Category Archives: education

More states say ‘yes’ to breaking into cars when a dog is at risk

Calendar Icon June 20, 2017
by Wayne Pacelle

Sixteen states now allow certain public officials to rescue animals in hot cars and 10 states allow members of the public to rescue animals in hot cars, provided certain steps are taken.  Photo by iStockphoto

Yesterday, I wrote about Chinese authorities stopping a truck jam-packed with 800-plus dogs bound for slaughter.  Today, I read a story about a truck with nearly 1,000 small animals crammed inside — including birds, chickens, bunnies, and guinea pigs – and left in the searing heat in Fresno County, California.  The temperature inside the truck surged to 107 degrees.  By the time the police arrived, notified by neighbors who reported an odor coming from the truck, the heat had claimed 18 animals.  Ten more died after authorities got into the vehicle and started pulling them out.

These animals were not bound for slaughter, but for sale at pet stores.  It’s a reminder of our home-grown problems here in the United States.

It’s also a reminder that with the first day of summer coming tomorrow, there are acute hazards for animals in transportation.  Cars and trucks heat up extraordinarily fast, even with the windows down, as temperatures soar outside.  Even on an 80-degree day – which residents of many parts of the country would beg for this time of year – the temperature inside a car can climb to nearly 100 degrees within 10 minutes.

Summer after summer, we shake our heads as we see a cascade of news stories about dogs dying after being left in hot cars. First responders on the scene to rescue animals left in hot cars make heartbreaking discoveries: claw marks left on the door, ripped seats, nail particles strewn in the vehicle.

In addition to building awareness that prompts better behavior, we are also attacking the problem from a policy angle.  In recent years, we’ve convinced more than half of the states to pass laws to allow private citizens to break into cars and free animals from life-threatening circumstances.  This year, lawmakers in Arizona, Colorado, and Indiana took final action on these so-called “Good Samaritan” measures, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown can sign the bill on her desk to do the same.  Sixteen states now allow certain public officials to rescue animals in hot cars (Nevada passed a bill this year to improve and expand their provisions) and 10 states allow members of the public to rescue animals in hot cars provided certain steps are taken.  Even more states grant immunity to first responders who must rescue animals in distress or prohibit leaving pets unattended altogether.

Intervention is carefully defined and kept as a last resort only to be used when all other options have been exhausted and the animal is in visible distress.  But all responsible pet parents would sacrifice a car window to save the life of their animal.  When it comes to property versus the life of an animal, that’s not a close call.

The safest thing you can do for your pet this summer is to leave him or her cool at home while you run errands.  Take the pledge to never leave your pet in a hot car.

The post More states say ‘yes’ to breaking into cars when a dog is at risk appeared first on A Humane Nation.

 

Source: A Humane Nation

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Flu Fear Fans Vaccination Flames

JUNE 18, 2017 BY

Three pups wrestling on grass
Whoo hooo! Hey, any of you guys have a cough?

Panic Time? Not if You’re Smart.

The canine influenza virus (CIV to the lab folks, or dog flu to most of us) has made another come back. Dog flu was all the rage in Chicago in 2015, and I posted about the likely “genus epidemicus” (remedies to cure and/or prevent this illness) back then, and I’m sure it still applies today.

What’s changed that it’s going around again?

Very little, from the sounds of it. It’s cropped up at some dog shows and a
recent post on the AVMA site reveals it’s moved back into several states this
time around.

In May 2017, canine H3N2 influenza was diagnosed in dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois. This was the same strain of H3N2 involved in the 2015 outbreak in Chicago.1

I was a bit surprised to hear of the resurgence, as I expected there’d be a
wide spread immunity by now, two years after the initial run.

Also surprising to me is the apparent hysteria to get dogs vaccinated, likely
fueled by the media, who are milking the “contagion factor” all they can.

What’s in it for them? More eyeballs on their station/website, more ad sales.

