Tag Archives: Becker-Karen

Don’t Let Your Pet Slurp This Holiday Favorite – Only Bad Consequences Result

Unfortunately, July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters simply because so many pets panic at the sound of fireworks, escape through an open door or window and disappear into the night. Many turn up miles from home frightened, disoriented, dehydrated and sometimes injured. Others are lost forever.

That’s why each year I take a few minutes to remind everyone to consider the needs of furry family members during Fourth of July activities. There are a number of hazards you can easily avoid or at least be aware of to insure the safety and health of your pet today.

Dos and Don’ts for July 4

1. DO ID your pet. In the event your dog or kitty is lost during all the confusion and commotion of holiday get-togethers, make sure she can be identified with an up-to-date ID collar or tag, permanent tattoo or microchip.

2. DO keep party and barbeque foods out of reach of your pet. Feed your dog or cat his regular diet for the holiday, and be especially careful to secure potentially toxic people foods like chocolate, coffee, onions, grapes, raisins and bread dough. Consuming the contents of the grill grease trap is a common cause of summertime pancreatitis, especially in dogs, so make sure to keep pets away from the grill.

3. DON’T give your pet access to glow jewelry. If eaten, it can cause excessive drooling, GI irritation and potentially, intestinal blockage.

4. DO keep alcoholic drinks out of reach of your pet. Beer, wine and liquor can poison your dog or cat. Depending on how much is ingested, your pet can become very intoxicated, weak, depressed and can even slip into a coma. Severe alcohol poisoning can result in death from respiratory failure.

5. DON’T force your pet to wear a costume for July 4. Unless your dog (or even less likely, your cat) loves to play dress-up, don’t push the issue. Make sure anything you dress your pet in is comfortably loose and doesn’t restrict movement in any way. And remember it’s July — your pet can easily get overheated.

6. DO keep citronella candles, oils and insect coils out of reach of your pet. Ingestion can cause stomach irritation and potentially, central nervous system symptoms. Inhaling the oil can cause breathing difficulties and aspiration pneumonia in pets.

7. DO keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach. Some matches contain chlorate, which can damage blood cells, impair respiration and cause kidney disease. Lighter fluid can irritate your pet’s skin, and if ingested can cause GI upset and central nervous system depression. Inhaling lighter fluid can result in breathing difficulties and aspiration pneumonia.

8. DON’T allow your pet outside, especially after dark. If she’ll be within range of the sights and sounds of fireworks, try to secure her in a room without windows. Create a safe haven with bedding, a toy or two and a few treats. Turn on a TV, radio or other music to help muffle the noise from outside.

Leave someone at home with your pet if possible, but whatever you do, don’t leave her outside alone. If she becomes frightened, even a fenced yard may not keep her safe. Dogs have been injured while making panicked attempts to escape their yard, and those that succeed can run away, be hit by a car or stolen by a stranger.

Another Don’t: Fireworks and Pets

Professional fireworks displays can be stressful and frightening for pets, so I don’t recommending bringing your dog or cat along. Even normally calm dogs can get spooked and disoriented by the noise, lights and crowds involved in a fireworks display. You certainly don’t want to frighten your four-legged family member or put him in a situation where he might bolt or become aggressive due to fear.

Even pets left at home can be frightened by the loud noises that seem to go on forever the evening of July 4. Your dog or cat has a much better sense of hearing than you do, so sudden loud sounds can be especially unsettling. And this goes double if your pet is older.

If your Independence Day celebration involves backyard fireworks, make sure your pet is safe indoors well ahead of time. Lit fireworks can result in severe burns and other injuries, and unused fireworks contain potentially toxic substances like potassium nitrate and arsenic. Also be sure to pick up all fireworks debris from your backyard before letting your pet outside again.

Signs your pet is afraid of fireworks or other loud noises include shaking, vocalizing (barking or howling), excessive drooling, looking for a place to hide or escape attempts.

If your pet has a noise phobia, the time to make a stress-reduction plan is before the triggering event occurs. I recommend taking your dog out earlier in the day for some vigorous exercise or playtime to tire him out. Turn on the TV or some music to help muffle the sound of fireworks.

