Senior Dog Blog

Is Your Dog Pudgy? - A Weighty Subjectby Ann-Marie Fleming

18 August, 2009

By Dr Jeannie Thomason (Part 1 in a two part series on dog obesity.)

Obesity is one of the common diseases of Older (Senior, Geriatric) dogs. Fortunately, it is not only preventable but with commitment on the part of the dog owner, it is reversible as well.Is Your Dog Pudgy? -  A Weighty Subject It’s often difficult for pet owners to recognize that their dogs are in fact overweight and not just well fed and happy. One reason we don't often notice obesity in our pets is because of our perception of obesity in ourselves as humans.

By human standards, an obese person is someone significantly over-weight, not just someone who has gone up one size in their pants. However, with our dogs, the term obese is used for pets with any excessive accumulation of fat in the stomach and the waist. An animal that is 15-20% overweight is considered obese. As in humans, an obese animal is not healthy and is highly vulnerable to many types of health problems The metabolism of an overweight pet can no longer support a healthy heart, joints (over 40% of older dogs have joint problems), liver, lungs or normal blood sugar.

Obese dogs have less heat intolerance and are often poor candidates for surgery should it be needed. Why Our Dogs Gain Weight Puppies burn more calories than adults because they are using every last drop of nutrients to build their bodies. Spayed and neutered animals use less enegry/burn less calories as intact animals do since the heart does not have to pump blood to the reproductive organs anymore.

Mature animals, neutered animals do not require as much food/calories so cutting back a bit on the daily meals alone can be of help in keeping off the extra weight. As our animals grow older, we must make a concerted effort to make sure they are still getting ample exercise. So much the case today, many families have both adults working most of the day so our dogs are left home alone to lounge around and nap. In the wild, dogs have to work and exert energy to catch their food, thus keeping in balance the consumption and the burning of calories. However, our dogs don't have to do much to get food. Therefore, they run the risk of consuming more calories than they're burning, which just like in humans, leads to gradual weight gain.

Furthermore, dogs are genetically made to save fat for energy. When wolves' feeding behavior has been studied, it has been found that that wolves don't always eat daily in fact rarely do they eat daily. They don't need to eat daily because their physiology is such that extra nutrients are converted to fat to be used later. Our dogs are descendants of wolves and/or other wild canids. What is happening with our pet dogs is that in short, we are feeding our pets too much food and they are getting very little to no real exercise to balance things out. Their bodies just keep storing more and more fat until obesity becomes a reality.

Feeding The Wrong Foods The multi-billion dollar pet food industry has done harm to our dog’s health and made billions of dollars off uneducated pet owners who only want the very best for their dogs. *This is another article in its self so I’ll keep it brief and say here and now that processed, commercial pet food is killing our pets. It is not just the poor quality, cheap foods either because it really does not matter what quality ingredients you begin with, it all ends up the same way – dead, no nutritive value. Then, since there truly is no nutrition left in the end product, synthetic vitamins are sprayed on the to diets just prior to sealing the bags. These synthetic vitamins are not molecularly/nutritionally equal to the natural source vitamins found in raw food sources nor are they readily absorbed by the dog’s body.* Please read my article: Kibble is kibble is still kibble for more information.

When our dogs are fed processed/over-cooked foods that their digestive systems were never designed to eat/digest in the first place is that the body is forced to raid its own dwindling supply of nutrient reserves and enzymes which in turn, causes the body to remain hungry for true, quality nutrients. This of course, leads to hunger pangs for the dog even though the stomach is full. The result is chronic hunger and begging for more food. This leads to chronic overeating and of course the excessive weight and the rampant obesity seen in our dogs today. Stay tuned for Part 2: Health Risks Associated With Obesity

About Dr. Jeannie Thomason: Dr. Jeannie Thomason, Veterinary naturopath, certified small animal nutritionist, is co-host of the popular online radio show, Animal Talk Naturally. Her articles have been featured in various publications such as Animal Wellness, Dog Fancy, Coast 2 Coast (national breed magazine for the Boston Terrier) and Natural Horse magazine. She is available for consultations on natural canine care & nutrition at her Website – The Whole Dog . Copyright ©2009. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author. This article is for educational purposes only. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.

