Monday, March 30, 2009

Dog Ear Infections: Holistic Treatment Options

As the weather gets warmer, dogs tend to get ear infections! Scratching, itching, hot spots and chewing on paws all become more prevalent. The warm weather tends to exasperate allergies and ear infections. Below is a discussion of how ear infections can be addressed using both holistic veterinary care. These holistic treatment suggestions should be used IN CONJUNCTION with conventional veterinary care options which would include a veterinarian's exam, diagnoses and medication, if necessary.

Dogs with chronic ear infections typically have skin infections, too. It is quite common for allergic dogs to have ear infections, hot spots, hair loss, scratching/itching, urinary tract infections and digestive issues---all seemingly unrelated but quite often all due to the same issue---allergies (both food and environmental) and poor digestion.  An economical and easy way to help your pet is to use the K9 Yeast Defense + Power Probiotic.   When pets are allergic to what they are eating and/or are fed foods that are poorly digested (many “brand name” commercial pet foods are hard to digest because they contain preservatives, fillers and allergens such as corn), the pet experiences an inflammatory response. In addition, the pet’s digestive system can often become compromised, reducing their overall immune response. This sets up an environment for yeast, bacteria and parasites to overgrow. The first step in healing a dog with chronic ear infections is to put the dog on a healthy, hypoallergenic diet. This is not always an easy task as many times, pets are allergic to different foods. Common food allergens are corn, soy, milk products, casein (found in cheese), peanut butter, wheat, gluten, beef and chicken. Some cats are allergic to fish and chicken. Overall, try to seek out local pet stores that may carry more natural, holistic brands that do not contain wheat or corn. We have had terrific success using pre-made frozen raw diets but this may or may not be the right food for your pet.

Each pet has different digestive issues and what works for one may not be ideal for another. Changing your dog’s diet, some supplements can really help your dog fight off yeast infections from the inside out. If your dog has taken antibiotics or prednisone, it is critical that you restore the balance of flora to prevent the infection from coming back. Many times, people and pets experience chronic infections because the antibiotics kill off the good bacteria (as well as the bad) and unfortunately if you haven’t made the changes to support a healthy digestive tract, the bad bacteria will grow back faster than the good bacteria. That is why it is so essential to supplement with probiotics (and antifungals if you or your pet have a tendency to get yeast) following a course of antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory medications.

At, our first line of protection to restore the balance of flora and to help prevent future dog ear infections is to use K9 Yeast Defense and Power Probiotic . This is a commonly used protocol that has helped many dog owners get their dog’s ear infections under control. If your dog has a chronic condition with both ear and skin issues, you may find that you need to use additional allergy supplements such as AllerEaze and Proaller. Using both conventional and holistic veterinary care, we have seen dogs with chronic infections completely improve without continued reoccurrence.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cats with Chronic Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Signs of a urinary infection in cats and dogs include frequent urination, painful urination, mucus or blood with urination and sometimes excessive drinking. Sometimes the only clue is that your pet is waking you up in the middle of the night to urinate. But, often times, there may be no overt signs and so it is highly recommended that a routine urine analysis be done on your pet at least once a year. For older female dogs, since this is a very common condition, twice a year would be best.Whatever the reason your pet is getting chronic infections, a comprehensive approach is needed. Just giving them a cranberry supplement, while helpful, is not the final answer. Your pet’s diet, stress levels, structural and hormonal issues as well as overall health and age are all factors. Holistic pet care has been shown to be highly effective in treating most chronic urinary tract infections in cats and dogs.Urinary tract infections can become a chronic problem. This can occur because even if the infection is temporarily stopped with antibiotics, the underlying tissue is still present. Many times, the affected area remains inflamed and creates an environment where bacteria can hide within bladder walls....(aka interstitial cystitis). Furthermore, antibiotics can disrupt the intestinal flora and good bacteria which are needed to fight off infections. Many people report that their pet starts to get another urinary tract infection just days after finishing the antibiotic. While the antibiotic helps fight off the infection, the underlying conditions that contributed to the urinary tract infection in the first place are still present.

