Tag Archives: mobile vet

Foxtails – Here’s Why They’re Dangerous for Your Pets

Foxtail plants can be risky for your pets. The barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or cat, from the nose to between the toes and inside the ears, eyes, and mouth. They can even simply dig themselves directly into a patch of skin.  We see so many cases of Foxtail injuries – here’s what you need to know and ask your Vet.

 


 

What makes foxtails so dangerous?
 
The configuration of foxtails, that of little “arrows,” makes them travel forward, deeper into the body and body cavities. They do not generally back out on their own but left untreated, can get from the skin all the way into the lungs, abdomen, and middle ear, leading to very serious disease and even in some cases, death.

Can foxtails get inside the nose, ears, etc.? What kind of issues can they cause if they do (for example, ear infections, nose bleeds, eye infections)?

Often dogs will inadvertently sniff a foxtail up their nose in pursuit of another scent. Once in the nasal cavity, they usually cause severe sneezing and bleeding from the one side. Most cannot come out on their own and can continue to burrow deeper into the nasal cavity. Due to the sensitive nasal cavity, they must be removed under anesthesia, by a veterinary professional.

If caught under the third eyelid or a part of either lid, they can disappear from sight and cause severe corneal ulcers and even rupture of the eye. I had a case in which the cat had been to another veterinarian and not seen the buried foxtail. Her eye was full of pus and painful. Fortunately, we were able to remove the little bugger and save her eye. She will, however, have a permanent scar.
In the ears, foxtails can sometimes be difficult for owners to recognize. One owner noted their dog just seemed to have a minor ear infection. When I looked deep into the canal with the otoscope, there were actually TWO foxtails in the canal, one on top of the other! This golden retriever was lucky. If left untreated, the foxtail will usually rupture the eardrum, causing severe pain, a head tilt to the direction of the affected ear, and can cause damage to the nerves to the face and eyelids.

Once foxtails are inside the body, can they reach organs or cause serious issues?

As mentioned above, they can travel in tortuous, nonlinear paths anywhere. They have been known to cause life-threatening lung abscesses from entering the side of the chest.

If you suspect your dog might have a foxtail stuck in his ear or skin but you can’t see it, any particular symptoms/signs to look for that would indicate it might be there?

Shaking head, tilting head in one direction more than the other, rubbing one ear on the ground or on furniture, scratching at the affected ear.

 
 
Unless your dog is licking an area of the skin such as one between his toes, you may overlook a buried foxtail. Be thorough about checking over your whole pet after walks, and consider a “summer cut”, or at least shaving the feathers on toes and feet, during foxtail season (usually spring/summer/fall).

Can you extract a foxtail on your own, at home? How?

It is very difficult to remove a partially buried foxtail. You can easily leave a section behind which will continue to burrow and create more problems. Only very superficial foxtails that haven’t become “buried” can be grasped with your fingers (best) to remove and feel for any remaining plant.

 
When is it time to head to the vet? 

It is best to bring your pet if they are showing any signs of the distress mentioned above if they have a history of foxtail exposure, if they are licking between toes, sneezing in bursts, or if you feel any lumps, even if there is no drainage. I recently had a border collie in whose owner was very observant. There was a small, closed lump over the skin on her side. We anesthetized and explored, and there was a foxtail in it, on its way deep into her chest. Thank goodness this owner paid attention!

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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 

Get Her to Love You as Much as YOUR Dog Does

petowners

The number one rule about resetting your relationship is consciousness. Know being kind and generous with your feelings towards your partner are valuable building blocks for your relationship. It isn’t much different to how you treat your pets.

M12 1How does your pet greet you? Do they wag, bark, meow, squeak or squawk? How often do you give a big squeeze and a kiss to your cat, dog, horse or even turtle before you turn to your sweetie or your child and give them one?

How to Show Love to Your Partner First and Your Pet Second

It’s probably happening right when you walk in the door. You go straight for your pet before acknowledging your partner’s presence. While dogs can be almost difficult to ignore as they happily jump or try to lick you as you come through the door, I promise they won’t be offended if you went straight for your loved one first.

tumblr_lpbgas3wk11qkf588o1_500_large_largeI know it seems silly but try it. You will be amazed at how people’s defenses come down and the positive feelings start to grow. See what happens when you make that switch. It can make a real difference to the person you care about!

