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Colic in Horses

Colic in Horses
The dreaded word- COLIC.

This is the fear of every horseperson, yet it is not as common as you’d think. Because of its mortality rate, colic’s reputation is a fearful one.

Last week I attended a conference at the VMRCVM on colic so let me share some things with you:
Colic is the third leading cause of death in horses.
Only 4% of horses will get colic, but of these, repeat cases are common.
11% of colics are fatal, and 1 out of ten requires surgical treatment.
Colic surgery will cost $5000 to $8000

colichorse-colic 2

These are the signs of colic… your horse looking at his side and rolling.

The first hours of colic are critical, a severe case can be dead in 12 hours. Of course we regularly leave our horses for longer periods than that, so if you find your horse in distress, you need to get help immediately! Transport to a surgical facility if that is in your budget. The sooner you travel, the better, if you are fairly close to a surgical facility. A work-up for diagnostics will cost you about $650.

Learn to take vital signs: Temperature, pulse rate and respiratory rate.

Colic does not usually cause a fever but an elevated pulse rate, greater than 40 beats per minute at rest is a sign of a problem. If the pulse rate goes over 60 BPM, the prognosis is worse. Expect your vet exam to include a rectal exam and nasogastric intubation. Gastric reflux is a severe sign. Horses cannot vomit, and pressure builds up in the stomach with an intestinal blockage.

You may administer Banamine, and in fac,t most colics are simple gas pain and will resolve with Banamine. The next common cause of colic is dehydration, and oral electrolytes can help to reverse this.

Other causes of colic are these. Feed impactions, ascarid impactions, verminous migration, displacement of the colon, nephrosplenic entrapment, volvulus of the intestine, enteroliths, lipoma entanglement, inguinal hernia, intussception.

Horses can get dehydrated during the winter months from riding, or from lack of water. Administer electrolytes prior to your rides, provide unfrozen water at all times, especially when horses are on hay diets.  Add water to pelleted feeds for older horses. Avoid moldy hay. Be aware that hungry horses will eat things they normally would not and should not eat (like tree bark and toxic weeds). Have fecals examined at vet for microscopic evidence of parasites. Avoid sudden changes in feed. Keep emergency drugs on hand for pain such as Banamine. Keep a palm sized piece of ginger in your freezer- use cut-up fresh ginger steeped in hot water as an antispasmodic tea for acute colic, while you wait for your vet to arrive. Again, learn to take your horse’s vital signs. Get a digital thermometer from the drug store and keep it in your barn. Normal rectal temperature is 99-100 Farenheit. Advise horse sitters of your horse’s normal behavior and give them the number of a vet to call for emergency. Realize that most colics will recover, but a severe colic is an illness that can end in euthanasia even if you take the best of care of your animals. If you hang around horses long enough, you will eventually encounter a colic. It is wise to be informed and to determine the severity and to act quickly on worsening signs.

 

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January 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Principles of Natural Health

Principles of Natural Health

On Oct 22, our 4th Monday alternative medicine study group was led by Judy Yan of Blacksburg. Judy reinforced the idea that our health is only as good as the fuel we give our bodies. This is common sense isn’t  it? Maybe we need to hear these ideas in many ways before we can walk the talk!
Two principles of natural health are :
1) Feeding and nourishing the body
2) Cleansing and removing toxins
These principles apply to any living creature. Think about your pet’s food. Is it not amazing that animals can even live on processed dry food, the same thing every day, with vitamins added because the food had been so cooked and preserved that these good elements are destroyed?
That being said, veterinarians see problems on a daily basis that are linked to poor nutrition such as allergies, skin problems, cancer, chronic diarrhea, and the list goes on. Some lucky animals may have the genetic fortitude to eliminate toxins well. Most do not, especially our purebred dogs who do not have that hybrid vigor.
Judy explained that in her practice with humans, special nutritional supplements are used to jump-start a system that has been out of order for years. Then gradually changing the eating habits can improve and enhance wellness.
The same goes for my animal patients. Supplements, herbs, and acupuncture can get us through a crisis, while good nutrition is the foundation for maintaining health. Many animal problems are caused by intestinal dysbiosis and overworked liver qi. The intestine is their first line of defense in the immune system. The liver is an organ of detoxification and the source of the blood and body fuel coming from the intestinal tract.
Just understanding and trying to practice the two principles of natural health will go a long way to improve health in ourselves and our animals!
“ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…” Lou-Tzu, China

December 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer In Pets

I can tell from the looks on their faces when my clients come in with a diagnosis of cancer in their beloved pet. They are worried, concerned about cost, and looking for hope from a holistic viewpoint. The pet, on the other hand, is happily investigating the new surroundings and interesting scents in my office, oblivious to their diagnosis.
There are many reasons for hope. It is a rare day when I tell a patient there is nothing we can do to help. There are always things that can help! Each vital force and body constitution is different, so we deal with the options one at a time, on an individually tailored plan.
Conventional biopsy, surgery, and chemotherapy can be very useful but the thought of this is overwhelming to many clients at first. Like any disease, cancer is a dysfunction of the immune system, so that is an easy place to begin immediate treatment and especially prevention. Begin with good nutrition, fresh organic foods, and herbal supplements tailored to individual needs. It always helps to take one small step in the right direction and the animals love this part of the plan!
Next we discuss the type of cancer, how genetics and nutrigenomics play a role, and whether a visit to an oncologist is an option. I try to educate clients that the cancer did not begin on the day of diagnosis but much earlier in life. Their pet has been and will be living with this for some time. We choose herbal combinations and supplements to add to the conventional therapies. There is much research showing the beneficial effects of botanical compounds in cancer therapy to enhance quality of life and fight cancer at the cellular level. We discover whether their pet will accept tablets, powders, or liquids most readily. I strive for stress free treatment for owner and pet!
If a case is in terminal stages, animal hospice is an option. End of life care is so important in the bond with a loved pet and the memories made during those last days. Pain control with acupuncture or drugs is essential and veterinary home visits reduce stress on everyone.
I believe that each pet is a special angel that has lessons for us. If we pay attention, we can learn so much from them. We can cook healthy food for them and ourselves, we can learn about cancer prevention, we can learn how to be a health advocate for someone else. Most of all, we can learn to toss our worries to the wind and live joyfully in the moment.

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN

Interview your vet. Veterinarians are as varied as all humankind. Find out who you are dealing with today! This medically educated human being is evaluating your precious companion and you are entitled to the best advice they can give. Remember, the vet does not make your animal get better, the vital force and innate healing ability of the incredible body is responsible. You are paying for advice and medications that have the potential to nudge the body toward healing, or to cause a negative effect.

1) What kind of animals do you have? Everyone likes others who care about them! Try to find a common bond with your vet. Are they a cat person or a dog person? Where did they attend veterinary college? If they do not have any pets or express a dislike of animals, you might run the other way!

2) How is my pet’s weight? Sometimes vets neglect to cover nutrition fully and give the owner specific information. Unfortunately, nobody can tell you how many cups of food to give, because sizes and metabolic rated vary so much among animals. “Look down on your pet” that is, look from above and see if there is a waistline between the rib cage and the hips. Loss of waist line, usually means weight creeping up! Ask specifically what type of food is recommended, where to find it, recipes for home-made diets, whether cooked or raw. Ask if any supplements would help, such as coenzyme Q-10 for a dog with heart problems, or probiotics for cats with kidney failure.

3) What do you feed your animals? How much does your vet walk the talk? If a homemade diet for a large breed dog is recommended, ask your vet if they have cooked for their dog and ask where to find the ingredients for the diet. For example, exactly where can you buy bone meal in my town?

4) What vaccines do you consider to be “core vaccines” (strongly recommended) and which are optional? Consider your pet’s risk of contracting this disease and compare this with the possible risk or side effect of the vaccine being recommended.

5) What treatment plan would you pursue for your pet if he or she was given this particular diagnosis?

6) What is the minimal vaccination schedule recommended for an animal in my situation?

7) Do you know any specialists who could give me a second opinion on this? Such as veterinarians certified in acupuncture, homeopathy or chiropractic care?

8) How do I know if my animal is in pain?

9) Would you write down some of the information you just told me? Sometimes we go on about subjects too quickly, assuming a client will remember everything. Sometimes we use words that are not clear in meaning. Here are two examples, Cage Rest – One owner thought it meant rest in the cage, but she was doing walking exercises with her dog right after spinal surgery. The doctor meant enforced rest in a cage so as to minimize any movement at all after surgery. Leash Walks only means put the pet on a leash to go out to the bathroom, only. One could take this to mean walking is ok as long as the pet is kept on a leash!

10) What vet would you choose to care for your animals if you were out of town and an emergency arose?

My clients seek honesty, empathy, knowledge, and action. These questions may help you to find out much more about the person who cares for your pet’s health!

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heroes for Heroes

My first real knowledge of service dogs was years ago when I read The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story by Betty White. What a revelation that was! Today, guide dogs and service dogs have expanded their reach and ability to help so many people in their lives.
My next exposure was by providing veterinary care to a couple of puppy raising families locally. I learned what a task it is to prepare a dog for this type of career! I was invited to Graduation ceremonies at our local service dog school, Saint Francis of Assisi, in Roanoke. There I met recipients of these wonderful dogs and heard their stories first hand. There was hardly a dry eye on the crowd that day except for the dogs who were wondering what the big deal was!
These specially trained dogs assist disabled people in many ways. They help the physically disabled with tasks and provide safety and constant companionship. They do incredible things for children with mental disabilities, by calming with their watchful presence and providing a connection to the outside world that can be found nowhere else. One of the most interesting to me was a fact I heard repeatedly, that the isolation of being bound to a wheelchair is broken by having a dog. People are hesitant to approach or strike up a conversation with someone in a chair, but if a dog is present, their world instantly changes.
I want to share a recent development for service dogs and that is with veterans programs. Veterans returning from war sometimes need physical assistance, but more than anything, the calm constant love of this dog can provide emotional support. Brain injury is much in the news lately, from war and from sports injuries. Service dogs can help with post traumatic stress syndrome, seizure disorders, and depression. Exercise is a real treatment for depression and a dog provides the motivation and reason for getting out and moving. Dogs can detect seizures and erratic behavior before the patient even knows it’s coming. Don’t we witness this ability in our own households?
It is my hope that we will soon be seeing service dogs everywhere they can help, so don’t be surprised to see a dog politely waiting under a table in a restaurant with someone you’d never guess needed a service dog! These dogs are allowed by law to go everywhere their owner goes. And remember to ask before petting a dog that is working. You just may make a new friend in the process!
I just want to say a big thank you to all the puppy raisers, to the dedicated organizations who train dogs to be good citizens, and to our veterans for their service to our country.
The cost of raising a service dog ranges from $10-60,000 so let’s all do our best to support these organizations in any way we can!
http://www.saintfrancisdogs.org/
http://www.vetshelpingheroes.org/
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feline Bartonellosis

If you love cats, here’s a disease you should know about! Feline Bartonellosis is surprisingly common in cats, at the rate of about 35%.  This is the causative agent of Cat Scratch Fever which is transmitted to people and can be a very serious infection. Since I have been educating my clients about this disease, I have met more than a few clients who have described the devastating effects if this illness on their own health. These include seizure disorders, visual disturbances, chronic fatigue, and high fevers.

Since my area of expertise is animals, let me briefly explain. Outwardly healthy animals can carry the bacteria,  Bartonella henselae, and transmit it to other cats or the people they live with.  Some cats with long term illnesses have been cured with treatment for Bartonella. Yes, that is the good news! It is treatable!

Signs in cats range from none to severe weight loss, mouth problems, respiratory problems, skin problems, and chronic diarrhea.  The carrier cat can be a danger to its owner especially if the person in direct contact is immune compromised, having chemotherapy, or is a small child.

The diagnostic test is a simple blood test taking 3 drops of blood from the ear or the forearm. The results come back in a week. The treatment is an oral antibiotic given daily for 3 weeks. A follow up test is recommended in 6 months.

Protect yourself and your cats by testing for Bartonella! I recommend testing every new kitten entering a household for Bartonella, Feline leukemia, and FIV. This combination test will allow early detection and treatment and prevent spread of the disease. I would love for you to go to  www.natvetlabs.org for further information on this subject.

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renavast™ for Kidney Disease

There have been few additions to treatment of chronic renal failure in cats in the past 15 years. Until now! Renavast™ is a new product available for clinical trials that appears to be safe and effective.

A very simplified explanation helps my clients understand that our veterinary term “kidney failure” or “renal failure” has nothing to do with failure to produce urine. In fact, renal disease occurs when the kidney is no longer able to conserve the good stuff and eliminate the bad. There is a reversal where the good stuff is lost and the bad continues to circulate, making the patient nauseous and toxic.

I will summarize the current treatment options for cats in chronic renal failure:

  • Dietary adjustment: Mostly, renal patients are very picky  because their sense of taste and smell is altered and it is a challenge to get them to eat enough of anything. The diet argument has gone full circle and it now appears that a quality moderate protein wet food is ideal. The more fluid intake, the better!
  • Subcutaneous fluids:  There is no doubt that home fluid therapy is life-saving for cats with renal disease. Owners can learn to do this procedure at home. Every 2nd or 3rd day fluid therapy will improve appetite and well-being by diluting the toxins that build up in the body.
  •  Azodyl®:  Azodyl® is a probiotic which can truly help these cats to feel better and it works by reducing urea production in the intestines. Urea is an inevitable breakdown product of protein metabolism. Reducing urea load will reduce urea toxin buildup in the blood.
  • Renavast™:  Renavast™ is NEW and is a combination of amino acids and peptides which can reduce damage to the kidney. It comes as a capsule but can be opened and sprinkled on food. It is very palatable for cats. I am participating in clinical trials to monitor and collect case reports of cats and dogs taking Renavast™ and am hopeful that it can add years to their lives.
  • Herbal medicines: I use nutritive herbal prescriptions that can increase blood flow to the kidneys and act as a tonic to help heal damage to the kidney and increase the strength and vitality of the patient.
  • Nutraceuticals: There are many herbs and vitamins that may be prescribed for specific conditions. Each case is a little different, based on laboratory findings and previous history.

For now, I just want to get the word out that there is a new option available to help this terribly common problem in the senior cat population. I hope you will consider it if you are dealing with renal disease in your cat.

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeopathy and a Thirst for Knowledge

Monday night, I so enjoyed hearing Dr. Robin Murphy speak passionately about homeopathy. Here in the US, there is such an underutilization of this wonderful energetic healing practice. In other developed countries it is easily found and used alongside of more modern medicine for ailments of all types. Homeopathy is founded on the principles of mind-body connection and energetic of healing.
Let me briefly explain: The most common form you might see is the blue tubes with tiny white pellets inside. These are made from many different substances and are quite different from the herbal medicines made from the same substances. In homeopathy, the energetic signature of the material is transferred to water which is transferred to the patient to treat the condition and neutralize the disease. Thirsty for more? Check out this link:

For example, Arnica Montana is a plant which grows in the mountains. It is harvested and made into a tincture. This succussed (shaken) and diluted many times to produce a homeopathic medicine, so that the water molecules used in the dilution arrange themselves to reflect the energy of the plant. Finally, there is no measurable plant material left.
Ok, you don’t have to understand how an airplane flies, to use one, and you don’t have to understand how a medicine works to use it, right? The people who make airplanes and medicines can explain all the details to you if you need that information, but you don’t. Just get a tube of Arnica 30C potency at your health food store. Next time you are overactive and know your muscles will be sore the next day, try taking Arnica as soon as you have this thought. You will become a believer! Or if you fall and experience some bruising, take the Arnica and you will be amazed! My left brain gets amazed over this on a regular basis!
How does this relate to veterinary medicine? Homeopathy offers great potential from companion animals to organic livestock production! Here are the reasons I love homeopathics:
1) Very Safe
2) Very fast to cure in many cases
3) Easy to administer, especially to difficult patients
4) Can be used with other meds
5) Inexpensive
6) Safe and effective for pocket pets, birds, wildlife, horses, goats, cattle
7) Dose is same no matter what patient weighs
8) Used for emotional conditions before disease manifests physically
9) Easy to obtain and to transport in first aid kit or in your pocket
10) No drug residues in food animals
Like Dr. Murphy said, “A thirst for knowledge is what motivates a healer.” I concur with that and would add, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know in this world, and that is the reason for living and learning.”

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Prescriptions For Your Pets

Pet prescriptions are in the cross-hairs at Wal Mart and elsewhere. Ever see me cringe when a client asks to get their prescription at 1-800 Pet Meds? Why? Honestly, stocking every medication I need takes time and effort, and I make little to no money on these items. Why do I want you to buy from me?
Reason #1 Because I appreciate your loyalty and because I need that couple of bucks more than Pet Meds. Wouldn’t you prefer to support your veterinarian, who cares about your pet, than to support big box stores? I would bet you did not know Pet Meds has been taken to court numerous times for illegally filling prescriptions. They continue to operate because their advertising is so effective that they can pay the fines and go on. Here’s another reason to buy from me: Because I am on call 24-7 to answer questions about your pet and your prescription. If your pet has an adverse reaction to a medication, you know I will follow up with the manufacturer, and report the reaction, not to mention your pet will get concerned follow up care from me. Try calling Wal Mart in the middle of the night for a reaction to a medication you purchased from them! My clients expect educated up to date advice from me. If they insist on shopping around for the cheapest medications, then I will be forced to charge them for every phone consult. No offense, but how many of us like watching the clock when we get a phone consult with our lawyer? There is always a ripple effect when change occurs.
Reason #2 I do really care for each and every patient, and I am very concerned about quality control with medications. I know the reputable distributors and companies who manufacture medications. I have years of experience and client feedback as to which ones are most effective, not which ones cost the least. Did you know that the counterfeit legal drug trade is bigger than the illegal drug trade in this country? Many medications have been found to be ineffective counterfeits, from flea products to cancer therapy drugs. These are sold to distributors at a discount and then on to you, the consumer.
Reason#3 Honestly, this is the biggest reason I prefer that you buy medications from me: The largest obstacle to successful outcome in veterinary medicine is client compliance. That means actually getting the medication into the animal as directed. Admittedly, not always easy! I have tricks and tools to help you. I know, for a fact, that if you have to drive to a pharmacy to collect your medication, there will be a delay in getting started. I can be sure that a certain percentage of clients will never fill their prescriptions. I can also be sure I will start giving more injections to patients in the office to get started on treatment, consequently, costing you way more than you’d have saved on that prescription. Many times I have sent clients to the health food store to get a supplement and about half of the time they never get there. I have learned, through the years, that when client goes to the vet to get some help, they need to have the medication in their hand when they walk out the door. It is truly not in the best interest of the patient to lengthen their trip from home, to leave them in a vehicle while the owner drives somewhere else to collect their medication, or to delay starting treatment. Not to mention the confusion that can result from having the medication picked up at a human pharmacy.
So, the truth is that veterinarians are already required by law to write a prescription if a client requests it. If the medication is something that is not available to veterinarians and is needed by the pet for treatment then we can call in to a pharmacy or write out a prescription. Certain antibiotics and chemo drugs would fall into this category. One of my favorite sayings is “ be careful what you wish for”, and this applies to clients who wish transfer prescriptions from their vet to their Wal Mart or pet meds internet pharmacy.
Products are available all over the place. If it is service and professional advice you need, please consult your veterinarian, not those whose primary interest is to sell you a product! Every day I am seeing more animals harmed by their owners’ attempts to get free internet advice. Truly, my clients are more educated and informed than ever before, thanks to the internet. At some sweet spot, the information stops and the “art of medicine” begins. There is no substitute for years of hands on experience! You know that in your own life experience! You and your animals deserve good solid service and current professional advice. You want one-stop shopping? That’s what you get at your veterinarian! My desire is for veterinary medicine to continue to be the personal, caring, and honest profession I have known it to be for my 30 years in the business. I would like to hear your input on the controversial internet pharmacy issues!

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February is Spay/ Neuter month

Let me tell you a true story: Once a client called and asked for an appointment to have her dog “hoed”. The patient receptionist said, “Do you mean spayed?” The client replied, “That’s right; I knew it was one of those garden tools!”

Here’s another true story: I worked for years with a wonderful humane society in New York state. Along with my duties of providing health-care for shelter animals, I was asked to assist the employees who took a class on euthanasia with their grim duty. Once a week, animals had to be selected for euthanasia to make room for those strays coming in from county dog control. Envision a small room with a table, a vet, a technician and a pile of previously healthy but now dead dogs (or cats if you prefer). Then, if that’s not bad enough, picture placing them into the incinerator for group cremation. That’s the memory I have to share with those who delay spaying and neutering. Interesting fact: it takes about twice as much euthanasia solution to kill a healthy animal as an old one who is ready to go.
It’s the horrific truth about a shelter that was truly a wonderful humane society. It raised funds to build its own spay/neuter clinic on the premises so that all adopted animals would be “fixed” before leaving. The shelter’s goal was not to recycle animals or to receive litters from well-meaning adopters back for adoption. Puppy classes were offered there in the Humane Education Center because good dogs are less likely to end up back at the shelter. Stray dogs were reunited with their owners or rehabilitated into wonderful appreciative companions. This shelter is now a “no-kill” shelter, which means space for incoming animals is only available when one is adopted. This is much more palatable, yet I have seen animal rescuers going from shelter to shelter finding no room for adoptable animals. Try finding room at a shelter for a springtime litter of kittens! Thank heavens for foster homes and pet stores who adopt shelter animals.
I acknowledge the information about hormones and healthy development, I acknowledge reputable breeders, and I acknowledge the health benefits and risks of not neutering. I still support spaying and neutering for every pet owner. The exponential effect of one accidental litter is undeniable if you have taken 5th grade math. ”We will get her fixed after her first litter” does not cut it with me. Will you require that all her offspring will be neutered, and how can you assure that this will happen?
Can you tell I have strong feelings on this subject? I have heard all the excuses in the book, but what happens behind closed doors is all our problem if we truly love animals. Until the shelters start to run out of animals to adopt, I will support spaying and neutering. There are too many good dogs and cats waiting for homes, to support purchase from puppy mills and backyard breeders. I have seen plenty of purebred dogs which have been discarded by their owners, including my own (neutered) German Shepherd. There are rescue organizations for every breed you want, and especially the Pitt Bull breed which has experienced such horribly irresponsible breeding practices.
I hope I have not offended reputable breeders, for this description assumes that you are not contributing to this problem, but are seeking to preserve and improve your breed. In fact, I am preaching to the choir, because you would not be reading this if you did not really care about animals! Just remember and support Spay/ Neuter month and World Spay day, the 4th Tuesday in February. Maybe offer to pay for someone to get their pet spayed this month or lend a helping hand to an animal shelter. Don’t support stores that sell puppies and kittens from questionable sources at exorbitant prices. This just encourages impulse buying and plants the idea that breeding is a profitable business. Become a foster home. Put your spare change in the shelter donation jar. Maybe do a program on responsible pet ownership for children you know. Send me more suggestions and ideas to prevent the needless death of millions of animals a year.
It’s like the starfish story, you can make a difference to “this one”.

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment