Category Archives: health

What All Dogs Need Daily, yet It’s Widely Ignored

walk your dog

By Dr. Becker

October 1 to 7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, and was started in 2010 to increase awareness of canine obesity (over 50 percent of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese) as well as the behavioral problems that can arise when dogs don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation. Sadly, the majority of dogs in shelters are surrendered due to behavioral problems.

Dogs are natural athletes, and in addition, most were (and many still are) bred with a specific purpose in mind, for example, sporting, working, hunting or herding. As a result, your canine companion, whether he’s a purebred or a mixed breed, carries genetic traits that drive him to pursue an active lifestyle.

Unfortunately, many family dogs don’t get opportunities to do what their breed instincts tell them to do. In addition, most dogs won’t exercise consistently without an incentive, and most backyards don’t provide enough sensory stimulation to ward off boredom indefinitely.

Bottom line, today’s dogs need regular walks with their humans for both exercise and mental stimulation. They need (and love) to get outdoors, sniff, interact with their environment, exercise and socialize.

Many dog owners are very conscientious about walking their pets, but many others aren’t. Perhaps you’re a dog parent who doesn’t walk your pet at all, or doesn’t do it routinely. Maybe you don’t make the most of your walks, or maybe you avoid the activity altogether because your dog has terrible leash manners.

First Things First: Training Your Dog to Wear a Collar, Harness and Leash

The best way to develop a healthy, positive, consistent dog walking habit is when your pet is a puppy. As soon as her immune system is strong enough to protect her from disease (discuss this with your veterinarian if you’re not sure on the timing), she’s good to go.

Your pup should already have her own secure-fitting collar or harness and ID tag, and she should be comfortable wearing it before you attempt to take her for walks. Some puppies have no problem wearing a collar right from the very beginning; others need a short period of adjustment.

If your dog is fighting her collar, as long as you’re sure it isn’t too tight (you should be able to easily slip your fingers under it) or uncomfortable for some other reason, distract her from fussing with it until she gets used to it. It shouldn’t take more than a day or two for her to forget she’s even wearing it.

If you plan to use a head halter or harness for walks (which I recommend for any dog at risk of injury from pulling against a collar/leash combination), the next step is to get puppy comfortable wearing it. As with the collar, this needs to happen before you attempt to attach a leash and head out the door.

I recently attended the International Association of Canine Professionals conference in St. Louis where I fell in love with the K9 Lifeline Transitional Leash, which I’ve found excellent for dogs that pull or don’t have the best leash manners.

Once wearing her collar and a halter or harness is no longer a big deal, you’re ready for the next step. Attach about 4 feet of light line — cotton awning cord or light cotton rope will do — and let her drag it around the house under your watchful eye. Once she’s used to the 4-foot line, swap it for a 10- to 15-foot line of the same material, and head outdoors.

Teaching Your Dog Good Leash Manners

Initial walks should be short, and primarily for the purpose of getting your dog used to being attached to you by a lead. Find a safe environment and allow puppy to drag the line behind him for a bit, and then pick up the opposite end. Let him lead you around for a few seconds while you hold the line just off the ground. Slow down so he’s forced to slow down, ultimately to a stop. Take a short break for praise and a little playtime.

Next, let him trail the line again, but when you pick up your end this time, call him and stand still. If he pulls, hold your ground without pulling him in your direction. The goal is to teach him to put slack in the line himself by moving toward you. When he puts slack in the line, praise him and call him to you.

If he comes all the way to you, more praise and a tasty treat are in order. If he stops on his way to you, tighten the line just enough to apply a tiny bit of pull to it. Immediately call him to come again. Give praise as he moves toward you and treats when he comes all the way back. Two or three repetitions is all many puppies need to understand lack of tension in the line is what earns praise and treats.

When your pup has learned to come towards you to relieve tension on the line, you can begin backing up as he’s coming towards you to keep him moving.

Next, turn and walk forward so he’s following you. If he passes you, head in another direction so he’s again behind you. The goal is to teach him to follow (not lead) on a loose lead. Once you’ve accomplished the goal, you can continue to use the light line or replace it with a leash.

Depending on your dog’s temperament, five- to 15-minute sessions are sufficient in the beginning. Practice controlling him on the lead for 30-second intervals during each session. Exercise patience and don’t engage in a battle of wills with him. Don’t snap, yank or otherwise use the line for correction or punishment. Stop before either of you gets frustrated or tired.

After each short session on the lead, liberally praise your dog and spend a few minutes playing with him. The goal is to build the foundation for an activity both you and he will enjoy and look forward to throughout his life.

Correcting Bad Habits

Some puppies and untrained dogs naturally fight the pressure of the line rather than create slack. If your puppy freezes on a tight line or habitually pulls against it, my first recommendation is to use a halter or harness rather than a collar attached to the lead. Your dog can create serious neck and cervical disk problems by pulling on a collar/leash combination.