Dog Pad Video Review - Washable or Disposable?by Ann-Marie Fleming

10 August, 2009

We have had dog diapers on the brain lately, but there are other options for dog owners and their older dogs who are facing problems with incontinence or issues with bowel control - Dog Pads. In this video we take a look at two types of dog pads; disposable dog pads and washable dog pads, both of which can offer valuable protection and relief for you and your senior dog. What I like about using dog pads is that rather than covering the dog as is the case with dog diapers, dog pads can be used where accidents occur most often.

For some older dogs, accidents occur most often in a bed, and with others it may be by the door or on the floor. For example we use dog pads for Sheba, my mother's yorkie-poo who is 14 years young. Sheba has most of her accidents while laying in bed (human and dog) so we use a pad for times when she is sleeping and they work wonders. Not only does it make life easier for my parents, but Sheba feels much better knowing she didn't make a mess of things.

Our dogs can get as embarrassed about losing control of their bladder and bowels as humans do, so we need to be respectful of their dignity to help maintain their spirits. For some senior dog owners the disposable pad will make more sense since you can throw them out and not have to deal with the mess, but for other dog owners, who like the idea of not having to replenish supplies, then the washable pads make the most sense since you can reuse them after a simple wash. Whichever type of dog pad works for you it is great to have another option to help you and your older dog manage the challenges that come with a dog's golden years. 

Sammy - Lions, Tigers and Bearsby Ann-Marie Fleming

08 August, 2009

When Jo Klitzke of Alberta, a customer of ours at DogQuality.com and a senior dog owner, shared this heart warming story we just had to post it (with her permission of course). Losing a dog is traumatic, add factors such as being a senior dog with bad hearing, plus the wilderness, and you have a heart-wrenching experience.

Here is Sammy's story by Jo Klitzke
SammyEvery year we go out to Kananaskis on a family/friends camping trip and rent a group campground. As these are far from any roads, we all let our dogs loose and they love it.

This year we rented Pinegrove B group camp (where my husband & I were married 7 years ago). It is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and in the middle of nowhere. We have 2 beagles (8 & 10 years old) and a Shitzu Bichon - Sammy (12 years old). We lost track of the beagles so we were calling for them. Sammy must have been following one of us. When we found the beagles, she may have been sniffing at something - who knows, but when we got the beagles tied up we realized that Sam was gone. She must have wandered off in the direction she thought we took.

We had noticed in the last few weeks that her hearing was going. This was Friday night around 10 p.m. We had 25 people (plus dogs) out looking for our little "Muffin". We looked until around midnight, then called off the search. We started searching again at 8 the next morning. People were walking for miles, and others were on bicycles. I drove to the next campground around 1 p.m., Sibbald Lake, because I knew there was a manager there, to report her missing. He said that a man had come around 10 a.m. & had found a small tan coloured dog on the road. The man drove around the campground but no one had a dog missing, so he told the manager that he was going to turn the dog into the SPCA. I drove back to our campground & told everybody what I'd heard & my husband & I drove up to highway 1 to get cell phone reception. We called Calgary Humane Society, Cochrane H.S., Bow Valley, Big Horn, Canmore.....but no luck.

We basically gave up the search because we thought that we would locate her Sunday or Monday at one of these locations. I cried most of the weekend, thinking that a predator may have gotten her. She is terrified of thunder and we had it both nights that she was gone. Sunday we called all the agencies again, and nothing. We were devastated.

Monday I called and still nothing. I registered her on Pet Lynx on the internet and anywhere else I could think of. I placed an ad on kijiji, and even paid extra for her to be featured on their home page and the top of the category. Once I did that, I thought I should look through the ads that were placed, and lo and behold, someone had found a small dog running down the road in the middle of nowhere in Kananaskis Saturday night! That confused me, because the campground manager said the man had found a dog Saturday morning at 10. Anyway, I replied with her description, then started to shake. I called my husband & daughter and they both were a bit skeptical because of the time line. I sat in front of my computer, but nothing, so I went out and did some yard work for 1/2 hour.

