Friday, December 26, 2008

Pet Nutrition Seminar February 21st VCA Arroyo Lake Forest, CA


Come join us for a fantastic seminar where you can learn how to help your pet and help homeless animals at the same time! Ariel Rescue is hosting this Pet Nutrition Seminar on Saturday February 21st, 2009 10:30 am - 12:00 noon at VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital in Lake Forest, California.

Is your pet endlessly scratching and itching? Does your pet suffer from arthritis? Learn how to heal your pets using nutrition, supplements and holistic care. The course will cover the best foods to feed your pet, nutritional supplements for common pet health issues and the latest innovations in “alternative veterinary care” such as acupuncture, stem cell therapy and chiropractic for arthritis.

Instructor: Susan Blake Davis, CCN

Date of Class: Saturday 10:30-12 noon Feb. 21st

Location: VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital
1 South Pointe Dr. Lake Forest, CA 92630 (off Bake Parkway)
Class Fee: $15 per person
100% of proceeds donated to Ariel Rescue


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Response to Mask's Mommy

Mask's Mommy wrote:

How do you know what medications are ok to crush, mix with water and give in a syringe? We have struggled giving our cat named Mask his medication. We tried hiding it in all kinds of food, but he is too smart and would eat everything but the pill. I finally gave up and started using a pill popper which was commic at best. This link is dead on: http://www.ahajokes.com/ani051.html. Then I used the pill popper followed by a syringe of water to make sure it goes down and that has been working pretty good. We have to give him Prednisone and Leukeran (chemo). Is it ok to crush these meds, mix in water and give via syringe? Thank you,Mask's Mommy

Most supplements can be crushed and mixed with water or broth and placed into a syringe. One exception is SAMe. The effectiveness of SAMe is compromised when it is crushed and/or exposed to air or moisture. As far as medications, that is a different situation. You need to use caution when combining medications and/or crushing them. Some medications may have a protective coating and crushing them may reduce their effectiveness. It is best to consult your veterinarian's office regarding the use and administration of medications.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Worrying About Our Pets Over the Holidays


I just wanted to thank all of the kind people who have sent such beautiful, compassionate messages about the passing of my dear Tessie. Thank you all so much for your support. It has meant so much to me--more than you can imagine. Pictured above is my new dog Bleu who I rescued from http://www.huskyhavenofla.org/. This kind rescuer took him in after his owners brought him to the shelter to euthanize him because he has irritable bowel disease and pancreatic insufficiency. I will write more about him later, but he has been a tremendous source of comfort to me. I feel Tessie's presence many times with him and I know she sent him to me because she didn't want me to be so lonely. I miss her so much and am so sad that she didn't get the long life I had hoped for. But, she had 3 beautiful years filled with love and happiness which I hope made up for the terrible life she known before (see prior posts).
In any case, I wanted to take a moment to send compassion to those of you who have sick pets right now over the holidays. I know how you must be worrying and want you to know that there is always hope. Even if you have never used supplements and eat a terrible diet yourself, it is never too late to start anew. Please try to read some of the pages on AskAriel.com about diet and nutrition. Many of the same principles that apply to people, apply to pets and vice versa. I know it is tempting when you are worrying about your pet to eat poorly for yourself and giving your pet anything he or she wants. This is NOT a good strategy. Try to remember that everything you eat and everything your pets eat can affect change--good or bad, depending upon what is consumed. For example, giving your pet freshly steamed vegetables such as green beans can usually give them not only nourishment, but vitality and life force. When you are feeling down, knowledge is power. Dr. Gordon and I spent years writing the pages for you to read so try to look up the different health conditions and review our comments about them. We also have many commentaries about how to use holistic and conventional veterinary care that are new and full of information.
My thoughts are with you during this difficult time as not only is it a rough economy and the busy holiday season, but having a sick pet can be so emotionally stressful. Do the best you can and read as much as you can. Thanks to you all again for the kind and compassionate messages---your personal messages have been much appreciated.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How To Give Your Pet A Pill

Thought these tips on how to give your pet a pill might be helpful:

1) “Hide” the pill in food—Try to convince your pet “it’s not a pill, it’s a treat”. You can hide the pill in a special food or treat that you ONLY use at pill time. Try some premium canned pet food, hummus (low allergen, low fat ground chickpea spread), mashed potatoes, baby food, canned pumpkin or a Pill Pocket. Do NOT use peanut butter, cookie dough or full fat cream cheese or other cheese. Many pets are allergic to the ingredients in all of these and they are too high in fat. Some cats will respond nicely to salmon spread and many pets really like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, a dairy alternative, available in most grocery stores.