Also insure it’s not you who’s creating the problem. Your natural instinct may be to hold the leash taught, so you must also train yourself to keep slack in the line. Your dog’s natural response to a tight line will be to pull against it. Next, do the following when your dog refuses to create slack or move toward you:

  • Maintain the tension on the line and turn your back on her. Allow time for it to occur to her she can’t win by pulling against you.
  • Remain still with your back to her holding the tension in the line — don’t jerk the line, don’t pull or yank her toward you and don’t put slack in the line yourself, which will teach her the way to get slack is to pull at the line.

The message you want to send your pup is that pulling on the lead doesn’t accomplish a thing. It doesn’t change the scenery and it doesn’t earn praise or treats. Eventually, she’ll stop doing what doesn’t work, especially when she’s rewarded every single time she performs a desirable behavior.

The very first second you begin leash training, make sure your puppy accomplishes nothing by pulling on the line. It takes some dogs longer than others to learn to keep slack in the leash, but with patience and persistence, any puppy can learn to follow on a loose lead.

Changing Up Your Dog Walks

Once your dog has developed good leash manners, I recommend you vary the purpose of your walks with him. For example:

  • Potty walks are purposeful walks, and are usually quick.
  • Mentally stimulating walks allow your dog to stop, explore, sniff and send pee-mail and so on. Most dogs on a leash don’t get to spend as much time sniffing and investigating as they would like. Allowing your canine companion some time to do doggy stuff is good for him mentally. Dogs gain knowledge of the world through their noses.
  • Power walks during which you and your dog move at a pace of 4 to 4.5 miles an hour (about a 15-minute mile), will help him get the aerobic exercise he needs for good cardiovascular health. During these brisk walks there’s no stopping to smell the roses.
  • Training walks can be about improving leash manners, learning basic or advanced obedience commands, ongoing socialization — just about anything you can think of that can be done on a leashed walk.

Our dogs depend on us for their quality of life. Walking your dog every day and taking advantage of different types of walks to stimulate her mentally and physically will help her be well balanced, healthy and happy throughout her life.

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10 ‘Do Not Ignore’ Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

By Dr. Becker

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When your cat just Ain’t Doing Right (ADR) or your dog seems a little off his game, it can be difficult to know whether to take a wait-and-see attitude, or tuck your pet into his carrier and head to the nearest veterinary clinic. This is especially true when your furry family member’s symptoms are commonly seen in disorders at both ends of the spectrum, from benign to life-threatening.

To offer you some guidance, I’ve compiled a list of symptoms that fall into the category of “Do Not Ignore.” They may or may not mean your pet is seriously sick, but they should be investigated right away by your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic.

10 ‘Do Not Ignore’ Symptoms

1.  Fainting, collapsing

When an animal collapses, it means she has suffered a sudden loss of strength that causes her to fall and be unable to get back up. If a collapsed pet also loses consciousness, she has fainted. Either of these situations is an emergency, even if your pet recovers quickly and seems normal again within seconds or minutes of the collapse.

All the reasons for fainting or collapsing are serious and require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. They include a potential problem with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles), the circulatory system (heart, blood vessels, blood) or the respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs).

2. Difficulty breathing

A dog or kitty in respiratory distress will have labored breathing or shortness of breath that can occur when he breathes in or out. Breathing difficulties can mean that not enough oxygen is reaching his tissues. Additionally, pets with heart failure may not be able to pump enough blood to their muscles and other tissues.

Respiratory distress often goes hand-in-hand with a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest cavity that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. If your pet has sudden undiagnosed breathing problems, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

3. Bloody diarrhea, urine or vomit

Digested blood in your pet’s poop will appear as black tarry stools. Fresh blood in the stool indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Either situation is cause for concern and should be investigated as soon as possible. Blood in the urine, called hematuria, can be obvious or microscopic. There are a number of serious disorders that can cause bloody urine, including a blockage in the urinary tract, a bacterial infection and even cancer.

Vomited blood can be either bright red (fresh), or resemble coffee grounds (indicating partially digested blood). There are a variety of reasons your pet might vomit blood, some of which are relatively minor, but others are serious and even life threatening.

4. Trouble urinating

This includes discomfort while urinating, straining to urinate and frequent attempts to urinate with little success. If your pet cries out while relieving himself, seems preoccupied with that area of his body or is excessively licking the area, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. There are several underlying causes of urinary difficulties, some of which can result in death within just a few days.

5. Coughing

Coughing in pets, unless it’s a one-and-done situation, generally indicates an underlying problem. Examples include a possible windpipe obstruction, kennel cough, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, heart failure and tumors of the lung. All causes of coughing require investigation, and in most cases, treatment.

6. Fever

If your pet’s temperature spikes, it usually means his body is fighting an infection. The normal temperature in both dogs and cats is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F. If your pet feels warm to you and his temp is higher than normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

7. Lethargy or extreme fatigue

A lethargic pet will appear drowsy, “lazy” and/or indifferent. She may be slow to respond to sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment. Lethargy or exhaustion is a non-specific symptom that can signal a number of potential underlying disorders, including some that are serious or life-threatening. If your pet is lethargic for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

8. Pacing, restlessness or unproductive retching

When a pet paces and seems unable or unwilling to settle down, it can signal that he’s in pain, discomfort or distress. One very serious condition in dogs in which these symptoms are common is gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), also called bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that most often occurs in large breed dogs and those with deep chests.

