Managing Pet Arthritis
Learn how to keep your pet's joints in tip top shape!
Whether it's summer or winter, maintaining healthy joints is important in pets. In the winter, the chill can be especially painful for arthritic bones. In the summer, your pet will want to be exploring the outdoors but arthritis can prevent him or her from doing so.
Thankfully, there are a number of natural remedies and other treatments to battle arthritis.
Holistic Treatments for Arthritis
Acupuncture, laser therapy and massage stimulate acupressure points on animals. These points result in healing, calming and pain relief through the activation of blood flow and nerve fibers and the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain reliever.
Physical therapy and hydrotherapy are also good alternative treatments. Frequent walks for short periods of time as well as non-weight-bearing swimming help prevent muscle atrophy when a pet begins favoring a limb due to arthritis.
Supplements for Arthritis
Joint health can be treated with supplements in oral, topical and injectable form. For arthritis, look for products with fish oils, MSM, magnesium, glucosamine and chondroitin. These can act as lubricants or building blocks between bones.
Pronutra fish oils, Omega QD and 1-TDC are packed with Omega-3's to support healthy joints. Ancient Minerals Magnesium Spray can be squirted directly onto joints and areas of the body that have increased blood flow.
Adequan injections are common for canines but can also be an arthritic treatment option in cats. The liquid is made up of amino acid chains that form a sugar, similar to chondroitin. Treatment can be done at home if the owner is comfortable giving subcutaneous or intramuscular injections after a short tutorial by a veterinary professional. The dose is calculated by weight and the dosage is determined by the degree of the disease.
Dasuquin is an oral alternative to Adequan. Other oral supplements that act as natural NSAIDs--anti-inflmammatories--include ginger, turmeric and T-Relief tablets.
Obesity and Arthritis: The Importance of Nutrition
Overweight pets have added pressure on their joints that they must carry around with them daily. Obesity also increases inflammation. This can rapidly degenerate joints. But a proper diet administered in appropriate moderation can keep a pet's weight and internal balance in check, thereby maintaining strong joints.
Talk to your veterinarian about finding a diet that works best for your pet. Anti-oxidants and minerals along with Omega-3's and fatty acids are especially beneficial for correcting degenerative joints. Blueberries, fresh veggies, raw meat and fish are examples of foods that are helpful for arthritic pets.
Products to Ease Joint Stress
Body harnesses, such as the Help 'Em Up Harness, can relieve joint pressure. Halter collars also lessen stress on the neck and spine during walks.
Booties and toe grips, like Dr. Buzby's brand, support a pet's gait and traction as he or she walks or goes from sitting to standing.
Ramps can also decrease joint stress by limiting the amount of jumping a pet has to do. Homemade or store-bought ramps for cars, beds, or sofas and in place of stairs are easy ways to keep your pet feeling young and great.
Urinary Complications in Dogs & Cats
Stones, urinary crystals or bacteria could be causing urinary issues in your pet--or it could be something else entirely.
An increase or decrease in urine output is often a sign that something is going on in the urinary tract. Accidents in the house or outside of the litter box could also indicate an issue.
Urinary issues can be due to stones, crystals, bacteria, tumors, organ malfunction or hormonal abnormalities. Additionally, they can be a behavioral problem, such as excessive marking, due to the pheromone signals contained in a single drop of urine.
If the veterinarian suspects stones in your cat or dog, x-rays are usually the first round of diagnostic tests. Some can be passed through a urinary catheter with the help of a laser to break them down, while others need to be surgically removed. Stones can be found in any part of the urinary tract, from kidney to bladder.
Testing the stone to determine what type it is can be beneficial in determining a necessary diet change for the animal, as nutrition is the leading cause of stones. Many cats, for instance, do not get sufficient water in their diet due to reliance on dry commercial kibble.
Observing urine under the microscope can tell a veterinarian if crystals are present. Crystals are a precursor to stones and can similarly irritate the urinary tract. They can indicate disease or suggest the need for a dietary change.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria. While bacteria can be noted under the microscope, the type of bacteria can be determined with a urine culture. Sensitivity testing can tell if the bacteria are resistant to any antibiotics.