Natural Healing for Exotic Pets

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Why Choose Natural Healing for your Exotic Pets

When one thinks of holistic or complementary medicine, one rarely considers animals, much less EXOTIC animals. The first question I hear is always…”What? Acupuncture for ANIMALS?” The next is, “How do you get them to stay still while you are putting in the needles”? 

As the athletes of the domesticated animals’ world, horses, were the first to reap the benefits of cutting-edge sports medicine treatments, because their athletic performance often has a tangible result, i.e; a monetary value associated with it, owners are willing to invest in finding out how modalities such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage will affect a horse’s performance.

Luckily, now all of our smaller furry friends are benefiting from this. For example, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronate were once the domain of the equine athlete, and now rabbits, reptiles, and birds are able to access these outstanding treatments and supplements, as well as all of their associated benefits.

The following is an in-depth look at what acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy can do for your pet’s health and longevity.

Chiropractic Care- Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation

Are there those of you with rabbits that have back or hind leg problems? Dogs are not alone in suffering from disc disease, spinal nerve degeneration, and back pain. In fact, almost all active rabbits develop some form of a back problem during their lifetime. If you note how a rabbit’s back is shaped and how powerful their hind legs are, you can imagine the stress and strain placed on them throughout their life.

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In the spine, small “subluxations” of joints are actually partial dislocations.  Ouch!  You can imagine the body’s reaction to that.  Your pet’s back muscles and ligaments spasm and they walk stiffly, favor one side, or develop lameness or a splayed leg.  Your rabbit will not make a sound, they just adjust and adjust until they cannot do so anymore.  In this case, chiropractic treatment may be the ideal choice. 

Even severe arthritis in an older pet’s back may do well with gentle forms of chiropractic manipulation. This is because it is not bony arthritis itself causing the pain, but the soft tissue around the arthritic areas, and that can be moved.  At From The Heart Mobile Vet, we use a spring-loaded “activator” to gently tap the vertebrae back into place with minimal distress to your pet.

Chronic or arthritic pain, of course, is different than an accident or acute trauma to the spine and cord.  Chiropractic care may be unsuitable in some situations.  

Low-Level Cold Laser Therapy 

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Sometimes, our patients are simply too small or too wiggly for acupuncture. We have options for these patients and they can still get all the benefits! Small mammals such as guinea pigs, rats, and non-mammals including birds and reptiles need an effective alternative to needling.

And yet, there are multiple ways to move Qi and blood in the body, providing excellent results without needles. Modern research has provided new opportunities for acupuncture treatments that did not previously exist, including microcurrent, magnetic treatments, and cold light laser therapy.

History of Laser Treatment 

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Scientists began lab experimentation with lasers in the 1950s, with availability outside the lab in the 1960s. Once the quest for laser knowledge began, it was unstoppable. Researchers wanted to know how this new kind of light could change the world of healthcare. Early laser experiments resulted in the realization that laser therapy minimized skin scarring, helped wounds heal faster and affected cellular metabolism.

Benefits of Using Low-Level Lasers on the Body

Most lasers used in therapy are known as low-level lasers or “cold lasers,” (because they don’t produce heat.). These are not the same as lasers used for laser surgery, in which “hot lasers” are used as a scalpel to burn or cut the skin. Studies show that low-level lasers can help regenerate cells, decrease pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and stimulate hair growth, to name a few examples.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of laser acupuncture is that it’s completely painless. Most patients feel nothing at all during laser therapy. This makes it ideal for smaller mammals and for birds.  One effect is immediate calming of the nervous system. This is a great way to treat the smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Laser therapy is most often used and very effective for injuries, infections of the skin, bumblefoot, and sore hocks, healing from surgery, and any place in the body where improving blood flow will aid healing. The only area we may not direct laser light is towards a growing tumor.

Reduction of pain, swelling and redness are advantages of low-level laser therapy as well. If your pet is a candidate for acupuncture, they are often responsive to laser or a combination of the two. However, some cases achieve the best results with acupuncture. Rabbits are generally very amenable to it and quickly relax into the treatment.

Acupuncture on Exotic Pets

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Used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine, acupuncture is now beginning to be integrated into Western health care. In the last ten years, many studies have identified nerve centers and clusters of blood vessels at the ancient mapped acupuncture points. When needles are inserted into these points, signals are sent to the brain to produce anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and healing chemicals to those areas that need it.

There are two primary types of acupuncture taught to vets.  One is the most traditional form that encompasses energy flow and blockages and incorporates a very systemic approach.   The other is more structural and correlates to the parts of the anatomy that are being treated, such as a painful back or neck.