Natural stress solutions to consider before the fireworks begin include diffusing calming essential oils, administering flower essences or calming herbs (l-theanine, rhodiola, 5-HTP, chamomile, holy basil, GABA and ashwagandha) or giving your pet a calming TTouchmassage. With a little advance planning, you can prevent problems for your pet over the July 4 holiday. It will be much easier for you and your family to relax and enjoy the celebrations if you’re not worrying about your pet’s health and safety.

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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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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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These Must-Have Tests Could Save Your Pet’s Life

By Dr. Becker
YouTube video here

Although your veterinarian can learn a great deal by performing a hands-on physical examination of your pet, there are some very important aspects of his or her health that can only be evaluated with diagnostic tests.

Some people think if their pet looks healthy and there’s no change in behavior or appetite, then blood tests and other diagnostics are unnecessary.  But this isn’t true for pets any more than it is for people.

Almost all metabolic and organ issues that plague pets start with biochemical changes that can be picked up in blood tests weeks to years before an animal becomes sick enough to exhibit symptoms.  If you wait until your pet is showing signs of disease, it may be too late to reverse the illness or cure it.

Reactive Versus Proactive Pet Care

Many problems brewing beneath the surface don’t produce symptoms until the disease is full-blown and, heaven forbid, even fatal.  Waiting for symptoms to appear is a reactive approach.

Many of us in the holistic veterinary community have clients who think they’re taking a holistic approach to their pet’s health when they’re actually being reactive.

For example, they wait until their dog is coughing to ask for a heartworm test, or until their cat is drinking tons of water and urinating constantly before they ask for a kidney function test.

Allowing pets to get sick before identifying significant health issues isn’t a holistic approach.  The paradigm shift holistic vets are trying to encourage is a move away from reactive medicine toward proactive medicine.  Proactive veterinarians focus on identifying lifestyle obstacles before disease occurs.

Proactive Pet Care Saves Lives

If we’re capable of identifying disease early and stopping it from occurring, why wouldn’t we?  Taking a proactive approach gives us the opportunity to address minor biochemical changes early on, and prevent them from becoming major health issues.

We can prevent organ failure if we know the body is leaning in that direction.  We can prevent irreversible degeneration that robs pets of good health and long lives.  But we have to know it’s occurring in order to address it, and we won’t know if we don’t check.

I’ve heard countless times from clients that, “My dog was fine until he suddenly got congestive heart failure,” or “My cat was fine until I took her to the vet yesterday and she was diagnosed with kidney failure.”  The truth is those conditions didn’t develop overnight.  They occurred slowly, over time.

The dog with congestive heart failure and the kitty with kidney failure have been brewing those conditions for quite a while.  But because the pet parents and veterinarian weren’t regularly monitoring the health of those pets, serious organ degeneration occurred right under their noses.

Even if your vet isn’t proactive, you can be.  Ask him or her to measure your pet’s vital organ function with the appropriate diagnostic tests.  You’re entitled to a copy of the results, which you can review and keep track of from one year to the next, taking note of any changes that occur.

If you have no choice but to visit a reactive versus a proactive veterinarian, you’ll need to act as your pet’s advocate.  Don’t ever be afraid to speak up on behalf of your animal companion.

Keep in mind that most abnormal test results were once normal.  It’s how quickly we catch the change from normal to abnormal that can mean the difference between fixing a problem early, or potentially losing a pet to a disease we could have identified early on.

“I wish I would have known,” is something no proactive vet ever wants to say or hear.  Put another way, “I wish I would have known,” means, “I wish I would have checked.”

We have the ability to check — to monitor your pet’s health — and that’s what I’m encouraging you to do.  This is especially true for senior pets and pets with chronic health challenges.

Fecal Exam and Urinalysis

If your dog goes on lots of outdoor adventures, I recommend once or twice yearly fecal exams to check for signs of intestinal disease and parasites.  Indoor house cats who have no exposure to potentially infectious poop from other animals are off the hook for fecal exams.

