Band Aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes

FullSizeRender 99No, this is not a blog about Taylor Swift. And I’m sorry for putting that song in your head. But putting a Band Aid on a problem does not solve it, yet is something some of my fellow veterinarians often do. Let me explain…

Veterinarians, like other professionals, receive a lot of trade news magazines, journals, and mailings from manufacturers of animal health products. Some days, my mail consists of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dogster, Clinician’s Brief, and Pet Product News! (Hey, at least no bills!) With my most recent Clinician’s Brief came a mailing called Products in Brief, a 60 page guide to new products and services for the veterinary practitioner.  Intrigued by what innovative products might be on the horizon, I started flipping through the pages.

It quickly became apparent that this publication was heavy on advertisements, including short articles written by manufacturers in support of their offerings. I get that, who better to tell us the what, why, and how of the products. But I was also struck by the problems these products were addressing.

Inside the front cover was an ad for a product to manage inflammation. Then four pages on new vaccines. A couple pages on digestive disorders with prescription foods to combat it. The next pages were devoted to a new ear infection ointment that is especially suitable for long term preventative care as well as treatment of acute cases. The next pages were devoted to a calming supplement for anxiety and stress disorders, followed by a glucose monitor for home use on the diabetic dog. And finally, the back cover — another ear infection product. FullSizeRender 100

Can you see the trend here? More and more products being sold to veterinarians, and in turn, you, to address a problem without ever considering the underlying cause. Many of these products are recommended for long term use to “manage” the problem. This makes no sense to me, and certainly does not seem to be promoting the health of my patients.

So, why are our dogs so plagued by inflammation, diseases, ear infections, stress, diabetes, and more, such that a free 60 page guide to new products shows up in my mailbox on a regular basis? Because we often fail to meet their biological needs, for generations. And with each generation, individuals become a bit weaker in constitution, resiliency, and overall health. External or environmental influences play their part as well. Exposure to chemicals and toxins over generations, changes in foods, and the pace of everyday life and its stresses also have an impact.

We need to think of the dog as what he truly is — a creature with a biology different from our own, whose needs need to be met in the way his biology dictates. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that. He needs to be fed a species-appropriate diet, that is fresh, not processed from waste products from the human food chain, and loaded with starches. He needs appropriate exercise and social interaction with other dogs, as well as his human family. He needs protection from infectious diseases and parasites, but not over or inappropriate vaccination, or anti-parasite medications when there is no risk (how many fleas do you see in NY in January? Do we really need to treat dogs for tapeworms each month?)

Changing from a traditional approach to dog care (feeding dry dog food, vaccinating every year, using heartworm and flea and tick prevention monthly year round, and treating health issues with medications) to a wholistic approach (natural diet, minimal vaccines, judicious and thoughtful use of preventatives, integrating medications with supportive strategies and products) is akin to removing the bullet. It helps and in many cases heals, but sometimes leaves scars. Never starting down the traditional path with your next puppy is like putting a bullet proof vest on him, preventing problems before any damage is done.

In my experience, almost everyone who pursues a wholistic approach to dog health was once a traditionalist. Many of us had our eyes opened by a dog health crisis. It’s sad that we had to take some bullets to be able to see beyond the Band Aids. And it is fortunate that there are more and more complementary and integrative veterinarians today, with a variety of bullet proof vests to fit our dogs.

TrinketRMBI’ll be writing more about following a natural path right from the start in upcoming blogs, as my litter of Australian Shepherd puppies grow. I’ll share how I manage their health, from their first food to going off to their new homes, and more. Stay tuned!


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Dog Owners Are Unsure About Choosing Pet Food

I recently received the current issue of Pet Food industry Magazine, and found a report on a survey performed by Purina and PSB Research. The focus of the survey was finding out what concerns owners had about their dog’s health and wellbeing, and where they found it difficult to make informed decisions. I was not at all surprised at the five following findings:

  • Half of owners surveyed thought choosing the right food for their dog was the most difficult part of pet ownership
  • 52% of all and 68% of millennial owners thought dog nutrition is more confusing than human nutrition
  • 79% of millennials believe their pet food is not a perfect fit for their dog
  • About 1 out of 4 owners felt overwhelmed by the choices and spent more than 10 minutes in the dog food aisle making their choice
  • 57% expressed interest in a food that could be personalized for their dog’s nutritional needs

These results are encouraging to me, an advocate for a natural diet for dogs. They show me that a huge number of dog owners realize the importance of nutrition, and know that commercial pet food is not a perfect fit for their dog.

