Tag Archives: dogs

Avoid These Common Mistakes If You’re a First Time Dog Owner

If you’ve never owned a dog before, the excitement of bringing home your new companion can be one of the most exhilarating moments of your life. Dogs are lifelong friends, perfect for anyone struggling with loneliness, heartbreak, recovery, or illness. Dogs teach us and our children to be caring and responsible. Owning a dog can be one of the most rewarding things you do in life. If you’re not prepared, however, that exhilaration can soon turn to unease and unhappiness – for both you and your new dog. If you want to get your relationship with your new dog off to the right start, avoid these common mistakes that many first-time owners make.

Failing to match dog to lifestyle

Before you even bring your new dog home you can make the biggest mistake you can possibly make – failing to match your dog to your lifestyle.

Different dogs require different levels of activity and space. A German Shepherd, for instance, requires a larger living area and much more exercise than a Bichon Frise. If you are pressed for time, live in a small apartment, or live a sedentary lifestyle, don’t bring home a dog that needs more from you than you can provide. If you have moderate to severe allergies, don’t bring home a dog that has a lengthy coat that sheds. If you are getting a dog to be a running partner, don’t get a bulldog. You see the point here – it’s vital to get a dog that matches your lifestyle.

Being too hands-off at first

You dog will need to learn early on that it’s ok to be touched, picked up, and held. Many first time owners think that the attention a puppy gives them means that they are on their way to being fully socialized. This isn’t exactly true. Owners need to be hands-on with their dogs, exposing them to practices that will teach them to be comfortable in all situations.

“The best thing you can do to prepare your dog for all of this necessary attention is to get him used to having all parts of his body handled. He should be willing to let you touch him anywhere, including his paws and more private areas,” says VetStreet.

Brush your dog’s teeth, trim their nails, give them baths, and brush their coat. Not only will this improve your dog’s overall health, but it will get them used to being touched in all sorts of ways.

Failing to establish boundaries

If you want your dog to be well-behaved, you must set rules and stick to them.

“Before you bring a new dog or puppy into the house, sit down with members of the household and decide what the dog will and will not be allowed to do. Choose where the dog will sleep, if it can be on the furniture, when it will be fed, walked, exercised and by whom. Setting the rules and making sure everyone follows them is a big key to success,” says iHeartDogs.com.

Changing the rules confuses dogs and sets them up for failure. Dogs are not human, and they can’t read you mind. They need boundaries in order to function as well-behaved and happy pets.

One main boundary involves food. Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Don’t give them human food. Not only can some food harm dogs, but teaching your dog that human food is fair game early on can lead to behavioral issues like aggression down the road.

If you do the research to find the right dog for your lifestyle, begin to bond with your dog from day one, and set strict rules that every member of the household can follow, you’ll be well on your way to owning a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog.

Guest Blogger: Jessica Brody, Our Best Friends
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Home Remedies 101 – Part 2

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.


I get asked a lot about how to safely remove a ticks from your dogs.  Well let me start by saying that if your dog spends lots of time outdoors, tick checks should be part of your daily routine. Here’s how to spot a tick – and what to do if one has grabbed hold of your pet.

Start by running your fingers slowly over your dog’s entire body. If you feel a bump or swollen area, check to see if a tick has burrowed there. Don’t limit your search to your dog’s torso: check between his toes, under his armpits, the insides of his ears, and around his face and chin.

Ticks can be black, brown or tan and they have eight legs. They can also be tiny: some species are only as large as the head of a pin.

Don’t use your hands or fingers, as you’ll squeeze the tick contents into your dog! Use tweezers or a tick removal device. Pinch the area of skin under the tick to make a “hill”.

Grasp low at the “neck” of the tick or lower, and slowly twist and pull, allowing time for the tick to detach. You may want to apply Frontline spray or topical first to allow ticks to loosen and some even fall off.

It’s normal for a reactionary bump to remain. Just note if there is a black piece still there then this is the head of the tick. The head itself poses no real risk, as the dog’s body will naturally push it out over time.

The tick’s body has the diseases, so as long as it is removed before 24-48 hours of being on the dog-it requires that time for disease transmission. If it’s been longer than 24 hours, plan to consult your vet for tick disease testing and possibly preventative antibiotics.

