Carnivores are not vegans

August 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Carnivores are not vegans – sounds logical doesn’t it? Not so to some people and even a couple of Premium dog food companies that seem to want to make money versus doing what’s right for our dogs.

Our dogs are carnivores, they are not strict carnivores and can eat vegetables, however just because dogs fed plant-based diets can stay alive does not make it the best for them. An optimal biologically appropriate diet for a carnivore is to have a meat based diet. An optimal biologically appropriate diet allows the dog to thrive not just survive. It provides them with the nutrients needed for a healthy immune system and a solid base for a long healthy life.

A carnivores digestive system is not designed for efficiently digesting plant material. It does not have the appropriate enzymes in saliva to break down starch. Also the digestive system is too short in comparison to herbivores and does not contain enough of the necessary enzymes for proper breakdown of plant material. This makes it difficult to digest plant material and to be able to gain the optimal nutrients, such as amino acids. Dogs do not produce amino acids very well and so it is necessary to provide them in their diet. Essential amino acids for dogs come from high quality animal protein, such as beef, chicken, turkey, duck, fish, lamb, venison, and bison.

Another problem with feeding a vegetable/starch based diet to a dog is that it can over work their pancreas. The pancreas of a carnivore produces enzymes used to process fats and protein. When you feed plant material it produces more enzymes to try to break it down. A long term over production of enzymes overtaxes the pancreas making it more likely to malfunction. A malfunctioning pancreas can lead to pancreatitis and/or diabetes and not so surprisingly can lead to obesity.

So for those of you eating a vegan or vegetarian diet for your health, you must realize that your digestive system is that of an omnivore and is different than that of a carnivore. Your dog is a carnivore and it needs a meat based diet. Please for the health of your dog, feed it what it was biologically created to eat.

Dog Chocolate Toxicity Revisted

October 16, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

It is that time of year again it’s Chocolate season! It starts with Halloween and ends at Christmas. This is where us humans gain several pounds due to good food and even better candy. Chocolate is a favorite of mine and truly a favorite of many. However our dogs should not be indulging in chocolate, it is toxic to them. Depending on how much your dog weighs and how much your dog eats will decide whether your dog will be OK, have gastrointestinal symptoms, have seizures or even die.

It is the theobromine that is in chocolate that is really toxic to dogs and certain chocolate is much more toxic than other types. Depending on how much theobromine is in the chocolate will decide on how toxic. For example White Chocolate has very little theobromine and it takes quite a large amount to be toxic in dogs, in comparison baking chocolate or real cocoa is highly toxic to dogs, because it has a lot of theobromine.

Usually I tell people to go to the cool interactive chart offered several years ago by National Geographic – it still available here – National Geographic Chocolate Chart

However this year a fellow veterinarian, Dr Marie from offered me a free Chocolate Toxicity Calculator to put right here on my site. So thanks Dr. Marie!

Calculator provided by Ask A Vet Question.

Canine Case of the Week: Bear and Cervical IVDD

August 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Canine Case of the Week is Bear a special dog with Intervertebral Disk Disease in the cervical spine. What makes Bear special is that he is also a cancer patient, OK he is a good dog too! Bear is one of my lucky patients that has been able to take advantage of the new information about acupuncture I have learned from the Chi Institute in my process to acupuncture certification.

Bear - Cervical IVDD case Bear is a 10 year old neutered male black Lab. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw in December 2010. The tumor was wrapped around his lower canine and it bled every time he ate. When it was discovered that it was cancer Bear underwent surgery to have the front third of his lower jaw removed. He recovered fine from the surgery and no longer had bleeding every time he ate.

Shortly after his jaw surgery he started limping on his left front leg. Of course thinking the worse his owner brought him right away to a specialist and discovered that no the cancer had not spread but actually Bear had a strained tendon in his elbow. The specialist injected the elbow with corticosteroid and the limping improved. Unfortunately he developed a neck problem 2 weeks afterwards.