9. Loss of appetite and/or weight loss

Often, loss of appetite is the very first sign of an underlying illness in pets. There can be many reasons your dog or cat isn’t hungry or refuses to eat, but not eating can begin to negatively impact his health within 24 hours. And for puppies and kittens 6 months or younger, the issue is even more serious.

Weight loss is the result of a negative caloric balance, and it can be the consequence of anorexia (loss of appetite) or when an animal’s body uses or eliminates essential dietary nutrients faster than they are replenished. Weight loss exceeding 10 percent of your pet’s normal body weight will be a red flag for your vet. There can be several underlying causes, some of which are very serious.

10. Red eye(s)

If the white area of your pet’s eye turns bright red, it’s a sign of inflammation or infection that signals one of several diseases involving the external eyelids, the third eyelid, the conjunctiva, cornea or sclera of the eye. Redness can also point to inflammation of structures inside the eye, eye socket disorders and also glaucoma. Certain disorders of the eye can lead to blindness, so any significant change in the appearance of your pet’s eyes should be investigated.

Some symptoms of illness in cats and dogs are best handled by simply giving them a chance to run their course, for example, a temporary gastrointestinal (GI) upset resulting from indiscriminate snacking. Other symptoms can be so sudden, severe and frightening that you know immediately you need to get your pet to the vet or an emergency animal hospital.

The 10 symptoms I’ve listed above can fall somewhere in the middle, so hopefully I’ve provided you with some good info in the event your four-legged family member develops symptoms that point to a potentially severe or life-threatening illness.

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Has Your Vet Recommended Glucosamine?

If she hasn’t yet, your vet may recommend glucosamine to support your dog’s joints… and she likely has a supplement or two to sell you.

The good news is, she’s right …  glucosamine is something a lot of dogs could use a boost of, especially as they age.  You see, your dog’s body naturally produces glucosamine that helps support his joints.  But as your dog ages, the body produces less glucosamine, which results in stiff joints and the possibility of losing mobility.

Now, you can give your dog vet recommended supplementsbut fair warning…

A. They can be super expensive and

B. They are usually synthetic, and synthetic supplements usually only work for a short time.

If you’re not thrilled about handing out $$$ to support your dog’s joints, then you’ll want to read this article to learn about:

  • Foods to give your dog that are already rich in glucosamine
  • Why glucosamine in kibble isn’t enough
  • What other parts of the body glucosamine supports
  • Three common forms of glucosamine supplements and what you need to know about them

Click here to read the article >>

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Recent Posts Looking For Natural Dog Dental Care? Probiotics Can HELP!

By Dana Scott

Periodontal disease is the #1 health issue plaguing dogs today. It’s estimated to affect more than 80% of adult dogs. Because periodontal disease is so prevalent, chances are your dog is affected too … even if he’s raw fed.

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the unsuspected cause of this epidemic disease … and how new research says we might be treating it the wrong way.

What Is Dental Disease?

Once it appears, dental or periodontal disease is usually progressive and there are several stages of the disease.

Stage 1. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (or gingiva) and is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. The pocket of the gum that surrounds the dog’s tooth contains a narrow space (called a sulcus) and plaque can begin to form there.

Plaque is a film made up of colonies of bacteria, along with special proteins from the saliva, sugars and immune cells. Bacteria are living creatures and some species can excrete by-products that can trigger an immune system response. These by-products damage the gums and will cause inflammation.

The main sign of gingivitis is a thin red line on the gums where they meet the teeth.

Stage 2. Tartar

As the bacterial populations produce more toxic by-products, inflammation will increase and start to damage the gum tissue. When this progresses, the sulcus around the tooth will become wider and deeper, allowing even more bacteria to live there.

Once the sulcus widens, plaque will move from the tooth down to the sulcus, below the gum surface. The bacteria in the plaque continues to produce by-products and trigger inflammation. This is the major driver of advanced periodontal disease.

Plaque begins to interact with minerals like calcium and phosphorus in your dog’s diet and when this happens, the film becomes hardened. This is called calculus or tartar. Like plaque, tartar will first accumulate on the teeth and then move below the gum surface as inflammation continues. The outer surface of tartar is hard and rough and plaque clings to the surface and quickly becomes mineralized, creating more tartar and more irritation to the gums or gingiva.

In this stage, you’ll see more inflammation and tartar. The gums will be red and irritated and there will likely be an odor to your dog’s breath.

Stage 3. Periodontal Disease

The accumulation of some bacteria in the plaque along the gums creates inflammation or gingivitis. If the bacteria colonies are allowed to grow, the severity of the gingivitis will increase and the bacterial colonies will continue to damage the gums. The immune response will invade the affected areas and release immune cells called cytokines, which will also damage the tissue. At this point, the bacterial toxins and cytokines can cause bone loss and there will be quite a bit of calculus around the teeth.

Once this stage is reached, the gums will bleed easily and pockets will form in the gums. There will also be obvious bad breath.

If left untreated, the gums will continue to recede from the inflammation, there will be more bone loss and the dog may have loose or missing teeth.