Diet is often a critical factor with cats and dogs that get chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs). Allergies for one can cause a great deal of inflammation and lower the pet's immune response. Diets too high in carbohydrates break down into sugar and can also contribute to yeast overgrowth. Wheat and grains, for example can be high allergen foods and also contribute to yeast growth. Also, kibble and/or dry food can be problematic for both cats and dogs because of its low moisture content.There is no “one” hypoallergenic diet that works for all pets. For best results, you need to consult a veterinary professional. Also, many “hypoallergenic” foods are high in carbohydrates which can also contribute to chronic infections. Just like with humans, carbohydrates break down into sugars which can feed the infections. Sometimes the culprit is too many treats which contain wheat or corn, that also can create an environment for yeast to thrive.

It is important to keep your cat or dog's urinary pH neutral (6.5 -7.0) using supplements. Regular monitoring of your pet's urinary pH can be done at home using pH strips provided by your veterinarian.Nutritional supplements can greatly help reduce the frequency of urinary tract infections and in some pets, in combination with diet changes, can eliminate them completely. What is important is for the pet owner to work with their veterinarian to understand the issues associated with the pet's urinary infections. For example, are there crystals present, very high pH or is the urine pH acidic? Then, once the pet owner has this knowledge the appropriate supplements can be used. In terms of supplements, Ask Ariel has a comprehensive pet UTI prevention program. The Pet UTI Prevention Formula is excellent for cats and dogs that get chronic UTIs and who have a tendency to have high urinary pH as the product helps to acidify the urine (contains cranberry and Vitamin C). The Probiotic and Renelix are helpful for all types of urinary support. Finally, for tough infections, Notatum and Samento are especially helpful.
Friday, March 20, 2009

Canine Kidney Disease and Inappetance

Inappetance, particularly in the morning for an older dog may be an early sign that something is wrong. While there can be many causes of a dog not eating, this symptom, along with excess water drinking and frequent urination, is often a sign of canine kidney disease. First and foremost, take your pet to the veterinarian for a blood test--don't try to diagnose your dog yourself! Once you find out about your dog's condition and if canine kidney disease is diagnosed, it is important to make some dietary changes quickly. One pattern that we see frequently is where dogs may not feel like eating all day and then at night, eat too much. This perpetuates the cycle where excess phosphorous builds up in the blood during the night and then the pet will not want to eat in the morning. Purozyme, a proteolytic enzyme formula, given to your dog at bedtime can greatly help. In addition, it is important that the dog be put on a a low phosphorous, reduced protein diet. The dog needs some variety along with a reduced protein/phosphorous diet so that over time, the dog will be more inclined to eat in the morning too. You may need to find certain "comfort foods" such as dog biscuits that the dog really likes and offer them in the morning to get the dog started eating in the morning. Dogs can build up a lot of stomach acid too which can make them feel nauseated. This will affect their appetite too. Unfortunately, when pets have canine kidney disease, they can become very picky eaters. What they might have loved yesterday, they refuse to eat today and most of the time, they only want to eat what is not good for them---protein. Frantic pet owners have a tendency to give their dogs what they want and start giving them more and more protein---just exacerbating the symptoms as the phosphorous builds up in their blood stream. Ask Ariel can help you formulate a homemade diet and give you a number of tips to help with this inappetance issue. Canine kidney disease is tough and if detected early, can be managed but you need an expert veterinary nutritionist or holistic veterinarian to help you ensure you are feeding the appropriate diet.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Kitten With Irritable Bowel Disease, Diarrhea and Colitis Finally Gets Better!

