Common Dog and Cat Concerns
This chapter looks at conditions that may afflict your pet, and at natural ways you can help your animal overcome them. Since each animal, and each circumstance, is unique, consult your holistic veterinarian as you work to regain your pet’s health. Some of these problems, although common, can be serious, so professional guidance is recommended.
If you have a pet that goes outside or comes into contact with other animals, chances are you’ve had to deal with an abscess or two. Abscesses are holes that can start from any kind of wound—a puncture, cut, or bite. If the wound goes undetected and uncleaned it can fester and become infected. Sometimes pet owners will discover an abscess because of the swelling that comes with it; at other times the abscess may break open and begin to drain before it gets noticed. Either way, a veterinarian will probably treat the abscess by cleaning it out, putting in a drain, and putting the animal on a course of antibiotics. If the wound is severe, the vet may want to give the animal stitches once the infection is entirely drained.
If you can catch an abscess early on, you can avoid such invasive treatment and care for it at home, according to Nina Anderson, coauthor of Supernutrition for Dogs ’n’ Cats. It’s fairly easy to spot an abscess once you realize this is a frequent problem. The abscess will be swollen and fleshy and tender to the touch. Before an abscess opens up, soak it in a mixture of warm water and baking soda, or apply a compress with water and baking soda to the area. This will bring the infection to the surface and cause it to pop. Then, with dogs, be sure to keep the open wound clean; in the case of cats, they will do most of the cleaning themselves. You can clean the wound with plain water and a small amount of a liquid garlic extract, such as Kyolic. The garlic will help keep the infection down. It usually takes only a couple of days for the infection to start healing.
Anderson further advises that as soon as you’ve spotted the abscess, you should begin giving your animal echinacea and continue doing so for 10 days. Echinacea is a natural antibiotic and will help your pet build up its own immune system; thus you may avoid the use of generally over-prescribed antibiotics. Once the abscess has started to close and the infection is entirely gone, you can apply aloe vera and calendula to it. This will usually be about a week after it first opened up. Important: Be sure to wait until it’s completely closed to apply the calendula because this remedy can instigate premature healing, and an abscess needs to have sufficient time to drain completely before closing up again.
ANAL GLAND INFLAMMATION
Many people accept their symptoms of poor digestive function—flatulence, bloating, gas—as a matter of course rather than taking steps to improve their health. That’s not good, and when an animal has a digestive problem, it is just as important to avoid a state of denial and to seek treatment. If your pet is having excessive bowel movements or strains when trying to defecate, it might have anal gland inflammation, and you will want to address the problem right away.
This condition is often present in obese animals, but it can occur in any animal whose digestive system does not get the proper rest. Anal gland inflammation can be exacerbated by rich or low-fiber foods, so pay attention to your pet’s diet. You will want to be sure that it is eating high-fiber foods that have high nutritional value, such as whole grains, nuts, bran, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Good nutrition goes a long way toward promoting healthy digestion, and good digestion is key to overall good health.
If your pet has anal gland inflammation, talk to your holistic veterinarian about fasting your animal. He or she might recommend a fast on water, broth, and juice for three to five days to give the body a much-needed rest. There is also a product called Gentle Dragon that could help midway through the fast. (See Chapter 6 for more information on detoxification.)
Next you will want to apply hot (but not too hot) packs to the general area or soak your animal’s bottom in a tub of hot (as hot as he or she can stand without burning) water with one or two cups of Epsom salts. Do this twice a day for 10 minutes each time. At this point, you may apply gentle pressure—don’t squeeze—to the anal area. Move with a rocking motion. You will then want to apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly or mineral oil to the anal area to soothe it.
Avoid the more conventional approaches, such as squeezing or packing, or worse, surgically removing the inflamed gland. There are effective alternatives to these harsh approaches.
You should know that anal gland inflammation may recur, so take precautions against it. Keep your animal from becoming obese, or if he or she already is, help your animal lose the excess weight. Try getting your animal to exercise more. Regular fasting can be beneficial; one or two days (at most) per week are recommended. A good diet can’t be stressed enough. Finally, do not allow your veterinarian or groomer to squeeze the anal gland. It’s simply unacceptable. You want to promote the natural healing process, not disrupt or interfere with it.
Dogs and cats become anemic for a whole variety of reasons, ranging from simple iron deficiency to auto-immune disease to chronic liver/kidney problems, to cancer. The telltale signs of anemia are withdrawal, fatigue, paleness around the gums, and sometimes loss of appetite. If your pet demonstrates one or all of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to have your vet determine if it is in fact anemic, and why. An animal can die quickly from this condition, and so emergency medical treatment, such as transfusions or steroids, may be necessary. After the crisis is over, you can focus on a holistic immune-building program.
If the anemia is simply the result of an iron deficiency and Fluffy or Fido has a low energy level, you can give your pet some iron (3 to 7 mg per day) and herbs, such as dandelion (1 drop of the extract per 5 to 10 pounds of body weight) to give your animal a little pep. Though it may sound like common sense, you want to avoid iron laden with additives and fillers. Essentially, you will be building up your animal’s blood with the dandelion and iron. Particularly with the iron, there should be a marked change in your pet’s energy level within 48 hours. If this doesn’t occur, though, inform your vet.
Other herbs to consider for iron deficiency anemia, besides dandelion, are gentian and yellow dock. Sea vegetables and green vegetable juice are good too; consult your holistic animal practitioner to formulate a plan that incorporates any of these.
Vaccines can create an auto-immune reaction in the joints, with arthritis as an unfortunate result. The holistic veterinarian will work to metabolically balance the arthritic animal, perhaps using glucosamine sulfate mixed with chondroitin sulfate to restore the proper production of joint fluid. Herbal formulas used to threat arthritis contain such ingredients as alfalfa, yucca, and devil’s claw. Other herbs used to treat this condition are boneset, boswellia, and comfrey. Homeopathic treatment, specifically with the remedy rhus, tox, has yielded good results too.
Your nutritionally oriented veterinarian may also recommend other supplements. Let’s look at some of these, keeping in mind that you should clear an arthritis treatment plan, and fine-tune dosages, with your vet.
Vitamin C—This is an important one for joints and cartilage, and if you combine C with glucosamine, it works even better. The total daily dose of this vitamin will be about 250 to 2500 mg for cats and small dogs, and 400 to 4000 mg for large dogs, although what you really want to do is give a bowel-tolerance dose—that is, just less than the amount that would cause diarrhea—and you want to divide that dose up throughout the day, because the vitamin works more effectively that way.