2) Be sure when you hide the pill that the food is “bite-size”. You may need to cut the pill. When hiding the pill, be careful not to use too much food—you may find that ½ a Pill Pocket, for example, is sufficient. If you give too much food, then your pet will start to chew the treat and the pill will be spit out. Use the bare minimum of covering---just enough for a quick gulp!

3) Be sure your pet swallows the pill. Many times people assume that if the pill is in their pet’s bowl, then it was eaten. You might find the pill throughout the house, so please be sure your pet swallowed the pill.

4) Unless your pet inhales food routinely, do NOT mix the pill into the pet’s regular food. Often times, the pet will stop eating the food. You need to give the pill separately from the food if your pet has any type of pickiness.

5) Most pills can be crushed or opened, mixed with water and given in a syringe. This technique works very well, especially with cats. Open the capsule of the supplement or medication, or crush the pill, mix with water, broth or tuna water and syringe into your pet’s mouth. Syringes can be purchased at any drug store or at your veterinarian’s office.

6) If all else fails and your pet consistently spits out the pill, then you will need to open your pet’s mouth, place the pill quickly into the back of the mouth, close the mouth and then gently massage the throat to ensure the pill is swallowed (while holding the jaws shut). This is a lot easier than it sounds and sometimes may be your only option. Your veterinarian’s office can show you how. Often, when pets realize that they have two choices: have the pill placed in the back of their mouth or take the treat, they suddenly start to cooperate.

7) Compliance with pills in the end, comes down to your ability to take control of your pet and your belief in the benefits of the medication or supplement. If you don’t feel good about giving the product, then after a few days, you may find you haven’t complied with your doctor or pet health practitioner’s instructions. Understanding the benefits of what you are using will help keep you going as in many cases, giving an uncooperative pet pills does take time and can be stressful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beautiful Tessie--We Will Miss You So Much

On October 11, 2008, we lost our beautiful Tessie. She was so sick and was having trouble breathing. That day was a beautiful day. We took Tessie for a lovely walk on the beach and then she came home and ate a few treats. We brought her to the veterinarian's office thinking it would just be a routine draining of the fluid that accumulated on her chest and abdomen. Tessie had responded so well to prednisone which we had started just a few days before, we were mistakingly hoping we would have a few more months. Tessie collapsed following the procedure and she went into congestive heart failure. We let our Tessie cross the rainbow bridge so she wouldn't suffer. We miss her terribly. The last few days have been filled with sorrow and grief. It is hard to believe that the dog we rescued from such a difficult life, only 3 1/2 years ago, is no longer with us. Darling Tessie--you were such a joy and we will miss you so much. You will always be in our heart. Mom and Dad

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Update on Tessie's cancer progression

The past 10 days have been so incredibly painful that I haven't been even able to write. Tessie showed initial tremendous improvement but her body is so taken over by the cancer, there is no hope left. We are now in the "waiting" stage to find just the right time to put her to rest. We have been filled with so much grief and sorrow and anger too. One thing we have learned is that crying and sobbing in front of the pet is not good for anyone. We sobbed all weekend because we know the end is near and by Monday morning, our poor Tessie was shaking. This helped us realize that we will have to keep our emotions in check and be strong for her until it is all over. I can't believe what a difference it made!

I told Tessie I would be ok without her and that she was safe and if she needed to leave us, it would be ok. I took her to the park, even though I knew she could only walk a few steps and told her that I loved her and everything would be ok. She has perked up quite a bit and my taking the emotional pressure off my poor girl, it helped her feel better. We know we only have a few days left but are going to try to act cheerful in front of her so that it doesn't make her feel worse. This is probably the most important message I can provide to you--if your pet is very sick--please try to control your emotions and negative discussions. If you have to go outside or go somewhere else, please do that---it upsets them terribly. They love you and need you to be strong for them.