The longer your dog lives with dental disease, the greater the risk to his health … not just in his mouth, but in all his other organs. But before we get to that, let’s take a closer look at the bacteria in your dog’s mouth …

A Closer Look At Bacteria And Dysbiosis

Until recently, dental disease has been thought to be the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth … but this is only partly true.

Your dog consumes well over a trillion bacteria every day. Some of these bacteria will move down to the gastrointestinal tract, where they’ll take up residence or be excreted by the body. Others will take up residence in your dog’s mouth and colonize in the plaque. But the bacteria that enters your dog’s mouth are continuously seeding the bacterial colonies that live in his gut … and this population of bacteria is critical to your dog’s health and immune system.

(Related: Are The Bacterial Colonies In Your Dog’s Mouth Causing Leaky Gut?)

So if the bacterial colonies in your dog’s mouth aren’t healthy, the bacterial colonies in his gut won’t be … and your dog won’t be either.

The bacterial colonies found in plaque are extremely organized and this speaks to their importance in your dog’s mouth. Scrapings of dental plaque reveal an organized metropolis made up of tiny, organized microscopic bacteria colonies.

Collectively, these communities of bacteria and other tiny microorganisms are called a microbiome. Microbiomes are found on most body surfaces. The microbiome in the mouth is the second largest microbiome, next to the one found in the gut.

The microbiome in plaque isn’t a random population of bacteria … they all live together in organized communities. Researchers have discovered that Corynebacterium is the bacteria found right next to the tooth enamel and it grows outward from the teeth, where it networks with the next layer or colony of bacteria. Corynebacterium are packed closely together and adhere closely to the tooth and this makes them hard to remove with food or brushing.

The colonies living in the outermost layer of the microbiome are mainly made up of friendly strains of Streptococcus. These bacteria releases carbon dioxide, which helps the colonies of Streptococcus to grow.

These bacteria all live harmoniously with the body … in fact, bacteria and other microorganisms outnumber the amount of the dog’s own cells by nearly 100 to 1. When the bacteria in the microbiome are healthy, they deliver health benefits to your dog. This is called symbiosis … which means the relationship between the bacteria and your dog is symbiotic or beneficial to both. These bacteria manufacture short chain fatty acids and vitamins. They form the bulk of the immune system and they even have a direct connection to the brain, called the gut-brain axis. These bacteria are essential to your dog’s health. But not all of the bacteria living in your dog are friendly …

 

If the colonies of bacteria are disturbed, and some species die off while others take over, their influence on your dog will change. Researchers are finding that when delicate bacterial populations in microbiomes are reduced or less diverse, the risk of disease rises.

A study in cats with irritable bowel disease (IBD) showed that healthy cats had a much higher bacterial population in their gut compared to cats with IBD.

Another study found that the skin of healthy dogs was inhabited by a much more rich and diverse bacterial population than the skin of dogs with allergies.

Research is also showing that dysbiosis in the plaque, not plaque itself, is the real cause of periodontal disease. When the bacterial populations are balanced, the immune system won’t be alarmed and activated. But if the balance of bacteria becomes unbalanced, some unwanted species of bacteria can grow out of control and initiate an immune response. When the sulcus is inflamed, the cells in the gums will be deprived of oxygen and this lack of oxygen favors the growth of harmful bacteria … and once their colonies grow, they can crowd out other friendly colonies of bacteria by competing for the same nutrients and dysbiosis will occur.

If this dysbiosis isn’t repaired and balance returned to the microbiome, colonies of harmful bacteria such as Porphyromonas gingivalis will start to destroy the tissue of the gums. Once the gums become inflamed, the immune system delivers nutrients like iron to the infected area … but these bacteria have adapted to feed on these nutrients and they start to rapidly grow out of control while the immune system continues to feed them by pumping more and more iron and other nutrients into the infected tissue.

How much damage is done depends on a few factors. Small breed dogs and brachycephalic breeds like pugs and boxers seem to be more prone to dental disease. It’s also more likely to occur in older dogs, but the immune response is critical to how quickly and how severely periodontal disease develops.

Diseases like diabetes or other health issues related to a compromised immune response (like allergies, arthritis, hypothyroidism, liver, bowel and kidney disease), will ultimately cause exaggerated inflammation in the gums and further fuel the dysbiosis.

Not only can diseases in other organs have an affect on oral health, periodontal disease can cause damage in your dog’s organs as well …

How Dental Disease Causes Other Dangerous Diseases

If the microbiome in your dog’s mouth is balanced, the bacteria colonies will be balanced and healthy and they’ll stay in their normal environment. But when the populations of some strains grow out of control, the bacteria will find it harder to compete and will migrate out of the neighborhood. Bacteria can travel from the damaged gums to the lymphatic and blood vessel systems and migrate to the body’s organs. This is called bacteremia and it’s very similar to what happens with leaky gut.

In fact the colonies of bacteria in the mouth and gut are very similar … they share 45% of the same colonies and populations. So if the bacteria in the mouth grow out of control, that dysbiosis will seed the same dysbiosis in the gut. The toxic by-products from the harmful bacteria will also cause inflammation and erosion of the cells lining the gut wall, and more bacteria and toxins will enter the body, creating a cascade of chronic inflammation that will eventually reach the organs and cause disease there.

