You will find much contradictory information and strong beliefs of those that write about pet health, management and especially diet. It is up to you to see what fits best for you and your pet and to take control of your own personal pet's health management.
Three excellent books that I highly recommend by well respected veterinarians that have worked in the field of alternative heath and creating wellness are the following:
- The Nature of Animal Healing by Dr. Martin Goldstein. This was my first introduction to alternative health and what makes animals sick and chronically ill. When I lost my Puli at age 5 to cancer I was on a mission to learn why after feeling he received the best care and food. Dr. Goldstein has worked for many decades researching therapies that have benefited humans. He has been treating critically ill animals with great success. Today his excellent work focuses on cancer treatment.
- Fresh Food and Ancient Wisdom by Dr. Ihor John Basco. This amazing book is about why we should not use commercial foods for our pets and how it has had dramatic effects on our animals’ health and wellness. This dog nutrition book is filled with excellent information to help you better understand food energetics and its role in restoring health. You will find many easy-to-make recipes for all types of dogs in all stages of life.
- Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats – 4th EDITION. Drs. Richard and Susan Hubble Pitcarin. Dr. Pitcarin is a well know and read specialist in chemical-free nutrition and natural healing for pets. This new 4th edition is very very different since there have been many revisions based on changes in agriculture and the factory farming of animals that has greatly effected the quality of food. There are excellent, easy to make recipes that I am using to supplement my dogs raw food.
My research and findings and what I have done to help restore health falls into these categories that I will summarize.
- NO PROCESSED FOODS. Avoid kibble and commercial foods. Feed fresh food and whenever possible, organic.
- THE MICROBIOME AND THE IMPORTANCE AND BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS.
- SUPPLEMENTS FOR SUPPORTING DRYNESS, HEALTH, THE LIVER AND RESTORATION OF A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM.
- MUSHROOMS AND IMMUNITY
- KEEPING YOUR DOG CLEAN AND AS FREE OF POLLEN AND ALLERGENS AS POSSIBLE
- PROVIDE A CHEMICAL FREE ENVIRONMENT
- DO NOT GIVE UNNECESSARY VACCINATIONS… TITER, SPREAD OUT VACCINATIONS
NO PROCESSED FOOD:
Our world has changed. Dating myself, I remember when I grew up that we ate food from my father’s garden; no canned, fast or processed food but living and healthy food. The family ate together and enjoyed the time to talk and share.
Today we live in a world with fast food and quick solutions to eating. Everyone is in a hurry and the new norm is fast food and grabbing a bite to eat on the run or in our cars. Additionally 85,000 man made chemicals have found their way into our food, bodies and home. There has been a dramatic increase in the use of herbicides, pesticides, genetic modifications of foods and the use of antibiotics and hormones given to animals that are no longer allowed to roam on environmentally safe pastures.
We now know that the use of household chemicals is an important cause of health problems which are getting worse with the rise of allergies, cancer and other chronic diseases in humans and pets.
Processed dog foods are but one of the causes of the symptoms of the increase in allergies and cancer in our pets. The articles below plus the books referenced above by Dr. Basco and Dr. Pitcarin describe how commercial pet foods, changes in our agricultural practices and the huge number of chemicals used daily in our environment have had a devastating effect on our pets.
- Dog Food: 10 Scary Truths by Jan Rasuman: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-food-ten-scary-truths/
- Dog Food Advisor: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-industry-exposed/shocking-truth-about-dog-food/
- GMO Pet Foods, BY: Dr. Pitcarin blog: http://www.drpitcairn.com/2013/04/gmo-pet-foods-2/
- Busted: Dogs Naturally on Prescription Diet, BY: Dana Scott
What is important to understand – pets’ allergies can be triggered by any of the substances that have been added to food during processing, which includes dog treats and biscuits, or which comes from animals given antibiotics and hormones. Additionally do we know how the animals were raised and what they were exposed to during their lives? What chemicals are used to raise the fruits and vegetables we eat and that are put in pet foods?
My New Paradigm for the Health of My Pets: FOOD ENERGETICS
“In Traditional Chinese Medicine food is viewed as medicine and is used to nourish and harmonize the body, mind, and spirit. All foods have a distinct energy and characteristic properties that either help to balance our bodies and make us healthy, or that create imbalances which ultimately result in sickness.”