Unless you can’t get to the tick, you don’t really need a vet to remove it.

I hope you found this article helpful.

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.

dog-1374221400myr

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.

Flea Misconceptions and Safe Solutions

dog who could have a flea issue

 

SUMMER’S HERE AND SO ARE THE FLEAS!

“I think my dog has fleas again, but I don’t see any….I just put the flea stuff on last week…” Carol says.

“What’s Chance doing? ” I ask.

“He’s scratching again like mad.” She explains.

Therein lies the rub, or the scratch, as the case may be. If a dog or cat is scratching, it may not be fleas or any external parasite. Most animals that actually carry an infestation of fleas (or one or two) are NOT that itchy. This is because the itchy ones are often demonstrating a flea ALLERGY, a reaction to the flea bite/saliva.

Furry dog 

Signs Your Pet May Have a Flea Allergy

Tiny molecules of flea saliva can cause the itch. If a pet is actually itchy and allergic, whether to fleas or other things such as food/pollen, then they don’t tolerate fleas living on them. Thus the itchy animal may not have fleas at all.

However, and this is what may be confusing, they still need flea control. Because the pet that is itchy usually has an ALLERGY to fleas, if flea control is not used (one that works), than a big allergic reaction can result even without many fleas around.

In addition, allergies are ADDITIVE, so if your pet has, say a pollen allergy or dust mite allergy, then it may not be active until or unless the wrong food or a flea bite ADDS to the immune system’s aggravation.

So one component of an allergy can put the pet above his “threshold” for itching. Thus it’s quite possible to control flea allergies or food allergies simply by limiting one or the other, not always both.

Now that you know fleas DO need to be controlled, what is the best way? 
I often get the question:

“What type of flea spray or powder do I use in my HOUSE?”

My client is worried about the fleas living around the house or yard.
The good news is most of a flea’s lifecycle is ON the pet. Why is that “good” news? Because if you control the fleas ON your pet, it is less and less likely as time goes by, that they will live and hatch in your environment.

Of course, there are exceptions. In California, where I live, the fleas LOVE the weather. They hang out and reproduce most of the year. If you have carpet, there are more places for eggs to land and stay.

However, if your house is wood/tile or another hard surface, controlling and killing on-board fleas will leave you flea-free and happy.

cat and dog lying next to one another 

Cats Can Cause Flea Problems for Your Dog

The other culprit that can be a “stealth” source for fleas on dogs is…your CAT. Not only do cats tend to act as flea “buses” bringing the “outdoors in”, but the fleas we find on dogs are frequently CAT flea species. Unfortunately, they find dogs just as tasty.

Speaking of cats, what if you have indoor-only cats? Do you have to be concerned about fleas? Well, it depends, if you have hard surface floors and minimal material upholstery or area rugs, then it is highly unlikely your cat will have flea problems.

If on the other hand, you move into a carpeted home WITH your cat, there may be eggs or larvae in the carpets waiting for a better deal. Enter: your cat. In this case, it is wise to use a topical or oral product for at least six months  on the carpet.

Consider using a safe product such as diatomaceous earth or boric acid powder. Sprinkle it into the carpet and vacuum it up, to desiccate remaining pests.

 Dog getting a bath using flea shampoo

Misconceptions About Flea Shampoo

One popular misconception is the use of FLEA SHAMPOOS. Flea shampoos do not have any lasting impact on killing fleas, and are bad for this reason:

They use toxins to kill the fleas on the pet but they don’t typically last more than 24 hours, so you have to use more toxins –increases total toxic load. Please don’t use “flea shampoo” unless your pet has an overwhelming infestation of fleas /ticks and MUST have that “kill” effect due to health risks.

There are also now oral products on the market that work much more safely for a quick kill effect on a heavily infested pet. They are intended for only a 24-hour effect and must be followed with a longer acting flea /flea combination preventative.

 Dr. Tiffany Margolin posing with a dog

Veterinary-Approved Flea and Tick Protection

So what DO you use? There are veterinary-recommended flea and tick products evolving every month, it seems. Some kill only fleas, some ticks, and fleas, and some include extras like internal parasites, heartworm, mites, and mosquitoes.

