Addressing Eye and Ear Disorders Holistically (Article)

by Dr. Larry Siegler, Consulting Vet for OnlyNaturalPet.com

Eye Disorders

The eyes have been called “a window to the soul.” You know when your cat is giving you “the look” by the way he holds his head and seems to glare. Your dog can melt your heart with her adoring big brown eyes that assure you she loves you from the tip of her wet nose to the end of her wagging tail. Our companions find many ways to communicate with us without words, and their eyes can be a fascinating and important communication tool for them. Eye health is important for more than just vision, but vision is of course our primary concern.

The following are the most common eye problems veterinarians see. Any time you suspect a vision problem due to a change in behavior, or you notice your companion squinting or showing signs of eye discomfort, it is important to seek veterinary advice promptly.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. The lens is made up of mostly water and protein. A cataract is formed when protein begins to clump together in an abnormal way and clouds a small area of the lens.

Cataracts often require surgery, though the timing of the surgery may or may not be urgent. When a younger dog develops cataracts it is typically due to congenital issues and the cataracts often progress more rapidly requiring surgery sooner rather than later. This is also true for cataracts caused by diabetes. For an older animal, however, you may be able to slow the progression enough to delay or even eliminate the need for surgery, depending on the extent of vision impairment at the time of diagnosis and the age of the animal.Chloe and Isabel

Prevention and treatment both begin with the basics: a very high quality diet supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals. Diet is the foundation of good health and this is the most important thing you can do for your companion. Many chronic degenerative diseases such as cataracts develop over time as a result of inadequate nutrition and exposure to toxins in the food and environment.

Some people are not comfortable with feeding raw food. If this is the case for you, consider dehydrated or freeze dried food to supplement the diet, or a very high quality canned food — or even better yet, home-made food or healthy leftovers. Basically, the fresher the diet, the better it is for an animal’s health and immune system.

Herbal supplements (I recommend the herb Bilberry) can be extremely helpful for cataracts. Bilberry is believed to improve circulation to the eye and thus the delivery of needed nutrients to eye tissue. The dosage for cats is approximately 20 mg. per day, and for dogs 40-280 mg. per day depending on the size of the dog. In addition, a high quality antioxidant supplement may slow the progression of cataracts.

Homeopathy can be helpful in some cases of cataracts. The choice of remedy, however, is very specific for each animal and needs to be guided by a veterinarian trained in homeopathy.

Conjunctivitis

Eye inflammation, or conjunctivitis, generally occurs more often in animals with pre-existing immune or allergy-related problems. When your dog or cat shows symptoms of sore, red eyes with a discharge, the first thing to do is determine the cause. This may be as simple as a minor scratch or irritating foreign matter, a result of environmental toxin exposure or airborne allergies, or more serious issues such as feline herpes or glaucoma. A trip to the veterinarian is crucial when you see signs of eye irritation, as waiting too long can mean the difference between saving the animal’s sight and losing it. Eyebright is a very common herb used for eye irritations. Eyebright eye washes are often helpful to control symptoms and minor infections.

If allergies are suspected as the cause of conjunctivitis, it is best to change to a hypoallergenic diet. Nutraceutical allergy formulas can also be quite helpful in battling airborne allergies. They act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory agents.

Feline Herpes

If a cat’s eyes are watering and producing a thick whitish discharge, feline herpes may be the cause. The inside lining of the eyelids become inflamed, and shallow, painful ulcers develop. The eyewashes containing eyebright mentioned above can assist in cleansing and soothing the eye.

Feline Herpes is generally a result of a weakened immune system, so diet and immune support need attention. To help control the virus the amino acid L-lysine may be helpful. L-lysine can be found at any natural food store. The dosage for cats is 500 mg. twice a day. Several products contain L-lysine along with other vitamins and herbs to help support the immune system during infection and on a long-term basis.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This condition involves a shrinking or degeneration of the retina of the eye. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is more common in dogs. PRA may develop slowly, initially resulting in night blindness. If you notice your companion hesitating to go outside at night or down a darkened hall or stairway, suspect vision problems and see a veterinarian.

In cats this disease is most commonly related to Taurine deficiency, which is now less of a problem than previously as all commercially available cat foods are formulated with added Taurine. Raw diets that include organ meats provide the most natural source of Taurine. For those feeding a home-prepared diet, Taurine supplementation is important. Taurine is readily available at health food and vitamin stores. Cats can receive up to 500 mg. or more per day.

Doug the Bernese Mountain Dog, Poodle MixAs with any degenerative disease, diet is the place to begin in stopping or at least slowing this condition. Bilberry is useful for PRA for the same reasons it may help with cataracts — increased circulation and nutrients to the eye tissue.

Zinc and/or Vitamin E deficiency is thought to affect PRA. Supplementing the diet with zinc is important if your dog is from a breed predisposed to PRA. Vitamin E in a high quality antioxidant formula is also valuable in preventing and treating PRA.

Essential fatty acids, particularly DHA from fish oil, may also play an important role in preventing or slowing the progression of PRA. I recommend essential fatty acids be a daily part of every companion animal’s diet as it plays such an important role in maintaining health in a wide variety of ways.