In humans, periodontal disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, IBD and stroke. Research in dogs also shows a link to heart, liver and kidney disease.

So can you prevent this from happening by brushing your dog’s teeth?

Why Brushing And Cleaning Might Hurt …

Because most of the bacterial colonies are found in plaque, many veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth … or even a yearly veterinary dental cleaning under anesthesia.

This will clear away most of the plaque, but the bacterial populations begin to colonize immediately after plaque is removed. Studies show that about a million little organisms already cover the tooth within a minute of cleaning. And if the populations are disrupted, harmful bacteria might take hold before the friendly populations grow and crowd them out.

And you have to think about where all of that bacteria goes … you’re not getting rid of the bacteria, you’re just brushing it off his teeth and it will travel someplace else.

Think of it this way .. a mouth that is sick with unbalanced bacteria will seed the entire gut with bad bugs every day. But brushing your dog’s teeth can cause bacteremia, especially if his gums are bleeding. The bacteria will move from his mouth to his bloodstream.

In a healthy dog, the immune system can handle and clear the surge of bacteria. But if your dog is already struggling with inflammation, dysbiosis, or other chronic disease, his immune system can reach the tipping point with brushing or cleaning because it introduces so much bacteria into the bloodstream.

So let’s summarize.

  1. Plaque is a biofilm of organized bacteria and other substances. This colony lives in harmony with your dog.
  2. If this colony is wiped out with brushing, it will grow back within minutes.
  3. If the colony is disrupted, harmful bacteria will overgrow and cause inflammation. If your dog suffers from chronic inflammation (and most dogs do), the bacteria will begin to enter the bloodstream as the bacterial by-products and immune cells break down the gums.
  4. Once this happens, the bacteria in the gut will be affected, and bacteria will further infiltrate the body and migrate to the organs, where it will cause more chronic inflammation and ultimately, disease.

So maintaining the health of your dog’s mouth is critical to his health … but traditional methods like brushing might not be enough and may even cause health issues in some dogs. Dental care isn’t as simple as getting rid of plaque because there are bacteria living there that keep unwanted bugs at bay.

So let’s look at how you can protect or restore the delicate community of bacteria in your dog’s mouth …

How To Prevent Dental Disease Naturally

The first step in preventing or treating dental disease is to protect the microbiome from damage. There are several causes of dysbiosis in dogs, including:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill all bacteria indiscriminately and will devastate the microbiome.

Poor Diet: A processed diet that’s high in starch or sugar can fuel unfriendly bacterial colonies. Genetically modified foods or foods with pesticides can also kill bacteria and create dysbiosis.

Drugs And Chemicals: Many drugs and chemicals will harm bacteria.

Processed Diets: Most processed pet foods are completely free of bacteria. If there isn’t a stream of bacteria entering the body, the bacterial colonies will die off, causing dysbiosis. The same applies to raw foods that have undergone high pressure pasteurization. (Related: The Disturbing Cause Of Dental Disease In Dogs)

In short, you must protect your dog’s microbiome as a first line of defense. This will make sure the bacterial populations in his plaque are balanced and healthy.

But what if your dog already has some dental disease or you think his bacterial colonies have been compromised? What if your dog has allergies or other immune-related health issues?

Treating Dental Disease With Probiotics

Probiotics are friendly populations of bacteria that compete with harmful organisms for places to live and for food … and these bacteria help to balance the immune response.

And as more research is being done on the microbiome, dental research is shifting its focus there as well.

A 2009 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association found that probiotics were effective in treating and preventing dental disease. And of course, this makes perfect sense.

Probiotics will easily colonize in plaque and compete for colonization sites and food with harmful bacteria. They produce anti-bacterial by-products that discourage the colonization of harmful bacteria. They can change the pH of the mouth and the amount of oxygen and they can support the immune system.

But not all strains of probiotics are able to colonize in the mouth. The study found that Lactobacillus species of probiotics were much more likely to colonize on the teeth and in plaque than Bificobacterium species. And other studies show that the populations of some species of Lactobacillus were larger in healthy people compared to those with dental disease.

Other research found that Lactobacillus species in the mouth are capable of reducing the damaging inflammation that can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease.

So how do you get more of these friendly bug species into your dog’s mouth?

There are two ways to do this.

