All posts by dr. jane
Over the course of the last decade, there’s been ample evidence to support the idea that chronic stress plays a contributing role in a variety of medical conditions in humans. It may come as no surprise that researchers have similarly determined that long-term stress can be a factor in the medical and compulsive disorders of companion animals. Conditions such as feline lower urinary tract disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, obesity, gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), noise phobias and separation anxiety have all been found to have a chronic stress component in both dogs and cats (Luescher, 2003). Even so, compared to humans, relatively little research has been published regarding stress and its effects on companion animals. " />

Understanding and Dealing with Pet Stress

Depressed Dog

Over the course of the last decade, there’s been ample evidence to support the idea that chronic stress plays a contributing role in a variety of medical conditions in humans. It may come as no surprise that researchers have similarly determined that long-term stress can be a factor in the medical and compulsive disorders of companion animals. Conditions such as feline lower urinary tract disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, obesity, gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), noise phobias and separation anxiety have all been found to have a chronic stress component in both dogs and cats (Luescher, 2003). Even so, compared to humans, relatively little research has been published regarding stress and its effects on companion animals. More...

“Mom, Dad, can we get a pet? Please?” " />

Can Kids with Allergies have Pets?

Girl with her dog

“Mom, Dad, can we get a pet? Please?”

It’s a question that many parents hear from their youngsters. Unfortunately, the decision process can be difficult to navigate if the child in question suffers from allergies related to dogs, cats, bunnies and birds. Parents shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by this situation, as the following brief review of current research may help those seeking a solution that makes everybody happy. More...

Pet-Kidnapping by Dr. Jane

 

Kidnap Dog It’s every pet parents worst nightmare. And, according to reliable sources, it’s a crime that’s on the rise.

According to the American Kennel Club, the number of pet kids reported stolen is rising. In fact, the selling of abducted companion animals has become so common that a new phrase has been coined: pet-kidnapping.

Whether you realize it or not, there is a black market for pets. Dogs in particular are assessed in these underground circles according to their “street value”, the going price if sold illicitly. Puppies, purebreds and dogs with unusual markings fetch the highest prices. Some thieves rob puppies from pet stores and animal shelters. Others swipe dogs left unattended outside stores or in cars. A spokesperson for the AKC said that they now receive pet-kidnapping reports nearly every day, ranging from nighttime home break-ins to broad-daylight attacks in public parks.

The abducted dogs and cats are then sold at roadside stands, flea markets or online through community-based classified forums. Recently a story was published about a Washington family being reunited with their stolen Great Dane, all because they noticed a “for sale” posting for their prized pup on a popular online classified forum for $150. More...

Canine Grooming Tips by Dr. Jane

Family Washing DogNo one likes a bad hair day … and that includes your dog. Just like with humans, the skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body. Every day, their skin and coats are exposed to UV rays, pollution, infectious agents, drying heat or wind. Because it can contribute to a dog’s overall health, grooming should be an essential part of companion animal care. However, despite your best intentions, it’s not unusual for grooming habits to hit a glitch. Or two. Or three! While bathing a dog, I think all of us have experienced getting wetter than your dog, being interrupted by phone calls, or, worst of all, a sudsy canine tearing off, leaving a wet, sudsy trail behind him. As a veterinarian with a good deal of grooming experience, I can tell you that planning ahead can reduce unwanted problems and stress, so here are a handful of my best tips.

BEFORE THE GROOMING SESSION

Unfortunately, bathing can be stressful for some dogs, as some just tolerate it better than others. For those pups who are particularly skiddish, consider brewing some chamomile tea to calm your dog. Thirty minutes before you bathe, give your dog a cooled cup of chamomile tea with honey, followed by a dog treat that’s rich in carbohydrates, like our Antioxidant Health Bars. The carbohydrates will help deliver the calming tea straight to your dog’s brain. Better yet, you can both sit down with some tea and play soothing music, to set a calming tone for your upcoming grooming session. You can also give your dog tea during the grooming session. As we’ve already mentioned, just make sure the tea has cooled off (no hotter than room temperature). More...

Feline Diminished Thirst Reflex

Dr Jane Bicks
The French veterinarian Ferand Mery famously said, “God made the cat in order that man might have the pleasure of caressing a tiger”. While the domestic cat cannot claim the venerable tiger as an ancestor, it is true that our cuddly feline companions are believed to have descended from felis sylvestris lybica, the African wildcat. Also known as “the desert cat”, this feline is a desert-dwelling species that inhabits harsh environments notable for their lack of food and even less water. To survive, the African wildcat can shed nearly all of her reserves of fat and protein, up to 40% of her weight! But even this highly adapted animal is much less tolerant to dehydration. And yet, it continues to thrive in desert climates without easy access to water.

Water is the single most vital component necessary to sustain the normal functioning of all living cells. Water has many functions: it eliminates waste, lubricates tissues, regulates body temperature, cushions joints and internal organs, aids in digestion, and much more.

In the wild, cats tend to eat small game characterized as high-protein and high-moisture content, such as rabbits, birds and rodents (even some juicy insects). Prey animals like these contain about 70% water, providing most of the moisture that wild cats need. Unsurprisingly, wild cats have failed to evolve a strong "thirst reflex" like that of dogs and humans. A thirst reflex involves complex interactions between the kidney and the brain. When we are dehydrated, the kidney releases chemicals that communicate with the brain, which in turn makes us consciously aware that we are thirsty and need to drink. More...

Do Pets Have Psychic Abilities?

Dr Jane Bicks
Have you ever wondered whether or not your companion animal has psychic abilities? While some might scoff at the idea, many are convinced that this is certainly the case.

Over the years, I’ve heard so many stories of animals exhibiting behaviors that seem as though they might fall within this realm of experience. For example, did you know that during the massive tsunami in December of 2004, scores of elephants in Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Thailand moved to higher ground before the destructive waves struck land? There were even reports of buffalo grazing by the beach in Thailand who lifted their heads in unison, stared out to sea and then stampeded up into the hills. Most, if not all of the villagers who followed the lead of these animals were saved. How did these elephants and buffalos know what was coming? Did they pick up on slight tremors that seismologists themselves were not able to detect? If so, why was it only the animals in low-lying coastal areas who exhibited strange behavior and not the rest of the animals in Southeast Asia?

There are many other documented incidences of animals sensing earthquakes all over the world. No one really knows how they sense an earthquake, although theories abound, from sensing vibrations, noticing changes in the Earth’s electromagnetic field or smelling released subterranean gases. Some of these theories could also explain why dogs ‘freak out’ before avalanches, but what about human-made catastrophes? During World War II, families in Britain and Germany relied on their pets’ behavior to warn them of impending air raids while the enemy planes were still hundreds of miles away! Just how did these pets know what was looming in their immediate futures? More...


Last month, we launched a new series about ‘holistic’ health care for companion animals. Remember, holistic care entails viewing the body as a whole as well as how every discrete part works in relation to all the other parts. In keeping with a holistic mindset, this month I want to address fleas. Flea season is, or will very soon be, upon us again and the treatment of fleas illustrates how important the holistic approach is." />

Holistic Tips by Dr. Jane – Focus on Fleas

 

Dr Jane Bicks
Last month, we launched a new series about ‘holistic’ health care for companion animals. Remember, holistic care entails viewing the body as a whole as well as how every discrete part works in relation to all the other parts. In keeping with a holistic mindset, this month I want to address fleas. Flea season is, or will very soon be, upon us again and the treatment of fleas illustrates how important the holistic approach is.

If you’ve experienced problems with fleas, or if your dog or cat is itchy, ask the following questions …

Do you live in a warm, humid environment? Or, has it been unusually warm for the past three weeks?

Under warm, humid conditions, a flea can complete its life cycle in only three weeks. Fleas have four life stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Fleas take up residence in carpets and bedding, and when stimulated by vibrations, carbon dioxide or heat, adults hatch and seek out a host in your dog or cat. Upon transferral to your companion animal’s skin and coat, a flea can live for a year or more.

Have you just moved into a new home? Did animals live there before you?

If so, beware! There may be large numbers of flea eggs and larvae lurking in the carpet just waiting to hatch. More...

Holistic Tips by Dr. Jane – Focus on Fleas

Dr Jane Bicks
Last month, we launched a new series about ‘holistic’
health care for companion animals. Remember, holistic care entails viewing the body as a whole as well as how every discrete part works in relation to all the other parts. In keeping with a holistic mindset, this month I want to address fleas. Flea season is, or will very soon be, upon us again and the treatment of fleas illustrates how important the holistic approach is.

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...

Cats Behaving Badly

Dr Jane Bicks
As a holistic vet, I’m frequently asked, “How can I deal with my cat’s bad attitude?” The problem area dubbed “feline aggression” can be complicated, upsetting and potentially hazardous for pet parents. Not only can cat bites and scratches really hurt, they can transmit diseases, too, such as cat scratch fever (yes, it is real). While most cat moms and dads prefer a purring lap-warmer, especially on cold winter nights, some felines need extra help learning how to sheathe their claws.

Unfortunately, feline aggression is not well understood or handled appropriately. An important first step in dealing with this frustrating issue is to understand the behavior. Learning why a cat lashes out can help pet parents deal with the issue patiently and properly.

In this post I’ll be covering the five basic types of aggression in cats. More...

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...