Archive for the ‘Dogs Health’ Category

Labs in the lab: how scientists aim to root out disease in dogs

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The UK’s most popular pedigree dog is about to have its genome sequenced at the institute where Dolly the Sheep was created. The research, which coincides with an online project to trace the cause of environmental illnesses in labradors, will prove a powerful tool in tackling canine diseases.

Photograph: Alamy ••• A labrador retriever puppy. The breed is suffering human-like conditions in old age.

Molly is a 16-month-old black labrador retriever and like so many dogs of her breed, she is exuberant, biddable and anxious to please. She also has a distinct personality, insists her owner Sussi Wiles, from Harefield, Middlesex. “Molly is just a bit cheeky and will do unexpected things. She will jump up at you when you are not expecting it. But she is also good-natured and cheerful and really likes being around people.”

The labrador retriever, of which there are yellow, chocolate and black varieties, is the UK’s most popular pedigree dog. It is estimated there are several hundred thousand living in homes round the country today, a popularity that has much to do with the dog’s innate, endearing good nature. Hence many owners’ fanatical devotion to them. As one website dedicated to the breed puts it: “When God made labrador retrievers, he was showing off.”

Molly is typical in possessing that lovable, affectionate disposition though she is unusual in one intriguing aspect. Information about her life is now being recorded in extraordinary detail in an online project, called Dogslife, which aims to trace the environmental roots of illnesses in the labrador retriever – and a lot more.

According to scientists at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute – the research institute where Dolly the Sheep was created and which launched Dogslife four years ago – the project could become the forerunner of many similar schemes. The aim is to trace the environmental roots of disease – viruses, bacteria, poor food or poor exercise regimes – in other pedigree dogs, and possibly other pedigree animals including top farmyard breeds of bulls and sheep, they say.

For good measure, the Roslin team are planning to augment the data they get from Dogslife by exploiting the very latest techniques in DNA analysis to uncover the genetic – as opposed to the lifestyle – roots of labrador disease. The aim is to create the first labrador genome. Hence its title: the Labradome project. And if it works it could become a pioneer for other pedigree animals, both pets and livestock. The labrador retriever is about to play an unexpectedly important role in the nature-nurture debate, it transpires.

“We picked the labrador for the simple reason that it is the most common pedigree dog in the UK,” says Professor David Hume, Roslin’s director. “However, the lessons learned from it will go far beyond this breed or indeed for dogs in general.

“The key point is that dogs like the labrador retriever are now getting human-like conditions because – as veterinary care and nutrition improves – they are living to ripe old ages when they start to succumb to heart disease, arthritis and cognitive loss. They get Alzheimer’s disease, in effect. They also get obese and suffer diabetes as a consequence. Hence our interest.”

Molly’s involvement in Dogslife requires Wiles to key in reams of information every month about her dog’s diet, hours of exercise, treatments for fleas and worms and any bouts of illness she might suffer. The project – which remains an exclusively labrador project for the moment – currently has more than 4,500 dogs signed up to its website.

Owners put up photos of their pets and regularly input veterinary information – though a select few have even more onerous work to do. They have to send regular samples of their dogs’ excrement to the Roslin team to provide information about the microbes that inhabit the animals’ guts and which might leave them susceptible to various digestive disorders.

Photograph: Sonja Horsman ••• Sussi Wiles and her dog Molly are taking part in an online project that aims to identify the causes of disease that affect labradors in later life.

From the huge stores of doggy data that are being built up this way, researchers expect they will soon begin to tease out some of the causes of disease that affect labradors in later life and answer key questions about their lifestyles. Are particular types of dog food associated with particular diseases? Do infections at certain stages in a dog’s life leave it vulnerable to more serious diseases in later years? And what exercise regimes are most likely to produce good health in later age for the labrador?

“If a dog is getting the trots all the time, we want to know if it’s because they have got a certain type of organism in their guts,” adds Hume. “And does it make a difference what kind of feed they get: dried food or fresh meat? How does diet affect an animal’s health status?”

Many of the roots of labrador ailments are not going to be environmental in origin, of course, but will be inherited. Hence the Roslin team’s decision to launch the Labradome project in parallel with Dogslife. This will involve geneticists creating a high-quality sequence of the genome of a single labrador retriever: the first time that a full genome of this breed will have been sequenced.

“We are going to sequence in depth the entire complement of genes in a healthy labrador retriever to ensure we have a perfect, accurate picture of the basic genetic structure of one of these dogs,” says Dylan Clements, the Roslin researcher who is leading the project. “Then we will sequence the genomes of a number of other labradors, animals that have various different labrador diseases, such as hip dysplasia.