When I came back to the computer, I had a reply, but it didn't sound like our Sammy, so I sent a picture and more details of where we were when we lost her. I asked if I could drive down to Calgary & see if it was our "Muffin" and gave my phone number. 2 minutes later, Amy Williams called me & said "I think I have your puppy". I told her it was my birthday the next day and if it was Sammy, it would be the best birthday present I had ever had. Amy, her husband Steve, and 2 year old daughter Kayla were visiting friends at the Sibbald Lake campground Saturday night. Amy was going to have one more cup of tea before they headed home but something told her that they had to get going NOW. She was driving very slowly down highway 68 looking everywhere. Steve asked her what she was looking for and she said "I don't know!" It's about 12:45 Sunday morning and Amy spots a little dog running down the road. Steve got out of the car and Sammy flew into his arms. Her collar was tattered and she was covered in pine sap. They immediately drove back to their friend's camp site to give Sammy water, the headed home, & stopped at a 24 hour place to pick up some dog food. The next day they bought her a new collar, leash and dog shampoo. They had her all cleaned up and she mostly slept and drank.

We live an hour north west of Calgary, and I loaded my beagles into the truck and headed down. I stopped at the bank in Carstairs to get some cash to give Amy a reward, and several people in Carstairs honked and stopped me to congratulate me on finding Sammy. Apparently my daughter had posted it on Facebook! When I got to Amy's place, she was sitting on her lawn with Kayla and my Muffin! We cried and hugged, and when Amy adamantly refused any money, she hugged me and whispered "Happy Birthday". Since then we have become good friends. They came to visit last weekend and Sammy was so excited to see them. She sat on Steve's lap most of the time. Thank God for the angels in this world.

Geriatric care is going to the dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

06 August, 2009

I wanted to share an article from The Province that we were very fortunate to be involved in. We have already received so many calls from relieved Canadians who have older dogs and have been looking for help. I can't tell you enough how great it feels to be able to help so many people and so many senior dogs here in Canada and globally (we also received some inquiries from Europe as a result of the article).

Anyways here is an excerpt: Geriatric care is going to the dogs ruff justice: Entrepreneur taps our feelings of responsibility towards old hounds By Paul Luke, The Province August 4, 2009 Get along little doggies -- you're being offered a new leash on life. Vancouver entrepreneur Ann-Marie Fleming is in the vanguard of a North American business pack that has caught the scent of an opportunity helping older canines. Fleming owns Dog Quality Enterprises, an online site selling gear for dogs in their golden years. Her site -- www.DogQuality.com -- sells products ranging from wheelchairs to strollers to diapers to ramps. Fleming owns Dog Quality Enterprises, a Vancouver-based firm selling specialty gear for older dogs.

Geriatric care is going to the dogs

Want a step covered in a jaguar-skin print that helps your dog climb and boosts his aging ego (imagine the thrill of tramping over a fearsome jungle cat's hide)? Fleming has one for $94.95. Need dog chakra healing stones to promote harmony within your best friend's greying muzzle? Fleming will sell you a set for $15.95. "Dogs love us unconditionally and do everything in their power to make us happy and take care of us," says Fleming, 38. "When they're in need, it's our responsibility to do the same for them."

The global market for geriatric devices is going to the dogs. Medical advances in diagnosis and treatment that have prolonged human life are also extending dogs' days. Nearing the end of those days, dogs may fall prey to the same ailments -- bad backs, gimpy joints, arthritis, incontinence -- that plague older humans.

"The world is a much safer place for dogs and cats than it was 40 years ago, as we see fewer animals getting sick from contagious diseases or being hit by cars," says Dr. James Lawson, chief animal health officer with the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"The majority of animals are living longer and you're running into geriatric problems more and more." Dr. Jeff Grognet, president of the B.C. Veterinary Medical Association, says the growing demand for geriatric devices reflects an evolution in the pet-people relationship.

Improving the Health of your Older Dog through Supplementsby Ann-Marie Fleming

20 July, 2009

Guest post written by: Cara Gardner DVM, CVA Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center | @holisticpetdr

Supplements are a great way to help keep your senior dogs (and cats) happy, healthy and aging well. It can be a very difficult process however to wade through the plethora of information out there to find the best and safest options for your pet. Here, I will briefly talk about some supplemental recommendations and some additions to your pet's diet that will really help add comfort and longevity to his or her life.Improving the Health of your Older Dog through Supplements

1. Antioxidants- A very important supplement that all dogs (and cats) will benefit from as they age. Antioxidants are molecules that circulate in the blood stream and combat debris that is left in the body after any inflammatory process has occurred. This is important for long term health and comfort because this debris can cause damage to other organs and body systems if allowed to circulate and come in contact with other tissues.