Here’s a sample from a blog reader who commented on one of my earlier dog flu
posts:

This is definitely the HOT topic right now in my dog circle. We do agility and
it’s all the fear right now. Starting in Georgia and Florida and now in Texas

Many are ordering the vaccine. Many fears about these strains going around if caught can cause permanent lung damage and cost thousands of dollars to treat your dog. The stories are scary. I am having faith in Homeopathy.

Seriously?? “Permanent lung damage?” From the flu?

Sounds like unfounded hysteria to me, until I hear post mortem results that prove otherwise.

Reality Check

Let’s get the facts of this flu in hand, and have a plan in place that’s risk free, for both prevention and treatment, if your dog should get this flu.

There are two measures for every epidemic, whether human or animal.  They are:

  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

Very different measures.

The first, morbidity, just means how many are sickened by a given infectious disease.  It’s akin to contagion.  How easy is this virus to catch?  That’s morbidity.

The second, mortality, like it sounds, means how high is the death rate in the population that does catch the bug?

Just like the 2015 dog flu outbreak, this same virus is quite contagious, but not much of a threat to reasonably healthy dogs:

The H3N2 virus exhibits extremely high mobility and low mortality, and an
estimated 3 to 5 percent of dogs infected die.

Dr. Hawkes lost one of his black Russian terriers—though he’s quick to point
out that this particular dog had additional medical issues.

“It was pretty scary to see my 10 big dogs taken down in a matter of days,”
Hawkes said.2

“Additional medical issues?”

In other words, this was not a healthy dog.

Typical of most infectious diseases (and even parasites from fleas to heartworms), it preys mostly on those weakened, less healthy individuals in any given population.

Although most dogs recover without incident, deaths due to H3N2 have been reported.3

Oh, and no scientist anywhere is citing “permanent lung damage.”

Species Jumping

Oh, those pesky flu viruses, they seem to like to spread their influence beyond the borders of species lines.

The first we knew of dog flu was in 2004, when H3N8 apparently jumped from horses to greyhounds in Florida.

And our latest dog flu variant, H3N2, has infected some cats.

Following the initial diagnosis in Chicago, additional cases of canine H3N2
influenza were reported in a number of states. In early 2016, a group of
shelter cats in Indiana were diagnosed with H3N2 canine influenza. It is
believed the virus was transmitted to them from infected dogs.4

No humans have caught this flu in either variant to date.

How to Think Through the Vaccine Hype

With the help of main stream media and shock jocks on local TV news shows,
there’s been a rush to get dogs vaccinated against dog flu.

Let me help you see why that’s not in your best interests.

First, we look at efficacy, or how well it protects. Much like flu in humans, there’s more conjecture about efficacy than there is hard data to suggest we can rely on it protecting the vaccinated.

Vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza. A bivalent
vaccine offering protection against both strains is also available. Currently,
there are no canine influenza vaccines approved for use in cats. Vaccination
can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza. Vaccination may not all together prevent an infection, but it may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness.

The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended
for every dog.5

“May not altogether prevent an infection?”

“…may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness?”

Yes, and I may be a genius billionaire with yachts in five oceans and a fleet of private jets who could have retired 20 years ago.

Ahem.

Then, we always need to look at safety, as you well know if you’ve read anything on this site or many others concerned about vaccines and our current epidemic of vaccine injury in kids and animals.

Vaccines in general, and I’m sure this one is no exception, lack both efficacy and safety. Read that link on safety above for the inside scoop on the animal side of that.

And look around at the startling rise in autism and death from peanut allergy, both of which paralleled closely the rocketing rate of childhood vaccine “requirements.”

Add to that my recent post about the latest study the skeptics didn’t want you to see, comparing vaccinated vs non-vaccinated children, and you should have any concerns about vaccine safety verified in a hurry.

Conventional Treatment? You Can Do Better, Trust Me.

You know the old saw,

If your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail?”

