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Category Archives: Holistic Medicine

Home Remedies 101 : Part 3

For dog owners, the only sound that sums up summer more than the soothing sound of the ocean is the jingle of ID tags as their dogs shake their heads and scratch their ears. Why all the noise? Because summer often means ear infections for our canine companions.

In dogs, ear infections are often caused by environmental allergies. When the air gets warm, pollen, mold spores and other allergens begin to thrive and waft around on the currents, causing allergies to flare up. These allergies can make the skin that lines the ear canal inflamed, opening the door for secondary bacterial and fungal infections.

And if your dog loves to swim, excess water in the ear canal can create the kind of dark, moist environment where yeast and bacteria thrive. 

Many of my patients ask me how to clean their dog’s ears at home, so I thought I’d share my advice.

It is virtually impossible to totally clean your dog’s ears at home. They all have a very long vertical ear canal leading to a horizontal canal, which means you cannot reach with normal Q-Tips. Veterinarians are taught special techniques for cleaning, and they use an “otoscope” to look, visualize and detect any damage to the eardrum.

Due to the delicate nature of all of this, the only safe things at home are to use natural “holistic” cleaners or white vinegar diluted into water helps to discourage the yeast commonly found in ears. You can wipe with a cotton swab (not gauze).

Note about ears – Virtually ALL ear infections are secondary to an underlying allergy, often to a food component and/or environmental pollens. So it is important to see an integrative, natural or allergy orientated vet to get to the root cause and try to stop any cycle of ear infections.

Also it is not recommended to regularly clean healthy ears. The body produces a natural protective wax and if there’s no odor or itch or redness then we don’t want to remove this wax by unnecessary cleaning.

Reasons why pet owners should never use LONG medical Q-Tips:

  • They can break off and become a foreign body in the ear canal;
  • If owner actually reaches the eardrum they will inadvertently rupture this with the Q-Tip.

In short, any odor, abnormal discharge, redness, itching or head shaking warrants a visit to your integrative vet. There may be a foxtail or foreign body inside of the canal in any of these cases, which can permanently damage the ear, it is painful and can also cause hearing loss. Even infections allowed to wait too long can have the same (disastrous) consequences.

As an integrative vet, I believe it is CRITICAL to find the underlying CAUSE of mild to severe ear issues so we can stop the cycle of repeat infections, which can lead to irreparable damage and/or the need for MAJOR surgery.

Home Remedies 101

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my most valuable home remedies for pet health that can keep your dog’s tail wagging and kitty purring. These tips will help you to gauge when to call your integrative vet.

Sick dogs often show a lack of appetite and energy, restlessness, panting, or inactivity. If you suspect that your pet is not feeling well, you may want to take his temperature at home to gather information about symptoms of illness. Unlike humans, dogs will not show the same signs of having an elevated temperature, such as warm skin or shivering. Therefore, it is important to learn how to take a dog’s temperature to get an idea how high his or her fever is and to possibly see a veterinarian.

Part 1 – Taking your pet’s temperature at home.

When taking your pet’s temperature at home use LOTS of water-soluble lube (like KY) and use a digital thermometer available from your local pet store.. And if you have your partner or friend close by that is a big help too.

Lubricate the thermometer.

Holding the thermometer in your dominant hand (which should be near the dog’s tail end), dip the end of the thermometer in the lubricant.

Lift the dog’s tail.

Use your non-dominant hand (eg. your left hand if you are right-handed) to grasp the base of the dog’s tail and lift it up. You should firmly but gently lift up on the dog’s tail, exposing the dog’s anus. Be careful with females to place the thermometer in the right hole (top one ☺)

Hold the thermometer parallel

To the dog’s long axis, holding the thermometer horizontal and pointing from tail to head. Keeping the thermometer in this position, touch the end of the thermometer to the anus.

Take the dog’s temperature.

If you are using a digital thermometer, you will need to push the button on the shaft of the thermometer to turn it on. Push it again to begin taking the dog’s temperature.

The display will likely flash or you will see the temperature increasing while you take the dog’s temperature.
Wait between 5 and 60 seconds, depending upon the thermometer. When you hear the thermometer beep, or if the temperature has leveled off and is remaining steady, you are finished.

Mistakes can be caused if there is poop in the area, which can make the reading lower and also not getting the thermometer in far enough can also result in a false reading.

General temperature in normal range for dogs is 99.5 – 102.5. If it’s over 103.2 you should retake and if it persists or goes up then you should see your veterinarian right away.

Low temperatures can occur in old, debilitated and critically ill animals. A 98.5 or lower is cause for concern in a normal animal.