Prior to a first acupuncture consult, it is important to have a thorough physical exam on your pet and any bloodwork or x-rays indicated to help define the problem.  Your  integrative veterinarian will offer the most appropriate treatments, including acupuncture, herbs or laser therapy where indicated. 

How do you know if your pet needs/will respond to acupuncture or laser therapy? Again, choose a qualified veterinary acupuncturist and address the appropriate diagnostic testing to help direct the course of treatment. Acupuncture appears to be very effective with exotic pets when disc disease, soft tissue or ligament pain, or arthritis is present. 

In addition, chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer or a seizure disorder may respond well to acupuncture in combination with Chinese herbs.  Your veterinary acupuncturist will review the diagnosis and examine your pet to complete the assessment.  In most cases, even a nervous pet will readily accept needle placement.  The needles are tiny and inserted swiftly and gently. 

Once the needles are in place, you and your furry child can relax and sit together for 20 to 30 minutes, an experience most animals aren’t used to at an animal hospital.  They appreciate the nap, and when you come for the next visit, they are often much less nervous about the experience.  The effects of the treatment will be evident from immediately to 48 hours after your visit.

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Potential Affects of Acupuncture

One note: If your pet has never received an acupuncture treatment, they may release a lot of pent-up acids and toxins during the first or second treatment. While not dangerous, this may create some transient soreness during the first 48 hours after the experience. This is termed a “healing crisis”. Just be patient and follow your veterinarian’s instructions, and by the third day, the positive results are often visible.

Try to make fresh water and gentle movement available to your pet during the days immediately following chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

So how many sessions will be needed?  What results can you expect?  How long does the treatment last?  It depends upon the condition.  The acuter, or recent, the problem, the fewer treatments are needed to bring blood flow, repair cells and banish pain.  My border collie mix, Spirit, only needed three sessions for her mid-back muscle spasms.  I could always tell when she had a “bad day,” as she was reticent to jump and play, and her ears were down instead of happy and “up”. 

Rabbits will decrease activity or stop doing “binkies”. Reptiles may only decrease general activity or stop producing stools. These simple signs are examples of what you should look for in your own pet.

Chronic conditions, including degenerative arthritis, spinal degeneration, type 2 disc disease and the like, typically respond to a longer treatment program.  After a number of weekly sessions, most animals do well with less frequent visits or with herbs and supplements to continue the effects of the therapy. 

Massage and Physical Therapy at Home 

Physio-dog-stretch

 

So what about massage?  Does it have a real place in pet medicine?  Indeed, it does. Massage by a certified pet massage therapist or taught to you by a rehabilitation vet uses acupressure principles to help your pet. Veterinary physical therapists can teach you how to stretch and strengthen your pet at home.

When you think of where you’d rather go, the chiropractor, acupuncturist or massage therapist, many of you pick the massage, simply because it feels so good.  This is not an accident.  Many studies show that the reason it FEELS so good is that massage and therapy releases endorphins (pain blockers), increases circulation to areas that need it, and improves lymphatic flow, the key to your immune system.

Ultimately, the key to choosing treatments that will work for your exotic pet is finding the right exotic specialist who also has knowledge of natural treatments. You may be advised to begin with X-rays, bloodwork, and other recommended procedures.  Following that will be a discussion of the treatment options for your pet’s problem, and a tailored, integrative approach that very often will include some traditional western and some complementary (natural) modalities– working together to maximize healing!

Interested in Natural Healing for your Pet?

Contact us and we’ll do a thorough examination of your pet to determine what type of natural healing mechanism your pet needs.

Bird Health: How to Check if they’re Under the Weather

Trichoglossus_haematodus_-Jurong_Bird_Park,_Singapore_-Dec2009

Assessing your bird for signs of being “under the weather” can be challenging, to say the least. First of all, birds are little wild animals. This means they are not like your dog, a domesticated pet that acts like a little kid when it’s sick.

Birds, on the other hand, are a prey animal. They do not exhibit signs of weakness as they have been taught this will alert a predator of a potentially available snack. So even though you have Polly safely in a warm, cozy house away from the jungle, her system only knows that masking illness could save her life. 

