All posts tagged 'og'

More Information On Canine Hypothyroidism By Dr Sarah

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise.

What’s going on here?

In mammals, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream, that regulate the body. The thyroid gland, one of the largest endocrine glands, controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, regulates calcium and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. The thyroid is critical to metabolic processes and affects the functionality of almost every other organ in the body. The endocrine system is highly sensitive, and its delicate dance of hormones can be disrupted, potentially resulting in disease. In dogs, the most common hormonal disorder diagnosed is hypothyroidism.

Typically, hypothyroidism occurs in dogs from 4-10 years of age, though in rare instances dogs can actually be born with it. Because the thyroid hormone affects the metabolism of the whole body, the clinical signs can be non-specific. That being said, dogs with hypothyroidism often exhibit low energy levels, weight gain, hair loss, a dull hair coat and concurrent skin infections. More...

Holistic Tips By Dr Jane

Dr Jane Bicks

The holistic approach to veterinary care has different meanings for different people. Essentially it means just what the name indicates - looking at “the whole” and not the individual parts. Holistic practitioners consider the whole of a companion animal’s being and how every discrete part works in relation to every other part. Fundamental to this mindset is that everything is interrelated and nothing occurs in isolation.

Furthermore, holistic veterinarians don’t only focus on physical aspects, they also consider the emotional, mental and spiritual elements. Holistic health boils down to balance; imbalance leads to dis-ease. It’s important to remember that physical signs of illness may often be the last to appear, and that mental and emotional imbalance can lead to disease, too.

In the United States, veterinary medicine is usually divided into conventional and holistic medicine. In the conventional tradition, veterinarians focus almost solely on the physical evidence. Holistic medicine, which originated from ancient cultures (such as, Asian, Indian, African and Native American Indians) takes into consideration the mental and spiritual aspects, as well. In the treatment of their patients, holistic practitioners often use herbs, vitamins, minerals, homeopathy, energy medicine and other alternative methods. I believe in an integrative approach, taking the best of all forms of medicine and combining them to produce a modern holistic approach. More...

Parenting Emotionally Challenged Pooches

In the last few months, we’ve been besieged with images and stories of destruction, the magnitude of which is difficult to comprehend: Australian floods, New Zealand earthquakes, and most recently the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan. While the loss of human life and the impact on the human survivors makes up the majority of the coverage, we know that many of these people included pets in their families. What are the lasting impacts on behavior of the surviving companion animals? Is it true, as many people believe, that the emotional scars caused by trauma (whether it’s due to a natural event like an earthquake, or an unnatural act like physical or mental abuse) can lead to fearful or aggressive behavior? Just how common is emotional scarring in companion animals? The answers to these questions may surprise you.

The unfortunate companion animals affected by recent environmental catastrophes are likely experiencing what we call “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD). PTSD is a recognized anxiety disorder induced by exposure to life-threatening trauma. Widely recognized as a diagnosis for people, PTSD has actually been studied in non-human animals, too. Research has actually shown that the brains of traumatized animals exhibit chemistries that differ from non-traumatized animals! True PTSD, however, is relatively rare in companion animals, developing as a result of a significant life-threatening event or predatory trauma.

If your dog has undergone a traumatic event, there are warning signs of PTSD, which include hiding, loss of house training, barking, loss of appetite and diminished interest in interacting with his human companions. It can also include out-of-character aggression. If your dog ever does go through a life-threatening or catastrophic event, veterinarians recommend providing a safe, secure area such as a crate, bathroom or laundry room, where your dog can get away from noise, people and other pets. Put familiar, comforting objects in the space, such as their own bed, favorite toys and/or an article of your clothing. Try and maintain a consistent routine, especially with regards to feedings, walks and play times. Like the traumatized pets in Australia, any pet that undergoes life-threatening trauma needs safety, a dependable routine, behavioral (and perhaps medical) intervention as soon as possible.

What about fear and aggression in non-traumatized dogs? We already know that true PTSD in dogs is rare, but too many shelter animals have been rescued from abusive or neglectful situations, so it’s not unusual for them to have fear or aggression issues.

Believe it or not, some dogs are genetically predisposed to experience heightened fear. Just as people can be shy or outgoing, dogs show similar personality inclinations. Other dogs will experience fear due to a specific trauma, such a frightening thunderstorm. While some argue that abuse, especially for young dogs, leads to PTSD, what is more likely is that rescue animals are simply poorly socialized during the critical developmental period between 3-16 weeks of age. At this age, puppies undergo a rapid learning process, making it the ideal window of opportunity for socialization. When puppies fail to encounter appropriate socialization during this critical period, they can develop fear or aggression later in life.

Even though they present challenges, negative experiences or insufficient socialization don’t have to define your dog’s long-term personality. Fortunately, there are ways to work through emotional issues. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah talks about how to recognize the symptoms of fear and aggression, and how to deal with some of these issues.