This article is not intended to recommend specific products, but I advice you only use a product obtained through a veterinarian.

Over the counter products (non-veterinary) either do not work well, or, far worse, some have proven fatal to a number of pets-specifically CATS –and the companies are still not being held accountable.

You’re playing Russian roulette to use some of the highly toxic compounds sold in over the counter pesticide-laden flea products.

The veterinary compounds still have some negative qualities, but the overall goals are modulation of the insect metabolism, and avoiding ill effects on your pet.

I am a holistic vet and I’m frequently queried about natural alternatives for flea and tick control.

Please DO NOT USE ESSENTIAL OILS DIRECTLY ON YOUR PET. Too many are not correctly mixed or diluted and can cause severe irritation of the skin.

In cases of cats, they can have severe reactions to ingested essential oils. I find feeding a measured amount of garlic (a small amount daily) and nutritional yeast to DOGS can prevent fleas.

This recipe was recently posted for a natural flea and tick powder that can also be used:

-1 cup Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
-1/2 cup Neem Powder
-1/2 cup Yarrow Powder
-20 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil–Leave out the
essential oil if using for cats.

A word about ticks, they are MUCH tougher than fleas, and they do carry some diseases that can be life-threatening.

Although we’re at a lower risk of that in California, there are still dogs who have contract tickborne diseases.

The risk occurs when the tick has been attached to the dog’s skin for over 24 hours.

To kill or repel ticks requires specific compounds, and only some of the products do this.

I personally find that these are “big guns,” only to be used if your pet picks up ticks in their own yard.

If you’re worried about ticks when out on a hike or camping with your dog, I recommend getting a tick collar that is only used at the time of the outings and checking your pet over carefully once back. This way the more toxic products don’t stay on/in your dog when they’re not needed.

 

Ear Mites vs. Yeast Infections

Lastly, people often mention they are concerned about their pets’ “ear mites.” In many well-homed, indoor dogs and cats, mites are a very low probability. Usually, the dark waxy material that has an odor, is a yeast infection, with its roots in food allergies.

In fact, one of the cardinal signs or “flags” of a food allergy is excess ear wax/yeast, odor, and itching.

Your veterinarian can easily distinguish yeast infection from mites. In addition, cat ear mites (the more common case) do not transmit to dogs.

Unless you place your cat’s ear wax into your ears, they won’t be interested in your ears!

In the case your cat really does have mites, there are simple topical products that result in a quick resolution.

As summer progresses into the cooler months, remember that California fleas are like California people…they are here for the weather, all year long!

In late fall/winter, you can reduce flea control measures or increase application intervals to every other month, but stopping flea control completely is unlikely.

Consider trying one of the natural remedies mentioned above if you’d like to experiment. It may be the perfect answer.

For more flea and tick solutions, please contact us by clicking here.

Holistic Approaches: Back or Leg Pain in Dogs

holistic approaches to back or leg pain in dogs

Just the other day I received a call from a VERY distressed owner.

“Doctor, Cici isn’t doing well at all and she has a leg problem. We have X-rays but she is still limping and can’t seem to get comfortable. Can you help her?”

I wondered about the X-rays. I’ve so often heard, “Oh yes, they took X-rays (properly termed radiographs) of EVERYTHING. They didn’t find anything”! 

 

What Are X-rays Not Picking Up?

Usually, what I find in these cases are that hips, a knee, an elbow or shoulder is the focus of  the radiographs. I cannot TELL you how many times there are NO pictures of the pet’s neck or lower spine. 

Yet, the VAST majority of pain appearing as a limp or stiffness in middle-aged or older dogs comes from the spine.

There are a great number of structures  in the region of the spine, that affect the gait or the way a pet walks. Besides the obvious “disc” (that may bulge or be calcifying), there may be inflammation of structures around the bones, muscle spasms, fibrous tissue from old injuries, or plain, simple “arthritis” of different areas of the spine. ALL of which can cause progressive or intermittent signs.

The important thing is that you can learn to recognize this and help the vet to help your pet.