"Dear Susan,
Corny, but in all my 61 years, I don’t believe that I’ve ever written a testimonial, so here’s my first go at one. We consulted a month or so ago via phone about my then 5.5 month old kitten, Misha. Misha, a rescue from our local Humane Society, was in serious condition with hemorrhaging from her colon. Her veterinarian and I had exhausted all possibilities.You quickly identified the cause: food allergies and made some dietary recommendations which I followed. Misha’s veterinarian then started her on Sucralfate and Pepcid AC. In addition, I am adding 1/3 capsule of your Probiotic and 1/3 capsule of digestive enzymes to her pumpkin TID. Within 24 hours, Misha’s bleeding stopped. She loves the pumpkin, but adjusting to canned food and to rabbit took some doing and required an appetite stimulant. Although she still craves other foods, she is now gaining weight. I’ve learned that the pumpkin is essential, not only for its soothing properties, but for the fiber it provides in the absence of grains. She poops only every 48 hours. Misha was, when we consulted, a frightened and very sick kitten. So much had been done to her in order to save her life that she was literally undone.
So was I.

In addition to excellent, compassionate and concerned counsel, you also were aware of my stress and addressed this, as well as Misha’s problems. More, you wrote a personal letter of directions and support along with the products I ordered from you. I was impressed by what you did, Susan. And I thank you. Thank you. And again.
My university career was spent counseling/advising students of all ages, as well as teaching anthropology, so I was aware of your therapeutic expertise as we talked. But you did so much more: the over-time you spent while we talked; your willingness to be a resource; your sending samples of other products; and your personal touches, like the hand-written letter. I am, in addition to my professional “history”, a permitted wildlife rehabilitator with almost 40 years of experience under my belt. Appropriate nutrition is an on-going concern for those who work with wild species; yet I had not ever before encountered so compelling a need in one of the many cats I have rescued and loved over the years.
The service you provide is essential. It’s a gift. I would recommend you to anyone, and have.
Thanks, Susan. With a hug, Marg Smith"
March 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crystals and Bacteria in a Cat or Dog's Urine

Dear Dr Gordon: On a recent well pet check at my vet, the urine analysis from the lab revealed that both my cat and dog have crystals in the urine and bacteria. Both my pets are happy and healthy. How significant is this? BK

Dear BK: First of all, crystals and bacteria in the urine MAY BE a significant medical problem, OR may be nothing at all. What do I mean by this?

Many veterinarians utilize veterinary reference laboratories to analyze blood, urine, stool, and other samples. If urine is collected on a pet that is completely asymptomatic for any urinary problems (no straining to urinate, no blood, no unusual urinary behavior) and submitted to a laboratory for analysis, the presence of crystals in that particular urine sample may have formed en route to the lab.

How is this possible? Sometimes crystals can form from the time the urine was collected to the time it was read at the lab due to changes in temperature and changes in the pH of the urine. Crystals that were soluable in solution at the time of collection can actually crystallize out in the solution over time. Is this significant? In a pet that is symptomatic, crystals in the urine are significant. If the pet is completely asymptomatic, then the crystals are probably not a significant issue. However, a fresh urine sample should always be re-examined at the veterinarian's office to make sure crystals are not present immediately after collection. If crystals are present in a fresh sample, these are a real finding and should be addressed. There can be many causes for the formation of crystals. Diet, genetic predisposition, and bacterial infection are some of the culprits. Pets that are having chronic urinary tract infectons and/or crystals in the urine can often benefit from Ask Ariel's Pet UTI prevention formula.