Think about yourself and if you were dying--would you want your loved ones to be falling apart? Just watching my husband cry broke me up terribly. It takes all of their energy away and whatever energy they have left to stay with you a little longer. Save your tears until after they are gone as much as you can. It is so difficult but do it for your beloved pet.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tessie The Rescue Dog's Journey With Cancer

If your pet currently has cancer or if you are interested in preventing cancer in your pet, my hope is that by sharing our journey, you will gain some insight on how to help your pet. Last week I reported that my rescued husky dog Tessie was diagnosed with chemodectoma or possibly mesothilioma. She has a mass on the base of her heart and because of the location, it cannot be biopsied so we will never know for sure.

For about 5-7 years, Tessie endured a terrible life before we rescued her--she was used for breeding, locked in a cage and has no front teeth to show for it. There is a very sweet, short video (I promise 3 minutes max!) about Tessie on www.naturesvariety.com as it was this wonderful food that helped her get well.

In any case, for anyone who has ever rescued a dog from a shelter or a terrible life beforehand, we are left with so many unanswered questions--How could someone do this to my dog? How old is my dog really? What happened to my dog that he or she behaves this way?
We want to erase all of the bad things that happened to them and make everything good from now on. If you watch the video mentioned above, you will see before/after photos of how Tessie transformed from a beat up rescue dog into a beauty queen with soft, lustrous fur that could even pass her for a show dog.

Thus, I had thought that her bad days were over and then.....the cancer diagnoses. We had a terrible week and even thought at one point, that we would have to put Tessie to sleep but I am happy to report, she is feeling much better. While it may seem unrealistic to some, I believe that hope, faith and holistic medicine will guide us through this journey. We put our tears behind us and are taking action quickly. Tessie doesn't like going to the vet's offices but we did all the necessary testing because knowledge is power. In fact, it is the knowledge, as painful as it was, that saved Tessie's life. We had NO WAY of knowing that one of Tessie's lung lobes had collapsed under pressure of the fluid that was collecting in her chest. She was still going on walks and acting fairly normal. I think if you read our newsletters you will see that Dr. Gordon and I are always promoting the incredible importance of getting laboratory tests done BEFORE your pet is sick. Well, this saved Tessie's life as the ultrasounds and XRAYS started to show a problem and so at the slightest bit of malaise, we rushed her to the hospital. Many clients come to us and aren't fortunate enough to pick up on these very subtle clues---but in our case, because we kept testing, we knew there might be some trouble. In just a week's time since our last time showing only minor abnormalities and no masses, Tessie's chest and abdomen had filled with fluid. Doctors had to remove a quart of fluid from her chest cavity to help her lungs expand. Had we waited even just another day, it might have been too late.

Tessie has been improving a little bit each day as I have added some key supplements to her regimen. We have seen a wonderful internist and oncologist and put Tessie on diuretics which have taken a few days to start helping but are slowly improving her condition. We are researching many new supplements for cancer and started her on OncoX, Carnitine Synergy, Q-Avail, Renelix to name a few. They definitely helped as she is displaying more energy and breathing easier. We have received many wonderful emails from caring clients and friends and can't say enough about the power of good thoughts and healing energy. We urge you to try to stay positive with your pet, even when the darkest days come, as they want more than anything to heal your pain and this just takes more out of them. Tell your pet that you are getting help and reassure them that you are taking care of them--not that they have to take care of you.

We will continue to keep you posted on Tessie's journey and thank you for caring enough to follow her story!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Question About Preparing Homemade Food For Pets

Q: My dog was recently diagnosed with kidney disease and lymphoma....I have to get his kidneys in better condition before he can start treatment for the cancer. Of course he wont eat the food the vet recommended...is there a homemade food recipe that you can pass on to me, so I can get sammy into better shape.

A: So sorry to hear that your dog is diagnosed with these two conditions. We understand how stressful it is when a pet isn't eating. There are much healthier alternatives than using the prescription veterinary food but you need to be very careful in constructing your diet. One of the problems we see frequently is that when a pet is inappetant, people start feeding them anything--ice cream, cheese, bacon, etc--None of these are good for pets with cancer, kidney disease or anytime.