Arthritis in any joint, muscle pain and soreness, liver or kidney disease, asthma, heart disease... and the list goes on and on, are all inflammatory conditions that leave behind this debris. Most antioxidants contain a mixture of vitamins A, C, E, and selenium. Others are more specific and contain only a few ingredients like CoQ - 10 (or coenzyme Q 10) which has been found to be extremely beneficial in humans to help combat the damage of heart disease.

The Honest Kitchen makes a wonderful organic and holistic antioxidant formulation that I recommend to all of my patients called Invigor. It contains a combination of ingredients that are high in antioxidant power with high levels of vitamins A, C, E, and selenium. Check out www.thehonestkitchen.com for more details and to find out where to purchase their products.

RxVitamins has a CoQ10 product specific for pets that is a wonderful supplement I recommend for dogs with heart disease, kidney disease or arthritis problems. 2. Essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids- A naturally occurring anti-inflammatory that soothes any inflammatory condition in the body. These fatty acids or oils, work by interfering with what is called the inflammatory cascade. They slightly change the body's immediate response to damage and help soothe the pain and discomfort that usually comes along with inflammation like arthritis. They have been found also to help reduce the risk of heart disease in people due their high antioxidant power! These wonderfully naturally occurring molecules can be found in a number of dietary sources like prepared salmon or sardines, soy beans, tofu and many other nuts and legumes.

For dogs however, the best source, if not found in food like Royal Canin's Skin Support Diet, or Eagle Pack's Holistic Select Anchovy, Sardine and Salmon dry dog food is a supplemental and very tasty oil put directly on the food such as NuHemp's Omega Sauce for pets found at www.nuhemp.com or Welactin found at www.nutamaxlabs.com 3. Fiber- Fiber is something of which we all need more! Fiber helps pets regulate their Gi tracts by helping to lubricate the inside of the large intestine. This helps stool to move more easily through the tract so that the waste material from food does not sit as long in the large bowel itself which can cause damage, and allows for less material left within the tract that can potentially cause damage over time. Fiber also helps to regulate blood sugar and curb extreme fluctuations in appetite.

Since 80% of the immune system is found in the GI tract, a healthier intestine leads to a healthier pet! An excellent supplement for dogs and cats is The Honest Kitchen's Perfect Form which combines a number of high fiber natural ingredients to give your pet a healthy and organic fiber supplement option. (see their website above) 4. Probiotics- This is a supplement that will also help keep the GI tract happy and healthy. These little good bacterial compounds help to regulate digestion and keep the numbers of "good" bacteria in the gut up and the numbers of "bad" or unhealthy bacteria down. This regulation will help the body to better break down and therefore absorb much needed nutrients from food. As we age on the outside, our bodies age internally as well, including the GI tract.

As it ages it has more difficulty getting all of the beneficial products from the food we eat. To help our pets stay healthy, regular and nutritionally balanced, good digestion is key. These are best offered in powdered food supplements like Total Biotics for pets, www.totalzymes.com or in the food itself. This can be done by a number or processes, but The Honest Kitchen carries dehydrated raw diets (never cooked above 119 degrees F) that contain these essential nutrients to aid in digestion. (see website info above)

Lastly, I would like to advocate the use of whole clove or minced garlic for its antioxidant, prodigestive and anti-inflammatory effects. There is quite a bit of dated information about the use of garlic in dogs and it's potential negative effects on their health. There is very little clinical or study information that support this claim. When garlic is given to dogs in measured and reasonable amounts, it is very safe. One medium sized clove per 40 pounds once daily has wonderful beneficial effects for dogs with chronic diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. I strongly recommend the use of garlic with almost all of my patients because it is a healthy and all natural way to support immune function, cardiovascular health and digestion.

Hopefully this has been a helpful introduction to the 4 most important supplements for your aging canine companions. For more information feel free to visit the sites above, or below or contact me directly with questions.