Well, that hammer in Dr. WhiteCoat’s hands is antibiotics. Given freely, given way too often, and causing all sorts of gut and immune system damage.

And, last I checked, antibiotics still aren’t effective against viruses, right?

And CIV stands for what, again?

Canine influenza virus.

So, how’s that treatment working out, out there in nail land?

The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The
most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. 6

“Persists…despite treatment?”

And side effects are ruined gut flora, where 80% of your dog’s immune system resides?

How loudly can you shout NO!?

A Free Report to Put Your Mind at Ease

I recognized that my earlier post on the 2015 dog flu prevention and treatment remedies was a bit difficult to sort out. I was pretty excited when I wrote it, as we’d had real, verifiable cures of dogs with dog flu from two homeopathic remedies.

To that end, I collated what you need to know to use homeopathy to do two worthy things in this particular epidemic:

  1. Effectively and cheaply and safely prevent dog flu.
  2. Treat it effectively, cheaply and safely, if your dog was unlucky enough to contract dog flu.

Click on this button and you’ll have my Dog Flu report in short order:

Let’s keep track of this so we stay on top of the best remedy choices to prevent and/or treat it.

  1. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  2. Canine Influenza Virus 2017: Beyond Two Show Dogs, Canine Influenza Virus 2017: Beyond Two Show Dogs, http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/Canine-Influenza-Virus-Beyond-Two-Show-Dogs/?en_click=1&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=feature
  3. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  4. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  5. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  6. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx

Source: https://vitalanimal.com/dog-flu-vaccine-epidemic/

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Kitties Can Travel Too

Los Angeles Times  7 Jun 2017
by Julie Pendray

Image result for kittie in car

I knew Michelle was up for adventure when I spotted her.  As her brothers snored nearby, she reached out to me.

And purred.

It was a match.  After I adopted her, she began climbing into my backpack — a sign, perhaps, that she was hoping to join me on work assignments.

I bought a crate, buckled it into my car’s back seat and off we went around town. Gradually, we took longer trips, including the California coast.

Last summer, Michelle and I traveled in my fully packed Prius from Southern California to British Columbia and back, a journey of about 6,000 miles.

Dogs get most of the ink when it comes to car trips, but I can attest that cats also can be great company as you head down the highway.

Michelle’s curiosity and independence made me laugh; she also occasionally kept me warm (or at least kept my feet warm), whether in a tent, a motel or a lodge.  She also won hearts and admiration by being sociable with people she trusted.

Here are tips to help Kitty become a first-class travel companion:

A strong cat-owner bond is key.  After she took up residence with me, Michelle would run to the door when I left for work, and I could hear her crying as I drove away.  Clearly, she wanted to be with me, in the house on the road.

Train your kitten early.  Take your furry friend on short trips.  This not only introduces the car idea but also may predict (or help avoid) car sickness.

Don’t force the issue.  If your pet doesn’t want to go, make other arrangements.  If you start assessing your pet’s willingness to travel early, any reluctance to go won’t come as a surprise and you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to find a caregiver, said Dr. Liz Stelow, a faculty member at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Keep the number of human car riders in check.  Traveling in a car with a lot of people or especially young children isn’t the best for a cat’s mental health, and it increases the risk of escape, Stelow said.

Make sure your plans are locked in.  Scope out pet-friendly lodgings and make reservations, especially for the busy summer season, so you don’t end up car camping when you didn’t intend to.

Visit the vet.  Discuss vaccinations and travel requirements, especially if you’re planning foreign travel.  A rabies shot is a given, but other requirements may surprise you.  Mexico, for instance, requires treatment for ticks before entry and treatment for parasites within six months of entry, Stelow said.

Discuss anti-nausea medications as well as calmatives.  Prescription products may be more effective than some over-the-counter drugs, Stelow said.  If you’ll be away a long time, take enough regular medications to cover your time away.