 

Signs of Pain in the Back, Legs or Neck:

  • Shifting front leg lameness or limping that is hard to localize to one leg (front legs look for neck issues).
  • Slow to squat or push up from squatting when defecating (lesions in the region of the tailbone).
  • “Hunching” of the lower back, a curve that seems more pronounced than before (this can occur in younger dogs as well with muscle spasms of the back).
  • Spasms that look like a standing seizure in small dogs, in which they curve to one side in a “C” shape and are struggling to walk.
  • Snappiness upon petting, scratching or bumping your dog’s hips or lower back.
  • An intermittent or unexplainable yelp of pain or shaking (often neck pain).

“But doctor, he never cries or whines.” 

Think about your own knees or back. When they hurt, do you cry out? Do you whimper? Dogs are even more stoic than we are. It’s not the sharp, unbearable type of pain (except with acute neck pain) that they are usually suffering. Instead, they tend to “suffer in silence”, which only keeps us from recognizing how uncomfortable they may be.

Although it seems animals don’t “tell us where it hurts,” they actually do. We just need to learn their pain language and pay attention. If you think it’s a leg (and you have an older pet), you may want to be sure to rule out back pain with your veterinarian. 

 

Back Pain or Leg Pain?

So why is it so important to know whether it’s a “back or a leg?” Because the effective treatment can be radically different. 

When I got the call about Cici, I saw her, and my stomach lurched. This dog was in severe pain. And she was on pain medications appropriate for a JOINT or a LEG. But I realized she had neck pain, and her radiographs were only of the elbow and hip joints. 

 

Holistic Approaches to Solve Cici’s Pain

Because she was in so much pain, she could not tolerate excessive handling, so her owners decided to try acupuncture, one of our holistic approaches, for her neck and a treatment trial of corticosteroids and muscle relaxants, often the best initial way to address the immediate pain and swelling.

The next day I was hesitant to call, afraid I would hear nothing good. On the contrary, Cici had had her best night in weeks. Her owners were ecstatic, grateful and relieved, and Cici was out of pain (finally).

In reviewing her history, all I had to do was listen (she had a metal rod in her back for gosh sakes)! And to pay attention to her level of stiffness and movement. Dogs with joint pain rarely if ever, shake in pain when lying still. But neck pain is different, often sharp and severe.

I’m happy to report that Cici is feeling like herself again.  She will be under observation and receive continued acupuncture treatments to help as much as possible with her ongoing issues. She is not a candidate for surgery again, and many times these situations can get better and stay that way with the right balance of holistic approaches and western medicine.

For more information about how to tell if your pet is in pain, what to do about it, and if you’re interested in talking further about a couple holistic approaches to your dog’s pain, please call From the heart vet.

The Human-Animal Bond is Unconditional Love

human-animal bond

I was out to dinner the other night, and my dinner companion, a strong, masculine gentleman, who was wise and well-traveled said to me, “I am a better man around my dog”.

He had been speaking of the unconditional love of dogs, and how close he was to his own dog. He was also explaining that the loving behavior modeled by his dog significantly improved his own behavior.

I immediately flashed upon scene after scene of men breaking down while saying goodbye to a beloved friend, as their wives or family helped them through it. It is true love that strong human-animal bond  we’re so fortunate to be a part of.

The Message in the Human-Animal Bond

So often I am asked, “Why do dogs have to have such short lives”? My response is simple. “I believe so they can show us an entire life well lived full of joy, play and pure unconditional love, so WE have the opportunity to get the message and learn how to live more joyfully.” And I truly believe that.

human-animal bond

My friend also remarked that no human could ever be so unconditionally loving as a dog. I am not so sure about that. I would like to believe that some few individuals can and do transform their love to universal love, but it is so very hard to remain there at all times while interacting with so many others. Even so, all of this is a clear reminder and example to me of how important and how strong our need is for healing through our pets.

When life gets rough, it can be our animals that we turn to the most to help us through times when we don’t feel secure. This is just another example of the power of the human-animal bond. 

human-animal bond

One heartwarming experience I recently had was with Sammy, a sweet 16-year-old Schnauzer. Sammy lived with her 80-something year old bedridden owner, and this sweet lady was in and out of awareness over the last few years.

Sammy developed a huge tumor hanging from her underside, and everyone felt this was probably the end for her. She was losing weight, not eating well and was clearly deaf. Not feeling very hopeful, I explained I could try to remove the tumor, however, there was an obvious risk, but everyone loved Sammy and wanted me to perform the surgery.

As I left her house that day, Sammy’s owner was being rushed to the hospital, and was not expected to live much longer. Her neighbors were actually planning the takeover of Sammy’s care. On the day of surgery, we discovered large amounts of wax and dirt lodged deep in Sammy’s ear canals. I performed a deep cleaning and flush and medicated both ears. Happily, she recovered uneventfully and was reported to be doing very well the next few days.

Two weeks later, I visited Sammy to remove her staples. I almost fell over with amazement—She had HEARD me pull up, trotted to the door, and BARKED! When I entered, I noticed she had gained weight (I had completely changed her to a healthy diet) and she was PERKY!

Even more shocking, I heard a voice greet me as I entered. Turning to the left, I saw her owner sitting up, fully dressed, and bright! She looked like another person. The most wonderful part of all this was the call I received a few days later. Her owner called and was thrilled with Sammy’s progress, thanked me over and over, and said we had “performed a miracle”.

Every day I am so grateful to be able to help, and it brought tears to my eyes to see how Sammy’s recovery had given her mom a new lease on life. Truly her own personal miracle.

This story alone is a wonderful illustration of the power of human-animal bond. The way we live our lives is directly correlated with the way your pets live and feel. 

If you are noticing major health issues with your pet and you’re looking for solutions for your pet or you’re wanting advice on how to better the life of your pet, never hesitate to reach out to us, we care!

Euthanasia: What to Expect

older dog

The other day, I was answering a request for a home euthanasia of a beloved family dog. This little dog was 19 years old and had a true “following” of people who loved her.

How We Help Families Prepare for  Euthanasia

In the past few years, coming to homes to help animals transition has proven to be a peaceful, beautiful, loving and highly appreciated part of my home services, and I really like to think of it as “giving your pet their wings,” as they are truly are little angels while here (that part of what I do is called Goodbye My Angel).

Animals give us amazing, unconditional love and illuminate the path to emotional and even physical healing for us. There is nothing quite like the human-animal bond, and when people don’t understand why they miss their pet so much, I try to explain it this way:

“Think about how many moments they are there for us. Who else do you know including your spouse, who is there in all of life’s moments, including accompanying you to the bathroom, lying in bed when you are sick and telling you that you’re still beautiful, and greeting you every time you step back into the house, no matter how many times that is in a day?”

When viewed that way, how could you NOT be more attached to your pet than to anyone in your life?

EuthanasiaThe little Pomeranian that was preparing to leave that day was surrounded by 12 loving people. While, to some this may seem a bit much, the beauty of their spoken prayers and songs for her passage truly moved me. Everyone should be sent off with that much love.

In the last few months I have noticed how many men of the household have an extremely difficult time with the process of letting go of their furry friend, to the point that they are breaking down or leaving the house due to emotional distress. Men in our society haven’t always had the support for pet loss that is so critical.

Often some of this is brought on by unanswered questions –such as,

“How does this work?”

“What do I look for?”

“What do I expect when you are here?”

“What happens afterwards?”

This is all part of “anticipatory grief”: knowing the inevitable decision is coming, yet, not knowing what to look for and “how it goes” when  it arrives.

sunset-743429_960_720

Signs Your Pet is Ready to Transition

So here it is.  What you look for can vary, but the most important thing to notice is that your pet is not having the same quality of life as they are used to.

They may continue to eat, but not walk well, or be embarrassed by accidents in their beds and home. Animals are not so attached to their bodies and earthly life as we are, and are far more accepting of letting go when their bodies fail them.

One thing to remember is that they can tell when we do not want to let them go, and may hang on too long, in pain and feeling weak, simply because of OUR strong emotions. I have learned over the years that one thing people often regret is waiting TOO LONG to make the decision. So realize that your aging or suffering pet is often ready well before you are.

animal euthanasia

Our Euthanasia Process

What happens when I come over?  Firstly, your pet should be in their favorite bed, favorite room or yard area, and try to give them fun things to eat or toys that they love.

