As we take time to celebrate the holidays with our family and give thanks for all we have, I wanted to share with you some of the ways that we are able to give back and help make a difference in the world.
First, I want to thank all of you for supporting the work we do. Whether you are a pet owner who has visited us in person or talked with us on the phone, or a pet owner who has ordered any of my natural products, your support allows us to help others in need.
While we support national and international charities, here are some of the ways we have helped those on a local basis.
Occasionally we have pet owners referred to us whose pets need medical care, yet because the owners are experiencing temporary financial difficulties they may not be able to afford all of the care the pet requires. Fortunately we are able to help some of these owners with a fund we have established at our office that allows us to provide discounted care for these pets.
We also believe in helping our fellow citizens locally. As such, your support of our work allows us to support the following local charities:
North Texas Food Bank-The food bank provides food to needy families throughout the North Texas area.
Samaritan Inn-The Samaritan Inn provides temporary housing and job assistance to the homeless and unemployed throughout the North Texas area.
David Timothy/The Soup Man-Several years ago David Timothy felt a calling from God to “Feed His Sheep.” He has set up a wonderful program in downtown Dallas to provide hot meals to the homeless five days a week, and recently, through the generosity of benefactors, has started providing homes to many of the homeless as well.
We have chosen to support these wonderful charities which do good work to help others. If you are looking for a charity to support, I would encourage you to consider any of these, especially if you live in the North Texas area.
Thanks for supporting us so that we can help make a difference in the world!
Here’s a recent email I received from a reader regarding natural treatments for epilepsy.
Dear Dr. Shawn: My five-year-old male Boston Terrier was diagnosed with epilepsy last year. His veterinarian placed him on a medication called phenobarbital. While it has helped control his seizures, I am concerned about him getting my pet medications for the rest of his life. I’ve also heard that this particular drug could hurt his liver. Are there any natural alternatives to help dogs like mine that have epilepsy?
A:There are many causes of seizures in dogs with epilepsy being the most common. Epilepsy basically means that your dog is having seizures and the cause is unknown. Epilepsy is a rule-out diagnosis, which means testing must be done to make sure other causes of seizures are not present. If the testing does not reveal other causes, then the term epilepsy is used to describe his seizures. For younger pets, testing can simply include a physical examination, blood profile, urinalysis, and fecal analysis. Older pets may require additional testing such as an MRI or CT scan to look for brain tumors which tend to occur more commonly in older pets and certain breeds of dogs, including Boston terriers and boxers.
While phenobarbital is a wonderful medication for pets with epilepsy, as you mentioned side effects can and do occur including liver disease. For this reason if any of my patients need to take phenobarbital, I always supplement these pets with natural remedies to help protect the liver, including milk thistle and choline. Additionally, pets taking phenobarbital should be examined at least 2 to 4 times a year for possible side effects; these examinations should include a blood profile and urinalysis. When possible, I prefer natural therapies as they are generally devoid of side effects and do not typically require the regular evaluation of pets that are taking medications such as phenobarbital.
In my practice, I’ve found wonderful success in controlling seizures using supplements such as choline, dimethylglycine, and herbal products and homeopathics. In fact, it is very rare that any of my epileptic patients take drugs for their seizures. If possible, I would try to find a holistic doctor who can slowly wean your pet off of the phenobarbital (if you try to lower the dosage too quickly seizures may recur) and use natural therapies to keep him seizure-free for the rest of his life. Finally, I do not routinely vaccinate pets with seizures as I do not want precipitate a seizural event.
I’m a big fan of pet insurance. For those pet owners who might not be able to afford expensive care for their pets and have to seriously consider euthanasia for the pet that suffers from expensive yet treatable condition, pet insurance can literally be lifesaving for the pet. And when you consider that the average cost for an emergency is over $1000, and the average cost to treat a pet with cancer is between $5000 and $10,000, it becomes apparent that having pet health insurance is a must for many pet owners.
However, it’s important to check out potential policies before purchasing them. Some policies have a limit on how much they will pay for a procedure (for example, $100 for an X-ray even though the X-ray might cost $300,) whereas others will cover most of the cost (typically 80%) of a procedure once a small deductible is paid for by the pet owner, regardless of the actual cost of the procedure.
One piece of advice I give to my clients who are considering purchasing pet health insurance is to call the company and find out what will be covered, what won’t be covered (usually pre-existing conditions and congenital problems will not be covered,) and how much reimbursement the owner can expect for common procedures such as emergency clinic visits, emergency surgeries, treatment of common conditions such as skin and ear infections, and cancer therapy.
Finally, since most pet owners are interested in using some sort of natural therapy to help their pets, is very important to find out if the policy you are considering purchasing will cover natural therapies including nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathics, chiropractic care, acupuncture, etc. Not all policies cover these therapies, even though these therapies are often less expensive than conventional medical therapies and improve the pet’s health, which results in lower medical expenses over the life of the pet.
The good news is that once you find a policy that meets your needs, you can go to any veterinarian you wish. The veterinarian is not involved in the transaction at all other than to sign your insurance form which allows you to be reimbursed for the cost of your visit once you submit your claim to the insurance company.