Get documentation.  Ask the vet for a current health certificate, which usually is required to cross state lines and national borders.  This should be done no sooner than a week before departure.  Also, carry copies of all health records.

Check with border agencies and airlines well ahead of time to learn about international travel regulations, which may take months of preparation, said Dr. Brian Collins of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Seek advice from vets on prevention of fleas, ticks and worms.  “A trial of chosen medications at home can’t prove that it will help on the trip, but you can avoid having a medication that will cause a reaction” while you’re on the road, Stelow said. “The first day of the trip is not the time to find out.”

Make sure you can get your cat back if it goes astray.  Kitty should wear a collar and tag with your phone number.  Microchip information should be up to date.  Carry a current photo for posters or to inquire with strangers about whether they’ve seen your cat.

If you’re camping, ask park rangers or camp-bound managers about predators, such as bears, mountain lions or coyotes and take precautions.

Secure Kitty in a crate when you’re driving.  Buckle the container into the middle of the back seat so your cat sees you (and some scenery) but is away from the loudest engine noise.  Or you can pack around the crate to hold it in place, but make sure the vents are clear.

A hard-shell case that offers room for your pet to sit up and turn around works best, and don’t forget a cozy blanket and small toy.

Stop for breaks so your cat can stretch its legs and be reassured, if necessary, with some affection and attention.

Feed at the right times.  Some cats do suffer motion sickness.  I fed Michelle after we arrived at the lodging or an hour or two before we left for the day.

Use an enclosed litter box.  (A file folder box with a lid is an inexpensive option.)

Take toys.  Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean Kitty doesn’t need to be amused or entertained.

Besides breaks while driving, consider breaks in your journey to give yourself and your cat days off.  It’s good for both of you.

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IF THE PET IS BEST LEFT HOME

Los Angeles Times  11 Jun 2017
by Karen Schwartz

Image result for pet sitting

Everything was set for my vacation when I realized my aging dog had too many medical issues to be boarded, sending me on a frantic search for a pet sitter.

My dog and home survived my eleventh-hour hire, but I wish I knew then what I know now.

“I’ve hired pet sitters, and I’ve hired a nanny. It’s the same process for me,” said Dr. Tim Hackett, an emergency and critical care vet and director of the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo.  “Make sure they have good training, references and know what to do in a crisis.”

To begin the search, ask for recommendations from your vet, dog trainer or local Humane Society office or check databases for the National Assn. of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International.

You can find other options by searching online or asking friends and family.  To begin, start with a telephone interview and ask lots of questions.

“Are they familiar with common problems that dogs or cats may run into while their owners are away?” Hackett said.

Determine whether the sitter will stay overnight or stop by once or twice a day, and discuss specifics such as the frequency and duration of walks.

“I know people who, as they’ve grown their dog-sitting business, they watch two or three [homes] at a time,” said Jennifer Holmes of Fort Collins, a pet sitter and vet technician who is trained in animal CPR.  “I do one at a time, because I think the quality of care is better; they can have my full attention.”

Invite the sitter to meet your pet and study how they interact.  Discuss expectations, such as whether the sitter will get your mail, and your house rules, including whether the caregiver can partake of your food or drink.

I learned an important lesson when our return flight was delayed and the sitter replied to my text by saying she had left my house.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” she said of my dog.

“Fine” was a relative term.  Besides the accident he had while being cooped up, he was hungry when I finally got home.

It’s imperative to have a friend as backup.  Make sure your sitter has the number and that both have keys to your house.

Include these details in a contract.  Samples can be downloaded from the Internet (search “pet sitter contract”), but customize it with clear instructions, adding contact information for you, your vet and the emergency clinic.

Finally, leave a medical directive with the caregiver that outlines how much treatment you want for your dog or cat if it were injured or ill and how much you would be willing to spend.

I first heard about pet medical directives when I hired Holmes as a dog sitter after my initial less-than-satisfying experience with someone else.

