Guest post by our extraordinary veterinary technician and animal massage therapist, Sarah Werick, LVT, CAMT
Touch. Humans and animals alike crave it. The desire for touch is an instinctive need to fulfill a physiological requirement. Though the practice of massage therapy has been utilized since ancient times, it has become one of the most popular wellness and rehabilitation therapy aids in recent years. Massage and rehabilitation therapy by definition is the use of fingers, hands, and machines to manipulate soft tissues and to stimulate at the cellular or neurological level of the body to improve healing and recovery.
The number one treatment for humans in China is massage therapy and herbs, followed by acupuncture for pain, and finally western medicine. The importance of health care for animals is indicated by early Chinese medical textbooks that include acupuncture points and massage techniques as early as 90 B.C.
You might be surprised by how many conditions benefit from massage therapy! Some of these conditions include relief from pain, reduction of swelling and edema, reduction of muscle tension, improvement of circulation, promotion of tissue healing, reduction of fibrous tissue and adhesions, improved range of motion, reduction of inflammation, improved healing post-surgery, injury prevention, emotional support, and much, much more.
Since animals often take on their peoples stresses, managing your own stress is important for your pet's health too! Consider getting a massage for yourself too, or maybe some acupuncture!
5 June 2017
I continue to receive requests for specific medical advice and doses which I can not give unless I have examined your pet. I recommend you try to find and integrative practitioner in your area or at least in your country where the rules may be different. I’ve directed several Canadians to Dr. Marsden’s practice in Edmonton called Edmonton Holistic veterinary Clinic. Maybe he can help you find someone in Canada or can consult with you.
It may be possible to base MCT dose on the literature and products for people with the upper limit being possible GI issues and rarely pancreatitis. Fish oil doses are available in a paper by JE Bauer. Also consider looking into other antiepileptic drugs commonly used here in the USA https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913615/ specifically the last two described in this paper. Anecdotal evidence and my experience is that they are helpful with fewer side effects than KBr. But there is a learning curve when using in combination with phenobarbital so do your research.
Diet is critical. Re-read the part below about diet and start there if you have not already.
19 April 2017 -- Many of you have emailed me to ask questions about CBDs and MCTs. Here are references for the MCT treatment and CBD oils. If your dog is experiencing breakthrough seizures, I recommend giving this information to your vet. If you still need help but you live out of my local area, try to find a integrative practitioner in your area using the practitioner finder on www.tcvm.com or www.ahvma.org. All dogs are different but the combination of herbal meds, pharmaceutical drugs, acupuncture and diet usually works well to control breakthrough seizures.
Rx Vitamins Inc. makes a CBD oil product called Hemp Rx. The founder Dr. Silver is an expert on the therapeutic effects and physiology of CBDs in animals. Call or ask your vet to call and ask them to send you the Technical Report for Hemp Rx for very detailed information about the product and its properties and therapeutic benefits.
Phone: +1 914-592-2323
Fax: +1 914-592-2364
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Evidence-based Integrative Answers for Canine Epilepsy
Dogs with epilepsy can be difficult to manage and may have “breakthrough” seizures even while on high doses of anti-seizure medications like phenobarbital. People who have dogs like this often seek alternatives – they dislike the side effects of phenobarbital (think drowsy and obsessively hungry) which can make some dogs become fat couch potatoes.
Phenobarbital also takes its toll on the liver where it’s detoxified, and brain where it is basically a depressant like alcohol and long term has the same effect – brain cell killing mental dullness.
Some dogs live long, beautiful lives taking “pheno” and have no side effects. But for the dogs that don’t tolerate it as well, what are the alternatives? Many vets will tell you there are none, or add even more heavily sedating drugs that may work but also can leave you with a zombie instead of a dog. An integrative vet has lots of evidence-based ideas to prevent seizures and even weaning off phenobarbital for good.
Integrative seizure control methods take account of the whole animal and try to maximize quality of life. They run the gamut from nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, lifestyle changes, stress reduction, predictive strategies, concurrent illness control (IBD and allergies), supplements, alternative pharmaceuticals, and oils.
Diet effects brain health. In children, low glycemic and ketogenic diets often helps seizure control. As does eliminating of all synthetic food coloring and preservatives. Dogs also benefit from a whole food diet with low carbs and higher protein such as raw or homemade diets. Eliminating wheat, corn, soy and dairy can help some dogs. And adding ketones may help too, more on that below.
