Monday, March 10, 2014

Allergy in Pets – what you need to know

by Dr. Gerald Buchoff

Allergy is one of the most common yet misunderstood diseases in pets. I consider it one of the most basic autoimmune diseases. Signs of allergies typically manifest at 2 years of age. The classic sign in dogs is itchiness of the ears, axillae (armpits), flanks and ears. Cats typically present with respiratory distress such as labored breathing or coughing.

A little background. Probably all autoimmune diseases involve and begin in the intestines. That is where there are large collections of immune cells (Peyer’s patches). Starting with puppyhood or kittenhood, if we can keep the intestines healthy, we are likely to fend off autoimmune diseases. [Autoimmune diseases can range to systemic lupus erythematosus, pemphigus, autoimmune hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia, and even cancer.]

However, if things – such as antibiotics, steroids, vaccines, chlorinated water, and environmental toxins – unbalance the intestines and kill off the beneficial (or “friendly”) bacterial population, it allows overgrowth of harmful yeast, especially Candida, resulting in dysbiosis. This yeast can make chemicals that literally bore holes (ultramicroscopic holes) in the intestinal walls that allow larger than normal molecules to enter the bloodstream. Normally, food has to be broken down into extremely tiny fundamental units. If larger molecules get into the blood, the body does not recognize them and treats them as foreign invaders or germs, and produces antibodies against them. These molecules somehow associate and link to normal tissues in the body. Then the body may attack those tissues (skin, blood cells, gums, thyroid gland, etc.) thinking that they are foreign invaders. Now you have autoimmunity – the immune system attacking its own body.

The dysbiosis in the intestines also leads to the liver suffering from the onslaught of large molecules and toxins that should not be getting into the system.

So, when I treat allergy, I want to (1) treat the dysbiosis (sometimes using supplements that will reduce the yeast and supplements that will increase the bacteria), (2) improve the health of the intestinal lining, (3) support the liver health and function, (4) support the immunity (“immune system”), (5) decrease the allergens and toxins in the body, and (6) deal with the symptoms of itchiness or respiratory problems.

Supporting the immunity can mean “thumping the thymus gland;” using your fingertips or fist to tap the sternum between your pet’s axillae (underarms) or giving nutritional supplements such as medicinal mushrooms and colostrum. Decreasing and avoiding environmental toxins can include giving supplements to clear toxins and wiping paws when coming in from walks. We can decrease allergens by adding digestive enzymes and/or giving a far more digestible (raw) diet to decrease allergens in the diet. We can help the skin and respiratory comfort through many holistic modalities. Aloe Vera added to the diet may help support the skin, the intestines, and the immune system all at the same time.

But, remember that allergies are very complex and treatment has to be tailored to the needs of the individual patient, based on physical examination and blood tests.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feeding raw while saving money

By guest blogger Shell Huber  

You can stretch your raw feeding dollars by supplementing your pet's diet with the uncooked trimmings of your family's dinner. For example, when trimming beef, grizzle and fat can be mixed into whatever variety of Dr. B's you are feeding your pet. And the same is also true for chicken.  Parts that you might not normally eat, such as the gizzard pack, tail and back rib portions can be fed to your pet. Just remember, any bones should be uncooked. Vegetable trimmings can also be added, make sure that they are pet friendly - no onions, leeks, avocados or grapes. When you add vegetables, you are also adding fiber, which will result in more frequent stools. Here is a link to list of vegetables that are good for both dogs and cats: Veggies!
If you have an questions, thoughts or concerns, please email me at
Think past the bag!
Go Raw!

Shell Huber attended Rutgers University majoring in Biology. After college he worked for, and owned several small start-up companies throughout the years; the most recent being Dr. B's Holistic Pet Products. He has been feeding his dogs a raw diet since the mid 80's, long before it even heard of in the United States. He has studied virtually all aspects of diet and health as it relates to dogs and cats. He also holds a U.S. Merchant Marine Captain's License and is an avid motorcycle enthusiast.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dental Disease: From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective

Pet Dental Month continues with this post from my colleague Dr. Vanessa K. Moore, DVM

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the most ancient forms of medicine.  It continues to have a huge relevance in the way we practice medicine today.  The Five Element theory was based on observation of the cycles of nature and life in 16-221 BC.  It was later applied to the body and medical practice.   It is the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.  Each element governs specific organs and systems within the body.