She insisted we draft one before leaving town, explaining that her 12-year-old dog died the day after she flew to the West Indies. She had the foresight to leave a directive with the vet and had told the couple watching her dog what to do.

It made it easier on the sitters, and Holmes said that having her wishes carried out helped her find closure.

I now have a network of experienced pet sitters whom I trust, and we all have the same expectations.  That makes going on vacation and coming home that much more relaxing.

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Canine Car Care

Los Angeles Times 11 Jun 2017
by ROSEMARY MCCLURE

Image result for pics of dogs in convertibles

My dog, Piper, is a white fluff ball, a 20-pound rescue pup who prances around like a pint-sized princess and greets me with a play bow and kisses when I come home.  Imagine my surprise when my fair-haired girl locked me out of the car in the middle of the desert one recent night.  She had the cellphone, my purse and the car keys.  I had a disbelieving look on my face.

We had gotten off Interstate 8 at a rest stop outside El Centro, near the Mexican border. I walked Piper, put her back in the car and was walking to my door when I heard the electronic locks snap.  I grabbed the door handle and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge.

Piper was standing on the car key fob.  I had apparently dropped it when I lifted her into the car.

The story ends happily, thanks to a CalTrans worker who lent me his phone to call a roadside service with a locksmith.

But it scares me to think what would have happened if it had been daytime — and hot — or if someone hadn’t helped me.

The experience offers a lesson in what not to do on a road trip with your pet.

Thankfully, snafus such as this aren’t common.

You’re more likely to confront stress and carsickness when you take your pup on a road trip, said Dr. William Ridgeway, a vet at Long Beach Animal Hospital.

“Those winding roads to Big Bear can be tough on dogs that aren’t used to traveling by car,” he said.

His advice: “Take them around the block in the car.  Get them used to it.  If you take several small trips and build up, you’ll find out if your dog’s ready to go on a longer trip.  If motion sickness is a problem, there are medications similar to Dramamine for pets.” Other tips: Don’t feed your dog for a few hours before you leave, Ridgeway said, and walk your pet before you depart.

Many experts, including Ridgeway, recommend using a harness for your dog (or crating it) while traveling in the car.

“A dog is more comfortable if it’s restrained because it doesn’t get slammed into corners every time you go around a curve,” he said.

Don’t let your dog sit in the passenger seat or on your lap.  In a collision, the air bag can injure or kill your pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

Other possible problems: Small dogs may jump into the driver’s footwell, interfering with braking and acceleration; big dogs may lean across the driver, blocking the view of the highway.

Take regular breaks on the road, stopping for 15 to 30 minutes every three to four hours. Allow enough time for your pet to explore the unfamiliar territory. If possible, find a dog park or other pet-friendly attraction.

Remember your dog is wearing a fur coat. Don’t ever leave it in a parked car in the heat for even a few minutes.  Hundreds of dogs die each year in parked cars despite open windows.  Temperatures can climb 20 degrees in the first 10 minutes. Your dog could suffer heatstroke and die.

When you pack for your trip, don’t forget to pack for your fourlegged pal.  Take rabies vaccination records, if you’re crossing state lines, and other vaccination records if you plan to board it along the route (while you visit a no-dogs attraction for a day, for instance).

Carry your vet’s contact information.

Other doggy necessities: ID tags with your mobile number, pet food (you may not be able to buy the type his digestive system is familiar with), a bowl, leash, doggy pickup poop bags, medications, a favorite toy and bed or blanket for sleeping.

Apply flea medications before leaving home.

Consider the climate where you’re traveling. Some dogs don’t cope well with heat, especially short-nosed breeds.  Others can get sunburned.

Check ahead to make sure you can find good accommodations that will accept a dog.  Also consider whether you’ll have time to spend with your dog.  If not, it might be better to leave him or her at home.

Remember, most hotels won’t allow you to leave a dog in your room while you’re gone. You’ll need to take him with you or arrange for a pet sitter, whether that’s someone you hire or a family member.