I have been advised by those who communicate with animals, that it is best if you verbalize to them that you are okay for them to leave. Even if you are sad, you tell them you will be okay.

Next, I will give them a small injection of sedative just under the skin (in the usual vaccination site) that will take full effect by about ten minutes. In this time they will lie down, relax, may have a lolling tongue, and often their eyes will remain open. They are fully anesthetized and do not feel anything once asleep.

Once they are deeply into this sedated sleep, it is time for the final injection. This is simply a strong anesthetic at an extreme overdose, causing the sleep to deepen so much that their heart and brain stop. It is very rapid and very peaceful. There is no awareness.

Once a pet has passed peacefully this way, we have an amazing service that will provide aftercare and if you so choose, return ashes and a paw print to you. If someone does not want ashes returned, they will be scattered in a beautiful field or over the ocean. All steps are taken with dignity and respect for their lives.

We all wish our pets could live as long as we do. I just remind each and every one that their short, loving, beautiful lives demonstrate the full spectrum of living presently  in each moment, loving, playing and saying a graceful goodbye…so we can see how life is best lived, truly.

If you are looking for this type of service, please contact us here. For more information on our home euthanasia service, please click on this website.

With all the love, Dr. Tiffany Margolin, owner of From The Heart Mobile Vet.

Hypothyroidism: Symptoms in Your Dog and How to Treat it

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The thyroid gland is the master gland and controller for the metabolism of all the cells of the entire body.

 

Signs of Hypothyroidism in Dogs

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In dogs, the most common disorder of the thyroid gland is a slowing of function, thought to be caused by the immune system attacking the cells of the gland.

Over time, the thyroid gland function slowly decreases, resulting in changes that one may not immediately recognize. The other issue is the overproduction of  the thyroid hormone, which dogs cannot absorb/utilize in their body. The result in their quality of life is the same, though.

More obvious signs of decreased thyroid gland function in a dog are  dulling of the haircoat, weight gain, development of fatty tumors under the skin, and other general skin changes, including allergies.

More subtle signs are a result of the effects on all of the cells of the immune system, nervous system, and sometimes the digestive system. This is what can sometimes make recognizing and diagnosing hypothyroidism (low thyroid function in the body) more difficult.

In the nervous system, hypothyroidism can show up as seizures, laryngeal paralysis (a loud, roaring pant and heavy breathing, often seen in older labs and golden retrievers), and hindquarter weakness.

In the skeletal system, these dogs often form more spinal arthritis than the norm.

In the immune system, these dogs are more vulnerable to general illnesses.

A sometimes confusing problem is a weakened digestive system, which may appear as weight loss or loss of muscle tone due to decreased interest in food, and/or decreased uptake of nutrients.

 

How to Go About Getting Your Dog Treatment for Hypothyroidism

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If you suspect your dog has one or more of these signs, it is an exceedingly easy condition both to diagnose and treat. A simple blood test can reveal hypothyroidism, and there are both western and sometimes herbal treatments available.

When you work with a holistic veterinarian on this issue, there may also be other, more subtle issues uncovered such as adrenal gland dysfunction. While beyond the scope of this article, these will be integrated into the treatment plan by a competent and observant integrative/holistic vet.

You will be surprised and relieved once your dog is feeling the energy and wellbeing of a corrected thyroid level!

Vaccinations: To give or not to give?

What are the necessary vaccinations your pet needs-

We have seen the tides turn, once again. The enthusiasm over rattlesnake and Lyme’s vaccines on top of the other “core” vaccines, has finally died down, and you can discuss the pros and cons (I hope) with your veterinarian now.

However, what are the core vaccinations you “need” to give your pet? Here are some words of comfort and moderation: 

 

What Vaccinations Are Necessary for your Pet to Get?

1. In the first year of your pet’s life, we do (even as integrative vets) generally recommend the initial set of 3 sequential vaccinations for distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and in some cases (some areas of the country), coronavirus or leptospirosis. We also highly  recommend the upper respiratory vaccination in the nasal or oral form (less push on the body and more effective than injectable).

