Canine Influenza-Are You Scared?

October 30, 2009 on 3:49 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

One of my clients asked me yesterday about the dog flu. It seems that our local TV station interviewed a Dallas veterinarian who bragged about already having vaccinated over 200 dogs for this “devastating disease.” Wow! Over 200 vacccinated pets. Think how much money I could have made if I had vaccinated over 200 dogs for this new disease!

I’m not saying that dog flu, like people flu, swine flu, bird flu, etc., etc., isn’t a real disease, or that some pets MIGHT benefit from vaccination. It’s just that every time a new vaccine comes out, there’s a rush to create fear in the public, which then drives patients into the doctor’s office to get the new, “must-have” vaccine.

Folks, there’s no reason to panic. IF your dog has a high chance of being exposed to the dog flu, then the vaccine may be one tool to help reduce (not totally prevent) your dog from contracting the disease (as in people, getting a flu shot may reduce but may not prevent someone from contracting the flu.) Better yet, why don’t we just reduce or eliminate your dog’s chance of exposure and use some supplements to boost his immune system? Seems like a smarter approach to me!

Are “Prescription” Diets Really Necessary?

October 29, 2009 on 4:52 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Prescription-type medicated diets are often prescribed by conventional veterinarians for pets with a number of diseases including urinary tract problems, kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes. While there are certainly those cases in which medicated diets can help improve the quality as well as the quantity of a pet’s life, more often than not simply feeding a high quality natural food would be a better choice.  That’s because medicated diets often contain low-quality plant and animal byproducts and chemical preservatives and additives.  In general I try to avoid these ingredients in the diets I prescribe for my patients and feed my own pets.  A combination of natural therapies plus a high quality natural diet works wonders for many pets with chronic diseases.

Health Care and the Public Option: Say Goodbye to Alternative Therapies!

October 15, 2009 on 6:38 am | In General Posts | 1 Comment

Regardless of your political affiliation or philosophy regarding government involvement in our lives, most if not all of you are open to using a more natural approach (so-called alternative therapies) to improve the health of your human and animal family members.

Unfortunately, this reliance on natural medicine is unlikely to be available if the government passes a public option.  Why?

Leaders in the government pushing for a public option have already stated that their goal is to offer health care for as many people as possible (which is NOT the same as making sure EVERYONE has access to health care) at the lowest cost possible.  Cutting access to medical services and reducing payments to those who provide these reduced services are the only ways to cut costs.

Since many in the government do not believe in the value of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and homeopathy, there is no way any government plan will pay for therapies that are considered “unproven” by government watchdogs, czars, and the FDA.

This means that if you want access to any of these therapies, assuming the government still allows practitioners of alternative therapies to offer their services, you will have to pay for them yourself.  Even if your current insurance plan covers these options, it is unlikely, if those in government get their way, that your current insurance company will still be allowed to cover these therapies. Instead, private insurers who are able to remain in business and try to compete with a public plan must have their policies match the offerings in a public plan, which will not include natural therapies.

Just something else to think about during this debate on government run health care!

Why Some Dogs Vaccinated Against Kennel Cough Still Get Kennel Cough

October 13, 2009 on 5:06 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Ever wonder why your dog, who just came home from his weeklong stay at the boarding kennel, contracted kennel cough?  Didn’t he just have a vaccine against this disease a few weeks ago?

There are several points to keep in mind when this scenario occurs.  First, no vaccine is 100% effective.  Second, the” kennel cough” vaccine does not vaccinate against “kennel cough,” and only contains 2 of the many disease organisms that can cause kennel cough, namely Bordetella bacterium and parainfluenza virus.  It certainly possible your dog came down with kennel cough after he was infected with another organism that was not contained in the vaccine. Third, if he was vaccinated immediately before he was boarded, the vaccine would not have had enough time to take effect, rendering it useless.

I believe that most healthy pets don’t need to be vaccinated against kennel cough as frequently as is recommended (which is currently every six months.) I never vaccinate my dog for kennel cough, and she comes to my office three days each week.  She has never contracted the disease despite being exposed to other dogs.

In my practice, I see two groups of dogs which commonly contract kennel cough.  The first are young dogs, usually puppies, who had either never been vaccinated against the disease or who came from high stress environments where infection with kennel cough and other diseases is highly likely (pet stores, humane societies, flea markets, etc.) A second group of dogs in which I see kennel cough are older dogs, most of whom are currently vaccinated for kennel cough! It is very rare I ever diagnose kennel cough in an unvaccinated older healthy dog, with a fully functioning immune system.

I’m not suggesting you should never vaccinate your dog against kennel cough, only that you consider all of the factors involved and make the best decision for your pet.