A yearly urinalysis (or more frequently if your pet is older or prone to infections or other problems involving the urinary tract) is used to assess the overall health of your pet’s urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, and to check for other health indicators, such as glucose regulation and liver function.

A complete urinalysis measures the function of the nephrons in the kidneys and gives information about your pet’s metabolic and fluid status.  The test is also used to evaluate substances in the urine that might indicate an underlying disease process.

Blood Tests

Blood tests help your veterinarian proactively monitor your pet’s internal organ health, and also help to determine causes of illnesses accurately, safely and quickly.  Blood tests also allow your veterinarian to monitor the progress of medical treatments.

However, while these tests indicate where your pet’s body may be having a problem, they don’t tell us how or why the problem is occurring.  It’s also important to know that currently there are no blood tests that definitively detect cancer, and not every organ has a specific serum marker for cancer.

Complete blood count (CBC).  The CBC is the most common blood test performed on pets and people.  A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability and the ability of your pet’s immune system to respond.

The CBC is essential for pets with fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite.  Also, in the event that your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders and other unseen abnormalities.  The results of a complete blood count include:

HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration

Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) measure the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.

WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body’s immune cells, including lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils. Increases or decreases indicate disease or infection.

Platelets measure cells that form blood clots.

Retics (reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells.  High levels indicate regenerative anemia; low levels indicate non-regenerative anemia.

Blood chemistry profile.  Blood chemistries are common blood serum tests that evaluate your pet’s organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more.

They are very important in evaluating the health of older pets, pets undergoing anesthesia, pets with vomiting and diarrhea, pets that have had toxin exposure, pets on long-term medications and pets with endocrine or internal organ disease.  Blood serum measures include:

ALB (albumin) is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage and intestinal, liver and kidney disease.
ALP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease, active bone growth in young pets or arthritis or bone degeneration in older pets.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but does not indicate the cause.
A bile acids test is a paired serum sample taken before and after meals, which measures how well the liver is able to recycle bile acids.
Amylase is a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates, and lipase (LIP) is a digestive enzyme for fats. Elevations may indicate pancreatitis or other pancreatic dysfunction. The definitive test for pancreatitis is the PLI (pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity) test.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart or skeletal muscle damage.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver or heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock or dehydration.
Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.
CHOL (cholesterol) is used to supplement a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease and diabetes mellitus. Fortunately, since pets aren’t plagued with arteriosclerosis like humans are, even a significant elevation in cholesterol doesn’t result in blocked arteries, stroke or heart attack.
CL (chloride) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate disease. If your pet has both sodium and chloride abnormalities, you should ask your veterinarian to check for adrenal disease.
CREA (creatinine) is a sensitive marker of kidney function and perfusion. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN. BUN and creatinine go hand in hand. There’s also a third test called the symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) test that can also identify early kidney disease.
GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and decreases with chronic infections and a weakened immune system.
GLU (glucose) is blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus or persistent hyperglycemia as the result of a carbohydrate-based diet. Low levels (below 40) can cause collapse, seizures or coma.
K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, urethral obstruction or inappropriate doses of certain drugs. High levels can cause heart problems.
Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and bleeding disorders.
TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems, gall bladder stasis and certain types of anemia.
TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys and infectious disease.
T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism, commonly diagnosed in cats. A complete thyroid panel is necessary to accurately assess thyroid health.

Tests for Tick-Borne Disease

If you live in an area where ticks are abundant, I recommend asking your veterinarian for an annual or even twice-a-year SNAP-4Dx test or an Accuplex test to check for tick-borne diseases, including heartworm, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.  Regardless of what you do to manage fleas and ticks on your pets, research shows mosquitoes can transmit tick-borne diseases, and none of us can completely prevent mosquito bites.

Especially in the midwest and the east coast of the U.S., it’s a good idea early in the year and at the end of tick season to check for tick-borne illnesses, which thankfully are fairly easy to treat and cure when they are identified before they create chronic disease.