2. Rabies vaccination is mandatory and must be given at appropriate intervals. 

3. After the first or second year, I recommend blood testing for vaccination titers (usually distemper and parvovirus) to determine if your pet is protected without having to boost the vaccine. Although some vaccinations are “good” for three years, if you are monitoring, I recommend a yearly vaccination titer. Just a week ago I had a 12-year-old dog who had been on a three-year interval vaccination schedule, and when he failed the titer testing, we knew it was time for him to get another round of vaccinations. Never assume protection is in place without testing.

4. You will/should still have the yearly upper respiratory (bordetella) vaccination, as this infection is seen almost every summertime in random dogs, whether at a kennel or not.

5. Rabies will still be mandatory every three years.

6. Discuss whether your dog has exposure to rattlesnakes or you have problems controlling ticks from attaching for more than 24 hours. If so, you may want the vaccinations for these issues.

7. There is no clear evidence yet, however, I err on the side of caution not over vaccinate when a pet has been diagnosed or is at risk for an autoimmune disorder. Consult your vet if you ever have questions about vaccinations or whether specific vaccinations are needed for your pet. Sending lots of healthy vibes 

New Toxins to Watch Out For

Protect your pets

Returning from the largest veterinary conference in the country a few weeks back, I realized how important it is to share this information as soon as possible with you, so your pets stay safe and happy!

 

Learn the New Toxin Concerns for Your Pet

There are some new toxin concerns on the horizon, things you may not have known about until now. Below are some of the top toxins to watch out for if you have a dog, ferret, other curious pets or small children.

 

Mouse and rat poisons

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It is the season where we sometimes see more of these little visitors around. Always seek natural pest control and talk to those companies when planning it will save your pet’s life.

 

Caffeine

Caffeine as a Prep item

Coffee and tea both contain amounts of caffeine that are toxic to pets and small children. Dropping bags and grounds or a foray into the trash can prove disastrous- remember to watch the waste!

 

Onions and chives

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A known toxin to cats, onions causes the destruction of red blood cells in these felines. In anything more than the tiniest amount, onions-especially raw ones, are a danger for your pet.

 

Macadamia nuts

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Although not in small amounts, these nuts can definitely be toxic and result in signs affecting the nervous system. In your dog, you would be on the look out for vomiting, tremors or their inability to walk. In fact, let’s just not feed the dog macadamia nuts!

 

Unbaked yeast bread dough

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This likely doesn’t require explaining. It can expand in the stomach and cause severe distress and obstruction, even leading to death. Just remember the smell of that dough is as attractive to your dog as the fresh-baked smell is to YOU!

 

Alchohol

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Pets are very sensitive to the effects of alcohol and do not have good “detox” mechanisms for safe ingestion. The ethanol in alcohol can damage the gastrointestinal tract, liver, brain, and kidneys. Please do not ever offer it to your pet and realize that mouthwash contains alcohol if spilled make sure to remove it from your pet’s access. This is not an issue with the tiny amounts present in herbal tinctures. Consult your veterinarian in all cases.

 

Grapes/raisins

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Unfortunately, we have heard a lot about grape and raisin toxicity lately. I believe the increased types and concentration of pesticides present on the skin make this even worse. Avoid feeding either of these to your dog. Your bird is best fed with organic versions of all fruits.

 

Xylitol

Xylitol Gum

Present in gum and candy, this sweetener is toxic to your dog.

 

Medications meant for humans

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Sometimes you don’t realize a medication has spilled onto the floor. It is difficult for your vet to know what is going on if your pet ingests your medications-antidepressants, ibuprofen and ibuprofen-like compounds and decongestants are all potentially very damaging for your pet. Keep out of reach and watch for pills on the floor.

 

Chocolate

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You didn’t think we’d forget chocolate, did you? Remember that the degree of toxicity in chocolate depends on its percentage of cacao the higher the percentage, the more pure or dark the chocolate, the smaller an amount is life-threatening to your pet.

For more information, call (805)350-1399 or email Fromtheheartvet.com. Please note there is also a new hotline out there, besides Poison Control, you may want to try Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Here’s to a safe and healthy pet!