About Cara Gardner, DVM, CVA: Dr. Gardner received her DVM from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Originally from Knoxville, TN, Dr. Gardner received a bachelor of arts and science in 1999 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, majoring in Natural Sciences and minoring in Women and Minority Studies. While there she was vice president of the collegiate soccer club team, attended the School for Field Studies Marine Park Management Program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and was a veterinary assistant at a local clinic. She graduated with the class of 2003 form the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and has a strong interest in brachiocephalic (or ’smush-faced’) breeds, dermatology, behavior, nutrition, and integrative alternative medicine. She completed a dermatology externship with Dr. Terry Grieshaber at the Animal Allergy and Skin Disease Clinic (now Circle City Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital) and has obtained her Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture through the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center | @holisticpetdr

Nutrition For Our Older Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

18 July, 2009

By: Dr. Jeannie Thomason

Our precious dogs! They love us unconditionally through out our lives together. There are the new family members, strange hair-dos in different styles, our weight gains, they are there for us in the celebrations and devastating losses in our lives. They move with us from one state to the next never asking where we are going or why. We, in turn, just expect them to adjust without any questions. God bless them, for they always buffer our bad moods with sloppy kisses and warm soft coats to bury our faces in and drench with tears. They anxiously await our arrival home at the end of a long day.Nutrition For Our Older Dogs

Life flies by and eventually, one day, the time in their lives that we never are prepared to face comes into being. The first signs can be anything from less of an appetite to not coming immediately when we call them. The signs are usually very subtle at first, maybe they just don't run up the stairs anymore, we tell ourselves it is nothing too serious, maybe we are slower these days too. Then we may notice that singular bad day is stretching into a string of bad days or even weeks. We come to face the fact that what we thought was disobedience is in fact hearing loss and the extra naps, not a sign of laziness, but just plain weariness.

Did you know that the maximum life span of our dogs should be 25 - 30 years?, unfortunately, the average dog living in this day and age, only lives to be approximately 10-15 years. Ever wonder WHY??? The first place to look is at nutrition or the diet our dogs eat daily. Oh yes, they come in these beautiful, colorful bags that our veterinarian so highly recommends. The commercials tell us that they are 100% nutritionally complete and "good for our dogs!" If this were true, then why in the last 30 years have we begun to see such a huge increase of dogs with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, periodontal disease and arthritis?

Could it possibly be what we are feeding them? It sure is the number ONE reason! (over vaccinating is another reason but that is for another time). With our older dog, it is obviously very important to supply him/or her with the best and healthiest possible nutrition available. Now notice, I didn't say anything about the "best food" that is available, because the best food that is available does not come in a bag or a box, it is fresh, raw meat and bones first and foremost and then next would be ingredients that you could cook for your dog. I know, a lot of you are saying this is not possible, because of your busy schedule, but honestly, feeding a fresh raw meat and bones diet is the best you could do for that special older companion and it really isn't that much of a chore once you learn that you don't have to mix in grains or veggies, much less spend time cooking for them (although the next best thing to feeding raw is to cook for your dog).

Older dogs that have not had optimal nutrition during their lives, tend to exhibit signs of debilitating diseases such as arthritis, liver failure, kidney failure, diabetes, hyper or hypo thyroid conditions and on and on. If your older dog has been on kibble or some kind of processed food for most of his/her life and been vaccinated yearly, what most veterinary naturopaths and holistic veterinarians like to recommend is to begin with a very gentle detox or cleansing of the blood with the herbs God gave us for this purpose. These herbs or homeopathic remedies are available in tinctures or tablets I personally use with my own my dogs as well a recommend to my clients -- If your senior dog's immune system is strong and healthy, then your dog will be strong and healthy and will be able to ward off invading pathogens and diseases and live a longer and healthier life.

Why do I recommend a "cleaning of the blood"? Because the blood is either carrying nutrition to the cells of the body; restoring the cells that have been broken down during the day or the blood is carrying toxic materials to those cells. How do you know if the blood is contaminated and carrying toxins instead of nutrition? Disease, illness or weakness of any kind will begin to appear in your dog's health. Again, optimum nutrition is the foundation to all health. If your pet is "going down hill", it is almost always due to malnutrition even though one is providing what they feel may be the "best food money can buy".

Another important step is to support this older dog with nutritional supplementation in the way of trace minerals, natural vitamins, enzymes and probiotics to balance the flora in the dog's body. These have been shown to contribute to the rebuilding of the dog's bones, teeth, eyes and muscles throughout the body. I have seen case after case of this protocol of a home cooked or raw diet in conjunction with a twice yearly detox, probitotics, digestive enzymes, minerals and vitamins restore the health and happiness of the older dog and get them completely off any drugs that had in actuality contributed to the dog's decline. Don't we owe it to the special animals in our lives to help them live longer and healthier lives? They deserve nothing but the best!

About Dr. Jeannie Thomason Jeanette Thomason, VND is a Veterinary Naturopath, Natural Pet Care Educator, Pet Nutrition Consultant and a Natural Rearing Dog Breeder. Dr.Jeannie is also the founder of Natural Rearing Breeders Association and author of several articles, some of which she has co-authorerd with her friend and co-host from the internet radio show, Animal Talk Naturally and have appeard in Natural Animal Wellness Magazine. Dr Thomason has dedicated herself to extensive research and education as well as an exploration of hands-on experiences in practicing animal nutrition and natural health with her Naturally reared dogs for last 20 years. Website: The Whole Dog

*DISCLAIMER The purpose and general goal of the veterinary naturopathic consultation offered by Jeannie Thomason, VND is to educate the client about their animals body systems in relation to function and ability pertaining to maintenance of overall homeostasis (balance) through the removal of various, and typically specific, obstacles to their health, this thereby encouraging their body's own natural healing processes. Dr Jeannie Thomason does not function as a traditional allopathic veterinarian by diagnosing disease, treating disease, or performing invasive procedures, nor do her services replace that of a traditional licensed allopathic veterinarian. The information offered by Dr Thomason, is intended to provide general guidance. Nothing on the web site or during a regular consultation constitutes traditional allopathic veterinary advice. Always consult with a licensed veterinarian before undertaking any course of "treatment" for your animal or changing treatments or medications your own veterinarian has already prescribed. This consultation will hopefully suggest additional options to think about, and other areas to explore, based on your dog's condition.

The Importance of Blood Chemistry Testing for Aging Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

15 July, 2009

By: Amna Plummer, DVM, Critter Care Animal Hospital 

While aging is both natural and inevitable, it is important to realize that pets age much faster than people. Aging is a natural and inevitable process that we all face. Pets, however, age much faster than people. Size and breed are significant factors - with some large dog breeds aging more rapidly than smaller breeds. On average, by age two most dogs and cats have already reached adulthood, and by age seven, many pets are entering their senior years.The Importance of Blood Chemistry Testing for Aging Dogs Because dogs age more rapidly than people, significant health changes can occur in a short amount of time.

The risks of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with age. And, because today’s pets are living longer, chances are many will experience a potentially serious illness during their lifetime. Since pets age, on average, up to seven times faster than people, it is recommended that they get a check up twice a year.

Routine check ups should include blood chemistry tests to evaluate the functionality of a dog’s organs. These tests can detect conditions or diseases before symptoms emerge. Blood work is recommended for young pets undergoing any surgical procedure. Also, if a problem such as liver or kidney disease is suspected, blood work can help to identify this.

A significant percentage of young animals, especially purebred dogs, can have congenital or hereditary problems such as porto systemic shunts (liver), kidney disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes. While most pets experience the best health of their lives between the ages of two and six years of age, stress, illnesses and poor nutrition can affect and potentially cause disease to their organs.

Blood chemistry tests can detect these early changes and provide a good baseline for comparison later in your pet’s life. Treatment is usually the most effective when begun in the early stages of the disease process. Advances in medical diagnostics and treatment enable your pet be more comfortable and also to prolong its life. New pain management medications also help pets with chronic pain have a better quality of life. In addition to medications, appropriate nutrition for your pet’s condition will also prolong its lifespan.

About Critter Care Animal Hospital Built in 1998, Critter Care Animal Hospital is a full service veterinary hospital for small animals. It opened it's doors in November of that year and was formerly The Animal Clinic on Wilcrest in southwest Houston. It is now owned and operated by Amna Plummer DVM.

Acupuncture for our Older Dogs - A Safe, Effective and Ancient Treatmentby Ann-Marie Fleming

25 June, 2009

Intro by: Ann-Marie Fleming

If you are like many senior dog owners then you have no doubt considered some form of alternative therapy to care for your dog. We struggle with balancing the need for treatment, with the desire to maintain our dog's quality of life.