We don't use "canned" recipes for different health conditions because what works for one pet may not work for another. What we found to be most effective is to carefully construct, ingredient by ingredient a custom diet specifically for that pet. We interview you first and get insight into all of your pet's health concerns, e.g. food preferences, allergies, pancreatitis concerns, etc and then construct a diet that your pet will thrive on. We use mathematical models to determine the exact ingredients to make sure the diet is balanced. Just getting recipes from books or off the Internet, you most likely run the risk of giving your pet the wrong diet---one that might have worked for another pet, doesn't necessarily mean it is right for your pet.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tales From Tessie: Cancer Diagnoses

Today, we discovered that our beautiful Tessie has very limited time left with us. We rescued Tessie from a horrible life as a breeding dog in a puppy mill. Her cruel owners threw her over a 6 foot fence into a high kill animal shelter after she could no longer have puppies. She had no front teeth from chewing on the cage where she had been locked for years. We heard her plight and our rescue, Ariel Rescue saved her along with another husky male. We didn't know her exact age, but the veterinarians estimated her to be about 5-6 years old. That was only 3 years ago.

Tessie never had a lot of energy and tired easily. She had bursts of hyperactivity but for the most part has been a very mellow dog. Always, from the time we had her, there was a slight cough.....

For so long , we checked on the cough, had bloowork, XRAYs and really not much ever showed up. Through great nutrition, supplements and lots of love and patience, we transformed this ragamuffin into a beautiful dog (Tessie's before and after pictures can be seen on our Testimonials page). However, in the past 6 months, her cough progressed.
Pets often don't display their pain because of their survival instinct in the wild. We are so grateful we continued to follow through with the laboratory work and went back over/over until today we received our sad news: Tessie has cancer. Because the tumor is located around her heart, there is nothing that can be done from a conventional veterinary standpoint. The veterinarian said it is either canine chemodectoma or canine hemangiosarcoma but we may never know for sure. Of course, we will do all we can to keep Tessie comfortable using diet and supplements but the prognosis is bleak. We thought by sharing our heartbreaking story with others, that somehow, it might provde insight to all pet owners. We will provide regular updates to Tessie's tales and hope that by following our story, it will be helpful to you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Holistic Care for Canine and Feline Cancer

By far the best results we have seen in cancer patients has been when the pet owner was able to catch the cancer early (as a result of regular laboratory testing) AND when a combination of both conventional and holistic medicine is used. While holistic veterinary medicine cannot cure cancer, it can make a tremendous difference. It is unfortunate that many times people don’t discover the wonders of giving their pets the best nutrition and supplements, until their pet has been diagnosed with a serious illness. The best way to help prevent cancer is to start at the beginning of your pet’s life, giving them optimal nutrition, vitamins, Omega 3s and building a sound immune system. But even if your pet has been recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, it is not too late to make important changes that can give you more time. It is analogous to the advertisements you might have heard about lung cancer and that it is never too late to stop smoking!

One misconception that can be misleading for pet owners is that there is not “one” diet or “one” set of nutritional supplements for a pet with cancer. The reason is that cancer can have many forms, arising in different parts of the body which will affect the pet’s nutritional needs differently. All pets do need nutritious whole foods rich in Omega 3s, vegetables and some quality protein (varies depending upon the pet’s condition). Common sense should be the guiding factor in feeding your pet. Be sure to avoid giving your pet anything with artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives. Never give animal fat such as chicken skin or fat from a piece of steak for example. Avoid foods made from simple carbohydrates such as biscuits, bread or crackers. Use caution with protein--giving your pet endless amounts of protein is not advisable, everything should be in balance as in some cases (e.g. if the pet has a liver condition) too much protein can be harmful. We strongly urge you to seek the advice of a veterinary professional for dietary advice. Telephone consultations are available at Telephone consultations are available at Ask Ariel if you would like assistance in developing a home made diet and determining a holistic plan for your pet with cancer.

Listed below are some of the more common forms of cancer in pets. As you can see, cancer can develop in different parts of the body and depending upon where it is found, the pets need for nutritional supplements vary.

Lymphoma - is cancer of the lymphatic tissue. The lymph system is a core part of the body’s immune system. The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network that defends the body against infections. It is comprised of a network of lymphatic vessels that carry lymph (a clear, watery fluid that contains protein, salts, glucose and other substances) throughout the body. The lymphatic system also serves as a low pressure drainage system that collects interstitial fluid throughout the body and returns it to the bloodstream. The most common sign of lymphoma is a painless enlargement of the lymph nodes.