When urinary complications are not caused by any of these, a veterinarian might also look at the following:
While antibiotics or surgery might sometimes be necessary, holistic medicine aims to clear away chronic infections and to pursue treatment in the most non-toxic way possible.
Chinese herbs are often prescribed when urinary complications are present. Supplements, especially immune-boosting ones, are typically sent home, too. As always, acupuncture is an important modality for combating urinary issues via pain management, detox and increase of immune function. Aforementioned, nutrition is also a key part of the treatment plan for any patient experiencing urinary complications.
Luckily, there's a long list of preventative measures you can take at home to tackle urinary complications. Stress relief is incredibly important in addressing improper urination. Happy pets are more inclined to pee where they're supposed to!
Sufficient stimulation is essential to a content animal, which means dogs need to be walked outside to urinate, not just left to do their business in the yard. Canines, like many animals, use urine to communicate. They need to sniff out other urine marks to do this--but that's hard to do when it's mostly their own urine markings in the backyard! Frequent walks can change that.
Proper hygiene of litter pans also goes a long way. There should always be at least one more litter box than there are cats in a household. Keeping the litter pans clean is also necessary because cats will be picky about their toilet training.
With regard to training, desired behavior should be rewarded. If you pet is urinating where they are not supposed to, be sure to congratulate them when they do go to the bathroom in the right spot.
New year, new you, new pet!
When most of us ring in the New Year, we set forth resolutions to better ourselves. Often these resolutions involve improving our own health and relationships. What better way to kick off 2017 than with a firm resolve to better the bond and well-being of our loyal, furry companions?
To help you out, we've come up with some ideas to start you off on the right track.
Focus on Nutrition
Nutrition is an important holistic modality. When addressing your pet's dietary needs, ask the following questions:
Many cats and dogs suffer from insufficient exercise, which can lead to stiffness and obesity. Indoor cats need ample play time, and dogs need more of a walk than just meandering around the yard or neighborhood.
Have your dog join you on a hike. Invest in a laser pointer or cat climbing post. These activities increase mental stimulation and enrichment in addition to helping maintain appropriate weight.
Commit to behavior training if your pet does not listen to commands or has a habit of begging or separation anxiety. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations. Group and individual classes are typically available.
Practice At-Home Holistic Care
At Ancient Arts, all new clients are taught massage techniques and grounding exercises that are meant to be carried out in the comfort your own home. These modalities increase both the physical and mental health of your pet.
Invest in Quality Time
Spend conscious quality time with your pet every day this year. You'll notice the bond between you strengthening. Pets are also proven to increase happiness in humans, so you're focusing on your own health, too. Massage and meditation are great practices for this.
Preventive vs. Reactive Care
Instead of waiting until a problem develops, look at health maintenance, focusing on preventive instead of just reactive care. Consider routine acupuncture sessions and annual wellness exams.
Consider Pet Insurance
Recent veterinary trends have seen an increase in owners purchasing pet insurance, with the investment being extremely popular in Washington state. If you choose to invest in pet insurance, make sure your plan covers alternative treatment and that you purchase it prior to the start of an expensive medical condition to ensure adequate coverage. Ask the veterinary staff for recommendations.
Winter Holiday Tips for Your Pet
Learn the do's and don'ts of snowy celebrations with the animals.
With the winter season upon us, we're purchasing gifts left and right while cooking up feasts and bundling up to stay warm. But just what are the household animals up to this holiday season?
We've come up with a list of ways to include--or not include--your pet in the festivities. Follow these tips and everyone will stay safe and happy around the yuletide season.
Stocking Stuffers Ideas for Pets
Over half of pet guardians give their beloved companions holiday presents. We figured most of our clients would be on this list of pet gift-givers, so we came up with some ideas for stocking stuffers that are fun, healthy, and safe:
Cold Weather Woes
Arthritic flare-ups tend to worsen in the colder months, so joint health is especially important to address during this time of year. As listed in our arthritis newsletter, supplements with fish oils, magnesium, glucosamine and chondroitin can lubricate joints, thereby decreasing pain and inflammation.