Ear Disorders

Chronic ear infections and yeast problems are frequently a sign of allergies. Allergies are becoming more and more common and troublesome in both dogs and cats. Diet, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and essential fatty acids are the basics for treating allergies and chronic ear problems from the inside out.

Many animals with food sensitivities and allergies have seen dramatic improvement on raw, freeze dried, or dehydrated food. As discussed previously, the fresher the diet, the better it is for your companion’s health & immune system. Dry food is just not a good option for cats, especially those with allergies. Dry kibble can be part of a healthy diet for dogs; however dogs with chronic ear problems or allergies require hypo-allergenic food, which means no wheat, corn or soy. Sometimes it may mean no beef or chicken too, due to a protein sensitivity. This usually can be accomplished with grain free foods.

Most animals with food allergies have unhealthy gastrointestinal systems that are not able to digest food properly. Leaky gut develops and then molecules that are too large for the body to process are allowed through the gut wall, setting off allergic reactions and creating the optimal conditions for yeast infections. The symptoms may appear in the ears, but you have to heal the gut to really get rid of the allergies. Digestive enzymes help break down Soft and Maple the Curly Coated Retrieversthe food so that there is less of a chance of the larger molecules passing through the intestinal walls, probiotics help restore a healthy balance of flora in the gut and aid digestion, and fatty acids help reduce inflammation and heal the gut as well as nourish the skin.

Supplement every meal with digestive enzymes to aid digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in processed foods. Digestive enzymes must be added at every meal of cooked or processed food. The enzymes do not remain in an animal’s system beyond digestion of the food immediately present in the digestive tract. A raw diet does not necessarily need digestive enzyme supplementation once an animal has been fully transitioned to raw food, although the addition of enzymes can enhance the healing quality of the raw diet.

Probiotics are especially important for an animal that has been on steroids or antibiotics as they kill the healthy gut flora and set up conditions for the allergies to worsen. Probiotics are helpful for any animal that has had chronic gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea as well.

Essential fatty acids, preferably fish oil, are vital to nourish the skin and coat and help reduce inflammation in the animal’s system. Allergies involve inflammation of the gut and often can affect the joints as well. You can increase the dosage above what is recommended on the bottle, but if you see loose stools, then reduce the dosage a bit until stool consistency normalizes. If the change in diet and adding enzymes and fatty acids do not completely solve the issue, then consider a supplement.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

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Exercise for Dogs and Cats (Article)

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by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, Veterinarian Advisor for OnlyNaturalPet.com

We tend to emphasize nutrition, and rightly so because it truly is the foundation of good health. However, one of the other great cornerstones of vibrant health and long life is exercise. Moderate, regular exercise will help keep your pet at a healthy weight and keep the joints flexible. It also provides mental stimulation, which is important for all pets, but especially those who spend most of their time indoors.Doug the Bernese Mountain Dog, Poodle Mix

Exercise for Dogs

Big dogs make great hiking companions, especially here in rugged Colorado, where we’ve joked for years about the Labrador Retriever being the “state dog.” Most medium-sized and large dogs seem able to handle all kinds of weather. But it’s easy to let a smaller dog become a couch potato, going out only to answer the call of nature and hurrying right back in. They’re not built for long treks, and they can disappear completely in a foot or two of snow!

The first step with any dog is to make sure you have the right collar or harness. Studies have shown that excessive pressure from a neck collar can damage a dog’s trachea (windpipe), so a walking harness may be a better choice for dogs that pull. Small dogs do exceptionally well with supportive harnesses. Of course, a good leash that’s sturdy and easy to handle is always a good investment!

Exercise for Cats

Cats need exercise too, and while it’s possible to train a cat to walk with a cat harness and leash, at-home interactive play is the best way to keep your cat’s mind and body engaged and resilient. A 15-minutes session once or twice a day is ideal.

To help your cat get the most from these interactive toys, the key is to “BE the prey.” Use your imagination, and have fun! If you’re a mouse, run, jump and hide; if you’re a bird, flutter and dive. Always let your cat catch the prey in the end, and follow up with a high-protein treat such as canned food. This not only exercises your cat’s physical side, but also satisfies the mental/emotional “hunter” part — an important consideration in multi-cat homes to prevent aggressive behavior. It’s also a terrific way to help chubby kitties lose weight, as well as to prevent boredom and the unwanted behaviors that sometimes go with it!

Importance of YOU in Playtime

Jackson the Terrier MixWhen you start an exercise program for your pet, use the same common-sense precautions you would with any other new activity. Don’t go hog wild all at once; your pet can get sore muscles and even cause damage to joints, because they don’t know when to stop and will usually keep going as long as you can. Build up your pet’s endurance gradually, and watch for signs that he’s had enough — wanting to lie or sit down, or showing any degree of labored breathing.