  1. Probiotics In His Food
    Add probiotics to your dog’s food daily. This can be in the form of probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables or kefir or you can give your dog a probiotic supplement (or both). Because it’s so critical to protect your dog from dysbiosis, these should be added daily.
    If you’re adding a commercial probiotic product, make sure there are more than just a few strains of bacteria and make sure there are at least 10 billion CFU (colony forming units). Remember, your dog already has a trillion bacteria entering his mouth every day so you want as many probiotics as possible to maintain or restore the balance.
    You’ll also want to be sure your dog’s food contains plenty of prebiotics, which are insoluble fiber ingredients that feed probiotics. There’s no sense in putting the bugs in your dog if you don’t feed them or they will just die off!
    And finally, steer clear of dairy-based probiotics as they can trigger allergies in many dogs.
  2. Probiotics In His Mouth
    Probiotics in your dog’s food will go a long way to restore the balance in his gut bacteria. But dogs aren’t all that great at chewing their food, so many of the bugs will just get passed right to the gut. To introduce healthy bacteria into the mouth, you can put your probiotic powder in a small spray bottle with some filtered water (chlorine will kill the bugs so don’t use unfiltered tap water) and spray it in your dog’s mouth. Then you can put the rest in his food where they’ll help seed his gut too.
    If you do this, make sure you don’t store your probiotics in water. Make a new batch right at meal time because the bacteria won’t survive long in the water.
    If you brush your dog’s teeth, make sure you spritz his mouth with this mixture afterward to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria populations.

As researchers look into the microbiome as the true source of health and immunity, we’re finding that some old treatments just don’t stand up today. The same could apply to brushing your dog’s teeth and regular dental cleanings.  But for now, try adding some probiotics to your dog’s mouth every day and you just might be able to avoid those dental cleanings altogether!

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It’s Time to Put a Stop to the Mindless Over-Vaccination of Pets

June 25, 2017
by Karen Becker, DVM

V I D E O here

Story at-a-glance

  • Dr. John Robb, a Connecticut veterinarian, has become known worldwide for his fight against profiteering and over-vaccination in veterinary medicine
  • Dr. Robb’s incredible story serves as a wake-up call to pet parents and the veterinary community about the dangers of bucking the system, and why the lives of companion animals hang in the balance
  • Protect the Pets is the movement Dr. Robb founded to raise awareness about the dangers of over-vaccination and the urgent need to change existing rabies vaccination laws in the U.S.
  • Protect the Pets is NOT an anti-vaccination movement; the goal is to protect animal companions from over-vaccination and vaccine toxicosis

Today I’m talking with a very special guest, Dr. John Robb, a veterinarian for over 30 years and world famous almost overnight (more about that shortly).  Dr. Robb attended veterinary school at the University of California, Davis in the early 1980s, followed by a one-year internship at a private practice in Connecticut, the New Haven Central Veterinary Hospital.

“It’s true I’ve come in the public eye more recently,” says Dr. Robb. “But honestly, I’ve been fighting to be a veterinarian my whole career. The drive profits in veterinary medicine has really become a problem, especially with the advent of companies like Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) and the Mars Company coming in and owning veterinary hospitals.

These are businessmen and businesswomen. These are people that want to make profits but don’t necessarily have the best interest of the pets involved. And unfortunately, the veterinary establishment, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and other organizations, seem to be joining forces with them instead of putting their hands up and saying, ‘We have a problem here.'”

Don’t Save the Dog: Profits Over Pets

On Dr. Robb’s very first overnight shift at New Haven Central, a vet tech dropped off a stray dog who had been hit by a car.  The dog was in bad shape, and Dr. Robb was supposed to put him to sleep.  The dog opened his eyes and looked at Dr. Robb, who of course worked the rest of the night to save him.

“I was in big trouble in the morning because I had spent a lot of money and there was no owner,” Dr. Robb says. “I kind of knew at that point it wasn’t really about the pets. Fortunately, the owner was eventually found and reunited with his dog, and he sang the praises of New Haven Central, so I was off the hot seat. But I learned there’s a big thing about money in our profession that supersedes caring for the pets.”

Dr. Robb has been fighting the system ever since, and especially on the topic of vaccines. Many people have understood for decades that we’re over-vaccinating pets, but the problem seems to have bubbled to the surface recently in a big way.

‘I’m Hurting My Patients With These Vaccines’

Like all veterinary students, Dr. Robb was taught in vet school that vaccines are good and prevent disease.  But once he was a practicing DVM, he began to see vaccine side effects such as life-threatening anaphylaxis, as well as longer term vaccine-related disorders.

“I began to read the veterinary literature like JAVMA, the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association,” says Dr. Robb. “I started to research on my own. I came across veterinarians who had been showing that vaccines caused a lot of serious side effects, including hemolytic anemia and cancer at the injection sites. I had a problem now. I’m a veterinarian, and I’m hurting my patients with these vaccines.”

Dr. Robb began changing the way he did things in his practice.  For example, he lengthened the intervals between vaccines, and lowered the dose because it was very clear to him that small pets couldn’t handle the same amount of vaccine as larger animals.

Increasingly, Corporations Dictate How Veterinary Medicine Is Practiced

When he bought a Banfield Pet Hospital practice, Dr. Robb realized the franchise was very much into over-vaccinating.  So he put his own protocols in place, including “smaller dogs receive a lower volume,” and only one vaccine per visit.  He also didn’t give all the vaccines the franchise recommended.  Then Mars Petcare bought Banfield. Dr. Robb explains what happened next:

“They basically came in and said, ‘Look, we want your franchise back. In fact, we’re buying all the franchises back. We control the doctors. We’re going to give you about a third of what it’s worth and you’re going to leave. Maybe you can go open up another hospital.’