Mast Cell Tumors – Mast cell tumors are among the most common tumors in dogs and are the most common type of skin cancer found in dogs. The most common location to find mast cell tumors is, by far, the skin, followed by the spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Both normal and cancerous mast cells contain chemicals that can be released into surrounding tissues. When these chemicals (particularly histamine) are released into the normal surrounding body tissues, side effects can include digestive problems (for ex: bleeding ulcers), skin rashes, shortness of breath and other symptoms. Mast cell tumors vary greatly in their size, shape, appearance and texture. The only way to definitely identify them is with a biopsy and pathology report.

Hemangiosarcoma – Most commonly found in the spleen, liver and heart and the prognosis is determined by the location of the disease. The cancer arises from the blood vessels and results in the production of abnormal blood vessels that can be weak and prone to leaking. As the cancer progresses, the cancerous vessels can rupture and results in blood loss. As the spleen is the organ most commonly affected by this type of cancer, rupture can lead to blood loss into the abdomen. This is an emergency situation and can result in weakness and collapse. Many pets with hemangiosarcoma often require a splenectomy.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Cancer that occurs in the mouth, underneath the tongue or along the gums of the middle-aged and older cats. Common signs of squamous cell carcinoma in cats includes difficulty eating, interest in food but not wanting to eat, drooling and odor from the mouth. Osteosarcoma -- Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone tumor in dogs. Osteosarcoma beings in the bone but can spread throughout the bloodstream very early in the course of the disease (metastasis). The most common areas for this cancer to appear are the wrist, shoulder, knee and hip. The first sign of bone cancer is lameness due to pain from the cancer. Swelling often occurs at the tumor site.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma – Tumors usually form at the bladder opening and can cause blockage causing painful urinartion. Pets often strain while trying to urinate. Transitional Cell Carcinoma can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms such as straining to urinate, blood in the urine or frequent urination are often due to a urinary tract infection. This can delay the discovery of the cancer, especially since antibiotics can often result in some improvement of symptoms. Thus, at the time of diagnosis, bladder cancer can be fairly far advanced and have spread to other parts of the body.

Adenocarcinoma – Anal sac adenocarcinomas are tumors arising from the apocrine glands present on either side of the rectum. These tumors can range greatly in size from a very small mass that can be found only after a rectal examination or a large mass protruding from the rectum. While the tumor appears locally, it is quite common for them to metastasize, often to the lymph nodes inbetween the spine and colon. Symptoms vary depending upon the gender of the pet and can include increased thirst, weakness, persistent licking at the site, difficulty defecating, decreased appetite.

Nutritional supplements should address the most critical needs facing the pet which will vary over time. In other words, the supplements that a pet needs at one point in their cancer care most likely will not be the same at a later time. This can be very confusing for pet owners who seek to find a few master remedies that will help to keep their pet comfortable and increase their longevity as much as possible. For example, the most pressing issue at the beginning of cancer therapy may be to help a pet with digestive problems, diarrhea or vomiting and not use any supplements at all specifically for cancer until the pet’s digestive condition stabilizes. Again, we encourage you to seek the advice of a veterinary professional in selecting supplements for your pet as their needs will vary, especially if your pet is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

Some key objectives in using nutritional supplementation for cancer are:
1) Supportive care for digestion (many pets with cancer have digestive issues
2) Supportive care for the organs affected (e.g. liver support supplements if the pet has liver cancer
3) Immune system support
4) Detoxification to help release toxins
5) Antioxidants to neutralize free radicals (limited use with approval from your veterinarian if undergoing chemotherapy/radiation

When selecting products specifically for your pet’s cancer, be sure to check whether the products are deemed safe to use during chemotherapy and/or radiation if your pet is undergoing treatment. Good manufacturers will have researched this issue carefully and will advise you. For example, OncoPet and Regeneration are two formulas that have been used extensively with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. We also offer a premium, comprehensive Pet Cancer Supplement Package that includes three of our best selections: Cell Serum (patented mushroom formula), Sterol 117 (great for autoimmune, cancer and allergy conditions) and OncoPet (broad based cancer support). There is no question that we have seen by far the best results when patients use a combination of both conventional and holistic veterinary medicine when treating their pets with cancer. Regardless of the treatment protocol, a nutritious diet and some carefully selected supplements can only help to strengthen the pet and keep them feeling more comfortable. Research and education are key, as well as working with your veterinarian and other veterinary professionals to ensure that your pet is receiving all of the treatment alternatives possible—both conventional and holistic.Click here for more information and products available at Ask Ariel