Titer Testing and Vaccinations

I also recommend titer testing in lieu of automatic re-vaccination for all diseases other than rabies, which of course is required by law.  Titer tests are simple blood tests you can ask your veterinarian to do that provide information about your pet’s current immunity to the diseases he’s been vaccinated against in the past.

Immunologist Dr. Ron Schultz states that any positive titer result — any number above zero — means your pet’s immune system is capable of mounting an effective response and no vaccine is needed.

Some of my clients say, “Hey, I think it’s just cheaper to vaccinate.  My dog has only had one vaccine.  What’s the harm in doing it?”  My response is it’s much safer to titer test, even in pets who’ve only had one vaccination, because chances are they’re protected for life and don’t need additional vaccines.

If the titer is low, I will give the vaccine at no charge.  I give a single parvo or distemper vaccine if a dog’s titer is low.  I don’t give combination vaccines.  In 19 years, I’ve never given a free vaccine because none of my patients have titered low after their puppy shots. So this is something to keep in mind when it comes to re-vaccinating your pet.

Additional Recommendations

Three other tests to consider are a fasting insulin test, a vitamin D test and a dysbiosis test.

Fasting insulin test.  In humans, one of the best predictors of longevity is the fasting insulin level.  Very few veterinarians measure this, but I think it’s an underutilized test that can evaluate a patient’s metabolic health and fat-burning adaptedness.  Michigan State Diagnostic Lab runs this test for $18.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things you can do to evaluate your pet’s ability to manage metabolic diseases, including cancer.

Vitamin D test.  Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic, and we’re beginning to learn that deficiency in pets may rival that of humans.  Dogs and cats can’t make vitamin D from sunlight so they must get it from their diet.

Unfortunately, the synthetic vitamin D used in many commercial pet foods can be difficult for dogs and cats to absorb and unless impeccably balanced, many homemade diets are deficient in vitamin D.  Vitamin D testing is an add-on to routine bloodwork, but you can ask your veterinarian to include it.

Dysbiosis test.  We know that 70 percent of the immune system is located in your dog’s or cat’s gut, and many pets suffer from gut-related disorders that create malabsorption, maldigestion and ultimately, a weakened and dysfunctional immune system.

Identifying and addressing a leaky or dysbiotic gut is critically important in re-establishing good health, especially in debilitated, chronically ill and aging pets.  The Texas A&M Gastrointestinal Laboratory has just released a test to measure the level of dysbiosis in the canine gut.

The takeaway today is that monitoring a pet’s internal environment is actually quite empowering, because we’re able to address minor changes before disease occurs, and in many cases we can prevent degeneration, which is always our goal as proactive pet parents and veterinarians.

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Despite the Law, Here’s Proof Your Pet Probably Doesn’t Need This Vaccine

By Dr. Becker

I have some encouraging news!

On March 1, 2016, the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, under the auspices of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, published revised recommendations for the handling of pets overdue for a rabies re-vaccination in the event they’re exposed to the virus.

The new guidelines, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, recommend that cats and dogs exposed to rabies who are overdue for a vaccine be given a booster shot (re-vaccination) followed by an observation period rather than be quarantined or euthanized.1

Currently, if a pet with a lapsed rabies vaccination is exposed to a rabid animal, the law in many states requires the pet to be quarantined for several months at the owner’s expense, or euthanized.

The revised guidelines also recommend reducing the quarantine period from 6 months to 4 months for unvaccinated cats and dogs exposed to rabies.

New Guidelines Follow 4-Year Study

The new guidelines follow the results of a study conducted at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL) by veterinary researchers led by Dr. Michael C. Moore.2

Dr. Moore and his team set out to evaluate whether dogs and cats overdue (by law) for a rabies vaccine respond satisfactorily to a booster (re-vaccination).

For 4 years, between 2010 and 2014, the researchers collected blood samples from 74 dogs and 33 cats that had 1) been exposed to rabies and brought to a veterinarian, or 2) were brought to a veterinarian for a rabies booster.