The presence of bacteria in the urine can sometimes also be misleading. Veterinarians collect urine in a variety of ways. The best way to collect a urine sample is by a technique called cystocentesis. In this technique, the pet is allowed to build up urine in the urinary bladder and the urine is extracted from the bladder in a sterile fashion. This is usually done by cleansing the area of any surface bacteria on the skin and collecting the urine with a very fine hypodermic needle and syringe. If bacteria are found on this "sterile" collection technique, it is always significant. Sometimes when veterinarians are faced with a particularly uncooperative patient, we will ask that the owners collect a urine sample for us. Even though we hope the sample is collected a aseptically as possible, we realize that collection in this way is less than ideal, and will probably be contaminated to some degree. Almost any sample that is collected at home, by the owner, either by a "mid stream catch" (in the case of a big dog or via the litter box (in the case of cats) will be contaminated. Even though we realize this, it is important to analyze the urine anyway since other findings in the urine may be significant. We can still discern many important facts about the pet's health status from a urine sample collected by the owner. Significant findings could be sugar in the urine, crystals in a fresh sample, the presence of inflammatory cells or cancer cells, protein in the urine, and/or blood in the urine. All of these would be present regardless of how the urine was collected.

Sometimes there actually will be the presence of bacteria, but the lab or veterinarian report that no bacteria were seen. How is this possible? Sometimes the bacteria numbers are very small, or sometimes a very dilute urine will not show any presence of bacteria when examined under the microscope(although they are there). If the doctor suspects that bacteria may be present causing symptioms, and "no bacteria seen" is reported by the lab, he or she may recommend a culture and sensitivity be done on the urine.
To do a culture and senstivity correctly, the sample should be collected straight from the urinary bladder to avoid environmental contamination. One the urine is collected, it is transferred to a sterile test tube for transport to the lab. Once the urine arrives at the lab, special procedures are employed to enhance the growth of any bacteria that could be present. This involves placing the urine in a test tube containing a special broth to enhance the reproduction of any bacteria found in the urine. After the bacteria are grown in the broth, the bacteria is identified and this solution is "streaked across" a special plate containing another type of growth media. Special small discs, each impregnated with a different antibiotic, are then spread onto this plate. The growth pattern of the bacteria helps determine which antibiotic(s) would be effective in killing the bacteria.
As you can see, there is a big difference in the reporting and interpretation of crystals and bacteria in the urine. DrG
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stem Cell Therapy Helps Pets In Pain

Dr. David Gordon, Medical Director, VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital, Lake Forest, CA

Dear Dr Gordon: I am at the point of considering putting my 10 year old lab to sleep. She has had a history of moderate hip dysplasia that never seemed to bother her very much, but last year she blew out her knee or ACL. This was surgically fixed, but she seems in chronic pain now. The doctors have tried a variation of many different medications for her pain and nothing seems to be helping. Is there anything else that is available? I am at my wits end. AJ

Dear AJ: Is there anything worse than seeing your beloved pet in constant pain? It sounds as if you have been a very conscientious pet owner in dealing with your pet’s situation.
One of the most gratifying things I have been able to do is to help pets live with pain utilizing holistic medical therapies and acupuncture; especially the chronic nagging pain of arthritis.

Even though that has been very gratifying, it has also been the most frustrating. I realize that these therapies did not offer any long term solution for the patient’s pain UNTIL NOW.

There has been a recent scientific breakthrough to help pets deal with the pain associated with osteoarthritis as well as injuries of tendons and ligaments. A southern California company, Vet-Stem, has developed the technology to provide veterinarians a new and innovative therapy utilizing STEM CELLS. You can visit them on the web at In addition to chronic arthritis, anticipated future uses for stem cell therapy could include autoimmune disease, liver disease, neurological disease, and kidney disease.

You may have heard about some of the scientific breakthroughs regarding the use of human stem cells. Stem cells are the “ancestral” cells that have the “programming” to turn into the specialized cells where ever they are needed in the body. But harvesting them has been difficult. One promising source of stem cells, human embryos, raises moral objections from those who consider the embryos human individuals. This has raised a lot of controversy and politics surrounding the collection of these EMBRYONIC stem cells. The beauty of pet stem cell therapy is that we are using the pet’s own adult body cells, or MESENCHYMAL CELLS, to collect the stem cells. Regulators don't allow stem cell therapies to be tried in humans until they are shown to be safe in animals. And animal treatments are not subject to the extensive regulation required for humans.