“Then by comparing their genomes with those of our standard, healthy dog, we will be able to work out what are the differences in genetic sequences between the various animals. In this way, we hope to be able to unravel the genetic roots of some of the labrador retriever’s main illnesses.”

A key factor in setting up the Labradome project has been the recent, dramatic cut in the cost of sequencing genomes. The first human genome that was sequenced just over a decade ago cost billions of pounds. The development of ultra-fast, automated sequencing machines has since slashed the price of unrolling the billions of bases of DNA that make up genomes of mammals. As a result, it should be possible to get a really high-quality genome for a labrador for only a few thousand pounds, says Clements.

Hence the decision to set up the Labradome project on the back of Dogslife, says Hume, and to exploit two of the most dramatic technological marvels of the 21st century: the internet and the genome sequencer. “We are funded to fully sequence 50 labradors which we are choosing from a spectrum of different animals with different phenotypes (observable characteristics) so we can get insights into the causes of the main illnesses that affect the breed.”

One of the principal ailments to be analyzed as part of the Labradome project will be a condition called accessory pathway disease, in which the heart short-circuits and beats faster and faster and which can lead to heart failure. Another is called portosystemic shunts, which occurs when a dog’s blood circulation misses out its liver so that it becomes clogged with unhealthy chemicals that would normally be filtered out.

And then there is hip dysplasia, in which the bones that fit into a dog’s hip socket become loose so that the animal develops severe osteoarthritis. “We know this condition is caused by a group of genes, not a singe one, and that is probably true for accessory pathway disease and portosystemic shunts as well. However, if we can create the incredibly detailed sequence that we are planning to do for the labrador retriever and compare dogs with hip dysplasia with our standard healthy animal, we hope we will be able to pin down those genes.”

Armed with this information, researchers can then study how these genes are activated and think of lifestyle changes that might prevent these illnesses from erupting. The point, they say, is that once the Labradome project is finished, it will be possible to look at a top breeding male and see what recessive traits he possesses. Chromosomes come in pairs and if a dog has a gene involved in a disease on one chromosome but has a healthy one on the other chromosome of that pair, it will not be affected by the disease. However, the dog can still pass the disease gene on to future generations so that if two carriers are bred, they can produce offspring affected by the disease. Such conditions are said to be recessive.

“And that is why the Labradome project will be so useful,” says Hume. “We will be able to spot if a stud male has got an unhealthy recessive gene. Then we could breed future generations from it by taking offspring that did not have the chromosome with the disease gene. We would only use offspring that had inherited the chromosome with the healthy gene. Effectively we will be removing that disease from the pedigree. This is known as molecular selection and we are going to use to improve the genetic fitness of the labrador retriever.”

This point is backed by Clements. “This is a fantastically exciting time for canine genetics,” he says. “It has become an amazingly powerful tool to dissect the molecular basis for why these diseases develop and to help us ways to breed out complex inherited diseases.”

For her part, Wiles is simply content that the labrador retriever is getting its proper share of the limelight. “These dogs are incomparable and it seems really fitting that they are leading the way in this sort of research. I know why Molly is fantastic. Now scientists are going to know why that is.”

News reposted from:

Written by: Robin McKie

Why Dogs Need Multivitamin Supplements?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Many pet parents assume that they are meeting their dog’s nutritional requirements by providing them with high-quality pet food made from the best ingredients. While choosing a nutritious and healthy pet food is an important step in protecting the health of your pet, the fact of the matter is you are likely not meeting all of your pet’s needs. In order to develop a strong immune system and avoid disease and infection, dogs require a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants as a part of their daily diet. In many cases, a daily multivitamin supplement will be able to meet these needs and provide your pet with more benefits than you can even imagine.