The KSVDL researchers gave a rabies booster to each dog and cat to evaluate their anamnestic antibody responses.

They discovered that after 5 to 15 days, all the animals – both those with current vaccinations and those overdue for a vaccination – had rabies neutralizing antibody titers of ≥ 0.5 IU/mL, indicating immunity to the virus.

Study Proves Rabies Protection Doesn’t Suddenly Disappear on a Predetermined Date

The study results demonstrate that when an animal with an out-of-date rabies vaccination receives the booster, the antibodies in his or her blood rise, protecting against exposure to the virus.  The study authors concluded:

“Findings supported immediate booster vaccination followed by observation for 45 days of dogs and cats with an out-of-date vaccination status that are exposed to rabies, as is the current practice for dogs and cats with current vaccination status.”3

Moore said, “When it comes to vaccinating either people or animals, they don’t just all of a sudden on a predetermined date have zero protection or loss of priming.”

The team at the Rabies Laboratory at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory gets several calls each month about cats and dogs that have been exposed to rabies and are overdue for a vaccine.  Traditionally, the only options available have been a very costly 6-month quarantine or euthanasia.

“We are very excited that people might have an additional option if their cat or dog is out-of-date and exposed to rabies,” said Moore.

Most Pets Overdue for a Booster Were Still Immunized Against Rabies

More interesting than the rabies booster findings for those of us fighting against over-vaccination of pets is what the researchers discovered about the dogs and cats in the study before they were given rabies re-vaccinations.

Based on blood samples drawn on day 0 of the study, several of the animals whose rabies vaccinations were out-of-date had acceptable and even high rabies antibody titers pre-booster.  Examples:

  • A dog that was 3 months overdue for a 3-year vaccination had a pre-booster titer of 9.7 IU/mL
  • A dog 5.5 months overdue for a 3-year vaccination had a pre-booster titer of 12 IU/mL
  • A dog 2 years overdue for a 1-year vaccination had a pre-booster titer of 0.6 IU/mL, as did a dog 3.5 months overdue for a 1-year vaccination
  • A dog 1.5 years overdue for a 1-year vaccination had a pre-booster titer of 1.8 IU/mL
  • A cat 9 months overdue for a 3-year vaccination had a pre-booster titer of 12 IU/mL

For the entire group of 74 dogs, those with current vaccinations (55) had a median pre-booster titer of 2.6 IU/mL.  The remaining 19 dogs with out-of-date vaccinations had a median pre-booster titer of 2.0 IU/mL –well over the ≥ 0.5 IU/mL that indicates protection against the virus.

Of the 33 kitties, 7 had a current rabies vaccination and the remaining 26 were overdue.  The cats with a current vaccine had a median pre-booster titer of 2.4 IU/mL, and interestingly, the kitties whose vaccinations were out-of-date had a median pre-booster titer of 6.3 IU/mL – again, well over the ≥ 0.5 IU/mL target.

This means the vast majority of pets in the study, whether they had a current rabies vaccination or were overdue for a 1- or 3-year vaccine, had adequate rabies neutralizing antibody titers and were protected in the event of exposure to the virus prior to receiving a rabies booster.

Will the New Guidelines Change State Rabies Vaccination Laws?

Unfortunately, the veterinary community can only provide recommendations with regard to the management of pets exposed to rabies. According to Dr. Richard Ford, an emeritus professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine:

“The application, interpretation and enforcement of rabies vaccination laws can vary significantly from state to state, and even county to county.  Complex and sometimes conflicting rabies laws can lead to considerable confusion, misinterpretation of state and local statutes and inappropriate actions on the part of individual practitioners.”

As Dr. Jean Dodds, veterinary vaccine authority and chairperson of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) Communications Committee, points out in a press release titled “Changes Sought to Rabies Vaccination Laws Based on Scientific Research”:

“Until legal changes occur, animal guardians and veterinarians must comply with existing legal statutes.  Rabies serum antibody titering can be performed for information, documentation, and to satisfy export and import requirements, but this does not replace the legal requirement for rabies booster vaccinations.”4

Hopefully, I’ll have more good news to report in the near future about states adopting the new recommendations in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016.