Again always do a second reading in case it may be a “user error” and save you a trip to your vet.

** All of the above rules apply to taking your dogs temperature.

If you try and take your cat’s temperature YOU may be the one going to the hospital!

Wishing you much love, light and health,

Dr. Tiffany Margolin

Dr. Tiffany Margolin posing with a dog

PEA: A Natural Animal Pain Supplement

Article on PEA

I am often asked, of late, about the beneficial effects of cannabis, or any derivatives from the marijuana plant, for my patients.

Since my community is one of natural healing and hemp-savvy people, this is not surprising. In addition, many of my (human) clients have experienced relief in some form from the use of various parts of the cannabis plant.

Natural health

While many people realize they are not going to give “pot” to their pet due to undesired side effects (the very worst being fatal), they still wonder about hemp-derived supplements.

Lucky for my community, I have been working with a pure, body-produced substance called palmitoylethanolamide (PEA for short).

PEA Pills

PEA has more times the anti-inflammatory potency of cannabinoids (part of the endocannabinoid system) –or cannabis–with NONE of the side effects or psychotropic effects.

First, let’s look at where musculoskeletal pain comes from and how it worsens into more irreversible conditions in the body:

Although there are many kinds of pain, by far the most common and disruptive to your pet and thus, to you, is musculoskeletal pain.

Over 80% involves some part of the back or neck, with the remaining involving round joints such as hips, knees, and elbows.

The development of pain progresses from initial small injury, reactions of the surrounding muscles and connective tissues, spasms, to constricted blood supply, then comes anoxia, acidic environment,  pain modulators with nervous system reaction, and finally stagnation (stopping of processes).

This is painful. If it lasts and no restoration of circulation occurs, then the body will lay down fibrous tissue. This is avascular and replaces healthy normal tissue causing more adhesions and constriction-then restricted movement, not to mention more pain.

If the inflammation and fibrous tissue issues are still not addressed, the body then tries to stabilize the affected, painful areas, especially when this occurs between the vertebral bodies (in the spine). This progresses from fibrous tissues to the migration and formation of laying down new bone. So now you have the first bone spurs, then eventually, bony bridges between the vertebrae.

This fusion of areas of the spine is the foundation of much pain and lameness that we see in small animals. The pain can sometimes spread to the joints in their wrists and ankles.

If we can address these issues far before the fiber and bone is laid down, you have a HUGE window of prevention and reversal of this whole process.

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Common Sources of Pain and Distress in Dogs (PEA-responsive):

  • Neck and spine problems
  • Ear inflammation/pain
  • Stifle/knee pain
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures

Cat experiencing chronic pain

Common Sources of Pain and Distress in Cats:

  • Neck and spine pain (very common in cats)
  • Arthritis of the knees
  • Anxiety
  • Allergies
  • Seizures (of non-tumor origin)

Mammals have an “endocannabinoid” system that produces this substance-PEA-naturally. Chronic stress, inflammation, and other dysfunctions can lead to low production of endogenous PEA.

 

Positive Effects of PEA

Used for many years already in Europe, PEA has had profound and remarkable anti-inflammatory effects on the humans and pets using it. It is markedly anti-inflammatory, very safe, with minimal to no side-effects, and can be combined with all other medications and drugs. (Always check with your vet or doctor before taking any sort of pill).

 

Some features of PEA include:

  • Painkiller and anti-inflammatory compound
  • Anticonvulsant activity
  • Addresses nerve pain
  • Reduced scar tissue formation
  • Aids in treatment of glaucoma
  • Produced in our cells, natural compound
  • Protects cells
  • Proven to be effective and safe in many clinical trials in more than
  • 5000 patients tested- with no documented adverse drug interactions
  • Can be combined with any other compound
  • Available as a capsule and as a cream

 

Some additional natural and western (medications) that can be used individually and in combination with PEA for pain:

  • Boswellia
  • Turmeric (with black pepper)
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin (injections work best, followed by oral supplements)
  • Muscle relaxant medication (can work in tandem with modalities such as acupuncture or chiropractic as well)
  • Noni poultices
  • NSAIDS-Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Opioids
  • Steroids

 

PEA Helps Treat Back Pain

One of the things I find most intriguing about the cannabinoids and PEA is that PEA can replace steroids, one of the more powerful and problematic treatments for back problems. However, if chronic pain is severe, a more integrative approach may be necessary for your pet.

I am asked if Cannabidiol (CBD) is the same. It is different as it derives from the plant (as opposed to the body) and it works through a different mechanism. Because it is from the cannabis plant, there may be varying psychotropic effects, albeit small.