You’ll notice that all of these suggestions have one thing in common: you! Sure, you can leave toys out for your pets to play with, but their greatest joy is to play with you, so please make room for that quality time with your best buddy.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

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Hey pet parents… You should know who makes your pet foods

By Rodney Habib — Pet Nutrition Blogger

Believe it or not, most pet parents today have no idea who makes their pet foods. In fact, they also have no idea that most of the brands out there are owned by the same companies! Check it out:

Know who makes your pet's food

Mars Inc. — Mars Petcare creates 41 brands in total, including four billion-dollar brands…

Pedigree
Iams
Whiskas
Royal Canin
Banfield (vet clinics)

Other leading brands include:

Kitekat
Cesar
Nutro
Sheba
Chappi
Catsan
Frolic
Perfect fit
Greenies
Eukanuba
California naturals
Innova
Evo

Nestle — Purina’s significant brands and product lines include…

Alpo
Beggin’ StripsBakers
Beneful
Busy
Chef Michael’s
Deli-Cat
Fancy Feast
Felix
Friskies
Gourmet
Just Right
Merrick Pet Care
Mighty Dog
Purina Beyond
Purina Cat Chow
Purina Dog Chow
Purina ONE
Purina Pro Plan
Purina Veterinary Diets
Secondnature
T Bonz
Tidy Cats
Waggin’ Train
Whisker Lickin’s
Zuke’s

 

13 Seriously Crazy Pet Laws That You Can’t Believe Are Real (Infographic)

For pet lovers, there’s nothing more important than keeping animals safe and secure. But, most people don’t know the extent that some governments actually go to protect their pets, not to mention other wildlife. It’s always wise to learn how to properly care for your animal from the pros, but you may also need to check out these crazy laws to ensure you keep things legal.

Common Pet Laws

Now, there are plenty of pet laws that are by-the-book, very important rules put in place to protect animals and to help safeguard the rights of pet owners. These are valuable pieces of legislation. They often govern things like how many pets a home can have as well as the proper living conditions for animals. These laws are very serious and should be followed by every pet owner.

Wacky Pet Legislation

Sometimes, laws get a little out of hand. Carrington College found 13 existing U.S. laws that will surely have you scratching your head and wondering exactly why anyone would go through the trouble to put them in place. These are real laws — you can’t make these up! And they cover just about every type of animal in all types of circumstances. From llamas to camels, there are plenty of pretty interesting rules you need to follow as a pet owner in certain corners of the country. In this infographic below, take a closer look at some of the strangest pet laws currently on the books throughout the U.S.

Crazy Pet Laws Infographic

 

Homemade Itchy Dog Spray

Homemade Itchy Dog Spray

This body rinse can be useful to restore skin pH, soothe itchy skin, calm rashes and welts, and has some added benefits for keeping biting flies, fleas and gnats at bay.

Mix the following ingredients together in a bottle/jar with cap and shake well before use:

Apple Cider Vinegar: 1/2 cup
Brewed Green Tea (cooled): 1/2 cup
Distilled Water: 1 cup

Apply to clean skin and coat, massage, rinse, and pat dry.

Source: Pet Nutrition Blogger, Rodney Habib

 

Heads up to avoid Blue Buffalo brand pet food…

Blue Buffalo pet food class action lawsuit

It seems that even so-called “trustworthy” alternative pet food brands are deceiving the public into believing that they use only the best ingredients. Is this really a surprise to anyone? My advice is not to protest, but to simply avoid this brand, and do your own research as to which brand of food you should feed your dog or pet. Read this article below about Blue Buffalo’s class-action lawsuit settlement of $32 million dollars. Be sure to share this…

A Heads-Up to Fellow Pet-Owners!

The fastest growing major pet food company in the United States, selling dog and cat food has been accused of lying to pet owners. BLUE is a billion dollar brand based on sales at retail and is the #1 brand in the Wholesome Natural market.

“Pet-food maker Blue Buffalo will pay $32 million to settle 13 consumer class action suits, the company announced last month.

The consolidated action centers on Blue Buffalo’s “True Blue Promise” labels, which allegedly appeared on all Blue Buffalo products. Blue Buffalo’s True Blue Promise was that its brand of pet food contains “Only the Finest Natural Ingredients,” with real meat first ingredients, “NO Chicken or Poultry By-Product Meals,” “NO Corn, Wheat or Soy,” and “NO Artificial Preservatives, Colors or Flavors.”

These True Blue Promise claims were allegedly restated on the front and back labels of every Blue Buffalo product and in other Blue Buffalo promotional materials. The class action plaintiffs also asserted that they paid a higher price for Blue Buffalo’s products because of the True Blue Promise.

But according to the class action plaintiffs, independent tests showed that some Blue Buffalo products did, in fact, contain chicken and poultry by-products. In addition, the tests indicated the presence of rice and corn in some products, including products from Blue Buffalo’s “Wilderness” and “Freedom” product lines, which were advertised as being grain-free.” National Law Review

Sources: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/…/blue-buffalo-to-pay-32-mil…

http://www.natlawreview.com/…/true-green-true-blue-blue-buf…

Rodney Habib – Pet Nutrition Blogger


And in case you did not already know, avoid Purina brand dog food like the plague, especially its “Beneful” line, which according to the label is “100% Complete & Balanced Nutrition.” Do you think that Kellogg’s Fruit Loops is a healthy cereal? Well, Beneful looks like Fruit Loops for dogs…

Avoid Beneful Purina Brand