This will be a 4 part blog writing due to the length of each entry.
Healthy Dogs: Part 1: A Healthy Immune System is Central to Good Health
Healthy Dogs Part II: Keeping a healthy GI system
Health Dog Part III: What You Should Know about: nutrition and pesticides
Health Dog Part IV: Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Young with Exercise
PART I: A Healthy Immune System is Central to Good Health
Loosing a special dog to cancer, valley fever, inflammatory bowel disease (lymphangiectasa) and the many other diseases and health problems is devastating. When I first had dogs many years ago I fed them Science Diet, took them to the vet annually for shots and they all prospered and lived long lives to ages 14 or longer as did my Westie living to age 17. I knew very little about dog health, cancers in dogs, or other conditions since my dogs were so healthy.
Then along came my special soul dog, a Puli named Marley. Marley introduced me to agility, herding and therapy dog work. Marley was a special and a once in a lift time dog for me. He opened so many doors and introduced me to a whole new world that I never would have had without him. I would never have known the joys of making a very sick child and family smile by a dog visit.
So why did Marley have to get the most sever form of lymphoma which spread throughout his body so quickly with no signs and symptoms until he was so very ill? There were so many tears and so much sadness that I had never experienced in my life. Marley was 5 years old and was only one of 5 therapy dogs at Phoenix Children’s Hospital when we started our volunteer work there. We went twice a week and had over 400 hours and all I could ask was “WHY?”
Chemotherapy gave me 3 more months to enjoy with Marley. He did get well enough to go back to PCH one more time. As sick as he was he always made me and others smile. My sadness darkened my life for a very long time leading me to read and read to better understand how this could happen to a dog that was given the best food, exercise, health care and was so loved.
What I learned was that we are living in a very different time now: pollution, pesticides and fertilizers can be found everywhere. Our world both outside and indoors is filled with toxic chemicals that many of our dogs are exposed to. The quality of dog food has changed as has what the animals eat that are the source of food. Our lives are busy, more stressful. AND, many of us show our dogs regularly adding to new stresses for our dogs.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, I found the amazing book The Nature of Animal Healing by Dr. Martin Goldstein. In this book Dr. Goldstein discussed why pets get sick and how to prevent illness naturally. He writes very early on about how conventional vets first prescribe antibiotics and then some form of prednisone (steroid). Yes, these powerful drugs usually eliminate the symptoms but what have they done to the dogs underlying system. Dr. Goldstein writes that unless we do something to understand the underlying cause of the illness, more than likely it will return perhaps even in a more insidious form.
The starting point for Dr. Goldstein is support and strengthening the dog’s immune system.
“The body’s immune system works in an integrated way to protect our health, supply us with energy, and give us strength. The system should be able to fix itself, sending help to repair damaged or diseased cells… Appreciating how central the immune system is to health-and ill health- is fundamental to alternative therapy. All healing has to do with essentially with the body’s immune system” … page 15, “Unraveling the Mystery of Disease”, The Nature of Animal Healing.
With my deep belief in the role and support of making a strong immune system, I turned once again to Dr. Goldstein’s expertise at Smith Ridge in New York and started working with Dr. Alexander Barrientos (now with her own practice at Earth Angel Veterinary in New York). As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, she has helped me support Kaffee’s system deficiencies and strengthen them. Kaffee is now 10 years old and we just reviewed his annual blood work. His blood work was PERFECT as it has been for a few years now. His immune system seems to be strong as evidence by his blood work and his excellent health and resistance to allergens and allergic reactions.
I highly recommend Dr. Goldstein’s book, The Nature of Animal Healing to learn more about how to prevent illness in your pets. The role of vaccines and diet and how the Blood Nutritional Analysis that they do provides valuable information on pets system deficiencies. Based on the results of the BNRA, supplements are recommended to strengthen these deficiencies. We did this with Kaffee, checking his blood work and liver/kidney values every 6 months at first and now just annually.
The Border Collie who is super smart, super active, and often compulsive about work and play often has a weak immune system from these characteristics of over worked adrenals and stress. The blood work for my last 2 Border Collies has supported this. Kaffee, as I mentioned, was successfully treated with supplements and responded positively to strengthening his immune system.
We are now working with my younger an even more high drive Collie to support her immune system which her blood work and Blood Nutritional Analysis clearly show a mild deficiency in her immune system. She is well and healthy and has boundless energy… but I want to keep her this way. Over time, if her immune system is not supported and strengthened she could become susceptible to disease.
FIRST TIP: Understand the Role of Your Dogs Immune System for Good Health and Healing. Evaluate and Know Your Dog.
Puppies are generally well and healthy so it is hard to imagine them with illness, disease or a compromised immune system. It might not be until they are a year old that they begin to manifest signs of a compromised immune system with allergies or other health problems. I always like to have baseline blood work done when my dogs are one year old to see where they are at.
My current Puli had blood work done at age 1 and we found elevated liver enzymes. He was showing symptoms of little appetite and occasional early morning vomiting. Fortunately we found this early and treated him successfully with Denosyl, Milk Thistle and miraculously Nature’s Farmacy DOGZYMES Digestive Enhancer. Ziggy now has an appetite like my Border Collies and no evidence of any liver problems.
By knowing your dog, you are observing them and their behaviors. Knowing how these factors influence your dog and their immune system is very important for early intervention and prevention.
· What seems normal, abnormal about your dog? Think about your other dogs and how do they compare with your characterization of normal?
· What are you going to be doing with your dog?
· Do you live in an area with heart worm, tics, or other parasites? Do you really need to use heart work or tic prevention if this is not a problem in your area? Each of these can influence your dogs’ immune system
· Are you going to be showing your dog and doing a lot of travel? Shows and travel place new stresses on dogs. Their sleep time and patters change; they may be anxious and fearful about new places. Dog shows can be a very stressful place for dogs.
· Are they high drive and always wanting to be on the go?
· Do they sleep and rest during the day?
· Is their disposition calm or always on and “ready.. ready.. ready?
· Read about vacation protocols. Research the prevalence of viruses and other infectious agents where you live and discuss them with your veterinarian. Know the exposure risks of these agents and how they are spread. An example of this is heart work prevention. Where we live there is little heart worm and my knowledgeable vet early on recommended doing blood work every 6 months or after mosquito season rather than the regular use of heart worm medicine.
Other conditions such as infectious canine hepatitis (adenovirus-1), canine adenovirus-2, bordetella, canine influenza, canine coronavirus, leptospirosis, and Lyme regional and situational. Again, discussing these with your veterarian is important in not over vaccinating and depressing your dogs immune system unnecessarily.
I suggest Dr. Jean Dodd’s Vaccination Protocol for Puppies and Adult Dogs:
All these things influence their immune systems and resistance to illness.
Some of the supplements we are using under the direction of our vet in New York and based on blood work include:
· Maitake DMG liquid
· Specially formulated NBT powder based on the blood nutritional analysis (BNA)
· Curcumin BCM 95
· DOGZYMES digestive enhancer twice daily
· Omega 3