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pet Nutrition Seminar To Help Homeless Animals


Volunteers from Ariel Rescue will be hosting a fundraiser at VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital (Lake Forest, CA) on Saturday September 13th from 10:30 to 12:00. Susan Davis, Pet Nutritionist and Dr. David Gordon, Medical Director, VCA Arroyo, will be speaking about how holistic veterinary medicine and pet nutrition can enhance your pet's health. $15 entrance fee with 100% of proceeds going to Ariel Rescue, a 501 (c) (3) public charity that saves the lives of shelter dogs in impoverished communities.

Special Note about Ariel Rescue: With the current state of the economy, we have been doing our best to stretch donations to help get the dogs out of the shelters and into loving homes. But, overall, there has been a big shortfall. Yesterday, we hosted a bake sale at PETsMART in Aliso Viejo which helped to pay for veterinary bills for the 4 dogs we had available for adoption. Happy to say that 3 of the 4 dogs were adopted yesterday! Ariel Rescue has saved over 1000 dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized over the past 9 years. For more info about Ariel Rescue, please visit http://www.arielrescue.com/ To make a donation, please send to Ariel Rescue, P.O. Box 723, Dana Point, CA 92629 We will send you a tax deductible receipt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Response to Comment about Japanese Chin

Sorry to hear that your pet is having so many issues with digestion, asthma and allergies. It sounds as though there is a lot going on. First and foremost, please take your pet to the veterinarian and get a full work-up. It is very important that you get a current blood test and urine analysis. Once you have this information and have had the opportunity to speak with your doctor, I would urge you to schedule a telephone consultation. We offer telephone consultations nearly every day--both Dr. Gordon and myself. We may able to help your pet by changing the diet and using a few supplements. Chicken and poultry could be a culprit but without a full discussion about all of the food you have tried, it would be hard to know. Also, ApoStom can help the lining of the digestive tract and reduce vomiting, while Soothing Digestive Relief can relieve gas and indigestion. Both of these formulas could help your dog feel more comfortable.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Terms: Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Cat IBD/Feline Irritable Bowel Disease

If your cat has been diagnosed with feline inflammatory bowel disease, this is a term that describes a variety of gastrointestinal disorders which can occur in the small or large intestine or stomach. While the diagnoses is characterized by inflammation of the mucosal lining in the digestive tract, pet owners may simply observe symptoms such as weight loss, vomitting, lack of appetite or diarrhea. What can be frustrating to pet parents is that their cat may have eaten a variety of foods for many years and now with age, the cat is displaying this intestinal discomfort. For some cats, the symptoms appear when they are young kittens but many times, it appears in older cats. Sometimes the symptoms can be a sign of another health disorder such as pancreatitis, kidney disease, intestinal lymphoma, for example, so it is very important to see your veterinarian right away if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms. Please don't just disregard it as simple pickiness or hairballs, there could be an underlying serious problem.

Many times, this is good wake up call for a pet parent. This is especially true since feline inflammatory bowel disease can often respond well to dietary changes. I have spoken with many pet parents who for years were feeding lower quality (albeit popular name--well advertised) commercial brands without ever looking at the ingredients. Now, that their cat is having problems, for the first time, they are finally realizing that feeding foods just because their kitty "likes it" isn't always the best for their cat's health. It can be tough to transition your cat away from some of these brands, in the same way as it it tough to take a child off junk food and introduce fresh fruit in place of candy. But, it can be done and many, many pet parents have been amazed at how much better their cats look and feel. Sometimes it means eliminating poultry, fish and a variety of other potential allergens. Each case is different however, so for best results, it is recommended that you seek the advice of your veterinarian or pet nutritionist. Click here for more information about feline inflammatory bowel disease at AskAriel.  

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dog Scratching and Itching--Avoid Common Food Allergens

During the hot summer months, many dogs are scratching and itching, literally tearing their fur out. Their skin becomes raw and red, they chew on their paws incessantly and develop hot spots. First and foremost, be sure you are using a quality flea preventative product. But, fleas may not necessarily be the only culprit here.