Additional nutrients to keep in mind while trying to keep arthritis at bay are the B-complex vitamins and the mineral boron. A small amount of this mineral can make a difference in symptoms; consult your holistic animal practitioner on the correct dose for your cat or dog.
The ability to relieve ourselves is one of the many bodily functions we take for granted until, one day, we can’t “do our business” without experiencing pain or discomfort. Animals are no different. If you’ve had a pet with a bladder problem, you know how difficult it can be. Like us, they may experience excruciating pain when trying to pass urine. Many pets become irritable and may even cry out when urinating. They hold it in as long as they can, and are more prone to have indoor accidents, to everyone’s distress. Just as frustrating is the inability to “go” at all. This is not only exasperating but dangerous as well.
Bladder problems are toxicity problems. So the goal of treatment is to detoxify the body while building up the kidneys with cleansing herbs, such as horsetail. Also, juniper berry has yielded excellent results for animals with blockages.
Perhaps the most important remedy for treating bladder problems is vitamin C. Doses of up to 4000 mg per day for large dogs and between 1000 and 2000 mg per day for cats and smaller dogs are most beneficial. Not only is vitamin C extremely effective in acidifying urine and cleaning out the bladder, it is also a great preventative. Also recommended for this condition are cranberry juice and cherry juice, caprylic acid, alpha-lipoic acid, and flaxseed oil.
In recent years, the incidence of cancer among animals has risen. There was a time when it was mostly older pets that were affected. These days, animals as young as two or three are plagued with the often fatal disease. The reason is that our pets today are toxic. Most animals eat wretched foods, drink polluted water, breathe in noxious chemicals from flea collars and other poisons in their surroundings, and are over-vaccinated and generally over-medicated. Mothers pass toxic blood to their fetuses, so animals start life with compromised immune systems. Their environments may be psychologically stressful, too, and studies have correlated stress with a weaker immune system.
Conventional therapies include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy often makes use of platinum, which is highly toxic to cells. The problem with all these modalities is that they focus on killing or removing the cancer directly, without regard for the immune system. And without a properly functioning immune system, the animal’s body cannot fight off the attacker. It’s true that sometimes conventional approaches are needed; in the case of a fibrosarcoma, for instance, surgery may be necessary to get rid of this aggressive tumor and save your pet’s life. Many people opt to combine conventional therapies with alternative, and if you find the right veterinarian, you can do this. Alternative modalities include immunoaugmentive therapy (IAT), ozone therapy, cryosurgery, Essiac tea and other supplements, Chinese herbs, and nosodes (homeopathic remedies made from the cancer tissue itself).
Before looking at some of the more holistic ways cancer is treated, we must note the importance of a natural diet in both the prevention and treatment of cancer. As discussed in Chapter 1, the products sold to the public as pet food are toxic, and constitute part of the problem of the increasing cancer rate in domesticated animals. You want to feed your animal foods free of chemical additives and harmful preservatives. Preparing meals yourself for your sick pet is always preferable, and if you can provide your pet with freshly made organic vegetable juices that’s a definite plus, because the healing phytochemicals (or “plant chemicals”) in these are immediately available for the animal’s body to use. Also, for animals with cancer, protein is important, and indeed, many dogs and cats with the condition do crave it. Dr. Robert Goldstein recommends unspiced meats and raw egg yolks, preferably organic, as protein sources for animal cancer patients, and adds that if the pet’s appetite allows it, the addition of whole grains, such as brown rice and millet, as well as finely chopped raw carrots, parsley, or other vegetables, is helpful. If your dog or cat does not have a good appetite at this time, getting the animal to eat anything it will tolerate is a plus, with the emphasis, of course, on the unadulterated, fresh, and organic.
Immuno-augmentative therapy has several advantages. The treatment is almost 100-percent safe, it can be administered at home once your veterinarian has taught you how to give the injections, and it effectively slows down the progression of tumors in a number of cancers. There are generally no side effects from this treatment. Occasionally an abscess will develop at the injection site from bacteria carried by the needle. But normally the immune system will destroy the bacteria, and no problem will occur. Also, small lumps may form at the injection site due to an allergic reaction. But this, too, is rare since the injected protein sources are naturally found in the body and, therefore, not perceived as foreign matter to be rejected.
There are, however, disadvantages to IAT. The therapy may be difficult for some people to administer for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that some people don’t like giving needles. Nor are all animals receptive to the procedure. Cats, in particular, may be resistant and hard to hold. In addition, elderly pet owners may have difficulty wrapping their fingers around a syringe. The process is also time-consuming. During the course of treatment, subcutaneous injections are required throughout the day. In the early stages as many as seven injections may be needed five days a week, so working people may not have the time needed to tend to their animals in this way. Long-term treatment may cost thousands of dollars, which is prohibitive for some pet owners. Moreover, not all cancers are responsive to IAT. The therapy does not have a high success rate for lymphoma, lymphosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. While administering treatment will not cause animals with these diseases harm, resources might be better spent on other modalities, such as ozone therapy.
Sometimes one or more therapies are recommended along with IAT. It’s best to discuss available options with a holistic veterinarian. IAT advocate veterinarian Christina Aiken explains, “Every case is individual. It’s not like there is one recipe for all animals with cancer, even the same type of cancer. There are some types of cancers where it doesn’t work very well. What matters, too, is what the clients are willing to do, what they are willing to spend, how intense they are going to be, and the age of the animal.” Dr. Aiken lets people know what can be done, and then steps back to let them decide what to do.
Ozone can be administered in different ways. It can be given intravenously to kill damaging organisms in the bloodstream, rectally for a patient who is badly constipated or has lower intestinal tract disease (this will stimulate muscle contractions and circulation), orally, or topically. Also, filtered food-grade hydrogen peroxide can be administered into the bloodstream as a strong antioxidant. Since an ozone generator may cost thousands of dollars and food-grade hydrogen peroxide is inexpensive, the latter is considered a poor man’s version of ozone therapy, but it is not as effective.
Unfortunately, ozone therapy is legal in only a handful of states, New York being one of these. Check with a holistic physician or on the Internet for more details.
Drs. Goldstein and DeAngelis have developed a special technique for removing tumors high up in an animal’s nasal cavity. Such tumors are frequently found in dogs. Their procedure involves opening the nasal cavity, creating a bone flap, freezing the tumor, and then closing it again. Necrotic material will exit through the nose.