Additionally foods have various properties such as cooling, warming, neutral and hot. Knowledge about which foods have which properties is very important when trying to bring down inflammation within an animal. Dogs that are having allergic reactions are often very warm, hot and often their skin is pink with inflammation (which is what my puppy had after the 4th Parvo/Distemper). The choice of cooling foods such as duck and rabbit for meat; celery, romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, mushrooms and seaweed are foods that should be included in the diet to help cool the animal and calm the inflammation. Neutral foods can be given but at this time warm and hot foods avoided. For more information on this refer to
- “Helping Allergies in Dogs with Food Energetics” by Dr. Chris Bessent
- AND the excellent book by Dr. Basco, Fresh Foods and Ancient Wisdom. In addition to presenting many foods and their properties of cooling, warming, neutral and warm, Dr. Basco also discusses how properties of each of these foods supports the road to health and wellness with properties such as support of the liver, kidneys, nourishing the blood, relieving inflammation, helping the immune system and much more.
After doing much reading and research I continued with my use of raw food but choose cooling foods for the puppy since he was very warm and having a bad reaction to the immunizations. My goal was to calm his inflammation, support his liver, and help his immune system.
- Raw Food: Raw food is expensive and more difficult to manage since it requires freezing, thawing and safe handling practices. Traveling also takes some additional preparation and planning.
The 2 raw foods that I use and am very happy with are Primal and Darwins. I like Darwins the best since it delivered to my home and is gluten and grain free, no steroids, hormones or antibodies, grass fed and cage free meats and organic vegetables. Darwins does not have rabbit but do have duck and bison which was what I settled on as a cooling source of meat. https://www.darwinspet.com/
- Organic Vegetables added to each meal. I purchase organic vegetables for my family and also for my dogs to add a source of fresh healthy food. I followed Dr. Basco’s information on cooling and neutral vegetable purchasing only organic and preparing a healthy amount with each meal to the duck.
- Also included were “powerhouse foods”. “Powerhouse foods are those foods associated with reduced risk o chronic disease. A study in 2014 by Jennifer DiNoia PhD defined these foods based on nutrient density. Forty seven raw food were considered and included densities of 8 nutrients protective against cancer and heart disease. From this list I incorporated some of the best superfoods daily such as watercress, romaine lettuce, broccoli, chard. Reference: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/23/top-fruits-vegetables.aspx
- I had read that goats milk cheese was the best cheese to use so this was used for my training along with dehydrated apples and any other cooling home prepared foods.
- Each evening my puppy received fruit before he went to bed: strawberries, bananas, apples, blueberries
- Since my puppy seemed to be a little too thin for what I like, I felt he needed a few more calories. Rather than add more meat, I added some vegan food to the raw. Just feeding extra veggies did not have enough calories; the vegan recipes had sources of protein and carbohydrates which gave me the needed additional calories. The 4th edition of Dr. Pitcarin’s book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cat was very helpful. In this book Dr. Pitcarin writes about why he has chosen to go vegan for his food recommendations. There are many very easy to make recipes in this book which make lovely supplements to my dogs raw meat meals rather than going to processed food with long expiration dates or adding more meat. I also now have more options for treats including training treats.
THE MICROBIOME AND THE IMPORTANCE AND BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS.
I was introduced to the microbiome and the benefits and importance of probiotics by Dr. David Perlmutter (a leading integrative neurologist) in his best selling book, Brain Maker. In this book he writes about the new gut microbiome brain science and the power of the gut microbes to heal and protect your brain and most importantly YOUR HEALTH.
"The human microbiome is composed of bacteria, archaea, viruses and other microbes that reside in and out of our bodies. These microbes have tremendous potential to impact our physiology in both health and disease. They contribute metabolic functions, protect against pathogens, EDUCATE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, and, through these basic function, affect directly or indirectly most of our physiologic functions."
Shreiner, Kao, Young, "The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease"
This cutting edge knowledge has been accepted and now is widely used in veterinarian medicine. Today you will find many articles on the importance of using probiotics in animals to help restore and support the microbiome. Probiotics and digestive enzymes help to maintain health and to restore the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut.