Kibble with water

Kibble with water


Can you tell what was used to make this kibble?







Owners need to know that it is not that difficult to feed a dog a “personalized” diet that meets their needs. It’s simply called food, and it comes in a few key forms. Meats, with bone and fat. Organ meats, rich in vital nutrients. A bit of vegetable for fiber (or not, depending on the situation). All human quality, carefully handled, and fed in appropriate amounts and sizes for the dog. It does not have to be difficult, or confusing. And best of all, it puts the control of ingredients and quality in the owner’s hands, rather than the hands of companies who use unfit for human consumption ingredients, and process them into a form that is contrary to the dog’s biology.

Close-up shot of a raw beef steak in the shape of a question mark served on a white plate



Or this?


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How To Thank Your Dog

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! I have often wondered how to thank my dogs for all they give to me — and you probably have had the same thought. How can we really show or tell our dogs how much we care for them? I think the answer is simple — it’s by how we care for them every day.

Lately I’ve been trying to find more ways to share my dog health knowledge and practices with owners who can’t bring their dogs to me in person. So you can  expect more blogs, articles, videos, and webinars from the Healthy Dog Workshop, and news on the Wholistic Vet Facebook page. Today, I give you my top ten list of ways to have a happier, healthier dog, who is more resistant to disease, and lives a fuller life.

1. Feed your dog food that is fit for human consumption. (Note: This excludes virtually every commercial dog food! Yes, you should be feeding your dog “people food”, or as I call, it real whole food, in a considered and thoughtful way!)

2. Use a variety of foods. Face it, nobody should eat chicken for 30 days straight!

3. Give core supplements, which include a vitamin and mineral supplement, probiotic, and salmon oil on a regular basis. Start joint support supplements in any active or large breed dog by the age of 12 months.

4. Evaluate your dog’s body condition weekly. Adjust what you are feeding accordingly.

5. Keep you dog mentally and physically active. Do whatever training you enjoy to engage their mind, and some fun exercise for their body. (Stupid pet tricks count!) Expose them to new environments, people, and suitable dogs.

6. Stop giving unnecessary and potentially harmful vaccinations! Utilize titer testing if in doubt. Most dogs will not need a distemper vaccination after their first adult vaccine, typically given around 15 months of age. Allow me to reiterate — do not give your dog yearly vaccinations!

7. Use harsh chemicals such as flea and tick products only when absolutely necessary. Use heartworm preventative seasonally.

8. Bathe and groom frequently, and use those sessions to observe every inch of your dog’s body for abnormalities. Most dogs would benefit from monthly bathing, nail trims, etc.

9. Should a serious health condition arise, get at least two opinions. The second opinion should be that of a boarded specialist. You may also choose to consult an alternative medicine practitioner.  Beyond the true emergency situation, there is always time to think and ask questions of many experts.

10. Take a few minutes each day to share with your dog. Make it a part of your schedule  — play games in the yard, sit and watch a movie, go for a walk, whatever fits the day. Find the joy in each other. Even just five minutes of playing with your dog can put a smile on both of your faces.

Today, I am thankful for all the people and dogs who are part of my life, and all that they teach me.


Categories: Foods, Uncategorized, Vaccines, Wholistic Care | Leave a comment

Is It Really Natural? Feeding the Allergic Dog

1c6eef4ac41546ad85de9669607f3444.aspxMy daily dose of inspiration arrived today, in the form of an advertisement in a veterinary publication from the Blue (formerly Blue Buffalo) pet food company. They were promoting their latest venture, a line of natural veterinary prescription feeds. I call them feeds, because that is the approved term for what animals eat. Only humans (or those lucky animals who eat “people food”) can correctly be said to eat food. Crazy, right? But that’s not what prompted this blog…

It’s the word natural. Or as they put on the label, NATURAL. defines natural as:

1. existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial):
2. based on the state of things in nature; constituted by nature:
3. of or relating to nature or the universe:
4. of, relating to, or occupied with the study of natural science:
5. in a state of nature; uncultivated, as land.
6. growing spontaneously, without being planted or tended by human hand, as vegetation.
7. having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives




When I think of natural salmon, I think of these:

salmon2 salmon cut

salmonhydrolyzed protein concentrate I do not think of this, which is hydrolyzed salmon protein concentrate. Is this natural? Does that look like food to you? Wonder how it might be made? Just visit Ridgedale Permaculture, where they show you their process, step by step.

Now I suppose you could say enzymatic breakdown, rotting, decay, and other processes that result in decomposition of something that was once alive are natural. I don’t believe that material that has undergone those processes can be called food.

So, what are the ingredients of this “natural” prescription veterinary diet? According to the Blue website, the food contains:

Salmon Hydrolysate (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Pea Starch, Potatoes, Peas, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Pumpkin, Dried Kelp, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Dried Chicory Root, Salt, Choline Chloride, Caramel Color, Vitamin E Supplement, DL-Methionine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative), L-Tryptophan, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Parsley, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Turmeric, Oil of Rosemary, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Taurine, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Zinc Sulfate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Copper Sulfate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Manganese Sulfate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite.

The prescription food company approach to the food intolerant dog is to super-process some ingredients so they are not recognizable by the body, and fill in with parts of whole foods that are left over from making human foods (pea starch, pea protein). And then they add vitamin and mineral products to approximate the dog’s needs. And, in many cases, charge owners several dollars per pound for the food. Have you heard of the prescription Royal Canin food made whose protein is made from hydrolyzed chicken feathers? The new term for that feather product is “hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate”. You can purchase it for about $5.00 a pound!  ­

My approach to feeding dogs is quite different, whether they have food allergies or intolerances or not. I want to take the mystery out of what is being fed. If I am feeding fish, it will look like this:

FreshFishI’m very comfortable calling this food, recommending it for my patients, and feeding it to my own dogs. Anything less just isn’t natural. Despite what Blue and other pet food companies try to sell tell you.
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The Way Back

As I said in my last blog, I sometimes think the veterinary profession has lost its way. The focus seems to be on treatment and management of disease, rather than the promotion of health. And this misguided focus is passed on to the dog owner. I see this every day, in appointment after appointment. For example, an owner brings in a 12 year old Labrador, who is clearly arthritic, and asks what can be done to manage his pain. Should he be started on glucosamine? Yet the owner of a 2 year old Labrador rarely asks about strategies to prevent or lessen the severity of future arthritis. Owners of Golden Retrievers, who seem to be fast becoming the number one breed affected by cancer, rarely ask about how to lessen the risk that their dog will be affected. Yet they spend thousands of dollars for treatment and suffer tremendous heartache as their dog loses the battle. It just doesn’t make sense.

TheHealthyDogWorkshop-logo-final1I believe in proactive, preventative strategies, as opposed to just treating problems as they arise. That’s why I’m building the Healthy Dog Workshop. Everything in the workshop is dedicated to promoting health and preventing or lessening the risk of health problems. From the free articles and videos, to recommended products like Paw Power, to the new online natural diet course, my goal is to make the workshop the resource for a naturally healthy dog.

Please visit the workshop often, as I will be adding more content on foods and feeding, minimal vaccination, and other key health topics. And feel free to email me with your questions or requests.



Categories: Arthritis, Cancer, Foods, Pain, Supplements, Wholistic Care | Comments Off on The Way Back

We’ve Lost Our Focus

Just a few days ago, I received the monthly flyer from one of my veterinary distributors. Every company sends these out regularly. One company has a slick magazine, another emails, and this particular company uses 100% recycled paper and eco-friendly production. But it was this particular flyer’s front page content that struck a chord with me, and I felt my frustration level begin to rise…DrugCoFlyer

If you look at the front page of the flyer (I blocked the company name and prices, because this promotion is not unique to any veterinary drug company), you will see the entire page is devoted to ear infection treatment. Twenty-two products, in a variety of sizes. Buy 3 dozen and get a free wall clock. Buy 3, get 1 free. All nice discounts, and accepted sales strategies. But why are all these ear treatment products needed? I know if I ordered 36 ear treatment products for my wholistically-minded dog owners, all but one would likely still be on my shelf, years later. Yet many traditionally cared for dogs will have multiple ear infections each year. In fact, the nation’s largest pet insurance company, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) ranked ear infections as the second most reported medical problem for dogs. In 2014, VPI paid policyholders over $68 million for treating the 10 most common health conditions. (Read about it here.)

Some days, I feel the veterinary profession is heading down the path of human medicine, focusing on the drug to treat the problem, and then the drug to address the undesired effects of the first drug, and on, and on. Yet at Cornell University, both in my undergraduate Animal Science program as well as in the Veterinary College, we spent lots of time focusing on proactive animal and herd health. Especially in the large animal species, the owner or farmer pays close attention to nutrition, basic care, exercise, body condition and fitness, and other aspects of health. Yet these aspects are often ignored in our dogs. Nutrition is the most obvious example.

Traditionally managed dogs are fed a diet of dry food, containing at least 40% starch. That is the minimum amount required to form the various ingredients into the dry kibble shapes we all know. Yet dogs have no nutritional requirement for starches — they are present in commercial foods as cheap fillers and binders. My wholistically-minded owners feed a starch and/or gluten free diet, that is based on fresh meats. Their feeding plans are much closer to what a dog’s biology is designed to efficiently digest and utilize.  As a result of eating what their bodies thrive on, and not ingesting ingredients that are inappropriate, acidifying, and inflammatory, their dogs simply do not suffer the health problem their traditionally fed counterparts do.

Which of the meals below looks like food to you?












Because I want to share how I help my owners care for their dogs in a wholistic manner, I’m working on several webinars and online classes. If you want to be notified as these become available, please join my email list. You will receive all updates, and an occasional survey so you can have input on the topics I cover.

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Hair Today, Who Knows What Tomorrow?

Pictures and videos of consumers finding hair and metal wire in their Pedigree dry dog food is still all over the news. Pet owners are outraged, while Mars Petcare argues that they are “natural animal fibers”  and pose no threat to a dog’s health. Mars also denies the presence of metal in the food, saying that the reason a magnet picked up the “natural animal fiber” is static electricity. Yes, you read that right. Do they really think consumers are that stupid? Check out the video:


If you found hair or “natural animal fibers” in your food, would you be concerned? Would you eat it, or serve it to others? Of course not! So why does Mars Petcare think it’s OK for your dog? Or does the “care” in their name refer only to their profits? Want to see their response to the above story, which was released to a pet blogger association? Just click here.

What are the likely reasons hairs would find their way into kibble? You need to look only as far as the ingredient list. For example, the website list of ingredients of Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition for Dogs Steak and Vegetable Flavor begins with “GROUND WHOLE GRAIN CORN, MEAT AND BONE MEAL (SOURCE OF CALCIUM), CORN GLUTEN MEAL, ANIMAL FAT (SOURCE OF OMEGA 6 [PRESERVED WITH BHA & CITRIC ACID]) SOYBEAN MEAL, NATURAL FLAVOR, DRIED PLAIN BEET PULP, CHICKEN BY-PRODUCT MEAL, GROUND WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SALT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, BREWERS RICE, NATURAL STEAK FLAVOR, DRIED PEAS, VITAMINS …”

Aside from the obvious observations that the food is mostly corn, contains no steak, and no vegetable other than dried peas, the troubling ingredient is meat and bone meal. Meat and bone meal is made from slaughterhouse waste and dead (not slaughtered) animals. It includes things that not suitable for human consumption, such as carcass trimmings, condemned carcasses, condemned livers, inedible offal (lungs) and bones. It can include any combination of animals, which have died at farms, stockyards, or in transit, as well as at slaughterhouses. Meat and bone meal is the most likely source of the hair that is being found. Pedigree’s video above concurs with this, but doesn’t give you the (gory) details about why…

By now you are wondering why anyone would feed their dog a product based on such a disgusting ingredient. It’s simply because they don’t know. The name of the food includes steak. The picture on the bag shows steak. The advertising talks about steak. So the consumer thinks steak. Not a whole dead pig, cow lungs, and diseased chickens. And whatever other animal tissue is available. The truth is even uglier than a pig hair — or rather, natural animal fiber — isn’t it?

Stayed tuned for help in making safer and higher quality choices for your dog.






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Are Veterinarians Really Just Vaccine Salesmen?

The other day ISchemeMay3 happened to be standing behind the front desk at the hospital, waiting to speak with one of the receptionists. It was pretty quiet, as morning appointments were finished, and surgeries were not yet started. One of our supply distributor representatives came in, along with a drug company rep who I have known for many years (and through her work with multiple companies). Both of them are wonderful people, with a great deal of experience and knowledge of the veterinary industry. After catching up for a few minutes, they began to talk about why they were stopping in. In other words, they began doing their jobs.

Drug and supplier reps are often very helpful to veterinarians. They keep us aware of new products and services, and let us know when drugs are going to in short supply or when prices are going up. If we unexpectedly run out of something we need they will move mountains to get it to us, even if it means driving it over from a warehouse in another state. Many have helped us with equipment repairs or loaner units if something has to be sent off for service. I love my reps, so what I am about to share must not be taken as a criticism of them.

As our conversation continued, my reps asked, do we use a 3 year vaccine protocol at the hospital?  Of course we do, this is the current standard of all the veterinary colleges and veterinary organizations. I also added that I do titers, and other extended protocols. The reps wondered about vaccinating for leptospirosis and Lyme. I explained I am not personally in favor of lepto vaccines, and am disappointed in the efficacy of most Lyme vaccines. I also shared some of my observations and personal experiences with reactions.  Things went a bit downhill from there — discussion about the need for yearly lepto and Lyme vaccines, lepto’s  zoonotic potential (keeping in mind that the vast majority of human cases of lepto are in Hawaii), how “smooth” and “reaction free” the new lepto/Lyme combination vaccine was, and more. Note that it was never mentioned that there are over 253 serovars (strains) of lepto, and vaccines protect against only three or four. Or that vaccination does not prevent infection, but rather lessens the severity. Lepto vaccination also does not stop shedding of bacteria in the urine, meaning it doesn’t protect humans. I was saddened as I saw the reps’  faces and realized they did not know more about the products they were promoting than their companies had told them. I expect it’s about the same for those selling cars, household appliances, or vacuums.

And then it hit me — the reps, who knew me but obviously not my philosophy of practice, and the big drug companies they worked for, were treating me like a vaccine salesman, not a veterinarian. Selling me a product that I could in turn sell to my clients, each year. Now I did not spend ten years at Cornell and over a hundred thousand dollars in student loans to spend my days pumping vaccines into dogs. I want to use my knowledge, experience, and skills to solve health problems. Or better yet prevent them. Which in many cases means NOT giving vaccines. Why? Either the dog is either already protected, not at risk for the disease, the disease poses no significant risk, or the vaccine is not very effective. Vaccines are not why I became a veterinarian — in fact, I often cringe when I have to pull a vaccine out of the refrigerator. But the most common reason an owner brings a dog to a veterinary hospital is they got a postcard in the mail that he was due for a “shot.”  And the first thing most veterinarians look at when they review the medical record of their next appointment — what vaccines is the dog due for? Do veterinarians not see how they are not putting their patients’ health first when they look to the vaccines before anything else? Or have we just become creatures of habit that go from one appointment to the next, doing what is dictated by the computer generated reminders in our patients’ records?

I am not anti-vaccine. I support the thoughtful and careful use of vaccines, as supported by the latest (and sometimes the older — let’s face it, we’ve known the distemper parvo vaccines lasts 7-15 years since 1998) research.  I advocate all the things we can do to promote health in our pets, from species appropriate nutrition to regular health testing to the best integrative (conventional and alternative) medicine has to offer.  From acupuncture to MRI’s, herbs and supplements to the latest cancer drugs, physical therapy to laparoscopic surgery, veterinarians can do so much more than “give a shot.” It’s time that was recognized, and put into action FIRST by all of us. Otherwise, we ARE just vaccine salesmen.



Categories: Vaccines, Wholistic Care | Leave a comment

The Two Books Every Dog Owner Must Read

As I typed this title, I was struck by how infrequently we go to books for information. We pull out our tablet or phone, or run to the computer to search for information. Sometimes this results in accurate information, oftentimes not. Sometimes a staggering number of results come up (about 179,000,000 in 0.30 seconds for dog cancer).  We then make our searches more and more detailed, only to realize that two hours have passed and we are more confused by what we’ve found than before.

I’m writing this blog to simplify things for you, the dedicated, wanting to learn more and do the best for your dog, dog owner. The three things you are most likely to ask me about are vaccinating your dog, feeding your dog, and treating your dog’s cancer. For the first, I recommend my book — look for more about that in a future blog.

For the second, feeding your dog, you need Nutrigenomics – the New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimal Health, by Dr. Jean Dodds and Dina Laverdure. Don’t be scared that this book is too scientific to be easily understood! The authors clearly explain how your dog’s food affects the body at the cellular level, and how that results in disease or health. They cover how to design your dog’s base diet, as well as how to address common health conditions. The final section of the book shows you how to apply what you’ve learned to your individual lifestyle and situation. This makes it easy to stay on track for your dog’s entire life. What I love most about this book is the superior organization, with key points clearly marked, and a concise summary of important concepts at the end of each chapter. Case reports also make it easy to understand how the theory integrates into real life situations.


Cancer is one of the most feared conditions dog owners face. You might think a book about dealing with it would be a very depressing read. But in fact, quite the opposite is true!  The Dog Cancer Survival Guide should be in the hands of every person who faces this diagnosis with their dog. It is written by Dr. Damien Dressler, a veterinarian based in Hawaii, and Dr. Susan Ettinger, a renowned veterinary oncologist in New York. Together, they cover both alternative and conventional approaches, and help you clearly understand cancer stages, treatment options, and more. The concept of full spectrum cancer care — combining conventional treatments, nutraceuticals, immune support, diet management, and more  — in an individualized treatment plan stacks the odds in the dog’s favor for the best possible results.  Should you face cancer with your dog, this book will help you understand and make informed, confident decisions every step of the way.

dog cancer







I find myself referring to and recommending these books almost daily in my practice.  Add them to your collection by following the links above, either in paperback or eBook format. Want to see more of my recommendations? Check out the Wholistic Vet Bookshelf on Amazon.


Categories: Cancer, Foods, Pain, Supplements, Wholistic Care | Leave a comment

Helping Your Aching Dog

Clem Waits


As the cold of winter sets in, we often complain about sore, stiff, and aching joints – all symptoms associated with arthritis. Yet we are not the only ones who suffer. Our dogs experience the same aches and pains, especially in the cold and damp weather. I am often called upon to help dogs who are stiff in the morning, have trouble comfortably sitting or lying down, and who cannot walk as far as they did in the summer.

Arthritis includes a cluster of conditions involving damage to the joints. The most common form of arthritis, called osteoarthritis, is often a result of injury and/or aging. Abnormal anatomy also contributes to early onset osteoarthritis, as strain is placed on joints in an incorrect manner. Arthritis can occur in any joint, and is a continuous process. How fast it progresses is something we as owners have some control over. The earlier we start, and the more methods we use, the better our results.

There are many actions owners can take to help their dog cope with arthritis, as well as slow its progression. The following five factors are crucial:

  1. Diet and body weight

Your dog must be at a healthy weight, and be eating a high quality diet. I prefer a natural feeding plan, or at minimum, a grain free diet. Omega 3 fatty acids should be supplemented by adding salmon oil to the diet.

  1. Joint support supplements

There are a huge number of joint support supplements. It is important to choose a quality product, designed for dogs (not humans!). This is not an area to pinch pennies. Choose a reputable brand, preferably NASC (National Animal Supplement Council, a quality assurance group) certified.

  1. Adjustments and low level laser therapy

Chiropractic adjustments address nerve, muscle and skeletal function. Keeping the nerves working properly is crucial to the function of the muscles. Since the muscle move and pull on the bones and joints, keeping muscles flexible and fit is essential. Laser therapy enhances blood flow, stimulates cell function, and decreases pain and inflammation.DebStretchesGSP

  1. Exercise and physical therapy

Being active maintains flexibility, muscle tone, and is crucial for weight management. Proper exercise that does not excessively pound the joints is important. Simple things like walking up hills can provide a workout with minimal concussion. Swimming is also great when available. Ball work is great for wintertime or dogs recovering from orthopedic surgery.

  1. Pain relief

It is vital to manage pain. Where there is pain, there is also inflammation, which damages many parts of the joint. The dog does not use the affected joint normally, and the muscles weaken. Strength and flexibility are decreased, and the problem worsens.

Prevention of arthritis is obviously important in all dogs, but especially so in hip dysplasia prone breeds and giant breeds. All of the points discussed above apply to these cases, starting when they are puppies. Maintenance chiropractic adjustments, proper diet and supplements, and exercise tailored to maintain joint and muscle function can delay or slow the progression of arthritis, in dogs prone to arthritis as well as those already affected.


Categories: Arthritis, Laser therapy, Pain, Physical therapy, Supplements, Wholistic Care | Leave a comment