Many people think that by purchasing the most advertised or most expensive dog food, that they are somehow giving their dog the best food and therefore, food allergies are not a concern. This is absolutely not the case. You could be feeding your dog holistic all natural dog food that contains corn and flour, and your dog could be scratching incessantly.

Often food allergies, digestive upset and skin allergies go hand in hand. You need to find the right food for your dog that results in normal stools, without mucous or diarrhea which inevitably help calm and quiet your dog's overall inflammation. For some dogs, a raw food diet is the key but it is not for all dogs.

One key point is to be sure you are avoiding all of the following common food allergens: peanut butter (not ok even in small amounts for an allergic dog!), wheat, corn, soy, gluten, casein, milk products--to name just a few.

AskAriel has wonderful products for allergies including AllerEaze and ProAller, but it is important that you also work on reducing and/or eliminating these potential allergens from your dog's diet as well to ensure success.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kidney Disease in Cats and Dogs

Many cats and some dogs will develop renal (kidney) insufficiency as they age. Some cats and dogs may be born with malformed or dysfunctional kidneys or a congenital kidney disease which will result in renal insufficiency early on as well. What are the signs to look for? What can you do if your pet has been diagnosed? Listed below is a discussion of your options from both a conventional and holistic veterinary perspective. Click here to view our Kidney Disease Support Program

Conventional Veterinary Perspective
Dr. David Gordon, Holistic Veterinarian

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that operate as filtering mechanisms in the body. The kidneys filter out toxins in the blood such as metabolic wastes, drugs and excess mineral salts as well as regulate the acidity of the blood. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure, the production of calcium and phosphorus metabolism, and produce a hormone that stimulates red-blood-cell production called erythropoietin.Since the kidneys perform so many important functions, it is easy to see why kidney malfunction would greatly impact the way your pet feels and behaves. Unfortunately, laboratory tests don’t typically show kidney insufficiency until your pet’s kidney function is about 65-70% deteriorated. Thus, it is extremely important to watch these signs in your pet and get regular laboratory tests to closely monitor their health.

Signs of Kidney Disease in Cats and Dogs
• Increased urination
• Increased thirst
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Vomiting
• Strong (ammonia-like) breath odor
• Pain,discomfort in the back

Please note that many of the above signs are also seen in pets that do not have renal insufficiency. Regardless, these are signs your pet has some type of health condition and a visit to your veterinarian is warranted.Many times pet owners will notice some of the above signs and bring their pet in for a check-up. Depending upon the timing of bringing their pet in, more or less will be able to be done to help the pet. Initially the veterinarian will recommend some initial laboratory tests such as bloodwork, urine analysis and XRAYS (As a general rule, it is recommended that bloodwork and urine analysis be performed on pets over 6 years annually).

In the blood, three levels are especially important to test for kidney disease. These are creatinine, BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and phosphorous. BUN measures the amount of urea nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism in the blood. Urea is formed by the liver and then taken by the blood to the kidneys for excretion. Because urea is cleared from the bloodstream by the kidneys, a buildup in the blood is an indicator that the kidneys are not functioning properly. Creatinine and phosphorous are also important markers for kidney disease, as they are also products excreted by the kidneys.A urine analysis also provides important information regarding your pet’s kidney health. Specific gravity of the urine measures the degree to which your pet is properly concentrating urine. In addition, your veterinarian will look to see if there is protein in the urine. Healthy kidneys will remove the waste from the blood but retain the protein. Impaired kidneys may fail to separate blood protein from the wastes. At first, only small amounts of protein may leak into the urine but as time and the disease progresses, the amount of protein in the urine increases.Once diagnosed, there are several avenues a pet owner can explore.