How is this done? A small quantity of fat is collected from the pet and the sample is shipped priority Fed Ex to the Vet Stem laboratory. Fat is utilized because it is readily available, easy to harvest, and rich with stem cells. Within 48 hours of collection, the patient’s own regenerative stem cells are returned for injection into the affected joint or bloodstream. The beauty of this process is that we are dealing with the pet’s pain in a very holistic manner, utilizing the pet’s own body to heal itself. There may be no lifetime drugs to take and, best of all, there are very few, if any, side effects.

This process has been used in clinical trials for the past three years, and the results have been extremely promising. Over 2500 horses and 200 dogs have been successfully treated.
I am hoping that stem cell therapy will prove to be “the answer” for pet’s in chronic pain from osteoarthritis that do not seem to respond well to our normal protocols for pain relief.

If you live in Southern California and would like to schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. David Gordon, Medical Director, VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital about the possibility of using Stem Cell Therapy for your pet, please call VCA Arroyo at 949-770-1808 or send an email to
Friday, March 13, 2009

Cats with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

Many pet digestive disorders occur because of the cat’s food allergies or food intolerances resulting in malabsorption, inflammation in the GI Tract and poor utilization of nutrients. You may be giving your cat “premium” food or most likely even a prescription diet but your cat could still be allergic to it. Every time your cat eats the food, he or she has an allergic reaction, causing more inflammation which can result in vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal discomfort.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a diagnoses used for a variety of intestinal disorders found in dogs and cats. The disorders are characterized by an abnormal accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lining of the intestine. One common form of IBD that your veterinarian may have diagnosed in your pet is called lymphoplasmacytic enteritis. Your veterinarian may have diagnosed this after obtaining a biopsy which shows an abnormal accumulation of inflammatory cells. Other causes of inflammation such as parasites, bacterial or viral infections, exposure to toxic substances and pancreatic causes of small bowel disorders would have been ruled out. Signs that your pet may have lymphoplasmacytic enteritis include chronic diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea (licking of lips) and gurgling noises in the intestine. The vomit may contain bile and in cats it may contain hairballs. There may be mucus, blood and straining with bowel movements.

There is a lot you can do to help your cat or dog with irritable bowel disease (IBD). The first step is to elminate potential foods that contain allergens. For cats and dogs, one of the most common culprits is chicken. Whenever changing foods, be sure to do so slowly as even just changing foods to a better food can cause diarrhea. Supplements that will greatly help irritable bowel disease (IBD):
Probiotic, Tegricel Colostrum and Soothing Digestive Relief Formula available on
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dog Heart Disease--Will Holistic Care Help?

Many clients ask us if there is anything they can do to help dog heart disease using holistic care. Absolutely! Diet is extremely important when your dog has heart disease, a heart murmur or other cardiovascular condition.

Dogs with heart disease need a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, low in sodium and high in fiber. Many times, owners are feeding their pets commercially prepared foods that contain a great deal of animal fat and salt which can increase the workload on your dog's heart.

Supplements can also greatly help your dog's heart condition. The following supplements can be used to support dog heart disease: Purrfect Pet CoQ10Amazing OmegasVitality NOW!and Heart Terrain.

In addition, weight is a critical issue where heart disease is concerned. Overweight pets are not just a "beauty issue", it is a real pet health concern, especially when heart disease is involved. To help your dog lose weight, cut back your dog's food a little bit each day and add in some healthy green vegetables--you will be surprised how much pets like them! Use healthy treats such a slice of apple or baby carrots in place of biscuits. Click here for a full list of ideas to help your pet lose weight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Toxoplasmosis and Cats

Dear Dr. Gordon: My doctor has recommended I be extremely careful around my 2 cats. I have just found out that I am pregnant and he is concerned that I could become infected with Toxoplasmosis. Now I am worried that I could become infected and am thinking of finding homes for my cats. Is there any way I can keep my cats? PB

Dear PB: Your OB-GYN is being conscientious about warning you regarding the risks involved with cats and Toxoplasmosis. That being said, I see no reason for you to adopt out your cats if you take some simple precautions around the house.