In Chinese Medicine, seizures are termed “internal wind” and stem from an imbalance in the Liver. (The TCM organ is capitalized – its TCM metaphoric function isn’t always the same as its physiological function in the body.) The Liver is associated with springtime, winds and wood. It is thought seizures occur due to wind, heat and stagnation in the Liver. There are several herbal formulas that work well to move stagnation, drain heat and extinguish wind. Combined with acupuncture and tui na (Chinese massage), seizures are controlled.
Some newer supplements with research showing promising results are MCT oil and CBD oil. Both oils are well tolerated by dogs and have minimal side effects. MCT oil or Medium Triglyceride Oil is a purified form of coconut oil so it contains a concentrated amount of the key fatty acids effective for seizure control. MCT oils were studied in dogs who took phenobarbital but still experienced breakthrough seizures compared to dogs on phenobarbital not taking MCT oils. The MCT group had less breakthrough seizures. MCT oils form ketones which are the brains preferred fuel source and calming for the nervous system. The downside of MCT oil is the possibility of diarrhea if you give too much, too fast. Make sure to get a high grade MCT oil with C-8 and C-10 chain length fatty acids as the longer acids may be the cause of the runs.
The second oil is CBD oil or cannabinoid oil extracted from the hemp plant. Much has been written on CBD oils which is beyond the scope of this blog, but safe to say one of the many uses for CBD oils is seizure control. CBD oils are safe and legal for pets since they contain no THC. (THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, can be toxic for dogs due to their very low tolerance for it). There are very few quality CBD supplements available for dogs and cats. We carry the Rx Hemp product which is available only through veterinarians. The CBD treats you see in pet stores may not be practical to use medicinally for seizure control but they are probably great treats!
General health and immune system support are also important. All our patients get acupuncture, exercise plans, go on high quality fish oil, probiotics, a whole foods diet and select supplements directed at improving any other chronic condition they may have. The goal is to detoxify and reduce whole body inflammation to support a healthy nervous system and brain.
Seizures can be tough to deal with but there are options available if your pooch is protesting pills that make him feel like he’s walking through molasses -- and he’s still having seizures. Integrative medicine pulls together tools from several different paradigms and can be very powerful. Find an Integrative Veterinarian at www.ahvma.org for help with your dog’s seizures.
Dr. Turner is a veterinarian at Heal Integrative Veterinary Medicine in Stateline, NV. Besides the all usual vet stuff, her toolbox also includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, fresh food therapy and canine rehabilitation. She can be reached at email@example.com or 775-580-6062.
Summer Brings Cool Changes to Heal
Carrie Turner, DVM, CVA
Heal Integrative Veterinary Medicine
290 Kingsbury Grade, #23
Stateline, NV 89449
OK, I get it, you've been told by vets your entire life never to feed dogs "people food." Dogs should eat dog food and nothing else, everyday, their entire lives. It's "complete and balanced." God forbid you unbalance their diet (in a good way). Shoe leather, protein powder and a multivitamin is "complete and balanced" too. Is a balanced diet necessarily a healthy one?
So you are a good owner. You comply and maybe cheat once in a while -- with a carrot. Or you get a bag of processed sweet potato dog treats. The vets is happy. The dog food companies are happy. But what about the poor dog? Brown and orange food. Everyday. No wonder they eat grass!
Sure there are a variety of foods that are not healthy for dogs or that could even be harmful. The same fatty, high carb, sugary foods that are not healthy for any animal, including humans, are also not recommended for dogs.
But what about fresh whole foods? Can dogs have meat, vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits? Sure they can. And research is showing the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables for dogs and cats, especially when it comes to preventing cancer.
See Part 2 of this post for more on this topic. And I'll try to feed my own dogs the four letter word of the veggie world, yup kale. Will they eat it?
Wishing Your Family Good Health and WellnessHappy Holidays!
Thank you for all your support for Heal Integrative Veterinary Medicine in 2015. We are appreciative of the many wonderful clients, family, and friends who have supported us through the launch and first two years of building Heal into a thriving holistic practice.
In appreciation of your support, we are playing it forward by contributing to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation to promote research in integrative solutions to animal health.
"By donating to the AHVMF, you are contributing to integrative veterinary education funds, humane integrative medicine research and helping thousands of animals each day. The AHVMF humane integrative medicine research is only used with animals that have naturally occurring diseases and live in their own homes. It is never used to research diseases that are artificially induced." -- AHVMF Wbsite
Heal: The Vet With A TwistLet your friends know about Heal, join our Facebook community, share ourwebsite, read our blog, and share this newsletter! During November, refer a friend and you BOTH receive a FREE acupuncture session.