Booties offer warmth and protection in the winter to prevent frostbite or cuts and scrapes on ice. While it doesn't often drop below freezing in the Seattle area, barefooted animals will still feel more of a chill than snow-booted humans. Unlike people, however, dogs and cats are capable of shunting their blood to protect vital mid-body organs in extreme weather conditions.
If your pet is wary to plunge into the cool air, try bundling him or her with extra layers. Place the dog bed in front of the fireplace or add a heating pad to the cat's favorite spot. Offer slightly warmed treats to increase food aroma and inner body warmth.
Pet Holiday Safety
Just like Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving, winter celebrations can pose a safety hazard to curious canines and kitties. Be sure to keep these ideas in mind during the holidays:
We wish all of our clients and patients a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Wonderful Festivus!
Thanksgiving Tips for Your Pet
What's the deal with Thanksgiving turkey for dogs and cats?
Pets enjoy Thanksgiving just as much as people because it means lots and lots of delicious food! But it's important to take some safety precautions to ensure you are not causing digestive upset in your dog or cat over the turkey festivities.
Commercial dog and cat food, whether kibble or raw, comes in turkey form. However, no cooked bones are present nor is all that fatty grease. Skin-on turkey can cause acute pancreatitis, resulting in a holiday trip to the emergency room. Dark turkey meat can also be difficult to digest, leading to vomiting and diarrhea which can cause dehydration.
Turkey: Good or Bad?
So what turkey tips do you need to know to make your dog or cat feel included but not engorged this Thanksgiving?
Proper Eating Manners: How to Play it Safe
Dogs and cats will follow their noses this Thanksgiving. You can take more preventative steps for pet digestive health other than just keeping the turkey out of reach come meal time.
Other Pet-Approved Thanksgiving Treats
Turkey isn't the only yummy food on the tables. Many classic tasty side dishes have a base ingredient that adds great nutrition to the dog and cat diet. However, these foods are best raw or lightly cooked and without all the toppings, such as gravy and whipped cream.
Warning Signs of Digestive Upset
Pets are sneaky. Even when you think you've taken every last precaution (apart from separating them from the festivities), many have their ways of getting into trouble. Be on the lookout for these symptoms that could indicate food toxicity or obstruction:
We wish all of our clients and patients a Happy (and healthy!) Thanksgiving!
The Halloween Low-Down for Pets
Trick-or-treat is all sorts of fun, but make sure you're playing it safe with the pets.
Halloween is a fun time for families and pets, but there are some important things to keep in mind during the month of goblins and ghouls.
Pet Costumes: Yay or Nay?
Dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs look pretty darn cute dressed as pumpkins, but what might be adorable to humans isn't necessarily in the best interest of the animal.
Before dressing up your pet, run-through this check-list to make sure the costume is pet-approved. If the answer is yes to all of the questions, then maybe Spot can pose with the pumpkins this Halloween.
Ringing doorbells, scary costumes, and haunted sound effects can put anyone into a tizzy, especially animals who have no idea what is going on. Just like fireworks season, Halloween can be a loud, anxiety-inducing holiday for pets. Try these calming tips around the trick-or-treating hours:
Beware the Candy!
Getting your dog out for a walk alongside all the trick-or-treaters could offer some exercise and entertainment, provided the pooch doesn't get spooked. But when the candy buckets are emptied, make sure you have an eye on your animal's whereabouts.
Cats are intrigued by the noise of candy wrappers while dogs might be drawn to the smell enough that either animal ingests a piece of candy whole--wrapper and all. This can cause intestinal blockages or stomach upset as well as toxicity if gum or chocolate is the candy of choice.
While the kids divvy up their earnings, think about putting the dog or cat in a room with a toy--such as a peanut butter kong or some catnip. This will keep them distracted and stimulated. When the night is over, be sure to gather up all the candy and wrappers and store them properly out of the pet's reach.
We wish all of our clients and patients a Happy Halloween!
Treat pet yin and yang deficiencies with dietary changes.