Narcotics, opioids, non-steroidal drugs all act via different mechanisms than the PEA.

 

How Cats Benefit from Using PEA

A note about CATS: Cats metabolize many western medications very differently than dogs. They cannot tolerate most non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and can have strong negative reactions to antihistamines (for allergies). With such a narrow range of options, the natural substances, and specifically PEA, has been very promising. And since cats groom quite a bit, the use of essential oils or rubs can be dangerous.

Since my background includes Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, I make sure to take into account the “constitution” of a pet when I’m treating them.

This can be a complex subject, but simply, think about breeds and how they look. A Labrador is often an “excess” dog. They have big, red tongues and have heavy features. They can hold heat, specifically DAMP heat.

A thin, older Maltese is often a “deficient” animal and is prone to COLD. Thus I talk to people about avoiding environmental conditions that increase pain in that particular body.

Keeping labs cooler, using foods that cool their body, while keeping the Maltese warm and feeding them carbohydrates that produce heat– these can all enhance the results of natural pain control.

 

We Offer Holistic Animal Care

 

Vet assistant holding a dog
I also offer acupuncture, chiropractic, cold laser therapy and Myofascial release as natural physical adjustments that are used to speed up and help with health results.

If you’re interested in learning more about our holistic animal care, please contact us.

Omega Fatty Acid: Wild for WildGold

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So many of you have heard of the benefits of Omega fatty acids: the heart-health benefits, the joint benefits, and even youthful changes to our skin.

The Benefits of Omega Fatty Acids for Dogs

For our dogs, the most notable and needed benefits include anti-inflammatory actions on their hip and elbow joints, the wonderful softness to their hair coats and the anti-allergy benefits.

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Not all Omega Fatty Acids are Good For Animals

But not all essential fatty acid supplements are the same. In fact, the wrong omega fatty acid source actually contains elements that are harmful to your pet, elements such as lead or other heavy metals. Fish oils were (and still are) the most commonly used supplements  because they are cheap and abundant for companies to obtain.

The other comment I get a lot from my clients is: “But my food has omegas in it, do I need more”?

These supplements that have been added to the food, even if a good, clean product, are simply not in a high enough concentration to do your pet good.

The truth is the anti-inflammatory effect of standard omega fatty acid (fish oil) supplements doesn’t “kick in” unless you give your pet approximately six times the recommended dose. The advent of green-lipped mussel oil and other supplements in that family made the pill size smaller, and there is definitely a higher concentration of synergistic compounds that are excellent for joint and skin health in the green-lipped mussel oil. Smaller amounts are thus needed for the desired effects and it’s easier to get your pet to accept them.

A New Vegan Omega Fatty Acid Supplement 

Lately, I’ve been excited and extremely pleased with the amazing transformations I’ve seen with a new omega fatty acid supplement. It is flavorless, free of any “fishy” smell, and it’s totally vegan (for those dogs that are interested)! It is made from a superior clean source of camelina oil, a plant-based supplement with no chance of toxins.

This new “miracle” omega supplement is called WildGold and is becoming wildly effective in making dogs feel young again! It is doing wonders for horses as well, and we believe it may help out older, arthritic rabbits.

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I had been trying it out on several of my doggy patients, and keep receiving great feedback reporting softer coats, less itching and greater mobility of creaky joints.

I am very happy to finally find an oil that can be added to virtually any food and the doggies and horses LOVE it. If you have a rabbit, a bird or dog and you are interested in seeing the potential benefits of this product, give us a call at (805)350-1399.

Acupuncture: Let’s Needle it Out

Today, From the Heart Mobile Vet offers acupuncture and other holistic forms of care for your pets. This is a relatively new part of my practice because integrative medicine has just begun to gain momentum in veterinarian practices. Let me take you down memory lane to a couple years ago when I first was introduced to acupuncture for animals. 

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The Beginning of Acupuncture in Veterinary Care

In recent years, acupuncture has begun to find its way into mainstream veterinary medicine. Not two days ago I was sitting in an informal meeting with several alternative/integrative medicine practitioners. We were discussing how acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal and homeopathic medicine had made its way, finally, into increasing numbers of veterinary clinics. It seemed to me that the grassroots movement and consumer demand in human medicine had applied pressure to the veterinary industry.

I was a classic example of a Western medicine–trained vet. As a graduate in 1991, it was with great pride that I diagnosed most problems with radiographs and blood testing, and if it wasn’t showing up there, it didn’t exist. I used the appropriate pills (as directed by the pharmaceutical companies that conducted our seminars) to “fix” the problem.