In the meantime, you can bookmark RabiesAware.org, a new site (sponsored by the veterinary drug company Merial) that “provides rapid access to current, validated state-level laws and regulations on rabies vaccination.” The information is a resource for veterinarians, but pet guardians will also find it useful.  The site is still being populated as of this writing, so not every state has information available yet.

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Take These 5 Simple Steps Before Adopting a New Pet

By Dr. Becker

The first few weeks you and your new dog spend together will shape your future relationship and forge the lifelong bond between you.

To make the most of these crucially important first days and weeks, it’s very smart to do some advance planning, including the following steps.

Image result for dog adoption

#1 – Hold a Family Meeting

Taking excellent care of a pet requires time, energy, and commitment.  To avoid either neglecting the new dog, or battles over who didn’t do what to care for him, it’s best to set everyone’s expectations ahead of time.

Before your new pet arrives, sit down with all members of your household to discuss the many details involved in becoming dog guardians.

For example, decide what family members will be responsible for which pet care chores.  Often, children ask for a pet and their parents oblige without realizing a child’s desire for a pet doesn’t always translate to a desire to take care of a pet.  Also, children need help to learn how to care for a pet properly.

Even the adults in the family, if chores aren’t assigned ahead of time, can assume it’s the responsibility of someone other than them to, for example, pick up the dog poop from the backyard.

Additional considerations:

  • If everyone in the house leaves for work or school every day, who will come in and care for the puppy?
  • Who’s on potty walk duty? How about when your new furry family member needs to go out in the middle of the night?
  • Who will feed and exercise the dog? (Meals, exercise and playtime should happen on a predictable schedule each day.)
  • Who will take him for his veterinary wellness exams?
  • Who will be taking care of trimming nails, dental care, and brushing and bathing the dog?

Dogs thrive on routine and consistency, so there are household logistics to consider, for example:

  • Where will your new dog eat her meals?
  • Where will her bowls of fresh water be placed?
  • Where will she sleep – in your bedroom? Will she sleep with you or in her own bed?
  • Will the dog be gated off from certain parts of the house? If so, how?
  • If you plan to crate train, where will you keep it?

I’m an advocate of crate training, especially for puppies, but also adult dogs.  If you haven’t already, take a look at my videos on crate training, which offer a step-by-step guide to getting your dog used to his crate.

I consider crating a very important part of keeping your dog safe when you’re not at home or can’t keep a constant eye on him.  If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a crate, keep in mind that dogs, by nature, are den animals.  They crave being in a small, safe, dark spot.

Have the crate ready when your pet comes home.  If he’s allowed to sleep in your bed with you for several days and then you move him to a crate, he’ll likely have a more difficult time adjusting.  This is because your dog will have learned his nighttime sleeping spot is your bed.

#2 – Stock Up on Pet Supplies

I recommend purchasing all necessary pet supplies before you bring your new dog home.  This includes a leash, collar or harness, non-toxic food and water bowls, ID tag, toys, biodegradable potty bags, non-toxic bed, crate – everything you’ll need to be well-equipped when the new addition arrives.

I also strongly recommend you keep your dog on the same food she’s been eating, even if it’s poor quality, as you transition to a healthier type of food.  Your home may be a blessed improvement over what your dog been used to, but her body will still interpret this wonderful change in circumstances as stressful.  Change, whether good or bad, gets translated as stress in your pet’s body.

Puppies, in particular, experience a lot of stress because they’re being separated from their mom and littermates for the first time.  They’re also changing environments – often both indoor and outdoor environments – which can bring new allergens that affect their immune system.

Your new dog has a brand new family of humans and often other four-legged members as well.  The last thing her body needs right now is a brand new diet that might cause tummy problems.

That’s why I recommend you continue to feed whatever diet your pet is currently eating, and then slowly wean her onto a better quality diet after she settles in.