For example, the Water Element is directly related to dental health therefore when this element is weakened or imbalanced in the body dental disease is one of the manifestations.  The Water Element is also associated with older age, therefore other ailments such as osteoarthritis, kidney disease, bladder and urinary disease, hind end weakness and lameness, intervertebral disc disease, dental disease, and hearing or eyesight loss are often seen as symptoms of this imbalance.

In Veterinary Medicine we most commonly see kidney disease, dental disease, intervertebral disc disease and osteoarthritis and lameness either as single diseases, or often combined.  Conventional veterinarians see these illnesses as separate diseases but in fact they are all related and stem from the same deficiency within the Water Element.  Treating each of these diseases independently will result in some success but does not get to the root of the problem.  Traditional Chinese Medicine detects and works to correct the underlying deficiency to result in improvement in all associated ailments.

Dental health is extremely important and feeding a raw diet, brushing your pet's teeth, and routine dental cleanings by your veterinarian are tantamount to maintaining good oral health.  Because dental disease is often not an isolated problem, it is important to look at the animal as a whole and to determine where the imbalance is and how to correct it.  In addition using Traditional Chinese medicine to diagnose the deficiency or imbalance it is also used to correct it using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and food therapy. It is an excellent way to extend your pet's life span and quality of life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Animal Dentistry: Keeping your pet healthy and kissable

Dental disease includes gingivitis, calculus/tartar, gum recession, root exposure and loose teeth.

The process starts out as plaque, the invisible or pale yellow gritty material that collects on the teeth. If it is not brushed away, it becomes mineralized and forms calculus/tartar. Calculus/tartar encourages and shelters bacteria which inflames the gums and can form small abscesses/pyorrhea.

The bacteria breaks down the gums and can weaken the jaw bone holding the teeth.  This provides a pathway into the bloodstream, causing serious health problems. For example, bacteria in the bloodstream can cause small abscesses to form on the heart valves, in the kidneys, and in the liver, causing disease of those organs.

Dental disease can ultimately be life-threatening and is totally preventable. Start your dog or cat or ferret off young with daily brushing, using enzyme toothpaste, such as CET®. If there is already some development of calculus, use a tooth gel that contains grapefruit seed extract such as Vetzlife®, that can dissolve away mild calculus plus remove bacteria, allowing the gums to heal.

If there is more than mild gingivitis and slight calculus on the teeth, it is necessary to have them cleaned and polished under anesthesia. Any procedure requiring anesthesia poses its risks and associated costs.

It's in the best interest of your pet and your wallet to brush daily to avoid the need for dentistry. A little prevention goes a long way.

February Specials: 
10% off all dental products

Toothbrushes, pastes, gels and sprays by Vetzlife, Virbac CET, Durafresh and Hope Science Vet make caring for your pet's oral health easy.

**A free gift bag full of dental products will be given to the first 25 clients who bring their pet in for dentistry during the month of February. Call today to schedule an appointment. While supplies last.**  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pet Bird Safety

We often see birds in our practice who are in distress. It is important to remember that birds are small and sensitive animals. Our feathered friends need special care to ensure their safety. Here are some things to keep in mind.
  • Your kitchen is a hazardous place for your birds. Fumes from cooking and cookware can quickly overcome them, causing sickness or death.
  • Do keep your birds in an area that is temperature stable, near a window but not in direct sunlight.
  • Birds can be overstimulated easily: children, other pets, television can all cause stress.
  • Limit interaction with cats and dogs. In addition to the dangers from rough play, their saliva is laden with foreign bacteria that can cause illness in birds. 
  • Exercise is important and birds love to explore your home. Be sure to keep your windows and doors closed, ceiling fans turned off and heat sources (stove, tea kettles, space heaters) secured when they take flight.
  • Certain foods are toxic to birds, the most common ones are: avocados, chocolate, garlic, onions, tobacco, dairy products and alcohol.
  • Are your houseplants safe for birds? A great resource to determine if your house plants are safe for pets is the ASPCA's Plant List
  • Products such as air fresheners, hair spray, scented candles and potpourri are common hazards. And of course, fumes from pesticides, paint, glue and automobiles should be avoided as well.
  • Be sure to wash food and water cups daily.
  • Do speak and sing to your bird softly!

A little awareness will ensure that your birds are healthy and happy for years to come.