All posts by dr. jane

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...

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...

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...

Welcome Home, New Pet! Now What?

Dr Jane Bicks
With the holidays just around the corner, many people will consider adding a new pet to their home. According to recent statistics, more and more Americans are adopting not only their first companion animal, but their second and even third. The pervasiveness of multiple pet households indicates just how important pets have become in our lives, and that we want our existing pets to have companions of their own.

Having multiple pets increases everything: the joy, the cost, the hair, and the cuddles. As a veterinarian, I am often asked for advice on how best to integrate a new pet into a home that already has resident animals. In this post, I’ll be focusing on dog-only and cat-only households.

In a Dog-Meet-Dog World

When seeking to add an additional dog to your family, be sure to choose a breed, gender and personality that compliment your current canine. For example, it’s unwise to match a tea cup poodle puppy with a large or giant breed dog, especially an active one. Even if no harm is intended, the puppy could easily be injured. Similarly, be conscientious if you already have an older dog with arthritis, as a puppy could prove overwhelming. In general, opposite genders get along better, as do spayed and neutered pets (procedures I heartily endorse). In general, we would recommend the adoption of a dog younger than the resident dog; if the ages are reversed, tension could result, leading to recurring fights over who claims dominance. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, personality is an important factor. You know your resident dog’s disposition and it’s essential to take that into consideration when bringing a new dog into your home. More...