  • Multivitamin supplements will fill in the nutritional gaps in your dog’s diet. When your dog’s nutritional requirements are not met, it may be prone to injury because of insufficient bone development or a weak immune system could cause your dog to easily become infected and suffer from disease. Supplement products can help prevent these issues, because they ensure that your pet is getting all of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants that it needs in order to grow up strong and healthy.
  • These supplements have been created utilizing special formulas that specifically target the development of a strong immune system. This is why it can be beneficial to start providing your pet with a supplement product at a young age. These supplements have been shown to help enhance the development of the immune system, allowing your dog to protect itself against infection, illness and disease.
  • Multivitamins can help your dog maximize its energy use and prevent it from becoming lazy and lethargic early in life. Multivitamin supplements allow your dog to feel its best at all times, so it is always up for a walk around the block or a romp in the dog park with other local pooches.
  • Depending on the formula, some multivitamin supplements will help support the development of a healthy and strong bone structure. When you choose a supplement product for your pet, you will want to know what ingredients are included in the particular formula that you choose. Look for ingredients such as copper, iron, magnesium and oyster shell, all of which aid in the development of strong bones. A dog that does not receive supplements and therefore does not have an optimal bone structure may be prone to injury. Choosing the right multivitamin can help you allow your dog to live an exciting and fulfilling life without the fear of hurting itself on a regular basis.
  • Multivitamin supplements contain specific ingredients that help your dog’s body to better absorb and utilize the nutrients in its pet food. Simply because your high-quality pet food includes a certain vitamin, mineral, or nutrient, doesn’t mean that your dog’s body is capable of absorbing it. In most cases, vitamins work with one another in order to unlock the benefits for the body. A supplement product will have been created utilizing a well-balanced formula that contains a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, all of which will work together in order to maximize the positive impact on your dog’s health. Giving a daily natural supplement is a safe and effective way to ensure that your dog enjoys all of the health benefits that it deserves in order to live a long and happy life.

Pet parents who are interested in providing their dog with a daily vitamin supplement should discuss this with their veterinarian. When you tell your veterinarian what pet food products you are giving your dog, the doctor will be able to provide you with recommendations for types of supplements that might be beneficial for your pet. In many cases, a multivitamin formula is ideal for pets, as these supplements contain a well-rounded portion of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants that dogs need. Your veterinarian can help you choose a supplement product that is safe and effective, allowing your dog to benefit as much as possible from this nutritional boost.

Article reposted from:

Post provider: NuVet Labs

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Dogs Life More Holistic

Friday, August 29th, 2014

In honor of National Holistic Pet Day on August 30, here are a few ways that you can help your dog lead a more holistic – where your dog’s soul, body and mind are interconnected – life because a balanced dog is a happy one. (Obviously, before trying any of the tips below, always do your research and consult your trusted veterinarian.)

1. Provide frequent, clean water — Like us, dogs are mostly (roughly 70 percent) made up of water. On average, dogs need “8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds (55 to 110 milliliters per kilogram) per day.” There could already be bacteria or other unwelcome things in your dog’s water bowl, so incorporating nice clean water is important. If you make it a point to drink filtered water, make sure the water you give your dogs is also nice and clean.

2. Feed them more raw foods — Dogs are also what they eat. They probably don’t want to eat “food” that’s constantly recalled and pulled from the shelves because other dogs are dying from it. A raw food diet — or even a more raw food diet — that you prepare at home is a sure way to help your dog get the nutrients that he needs. If you’re interested in this, look into what your dog needs for a full, healthy diet, and consult your veterinarian to make sure it’s the right choice for your dog’s health.

3. Practice the art of DogaDoga is yoga that you and your dog (or other pet) can do together. If yoga’s not your style, then good ol’-fashioned exercise will get the tail wagging.

4. Take a mindful walk — This also falls into the exercise category, but walks aren’t just about your dog. Your energy and presence matter, too. Be confident so that your dog wants to follow you; it’ll also help you avoid the less pleasant aspects of walking a dog, e.g. pulling you. The Natural Dog Blog recommends focusing and playing-training for you to truly walk with your dog in a mindful way.

5. Make your dog work — Dogs actually like to work. Give your dog some life purpose by giving her a job. Her breed and natural quirks will help you decide the job for her. A few common examples are making her carry a backpack with your personal items, fetching things for you because you’re too lazy, guarding the house or chasing the cat (just kidding!).

6. Go on a doggy date — Your dog should definitely not be anti-social. There’s nothing like a dog chilling with another dog. Even if you don’t have your own dog pack, training classes, dog parks and dog meet ups are easy ways meet new dogs. Dog socialization isn’t just about making your dog happy and entertaining the humans with their antics. Dog socialization will boost your pooch’s confidence and make them more reliable.

7. Stimulate their mind — Play is the no-brainer way to engage your dog’s mind. You can use it to simulate the thrill of the hunt or stick something tasty in a toy that makes your dog forage for food like his ancestors. You can also get your dog’s mind going by learning a new trick or giving him a new challenge.

A word of caution about dog toys: Part of human holistic living is avoiding toxins and chemicals that are not good for our bodies. Well, they aren’t good for our pets either, but many dog toys are full of them. The Bark notes how many dog toys imported from China are full of carcinogenic and poisonous heavy metals, e.g. cadmium, lead and chromium. Avoid dog toys that reek of chemicals, use bright colors or have fire retardants or stain guards. Never assume that a toy is safe just because it’s made in the United States, either.

8. Unwind with a dog massage — When the fun and excitement is over, it’s important for your dog to unwind. Like us, a good massage can help with that. Holistic Veterinary Healing lists the Tui Na massage as an effective technique to help your dog’s joints and muscles. The technique is used to prevent injury, restore joint and tissue function, improve their performance and endurance and prevent the loss of joint mobility. Another massage technique involves no physical contact. Reiki for dogs works to align all of their chakras from head to tail and remove their pent up negative energy.

Your Holistic Dog has more massage tutorials that will walk you through giving your dog the perfect massage.

9. Relax with some musical therapy — You can also let some music do the relaxing for you. A calming tune offers more benefits than pure relaxation. Pet MD explains that “music causes changes in brain activity, neurohumoral, cardiovascular and immune responses.” While there are many recordings to choose from, studies show that classical music is especially effective.

10. Find a holistic or alternative vet — If you’re loving the idea of holistic medicine for your pet, then there are vets with holistic and alternative trainings. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association helps you find an accredited vet where acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, dog chakra clearing and homeopathy are the norm. You can also check out International Alliance for Animal Therapy and Healing and International Veterinary Acupuncture Society for more information.

Bonus Tip: Be balanced, be happy — I’m not sure if it’s because they study us every day or there’s some ethereal soul contract at play, but our dogs are truly our mirrors. If you strive to live your best and most holistic life, then you’ll give them permission to do the same. Now that’s a gift.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Jessica Ramos

Some dog breeds might be genetically predisposed to certain cancers

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

It is not uncommon in this postmodern age for dog owners to refer to, and even treat, their dog as if that dog were their child. “This is my baby” and “These are my kids” are phrases frequently uttered by dog owners, absent of any irony, to introduce a bounding Labrador to a new acquaintance or to draw attention from across a bar top to a smartphone picture of a pair of panting Corgis.

All commentary aside, and presuming that there are likely as many people who identify themselves in this state of affairs as there are those who are confused and nauseated by it, the following is important, if potentially distressing, news for modern parents of canine children. Dr. Gerald Post, a board-certified veterinary oncologist, wrote a post on this afternoon concerning revelations made while researching the canine genome that are beginning to make causal links between a dog’s breed and its likelihood of developing certain kinds of cancer. Post notes that while every dog is at some level of risk for cancer, some breeds of dog seem to develop specific types of cancer more frequently than others. For example, Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds are more closely associated with B-cell lymphomas than are other breeds and mixes. Such connections have had empirical support for some time, but it is only now, through genetic research, that scientists might be able definitively describe the connections and move towards more effective treatments.

In general, canine children should be taken to a licensed veterinarian for regular checkups. But parents should also be watchful for warning signs of specific cancers and diligent in keeping their kids away from factors that might increase risk, such as an unhealthy diet.

Janet Tobiassen Crosby, a doctor in veterinary medicine, states that about 1 in 4 dogs will succumb to some form of cancer, and that appearance of tell-tale symptoms like sudden weight loss, uncharacteristic lethargy or loss of appetite and new or changed lumps on the dog’s skin should always be checked out by a vet. While this might inspire an increase of hypochondriasis by proxy in parents of canine children, when the well-being of a child is on the line, one can never be too safe.

Article reposted from:

Written by: J. Layne Proctor
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Foods that prevent Cancer in Dogs

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 35% of all human cancers can be attributed to diet imbalances and cancer in dogs is no different. Canine cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over ten years old.

The best thing you can do to prevent cancer in your dog (and yourself) is by feeding a healthy, balanced diet that keeps the immune system strong and fights free radicals.

Foods that protect dogs from getting cancer are considered super foods that are rich in minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.

According to Oregon State University’s journal, Cancer Prevention, green leafy vegetables containing chlorophyll block the absorption of carcinogens and aflatoxins (often found in the corn and fish found in kibble) and help block carcinogens from entering the blood stream.

Kale, and other green superfoods, contain carotenoids that travel through our dog’s bodies and remove carcinogens out of cells.

The following foods can be lightly cooked or fed raw to help protect your dog from getting cancer:

  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bok choi
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Mustard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

Foods containing concentrated sources of vitamin D3 also help prevent cancer, such as:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Cod
  • Eggs

A very simple way to supplement your dog’s diet is to simply chop or grate the super foods and mix with meals.