The Healthcare Debate: Two Questions That Must Be Asked

October 8, 2009 on 12:44 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

I blogged about some of my solutions to improve our health care system before.  I thought I’d share a few more ideas with you on this as well.

It seems to me that there are two questions that must be asked before we can even try to find a solution to the healthcare issue, yet no one seems to be asking these all-important questions.

The first question: is the healthcare system broken?

Second question: where in the Constitution does the federal government derive its power to have any say about health care or do anything about it?

I’ll tackle the second question first since it is the easiest one to answer.  The federal government has NO power given to it in the Constitution to have any say regarding health, insurance, or how I take care of myself.  As a result, the federal government should have little if any say in drafting policy regarding our healthcare system.  If any government should have a say in this, it belongs to the states, cities, and municipalities.

Regarding the first question: I would argue that while the healthcare system is in need of “fixing up,” it is not so broken that we must scrap the current system we have and start anew.

While many in Washington state that this debate is about making sure that everyone has equal access to health care, one only needs to look at the actions of our politicians in Washington to know that this is not true.  This is purely and simply about giving the federal government way too much power over an important aspect of our lives.

If we’re really concerned about giving everyone access to health care (and by the way, anyone can walk into an emergency room or county hospital and receive some type of health care, although it’s not ideal health care,) this is very simply remedied.  Following up on an idea I proposed several months ago, states can easily administer vouchers for people whose income falls below the poverty line to help them access health care. Similar to the food stamp program which allows lower income families to provide basic nutrition for families, a similar voucher program would allow families to access basic health care whenever needed.

This is a simple and common sense approach which would easily go a long way towards correcting current imbalances that exist when people of all incomes try to access healthcare.  Because it is so simple and involves common sense, you’re not likely to see this seriously considered as a solution to one of the few problems involving our healthcare system.

What to Do If You Are Allergic to Your Pet

October 6, 2009 on 5:12 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Even though most people love pets, unfortunately some people find themselves allergic to certain animals.  Is there anything you can do if you develop an allergy to your dog or cat?

The first thing I suggest is to make sure you’re really allergic to your pet rather than being allergic to something ON your pet. Remember that your pet’s hair acts like a rug, trapping dirt, bacteria, fungi, and allergens. Allergens are foreign proteins such as dander, house dust mites, saliva, bug droppings, molds, and tree and grass pollens. These allergens stay on your pet’s skin and hair until they are washed away and may serve as an important source of your discomfort until these allergens are washed away. It may be that you are allergic to the allergens upon your pet’s skin and hair rather than simply being allergic your pet.  If this is the case, frequent, even daily bathing of your pet with an organic shampoo may relieve your symptoms.

But what if you are actually allergic to your pet?  Usually people who are truly allergic to their pets are allergic to the allergens in the pet’s saliva that get on the pet’s skin and hair when the pet grooms.  This is much more of a problem in cats rather than dogs.

While your doctor may suggest getting rid of the pet, there is a much better solution and it’s totally natural.  In my practice I have discovered that the use of a homeopathic concentration of a commonly used tranquilizer called acepromazine works remarkably well to reduce a person’s allergies to his or her pet.  Simply putting a few drops of this tasteless solution onto the pet’s food several times a day is enough to relieve the owner of his or her allergy symptoms.  While it  is not yet known how this solution works, one proposed explanation is that the allergens are bound to the homeopathic acepromazine and are not available to cause allergic symptoms in the owner.

Many conventional veterinarians do not know about this treatment, so it’s important to find a holistic veterinarian who can help you if you truly suffer from allergies to your own pet.

The First Amendment and Animal Cruelty

October 6, 2009 on 4:53 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

As recently reported in many newspapers across the country, one of the issues the new Supreme Court will tackle this session involves the First Amendment and animal cruelty. Is it legal, under the free speech clause of the Constitution, to show pictures and videos of animal cruelty? This case results from the arrests of several people showing actual dogfights and instances of scantily clad high-heeled women crushing small rodents with their shoes.

While some argue that any form of free speech should be protected, including these horrible depictions of animal injury and death, others disagree, arguing that animal cruelty is illegal and depictions illegal activities such as these should also be illegal. Those arguing against allowing videos of animal cruelty to legally exist also rationally argue that the most serial murderers and rapists have histories of animal cruelty in their backgrounds.

I would argue that the First Amendment does not cover any and all forms of free speech. In order to understand this point of view, a simple history lesson is in order.