As I progressed into the inevitable arena of refractory, unresponsive, chronic illnesses, it was alarmingly clear that we were missing A LOT. We were missing early stages of disease or changes that could indicate the later onset of disease in pets. The occasional oddball veterinarian would mention a brush with acupuncture or chiropractic medicine. There might be a story about ONE animal that they thought benefited.

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How Acupuncture Has Helped My Pets

It wasn’t until my own dog was showing obvious signs of stiffness, pain and hesitation to jump, with NO sign on X-rays of arthritis that I really came on board with the needles. I quietly slipped over to the only local animal hospital performing pet acupuncture regularly.

The first day Spirit had her treatment, she was a changed dog. She trotted, tail up, into the park and leaped into the air after a tennis ball! I felt my guilt ease and my curiosity peak.

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Benefits of Acupuncture on Animals

Pain, of course, is what most of us hear about when it comes to the application of acupuncture. However, pain is just a minute segment of what this method can treat. There are a myriad of signs, symptoms and conditions that respond to, in many cases, a combination of needling, herbs, and dietary changes. Integrative medicine is just that. There is no way to separate one thing from the other, and diet, the lifestyle of the pet and mode of treatment (including conventional and alternative) all combine for the best outcome.

Speaking of combining, one of the more common areas of feedback I hear is that acupuncture doesn’t “hold.” Well, that is extremely dependent on the condition being treated. I was just reading about intervertebral disc disease. This occurs when there is an actual breakdown of disc material in the back, and the disc collapses, bulges or calcifies and causes extreme spinal pain or paralysis of the legs. As you can imagine, this is usually classified as surgical, since the material is actually moving against the spinal cord and needs to be removed.

However, in many cases, owners do not want to subject their beloved pet to surgery, or would like to exhaust other options prior to performing an extensive, invasive procedure. Although the needles will not actually penetrate the disc space or get near the spinal cord, acupuncture can still be very effective in some cases. If Fido responds, as long as you are consistent about follow-up with regular treatments (a lot better than surgery if it works!), then the results will often “hold.” If they do not, this is an indicator that surgery may be necessary.

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Complementary Treatments to Acupuncture

In addition to acupuncture, combining several modalities will often strengthen and prolong good results. A great complement to needling is the application of veterinary orthopedic manipulation (VOM), a nontraumatic activator technique adapted from human chiropractic. This method uses a spring-loaded activator to stimulate and rehabilitate the blood supply to the spinal cord and discs. Sometimes if acupuncture doesn’t achieve the desired result, VOM is used, or vice versa. More often, they can be synergistic and result in a better outcome when used in conjunction.

When combining treatment modalities, a pet owner may want something even less “invasive” or physical than the above treatments. In these cases, I recommend the application of alpha wave technology. This technology uses low-frequency sound waves, applied to the body in various areas, to act as “electroacupuncture.” There are no needles and no current is applied. Rather, the sound waves stimulate your pet’s brain to produce alpha waves. These are the healing waves mammals produce when they sleep. They stimulate endorphins, relaxation and generally promote tissue repair and healing.

Now this information is not intended to steer you away from having a necessary surgery. If your pet has a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, surgery is very important—it reconnects the pieces. Alpha-sonic and acupuncture technology can then be used to speed healing immensely, as a form of physical therapy. VOM is also a very effective way to minimize muscle spasms in the back and to lower the risk of a disc problem during post-operative recovery.

In cases of organ malfunction, acupuncture gets very specific and the application of Chinese medicine principals becomes even more, apparent. Customized herbs and dietary changes must often be implemented, along with regular needle application and the monitoring of blood results.

Education on Acupuncture for Veterinarians

Courses in acupuncture are being taught more widely in veterinary schools, and chapters on acupuncture are now found in many veterinary texts. There is a great difference in the approach Chinese medicine takes to problems as compared to Western medicine. Even the same problem in different animals may be treated quite differently by the acupuncturist. As Chinese medicine deals with the body as a whole, treatment also addresses the whole body or “constitution,” correcting at various levels the imbalances detected. Thus, as the body comes into balance, the specific signs, symptoms and “problem” should respond, and, ultimately, resolve.

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Is Acupuncture Right for your Pet?

Realize that acupuncture is a cumulative treatment modality. It can often take several initial treatments to ascertain how well your pet will respond. The sessions may take from 15 to 30 or more minutes. The good news is that, in the hands of a certified and trained practitioner, your pet should have no discomfort and will actually be quite relaxed following these sessions.

One of the most important things to remember is to seek an integrative veterinarian who is aligned with your philosophy and will work with you to find a whole-body approach to your pet’s problem. This way, you and Fido will live a longer and healthier life together.

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