Thoughts for the New Year from Dr. Shawn

January 24, 2015 on 3:36 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

As we begin 2015 I want to first thank all of you for your support. Thanks for emailing your questions and suggestions for my column. Thanks also for those of you who came to visit my practice, Paws & Claws Animal Hospital/Holistic Pet Center, so you can begin keeping your pets healthy naturally by saying “No” to unnecessary vaccines, chemicals, and medications. Your pets and I thank you!

Here are some highlights from 2014 and some important points to ponder in 2015.

1.Say “No” to drugs and vaccines-Pets do not need and should not receive vaccines more than a few times over the course of their lives. A simple and inexpensive blood titer test can tell you which vaccines your pet needs and when he needs it. Most pets in our practice get minimal puppy and kitten vaccines and then receive boosters a few times over the next 15-20 years (yes,15-20 years is the AVERAGE life expectancy in our practice compared to 10-13 years in the typical conventional practice.) In place of medications, most pets receive natural therapies to treat them when they are ill. This is true regardless of the disease: pets with seizures, ear and skin infections, bladder and bowel problems, neurological and arthritic diseases, and even cancers rarely receive strong medications unless absolutely necessary. This results in less expense for the pet parent, as well as greater health and a longer life for most patients.

2.Prevent diseases when possible-Lab testing of the blood, urine, and feces, focusing on bionutritional analysis, can uncover diseases very early and allow restoring the pet to health before it becomes ill. Regulating your pet’s vitamin D-3 and CRP levels (you do have your pet tested for these don’t you??) will minimize inflammation, the root cause of most chronic problems in people and pets. Testing is easy and inexpensive; keep in mind that 96% of dogs suffer from vitamin D deficiency and 50% are high in CRP, making it likely your pet has at least one of these problems.

3.All lumps are cancerous until proven otherwise-I see way too many pets with “fatty tumors” that are in fact cancer once we biopsy them with a tiny needle during the office visit. No doctor can tell the difference between fatty lumps and malignant cancers by looking and feeling the tumor. If your pet has a tumor, it MUST be biopsied in the office or removed and sent for a pathology review. Don’t watch cancer kill your pet! Most tumors can be cured when removed early and the pet placed on supplements for immune support.

4.All pets, even older ones and those at high risk, can be safely given anesthesia with a holistic approach to anesthesia-No pet is too old or too sick to help, and sedation/anesthesia is safe when done correctly. We use a holistic, minimal-anesthesia approach for dental cleanings and many surgeries. The pets do great while asleep, wake up quickly without ill effects, and go home within minutes of the procedure. If your doctor doesn’t feel comfortable with senior pet anesthesia, find someone who does this all the time so your pet can receive the care it wants and needs.

5.Strongly consider pet insurance-We offer a 1 month trial of insurance for free, and most owners continue with it after the trial. Many, many pets are saved when bad diseases like cancer are diagnosed and the owner only has to pay 10% of the final bill! The typical cost for a weekend at the emergency room is around $3000, referral to a specialist for care is $2500 minimum, and extensive cancer treatment is $10,000 and up. If you would have to decline treatment due to cost, get inexpensive insurance for your dog or cat.

A great and prosperous 2015 to all of you!

Dr. Shawn’s Itch Relief Shampoo Favored by Whole Dog Journal

January 7, 2015 on 2:16 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

I’m happy to report that my best-selling shampoo, Dr. Shawn’s Itch Relief Shampoo,has been picked as the editor’s favorite by Nancy Kerns, editor of Whole Dog Journal. Here is what she said in a recent issue.

I don’t wash my dogs that often, perhaps once a month. So I want a shampoo that will make Otto’s coat clean, soft, and smelling good, without drying his skin (and making him itch) or conditioning Tito’s fur to the point of greasiness. Also, I expect my dogs to continue to look and smell clean for at least a few weeks after their baths. Maybe that’s asking too much– because a lot of the dog shampoos I’ve tried fail at some important part of my wish list. For example, one product cleans them well, but leaves their coats full of static electricity, so that their loose hair flies around and magnetically sticks to everything. Another one is difficult to rinse out completely, giving my dogs an oily look and feel after just a few days.

My quest for a superior dog shampoo leads me to try each and every shampoo that comes into my office unsolicited and every new natural product I see in pet supply stores. But in recent months, I’ve found myself reaching for the same bottle again and again; my quest may have ended with this product, which was formulated by holistic veterinarian Shawn Messonier. It doesn’t overlather, yet gets the dogs really clean, and because it’s made with organic coconut oil, it’s gentle on Otto’s often-irritated skin (he suffers from environmental allergies in the spring and fall). The product contains lemongrass and lavender, so it smells divine, and it contains no artificial colors or fragrances, or sulfates.

Demodectic Mange and Natural Therapies

December 27, 2014 on 11:51 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Demodectic mange is a common disease of puppies and a rare disease of older dogs. Due to a defective immune response the mange mites, which normally live in small numbers in the hair follicles, reproduce and damage the hair follicles and skin, causing the disease we call mange.

Diagnosis is usually easy and based upon finding the mites (see photo) in a skin scraping.

While conventional treatment may be needed, all cases require immune support to help the body’s immune system kill the mites and heal the skin.

When conventional medications are used for mange treatment, liver support is also needed to reduce toxicity of the therapies.

In my practice, most cases respond well to natural therapies and only rarely are conventional medications needed for cure. Since most of the affected pets are puppies or young dogs, these pets must NOT receive vaccines during their treatment (usually vaccines are not needed for most pets anyway based upon titer testing.)

Poisonous Holiday Plants

November 28, 2014 on 1:03 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Part of the holiday festivities often includes purchasing seasonal plants including holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias. I’m often asked if it’s safe to include these in a house shared with 4 legged family members.

Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, the milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents.

Mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen if the plants are chewed. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in a mild conjunctivitis. Signs are easily treated by your veterinarian and rarely require intensive care.

While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, but more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe. Lilies can result in severe acute kidney failure in cats. Holly berries and mistletoe ( American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties.)

Use common sense and minimize the chance of your pet contacting one of these popular Christmas plants so all can have a safe and happy holiday!

Ebola, Dogs, and the CDC

November 16, 2014 on 3:45 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Recently there was discussion about how we should handle dogs living with a person who tested positive and received treatment for Ebola infection. Some have suggested these pets be euthanized, but I disagree with this.

According to the CDC….

“At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.”

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/qas-pets.html

A study in 2005 (Emerging Infectious Diseases • www.cdc.gov/eid • Vol. 11, No. 3, March 2005) tells us the following….

“40 of 159 dogs living in the 2001–2002Ebola virus–epidemic area had detectable Ebola virus–specific IgG, indicating either true infection or simple antigenic stimulation.

Some dogs were infected by eating fresh remains of Ebola virus–infected dead animals brought back to the villages, and that others licked vomit from Ebola virus–infected patients. Together, these findings strongly suggest that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus,

and that some pet dogs living in affected villages were infected during the 2001–2002 human Ebola virus outbreak. No circulating Ebola antigens or viral DNA sequences (tested by PCR) were detected in either positive or negative serum specimens, and attempts to isolate virus

from these samples failed. These findings indicate either old, transient Ebola infection of the tested dogs, or antigenic stimulation.”

This means that while dogs can be infected, to date they have not gotten ill or transmitted Ebola to people. The wisest course of action is to quarantine, observe, and test exposed pets to see if they become ill or infectious to humans and to learn more about how they seem to be naturally resistant to the disease. Euthanizing pets exposed to Ebola patients is short-sighted and unnecessary.

Fall Allergies…Help is on the Way

November 4, 2014 on 6:30 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Allergies are common in many pets in the fall and spring. Certain breeds such as terriers and retrievers are especially affected. Allergic pets tend to be very itchy, and many have secondary chronic ear and skin infections (the allergies must be treated or these infections will never go away.)

Traditional doctors treat allergies with steroids and antihistamines. Antihistamines rarely work, and steroids can have bad side effects (although tiny amounts used short term WITH natural medicines are safe.)

In my practice we use a combination of herbs, supplements, and homeopathics for my patients. Liver support and immune support using probiotics is also helpful. Frequent bathing with Dr. Shawn’s Itch Relief Shampoo removes allergens and bacteria and yeast that cause the itching.

You can order natural allergy products and my Itch Relief shampoo at www.drshawnsnaturals.com.

In most cases a natural approach works best and medications are rarely needed. Because our goal is true healing and cure when possible (something drugs can’t do,) each patient is evaluated and the treatment is individualized to that patient.

Feeding a natural diet and avoiding toxins such as vaccines and flea and tick chemicals is also critical!

Finally, avoidance of really strong medications like Atopic and Apoquel restores health and reduces side effects to the patient.

With proper evaluation and a focus on natural healing these strong medications should not be necessary.

Halloween Safety For Pets

October 30, 2014 on 12:37 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Here are some Halloween tips to keep your pets safe and happy this Oct. 31…

1.Keep Halloween treats out of reach—candy, especially chocolate, can make your pet sick and can even be fatal in severe cases. Some treats contain xylitol which can also make the pet sick or be fatal.

2.To prevent escapes when answering the door, and reduce stress for anxious pets, keep the pets in a separate room during peak trick-or-treating times.

3.Keep your pets indoors. Pets that are out at night with trick-or-treaters might get spooked, causing anxiety and the possibility of escaping from the yard.

4.Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If, for any reason, your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar, ID tag and microchip (a must) can be lifesavers and, increase the chance that your pet will be returned to you.

5.If you want to dress up your pet, first make sure he doesn’t object. Some pets like costumes, whereas others don’t (my own dog Rita was not a fan of dress-up.) If your pet doesn’t mind a costume, make sure it doesn’t restrict your pet’s ability to walk and sit down comfortably, and avoid masks that covers his eyes, ears or nose or use a costume that makes it difficult to breathe.

More on Aspirating Tumors

July 28, 2014 on 12:39 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Occasionally I’ll aspirate a tumor that does not produce any identifiable tumor cells, or that only produces blood cells. What is the next step? I remove ALL of these tumors. Why? Because invariably most come back as a connective tissue tumor, with about 50% malignant and requiring further treatment. Connective tissue tumors are tumors of the muscle, nerve, bone, or fascia. They rarely produce enough cells during aspiration but usually produce blood. Therefore anytime I can’t identify a tumor on aspiration it is surgically removed and biopsied.

Treating Fatty Tumors

July 25, 2014 on 12:38 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off
Here are my guidelines for treating fatty tumors/lipomas.
1.Make sure they really are fatty tumors via aspiration cytology. I see way too many mast cell cancers misdiagnosed as fatty tumors that were never aspirated but rather diagnosed by a prior vet by looking and feeling….malpractice! Tumors that are aspirated and a diagnosis cannot be made from the aspirate are likely cancerous and need to be removed.
2.First we attempt to shrink/eliminate the tumor with our herbal protocol. If in 2 months they are not gone or smaller we remove them.
3.Any fatty tumor that grows, even “a little bit” is removed.
4.Fatty tumors that interfere with quality of life are removed.
It’s always much easier to remove tumors when they are small….also much cheaper….surgery is safe on pets of any age with proper preanesthetic evaluations and careful administration of safe anesthetics (a holistic anesthesia approach.)

Spring is Here-And So Are Skin Problems!

June 7, 2014 on 8:28 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

With spring here, problems like allergies, skin infections, hot spots, and ear infections will be affecting pets soon. Unfortunately, most pets with these problems will continue to be treated with numerous doses of steroids and antibiotics, even though most pets can heal without these medications. While traditional medications have their place in helping pets with these problems I’ve found the natural approach works so much better for most of my patients.

There are 2 important points I want you to get out of this article. The first is that medications are not needed for many pets with skin problems, and when they are needed low infrequent doses are usually all that is required. Second, it’s imperative to get the correct diagnosis. I see many pets misdiagnosed as “allergic” that really have more serious problems. Treating these pets with medications will NEVER result in a cure unless the correct diagnosis is obtained.

Skin

The main skin problems include infections with yeasts and bacteria, usually as a result of allergies or thyroid and adrenal disease.

To help with allergies, herbal remedies such as Xiao (an herbal blend of gypsum, anemarrhena, burdock, rehmannia, and dong quai) relieve itching, redness and inflammation. A few drops of this herbal mixture on food each day often gives my patients the same relief they would get from corticosteroids (I actually tell my clients to think of this herbal blend as a natural alternative to steroids-all of the positive effects from steroids with none of the negative side effects!)

Skin infections, both yeasts and bacterial, are usually treated by conventional doctors with strong medications (antibiotics and azoles) for several weeks up to several months. While occasionally necessary, indiscriminate use of antibiotics and antifungals increases costs of care, can predispose pets to numerous side effects (GI disease, liver disease,) and have increased the number of microorganisms now resistant to these drugs (not a good thing if the medications are needed to save a pet or person from a life-threatening infection.)

I have found several natural approaches that work equally well in most cases. Oleuropein, the active ingredient in olive leaf extract, is my go-to natural remedy for infections of the skin and ears, and really anywhere in or on the body. This is combined with some type of immune supporting herbal blend, such as Healthy Qi, which contains astragalus, green tea, gotu kola, and ginseng to help the immune system fight the infection. When dosed properly, this combination replaces anti-infective medications in most of my pets that have bacterial or yeast infections.

The MOST important part of treating skin disease is frequent, even daily if needed, bathing with an organic shampoo specifically formulated to not dry out the pet’s skin. Organic oils such as coconut, lemongrass, citrus, and lavender help heal damaged skin and remove allergens and bacteria and yeasts to accelerate healing. I’ll give myself an endorsement here-I’ve specifically formulated my All-in-One and Itch Relief shampoos for frequent, even daily use without harming the pet’s skin. These shampoos are gentle, environmental friendly, contain no additives or chemicals, and help heal the skin while leaving a fresh fragrance.

High doses of EPA and DHA, the active omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, also help by changing cellular physiology to normalize inflammation for the life of the pet. The most important point is to dose based upon EPA and DHA content rather than fish oil content, and to give doses typically higher than those on the label.

Ears

As with skin problems, ear problems, especially infections, increase in the spring, likely due to undiagnosed and untreated allergic disease. While conventional doctors rely upon steroids, antibiotics, and antifungal medications, holistic doctors prefer natural oil combinations instead (many of these products also serve as great ear cleaners to be used after bathing and 1-3 times weekly to decrease future infections.) In my practice I have found fantastic success with an herbal oil combination I developed that contains both peppermint and spearmint, plus tea tree oil and lemon eucalyptus. One of my cases of persistent ear mite infections was cured after only 3 treatments (although most infections with mites, yeasts, and bacteria typically take 2 weeks of therapy with the herbal ear treatment.)

Finally, because herbal oils can be very toxic and even fatal if not used properly, I recommend purchasing products with a proven track record rather than trying to make products yourself by mixing oils. In my experience, unless the person formulating the product has knowledge of herbology and toxicology, too many problems can arise if the oils are not blended properly: either they are not effective or they are toxic.

While conventional medications are needed for difficult cases, in most instances using natural therapies for common spring problems is much safer and often more effective. My patients will be healing this spring with little or no use of potent medications. Those with allergies who take my recommended supplements year-round typically have milder problems when allergy season flares up.

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