Article reposted from:

Skin Tags: Are They Dangerous?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

With the all knowledge of skin cancer and the dangers of malignant lumps, it’s not surprising that any new or unusual growth on your pet’s skin causes concern. However, skin tags are quite common, particularly in older pets, and are generally nothing to worry about.

What are skin tags ?

Skin tags are the result of excessive growth of skin cells and will be the same color as your pet’s skin. Tags can grow anywhere on your pet’s body including eyelids and ears and are usually found in areas where the skin folds.

Skin tags are soft, fleshy and malleable (unlike warts that are hard) but can be flat, rounded, teardrop or stalk-like in shape. Tags are generally only a few millimeters in length but can grow to the size of a grape. These large tags are more likely to get bumped, pinched or crushed and cause discomfort. Usually once a skin tag is seen, it indicates that others will be present on your pet’s body or will develop.

As mentioned, skin tags are very common, and can form in any breed. The exact causes of skin tags are yet to be determined, it is believed that hereditary, environment, infections, immune system weakness and allergies influence their growth.

Whilst skin tags are harmless and non-cancerous (benign), they are commonly mistaken as skin cancer growths and should always be examined by a vet who my need to perform a biopsy to identify if the growth is malignant.

Most skin tags won’t need removing unless they are causing your pet discomfort, become irritated or infected. Vet’s can easily perform a removal procedure which is non-invasive and quick involving cauterization or freezing. The skin tags will simply fall off after treatment.

It’s important to regularly check your pet’s skin. The sooner you notice any growths or changes, the better the chances of early diagnosis and recovery.

When to see a vet

It’s advisable to consult your vet with any growth to determine whether the growth is a harmless skin tag or more serious. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to the successful prevention of tumors and cancers spreading.

Schedule a consultation with you vet immediately for any of the following:

  • Skin tags that bleed or become infected
  • If there is pain and irritation in the affected area
  • Growths that bleed or resemble wounds and do not heal
  • Dark or black growths, pale or pink growths that are not the color of your pet’s skin
  • Any growths around your pet’s mouth or lips as these can interfere with swallowing or even develop into cancer
  • Any growths or tags that change shape, size, color or appearance

Article reposted from:

Written by: Simone
Image credit

Why is Understanding Cell Health so Important for your Dogs Wellbeing?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Cells are the fundamental units of life; these small living organisms in your dog’s body are responsible for constant communication, responding to environmental changes, and reacting to signals from your dog. If your dog’s cells are compromised, the function of tissues and organs, which are created and made up of cells, can fail. The physical health of dogs, as well as humans, depends on the health of these trillions of cells that create the organs, tissues, and bones that support the body. Keeping your dog’s cells healthy is keeping your dog’s whole being healthy.

Your dog’s body, as well as your own, is constantly replacing old cells with new ones. Providing material and energy, by what your dog is consuming, is how your dog’s body to able to create these new cells. There are some vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make up proteins and other cell components, yet cannot be made in the body.

Cell Function

Cells are responsible for a variety of complex functions but there are two very basic processes that are necessary in maintaining health. These two functions are how nutrients enter the cells and how waste materials leave. Cell membranes are largely responsible for this action.

The cell membrane/cell wall encapsulates the cell as a structural boundary that keeps the internal parts secure. It has a semi-permeable filter which allows nutrients to enter and wastes to be disposed of. The membranes are composed of non-water soluble fats. The main function of the fats in the cell membrane is to create shape and maintain stability.

Proteins are also essential to your dog’s cells, helping with communication between cells. Proteins also help cells connect and attach to areas of the body — for example, liver cells stay in the liver by attaching to liver tissue through proteins in the cell membranes. With cancer cells, these proteins are often lacking or not working correctly, which allows the offending cells to move and spread around the body.


Nutrition is extremely important to cellular health. The fats your dog consumes have an effect on his/her cells as the cell membranes are composed of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish and in Elimay Supplements, are necessary for cell structure. Feeding your dog appropriate levels of unsaturated fats, such as Omega-3s, is an easy way to support healthy cell membranes.

Dogs that are fed a commercial diet are less likely to get the appropriate amounts of ‘good fats’ like omega-3s. If your dog is eating a commercial diet, supplementing with omegas is a good idea. Omega supplements should also be added to a nutrient-rich, homemade diet.