What challenges have you experienced in parenting a companion animal with emotional or social problems? What helped you work through these issues? Share your story with us in the comment section below.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Thanks to advances in health care and nutrition, our beloved family pets are living longer and longer. Senior pets are becoming the norm rather than the exception, and with the happy increase in the number of furry senior citizens, there has been a shift in health concerns for both veterinarians and pet parents alike.

One area of great concern for veterinarian and dog parent alike is the decline in a senior dog’s cognitive abilities or brain function. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, or CDS for short, is the term vets use to describe a degenerative brain disorder in senior dogs. Often, when pet parents are talking to their veterinarian, they will share that their senior citizen is uncharacteristically disobedient or soiling in the house. Other tell-tale signs of CDS include generalized anxiety (pacing or panting), confusion, decreased grooming habits, a changed appetite, acting depressed and forgetting regular habits. Signs of CDS are typically irreversible and progressive, but with effective treatment and management, the signs can be slowed and some can even be reversed. It is important to know that many of the signs of CDS can be confused with other diseases, such as hypothyroidism, arthritis or even dental disease, so if your senior dog is acting differently, schedule a full checkup with your local veterinarian.

One of the first questions pet parents usually ask when their veterinarian mentions the possibility of CDS is, “Is it like Alzheimer’s?” The answer is “Sorta.” CDS shares many similarities to symptoms of Alzheimer’s in humans, including similar microscopic changes and oxidative damage to brain cells that correspond to the severity of the disease. In fact, the two diseases are so similar that many of the treatments that are used in Alzheimer’s were first developed in dogs.

So if your dog has been diagnosed with CDS, what can you do? What about if you want to be proactive and take steps now to decrease the likelihood that CDS will mar your best friend’s golden years? In this video, Dr. Sarah goes over recent advances in treatment and prevention of canine cognitive syndrome.

References:

Cotman, C. W. et al. 2002. Brain Aging in the Canine: a Diet Enriched in Antioxidants Reduces Cognitive Dysfunction. Neurobiology of Aging 23: 809–818

Borra’s, D., Ferrer I., and Pumarola, M. 1999. Age-related Changes in the Brain of the Dog. Vet Pathol 36:202–211.

Dimakopoulos, A. C. and Mayer, R.J. 2001. Aspects of Neurodegeneration in the Canine Brain. Waltham International Symposium: Pet Nutrition Coming of Age.

Lansberg, G. 2005. Therapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Senior Dogs. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 29: 471-479.

Milgram, N.W. et al. 2002 Landmark Discrimination Learning in the Dog: Effects of Age, and Antioxidant Fortified Food, and Cognitive Strategy. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 26: 679–695.

Fahnestock M, Marchese M, Head E, Pop V, Michalski B, Milgram WN, Cotman CW. BDNF increases with behavioral enrichment and an antioxidant diet in the aged dog. Neurobiol Aging. 2010 May 4.

Five Essential Nutrients for Skin and Coat Health

Dr Jane BicksKeeping your companion animal’s skin healthy and coat shiny can prove challenging. Even though you might already feed a quality food, and brush and shampoo regularly, there’s more to this area of pet care than you might think. Veterinarians will tell you that the condition of the skin can be a good indicator of a pet’s overall health and nutrition status. That’s why wise pet parents should monitor their companion animal for any of these tell-tale signs …

• Dry, flaky skin or a dull, brittle coat
• Oily, foul smelling skin or a matted coat
• Thin coat, excessive hair loss or red, blotchy skin
• Excessive scratching (especially, seasonally)

The skin is the largest organ in the body and requires proteins and other nutrients. It’s not surprising that subtle changes in the amount of nutrients supplied to the skin can have a noticeable affect on its overall condition.

Fortunately, many pets eat complete-and-balanced pet foods that meet the nutrient profiles specified by expert panels and regulatory bodies. However, there are other factors that can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Pet foods that are improperly stored in the home, or in warehouses for many months without climate control prior to entering your home, can have reduced nutrient availability. Deficiencies may also arise when an animal is unable to digest, absorb or utilize nutrients as a result of genetic, environmental or stress factors, or some diseases. Even if your companion animal eats a nutritious diet, her skin takes a backseat to the rest of her organs … in essence, only receiving the “leftovers”. Therefore, I believe it’s important to supplement with additional nutrients, to help your furry one achieve skin and coat health. More...

Six Ways to Whittle Your Pet’s Waistline

Dr Jane Bicks According to a 2009 study published by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 34 million dogs and 54 million cats are classified as overweight. Sadly, these staggering numbers continue to rise. Just like in humans, obesity is now the biggest health threat to pets in the U.S. Excess weight lowers metabolism, increases appetite and can worsen other medical conditions, such as arthritis and respiratory problems.

If your pet needs surgery, extra fat can make it more difficult for a surgeon to operate and increase the chances of complications with anesthesia. With nearly half the nation’s pet population afflicted with weight issues, chances are you or someone you know has a pet that is affected. Here are six tips to help your pet shed unwanted pounds and keep the weight off for good.

1. Increased Awareness

There are two main causes of obesity in pets: too many calories and too little exercise. Secondary factors can also come into play, such as genetic factors of a given breed or the sex of the animal. A quick online search will reveal whether or not your breed is prone to weight gain. And be aware that neutered, middle-aged and female pets are more likely to have weight issues. More...

Canine Joint Disease 101

Unfortunately, arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting dogs in America today. In 2008, arthritis was listed among the top ten disease conditions in dogs (source: VPI). According to recent data, there are as many as 10 million dogs currently suffering from the chronic pain of joint disease, and one in five dogs will develop arthritis or joint disease during their lifetimes.

Otherwise known as degenerative joint disease, arthritis is caused by the loss of cartilage that covers the tips of bones in movable joints, such as the elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, etc. Arthritis is generally a wear-and-tear disease seen more often in older dogs. As a result of continual rubbing, the cartilage wears away leaving bone ends exposed to each other. Since there are no nerve endings in the cartilage, no pain is felt until the cartilage is worn away; but when that happens, the edges of bones rub together causing pain and inflammation.

Arthritis can also occur in younger dogs as a result of genetic conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Canine arthritis is similar to human arthritis in that it cannot be cured, but the silver lining is that arthritis in dogs is not a hopeless condition. There are many effective treatments available to ease symptoms, slow progression of the disease and to help ensure your dog’s quality of life.

In this video, Dr. Sarah explains how to determine whether or not your dog might be suffering from this all-too-common disorder, as well as tips about how to manage pain and other symptoms should your dog be diagnosed with degenerative joint disease.

Ensuring Better Days for Homeless Pets

Ensuring Better Days for Homeless Pets

Resting Doggie

This holiday season, we’re especially pleased to bring you news of yet another financial award given by the Dr. Jane’s HealthyPetNet Foundation, this time to an inspirational organization of animal rescuers in Pennsylvania.

Better Days Animal League is a non-profit animal rescue organization that was established in the summer of 2007. In their short time on the scene, they have helped to rescue and find forever homes for hundreds of animals in need.

The folks at this wonderful organization coordinate their efforts with local government officials and other local rescue organizations to further their primary mission, which is to be a strong advocate for animals. In fact, they are absolutely dedicated to the principle that all life must be treated with value, dignity and respect. More...

Useful Tips for Winter Puppy Care

The holidays are fast approaching and, amid the hustle and bustle, many people choose to adopt a new puppy into their homes during the holiday season. If you are the proud pet parent of a brand new puppy, here are some great tips on how to best take care of your new bundle of joy during the cold-weather months.

Most puppies do fine in cold weather - many of the long haired large breeds love to chase snowflakes and romp through winter landscapes. If you are considering adopting a short haired breed or small puppy, never leave them outside unattended. Although it is important to watch them vigilantly to make sure they stay warm, most dogs can still enjoy short stints outside. Remember, puppies need a lot of attention and care, and for potty training purposes, they need to be able to relieve themselves every few hours. You can start potty training your puppy as young as eight weeks of age, and it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

If you have opened your home to a puppy this winter and are wondering about how best to care for your new family member, then watch this video. In it, Dr. Sarah talks about special considerations for puppies during the cold months and tips and tricks on how to beat old man winter.

Giving Makes the World a Better Place

Dr Jane Bicks A time of togetherness and giving, the holiday season is upon us. Many of us will be devoting a great deal of time preparing for and spending time with family and friends. And while we may be busy scurrying about, carrying out holiday plans, the holidays are also a time when some reflect upon their lives and consider the consequences of their actions for the benefit of others.

And I’m so grateful to have a role in a company that does so much to promote the welfare and health of companion animals. As I’m fond of saying, we’re a small company with a great heart. Helping companion animals to lead healthier, longer and happier lives is not just an important company commitment … it’s our personal mission.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak directly to you in posts like this, to share my thoughts and insights in the hopes that they will benefit you in some way. In this post, I’d like to reveal the latest news from the work of the foundation that bears my name.

As you probably know, the Dr. Jane’s HealthyPetNet Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides financial support to a variety of animal rescue groups, all of which are dedicated to helping to save neglected, abused and unwanted animals. Today in America, there are literally thousands of rescue organizations working to make a brighter future for these helpless creatures. We provide funding to deserving organizations that meet very specific qualifications, such as demonstrating a high level of cleanliness, maintaining a caring environment, providing full veterinary care, and facilitating adoptions of their rescues.

In the past few months, we’ve awarded thousands of dollars to numerous worthy rescue groups, including... More...