Winter is coming! Is your dog prepared?

October 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s cold outside here in Crown Point and while we remember to bundle ourselves up before going out in the cold we often forget that our pets might not be equipped to handle the cold weather and snow that comes along with it.  Below are some good habits to get into during the winter months to keep your dog safe.

  1. Thoroughly clean and wipe down your dogs feet, legs and tummy after going for walks.  The salt and chemicals that are used to melt snow can be very irritating to a dog’s feet.  A good pair of boots for your dog to wear out in the snow and for winter walking will protect their feet from ice and chemicals.
  2. Make sure dogs have current identification secured to collars and microchips.  Snow can make it difficult for animals to follow scents back home and are more easily lost.  Keep cats indoors.
  3. Fur keeps a dog warm,  if you normally keep their coat short consider letting it grow out a bit to help keep them warmer during cold weather.  Dogs with thin or short coats may need the added help of a sweater or coat during the winter months to stay warm.  Older dogs and dogs suffering from arthritis will also appreciate the extra warmth that a sweater can provide.
  4. Puppies are very sensitive to the cold, if you are housetraining during winter months consider paper training the dog and then transitioning outside when it gets warmer.
  5.  Keep your dogs moving.  It’s easy to let our dogs become couch potatoes in the winter. Many dogs experience muscle atrophy during the winter which can lead to injuries when spring arrives and they are not physically ready to begin running and playing all day.

Leslie Cook

A video Dr Dan took of a client’s dogs walking on a treadmill

 

Anyone can get their dogs trained to do this. The little Frenchie begs to be on the treadmill several times a day. I know this is a post about safety and these guys are usually hooked up to a safety string that pulls a kill switch that shuts off the treadmill if the dog falls. The owner usually has this on when the treadmill is running faster. However, this was a quick video at a slow pace just to show you a treadmill in action. You can see the dog can hop right up on the treadmill and run up to the front with ease at how slow it is going.

A related post about winter safety in cats –

Fall and Winter Holiday Plant Toxicity in Cats

http://www.petplace.com/cats/fall-and-winter-holiday-plant-toxicity-in-cats/page1.aspx

Flowers and plants add beauty to any holiday, and they make great holiday gifts. But if your family includes pets, you may want to learn which plants are safe and which ones you need to avoid.

Urinary Incontinence: A weak bladder sphincter problem

October 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

thpeeing_dogA dog that has a wet bed in the morning, a dog that dribbles urine throughout the day, a dog that seems to just stand up and then pee uncontrollably, or a dog that is licking itself continuously can all have the problem of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a weakening of the sphincter that controls the emptying of the bladder, most commonly affecting females.

There is a lot to urinary incontinence and there is quite a bit that we do not fully understand about it but I am going to go over the most common issues and keep it simple. The first issue to contend with if you have a dog with a leaky bladder is be sure your pup does not have a urinary tract infection because this an cause inflammation in the entire urinary tract including the sphincter and your dog just is not going to be able to control itself. The best course of action when you first notice a leaking problem is to bring your dog to the vet for evaluation for blood tests and a urinalysis. If your dog has kidney issues, hormonal issues, or a urinary tract infection the cause of the leaking is secondary and treating the primary problem of the underlying disease should resolve the leaking issue.

Now if your dog does not have any illness found then it is most likely that yes your dog has a weakened bladder sphincter causing the urinary incontinence. To keep it simple there is two major reasons why your dog has a weakened muscle – neurologic or hormonal. If the nerve pathways are not optimal then your dog leaks because there is no or low nerve stimulation to the muscle. If the dog has been neutered, more likely if it has been neutered early in life, there has been a lack of hormones, which weakens the muscles in and around the genital area and specifically the bladder sphincter.

Traditional medicine typically uses two different types of drugs to correct this problem and there is a new surgical treatment available in some cases. The first drug is actually hormone replacement therapy using diethylstilbestrol (DES) in female dogs. It is used at low doses to try and avoid the side effects of the drug. Holistic practitioners have long been concerned with the use of this drug and its potential long term effects on the hormonal system and its possibility of causing certain types of cancer.  The other drug commonly used for urinary incontinence and this is used in female and male dogs is phenylpropanolamine (PPA). This drug is used to help stimulate the nervous system and increase tone in the bladder sphincter. This drug has many side effects although most are manageable or minor that they go unnoticed. It can have more side effects with drug interactions of commonly used drugs such as NSAIDs, some tick preventatives, and other drugs. It can cause anxiety in pets because it does stimulate a fight or flight response due to its effect on the nervous system. It also causes an increase in blood pressure for the first few weeks of using the drug so dogs with heart conditions should avoid using PPA. Many times vets will use both drugs together if they are not getting a response from either one and have some success with their use together, which usually indicates multiple system problems with urinary incontinence.

Alternative treatments focus on the same simple principles of either nervous system malfunction or hormonal system malfunction. The most common treatments I use are chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and food supplements.

Chiropractic treatments usually focus on subluxations (joint dysfunction) at the Lumbosacral joint and/or the SI joints. Adjustments usually are needed at L6, L7, and Sacrum. I have had great success over the years with just chiropractic alone most of my patients will have to have return visits monthly to every other month to maintain urinary control.

Most of the time I will also place the pet on a nutritional supplement such as Symplex M (males) or Symplex F (females) from Standard Process. These are formulated from compounds extracted from glandulars. There are other products, which are direct glandular products that some holistic vets use instead of DES to lessen the risks associated with DES.

Many times I see immediate results using the chiropractic and the Standard Process supplements but if I see no results within 2-4 weeks then I will suggest adding acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs to see if we can stimulate the bladder sphincter to function better. Most chronic urinary incontinence is a Qi deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more specifically a Kidney Qi Deficiency so I choose points to help strengthen Qi. In western medical acupuncture terms, we try to stimulate the nervous system for the reproductive area of the body, similar points are used in both types of acupuncture. Common points used are BL22, BL23, BL26, ST36 and CV1

If all else fails there is a surgical treatment that is being tried. It is fairly new to use in dogs and has some success. Under anesthesia collagen is injected around the urethral opening causing a mechanical blockage, which then allows the dog to hold its urine easier. Some of these dogs still need to take PPA and many of them have to have the procedure repeated. Definitely not a first line of correction but when it means the life vs death because of urine leakage it is worth trying to find a vet to do the procedure.

There is a lot we do not understand about urinary incontinence. We do not know the true cause and why some treatments work for some dogs and not for others, but there are many treatments and hopefully if you have a dog with urinary incontinence, you can find one that works for your dog.

Controlling your dog’s allergies: The EDVS Approach

October 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Your dog is keeping you up all night scratching. In fact, your dog scratches all the time, its skin is red and raw and may have hair loss and lesions. Your dog could have allergies. The most common symptoms owners bring their dog into the vet suspecting allergies is itching and chronic skin infections. However did you know that there are other signs of allergies such as red paws, chronic ear infections, chronic loose stool, and even vomiting? All of these problems are very frustrating for the owner and also frustrating for the veterinarian to attempt to treat. Conventional veterinary care has a difficult time managing this disease and many veterinarians are just as frustrated with treatment as the owners of the allergic dog. So what can we do? In this series of posts I am going to explain how I manage dog allergies using an approach called EDVS.

First, every owner that has a dog that suffers from allergies needs to know that allergies is a disease that can be controlled and managed but most likely will not ever be cured. To control the disease, you need to support and balance the immune system and focus on the (E)nivronment, (D)iet, (V)accinations, and (S)upplements. Once explained to you it will make sense to use the EDVS approach and how you can live with your dog and your dog can have a good quality of life living with you for many years.

Basically, an allergy is a hypersensitive immune system. Unfortunately the immune system is one of the most misunderstood systems of the dog’s body. Although it is studied extensively and many components are well understood the actual cause and effect of how it actually all works is elusive. The immune system is a well trained and amazing war machine capable of identifying numerous foreign invaders, however it can make mistakes, especially when it is hypersensitive. If we could figure out exactly how the dog’s immune system makes mistakes we could easily prevent allergies. The mistakes that the immune system makes is on identifying foreign invaders. When the immune system is hypersensitive it can misidentify a substance as foreign and attack it. Most commonly the body misinterprets proteins and synthetic chemicals that are chemically structured similar to proteins.

When the dog’s immune system finds a virus or bacteria and identifies it as such, it goes into attack mode using lymphocytes and other white blood cells to kill it and remove it from the body. Viruses and bacteria are essentially protein molecules and dna molecules that the body understands and the system of attack is usually quite effective in removing these proteins and abnormal dna molecules from the body. When the body misidentifies a different protein or chemical substance as an invader and attacks it using the same defense mechanisms it is unable to clear it. The immune system becomes confused especially if the dog continues to be exposed to the substance. The dog’s immune system attacks even harder and with more ferocity, continuing to try and exterminate the substance that it can not destroy; which explains why over time the dog’s allergies are worse and worse. It explains why every year the dog’s allergies are worse than the previous. Using immunoglobulins, mast cells, basophils and other white blood cells, the weapons of the dog’s immune system, the immune system continues to fight creating havoc by releasing histamine and destroying surrounding normal cells in its attempts to clear the allergen it sees as a foreign invader. The symptoms of allergies, red inflamed skin, inflamed ears,  diarrhea, vomiting, etc is caused by this destruction and histamine release. Many dogs have chronic ear infections and skin infections because the body is so busy trying to destroy the allergen that it is not able to take care of other bacteria and yeast.

Conventional veterinary treatment seeks to decrease the immune response and help the symptoms using corticosteroids such as prednisone and antibiotics. The problem is that this only provides temporary relief and does not address the underlying issue of the hypersensitive immune system. However, even holistic medicine can not cure the issues of a hypersensitive immune system it can only manage the problem and that is by managing (E)nivronment, (D)iet, (V)accinations, and (S)upplements. More to come in future posts.