In human medicine, dialysis and kidney transplantation are the main methods of treating people with advanced kidney disease. These options are extremely costly, time consuming and only available to a limited degree for pets. Treating kidney disease can be especially challenging particularly if the disease is only detected once the pet is in an advanced state. (Again, we cannot emphasize the importance of routine laboratory testing so that if your pet is diagnosed with kidney disease, you will have a greater opportunity to help your pet.) The difficulty in treating pets with kidney disease is that the ability to remove metabolic waste products is often outweighed by the buildup of those toxins. The pet is not able to keep up with the regular detoxification required because the kidneys are impaired. Thus, the pet gradually becomes more toxic and the body chemistry becomes more acidic. Unlike liver disease where the body can build and repair new liver tissue, the nephrons (functional units of the kidney) are damaged forever and cannot be replaced. What is important is to help the functioning nephrons perform at an optimal level. Many times, pet owners are hoping unrealistically that their pet’s kidney function will miraculously improve—while it is possible to see improvement in kidney values—what is most likely to occur with conventional and holistic treatment is a decline in the rate of kidney deterioriation. In other words, if your pet’s creatinine level has jumped from 2.4 to 3.4 in a few weeks, treatments may help to keep the value from rapidly rising to 4.4 in the following week but most likely won’t ever return the values to normal (except in rare cases).

The goal of treatment is to help the pet to live as close to a normal life as possible, given the kidney disease diagnoses. Since the kidneys do not heal or regenerate new and functioning tissue, supplements and vitamins can help the healthy nephrons handle the additional burden. Intravenous and subcutaneous fluids can provide much needed relief for pets. Intravenous fluids are administered by your veterinarian at the veterinary hospital while subcutaneous fluids can be administered by you at home under the direction of your veterinarian. Fluids help to flush out the toxins and control acid-base imbalances. Pets can be given medication for nausea and vomiting. Many pets with kidney disease develop high blood pressure, anemia and ulcers as the disease progresses. These can be helped with medication and supplements as well. Phosphorous binders and Omega 3 fish oils (e.g.
Amazing Omegas) are also helpful. High quality, low protein phosphorous diets have been proven to be helpful in lessening the metabolic tasks that must be performed by the kidneys and this is a very critical component in managing the disease. Finally, acupuncture can also be helpful because it increases blood flow to the kidneys.


Holistic Alternatives for Cats and Dogs with Kidney Disease
Susan Blake Davis, Holistic Pet Health Practitioner

In addition to the medical treatments that Dr. Gordon mentioned, dogs and cats with kidney disease can greatly benefit from holistic pet care. Diet, nutritional supplements and acupuncture can help increase longevity and overall quality of life. Kidney disease is very common in older cats especially, but can be seen in dogs and cats of all ages. Owners need to be mindful not only of the kidney disease but of the other complications that can arise such as anemia, pancreatitis and high blood pressure and make adjustments to diets accordingly.
Pets with kidney disease need a diet that is higher in carbohydrates, lower in phosphorous but rich in enzymes and Omega 3 fatty acids. There are prescription diets available from your veterinarian but many pets don’t want to eat the foods and start to lose weight. Ideally, using a well constructed homemade diet in combination with some commercial foods is your best bet. This provides variety to reduce pickiness and plenty of nutrients to keep your pet energized. Homemade diets are tricky though and can even be harmful if they are not constructed appropriately. Each pet will have different health conditions and taste preferences and what may work for one pet may be dangerous for another. For example, pets with kidney disease need a diet that is higher in carbohydrates and if possible, higher in fats. On the Internet, you may see “kidney diets” that are high in both omega and animal fats. Depending upon the diet, this might work for pets that can tolerate fats. However, pets with elevated pancreatic enzymes could become very ill from this diet and it would not be advisable. Thus, we recommend that you always check with a veterinary professional before using a homemade kidney diet.Ask Ariel offers holistic pet health consultations and can help you construct a homemade or partially homemade diet for your pet that will mirror the nutritional requirements prescribed to you by your veterinarian. 

There are several supplements that can help your pet with kidney disease. These supplements are available in different forms for your convenience. For example, we offer Purrfect Pet CoQ10 as well as OxiCell SE which is a topical cream that contains CoQ10. Kidney Terrain provides critical vitamins and nutrients to the kidneys while Renelix helps the body to flush out toxins that accumulate in the kidneys and urinary tract. It is also important to use Kidney Health which is an enzyme that helps to break down protein, enhancing digestion and reducing the workload on the kidneys.We understand that having your pet diagnosed with kidney disease can be devastating and we are here to help. Using both conventional and holistic veterinary medicine can greatly enhance your pet’s prognosis. Early detection is key as well as maintaining proper hygiene for your pet (e.g. regular teeth cleanings can help your pet’s kidneys). We hope that by following these guidelines as well as getting regular laboratory testing, that you and your pet can enjoy a long and healthy life together.
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