#3 – Dog Proof Your Home and Yard

This is definitely something you’ll want to do before bringing your new dog home with you.  You might not think of everything you need to do right off the bat, but at a minimum, you should move cords out of reach, plus plants and other hazardous temptations.

If you’re bringing home a puppy, you’ll have a built-in incentive for keeping a neat, clean house, because if it’s been lost or left behind, puppy will find it!

Pet-proofing your home before your new canine companion arrives is the best way to prevent choking, vomiting, diarrhea or another crisis during those important first few weeks.

If your dog will be in your yard off-leash, you’ll want to insure there’s no way he can escape.  You’ll also want to avoid using herbicides or pesticides, make sure there are no potentially toxic plants growing, and clear away any brush and debris that could harbor pests during the warmer months of the year.

#4 – Arrange for Your New Dog’s Schooling

Whether your new canine companion is a puppy or an adult dog, you’ll want to get her socialization underway as soon as you bring her home, along with basic obedience training.  The best time to start puppy play groups is at 8 weeks of age, then moving on to puppy kindergarten, beginning, intermediate and advanced obedience classes.  These are essential elements in raising a well-balanced dog.

What I tell new dog parents is if you bring home a dog but don’t plan to socialize or educate her properly, it’s a lot like having a child and deciding not to allow her to make friends, have adventures, or attend school.  And starting puppy class at 6 months of age is like beginning to parent your child on her 14th birthday; there will be some behaviors that will be hard to correct.

Puppies and dogs are educated about the world through socialization early on with other people, dogs, cats, and environments outside their houses.  Dogs that don’t get out of their home environment long before 6 months of age often wind up with developmental or social difficulties later in life.

There’s a period of time in every puppy’s life, typically from 6 to 12 weeks of age, during which mental and social development is most achievable.  If your pet isn’t socialized during that time, it can set the stage for problems years down the road.

If you adopted your dog from a shelter or rescue organization, she may have some behavior problems, fears, or lack basic training.  Many dogs abandoned to shelters weren’t given the best care, and staying in a shelter environment for any length of time can also have an effect on an animal’s behavior.

Because your dog may come to you with emotional or behavioral baggage, you should be prepared to put in the time and effort required to help her succeed in her new life with you.  Behavior modification using a positive reward system is the key to encouraging good behavior.

You may be able to accomplish this on your own, or you may need the help of a veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist.  Most importantly, you may correct one training issue only to find another fear or phobia pop up 4 months later; hang in there with positive behavior modification until you see the desired results.

There’s a wonderful program I recommend to all new parents of adopted or rescued pets that helps dogs adjust to a new home in the least stressful manner.  You can find it at A Sound Beginning, and you can immediately begin using the book’s tips and tricks and the calming music CD on your dog’s first day home.

#5 – Give Your New Dog Time to Adjust and Lots of Positive Attention

I always recommend that dog guardians take at least a few days off from work – preferably a week – to properly welcome a new pet home.  It will take some time for your puppy or dog to get acclimated to his new environment and into a consistent daily routine.

If you’re gone from home for several hours most days, I also recommend arranging for a regular dog walker or doggy daycare a few days a week.  Most dogs have difficulty spending hours alone every day with no one around and nothing to do.  This goes double for new canine family members, and triple for dogs who have just come from a shelter environment.

The more time you’re able to spend with your new canine companion giving him lots of positive attention and teaching him the rules and routines in his new home and life, the better the outcome for both of you.

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Avoid These 2 Temptations When Sharing Thanksgiving with Your Pet

Image result for thanksgiving dinner dog food

 

By Dr. Becker

There are few things as tantalizing as the mouth-watering aroma of Thanksgiving dinner being prepared.  In fact, it can be hard to wait for the meal to be served if you’ve spent all day surrounded by the smells of delicious food cooking in the kitchen.

You may have also noticed that your furry companion is spending more time than usual sniffing the air and visiting the kitchen, hoping that a morsel of food might slip off the counter or out of someone’s hand.

Do I Really Have to Exclude My Pet from Holiday Meals?