As our dogs get into their senior years the risks of anesthetic become scary and we are hesitant to put our senior dogs through invasive procedures that come with difficult recoveries.Acupuncture for our Older Dogs - A Safe, Effective and Ancient Treatment Perhaps you have looked into the topic we are focusing on today - Acupuncture. In our quest for information on senior dog care we have been fortunate to have connected with Cara Gardner DVM, CVA with the Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center.

Dr. Gardner will be a regular contributor to this blog, helping us to understand the benefits across a variety of non-invasive treatments available for our older dogs.

Today Dr. Gardner provides us with in-depth information on the various techniques and options available within the acupuncture umbrella and I can guarantee that you will learn something as I have. _____________________________________________________________________________________

Overview of Holistic Pet Care and Integrative Veterinary Medicine

Guest post written by: Cara Gardner DVM, CVA Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center | @holisticpetdr

Integrative medicine takes standard western medical diagnostics and treatments and combines them with alternative practices to develop the most complete method of treatment for each particular patient. Veterinary integrative medicine does just that for our pets. Modern western medicine treats each symptom and disease process independently while eastern and alternative medical techniques treat the body as a whole working interactive unit.

The ancient eastern medical traditions attempt to maintain all the of the body’s organ systems in a state of balance. This holistic view of the body allows alternative and integrative medical practitioners to include many different ways to manage disease. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, food therapy, reiki, therapeutic massage and chiropractic manipulation are just a few types of alternative therapies used to help bring our pets a sense of improved health and well-being.

Veterinary Acupuncture in Practice: Ancient Art Meets Modern Medicine Traditional Chinese Veterinary Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been practiced for over 2000 years. That is 10 times longer than western, or modern medicine, has even been around! The basic theory behind eastern medicine and acupuncture is that the natural state of the body is balance. Disease occurs when the body and it’s components are out of balance. Acupuncture is the practice of using small needles to stimulate very specific points on the body to activate local pain relief and body system changes. By stimulating acupuncture points underneath the skin, a combination of events occurs. Acupoints correspond to nerve bundles under the skin and when stimulated by the needle, inflammatory cells, blood vessels, nervous impulses and endorphins are triggered to respond. The wide range of bodily responses to this stimulation helps to promote balance, treat disease and alleviate pain. It is useful for any disease process from chronic arthritis pain, to infections like sinus and nasal problems and allergy flare ups. Dogs and cats tolerate acupuncture very well and, in fact, often really enjoy the process.

Methods of Acupuncture Acupuncture needles usually stay in place for 10-20 minutes at a time, and sessions are initially done about every 2 weeks until the disease process begins improving, usually 3-4 sessions into treatment. Once the disease process responds to treatment, whether it’s arthritis, liver disease, behavior problems etc., the sessions will be spread further and further over weeks to months until balance and relief has been achieved.

Acupuncture points can also be stimulated by a solution of vitamin B 12 and saline placed under the skin over the point to allow the animal to move around during the treatment without having to worry about the needle falling or being pulled out. This is a process called “aquapuncture” and is not common in human acupuncture since people generally lie still during treatments. Electroacupuncture is another method using a small battery operated unit that attaches electrodes to the acupuncture needles and generates a gentle current that runs from one acupoint to another, or along the meridians of the body.

Meridians are the pathways on which each acupunture point is found. They are essentially road maps of the acupoints that cover the body. Electroacupuncture helps promote the flow of energy, blood, lymph and nervous impulses all over the body along these pathways. Lastly, moxibustion is the practice of using a combustible herb or an herb that burns, to help warm the body and the meridians for conditions that are made worse by cold, like some arthritis and other conditions common in older animals. There are numerous methods and reasons to pursue acupuncture therapy for our pets. It is an uninvasive and gentle way to help almost any painful or difficult disease process.

To find a certified veterinary acupuncturist and herbalist in your area, visit the Chi Institute.

About Cara Gardner, DVM, CVA: Dr. Gardner received her DVM from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Originally from Knoxville, TN, Dr. Gardner received a bachelor of arts and science in 1999 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, majoring in Natural Sciences and minoring in Women and Minority Studies. While there she was vice president of the collegiate soccer club team, attended the School for Field Studies Marine Park Management Program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and was a veterinary assistant at a local clinic.