Other essential fatty acids, are a group of fatty-acids that are required for maintenance and growth of tissues, as well as overall cell health. These essential nutrients are required, yet cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, they must be obtained from natural food sources. Essential fatty-acids include linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega-3). Without the right quantity of linoleic acid, your dog may experience health problems such as skin issues, liver and kidney degeneration, heart problems, weakness, and arthritis. Essential fatty acids also reduce inflammation.(1)

Natural sources of linoleic acid (Omega 6) include safflower, sunflower, chicken fat, hempseed, walnuts, evening primrose, almond oil, and borage oil. Linolenic acids (omega 3) are found most commonly in fish oil, as well as in sea buckthorn oil, flax oil, flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and wheat germ.

Oxidative damage happens to all cells, every day. But what is oxidative damage and what can be done about it? Free-radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and are normal by-products of metabolism. They can also be produced by cells in response to stress, toxicity and pollution. Free-radicals become a major problem in the body; damaging cells and their function if too many accumulate. Antioxidants from the diet, such as Vitamin C, green tea extract, and trace elements are important in ‘neutralizing’ these free-radicals, keeping cells in tip-top shape. Important sources of antioxidants include fresh fruits and vegetables and Longevity supplements for dogs.

Specific vitamins, such as vitamin E are also critical in cell membrane health. Vitamin E contains antioxidants that can protect both the fats and proteins in your dog’s membranes from damage. Natural sources of vitamin E include walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ oil. There are also vitamin E supplements available.

In short, healthy cells equal a healthy animal. By paying attention to what goes into your dog’s diet, you are directly benefiting your dog’s cells and overall health.


Roudebush, Philip. Fatty Acid Supplementation: Does It Really Work? ACVIM Proceedings. 2006.

About Dr. Deborah Shores

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dr. Deborah Shores, DVM

How to help a pet who has food allergies be healthy and happy

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Just as with people, our four legged friends can suffer from allergies too. There are many types of allergens that can affect your dog. Allergy symptoms that result from repeated consumption of potential allergens are usually referred to as food allergies. Food allergies are most commonly seen in response to the protein source in the food (i.e beef, chicken or lamb). Common clinical sign seen in dogs with food allergies include such things as dermatologic (skin/ear), digestive, or respiratory problems. By understanding and properly managing our pets’ food allergies, we can keep them healthy and happy.


Do know the symptoms of food allergies

Common symptoms of food allergies include such things itching, especially around the face, neck, ears, feet and limbs. Chronic ear and skin infections can also result from food allergies. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, please consult your veterinarian.

Do know what your pet is allergic to

In most cases, allergies come from the protein source in the food. By doing a food trial, or only feeding a single protein source for a period of time of 1-2 months, you can see how your dog reacts to that single protein source, you can narrow down what your dog is allergic too. This is a trial-and-error process that could take several months and several types of food in order to identify the ingredient(s) to which your dog is allergic.

Do read labels and ingredients for everything your pet consumes

Many types of food will advertise a specific type of meat or protein, but you still need to read all of the ingredients to make sure the allergenic protein(s) aren’t just lower down on the ingredient list. This is especially true of dog treats. Some pet’s medications may also be flavored too.

Do make sure everyone at home is onboard with a special diet and feeding instructions

Many breaks in food allergy control happen when a member of the family gives in to temptation and feeds an allergenic (allergy-causing) food to your dog. Simple things like feeding the wrong table scraps or adding broth or other foods/flavor mix-ins to the pet food can negate any benefit your pet was receiving from being on a special, hypoallergenic diet.

Do work with your veterinarian

Your veterinarian can help you identify the signs of a food allergy to determine if that is what your pet might be suffering from. He or she will work to identify the source of the allergy and to help manage the food allergy symptoms. Your veterinarian will also assist with finding a suitable diet or recommend working with a veterinary nutritionist or dermatologist for more difficult cases. Remember that your veterinarian is there to help.


Do not be in denial

Many people feel that if they are feeding a premium food that their pet cannot be allergic to it. That is not the case, though, since even the best foods on the market may contain proteins to which pets can be allergic. If your dog or cat is allergic to chicken, then even the highest quality, most expensive, organic chicken will induce an allergic reaction in your pet. This is true of home-cooked, raw, and store-bought pet foods.

Do not assume anything

Even though the food label says “hypoallergenic” or advertises the food as being made of a specific protein source, that doesn’t mean the food doesn’t contain a different ingredient that your pet might be allergic to. This is especially true of many over the counter (non-prescription) limited protein source diets that advertise being made of one protein source, even though other protein sources can also be found when reading carefully through food’s ingredient list.