Cryosurgery is not painful and can often be performed without anesthesia. The treatment is often augmented with supplements, IAT, and other therapies.
Vitamin A—A good infection- and tumor-fighter.
Hoxsey Herbs—This is a formula; it contains red clover, buckthorn bark, stillingia root, barberry bark, chaparral, licorice root, cascara amarga, and prickly ash bark, plus potassium iodide.
Cancer care often integrates conventional and holistic approaches, Goldstein points out. Surgery, for instance, is often necessary to save an animal’s life and buy time. Drugs can buy time too. But neither approach is a cure. The animal’s immune system must be strengthened to fight off the disease on its own. “We’ve seen animals with tumors eating through three or four of their bones. Two years later we have Cornell University’s verification that not only is the tumor gone, but the bone is rehealed. We have hip joints grown back. We have brain tumors where CAT scans show half their brains are taken over by tumors and then three years later we have pictures of them being normal. We have this all verified. That’s why we’ve gained broad acceptance. But we will use the balance of both on each individual patient.”
A tool that some vets use in creating a protocol for cancer—and for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes—is a blood test called the BNA (Bio Nutritional Analysis). Available to your vet from Antech Diagnostic Laboratory, it helps him or her recommend what the animal could use more of in terms of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The idea is to optimize your pet’s protocol for help in fighting the side effects of chemotherapy, and for building the body and immune response generally. Whatever diagnostic route your vet follows, hopefully, you and your vet working together will be able to make a real difference in your animal’s condition.
Organic vegetable juice
Cruciferous vegetable juice
Sea vegetables Aloe
Grape juice made from whole grapes
Larch (Arabinogalactan) Iscador
Calcium D. Glucarate
Naturleaf (enzyme-enhanced) Plant-Sprout sterols/sitosterolins
Imagine a world that goes from being bright and colorful—filled with varying life forms and objects of different shapes and sizes—to a blur, forever out of focus and with objects barely distinguishable. Those stairs you used to climb with little or no effort become a chore because you can’t tell one from the other. Welcome to the world of an animal afflicted with cataracts.
Toxicity is a major culprit with many of the health problems our animals experience today. When the body is toxic, cellular rejuvenation is poor, particularly in eye tissues. Toxins build up, and, in an effort to defend itself, the body captures the toxins and stores them. Cataracts often result.
And while many conventional veterinarians believe that animals are genetically predisposed to cataracts, some holistic vets feel otherwise. Their approach stresses detoxification, which process helps the body attack and break down the defective tissues that make up the cataract and replace these with healthier lens tissue.
So how can you help your animal see this once colorful world with lucid images again? Start with fasting—after consulting with your holistic vet, of course. Put your animal on a 24 to 48 hour fast. Follow this up with two to three weeks of homeopathic detoxification. Silica is good for encouraging the body to reabsorb tissue, thus shedding the cataract. Arsenicum is also recommended. Build the body with vitamin E—400 IU minimally per day for a large dog and 200 IU a day for a cat or small dog. Add vitamin A at a level of 5000 to 10,000 IU/day, along with beta carotene, selenium, and chromium. Do this for a minimum of six weeks.
Positive results have been seen in animals undergoing this detoxifying and nutritional regimen. Some animals have even had 50 percent of their cataract buildup broken down within the first 9 to 12 weeks, after having been afflicted for two or three years.
Diabetes, a disease that usually strikes middle-aged and older animals, is rampant in the pet world, as it is in the human world, and in both it is largely due to improper diet. Empty-calorie foods and enzyme-depleted processed foods are part of the problem, as is overeating. Emotional stress is another contributing factor.
Symptoms of diabetes include excessive urination, excessive drinking, and excessive eating. An animal with diabetes either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin it produces. Either way, the blood sugar level becomes excessively high. In an attempt to lower its sugar level, the animal drinks a lot of water. But the sugar stays high and the animal simply urinates more. Usually sugar, in the form of glucose, supports the muscles and brain, but with this condition there is not enough insulin to push glucose to the cells. Thus the animal loses energy; Rover or Puff will stop running and jumping. In traditional Chinese medicine, diabetes is known as a thirsting, wasting disease.
If your animal experiences excessive thirst, weight loss, a voracious appetite, and excessive urination, it’s important to take it to see your veterinarian to get a blood test. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes it will usually be put on insulin and have its urine tested to monitor insulin levels so as not to overmedicate.
But a holistic veterinarian will take additional measures to help your animal. A different diet may be suggested, as well as antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals to bolster the immune system. When your pet is placed on a good immune-boosting program, its dependency on insulin may dissipate in time.
Dr. Gerald Johnson is a veterinarian who treats his diabetic animal patients holistically in order to get them on the lowest amount of external insulin possible. In many cases, he has had excellent success. In fact, many of the cats he has worked with no longer need insulin. Dr. Johnson’s protocol consists of an improved diet, a mild exercise program, acupuncture, and herbs.
In humans, diarrhea can be uncomfortable, but it is often a temporary state that soon passes. When an animal has diarrhea the condition is more dangerous, even life-threatening, if not addressed and corrected right away. So be sure to consult your vet if this problem develops.
As with many other conditions, toxicity can be at the core of this problem. Our pet’s body is trying to say that something is terribly amiss, that an imbalance is occurring somewhere, somehow. You may not be able to pinpoint the cause right away, but you and the vet will want to address the immediate problem. Sometimes, if the problem is severe, fluids and electrolytes are administered intravenously to counteract dehydration. But there are also natural remedies that can be administered orally—placed in your animal’s food or water or directly in its mouth.
The homeopathic formula Arsenicum is sometimes used to help restore energy after fluid loss. Next you will want to build your animal’s immune system with vitamin C. Garlic is often used too because it is both antiseptic and fortifying.
Ears are one of the body’s eliminative pathways. If you are fasting an animal, the ear will produce a lot of wax during that time. Problems often develop in an animal’s ears because the ears don’t have good circulation. Bacteria and fungi tend to develop there.
Sometimes a good nutritional protocol is all that’s needed to help free the ears of trouble. At other times the problems are more persistent. Many topical preparations for the ears are available at pet stores. If these fail to work, it’s best to consult a doctor for a conventional medical treatment to gain stability, and then follow up with a holistic veterinarian’s advice. Chinese herbs work well for some animals with ear problems. So does diluted apple cider vinegar; the acid medium kills yeast and fungi. Three quarters of a teaspoon of the apple cider vinegar can be diluted into half a cup of water and carefully applied in the ear with a Q-tip or eyedropper.
A common problem for animals, particularly cats, is ear mites, an annoying condition, that, if left untreated, can result in inflammation and hearing loss. Mites love finding homes in the ears of animals and staying put. Once they’re settled, it takes effort to evict them. But it can be done.
If your animal grabs its ear and scratches furiously, it just might have ear mites. Often the ear becomes so inflamed that herbal preparations may not be strong enough to deal with the problem. This would be one of those rare times when conventional medicine might be more effective. Veterinarian Robert Goldstein feels that “in some cases, [the herbal approach]can cause more damage or inflammation than it’s worth. So, generally, with ear mites, I just bite the bullet and say, ‘Listen, use the medication for seven to ten days to get rid of it, and then we’ll make sure that the ear stays healthy.’ ”
How do you ensure that your animal’s ears stay healthy? The best safeguard against ear mites and other infections is to keep your pet’s ears clean. Watch out for excessive wax production. Try an herbal combination made by Halo or an herbal wash from Noah’s Kingdom. If you are unsure how to clean your animal’s ears, consult with your veterinarian or pet groomer.
The eyes are the gateway to the body. They can reveal if something is wrong inside. Sometimes, then, eye problems are not a primary, but rather a secondary, problem. In Oriental philosophy, there’s a close correlation between the eyes and the liver. In fact, some acupuncture points for the treatment of chronic eye problems are on the liver meridian. Dr. Martin Goldstein relates an unfortunate story of a dog with glaucoma that had his eye removed surgically. “A year later the dog developed liver cancer. Looking back at the dog’s history I found that three years before that the dog’s liver values were not normal. That s when it should have been addressed.” Vitamin A is great for vision, he says, but a lot of its benefit is directed toward the liver, not so much the eye.
There are homeopathic remedies for chronically irritated eyes, as well as herbal formulas that contain such eye-regenerative herbs as bilberry and eyebright. The formulas are administered as eye-washes or taken orally.
Don’t be alarmed just because your pet is scratching. Itchy animals are not necessarily fighting fleas. But if you do identify a problem, you will want to nip it in the bud, and you can do so, in many instances, using nontoxic products, including those you can prepare at home.
First, since prevention is the best medicine, make sure your animal charge is eating a good diet, as fleas are attracted to sick animals and tend to leave healthy ones alone. Avoid low-grade commercial foods and home-prepared products that make your pet more appealing to parasites. Fleas are attracted to animals that eat sugar, animal fats, and refined flour, so I’d advise avoiding:
White, refined flour
Bacon and cured meats
Meat or chicken fat Also, every pet owner should own a flea comb, a thin-toothed comb that will pick up fleas and their eggs. If you should notice insects, don’t panic. They may not be fleas but rather some other more benign creature. Learn to recognize a flea problem by educating yourself about flea characteristics. Flea excrement is a tiny black speck that changes to a brownish-red color when placed on wet tissue paper. Flea eggs are small and white and hatch into larvae that grow into adults several days later.
If you notice fleas you will need to develop a treatment plan that kills and repels the critters naturally whenever possible, heals damaged skin, and strengthens the animal so that future attacks are avoided. Poisonous products appear to solve the problem fast, but in the long term they are detrimental to an animal’s immune system and organs. They are also harmful to humans, having been associated with cancer, nervous conditions, reproductive problems, and other conditions. In the long run your goal should not be to destroy all “bad” insects—every living being has a purpose; parasites, in particular, were designed to weed out the weak—but to keep your pet strong and thus safe from parasite attacks.
When you notice fleas early on you will have an easier time getting rid of them. You can take simple measures such as adding garlic oil and nutritional yeast (or 5 mg of thiamine) to your pet’s food each day, or brushing the coat with the essential oil of fleabane, a natural product that repels fleas. You could also apply a natural flea powder, such as diatomaceous dust, to the coat, although some animals may be allergic to this. Other natural skin rubs that have been proven effective include brewer’s yeast, ground cloves, raw lemon slices, and garlic oil. Additionally, there are natural flea collars made from a combination of plant oils. Moreover, you will want to shampoo your pet with an herbal shampoo or add between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of citronella oil to the regular shampoo followed by a cream rinse or oil. While the water alone may be enough to kill fleas, the herbs will serve to destroy new fleas as they hatch from their eggs.
If the flea population has grown to moderate proportions, in addition to the foregoing measures you could spray the coat with a natural flea and tick spray, being careful to avoid your animal’s eyes and other sensitive areas. In the most severe cases, you will be tempted to turn to harsh poisons, and indeed, if the situation has reached life-threatening proportions this may be the only measure to take. That said, if your pet is not yet anemic and you are patient and concerned about your pet’s welfare, stick to natural measures a bit longer. You may very well succeed.
In addition to all the steps just mentioned, you could sprinkle a powder made from garlic powder, brewer’s yeast, or diatomaceous earth onto carpeting, furniture, and sleeping quarters or use a pre-made powder, like the natural product from Flea Busters that is said to work for one year (see Appendix). Use the herbal flea shampoo frequently—every two to three days—until fleas disappear. Make sure your pet is wearing an aromatic flea collar made from citronella and eucalyptus. Pennyroyal is also highly effective, but too much could be poisonous. Vacuum your entire home each day to remove fleas, eggs, and pupae, and change the bag after each cleaning. Powder should be reapplied throughout the house after each vacuuming. In addition, you will need to wash bedding in very hot water, or destroy it. If all else fails and you must resort to a bomb spray that contains insecticides, be sure that all living creatures are removed from the home for many hours. Finally, you should brush your animal’s hair each day and follow with a vigorous massage to remove dead debris and increase skin vitality.
After the parasite population diminishes your dog or cat may still be suffering from the ravages of flea infestation. At this point you must establish a plan for resistance to insect attacks, and at the same time heal raw, damaged skin that can cause pain to your friend. Initially, you will need to remove all eggs, excrement, and other detritus from the skin because that can cause severe suffering in animals. Find a shampoo designed for this purpose such as the one made by Allergroom. Next you will need to renew damaged skin by soaking it in a rich oil for 5 to 15 minutes. Good choices are sesame or baby oil. Other skin treatments can be made at home. Brew a strong goldenseal root tea and after it has cooled apply twice a day to raw skin. Or dilute one of the following and apply: vinegar, witch hazel, onion juice, rosemary, or blackberry tea. A good homeopathic remedy for getting rid of leftover fleas and healing the skin is Sulphur. To prevent future flea problems, you might use Earth Animal’s natural internal powder.
People usually associate heart disease with older folks who consume a lot of greasy foods, but animals can suffer from heart problems too. If your pet has a dry, hacking cough in the middle of the night, he or she may have a cold, but it could also be a sign of a failing heart. Similarly, a distended belly could be from fluid buildup, not weight gain. So if your animal is overweight without overeating, you should suspect a heart problem. Other signs of heart disease include loss of appetite and energy, reluctance to climb stairs, depression and lethargy, fainting, or lack of coordination. Heart disease can strike animals as young as five or six years old, and since heart disease can be fatal, prevention and early detection are vital. One way to detect heart disease early is to take your pet to a holistic veterinarian annually for a complete physical exam. At these exams, the vet will assess your animal’s overall health and may run routine blood tests that will give an early indication of heart disease or some other physiological problem.
Possible causes of heart disease are poor diet, over-vaccination, exposure to toxic substances, and over-breeding. If your animal is diagnosed with heart disease, don’t lament just yet. While conventional veterinarians may not be terribly optimistic about managing heart disease, other options exist. Sufficient daily doses of vitamin E (between 200 and 800 IU depending on your animal’s size), L-carnitine (250-750 mg), and coenzyme Q10 (25-200 mg) will ensure that your animal gets the nutrients it needs to promote fortification of the heart; talk to your vet about exactly what your animal requires. Taurine is given to cats, with cats under five pounds given 250 mg daily, and those five pounds and over getting 500 mg. Also, some vets recommend garlic concentrates as being good for purifying the blood, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation. Cats and small dogs get a half a tablet daily, with the dosage ranging up to two or three tablets, depending on weight, or you can add one to two chopped garlic cloves to the food.
Indian snakeroot (Rauwolfia)
Vitamin B complex
Naturleaf (enzyme enhanced) Plant-Sprout sterols/sitosterolins
HEARTWORM AND OTHER PARASITES
Spread by mosquitoes, heartworm is one of the most common diseases in dogs in the U.S. Cats can get it too, if they’re outdoors a lot. Unfortunately, unless you test for it, recognizing heartworm is not always an easy task, and many cases go undetected until severe symptoms develop. Indications include an increased appetite, weight loss, a cough, and exercise intolerance. Once the disease progresses, the heart enlarges. The obstructed arteries of the heart give rise to a forceful pumping action that increases blood pressure. Consequently, the lungs become filled with fluid. Unable to keep up with the pace, the heart eventually fails.
Conventional treatments present a significant risk to the dog. Animals are usually treated with arsenic, which is very toxic. Permanent damage can occur to a dog or cat’s heart and surrounding arteries while leaving the animal disabled. In addition, treatment is often expensive and lengthy; therefore, prevention, through a blood test, is key.
There are some natural remedies you can use, though. The essential oils of oregano, cinnamon, peppermint, and clove are a good treatment for heartworm and other parasites. These are given in capsule form. Also, C.J. Puotinen, author of Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats, describes an anti-parasite powder made of equal parts of dried wormwood, cloves, the Indian herb neem leaves, and rue. These are ground and the resultant powder mixed in with a substance the animal will eat, or the mixture can be encapsulated. Black walnut hull tincture, and the aptly named wormwood are other tried-and-true natural anti-parasitic remedies. Chaparral and pau d’arco are sometimes beneficial too. Useful in fighting intestinal parasites are garlic, coarsely chopped pumpkin or citrus seeds, and diatomaceous earth. For hookworm, which can be a big problem for newborn puppies and kittens, Dr. John Heinerman, author of Natural Pet Cures, mentions the herbal remedies aloe, carrot, catnip, garlic, papaya, tarragon, white oak, wild plum, and wormwood.
Black and green teas (cooled), are recommended heartworm fighters, says Heinerman. And cooled boiled cabbage juice, a carrot/parsley or carrot/wheatgrass juice mix, dandelion root tea, or boiled corn or potato water can help as well. For animals with difficulty breathing, Heinerman recommends peppermint tea. Of course you’ll want to consult your holistic vet about serious problems, and to zero in on those remedies that will best aid your pet’s fight against parasites. Following is a list of anti-parasitic herbs that your vet can help you choose from:
Walking is one of those things most of us take for granted. We constantly walk, as do animals, and, like us, animals depend on their hips and legs to perform this vital function. But when an animal has hip dysplasia, walking doesn’t come easily.
Hip dysplasia is the result of weak tendons and ligaments. When the body does not get the nutrients it needs—B12, B6, biotin, and ascorbic acid, to name a few—collagen production suffers, and, as a result, tendons and ligaments do too.
If you should spot a stray dog that is limping or cannot even stand, it’s likely that that animal is suffering from a nutritional deficiency. Proper diet with sufficient minerals, vitamins, and live enzymes cannot be emphasized enough. Such therapy has been known to reverse hip dysplasia, and it has the added advantage of creating a stronger system that staves off other problems too.
Hip dysplasia usually affects dogs, although other animals are becoming increasingly affected. Cats and even horses are now being diagnosed with the condition. Some cases of the ailment can be attributed to genetic predisposition, often due to over-breeding. When animals are over-bred, the weaker genes of body structure become more dominant. Thus, the dog that at one point walked on its foot pad now walks on its hock, all because some breeder wanted it to look a certain way.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to feed it the proper wholesome foods and supplement its diet with vitamins and minerals. If your dog has a limp or cannot stand up, consult with a holistic veterinarian.
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
We all know how debilitating an upset stomach can be. We cannot do much of anything besides rest or try to focus on something other than our troubled belly. If your animal vomits after meals, has lost its appetite or much weight, or has a weak stomach, you want to clear up the problem as quickly as possible. Your pet may be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Depending on the animal, symptoms may be different, with cats more prone to vomiting and dogs more prone to diarrhea. (That’s because cats are generally affected in the upper portion of the intestinal tract, while dogs are more susceptible to inflammation in the lower portion of the bowel.)
Many veterinary textbooks attribute IBD to unknown causes, yet clear links exist. For example, animals that drink contaminated water may get parasites, such as Giardia and whipworm. These can lead to chronic infection and IBD. A simple fecal sample test can tell you if your animal is infected with parasites. Another potential culprit is vaccinations, which can compromise the immune system in their effort to strengthen it. With IBD, as with many conditions, bolstering of the immune system is necessary. Note that animals that live in stressful environments, where fighting occurs, and animals that eat a poor diet, are more susceptible to the disease.
Left untreated, IBD can lead to a degenerative condition requiring extensive medical attention and hefty veterinary fees. One of the problems is that your animal may lose proteins; get a blood test to look at albumin and globulin levels. Albumin is especially important in maintaining osmotic pressure, ensuring that blood does not leak out into the tissues. Moreover, any levels above or below normal can indicate disease or malnutrition, so have your animal tested.
Conventional therapies incorporate cortisone to block and suppress possible auto-immune effects, but this suppression only drives the symptoms deeper and, in the long run, makes the animal sicker.
Holistic protocols for this condition focus on whole food sources, such as unadulterated lamb or chicken, whole brown rice, tofu, or cottage cheese. Naturally occurring fiber, which cleanses the intestinal tract and promotes proper bowel conditioning, is critical. Your aim is to limit the number of foods traveling through the inflamed intestinal tract while giving your animal the nourishment it requires. If your dog has inflammatory bowel disease, start him on a potato-based diet, using cooked sweet and white potatoes, as well as some cooked meat and turnips. Your holistic animal practitioner can help individualize the diet for your animal. If the condition is induced by parasites, use garlic to help get rid of the parasites and tincture of goldenseal to fight infection.
For acute conditions, try Kaopectate from natural clay or use the herb slippery elm. Both are good for soothing the stomach and intestines. Try a bland diet with white rice, boiled beef or chicken, and mashed carrots until the symptoms become controllable.
For chronic conditions, again, use goldenseal. In addition, the herb licorice works like the natural cortisone manufactured by the adrenal glands in helping to suppress the auto-immune effects of IBD and reduce inflammation. While using goldenseal and licorice may help your animal overcome IBD, you will not want to use these herbs over an extended period. If you are concerned about the delicate membranes of your animal’s intestines or stomach—and in most cases, you will be—be sure to pick up the homeopathic remedy called Gastroenteritis that works specifically on these membranes.
Once your animal stabilizes from the effects of IBD, it is important to replenish its immune system. Incorporate garlic into the animal’s diet to cleanse the intestinal tract of decaying material. Add yogurt to the meal to replenish beneficial bacteria. Weekly fasts or skipped meals will allow the animal’s intestinal tract to detoxify and recoup. A supplementary product similar to Gastroenteritis is Acetylator, which works to protect the lining of the stomach and intestines. It is available only from licensed veterinarians, so consult with your holistic veterinarian for more information and to obtain the product.
Kidney failure is a common condition in older cats, whose kidneys appear to weaken as they age. Part of the problem may be low-protein foods fed to senior animals. We feed our cats these formulas, believing they are easier on the kidneys. But when the body does not have enough amino acids to replenish tissue growth it may start breaking down other systems. This is what may happen to the kidneys. High-protein foods, on the other hand, may hurt the kidneys, too, if the quality of that protein is poor. Indigestible protein becomes a waste product that contributes to the body breaking down its own tissue, and one of the first places to be affected is the kidneys. If your cat should fall victim to this life-threatening condition, see a holistic veterinarian right away.
Of course each case is individual, but if your animal has a bad case of kidney failure, the doctor will probably place it on a low-protein diet. Without good kidney function the animal might not be able to cope with all the work needed to break down protein. Actually, if you correct for some of the imbalances in kidney failure, you can feed the animal a fair amount of protein. You can help your animal regain that balance with plenty of fresh water and fluid therapy, which your veterinarian will probably recommend for this condition. Extra fluids delivered subcutaneously help prevent dehydration and uremia and thus prolong life. Your veterinarian can teach you how to administer fluid therapy at home—using approximately 200 cc’s of fluid every other day—to avert kidney failure. Some vets also recommend adding salt to the diet to encourage the animal to drink more water. But this can lead to other serious problems, such as heart weakness, because the salt can create edema (fluid buildup) around the heart. You don’t want to substitute one serious condition for another, so do not give salt to your animal.
The benefits of fluid therapy may be augmented when it is used in conjunction with homeopathic remedies. A homeopathically trained physician may prescribe phosphorous, sulfur, nux vomica, or arsenicum album, depending upon the needs of the animal. The combination of fluid therapy and homeopathic treatments will usually have a palliative effect; that is, they won’t necessarily cure the problem, but may well help the animal to live a better life than would normally be expected.
Some vets use Eastern modalities—acupuncture, and even chi gong—on animals. Veterinarian Henry Pasternak uses this latter form of energy medicine on many of his patients. He reports much success, including one case involving a 17-year-old cat with kidney failure. After treating the cat with acupuncture, he started using chi gong. The following day, he received a call from the cat’s ecstatic owner, who reported that the animal’s condition had improved from listless and lethargic to lively and involved. The cat was once again able to run and eat its food.
“Vital K” (for potassium)
Ginkgo biloba exract
Evening primrose oil
Burdock root tea
We hear a lot of warnings about deer ticks and the need to take precautions in wooded areas, but we generally think in terms of protecting humans. While the incidence of Lyme disease is lower in animals than in humans, it does exist. Lyme is more difficult to detect in animals because there is no rash or redness around the bite area, a symptom that often appears in humans. Many animals will become lethargic in the early stages, and later on they may develop arthritis. Periodic lameness is a red flag for Lyme in animals.
If you suspect that your pet has Lyme disease, see a veterinarian as soon as possible and get a blood test done. If the Lyme titer is high and clinical signs of the condition are present, the conventional treatment will be a course of antibiotics over several weeks. A holistic veterinarian might try natural antibiotics, or conventional antibiotics, if need be, to resolve the problem. But he or she will probably also do a detailed nutritional analysis of your animal in order to customize a nutritional program for it. The idea is twofold—to support the immune system and offset any deleterious effects of the medication your pet is receiving. The oils of oregano, cinnamon, peppermint, and clove, in capsule form, are all helpful in countering Lyme disease.
Beware of the Lyme vaccine, as it may provoke symptoms of the disease itself, such as arthritis.
If your cat meows and howls relentlessly when being transported, it may be because of motion sickness, a problem that affects about a fourth of companion animals. Symptoms of motion sickness are excessive salivation and or vomiting in dogs and prolonged crying in cats. If your animal is prone to this problem, it should travel on an empty stomach. Make frequent stops. And give your pet a flower essence or homeopathic formula before the ride. You might have to experiment with different ones until you discover the remedy that works for your animal. Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a flower essence found in health food stores, is a popular one for this purpose. You can also try Calm Stress from Dr. Goodpet (call  222-9932 to order).
In the wake of all the inbreeding and over-breeding that our animals, particularly dogs, have gone through, it is amazing that some animals survive at all. With each new generation we see compromised body systems and malfunctioning organs. Neurological problems are one unfortunate manifestation, and seizures, in particular, are often upsetting to behold. To see our animals convulsing and losing control of their bodily functions is not a happy experience, nor is it something we can stop once an episode occurs. However, with proper care, seizures and other neurological problems can be managed.
Vitamin B complex yields remarkable results in animals with neurological problems. If your pet takes at least 100 mg of high-grade B complex, its neurological condition should stabilize. This dose is usually safe for any size animal. Some animals even show signs of reversal within 24 to 48 hours if they are taking higher doses, such as 150 mg or more daily.
Be careful not to overdo it. If you are using B and other water-soluble vitamins in high therapeutic doses, your animal should be fine, but if you should, however, incorporate fat-soluble vitamins in the mix, you are putting your animal at a greater risk of retaining those vitamins, which can cause toxicity after prolonged use—i.e., several weeks, or even only days in some cases. So do be careful. As always, to be sure you are on the right track, consult with your holistic veterinarian before attempting to treat such a serious problem on your own.
Your pet may also benefit greatly from energetic healing. Acupuncture or homeopathy can make your animal stronger and more resistant to further neurological problems. Acupuncture, the placing of needles along specific points in the body known as meridians, can improve energy flow and help correct the underlying problem. Marcie Fallek, D.V.M., a certified animal acupuncturist from Fairfield, Connecticut, claims to have broad success in the treatment of paralyzed animals with this modality. She attributes her excellent results to the release of chi, the Chinese term for energy, as energy blockage is seen in traditional Chinese medicine as the root of all problems.
Similarly, homeopathy can yield good results, says Dr. Fallek, who stresses that the remedy used for an animal will be individualized according to a wide array of symptoms. As she explains, “When I prescribe a medicine for a dog with paralysis, as important, or more important than the paralysis is the fact that it has a certain skin condition around its mouth, the fact that it is very needy, the fact that it drinks a lot of water, the fact that it had a sore toe. You take everything about the animal, you put it together, and you select the homeopathic medicine, out of the 1500 that are available, that addresses the whole animal.”
Does your dog seem lethargic? Have bloody diarrhea? Dehydration? Sudden-onset vomiting? Fever? While these symptoms may indicate a number of conditions, you definitely want to rule out parvo. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, don’t wait. The parvo virus strikes with the speed of a hawk attacking its prey, and can result in a painful death days later.
The disease is usually spread through infected fecal matter, although direct or indirect contact with other excretions can spread it as well. Parvovirus is found in parks, kennels, pet shops, dog shows, humane shelters, and other places where dogs assemble. People can contribute to its spread by carrying infected fecal material from place to place on their shoes.
Unfortunately, the parvo virus is quite resilient and can withstand extreme temperatures. It can survive for up to six months in cages and soil. Extreme cold prior to snowfall will kill the virus, though it can survive under a blanket of snow with temperatures as low as 25 degrees. Bleach has been used as a disinfecting agent to kill the virus. Should you decide to use this approach, dilute the bleach in a ratio of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach, and keep your animal clear of the area, as you don’t want your pet inhaling this chemical.
In treating your animal, you will want to strengthen its immune system, in addition to treating symptoms with antibiotics and anti-emetics to lessen signs and aid in the control of dehydration. More recent conventional treatments for parvo include antitoxins and antiparvo serum in conjunction with hospitalization. Naturopathic remedies include high doses of vitamin C, echinacea, and goldenseal.
If you should have the misfortune of losing your dog to parvovirus, wait at least six months to a year before purchasing a new puppy, as your environment may still be infected, even if you have disinfected it. If your animal is lucky enough to survive parvovirus, it will most likely develop immunity to it and not be infected again.
Pregnancy is generally a time for celebration, but it has its discomforts and dangers. Animals cannot communicate directly how they feel, but speak to us in subtle ways. It’s our job to pay attention to their cues and take the necessary precautions to ensure that our pregnant animal delivers safely. Consult with a holistic veterinarian who will guide you through this process.
Be especially careful of herbal formulas you might be giving your pet, as some can be dangerous for an expectant mother. Pennyroyal, for example, is great for controlling pests, but it can cause spontaneous abortions in pregnant animals. The best way to safeguard your pet from potentially harmful herbs during pregnancy is to do research. The general rule is that if an herb is not safe for humans during pregnancy, it is not safe for an animal either.
If your pet has a weakness, chances are that problem will manifest during pregnancy. Learn to pay attention to the subtle signs of something having gone awry. You might even want to take notes, keeping a daily journal of your pet’s activities and eating habits. In monitoring your pet’s eating habits, it is important to note what she eats daily (as you remember, of course, to feed her a wholesome, balanced diet). If you find that your animal has not eaten for a day, this is fine; just continue to monitor your pet. But when your cat suddenly skips two days of eating and is lethargic, you should suspect that something is wrong. A homeopathic detoxification protocol might be warranted here. Homeopathy is usually very safe for pregnant animals, but do consult your vet. A little arsenicum or nux vomica may be recommended.
Some vets recommend that to prevent eclampsia, you give your pet a calcium supplement (ground eggshell or oyster is good). Start this about two weeks before the due date, and continue for six weeks beyond the birth.
Of all the conditions that an animal can have, rabies is probably the scariest. Most of us have heard horror stories about pets dying or becoming incorrigible. Sadly, both are possibilities. Rabies is not a condition you should attempt to manage yourself. If you suspect your animal has rabies it needs to be under a veterinarian’s care to ensure that the animal is not going to bite anyone.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that is contracted from the bite of an infected animal. Any warm-blooded animal is susceptible. Wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, are commonly infected with the disease. A domestic animal that is not vaccinated against rabies, and that comes in contact with a wild or stray animal, is at risk for picking up the disease.
In the early stages of the disease, animals may show a slight change in mood or behavior. Once the disease progresses, your pet may have the tendency to roam or eat things it normally wouldn’t. It may become restless and hyperactive. The animal may even drool excessively or have trouble swallowing. Often the animal will become vicious. Convulsions may occur, and these are usually fatal. If the animal survives convulsions, it usually suffers paralysis of the lower jaw. “Dumb” rabies usually occurs shortly. Paralysis spreads across the entire body, and death follows.
To witness some or all of this in your pet can be heartbreaking, to say the least. So if you at all suspect that your animal has the disease, be certain to have your pet under the care of your holistic veterinarian.
SKIN AND COAT PROBLEMS
In over 75 percent of animals, skin and coat problems are symptoms of a toxic lifestyle and are intimately connected to an overburdened liver. Cleaning up the diet and detoxifying your pet is the foundation of better health and appearance. Step two is to consider a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement to help improve the skin and coat. Try vitamin E, zinc, and biotin to make the coat softer and healthier looking. If after a few weeks on this protocol the coat remains brittle, add some extra biotin for a month. Most animals will respond to that. Then return to a maintenance dose of 50 micrograms daily. Also consider liver detoxification with herbs, such as milk thistle and juniper berry. Be sure to use good-quality supplements, as the fillers in lower-end products can cause drying skin.
Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is an auto-immune disease; in other words, the body perceives its own hyroid gland as being diseased and develops an immune reaction to it. The number-one cause of hypothyroidism is vaccinations, especially in dogs. Initial inflammation causes the thyroid to become hyperactive. Then it tires and a hypothyroid condition results.
Conventional doctors often give a dog suffering from hypothyroidism a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement. But replacing the body’s own function with a fake may make the body dependent on the substance and may, over time, cause the body to shut down. Holistic physicians will generally try to get the thyroid to function again. They work to balance the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, the liver, and the thyroid gland, with the aim of getting the thyroid working again.
UPPER RESPIRATORY VIRAL INFECTIONS
Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection include nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and anorexia. These symptoms actually help fight the virus in the animal’s body. What we need to do for our pet is to give it extra tools to win the fight sooner.
Vitamin C is a great place to start building your pet’s immune system. Give your animal high levels (500-5000 mg per day, depending on its size and bowel tolerance levels) for two weeks. Couple that with echinacea (1-10 drops per day depending on size) for ten days. On the eleventh day, stop the echinacea. You may need to restart on day 20 for another 10 days. This time add goldenseal for extra strength. For dogs—but not cats, please note—garlic (Kyolic works well) will also help the plan. Hot steam with eucalyptus oil for 30 to 60 minutes, once or twice a day, will be effective for congestion; take care to avoid burning accidents. A wet cotton ball is good for removing discharges from the eyes or nose. Keep your pet on a low-food, high-liquid diet.
Be sure to monitor your pet throughout this process for any changes in temperature, breathing, appetite, and discharges. Maintain contact with your holistic veterinarian to keep him or her abreast of any new developments.
Vomiting is one way the body cleanses itself. Through vomiting the body gets rid of toxins and creates time to rest and heal. Overeating, and the absence of fasting, are two culprits that weaken an animal’s stomach and intestines. Then when your animal meets a trigger, such as grass or food on the street, or even stress, its digestive system will react violently, usually in the form of vomiting.
Sometimes vomiting can be indicative of serious problems, so it is important to monitor your animal carefully. Watch out for persistent vomiting, blood in the vomit, and the presence of fever or pain. If any of these symptoms occur, take your pet to an animal hospital or holistic veterinarian as soon as possible, as your animal will require blood tests and quite possibly x-rays. In extreme cases, exploratory surgery may be indicated.
If serious problems are not involved, you may be able to treat vomiting with a simple herbal cleanse. Do not feed your animal any solid foods for a few days. Instead, give it water and broth for up to three days (see Chapter 6, on detoxifying). On day two of the fast, give your pet a dose of Gentle Dragon.
Once the fast has ended, you will want to restructure your animal’s diet. Start by adding more fiber to the diet. Fruit, vegetables, rice, and oatmeal are examples of foods high in fiber. You will also want to add green foods, such as grated salads, to your pet’s diet. Greens are rich in cleansing chlorophyll. Introducing regular fasting is another component in restructuring your animal’s diet, so incorporate that into your plan as well. The long-term goal is to build up the digestive system while sustaining it, and proper diet, inclusive of appropriate food volumes and frequency of feedings, will ensure that this occurs.
In addition to overcoming illness and optimizing general health, you will want to steer your animal clear of sudden, unexpected dangers. A little knowledge of pet hazards will go a long way toward protecting your animal from needless harm. Familiarize yourself with the facts; learn about substances that are dangerous to animals, and keep them out of your pet’s environment. The following are common hazards you should know about.
Animal Poison Control: (888) 4ANIHELP
Should you suspect that your pet is poisoned—common signs of poisoning include fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting, a severe tremor, or seizures—it is imperative that you get the animal treated immediately. Call the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 4ANIHELP. This hotline is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You will also need to visit your veterinarian as quickly as possible so that the doctor can assess the seriousness of the situation and advise you on managing it.
Thermometer—the proper temperature for a dog or cat is about 101 or 102 degrees F. Below 100 degrees F is too low.
SICK ANIMAL WARNING SIGNS
Long before a full-blown disease appears in an animal there are usually subtle warning signs that indicate a problem is brewing. By noticing early signals and taking corrective action right away, you can restore your animal’s health more easily than if you wait for a crisis. Look for these signals, any one of which could indicate that something is amiss:
Loss of enthusiasm for normal activities
Lack of affection
Loss of appetite
Coarse or dull coat
Foul body odor
Excessive thirst and urination
Rapid weight loss
Rapid weight gain
Loss of response to verbal cues
As with children, when your animal stops acting like his or her normal self, something physical may be wrong. Should you notice that something does seem wrong, seek confirmation from a veterinarian. Testing will probably be done to see whether or not your suspicions are correct. If your pet is indeed ill, your holistic vet will guide you in taking the proper action, reviewing your animal’s diet, adding live enzymes to the food, making sure the water is pure and always available, and adding vitamin C, a good multiple vitamin, and perhaps a glandular and the herb astragalus for immune support. A nutritionally aware veterinarian can advise you on the specifics needed to help your pet.