Camping trips may seem ideal, but keep in mind that some national park sites don’t allow dogs; many don’t allow them on trails.  Call or check national parks websites.

Once you arrive, try to maintain a similar schedule to the one you have at home, feeding and walking your dog at consistent times.

Most of all, have a good time.  And keep track of your key fob.

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Could your pet be your new probiotic?

(Natural News)  If you’re considering getting a pet, here’s another reason to do so: New research suggests that pets — dogs in particular — balance the good and bad bacteria in a home by boosting the diversity of indoor microbes.  This essentially turns them into a probiotic that boosts the immune system and positively affects gut bacteria.

Studies have found that dogs raise levels of 56 different bacterial species that can be found indoors, making the population of indoor microbes more diverse, NYTimes.com reported.  While the prospect sounds horrifying for germophobes, being exposed to bacteria from dogs can actually be beneficial for humans.

For one, exposure to animal bacteria may have a positive effect on human moods. “Exposure to animal bacteria may trigger bacteria in our gut to change how they metabolize the neurotransmitters that have an impact on mood and other mental functions,” Jack Gilbert, University of Chicago Microbiome Center Director, was quoted as saying in the report.

This could account for the anti-depressant effect that pet companionship has on humans, which was previously just attributed to the release of oxytocins.

Exposure to the bacteria brought in by dogs is also good for the immune system, particularly among kids. The report said that children who grew up exposed to dogs are less likely to come down with autoimmune diseases such as asthma and allergies because their immune systems have been exposed to more bacteria, making them stronger. Yale environmental engineering professor Jordan Peccia said that allergies are a sign of a poorly-calibrated, overly-sensitive immune system, one that attacks contaminants that it shouldn’t attack. According to him, being exposed to animal micro-organisms early in life — particularly during the first three months — stimulates the immune system early on, allowing it to better distinguish between bad and good bacteria.

When dirty means healthy

Such findings align with the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that not being exposed to enough bacteria in childhood actually weakens the body’s immune system.  The hypothesis, which was introduced in the late ’80s by immunologist David P. Strachan, was explained through a bodybuilding analogy in an article on LiveScience.com.  The article likened the immune system to bodybuilders, who build their strength by lifting increasingly heavy weights.  In the same way, the immune system has to “train” by being exposed to contaminants that they must fight off.

Many other studies support the hygiene hypothesis. Among these is a late ’90s study by Erika von Mutius, a health researcher who, in comparing allergy and asthma rates in East and West Germany, found that children from dirtier, more polluted East Germany had less allergic reactions and asthma cases compared to those in West Germany.

Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that rates of asthma were lower in Amish children than in Hutterite children. While both groups have similar genetic material and lifestyles, the Amish follow only traditional farming techniques and therefore have more contact with farm animals compared to Hutterites, who make use of modern farming methods.

Striking a healthy balance between hygiene and contaminant exposure may be tricky for parents, but it can be done. While regular cleaning and disinfecting is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), encouraging children to play outdoors, get dirty, and interact with pets may help in strengthening their immune system.

Love dogs? Get more dog-related news on PetHealth.com.

Sources include:
NYTimes.com
LiveScience.com
NEJM.org

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the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute

By Dr. Becker

Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, interviews Dr. Donna Raditic, an integrative veterinarian and board-certified veterinary nutritionist, about the limitations of conventional training in animal nutrition.  VIDEO

Today I’m talking with Dr. Donna Raditic. Dr. Raditic is an integrative veterinarian and also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN), and a co-founder of our not-for-profit organization CANWI (Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute).

As many of you know, nutrition is my passion.  However, I’ve never pursued board certification from the ACVN because my beliefs are so different from the conventional veterinary viewpoint on animal nutrition.

In fact, I’ve felt judged and disrespected by many of my peers for my belief that whole fresh foods are the best nutrition for pets.