The usual advice for dog and cat owners during the holiday season is to avoid feeding species-inappropriate “table scraps.”  This is because traditional holiday dinners tend to be high-fat feasts that aren’t suitable for pets.

There is also concern about ingredients in human food that can be toxic for pets.  Plus, we don’t want to encourage begging at the table.

But with all that said, whether or not you share your Thanksgiving meal with your pet really depends on what the meal consists of and what ingredients are used.  For example, cooked turkey meat is fine for both dogs and cats.  A few fresh cooked veggies such as plain (no flavorings or additives of any kind) green beans or yams are also fine.

Examples of Thanksgiving people food you’ll want to avoid giving your pet include dressing (stuffing);  processed or sugary foods; dishes containing raisins or grapes; dishes containing onions, leeks, or chives; bread, rolls, and butter; and all desserts.

I also recommend blending a small portion of safe people food in with your pet’s regular food and offering it at her usual mealtime.  It’s really not a good idea to offer treats from your plate at the table, or in the kitchen during meal preparation or cleanup, because your pet will very likely remember the gesture if you do it even once.

And with that one gesture, you can turn a pet with impeccable table manners into a beggar dog or cat with a very long memory!

15 Thanksgiving Foods and Snacks Safe to Share with Your Dog or Cat

Most of these foods will be more popular with dogs than cats, but they’re safe for both.  They should be served plain (no sugar, salt, or spices, butter, or other additives), in moderation, and in small portions.

    1. Apples. Apples contain powerful antioxidants and vitamin C.  Serve apple slices to your pet, but never the core or seeds.
    2. Blueberries. Fresh or frozen, blueberries are loaded with phytochemicals, and their deep blue hue is the result of anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants.  Blueberries are also a good source of healthy fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E. I ntroduce blueberries slowly to your pet – too much, too soon can cause a digestive upset.
    3. Carrots. Carrots are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins.  Many dogs enjoy snacking on a fresh crunchy carrot.
    4. Broccoli. Broccoli supports detoxification processes in your pet’s body; contains healthy fiber to aid digestion; is rich in beneficial nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and vitamin C; has anti-inflammatory properties; supports eye health; helps repair skin damage; and supports heart health.

As an added bonus, even conventionally grown broccoli is one of the cleanest (most pesticide-free) foods you can buy.  Your pet may prefer broccoli steamed.

    1. Kale. This dark green cruciferous vegetable is loaded with vitamins (especially vitamins K, A, and C), iron, and antioxidants.  It helps with liver detoxification and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
    2. Fermented vegetables. If you happen to be serving fermented veggies as part of your Thanksgiving feast, definitely offer some to your pet.  Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and contain much higher levels of probiotics and vitamin K2 than supplements can provide.

Beneficial gut bacteria provided by probiotics break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body, and perform a number of other important functions.

  1. Raw pumpkin seeds. Pepitas, or raw pumpkin seeds, are a rich source of minerals, vitamin K, and phytosterols.  They also contain L-tryptophan and are a good source of zinc, vitamin E, and B vitamins.  Research suggests pumpkin seeds can prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones, reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, and support prostate health.
  2. Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants, and are also high in vitamins A and C.  Sweet potatoes with purple flesh have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk from heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
  3. Green beans. Fresh, locally grown green beans are a source of vitamins A, C, and K.  They also provide calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamin, as well as beta-carotene.
  4. Spinach. This green leafy vegetable has anti-inflammatory properties and can help support heart health.
  5. Asparagus. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, B1, B2, C, and E, along with the folate, iron, copper, fiber, manganese, and potassium.
  6. Pumpkin. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidants.  It can help alleviate both diarrhea and constipation.  Make sure to feed your pet either fresh pumpkin or 100 percent canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling.
  7. Yogurt. Plain organic yogurt is high in protein and calcium, and most pets love it.
  8. Cottage cheese. Like yogurt, plain organic cottage cheese is high in calcium and protein.
  9. Raw almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts. These nuts, served in moderation and very small portions, are safe for dogs.  Many nuts are not – especially tree nuts – so stick with these three to be on the safe side.

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