Do not forget about treats, and table scraps and medications

Many problems or break food allergy treatment is by feeding treats and table scraps. Many people are aware that their dog has a food allergy and spend the time, effort and money on an appropriate food, but then forgets about the allergy when it comes times for treats. Certain medications can also be flavored using things like beef or chicken that your dog may be allergic to.

Do not give up

Diet or food trials can take time. In some patients it may take several months to be sure if the diet is appropriate or not. Unfortunately, there are increasing numbers of pet foods on the market that now include ingredients that were once reserved only for allergic dogs. As a result, dogs who do suffer from food allergies are being left with fewer diet options that may benefit them.


Although food allergy represents only a small percentage of allergies that we see in our four legged friends, there are still many pets afflicted with this type of allergy every year. We have come a long way in understanding food allergies in dogs and cats, so if you think your pet is exhibiting the clinical signs of a food allergy, please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Shelley Skopit, DVM

Photo Credits: Robert Neumann/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas –

What You Need To Know About Cancer In Dogs

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Warning Signs And Natural Remedies

Who would have thought that cancer would become the leading cause of death in dogs over 10-years old. Cancer simply means that certain cells are reproducing faster than normal. Older cells in the cancerous area are not dying off like they should which is why they can grow so fast. The good news is if it is caught early enough, some can be cured. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help catch it early so a proper treatment can be administered, before it is too late.

Most Common Types Of Cancer In Dogs

The most common kind of cancer include:

  • Malignant lymphoma – tumor of the lymph nodes
  • Skin cancer – mast cell tumors
  • Mammary gland tumors – breast cancer
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Bone cancer

Learn The Warning Signs

The warning signs in dogs are quite similar to those in people. You might notice a bump on the skin or a lump. Perhaps a wound is not healing properly or there might be a swelling of some sort such as in the lymph nodes, under the arm or abnormal bleeding. Many times, there are no signs but there might be something about your dog that isn’t quite right. They might become lethargic or just don’t feel well. That is the best time to bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. Watch for any of the following warning signs:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Change in your pet’s elimination habits
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargic
  • Any unexplained discharge or bleeding
  • Offensive odor
  • Persistent stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Persistent cough

Cancer rates in dogs and pets in general have increased simply because they are living longer with great care and attention by their owner(s). Years ago, dogs often died from a common illness or hit by a car but today the vaccines are quite effective plus more are living indoors. They are simply living longer. A cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence.

Natural Remedies For Cancer In Dogs

If the cancer is found early, it can usually be treated with surgery to remove it and your pet can live a long, healthy life with a little extra attention. If you are an advocate of natural treatments, then most of you will want to avoid steroids, radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments rarely prolong survival, dish up plenty of side effects and can cost thousands of dollars. A calm state of mind and spending time with your pet in nature, can also greatly help the healing process.

If your dog is older and the tumor is growing slowly, it may not require immediate treatment, as long as it is not causing any pain or discomfort. Many times your dog might pass from other age-related issues before cancer becomes a problem for them. Regular exercise can be done on a daily basis that is good for both of you.

The folks at have developed a special diet that contains ingredients that have been proven to slow down the growth rate of cancerous tumors. They point out that it is not the cancer itself that hurts your pet; rather it is the fast rate of growth of the tumor or the side effects of cancer treatments that can kill your dog.

The Cancer-Prevention Diet

The cancer-prevention diet revolves around a high-protein, grain-free meal that is most similar to their wild counterparts. Companies such as Sojos offer grain-free based, dehydrated foods that are convenient and easy to serve up to your dog. For a 60-pound dog, mix together the following:

  • 2 cups of dry Sojos Grain-Free Complete (Beef or Turkey – or you can mix them)
  • 3 cups of water to soak the dry food
  • ¼ pound of ground turkey breast – raw
  • ¼ cup of plain, organic yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of Health From The Sun – Pure Fish Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of organic green tea
  • 1 Brazil nut – finely chopped

Supplements For Your Dog

  • Yunnan Baiyao
  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan
  • Enzymatic Therapy
  • Milk Thistle
  • Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Dog Breeds Prone To Cancer

Some breeds are more prone to cancer than others. Anytime there is an inbred population, you have no idea what traits have been passed along. For example, Bernese Mountain dogs, Boxers and Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer. Thought genetics plays a role, we cannot ignore toxins, chemicals and pollutants in the environment.