The First Amendment covering free speech was put into the Constitution by our founding fathers to protect POLITICAL speech. Remember that our founders came from countries ruled by kings and tyrants. Speaking out against the ruler was usually punishable by death. Our founders, in order to foster open debate about how we should be governed, wanted citizens of the United States to be able to freely protest against their leaders without criminal retribution. It was NOT the intention of our founders to allow anyone to say or do anything he or she wanted under the guise of “free speech.” There are regulations which govern speech, such as making it illegal to say something that is untrue about another person in an attempt to ruin the person’s reputation (slander.) Free speech was never meant to cover criminal activity or examples of every type of perversion a person can dream of and force upon society. It is certainly within the intent of the Constitution that governments, especially local governments, can restrict forms of speech that do not promote the “common good,” in keeping with however that local government defines “common good.”

With this history lesson in mind, and to promote the common good of our society, I would argue that the First Amendment covering freedom of speech does not apply to people depicting cruelty against animals or people.

Bathing Your Pet Might Reduce Your Allergies or Asthmatic Symptoms

October 5, 2009 on 6:34 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

As you know, I’m a big fan of having my clients frequently bathe their pets. One of the secrets to my success in using natural therapies to help pets with skin disease is to prescribe a regimen of frequent bathing. The more frequently pets are bathed, the less need for conventional medications like steroids or antibiotics.

For pets without skin disease, I recommend bathing your pet at least whenever the pet gets dirty or smelly, on average at least weekly.

Some pets (most of my patients!) should be bathed more frequently. For example, those pets with skin diseases (allergies, infections, ringworm, mange, etc.) should be bathed more often, even daily if necessary. When using organic shampoos (such as those I developed in my Dr. Shawn’s Organics TM line,) it is unlikely that you will dry out your pet’s skin or hair even when bathing the pet frequently.

I have discovered that when my patients with skin diseases are bathed frequently, they usually do not require conventional medications in the treatment of their skin diseases. When they do require conventional medications, they usually require much less medication due to their frequent bathing schedule using Dr. Shawn’s Organics TM shampoos.

And don’t forget about the important health benefits to you and your family members when you bathe your pets frequently.

Pets that are bathed frequently are cleaner and less likely to cause you and other members of your family to suffer unnecessarily from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

Think of it this way. Your pet’s hair acts like a rug, trapping dirt, bacteria, fungi, and allergens. Allergens are foreign proteins such as dander, house dust mites, saliva, bug droppings, molds, and tree and grass pollens. These allergens stay on your pet’s skin and hair until they are washed away. The longer they stay on your pet’s skin and hair, the more likely they are to cause your pet to itch. And if you or any family members suffer from allergies or chronic respiratory problems, your pet’s skin and hair serve as an important source of your discomfort until these allergens are washed away. Therefore, I recommend bathing your pet frequently if your pet or any of your family members suffers from allergies or respiratory problems.

New Cancer Drug to Help Your Pet

October 2, 2009 on 1:16 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

A great discussion of the new chemotherapy drug Palladia by Pfizer, which has recently been licensed for treatment of mast cell tumors in dogs, was presented at the veterinary conference I attended last weekend.

This drug is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor which decreases the growth of blood vessels to the tumor and may offer a new way to treat aggressive mast cell tumors in dogs. Currently, dogs with mast cell tumors are treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy. Nutritional supplements, herbs, and homeopathics are also important in treating pets with cancer to reduce side effects from conventional therapies and boost the pet’s immune system, helping it kill any remaining cancer cells.

Although Palladia is effective for many dogs with mast cell tumors, it is not effective for all dogs and does not necessarily replace traditional chemotherapy. As can be seen with chemotherapy, there is the potential that a tumor could become resistant to Palladia. Recent pre-release studies show that Palladia is about 37% effective for dogs with Grade III tumors that have come out of remission from other chemotherapy.

The most significant side effects seen have been gastrointestinal and included diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. In most cases, these side effects can be effectively treated with medications but need to be addressed promptly to prevent more serious consequences. Some dogs will need to have modifications in the dose or dosing schedule. Palladia has also been shown to cause a decrease in the normal white blood cell count and it has been recommended that complete blood counts be monitored initially on a weekly basis. Less common side effects have included lameness, muscle cramps, changes in kidney function, changes in blood protein levels, and changes in the pet’s skin pigmentation.

The projected cost is not known, but it is expected to be fairly expensive. A similar medication for use in people with chronic granulocytic leukemia costs around $80,000 per year. It is likely most oncologists will NOT prescribe Palladia for the majority of dogs with mast cell tumors but will reserve its use for those dogs with tumors that are difficult to control with other medications or for those pets who have failed conventional chemotherapy.

The take home point-have all lumps and bumps aspirated by your veterinarian as soon as you notice them. Do NOT accept a diagnosis of “cyst” or “fatty tumor” based on the appearance or “feel” of the tumor. I have seen too many “cysts” and “fatty tumors” that upon aspiration were actually mast cell cancers. Early diagnosis is often curative without the use of chemotherapy!

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