One area that has received great interest and use is for assisting with improving the immune system and helping with chronic inflammation in dogs. Vaccines and antibiotics can and do disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut. This community of bacteria help your dog to absorb important vitamins, minerals and most importantly it is the core of your dogs' immune system. To learn more read this very interesting article by Maria Ringo, "Dog Allergies...Or is it Something in the Water?" http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-allergies/
I have had some of my dogs on probiotics for almost 8 years. My Puli has a very delicate digestive system and no appetite. A friend recommended a digestive enzyme and probiotic by Natures Farmacy. https://naturesfarmacy.com/
The results were amazing: my Puli suddenly was as hungry as the Border Collies in our family and his early morning vomiting was controlled. He has been on several of the dogzymes since then. I now have all my dogs on digestive enzymes and probiotics.
Once again, there are many many probiotics on the market. It is very important to understand that they are not all equal or effective. It is critical to find one that will benefit dogs with active organisms. Consumerlab.com researches supplements for humans and some for pets and makes recommendations based on a very strict protocol. Their studies have shown that the addition of probiotics to diet can stimulate measures of the immune system in dogs and cats. Out of the 3 probiotic products for dogs and cats selected for analysis consumerlab.com found that 2 products contained more substantial numbers of probiotic organisms. VetriScience Probiotic Everyday contained the listed amounts of cells (500 million to 2 billion in 1/2 to 2 chews). This is the one I selected and used for my young dog since it contains not only more organisms but also one organism beneficial for puppy health and immunity.
SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT HEALING AND DRYNESS
Summarizing, the symptoms that my young puppy had led to the use of supplements to help improve the immune system, support the liver and to add nourishment to his very dry and flaky skin.
Once again I turned to the excellent and knowledgeable, Dr. Alexandra Barrientos at Earth Angels Veterinary Hospital in New York. Dr. Alex worked with and studied with Dr. Martin Goldstein and practices both holistic and traditional veterinary medicine. I have consulted with Dr. Alex for over 10 years to help manage allergies, immune deficiencies, pancreatitis, and vaccinosis. After reviewing the puppies blood work, which fell within normal values but showed weakness in the immune system and liver, she prescribed a few supplements that were used daily for a short period of time and then went to a several days a week or monthly schedule.
Additionally she recommended weekly nourishing shampoos and the use of Dermoscent Essential 6 made in France and made of all natural ingredients.. Dermoscent restores the hydration of skin, supports the regrowth of hair and through its antioxidant effects helps to provide a barrier to environmental allergens. http://www.dermoscent.com/en/p102-essential-6-spot-on.html
Essential fatty acids are recognized for their anti-inflammation and immune support. I added Omega 3 by Nordic Natural and coconut oil. Recently I also added the excellent mushroom preparation that both my other Border Collies have been on for some time.
NOTE: You will find a lot of controversial writings and beliefs about giving fish oil due to the mercury content so widely found in fish. Some people are so adamant about this that they will not even feed fish oil and recommend against it. I have researched sources and have been using Nordic Naturals for myself and all my dogs for some time. Nordic Natural sources all its fish from waters that are certified sustainable. Nordic Naturals adheres to strict European standards not found in the United States guaranteeing quality products with maximum levels on things such as PCBs, heavy metals and dioxin. https://www.nordicnaturals.com/en/About_Us/Why_Nordic_Naturals/563
Another alternative is to use a non-fish product such as UDOs a 3-6-9 blend where the oils are from flaxseed, coconut, sunflower seeds and primrose. Stores such as Whole Foods carries UDOs in their refrigerated section. http://udoschoice.com/product/omega-3-oil-health-supplement/
THE HEALING POWER OF MUSHROOMS
In his excellent and informative book, Fresh Foods and Ancient Wisdom, Dr. Basco discusses the cooling energy of mushrooms writing that mushrooms are high in antioxidants, help to clear inflammation and support kidney function.
In a recent online seminar Dr. Marty Goldstein, who is now doing a lot of research and work in the area of cancer, speaks of the medicinal properties of mushrooms especially for his work in cancer and cancer prevention.
The use of mushrooms for food and medicine have long been used in Chinese herbal medicine and have been recorded in early records of the Materia Medica. There are at least 270 species of mushrooms that are known to have therapeutic properties. Over the past three decades there have been a large number of scientific studies on medicinal mushrooms especially in Japan, China and Korea that have confirmed their health benefits especially with their immunological and anti-cancer properties. Other health benefits include mushrooms antioxidants, anti-hypertensive, inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.