First, let’s give you some background on this disease, which has been poorly understood for years. It was not uncommon, just a few years ago, that human medical doctors were insisting that cat owners rid themselves of their cats to avoid this disease. Fortunately, they know better now.

Toxoplasma infects virtually all warm-blooded mammals and birds, including about 50% of people worldwide. Transmission from cats to humans can occur if cat owners contaminate their hands while cleaning the litter box and accidentally swallow infectious cysts before washing their hands. Other more likely routes of transmission are underrecognized and include ingestion of contaminated soil or water, eating inadequately washed raw vegetables or fruit and consuming raw or undercooked meat and shellfish

It is true that infection by the protozoan organism, Toxoplasma gondii, can cause a variety of birth defects, especially if the mother is infected in the first trimester. However, avoiding infection throughout the pregnancy is very important because the probability of transplacental transmission increases as the pregnancy progresses.

Pregnant women are not the only individuals who are at risk. Most infected individuals have no clinical disease or only flu like symptoms. But, immuno-compromised individuals may suffer from severe, sometimes, fatal, toxoplasmosis when parasites are released from latent tissue cysts and travel to the brain.

So, how can you avoid being infected? Some of the recommendations require just good hygiene and common sense. You should wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. You should never eat raw or undercooked meat , poultry, or fish. Restricting access to the outdoors is a key strategy to prevent cats from acquiring T. gondii and serving as a source of infection for people.

Cats that have access to the outdoors typically hunt and eat small mammals and birds which are the intermediate hosts for this parasite. Domestic cats begin shedding the eggs 3-5 days after ingestion of infected animal tissues, and the shedding period lasts about 8 days but may continue up to 3 weeks.

Another important strategy in minimizing exposure is how you deal with the cat’s feces. First and foremost, have your husband clean the litter box. He may not like doing this but when faced with the possibility of congenital birth defects in his first-born, I bet he will comply. If you must deal with the cat’s feces yourself, be extra careful. Changing the cat’s litter boxes daily as well as wearing disposable plastic gloves and washing hands after cleanup, considerably reduce the risk of contracting the disease from cat litter. Cat litter and feces should not be deposited in toilets or recycled into the soil around the home but instead should be deposited in garbage containers in tightly sealed bags. Proper disposal reduces the risk of ingestion and inhalation by other animals and people.

The domestic cat remains the most important vector in spreading the disease into the environment. Cats rarely exhibit clinical disease as a result of T. gondii infection but are implicated in human outbreaks as well as disease in food and zoo animals. Most cat owners probably do not recognize the potential risks to human and animal health posed by feral and owned cats that roam outdoors.

Until a vaccine is developed to prevent cats from shedding the eggs, the challenge for veterinarians is to educate cat owners about environmentally friendly cat management and safe methods for collection and disposal of cat litter. Strategies to manage feral cat populations, which may include adoption, sterilization, relocation, removal, and/or provision of indoor housing, also are needed. David Gordon, DVM
Sunday, March 8, 2009

14 1/2 Year Old Dog With Arthritis Goes Hiking Now!

"I attribute the happy, active life that my age 14½ Lab/Shepherd mix, Kona (photo attached), enjoys today to the compassionate and professional assistance that Susan Blake Davis and Ask Ariel have provided over the last four years. I came to Susan in 2005 because my then-age-ten 80 lb. pet seemed like he was fading and even "on his way out". He couldn't jump up onto the back seat of my SUV and was taking Rimadyl for his hip pain/degeneration. He had become increasingly listless and just moving around seemed too much for him to bear.

The fantastic suggestions that Susan provided began showing results right away and Kona started a steady path towards a fuller, happier expression of himself. I have used the products she recommended (Arthrosoothe, Inflammatone, Oxicell) every day for the last four years and just placed another order so Kona does not run out. I believe in these products and couldn't imagine being without them.