Cancer Prevention Tactics

  • Like people, it is important to give them a line of defense with a good quality supplement that contains vital antioxidants that can help prevent free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants) from attacking healthy cells in the body.
  • Your veterinarian should examine any lump, mass or tumor for a proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if you notice any changes in the growth or mass.
  • Breast cancer in dogs is highly preventable through spaying the animal. Spaying your animal before their first heat cycle can help prevent them from developing breast cancer later in life.

Article reposted from:
Written by: Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM

Acupuncture can be a great way to treat dog arthritis

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It happens. We all get older – our dogs included. Do you remember the fun days of puppyhood where they could run for hours playing fetch? Does your dog now struggle to even get to her feet? If you’d like to try a natural approach to treating your dog’s arthritis, or if his pain meds aren’t working as well as they once did, consider giving acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine a try. Read on to learn how to find a qualified acupuncturist and a few things you can do at home to help your aging pup!


Do find a practitioner who is trained in animal acupuncture

In 11 states it is legal for non-veterinarians to treat your pets using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Some states require that the acupuncturist obtain a referral from the pet’s veterinarian, while others require that the acupuncturist work in the office of a veterinarian under their supervision. Make sure that your acupuncturist is licensed and has been board certified by the American Board of Animal Acupuncture (ABAA). This ensures that the acupuncturist has been trained to safely use acupuncture on animals.

If your state doesn’t allow non-veterinarians to treat pets, make sure that the veterinarian treating your pet has completed acupuncture training through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) or the Chi Society. Remember, you wouldn’t want your general practitioner performing brain surgery on you – and you don’t want someone not fully trained in acupuncture and Chinese medicine sticking needles in your pet!

Do know that acupuncture isn’t a quick fix

Acupuncture is a system that treats the whole animal in order to get to the underlying cause of the disease. Most arthritic pets seem spunkier after 1-4 treatments. Most pets will need to continue to be seen 2-4 times a year for “tune up” treatments to keep the arthritis at bay.

Do ask your veterinarian about switching to a grain-free food

In Chinese medical theory, grains are inflammatory in dogs and cats. Many pets can handle eating foods with grains in them – their bodies are healthy and are able to deal with small amounts of inflammation, but a dog with arthritis is dealing with inflammation in her joints as well. Switching to a grain-free diet can allow the body to focus on the inflammation associated with the arthritis, instead of being distracted by inflammation in the gut.

Do some home acupressure on your pet

There is a system of acupuncture points in your dog’s ears that can treat its whole body! Take the pinna (the flappy part of your dog’s ear) between your thumb and fingers. Have your thumb on the inner, fleshy side and your fingers on the outer, hairy side. Be careful to keep out of your dog’s ear canal, but rub little circles all over the rest of the flappy part! Most dogs (and cats!) love it – it’s like a full body massage!


Do not try acupuncture or herbalism on your own

Your licensed acupuncturist has had over four years of training in acupuncture and Chinese herbalism. If they are board certified with the American Board of Animal Acupuncture, they have had an additional 120 hours of training in Animal Acupuncture. A veterinarian who has taken acupuncture classes has 50-160 hours of training in acupuncture beyond 4 years of veterinary school. Chinese medicine is a complex diagnostic system in which no two cases of arthritis are the same. Your practitioner has been trained to make such a diagnosis, and then treat each patient using acupuncture points and Chinese herbs specific to that patient, based on their Chinese medical diagnosis. An herb that is helpful in one patient can make another patient’s symptoms worse!

Do not worry that your pet won’t sit still

You might be surprised to know that most dogs do lie still and many even fall asleep with their needles in! Dogs love acupuncture! If your dog won’t sit still, know that the biggest effect from the needles occurs when they’re first inserted. If a needle falls out a little early, it’s not a big deal!

Do not give your arthritic dog foods from the nightshade family

Foods in the nightshade family include: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and sweet and hot peppers. This family of foods is very inflammatory and will make arthritis worse. Check your dog’s food label for these ingredients.

Do not be afraid to try acupuncture

There’s a lot of talk out there about acupuncture being nothing more than a placebo. However, dogs respond very quickly to acupuncture (in about half the time that a human patient would!), and yet dogs can’t experience the placebo effect. Acupuncture is simply a tool that the biomedical world doesn’t understand yet. The sooner you get your achy dog into treatment, the sooner you’ll see that spark of life again!

Acupuncture has been around for over 5000 years and Chinese herbalism for even longer than that. Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for arthritis that is safe when performed by a properly trained practitioner. If your dog is suffering from arthritis, give this ancient healing modality a try – they’ll thank you for it!

Article reposted from:

Written by: Becca Seitz
Photo Credits: Steve Collender/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas –