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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently I posted about a new profile we are doing in our office for pets, mainly dogs, as a screening tool for cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
To date, about 96% of dogs are low in blood vitamin D levels, 48% are high in their CRP levels, and 12% are high in their TK levels.
This profile is also quite helpful for pets with cancer to monitor their remissions and alter their treatment regimen based upon changes in the test.
For this discussion, I want to focus on vitamin D levels. The next 2 discussions will focus on the other aspects of testing, the TK and CRP levels.
Vitamin D3 is not simply thought of as a vitamin to protect bones anymore. Instead it has far reaching effects on every cell in the body, regulating metabolism and gene expression. As such, proper levels of Vitamin D 3 can have cancer-protective (and cancer-killing) effects, reduce the chance of infectious diseases such as the flu, and promote good health and proper regulation of other body systems.
Unlike people, pets do not typically make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight and therefore require it in their diets or via supplementation.
While pet food is formulated to have enough vitamin D 3 to prevent vitamin D 3 deficiency disease (rickets,) levels are too low for most pets to maximize health (a goal of holistic doctors.) Testing shows most dogs have blood levels considered insufficient to maximize health and would benefit from supplementation. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to inflammation, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and various infectious diseases.
Exactly how much vitamin D 3 an individual patient requires depends upon the size of the pet, the health of the pet, the presence/absence of disease, and most importantly the pet’s blood level of vitamin D 3. Once vitamin D 3 test results are available, supplementation is given with the goal being to shoot for a blood level of 100 mg/ml (in studies pets with cancers tended to have vitamin D 3 blood levels lower than 100.) Additional testing is done to confirm if the prescribed amount of vitamin D 3, typically given once daily with food, is enough to reach the recommended blood level.
I’m often asked if pets with cancer should continue taking their heartworm and flea medicines. Here’s how I address that situation in my practice, Paws & Claws Animal Hospital.
Unlike conventional doctors who focus on the cancer, holistic doctors focus on the PET…therefore we want to keep the pet healthy while we are also fighting the cancer. I would hate for one of my cancer patients to be cured of cancer only to die of heartworms because we stopped the monthly preventive during cancer treatment…so I always recommend continuing the preventive during the cancer treatment.
However, I rarely prescribe chemical flea medicines for any of my patients. First, these products do not prevent fleas but rather kill them once the flea gets on the pet. At least in my practice fleas are not a big problem so there is no need for regular use of these products. Second, these products, while safe for most pets, are still strong chemicals that last in the pet’s body for a long time. An important part of cancer treatment is detoxification (with herbs, homeopathics, and autosanguis therapy.) I want to avoid unnecessary toxins since cancer itself (and cancer chemo/radiation) are all toxic. There is no need to add extra toxins to my cancer patients unless absolutely necessary (the pet is covered with fleas and ticks.) Since natural flea control, esp in the environment, is safe and non-toxic, I rarely see the need for topical chemicals (my all-in-one and itch relief shampoos plus the natural flea spray are all I typically prescribe for most pets.)
Just in time for the Christmas holidays, I am happy to offer the following special… Enter the code “20off” at www.drshawnsnaturals.com from Dec 3-Dec 15. Save 20% off of EVERYTHING. Stock up, purchase your holiday gifts, and enjoy!
Merry Christmas from Dr. Shawn’s Naturals
Last night ABC’s 20/20 aired a segment warning pet owners that some unscrupulous veterinarians might try to “sell” them procedures that are not needed by the pet. Here are my thoughts after viewing this segment.
1.It is true that in every profession, including the medical profession, unscrupulous individuals exist. These doctors simply want to make as much money as possible without regard to the patient’s true medical needs. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve only encountered a few of these folks in my profession (my first boss was one such individual.)
2.The 20/20 segment focused on 2 commonly recommended medical procedures:vaccines and dental cleanings, so I’ll address these issues.
3.The segment discussed how some of the doctors who were secretly videotaped recommended annual vaccinations even though the AVMA (and others) recommend vaccines no more often than every 3 years. The ABC “expert,” Dr. Marty Becker, confirmed that pets only need vaccines every 3 years.
Unfortunately, both the AVMA and the expert are WRONG. Most pets RARELY need vaccines. In my experience using blood titer testing to determine when pets require vaccines, my research and experience has confirmed that the typical pet only needs vaccines a few times in its entire life. Doctors who push vaccines on any sort of a regular basis are not following the science of immunology and are responsible for vaccinating pets that really don’t need these “extra shots.”
4.Regarding dental cleanings, 20/20 presented 2 different dogs to a variety of veterinarians in the New York area to determine if the veterinarians would recommend a dental cleaning. The dogs had supposedly been examined by another “expert” who determined that the dogs did not need a dental cleaning. During the undercover taping, several doctors suggested these dogs would benefit from a professional dental treatment. As a viewer, it’s impossible to accurately judge whether or not the dogs really needed this procedure, but for the sake of argument I’ll agree with 20/20’s “expert” that the dogs did not need dental treatment. Dr. Becker stated that because dental cleanings done under anesthesia can be dangerous, it’s important that only those pets that really need dental cleanings should receive treatment.
WRONG AGAIN!! First, anesthesia is very safe IF it is done correctly using the correct anesthetic for the patient and IF the patient is carefully monitored during the procedure. Our hospital is known for anesthetizing higher risk patients: older dogs and cats with diseases that other doctors are scared to place under anesthesia. There is no increased risk in giving these pets the proper (dental) treatment when the procedure is performed correctly.
Also it’s important to treat pets with dental disease early in the course of their disease BEFORE the infection and pain worsen and the pet begins to lose teeth and suffer from the ill effects of chronic inflammation and infection.
While I appreciate that 20/20 and their “experts” want to warn pet owners that a few vets are bad apples (who is surprised at that??!!,) I don’t want pet owners to ignore serious problems like dental disease or get their pets vaccinated if they don’t need vaccines. Had 20/20 interviewed someone like myself who could intelligently explain the care that pets really need they would have done a greater service to pet owners who want to keep their pets healthy and alive as long as possible without doing unnecessary procedures such as frequent immunizations.
An important paper has been published in the Australian journal Clinical Oncology. This meta-analysis, entitled “The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies” set out to accurately quantify and assess the actual benefit conferred by chemotherapy in the treatment of adults with the commonest types of cancer.
The study concluded that overall, chemotherapy contributes just over 2 percent to improved survival in cancer patients….despite the mounting evidence of chemotherapy’s lack of effectiveness in prolonging survival, oncologists continue to present chemotherapy as a rational and promising approach to cancer treatment.
How is it possible that patients are routinely offered chemotherapy when the benefits to be gained by such an approach are generally so small? In their discussion, the authors address this crucial question and cite the tendency on the part of the medical profession to present the benefits of chemotherapy in statistical terms that, while technically accurate, are seldom clearly understood by patients.
For example, oncologists frequently express the benefits of chemotherapy in terms of what is called “relative risk” rather than giving a straight assessment of the likely impact on overall survival. Relative risk is a statistical means of expressing the benefit of receiving a medical intervention in a way that, while technically accurate, has the effect of making the intervention look considerably more beneficial than it truly is. If receiving a treatment causes a patient’s risk to drop from 4 percent to 2 percent, this can be expressed as a decrease in relative risk of 50 percent. On face value that sounds good. But another, equally valid way of expressing this is to say that it offers a 2 percent reduction in absolute risk, which is less likely to convince patients to take the treatment.
Dr. Shawn says….While I’m not opposed to chemotherapy (or any valid therapy) per se, I think it’s important that the therapy offer at least some potential benefit. For too many human and pet patients, doctors often recommend (“push”) the standard trio of surgery, chemo, and radiation even though they do little to influence the patient’s ultimate outcome or survival. By taking a holistic approach, we are able to carefully evaluate all possible therapies and recommend those most likely to provide substantial benefit.