At Heal, we believe in low-stress visits and taking our time with you and your animals. There is no hectic waiting room or long waits for your doctor. Our office has a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for acupuncture and conversation. We have incorporated music therapy to help pets relax. We also make house calls for pets that prefer not to travel. We utilize acupuncture, nutrition, and supplements as much as possible before resorting to stronger pharmaceuticals. We always have new ideas to help pets.
We are excited to offer new services like palliative cancer care, immunonutrition, and animal hospice care. We also provide wellness services, including titer testing, well-pet visits, and expanded symptomatic medical care.Knowledge is PowerFall means conference season and learning new things to help pets! Here is a rundown:
International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC)Many owners think if they decline aggressive and expensive treatments like chemo for their pet, the only other choice is euthanasia. But there is a third choice: palliative care can allow pets to have a high quality life by providing pain management, symptomatic treatments and care to provide comfort. An integrative veterinarian is the perfect fit for this type of care -- low stress visits, house calls, acupuncture, nutrition, and pain management can help animals maintain a high quality life.
Wild West Conference Dr. Silver of Rx Vitamins fame is one of the leading proponents for using medical marijuana products in dogs and cats. He gave a great talks on that, integrative oncology (fighting cancer with things besides chemo), and immunonutrition (supplements and foods that have cancer fighting properties).
UC Davis Pain Management Conference UC Davis gurus gave talks about all the latest and greatest thoughts on helping pain in pets. UC Davis is embracing Integrative Care and has brought on the talented Dr. Jamie Peyton to head it up their newest service. We learned powerful non-pharmaceutical pain management options (using things besides drugs to control pain because sometimes giving pills all the time is no fun!), like PEMF, cold laser, electro-acupuncture, and mobility help.
We are excited to share these ideas with you!
Got Acupuncture? Autumn Food TherapyThe weather is changing, the days are shorter, holidays are coming up, and our pets are cuddling up to the fireplace. You may notice the cooler weather makes some animals feel better, and others worse. Weather changes can bring about new things too: digestive issues, stiffness, and even behavior changes sometimes occur with the change in seasons.
Autumn is a good time to think about adding some delicious seasonal foods like root veggies and squashes to your pet's diet. Turnips, rutabaga, parsnips,and acorn squash all grow in or close to the ground and add important minerals and micronutrients for optimal health.
Sulfur-containing winter veggies are key too for building the body's antioxidant stores, supporting immunity and preventing cancer. The main ones are garlic and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.). Many dogs love to eat vegetables so give it a try.
Finally, bone broth (link opens downloadable recipe) can help support your pet's joints throughout the cooler winter months. Add some of the veggies mentioned here and you have a recipe for optimal health.
An older black Labrador with a white muzzle walks stiffly into the exam room, he greets me with a tail wag, then gingerly sits down. When I ask the owner how his dog has been doing, he says he’s getting older and slowing down a bit.
The owner clearly loves his dog and wants to keep him comfortable. He sees “slowing down” as a normal part of aging – and as we all know, not much can be done about getting older.
But something can be done about the real culprit, which is often arthritis. Arthritis can make a pet act older because it hurts.
A good chunk of senior pets, both dogs and cats, have arthritis. Stiffness, limping, not wanting to go on walks, no longer getting up to greet you, trouble getting up from lying down, or trouble sitting or getting into the lying position are all signs of painful joints. Other clues are weakness, tripping, falling, or a dog that just can’t walk as far or as fast as he used to.
Diagnosing arthritis is most accurately done with x-rays, but a knowledgeable clinician can make an educated guess based on watching the pet walk and palpation for range of motion and pain level. Radiographs can confirm arthritis, but also are important to rule out other more serious problems that can mimic arthritis pain, like cancer.
Treating arthritis pain can take different approaches. Some people prefer using drugs with a strong effect that may require more monitoring, others prefer a more natural, drug-free approach. Then there is integrative care, the middle ground which combines the two.
Some options are:
Arthritis is a disease that should be addressed like any other. Effective care for arthritis pain can be key to achieving higher quality of life for older pets. A happy and mobile pet who is able to continue doing the things he loves to do with you, is the result. True, it’s hard to keep pets from getting older, but there is hope for improving pain from arthritis.
For questions about how to help your dog or cat cope with pain from arthritis, please contact Heal Integrative Vet Med at 530-539-4516 or contact us here.