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Unfortunately, a pet bird concealing an illness may not get your attention until it is very, very sick. This is why when we as veterinarians see them, they are often in an advanced stage of the disease. It’s not really that they are all that delicate, as it may seem. I hear this a lot from bird owners, “He just got sick yesterday, doc, and now you are telling me he is dying?”  Most likely your little-feathered friend has been braving through their health problem for quite a while, and finally, couldn’t “fake it” anymore.

 

Some things you should know in order to detect illness EARLY in your bird, and when it’s time to bring him/her to the vet:

1. When you first get a bird, BRING IT TO THE VET as you would a puppy or kitten. No matter what the pet store or breeder says, there is no way to assess its health without a qualified avian vet’s professional evaluation.

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2. NEVER put a new bird in with other birds before quarantining and taking it to the vet for a clean bill of health. I have seen more than a few incidences of a single new bird causing disease in an entire flock that was previously healthy.

3. Watch and observe your bird at home to familiarize yourself with what is normal for THAT BIRD. Each parrot species will be different, and what is normal behavior for a cockatoo is different than that of a parakeet.

4. Notice the color and consistency of stools and the urine /urate color. If the urates become yellow or green tinged or stools change from what they “used to look like” for more than a day, bring your pet to the vet. You can get a good stool sample by placing wax paper at the bottom of the cage.

5. Any decrease in vocalization, change in voice, excess preening, change in stools, change in appetite, feather loss, overgrowth of beak or nails, are all reasons to get in as soon as possible. Any sitting “low” or “fluffing” is cause for concern.

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6. Nutrition is a cornerstone of bird health. Become an expert on your bird’s ideal nutrition by consulting with your avian vet. Even better, let your vet help you to choose the right bird for you and your family BEFORE rushing out and purchasing one.

If you’re interested in getting a bird and you want some veterinarian advice on which type of bird to get or you’re noticing some health issues in your bird after reading this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by clicking here. We love caring for your pets.

Why you Should Never Go Jogging with your Dog

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I used to love jogging with my dog

 I love jogging. I especially enjoy exercising with my pets. I remember the day I adopted my dog, Spirit. I was so excited that she was a Border Collie mix, and only 11 months old! Given that my previous dog was a (sweet) Doberman with neck problems…Poor Lance could not keep up with my gentle 3-mile jogs. I was looking forward to exercising with my new partner. Even better, I wanted Spirit to come trail riding with my horse, Dusty, and me.

Well, those hopes faded quickly. I remember heading out on the trail, Spirit trotting a respectable distance behind Dusty, and then… where was she? As I looked back, I could no longer see my little black and white fur-person trotting behind me. I felt a jolt of panic, then I relaxed and whistled. The next image was one of a bedraggled, panting dog with a mask of dust around her eyes. It was truly pathetic, a sight that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  A sinking feeling came over me as I realized I would be jogging solo yet again.

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So why do we think it’s ok for our pets to go jogging with us?

What about those dogs whose owners/guardians are seen running happily, dog beside (and usually, a little behind them) on a leash?

As I continued to think about it, I recalled a number of issues with my canine patients who had been forced to run. One pet owner, Lisa, had been trying to lengthen her running sessions with her spaniel, Jimbo. She mentioned that Jimbo had seemed less enthusiastic and even stopped and laid down mid-run. As I examined him, I detected a heart murmur, and as it turned out, Lisa had brought him dangerously close to the brink of overexertion with his faltering heart.

We found this out through a series of tests that revealed cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease. Lisa had been unaware of his change in breathing patterns or frequency lying around and had put a serious strain on his heart, as she built up her own endurance.

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Another gentleman, Jack, had started running with his lab and mentioned that lately the dog, Rocky, was limping on and off. However, Jack had continued to run the dog since it was intermittent. Now, Rocky was 3-legged lame, and I wasn’t looking forward to telling Jack my suspicions.

After thoroughly examining Rocky and evaluating his joints, we took radiographs (X-rays) of his hips, back and knees. One knee, which was already “loose” on examination, appeared to have excess fluid in the joint on the films. I explained that I was very suspicious of a complete rupture of his major knee ligament –the anterior cruciate.

Unfortunately, since Jack had continued to run his dog after the start of his limping episodes, he had made the problem much worse. It now required surgery. Not surprisingly, neither dog nor owner was going to be happy with this information. If Jack had stopped the strain on his dog’s legs right away (or never gone from walking to running him in the first place), the tear may have been minor, and rehabilitation and conservative, natural techniques such as laser therapy and motion exercises could have resolved the issue without  surgery.

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I could go on, with story after story about dogs with undiagnosed back or neck problems that got much worse after running regularly with owners or being forced to keep up with rollerblading or even bicycling! It looks cute, but can YOU imagine being forced to run alongside someone cycling for miles?

Why is it dangerous for dogs to go jogging with you?

To recap, it IS NOT recommended,  and can actually be DANGEROUS for your dog to be part of your jogging, running, or cycling routine. This in NO way excludes, long, peaceful walks along roads or into the hills. You will notice that even when a field dog runs, it isn’t continuous. They allow themselves bursts of energy and periods of rest (walking).

Negative health effects of jogging or running on dogs:

  1. Underlying joint weaknesses based on breed
  2. Underlying inflammation of joints due to eating a food they may be allergic to. (See a holistic vet to find out more)
  3. Underlying tendency for disc disease in back or neck
  4. Underlying breed tendency for arthritis to develop in the back and neck
  5. Undiagnosed heart problems
  6. Undiagnosed collapsing trachea
  7. Undiagnosed development of laryngeal paralysis (“roars” in Goldens and some labs)
  8. Chronic wear on the hips, back, knees and elbows even if generally healthy

Have you been jogging your dog? Are you nervous about the health issues they may have already experienced? Feel free to contact Dr. Tiffany Margolin so she can thoroughly examine your pet. 

 

Obesity: Not Just a Human Problem

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So your vet has told you your dog is FAT, obese or just a little overweight. But you have been only feeding him dry food, and just two cups a day, at that. The bag says to feed him/her 4 cups a day, which seems excessive, even to you. This is disheartening and confusing for lots of owners. 

Pet Obesity Issue: Commercial Pet Food 

Why is your pet still overweight? Unfortunately in this country, the pet food industry is not well regulated when it comes to counting calories. By using the words “light” or “weight management” on many pet food bags, you feel you’re helping your pet with accurate recommendations for food intake. Unfortunately, these words are mere marketing ploys to get you to pay for “healthy” food. And if your pet eats more, you run out sooner, etc. You can see where I’m going with this. 

Tiffany Noreuil, an animal care technician at the Humane Society, holds Goliath, the cat found stuck in a doggie door trying to steal food.  Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian

First of all, let’s talk about what puts weight on your dog in the first place. The much maligned “table food” is NOT the problem. In fact, healthy table foods such as lean meats and vegetables (non-starchy), are a great choice for your dog. However, pet store pet treats, are typically very high in simple carbohydrates.

Another and very unexpected one is DRY DOG FOOD. What????? Yes, it’s true. Dry food isn’t the natural composition of food your dog consumes in the “wild”. Dry food, no matter what the calorie count, has a lot of carbohydrates in it. These carbohydrates convert directly to fat in the body, which is why it’s much better to feed your dog lean protein and vegetables. Any simple carbohydrate or starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, carrots or peas, are converted quickly to fat stores in the body.

Ways to Help Your Pet Slimdown 

Ideally, I recommend the raw, frozen clean diets created for dogs, and carried in smaller pet stores. As long as your dog doesn’t easily get diarrhea, this is an excellent choice for weight loss. 

An alternative to this is the freeze dried diets such as Natural Balance. A homemade diet from real foods –again lean fish, chicken, beef or turkey is a great option. I always tell people to keep a bag of frozen green beans on hand for a “treat.” Your pup may turn up his nose, at first, but when his tummy is rumbling and you are not answering with a treat, he will often investigate and eat a bowl of warm green beans. You can also add this to small meals to make them more bulky and filling for your plump pup. By using a manufactured diet, you will still generally feed less than the bag recommends….Please consult an integrative veterinarian for the exact amounts.

How much you feed your dog is very dependent on the breed and metabolism of YOUR particular dog. Some dogs have true thyroid problems, a disease called “hypothyroidism”. This means they don’t have or don’t use the normal levels of thyroid hormone, the hormone that controls metabolism. That means your dog will not burn calories at the normal rate, so they cannot eat as much as another dog without gaining excess weight.

Obesity is as bad or worse for your dog as it is for you. Back and knee problems are far more common and frequent than in dogs of a normal weight, and are extremely expensive to treat.

In short, if raw food or high quality/homemade diets cost a bit more, the cost is FAR less than the vet bills you will incur from problems caused by obesity.

Is your pet struggling with obesity? Looking for a veterinarian’s opinion on diet changes? Please contact me, Dr. Tiffany Margolin at info@fromtheheartvet.com.