In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), the body is meant to remain in balance by having equal levels of yin and yang. This is why the yin yang symbol is often used to signify peace as things in balance are said to be in harmony with each other.
When one is higher than the other, a pet can be yin or yang deficient. Yin typically refers to cooling, moistening, recovery, and relaxing behaviors and body functions. As the opposite of yin, yang refers to heating, fiery, hot, and active characteristics and physiology.
TCVM recognizes that yin depletes naturally with aging--that is, by simply living. A cat or dog with a yin deficiency might show these signs:
Animals that heat seek a lot or live in cold climates can present with yang deficiency. Symptoms of low yang include:
Correcting Imbalances/Opposites Attract
Yin and yang animals have certain characteristics that typically hold true. A dog with less yang than yin might be seen as quiet and heat-seeking whereas the opposite is true of a dog with yang in excess of yin.
The theory of yin and yang is used in our daily lives in accordance with the notion that everything has an opposite--sun and moon, day and night, hot and cold, fast and slow, life and death, heaven and earth, strength and weakness, front and back, salty and sweet, male and female, light and dark.
It makes sense, then, that everything within the body is also paired with an opposite--sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, head and feet, back and abdomen, calcium and phosphorous. Even the organs can be divided into yin and yang.
Yin organs include:
Yang organs include:
Cooling & Heating With Food and Herbs
Because yin and yang animals commonly have issues with internal heating and cooling, respectively, treatment is often referred to as fixing the thermostat--either the A/C or the heater. Both herbs and nutrition can be used to tonify yin and yang.
Yin tonifying foods, or "cooler" diets, include:
Yang tonifying foods, or "warmer" diets, include:
If your pet is diagnosed with a yin or yang deficiency, the veterinarian might prescribe a diet change and add in some tonifying herbs. Food sensitivities can also be linked to a yin or yang deficiency, with a pet being intolerant of foods in the same category, such as chicken and beef.
Dog & Cat Nutrition
Thinking about a raw diet for your pet? We've got the low-down you need on dog and cat nutrition.
The food we eat becomes the building blocks for all cells within our body. Therefore we truly are what we eat. And this can be said for our pets as well.
Cats are obligate carnivores—meat eaters. Dogs are more omnivorous, but still need a good ratio of highly digestible meat in their diet. Fresh foods that are minimally processed provide the best nutrition. Home cooking for our pets is great, but often more labor intensive than one might anticipate. Ratios of calcium to phosphorus, organ meat to lean muscle meat, vitamins and minerals all need to be balanced. Luckily there are ample options commercially available to make feeding your pet a healthy diet easy.
Raw diets are a great way for many pets to improve health. Balanced raw diets are actually quite user-friendly and cost effective. Despite the hesitancy of many allopathic veterinarians, feeding raw diets to pets can be done safely in a way that will enhance health. Nutrition with real food is a cornerstone of addressing health issues such as allergies, inflammatory conditions, behavior, and many chronic diseases.
Real food should be highly digestible. Often processed kibbles use ingredients that are not necessarily digestible—such as meat by-products. By-products are the leftover ingredients from other industries, and can include road kill, euthanized and rendered animals, toenails, beaks, and feathers. These meats should not be the primary source of protein in a dog's diet.
Dogs and cats need organ meat in every meal, as well as hormone and antibiotic-free lean muscle meat. Preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are still routinely used in both human and animal foods, and are known carcinogens. These should be avoided since they contribute to mutations that can result in cancer and chronic disease.
According to the Feline Hyperthyroid Treatment Center of Shoreline, WA, it may be best to avoid the following in order to prevent chronic disease such as hyper or hypothyroidism when feeding your cat:
Since cats are obligatory carnivores, they should not be eating foods high in wheat, gluten, soy, or corn. Although they tend to be attracted to eating these foods, they are not healthy for them. Wheat has been so genetically modified that it actually is addicting, as it stimulates the opiate receptors in the gut. It makes sense now why kitty likes the cheapo food even though it makes him vomit. Also, dry kibble fed daily may put undue strain on hydration and dental health. In the wild, cats eat fresh meat and bone that are high in moisture content. To find out more about feline health and nutrition, speak directly with your holistic veterinarian.