Today, we go on very aggressive uphill hikes three times weekly. Kona always brings up the rear on the way up and is in pain with every step, but he wouldn't miss a single step for the world! He studies my every move when he thinks I'm putting my hiking clothes on and once I go for my hiking shoes (the final clue!), he goes ballistic. His excitement is more than he can contain and is ecstatic all the way up the trail and back.

I am so grateful to Susan and Ask Ariel for giving me my beloved Kona's life force back and all the comfort we have given each other during the last four years. Thank you so much, Susan. What you gave us is precious and irreplaceable."
Guy Richardson, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, March 7, 2009

Beloved Ariel--The Dog Who Taught Me So Much

Pictured above are two special shots of Ariel larger than life. In the lefthand picture, Ariel turns 14 and is blowing out her birthday candles at her party. On the right, she is wearing a T-shirt in front of PETsMART at age 13 trying to help homeless dogs get adopted.

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of Ariel's death. Ariel was so much more than "just a dog". She was the love of my life. She was such an incredible inspiration that our rescue and my business is named after her. For 6 years, she sat in front of PETsMART helping homeless dogs find their families at last. She greeted everyone in front of the store and had her own special friends that I later discovered after she died. Ariel was one of those one in a million dogs who taught me so much and showed me how wonderful life really is. No matter how sick she was, no matter what happened, my beautiful girl was always on the go, tail wagging, joyously greeting the day. She was such a happy creature.

Even as 4 years have passed, it still hurts so much to be without my special girl. I know there are many, many of you who have lost your beloved pets and my heart goes out to all of you. I wish there was something that could really make the hurt go away but what I found was that the best way to get through it is to honor them each day so that you will always feel they are with you. And so, with that, here is my tribute to my beloved angel who taught me so much---I love you Ariel and miss you so much. You are forever with us and we will never forget you! Your Mom and Dad
Friday, March 6, 2009

Cat Upper Respiratory Infections--Feline URI

Dear Dr. Gordon: My cat must have the worst cold of all time. She has been sneezing with a runny nose for well over 3 months now. The antibiotics the vet prescribed did not work. What can I do to stop it? I have tried everything. TB

Dear TB: First and foremost, any cat that has chronic "cold symptoms" should be evaluated by your veterinarian again. It is very likely something other than a "common cold."

Think about it. Pets get colds just like people do and exhibit many of the same symptoms. Colds are caused by upper respiratory viruses that we contract through exposure when these viruses are expelled by others when they cough and/or sneeze. We currently do not believe that human cold viruses can cause upper respiratory illness in dogs and cats (and vice versa). The signs and duration of cold symptoms is fairly classic: first there is the scratchy throat which then progresses to the stuffy nose, sneezing, and (sometimes) coughing phase. The good news is that most cold symptoms are gone within a couple of weeks (at the most). This holds true for our pets as well.

Occasionally, in weakened, geriatric or debillitated people and pets, upper respiratory illness can progress into the lower respiratory tree and create pneumonias. Pneumonia is sometimes very difficult to detect (evidenced by people who sometimes carry out their normal activities despite having "walking pneumonia"). Usually, however, pneumonia presents with a deep, productive (or wet) cough, sometimes with fever, and usually with lethargy and lack of appetite. All pneumonias are serious and require long term care and physician follow-up. Although the doctor is sometimes able to detect changes in the lung fields when listening to the patient breathing with a stethascope, this is sometimes very difficult to detect. After all, I can't tell my patients to "take a deep breath and hold it" like our human counterparts can. The best way to determine if pneumonia is present is to take x-rays of the chest. Bacterial pneumonias usually respond to long term antibiotic therapy, but follow up x-rays are essential in following the course of the pneumonia.