Dr. Raditic was the first board-certified nutritionist who said to me, “There’s a place for your beliefs about whole food nutrition.”  She was respectful and welcomed my ideas, thoughts and questions.  She was very supportive, which I greatly appreciated, and we became fast friends.

Why Is There No Independent Research on the Best Nutrition for Pets?

Dr. Raditic and I are both frustrated with the lack of independent research being conducted in the area of veterinary nutrition.  There’s a lack of funding for this type of research, and sadly, there’s also a lack of interest.  I asked Dr. Raditic to talk about her own frustrations coming from the world of academia.

“One of the reasons I became a boarded nutritionist was, I was like you,” she responded.

“I was in general practice doing integrative medicine and people would ask me questions about nutrition. I decided I had to learn everything I needed to learn. I pursued a course of study in nutrition and became a diplomate of the ACVN.

Another deciding factor for becoming boarded was when a pet owner told Dr. Raditic that her veterinary education was paid for by a pet food company!  “That upset me,” she says, “because I felt like, ‘No, that’s not true.  I have independent thoughts.  I can think for myself.'”

Is the Pet Food Industry Interested in the Health of Our Animal Companions?

As an integrative veterinarian, Dr. Raditic understands the impact of nutrition on health. No matter the type of medicine we practice, nutrition is the foundation.  Becoming a diplomate of the ACVN, which takes the traditional view of nutrition, ultimately felt very limiting to her.

Dr. Raditic felt there was much more she needed to know.  She also learned through her association with the ACVN that:

“There’s a tremendous amount of money being put in by the pet food industry to support the training of diplomates, as well as for research. But it’s going to have some bias. It has to. They’re developing diets. They’re a business.”

We all understand the motivation of businesses, but as Dr. Raditic asks, “Who is really invested in our pets?”

Dr. Raditic and I share a common goal: we’re invested in learning everything we can about optimum nutrition for pets.  And we want to know how we can use nutrition to keep our patients healthy and prevent disease.

“Someone asked me recently to write an article on what age dogs and cats live to,” says Dr. Raditic. “I said to him, ‘I don’t want to write about that, because that hasn’t change in several decades. What we need to know is what’s keeping them from living longer.'”

I absolutely agree, and underlying everything we do to keep our animal companions healthy is the way in which we nourish them.

Can We Help Pets Live Longer, Healthier Lives? We Think We Can

Dr. Raditic and I also agree that researching a particular type or brand of food shouldn’t be the goal.  Toward that end, Dr. Raditic and I have started a non-profit organization called CANWI, which is shorthand for the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute. Can we?

We definitely think we can,” says Dr. Raditic. “It’s probably going to be grassroots, because it’s going to need financing from people who care and are passionate like you and I.

What it represents is our desire to get true information, unbiased information. Studies that we can support. Nutrition studies that can help us understand how to better feed our patients.”

We want to answer questions like, “How can I help a dog live beyond age 13?” and “How can we prevent disease?”  For example, we know certain breeds are predisposed to develop certain disorders.  Is there a way to manipulate their diets to prevent those genes from turning on?

The Goal of CANWI

Dr. Raditic and I are believers.  We think we can.  But we need funding for research.  We also want to develop nutrition-based training programs so we can bring more people along with us — people who are open-minded and can appreciate the long journey ahead of us.

I’m very excited to be involved with CANWI because I know there are many things we need to research in the realm of whole food nutrition and what animals require in order to unlock the healing potential in their bodies.

We’re hoping to find funding for groundbreaking research that will help both pet guardians and veterinarians make better choices.  We’ll also have the opportunity to pass along what we’re learning in the form of biased, open and objective training for interested veterinarians.

Much of the nutrition information veterinarians receive comes through the pet food industry, and is therefore inherently biased.  Our goal is to gain a broader understanding of how nutrients affect the body.

Is there a way to feed pets that promotes an appropriate immune response so they can live longer and healthier lives?  We want to train veterinarians to think in new ways, not just the same way.

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