Bear has had issues with his neck for a long time. He would be stiff and a little painful to the touch. His owner would give him aspirin and in a day he would bounce back, however this time was different. He did not bounce back and in fact became worse. He could not turn his head to the left without being in pain. Back to the vet Bear went. His cervical spine was radiographed and luckily no signs of cancer, but also no significant findings for a problem relating to his pain in the neck. He was diagnosed with Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease or Cervical IVDD. An MRI could be done to confirm the diagnosis but with the expense, the fact that an MRI may not be as reliable as once thought for diagnosis of IVDD, the fact that Bear has gone through a lot already and most important the owner was not wishing to put Bear through another surgery and only wants him comfortable for how ever many months she has left with Bear, an MRI was not performed and Bear was given typical conservative pain management pharmaceuticals – muscle relaxers and pain relievers. He did this for a couple of months. It did not help enough and in May it became much worse. He could not raise his head comfortably and he was placed on more pain relievers. In June when nothing else seemed to be helping Bear’s owner called me.

My first visit Bear was mildy depressed but still happy to visit. He could not raise his head very well, looked uncomfortable and certainly could not turn his head left. He was not sleeping well at night. He was very painful when touching his neck or trying to move his head. I spent time massaging and doing chiropractic adjustments to help relieve some of his tension and pain. I also prescribed Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain since none of the pain relievers he was on were seeming to help.

A week later I revisited and readjusted. He was improved. His pain was mostly gone but he still could not turn his head to the left.

The next week I revisited again and now he could turn his head about 50% to the left and still no pain. I adjusted him again and was happy with the progress. However Bear had other plans with his new found reduction in pain.

The problem with giving a dog pain relievers, or doing modalities such as chiropractic or acupuncture is that they do relieve pain. The problem with relieving pain is that the area is still healing and can take 12 weeks to heal completely, but since there is no pain the dog will use the area like there is nothing wrong. If the dog feels better and does something it should not it can re-injure the area and start the whole cascade of events all over. That’s what Bear did!

He was happy feeling better and became excited one day. The owner knew that she needed to keep him calm and not do any activity with him, but Bear had other ideas and decide to play hard for a couple minutes and re-injured himself. When I saw him we were back to square one! He was in pain again and could not turn his head at all. We started over. I massaged and adjusted him and and was coming back the next week, after my trip to the Chi Institute.

Monday, after my course work at the Chi Institute I visited Bear He was out of pain but still could not move his head to the left. I had some small needles that I usually use for horse legs. I did some acupuncture for Bear’s neck and I have a laser machine and lasered a few acupuncture points as well. The treatment lasted about 20 min. After the treatment was over, Bear got up shook all over and whined at the door. He went out, went to the bathroom, came back in and went right for his toy box. The owner and I were quick to tell him – OH NO. She told him to go lay down. The owner and I could tell he was feeling very spunky and wanted to play. He felt very good. So I went onto my soapbox and told her how he needed to rest and definitely needed to be confined and not allowed to play. The problem with acupuncture is that they feel too good and can re-injure themselves. All the while I was talking (preaching) Bear was laying with his right side against a wall, obviously upset that he was told he could not play, and at one point the owner and I looked at him and he looked back at us. It only took a couple seconds for it to register that he was turning his head to the left to look straight back at us!

Here was a dog that had for months not been able to turn his head to the left and I thought I had made some big progress with the chiropractic treatments to get him to turn his head 50% of the way and now he was turning his head like nothing was ever wrong. He had no pain and had full range of motion from one 20 min treatment of acupuncture.

Today I visited Bear and he is almost completely normal. He is off all the medications except for the Gabapentin which he has started weaning off. He has a little limp in his left front leg but his neck shows no sign of pain and has about 90% range of motion. I treated him with electroacupuncture today and will visit him again in two weeks.

I have a new found respect for acupuncture and will be incorporating it more and more in my treatment protocols. I will be suggesting it to clients more frequently and eventually I can see that my practice will be a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practice using herbs and acupuncture with some chiropractic and physical therapy added. Thank you Bear for the excellent results that were way beyond my expectations. With more treatments I am hoping to help him with his elbow pain and extend his life comfortably despite living with an aggressive cancer.

Raw Dog Food Company seeking more veterinarians

March 22, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

With the wider acceptance of raw feeding for dogs, meaning feeding uncooked meats, with bone and vegetables and seeing how it is helping a number of dogs with health issues and improving overall health for dogs,  a couple of companies are reaching out to vets and have veterinary programs to help veterinarians determine when and how to institute a raw feeding program for their clients.
Nature's Variety Raw Food

Nature’s Variety has a program helping vets become more aware and more knowledgeable about raw feeding. I have their vet packet in front of me, which is filled with information and ways to find out more information. Interesting information such as case studies, online resources and a good explanation on why their raw food is safe, using High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) which kills harmful bacteria but does not affect proteins, enzymes, nutrients, prebiotics, vitamins or minerals.

Nature’s Variety has been helping vets get over the other hurdle of feeding raw by going through the process of AAFCO food trials to be certified complete and balanced. According to NV they are the 1st and only raw food company to have done this; not that it matters to most raw feeders, but it does matter to the scientific community including veterinarians.

Some of the disease conditions that vets use nutrition to help treat that can be benefited by raw feeding are food allergies, obesity, digestive disorders, skin and coat disorders and diabetes.  I am really impressed by this company taking the time to try and integrate the raw feeding world and bring it to the scientifically based veterinary community that many times is concerned with new and non-traditional ways of treating pets and improving their health.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see more companies like Nature’s Variety go mainstream and try to connect with more veterinarians or do you think raw feeding is a fad and will die off or become a cult for a select few?

THE 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers

March 15, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

OK So this really is not THE 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers but rather a difference of opinion to an article on Business Insider with the same title.  I firmly believe there is no such list as the 10 BEST websites. Opinions change,  websites change at a rapid pace, and it is difficult with all the information available out there and with all the websites out there what criteria do you use to say a website  is THE best? So why am I writing this then?

It is blatantly obvious in Evan Britton’s article The 10 Best Websites For  Dog Lovers (click for the article) that the sites he chose are not based on proper research but something else. I am not sure if it is, as some of the commentors wrote, just the paid or sponsored websites that are being mentioned in the list or ignorance. Is it he threw a list together with no research and just put familiar names he knew just so he could promote his own two websites in the list…and what is with that? I know I am very proud of my own website here and I do promote it but to call it one of the top websites for dog lovers is reaching a little and so is Evan.  I don’t know how he formulated his list but in my opinion it is NOT the best list.

So I decided using my own dog knowledge with a slant on what is best for a dog’s health, based on popularity of the passionate dog owners, caretakers and professionals that I interact with, along with finding some of the least biased information I could on the topics Evan suggested in his list, to formulate what I would consider THE 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers list. Please passionate dog lovers please correct my list in the comments and we can provide an even better list than THE best. :-)

1. Pet Food – OK just giving a store and a big chain at that as your BEST website for dog food? There are some big changes happening in the pet food industry especially with the dog food recalls going on. Many pet owners need more knowledge about pet food and what is best for their dog. Besides there are so many online stores that will ship dog food to your door with the same if not better customer service than PetCo. Not that PetCo is bad just not the best. How about a couple websites telling you which dog food is the best and why?
Dog Food Analysis and Dog Food Scoop. These two sites will help you choose the best kibble for your dog that is if you are not cooking for your dog or feeding raw which would be better for most dogs anyway.

2. Dog Breeders – Not even going to go there.  Full disclosure here – I have a purebred, but for a specific purpose and if you want a purebred for a specific purpose then fine do research and choose an appropriate breeder by going through the appropriate channels which is not going to the website mentioned on Evan’s list! However if you are looking for a family pet and want to really feel good about getting a dog that really needs you check out one of the best websites for dog adoption – Pet Finder

3. Puppy Names – his website was mentioned here. Um – Ok it probably is a fun website but whatever – NOT a 10 best website.

4. Dog Whisperer & 9. Common Dog Problems – Both of the sites he mentions for these categories are single person trainers. One trainer is not the best for everyone. Even though these sites provide a lot of information for helping you, they provide a lot more by purchasing something. Fine everyone needs to make a living, but is Cesar’s Way the best way? Well even Cesar himself will tell you that it is best if you are having behavior problems with your dog to have a trained professional work personally with you to help solve the problem. So why not a website that will provide you the information to search for such a trainer? Purdue University has a dog behavior modification course and provides a list of individuals that have completed the course. Another list of trainers can be found at Truly Dog Friendly, which is a list of trainers that use training methods that are pain free.  Or if you want to do it yourself but can’t decide which method/s to use how about a scientific approach to dog training? Although this website is old (2001) it provides excellent information on training from an educational/scientific standpoint Dr. P’s Dog Training & Behavior. It provides opinions from many different perspectives not just one trainer and one method.

5. Dog Health – He got one right here! But isn’t this where I promote my own website? :-)
Have to admit it, VetInfo is a good solid source of information. With that said, your best source of information about your dog’s health is the veterinarian that is taking care of your dog.

6. Dog Insurance– with all the articles out there bantering back and forth as to whether or not pet insurance is even worth the premiums, I think it is bad form to single out one insurance company as the best. This is especially bad, when you go to the review sites about insurance companies and you find that although the one Evan chose is one of the most popular here in the US, it is not the best as decided by consumers. So now if you do decide that pet insurance is something you want to look into,  how about looking into the choices you have and deciding for yourself which insurance company is right for you – Pet Insurance Review An unbiased look at the options for insurance companies, with customer reviews and ratings.

7. Dog Breeds – OK Dog Breed Info does provide the information on dog breeds but it is not as slick or cool as Animal Planet’s – Dog Breed Directory

8. Labradors – um – his own website I see. Well how about my breedist views – Border Collie ;-)

already did 9 back at 4 since they are basically the same thing.

10. Pet Travel Guides – Another one right! Dog Friendly is a cool website helping dog owners find places while traveling that are dog friendly.

Full disclosure – I do not own or operate any of the sites in this list. :-)

Does Your Dog Need Health Insurance?

March 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In-depth article about whether you really should have health insurance or not for your dog. I agree that you really need to know how much you are spending on the health of your dog now to decide whether health insurance is right and what type of health insurance you should be purchasing. The health insurance company makes all the difference as well – choose the wrong one and you will be out a lot of money on monthly premiums with no pay backs on your vet bills.

Amplify’d from

Since most pet owners have health insurance for themselves, many wonder if their dogs need similar protection. But according to the July 2003 issue of Consumer Reports, “Pet insurance won’t necessarily save you money. In fact, with it, you can end up paying far more for veterinary care than if you don’t have insurance.” The Consumer Reports analysis indicates that purchasing pet insurance might increase the amount an owner pays in veterinary costs by thousands of dollars over the life of the pet. The magazine considers pet insurance to be “a form of enforced savings that almost never covers the entire bill.” The magazine reports that putting the premium into your own bank account each month would accomplish the same goal.

If you want a direct financial benefit, Christine Zink, D.V.M., who is well versed in sports-related canine injuries, has a good suggestion. She says, “You need to have really complete records of your dogs’ veterinary bills over a period of at least three years.” You need to know exactly how much you spend on veterinary care and on exactly what services and procedures.



5 Steps to Take if Your Dog’s Food has been Recalled

March 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A good article from one of my favorite magazine’s Whole Dog Journal. I put the five steps here but go read the article in its entirety to fully understand what to do.

Amplify’d from

Five Steps to Take if Your Dog’s Food Has Been Recalled

-First, check the brand, variety, package size, and lot numbers:
-Stop feeding the recalled food:
-Check your dog:
-Contact the food’s maker:
-Follow through:

See more at


7 Signs that Your Dog Needs to See a Vet

February 24, 2011 by · 16 Comments 

Pet dogs are like family members, but when it comes to illness and disease, they’re like children who cannot talk yet. They know that something is wrong with them, but they’re unable to communicate the problem to you. So if you notice them behaving abnormally and out of character, it’s best to schedule an immediate visit to the vet. Some symptoms may be serious, while others may be temporary hiccups that disappear in a day or two. You can easily tell if your pet needs to see a vet by using the below checklist:

  • General appearance: If your dog seems pale and if there are other marked changes in the way they look, if he/she refuses to eat or drink anything for many hours together, it’s time to take them to your vet. Dogs tend to get dehydrated very quickly, so if they refuse to drink water, treat the situation as an emergency and seek medical help.
  • Physical changes: If your dog seems lethargic and less active than usual, if he/she limps around or shows any signs of pain, if they seem disoriented and are clumsier than usual, or if they show signs of restlessness and discomfort, talk to your vet or take your dog in for a check.
  • Body temperature: The normal body temperature of canines is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. So if a rectal reading shows a temperature outside of this range, call your vet immediately.
  • Vomiting: Your dog may throw up a little if it has eaten something unpalatable and it may not be a cause for concern. But if your pet seems to exhibit lethargic, dull and lifeless behavior and also vomits, it’s best to check with your vet to rule out the possibility of a serious illness.
  • Color of gums: If your dog seems listless and dull, check his/her gums. Pink gums are a sign of a healthy dog while white, yellow or bluish gums signal that they may be anemic and require the care of a vet immediately.
  • Unusual urination: If your dog is urinating more frequently than usual, or if he/she is not able to produce any urine in spite of straining to do so, it’s time to rush your pet to the vet. Your dog could be suffering from a serious illness and it’s best to get him/her checked out immediately.
  • Changed food habits: Your dog could be in the habit of overeating or not eating much on some days, but if this kind of behavior becomes repetitive, call your vet immediately.

It’s easier to identify when your dog is sick if you know how he/she looks and behaves when they’re perfectly healthy. Notice all that your pet does when they start to behave abnormally because of the illness wracking them – it helps your vet if you’re able to provide detailed information about their symptoms. Also, it’s wise to sign up with a vet who’s not averse to making house calls during an emergency or one who is available for you when your dog is really sick.

This guest post is contributed by Tina Marconi, she writes on the topic of online vet tech programs . She welcomes your comments at her email id: tinamarconi85[@]gmail[.]com.

Tips for Caring for a Dog with Cancer via @LorieAHuston

December 8, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Great tips for any type of cancer from Dr. Greg Ogilvie from Angel Care Cancer Center at California Veterinary Specialists. Thanks for letting us know what was said at his lecture Dr. Lorie

Canine and Feline Cancer: Tips for Caring for a Dog or Cat with Cancer

Canine and Feline Cancer

Cancer is a diagnosis no dog or cat owner wants to hear. It strikes fear into the heart of every pet owner. And that fear can sometimes jeopardize the health and well-being of your beloved dog or cat.

Canine and Feline Cancer Causes Pain: Do not Let Your Dog or Cat Hurt

Dogs and Cats with Cancer Do not Need to Vomit or Have Diarrhea

Do not Let Your Dog or Cat Starve Because of Canine or Feline Cancer

While a diagnosis of canine or feline cancer is still likely to be scary for most dog and cat owners, working with your veterinarian to control pain, to control vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, and to insure adequate nutrition for your pet can help provide compassionate care for your pet and make sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible.



Dog Proofing the house for the holidays

December 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Take these simple steps to protect your pooch from the holiday fun.

Amplify’d from

Dog proofing your house for the holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time of year; friends and family visiting and an abundance of new toys for your pet.  Those annual holiday items we think are beautiful and peaceful are viewed as toys by your dog and then a menace when they ingest it.  To make sure that your holiday runs smoothly, here are a few tips to dog proof your house during the holidays.

Everyone loves the Christmas lights that glow beautifully in the night this time of year; but there is an unseen hazard.
The Christmas tree looks beautiful to us but to a dog it is covered with lots of toys.
Everyone knows the best food of the year is made during the holiday season.
Dogs react to alcohol just like anyone does.
Holiday plants like poinsettias, mistletoe and holly can be dangerous to pets.