Dr. Alex added mushroom supplements to my two Border Collies early on when we were working on improving their immune system. I felt this could not hurt but only help my young dog so recently I added an excellent preparation from VetriScience.
KEEPING YOUR DOG AS FREE AS POSSIBLE OF DUST AND POSSIBLE ALLERGENS
Many years ago when my Border Collie Kaffee had allergies it was recommended to me to wipe him down with a wet cloth, especially his feet and tummy after he had been out running or hiking in grass. This very simple way to help clean of dust, pollens or allergens is often ignored by vets when discussing allergies and prevention. I even found an article by one vet recommending wiping the dog’s feet and tummy with a Witch Hazel mixture. For many years I washed Kaffee off after our hikes out back of our house.
Baths should also be given with a mild preparation such as Oatmeal Shampoo every 1-4 weeks depending on environmental allergy exposure and the degree of itching. When the puppy was itching badly we shampooed weekly with ZYMOX enzymatic shampoo recommended by Dr. Alex. Using only mild plant surfactants and enzymes with anti-inflammatory properties, this shampoo helps to calm and hydrate the skin and irritations without drying it out.
One day following the shampoo we apply Dermoscent (see above) which further helps to nourish and heal the skin providing a barrier to environmental dust, pollen and allergens. All of this worked quite well with noticeable relief.
Currently we are now only doing Oatmeal shampoos every 3-4 weeks and Dermoscent every few weeks depending on if I find dry flaky skin.
Additionally I have always brushed my puppy once or twice daily. Regular brushing helps to bring out natural oils in the dogs fur as well as removing dead hair, dirt and dandruff. Regular brushing provided me a way to check and monitor my puppie’s areas of hair loss and biting/scratching and to joyfully watch them heal with new hair.
PROVIDE A CHEMICAL FREE ENVIRONMENT
In addition to the use of non-processed foods and treats and whenever possible eating organic, it is very important to recognize the impact of pesticides, fertilizers, household cleaners and products. We minimally use these only when it is absolutely necessary and DO NOT USE HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS.
Living in the desert our house is always dusty so to help eliminate a source of possible environmental allergens I vacuum often and am surprised at how much dirt and hair come up each time. I also wash my pet bedding each week.
AVOID UNNECESSARY VACCINES
Much has been written about avoiding unnecessary vaccines, doing titer tests, not combining vaccines and allowing time between the core puppy shots and rabies. Dr. Dodds has excellent information on this and recommendations:
Dr. Dodd’s Puppy and Kitten Vaccination Timing http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/78666367482/maternal-antibodies-vaccines#.WRhlDVPysQ_
Dr. Dodd’s, Avoid Unnecessary Vaccinations with Titer Tests
Dr Dodd’s 2016 (most current) Vaccination Protocol for Dogs
Dr. Dodd’s, Treating Adverse Vaccine Reactions
OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT VACCINATION OF INTEREST
Dr. Pitcarin, A New Look at Vaccines
Taking the Risk Out of Puppy Shots
YES, THIS IS A LOT OF WORK….or so it seems to a reader. But I think that many people who have an allergic dog are about ready to do almost anything to help them stop itching, biting and suffering. The easy way is going to the vet for a steroid injection. For years now I have read to STAY AWAY FROM THE USE OF STEROIDS and that is what I plan to do due side effects such as compromising the immune system and many other adverse effects.
The time it takes to add organic veggies or to supplement my dogs’ raw food is minimal. For example yesterday I spent no more than one hour making up a vegan stew for all 4 of my dogs that is added to their raw for added nourishment and also calories for my puppy so that I do not need to add more raw meat. This vegan stew is very easy to make and lasts an entire week. Each meal I just add a scoop to their raw food and have been able to reduce the amount of raw on most of my dogs especially my senior dogs with a healthy organic preparation which they love.
I enjoy preparing my dogs healthy food and understand why so many people do home cooked diets. It is so rewarding to not only cook healthy, nutritious food for them but also to see their vibrant health, shinning coats, energy and activity level. As I mentioned earlier, I am not sure how long my puppy who is almost one year old will be free of his itching but it has been 2 months since he has had his treatment (non-steroid) and is asymptomatic. Each day I am so grateful and appreciative for his health and being able to be a “normal, healthy, happy puppy” that loves interacting with me.