She graduated with the class of 2003 form the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and has a strong interest in brachiocephalic (or 'smush-faced') breeds, dermatology, behavior, nutrition, and integrative alternative medicine. She completed a dermatology externship with Dr. Terry Grieshaber at the Animal Allergy and Skin Disease Clinic (now Circle City Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital) and has obtained her Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture through the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Gardner spends much of her free time giving back to the local animal community.

She was an appointed member of the Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Board for almost 2 years, and is currently a working board member for a non-profit organization called Paws and think. This organization pairs at-risk youth with orphaned canines and teaches young adults how to train the dogs to be assistance dogs. Paws and Think then donates these well-trained and valuable animals to underpriveleged families in desperate need of an assistance dog. Dr. Gardner also donates her medical and surgical knowledge to INDY Feral, a non-profit organization that helps track, feed, spay/neuter and medically care for the enormous population of stray cats in our local area. She is also a member in good standing of the AVMA and the CIVMA, IVAS, and a volunteer for the Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue Organization. Currently residing in Indianapolis with her husband, Joe, Dr. Gardner' s family includes four dogs: Bug, a Boston 'terror', Xephe, and Australian cattle dog mix, Oscar, a shepard-whippet mix, Sophia, a 12-year-old teacup poodle rescue and two cats named Roto and ED. qzf7h2bayw

Extreme Training begins for the BC SPCA Paws for a Cause eventby Ann-Marie Fleming

20 June, 2009

The BC SPCA Paws for a Cause is our first walkathon and we are very excited. I have been dying to give back to my community focusing on what really matters to me, animals. What I really love about Paws for a Cause is that we are walking for animals; not just companion, but farm and wild as well. It's a chance were we can be apart of a much needed fundraiser for an organization that is vital to each community.

The campaign stretches to 39 communities across BC from June to September. We aren't taking any chances so we have started our extreme training to make sure we are physically ready for the Paws for a Cause event...yes we know it's a walkathon, but you haven't seen us walk :)

Keep in mind when you watch this video that we are in fact trained professionals and do not, I repeat do not, try this at home.

The money raised will go the BC SPCA, some examples of where the money goes are: * $40.00 feeds a litter of puppies for one week. * $84.00 feeds and cares for a cat for one week * $120.00 covers emergency response for animal rescue for one night. * $10,000 pays for investigating and prosecuting one animals cruelty case. Money raised will also help build awareness on animal welfare, promote adoption etc..

Our personal goal is $1000.00, which in our eyes seems very attainable. All we ask is for a donation that is affordable to that person, whether its $5.00, $10.00, $20.00, we will be happy with any amount. The big day for Paws for a Cause walkathon is September 13 2009, Our park is the beautiful Jericho Park in Vancouver, BC.

For more info please visit Paws for a Cause and help support team Dog Quality.

Dog Wheelchairs - A Life Changer for your Older Dogby Ann-Marie Fleming

30 May, 2009

As our dogs get older they face many health issues, injuries and disabilities, but that doesn't mean their life cannot be filled with happiness and adventure. They deserve a second chance to enjoy life, and giving them the gift of mobility can be a significant life changer for you and your dog. 

Theses dog wheelchairs can be used for dogs that are suffering from arthritis, disc problems, paralysis and are also excellent for helping dogs recover from back, leg or knee surgery.
Dog wheelchairIf your dog still has the use of his or her rear legs, the cart will help to keep them moving while providing support and comfort. If your dog does not have the use of his or her rear legs, you can use the cart's leg slings to keep the rear legs off the ground, while keeping your dog stable and balanced.

For dogs using a dog cart for recovery, these dog wheelchairs stabilize the pelvic area keeping the spine and limbs in proper alignment, helping to promote proper healing.

As discussed in the video, if your dog is having mobility problems I encourage you to at least explore the option of a dog wheelchair because it can have an amazing effect on your dog's spirit and on their health. I have watched dogs use these carts to chase sticks on land and in the water having the time of their lives...so isn't it worth exploring?

If you have a dog wheelchair experience that you would like to share please let us know. Thanks for listening. 

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