For cats, it is best to feed:
Where to Begin
So how does one initiate a change when feeding their pet a raw diet? Consult your holistic vet who has an interest and experience in feeding raw. Generally, make slow changes. It is generally recommended to at least warm the food after thawing so that it is closer to body temperature. If you live in the damp, cold Pacific Northwest, if your pet is really old, really young, or debilitated, then generally cooking raw diets is advisable. However, many pets love raw meals even cold. For some conditions, feeding the food cold is beneficial. Certain warming or cooling ingredients can be beneficial in treating hot or cool sensitive ailments such as arthritis or dermal issues.
Slowly the word is getting out that nutrition matters for optimal health! Even amongst allopathic veterinary nutritionists, feeding pets what their anatomy and physiology are designed to handle is being promoted more and more. As with all things, there is no one correct answer or diet for all pets everywhere, so individual needs and conditions need to be personally addressed.
What is pet anxiety and how can I fix it?
Stressful situations can result in anxious behaviors that throw the body into constant fight or flight mode. During these times, the stress hormone cortisol is released in large amounts, impairing normal bodily functions and responses.
With the Fourth of July just around the corner, many pet owners run to the vet for prescription drugs to tranquilize and sedate their furry companion amidst the noisy, busy holiday weekend. But there are more holistic, less jarring means of comforting your pet during anxious times.
Anxiety contributors in your pet might include:
If you've ever come home to a sofa in shambles, your pet might be suffering from anxiety. If your pet has suddenly stopped following commands, he might be under a load of stress.
Anxious symptoms include:
How to Minimize Stress in the Home
You can take some quick and easy steps right now to decrease anxiety around the household. Here's how:
Holistic Ways to Decrease Anxiety
On top of do-it-yourself stress reducers, holistic therapy can aid in decreasing your pet's levels of anxiety. Here are some holistic treatments:
Tips for Fireworks
How to Avoid Pet Toxicity
Some human foods and cleaning products are dangerous for cats and dogs.
Dogs and cats are naturally inquisitive individuals. The phrase "curiosity killed the cat" didn't arise without reason! Pets often investigate with their mouths, ingesting foreign materials that can result in internal poisoning. Thankfully, toxicity is easy to avoid.
Common Toxic Household Items
Here's a list of some household items that are common culprits of emergency visits to the vet:
Why and How Are They Toxic?
Ingestion of any of these items can cause a myriad of symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. Depending on the potency, they can even cause death.
How Holistic Medicine Treats Toxicity
An array of natural modalities can be employed to treat toxicity.
The world is full of chemical products that seep into groundwater, soil and the air. Toxins can accumulate inside your dog or cat's body without you even knowing it.
Both natural and man-made chemicals exist that can harm your pet directly and indirectly. Acupuncture and holistic medicine can act as maintenance in this regard, cleansing what you might not have even recognized needed detoxing.
Other Instances Employing Holistic Detox
Many owners seek holistic care as a cure for cancer or an avoidance of vaccinations. In some instances, especially emergency scenarios or legalities, dual modalities are used. This combined treatment between Western and Eastern medicine is called adjunctive therapy.
With an aggressive disease like cancer, the body has already overlooked 50 checks and balances when it reaches that stage. When radiology or chemo are deemed necessary, holistic therapies can be used to help detox the body, allowing it to focus on healing.
Over-vaccination is a common issue in medicine, but certain vaccines, like Rabies, are required by law for good reason. In instances when vaccines are required for your pet's protection, holistic detoxes can help keep the immune system strong after vaccination.
Recognize Emergency Toxicity Situations
Toxin accumulation can occur slowly over time, but acute toxic overloads often warrant immediate emergency care. Sometimes you can monitor your pet for symptoms related to toxicity before making the decision to seek treatment, while other times, if you catch your pet in the act, you'll want to take him or her to the vet immediately. Calling the veterinarian or the poison control helpline (1-855-213-6680) can guide you in the right direction.
Additionally, if your pet is showing any of these signs, seek emergency care prior to developing a holistic treatment plan: