• The Cause of All Illness?

    OK, so maybe not the cause of ALL illness, but I would argue that this problem is the root of the majority of the chronic diseases that afflict humans and domesticated animals alike in our modern society. What one factor could cause such widespread health problems? And if it’s so pervasive, why isn’t more being done about it? Just in the last year alone, I’ve had four cats brought into my clinic diagnosed with diabetes. Three of these cats were on insulin injections to control their blood sugar level. Within six months of their initial visits, all four cats were free of diabetes. I saw a 10-year-old Beagle that had been diagnosed with early Cushings syndrome, a disease in which the adrenal glands produce excess cortisol. Three months later, the condition was resolved. A client’s quarter horse had been having recurrent episodes of laminitis, a painful and potentially crippling disorder of horse’s feet. Six months later, the horse was completely sound with no hoof problems. The one common treatment in all these cases: A drastic reduction in the percentage of  carbohydrates in the animals’ diets. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, but it’s not always easy.   Most commercial pet foods that are commonly available are quite high in such carbohydrates as rice, corn and potatoes. Much of the fresh green pastures that horses graze on are actually too high in sugar. And certainly much of the foods that we humans love to eat are high in carbs. But who wants to give up their pizza and beer? All grains and starches consumed by humans and animals turn into sugar in the body very quickly. Once these sugars enter the bloodstream, insulin is released from the pancreas to get the sugar into the body’s cells for fuel. This is all well[Read More…]

  • The Pet Food Dilemma

    A lot of confusion and conflicting information exists out there about dog and cat diets. (Actually, the same is true for human diets, with different experts singing the praises of completely different regimens.) So who do you believe, and how do you decide what to feed your pet? That depends not only on whose advice you trust, but also on the way you make decisions for your pet, as well as your own health. For example, let’s say your cat has a urinary tract problem, and your neighborhood vet recommends a prescription diet. When you go to your local pet store, however, the store owner tells you that the vet’s prescribed diet is poor quality, and recommends a different diet altogether. What do you do? Veterinarians, like their MD counterparts, receive very little nutrition training in professional school. On the other hand, when I was in vet school, I remember the frequent dinners and “mixers” that were sponsored by various large pet food companies. It’s really no different from the way MDs are lobbied by pharmaceutical companies. When I started studying animal nutrition on my years later, I discovered that much of what I was “fed” about dog and cat diets has turned out to be completely untrue. This is not to suggest that a pet store employee can take the place of a good veterinarian; however, most people I know who own or work in smaller, independently owned pet stores know considerably more about commercial pet diets than your local vet does. Take, for example, Hill’s Prescription C/D, a dry cat food that many vets would prescribe for a cat with bladder problems. The first three ingredients are brewer’s rice, corn gluten meal and chicken by­product meal. Seriously? Do those sound like healthy and appropriate things to feed a[Read More…]

  • Doggie Detox?

    No, this is not about sending Patches off to rehab ­ this is about an essential body function that all creatures carry out on a continuous basis. And it’s one that is accentuated in the spring season: detoxification. Traditional Chinese Medicine theory says that spring is the season dominated by the Liver, the organ responsible for new growth and for directing toxins out of the body. If you think about it, it does make sense that the longer, warmer days of spring trigger the body to increase its activity, as well as rid itself of unnecessary “stuff” that has accumulated over the winter ­ a “spring cleaning” of sorts. It’s no coincidence that the edible plants available in nature during this season, for humans and animals alike, are much higher in chlorophyll and antioxidants than at other times of the year. These nutrients support the body’s need to ramp up the detoxification process, and to prepare for the increased activity of the summer months. So you and I may eat more baby greens in our salads, deer graze on new lush pastures, and bears out of hibernation nibble on new green sprigs. Many naturopaths and herbalists believe that supporting the body’s natural emphasis on detox processes during this time of the year helps to maintain health in a multitude of ways. One theory is that an excessive buildup of waste products from normal metabolism and toxins from our environment can lead to chronic inflammation, allergies, hormonal imbalances and immune system suppression. Just about every disease condition of humans or animals ­ including arthritis and even cancer ­ would have one of these as an underlying cause. In my practice, I’ve had good success using detox protocols during springtime to prevent annual summer skin conditions, such as hot spots in dogs. So what can we[Read More…]