dog that has a positive titer for a particular disease will not offer more protection, is a waste of health care dollars, and could be harmful if he reacts adversely to the vaccine. Positive titers indicate your animal is protected and vaccines can be skipped that year.
WHY DOES MY VET SAY TITER TESTS ARE USELESS? I don’t really know why some doctors say this unless they are ignorant of basic immunology. Titer testing is used every day in veterinary practice to diagnose diseases such as heartworm and feline leukemia infection. And veterinarians who have themselves been vaccinated against rabies routinely have their titers tested to determine if and when they might need to be revaccinated.
CAN I TAKE MY ANIMAL TO A BOARDING KENNEL OR GROOMER IF I CHOOSE TITER TESTING IN PLACE OF VACCINES? Since kennels, grooming facilities, and doggie daycare businesses require proof of immunization, either recent vaccines or titer tests showing that the animal is protected and not in need of additional vaccination should be acceptable. Keep in mind that grooming and boarding facilities associated with a conventional veterinary clinic will usually not accept titer results, whereas those not associated with a veterinary clinic will usually accept either titers or vaccines. Check with the facility to be sure.
IS IT BETTER TO HAVE TITER TESTING DONE AT THE CLINIC OR BY AN OUTSIDE LAB? By doing the testing “in-house”, the cost is greatly reduced and quality control is better due to the smaller volume of patients being tested. That being said, outside labs can do titer testing nicely, especially for busier practices that may not have time to do it in the office, but the price is likely to be higher.
IF I NEED TO VACCINATE BASED ON TESTING RESULTS, WHEN SHOULD THE NEXT TITER TEST BE DONE? It would be done the following year at your dog’s annual visit. The titer test should be normal at that time, indicating protective immunity without the need for further immunization – but we don’t know this for sure, so the testing should be done annually following any booster immunization.
IS THERE ANY DOWNSIDE TO TITER TESTING? Not really. However, no test is perfect. Titer testing tells us a lot about the state of your dog’s immune system and its ability to prevent specific diseases. There is no guarantee that a titer will protect him – but there is no guarantee a vaccine will protect him either. If your groomer or boarding facility does not accept titer results, you will need to either over-vaccinate your dog (not a good choice), or find another facility that is more open-minded and concerned with his health (a much better choice!).
Titer testing tells us a lot about the state of your dog or cat’s immune system and its ability to prevent specific diseases.
WHAT ABOUT RABIES SHOTS? Rabies titer testing is frequently done in people, as mentioned earlier. It is also an acceptable method for determining protection against rabies in animals, and is required for international transportation. Unfortunately, most city, state and county laws require frequent rabies vaccinations because they do not accept
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 27
NUTRIENTS every animal
NEEDS By Jean Hofve, DVM
28 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
Many people, including veterinarians, believe that processed commercial pet foods have all the nutrients dogs need for good health. As they begin to realize that excessive processing destroys nutrients, they may switch to better quality or fresher foods. But even when these diets contain a full complement of vitamins, minerals and other required nutrients, there’s still room for improvement. In fact, no matter what type of food you feed your companion, a few specific supplements will complement and improve his diet.
ONE OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play many roles in the body, but only two fatty acids are considered essential: linoleic acid (LA, an Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, an Omega-3). All others can, at least theoretically, be produced in the body from those two precursors. The Omega-3s that get the most buzz are eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Neither is considered essential, although DHA is needed during growth in puppies. But the only meat that contains any EPA/DHA (and even then, perhaps not enough) is 100% grass-fed meat. All other meat is feedlot finished or grain-raised, and therefore contains virtually zero EPA/DHA. The vast majority of plant-based oils are in the form of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are typically over-supplied in our animals’ diets. Flaxseeds and a few other seeds and nuts do contain Omega-3 in the form of ALA, which has beneficial effects of its own, particularly on skin and coat health. However, even though ALA is technically a precursor of EPA and DHA, dogs have extremely limited capacity for converting it (no more than 1% to 2% for EPA and virtually 0% for DHA after weaning). Only marine-sourced oils (fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil, green-lipped mussel oil, and some algae oils) contain the pre-formed EPA and DHA that our carnivorous companions can absorb and utilize. Dogs must receive EPA and DHA directly.
is important for cell membrane fluidity, circulation, skin health and immune system function. It has powerful antiinflammatory effects, is helpful for many inflammatory and degenerative conditions, and is specifically beneficial for chronic kidney disease, arthritis, feline asthma, dermatitis and cancer. w DHA is the most abundant fat in the brain, and the main component of myelin. It is crucial for nervous and visual system development. Research suggests that DHA deficiency may play a role in anxiety, hyperactivity and aggression; supplementation may be helpful in these cases.
OPT FOR HIGH
Keep in mind that many supplement brands have issues with potency and viability. Supplements are poorly regulated, and overblown (if not downright fraudulent) claims are rampant, especially on the Internet. Fortunately, reputable companies back up their products with good research. Products bearing the NASC seal have passed rigorous standards and can be relied on.
Keys to selecting a good Omega-3 product • Look for products made from wild (not farm-raised) fish that are harvested sustainably, or from clean, cultivated mussels or algae. • Cod liver oil should be free of added vitamins A and D, which can reach toxic levels in small animals. • Products should be independently tested for freshness. • They should be free of toxins such as mercury, PCBs and dioxin, which are widespread in the world’s oceans.
TWO DIGESTIVE ENZYMES Digestive enzymes break down foods so they can be absorbed and utilized by the body. When food is not properly broken down, larger particles can enter the bloodstream and set off an immune response that may lead to inflammation, allergies, and other chronic health problems. Digestive enzymes also improve digestion, reduce gas, help regulate weight, and in the case of proteolytic enzymes, decrease inflammation throughout the body. Normally, the pancreas supplies these needed digestive enzymes, although production slows as animals get older. Raw foods contain many enzymes, including an array of digestive enzymes within cellular lysosomes. Cooking denatures enzymes. Supplementing digestive enzymes is especially important for animals eating processed commercial pet food (in addition to any enzymes listed on the label). Geriatric animals may also benefit, even if they’re on a raw food diet. Digestive enzymes may also be useful in the treatment of parasites such as giardia, and may prevent the pancreatic hypertrophy that can result from eating a processed diet. Keys to selecting a good digestive enzyme product • Look for one from a plant or fungal source, in order for it to work in the widest range of pH and temperature. • It should contain, at least: protease, amylase, lipase and cellulase. Continued on next page.
Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life 29
Continued from previous page.
THREE PROBIOTICS Probiotics include beneficial bacteria such as L. acidophilus and certain Bifidobacteria, Enterococcus and Streptococcus species. Probiotics help keep normal gut bacteria balanced and healthy. The intestinal microbiota is an essential part of overall health. Constant back-and-forth interaction occurs between the gut bacteria and brain through neural, endocrine, immune and humoral links. A balanced gut ecology has implications for not only physical but also emotional and mental health. It prevents pathogenic bacteria from gaining a foothold; produces B vitamins, vitamin K, and short-chain fatty acids; and supports normal immune system function. Supplemental probiotics have benefits for allergies, including atopy and food allergies. They are also helpful for animals with any type of digestive problem, including vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, IBD and colitis. Probiotics are also essential for animals who are, or have been, taking antibiotics (including natural antimicrobial therapies such as herbs, medicinal mushrooms, colloidal silver, etc.). Continue probiotic supplementation for at least two weeks after treatment. Keys to selecting a good probiotic product • Look for a supplement containing at least Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. • There should be a label guarantee of live microorganisms. • The product should be of sufficient potency (at least 100 million per dose). • Many products combine digestive enzymes with probiotics, and these can be a good, cost-effective choice, especially for fussy animals who are difficult to supplement.
FOUR ANTIOXIDANTS The function of antioxidants is to scavenge and neutralize oxygen free radicals. Cells make controlled quantities of free radicals as weapons against viruses, fungi, bacteria and abnormal cells. However, excess unbalanced free radicals create oxidative stress, which can damage normal cells and create chronic inflammation. Processed pet foods are typically high in pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, so supplementing with antioxidants is very important. Free radical damage is at the root of virtually all degenerative and inflammatory diseases, as well as many we don’t necessarily
30 Top tips to help your dog live a long, healthy life
think of as involving inflammation, such as diabetes, cancer, hypothyroidism, heart disease, and cognitive dysfunction. By reducing oxidative stress, antioxidants likely have value in disease prevention as well as treatment. However, the mechanisms are complex, and robust scientific proof is still lacking. Nevertheless, antioxidants can universally be considered helpful for most inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. Keys to selecting a good antioxidant product • It should contain multiple antioxidants, such as vitamin E, carotenoids (e.g. beta carotene and lycopene) and flavonoids (like vitamin C and quercetin). • Look for a natural or whole food-derived product, rather than one that’s chemically synthesized. Natural products are typically found in l-form as opposed to d- or dl-form; for example, d-alpha tocopheral is a synthetic product. • Plant and fungal sources may be more bioactive. Incorporating these four supplement categories into your dog’s diet regimen, regardless of what food he’s eating, will help ensure optimal overall health.
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Top tips for your pet to live a long, healthy life. Written by top Animal Wellness professionals.