I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I have 15 years left on my contract. You can’t tell me how to practice veterinary medicine. That’s my job, so get out.’ But they took my franchise anyway. They said if I didn’t go quietly, they would report me to the state board, because I was lowering my vaccine volume and they said it was against the law. And so they did. They reported me to the Connecticut State Board of Veterinary Medicine.”

Buck the System? You’ll Be Handcuffed to a Stretcher and Taken to a Psych Ward

Mars/Banfield sent a letter to all 5,000 of Dr. Robb’s clients stating that their pets weren’t protected (immunized against disease).  So Dr. Robb contacted his clients as well, and recommended they have their pets titer tested to show they were protected.  That’s when the strong-arming really escalated.

“They put armed guards in front of all the PetSmarts in Connecticut,” Dr. Robb explains. (Banfields are located inside PetSmart stores.) “Two sets of armed guards, one paid for by PetSmart, and one paid for by Mars. They made a big scene and tried to blame it on me.”

The first time he attempted to visit his practice, Dr. Robb was handcuffed to a stretcher and taken to a psychiatric ward.

“The second time, they arrested me,” he says. “I’m just trying to hand out literature to do a titer and not revaccinate the dog without doing that, because I knew my pets were protected. I had done titers and I knew it.

It ended up in federal court. They lied to the judge and said, ‘We were offering titers.’ They did everything they could not to do a titer. They injured so many pets, some died, because they revaccinated all of them. It was part of a cover-up. I was vaccinating correctly and they didn’t want anybody to see that their pets had immunity.

The fight with Mars was in front of the state veterinary board, who had copies of all the scientific articles I had collected on vaccines, because I provided them to them. They told me they didn’t care about science. These are veterinarians and they don’t care about science? They said I broke the law. Even if I have to kill my patients, I have to obey the law. I said, ‘You guys are crazy. I mean, you’re crazy.’

This is the state of veterinary medicine today. We have mandated rabies laws, when instead we could take a simple blood test and find out that these pets don’t need the shot. We veterinarians are in bondage now, forced to injure our patients. Then you’ve got Mars coming in and trying to control veterinarians as their resource.

Karen, I thank God you’re standing up. I thank God other veterinarians are standing up, because most veterinarians want to do the right thing, but they’re scared to death about their license and repercussions.”

A Movement to Return Morality to the Veterinary Profession

I received a rabies vaccine at the age of 13 because I was getting into wildlife rehabilitation.  When I entered veterinary school and told them I’d been vaccinated at 13, they insisted I be titered rather than automatically re-vaccinated.  So why is it perfectly okay to vaccinate pets against rabies over and over and over throughout their lives?  I think we know why.  It’s the almighty dollar. Vaccinations are a major source of income for veterinary practices.

But the good news is the nightmare Dr. Robb has lived through has turned him into an agent for change.  He and his wife used their retirement savings to start the Protect the Pets movement in 2006.  “It was never to make money,” says Dr. Robb, “but to bring morality back into veterinary medicine.”

“I already had a track record of trying to stand up for the rights of pets, the people who own them, and veterinarians. Now suddenly I’m talking to a worldwide audience.

Because I was willing to put my license on the line and all my resources to do what I love best, which is be a veterinarian and protect my patients, this has become a movement of the heart. People are joining me. People like you, Karen, and all the people who have been fighting these issues for years. We’ve reached a tipping point and now we’re working together.

Before, we were isolated. The people whose pets were being injured and dying were isolated. They had no voice. They were told it wasn’t the vaccination. Even though four hours after the shot, their pet was suddenly blind and seizuring, it wasn’t the shot. It just was coincidental blindness, coincidental epilepsy.

Or a pet began bleeding internally and was diagnosed with hemolytic anemia. Or there were suddenly tumors on the right hip at the injection site. ‘It wasn’t the shot,’ they were told. Then one day they realized there was a public figure out there saying, ‘It WAS the shot.'”

Pet Parents Are Coming Forward to Tell Their Stories

Veterinarians have no legal obligation to report adverse reactions to vaccines, so there’s no real database.  The veterinary industry, which includes the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), seems to have no interest in creating one.  It’s deeply disturbing.  These are veterinarians.  How can they not be concerned about the adverse effects of pet vaccines?

But pet parents are coming forward to tell their stories, and they are the ones driving this change, because they’ve had enough.  As veterinarians, Dr. Robb and I and others are working to amend the rabies laws and bring morality back to a profession gone wrong where vaccines are concerned.

“Corporations like Mars, who think it’s okay to victimize pets for profits, are going to be rudely awakened, because we, the people, control them,” says Dr. Robb. “Because we spend money and we decide where we’re going to spend it. We have the power here. We just have to unite. That’s the bottom line here. We are uniting now.”

Why Is This Life-Threatening Vaccine Reaction Kept Hidden?

According to Dr. Robb, one of the best-kept vaccine secrets is the incidence of anaphylaxis.  I personally know people who’ve adopted or purchased a puppy and had the pup die of anaphylactic shock on the exam table at the first vet visit immediately after receiving a vaccination.  Invariably, the veterinarian who gave the shot tells the devastated owner the vaccine had nothing to do with the puppy’s death. It’s asinine.