If the pnemonia is not responding to antibiotics, there is probably another cause for the pneumonia. Through sophisticated testing, the veterinarian hopefully will be able to determine the cause. Sometimes, allergies (see suggestions below), fungi, inflammation, or cancer can cause pneumonias. The doctor may recommend diagnostic procedures like bronchoscopy or a "tracheal wash". This requires that the patient be sedated and a flexible endoscope in placed into the respiratory tree to obtain samples for analysis. This procedure is usually done if symptoms of pneumonia persist, without improvement or resolution.

The pet with chronic "cold symptoms" ( sneezing, nasal discharge, and coughing) that is unresponsive to medical management, presents a huge challenge for the veterinarian. In recommending the more sophisticated diagnostic procedures, the doctor is hoping to find a cause to the problem that can be cured. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as cancer becomes more and more prevalent in older pets with unresolved or chronic nasal discharge.

One additional possibility for the "cold symptoms" could be a food or environmental allergy. This can be a likely cause if your cat is young and displays gastrointestinal issues as well (diarrhea, for example). Work with your veterinarian or seek the advice of a holistic veterinary professional (consultations are available for this at to develop a hypoallergenic diet for your cat. In addition, you can try using immune support supplements such as Probiotic, Proaller and Samento available at to see if they will help.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Question Regarding Canine Kidney Disease Diet

Q: Thank you for the very informative article. You mentioned that the pet should have a high quality, low protein phosphorous diet, do you suggest any particular dog food? My current vet has her on Hill's k/d diet which I have heard some negative things about. Thank you again.
~One nervous pet owner

A: Thank you for submitting a question about such an important topic. You are correct--when a dog or cat has kidney disease, the diet is of utmost importance. Giving too much protein at any one meal can elevate the phosphorous and BUN levels in the blood and make the dog or cat feel sick. Symptoms of canine and feline kidney disease can include excessive thirst, excessive urination, lethargy, inappetance, nausea, etc. So to keep your pet's phosphorous and BUN levels as regulated as possible, the diet needs to regulated too.

Several considerations regarding diets for dogs and cats with kidney disease: pets often become inappetant and need variety; avoid using any type of treat or food that contains preservatives or chemicals, try to use a homemade diet if at all possible and avoid giving the pet high protein/high phosphorous foods such as milk products and fish.

There is no "canned" recipe or commercial dog food that works for every dog or cat with kidney disease. The reason for this, is that kidney disease is often accompanied by other health conditions. These can include pancreatitis, anemia, heart disease, liver issues, allergies, etc. It is not advisable to use a recipe or commercial diet intended for any pet with kidney disease because it may not be the right one for your pet. I have seen many dogs with kidney disease get worse from being on so called "homemade canine kidney disease diets" because they are too high in fat. Your best bet would be to seek out the advice of a veterinary professional and get a custom-tailored diet specifically for your dog. We offer this service through Ask Ariel and there are other pet nutritionist services available online.
Monday, March 2, 2009

Adorable Yorkie Layla Sees Improvement with Pancreatitis

"Layla is a 3 year old Yorkshire Terrier who was diagnosed with pancreatitis in October of 2008. Our vet wanted Layla to be put on canned prescription formula to manage this and I knew I couldn't do that because I didn't agree with the ingredients in these foods. I talked to a friend who had used Susan in the past for her Yorkie with great success. Our vet was quite sure that Layla's issues could not be managed with a home cooked diet but we were determined to try. From the moment I talked to Susan in our first consultation I knew that Layla was in good hands and that through her help, everything would be fine. Layla was put on a strict diet with Susan's LypoZyme and Probiotics Layla's Spec numbers went from 740 (under 400 is considered normal) in October, down to 164 inFebruary. Our family is beyond thankful to Susan and all that she has done to save our girl from a lifetime of horrible canned food. I recommend Susan to anyone I meet who is considering home cooking or who is dealing with a dog with health issues- I just can't say enough about how knowledgeable Susan is and how deeply she cares."

The Pluss Family, Canada, Feb. 26, 2009