Fresh food is just as healthy for your dog as it is for you! All those colors mean healthy food-based vitamins and minerals that promote health. Especially for dogs who have eaten brown food their entire lives -- a good dose of some color does them wonders. Here is a simple way to introduce some home cooked food into your dog's diet. Just give about half of whatever you usually feed them, and half homemade food. They will scarf it down and ask for more, I guarantee it!
1. Go buy a big honking package of any protein (I used chicken thighs), some starch (I used barley, sweet potatoes and butternut squash), and something green and preferably in season. The idea is to have lots of different colors and rotate your ingredients so you are using produce that is in season.
2. Put everything in the crock pot
3. Add some liquid. I used bone broth because I happened to have some cooking, but you can use water or store bought low sodium broth too.
4. Add some seasonings -- oregano, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper -- for example. Add lots of love.
5. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
6. Add hardy veggies like Brussels sprouts in last 15 minutes of cooking. Add delicate veggies like spinach or kale at end and just stir them into hot food.
7. If you used chicken or any meat with bones, de-bone it. Never feed dogs cooked bones. You knew that.
8. Stir to mix and toss in your delicate veggies.
9. Keep in refrigerator for 10 days, if it lasts that long, or freeze.
10. Enjoy the extraordinarily happy dog love you receive in return for all the love you've put into making this healthy meal for your best friend!
Disclaimer: This food is not meant to be feed for every day of the rest of your dog's life, this meal is not complete and balanced. This meal can be fed as a supplement to a complete and balanced commercial dog food diet for a short term. If you wish to feed your dog a homemade diet on a regular basis, it is possible, but you should consult with a veterinary nutritionist.
So my colleague Jenn at Sierra Veterinary Hospital bought in a big pink box of donuts the other day. As my co-workers stuffed their faces with the doughy sugar bombs, I said, "Jenn! You must hate us all! You are trying to give us all diabetes!"
Jenn adamantly denied any wrong-doing and claimed she loves us. But I'm not so sure!
Which go me thinking about this post I wrote a while back about diabetes in dogs and cats. So here it is again:
Diabetes is on my mind today after spending the weekend at Sierra Veterinary Hospital trying to help a very sick diabetic kitty. Then I watched Fed Up the movie. Have you seen it?
Yup so the USA (thanks to our food politics) is a world leader in creating diabetics, especially in our kids. Animals are highly at risk too. I diagnose at least 20 new diabetics per year.
When I see makers of insulin and diabetic pet food teaming up like this, for "diabetes awareness," my skin crawls. From the website: "Don’t worry if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes. With the appropriate medication, diet, and exercise, your pet can expect to live just as long as he or she would without diabetes. Talk to your veterinarian for more information."
Seriously?? Do they really think the pet owning public is this gullible? A good chunk of pets are euthanized upon diagnosis of diabetes because owners are unwilling or unable to give insulin. But don't worry.
How surprising that pets are following this human trend towards obesity and diabetes! Isn't it ironic that the pet food manufacturing process was developed based on human food manufacturing. Think puffed breakfast cereals and Cheetos. Both cereal, junk food, and pet food use a high heat extrusion process that makes carbohydrates very digestible, tasty, and convenient. The high sugar load of these foods can tax the body over time, some pets get fat, others may become diabetic. Bottom line: maybe pets are eating too much processed food and not enough REAL food. Maybe.
Obviously the diabetes epidemic, whether two or four-legged, is making these companies a lot of money. Just take our insulin and eat our food, but "don't worry!" All is well! Purina and Merck will save the day!
How about a dose of common sense nutritional advice all around? Michael Pollan has written several excellent books about food and nutrition which spans all species. Check out the Truth About Pet Food Blog, and catnutrition.org. Read Dog Food Logic, by Linda Case, and Fresh Food and Ancient Wisdom, by Ihor Basko.
Avoid box stores and shop at local and knowledgeable pet food vendors like DogDogCat. Talk to a veterinarian trained in holistic medicine, acupuncture, or nutrition. (In other words, if the extent of your vet's nutritional wisdom is to recommend Hill's Science Diet, ask another vet!).
Read labels and evaluate label claims with critical thinking skills. Do your own research and don't trust what your breeder, your neighbor, the kid at the pet food store, or even what your vet says, without digging a bit deeper.
Because diabetes is NOT trivial, and your pet will NOT like being diabetic. You will not like giving (and paying for) two injections of insulin a day and never being able to go on vacation or out after work again because of your diabetic pet. You will worry when your cat gets sick and needs a feeding tube and a week in the hospital. You will not like it when your dog develops diabetic cataracts and goes blind. If you are not worried about diabetes, you probably should be.