Dr. Rob references a 2005 Purdue University study that addressed adverse events occurring within the first 72 hours after vaccinating dogs.  One of the study’s chief investigators was a Banfield medical director named Dr. Karen Faunt.  The study showed that the incidence of adverse reactions is higher in smaller pets, and multiple vaccines cause more reactions.  However, the study’s conclusion was that vaccines are safe.

During a legal deposition, Dr. Robb’s attorney asked Faunt: “Why didn’t you include in your study the dogs that died of anaphylaxis?  Certainly those reactions occurred within the first 72 hours?”

“I’m telling you, her jaw dropped,” says Dr. Robb. “Because it turns out there were at least six animals that died of anaphylaxis and they didn’t include them in the study. Instead, they concluded the vaccines were safe.”

Become a Partner in the Protect the Pets Movement

“Even as we’re talking here today,” says Dr. Rob, “there are pets out there being injured, dying, and being given injections they don’t need. It’s happening right this minute, and there’s no time to waste. Lives depend on education, encouraging each other, and taking action steps such as contacting state legislators. You can look me up on Facebook, John Robb, for more information.”

You can also reach Dr. Robb at 203-731-4251, or contact him through his Protect the Pets website.

“People think I’m so popular that I can’t talk to people,” he says. “Baloney. This movement is about you, and I want to talk to you. I want to know what your situation is. We need to work together. I need to hear people’s voices, understand their situations, and see if they want to be part of the movement.”

The first goal is to amend existing rabies laws.  There are 200 million pet parents and advocates, and 40,000 members of the veterinary establishment.  As Dr. Robb points out, WE should be dictating to THEM and not the other way around.  As pet owners, we make the decisions for the animals in our care.

An Important Distinction: We’re NOT Anti-Vaxxers

It’s important to point out that we’re not anti-vaccines.  There’s a huge difference between too many vaccinations and protective vaccinations.  We’re not advocating never vaccinating your pet under any circumstances.  We’re advocating the smart use of minimal vaccines to create immunity against disease in puppies and kittens, with follow-up titers for the lifetime of the pet.

I think it’s really important to make that distinction.  There’s a big difference between creating protective immunity in a pet and creating vaccine toxicosis.  What Dr. Robb and I are talking about is the danger of over-vaccinating dogs and cats.

Some veterinary vaccines are substantially more toxic than others.  It’s your job as your pet’s advocate to know enough about the subject to make the best decisions for your animal companion.  And if your vet doesn’t respect your opinion and point of view, find a new vet.

“The job of veterinarians is to vaccinate to produce immunity with the smallest volume and the smallest number of vaccines to produce that immunity,” says Dr. Robb. “Once the pet is immune, we’re done.”

Titer Tests in Lieu of Re-vaccinations

Once an animal develops immunity to rabies, parvo and distemper, it’s easily measured by a titer.  Any positive titer means the pet is immune.

“I was speaking to Dr. Ronald Schultz yesterday, and he’s helping us,” says Dr. Robb. “He’s in favor of titers, as you know. He’s been trying to put this approach forward for a long time. He pointed out that rabies is the worst of all the vaccines in terms of toxic reactions, so it’s extremely important to deal with the rabies laws first.”

According to Dr. Robb, about 20 to 25 percent of veterinarians are now doing distemper/parvo titers in lieu of vaccinating.  But most vets still won’t do a rabies titer because rabies vaccines are the only vaccines mandated by law in all 50 states.  A positive rabies titer isn’t acceptable in lieu of re-vaccination.

Many vets charge an arm and a leg for titer testing, which is unfortunate.  Dr. Robb currently charges $32 for a rabies titer and $54 for all three (rabies, parvo and distemper for dogs).  Some vets will do a blood draw for under $10, others charge much more.  Dr. Robb suggests finding a vet who will do it for a reasonable price.  The cost of titer tests will decrease once they become the rule rather than the exception.

Putting the Heart Back in the Practice of Veterinary Medicine

In addition to helping pets and pet parents, Dr. Robb is also very passionate about helping veterinarians who are in bondage to the current system.

“We want to free them to practice veterinary medicine from a heart perspective,” he explains. “That’s also what this movement is about. The suicide rate among veterinarians is four times higher than the general population. It’s because they have to go against their heart and injure animals.”

I so appreciate Dr. Robb’s passion.  I’m heartbroken over what has happened to him, but grateful for the beautiful gift that has resulted from his difficulties.  He has blown the topic of over-vaccination wide open in the veterinary community, and I’m forever thankful because I’m not sure it would have happened without him.

“One more comment about the worldwide thing,” says Dr. Robb. “It’s worldwide, because we may set the standards in this country, and then other countries will adopt them. There are pets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan and all over the globe. We want to reach all of them. We’ll start Protect the Pets England and Protect the Pets France. We are going to go wherever pets are being victimized. We’re going to set them free. That’s what this is all about.”

Dr. Robb and Rodney Habib of Planet Paws put together a short information video of Dr. Robb testifying about over-vaccination and overdosing issues in pets.  You can view the video here at Planet Paws.  Thank you, Dr. John Robb!

 

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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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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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