Archive for the ‘Alternative Medicine For Pets’ Category

THE 4 BASIC CAUSES OF DISEASE IN PETS

Whether we are talking about you or your pet there are some very basic predisposing causes of disease that you need to know about in order to take steps to avoid illness. To list them briefly the causes are 1) Toxins 2) Nutritional inadequacies 3) Life style/Stress 4) Genetic defects and immune system defects

Let us start by considering the source of dietary inadequacies. Poor farming practices rape our soil depleting it of the essential minerals we, our pets, and our food animals need to live healthy lives. Consequently, even when we provide our pets what appear to be a balanced diet some very important ingredients are often missing. To add to the problem most commercial dog and cat pet foods are what I term “grain based”. They are inappropriate for carnivores and difficult for them to digest. Feeding such grained based diets will result in a “leaky gut” that over and extended time results in such chronic diseases as arthritis, allergy, auto immune disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Furthermore, the processing of commercial pet diets tends to destroy many of the nutrients originally present and eventually leads to a nutritional deficiency unless supplements are provided .

Next, be aware that our food supply whether plant or animal has become polluted by food production practices that add toxins to both our pets and our own already nutrient deficient food supply. These toxins get into both our food and our pet’s food in the form plant insecticides, plant fungicides and as hormones, antibiotics and parasites that are fed to our food animals. To add insult to injury manufacturers then add other potentially dangerous chemicals to our food in the form of coloring dyes, chemical flavorings and preservative. Finally, commercial pet diets that sit too long in the warehouse develop toxins in the form of rancid fat. Water pollution is a source of additional toxins that result from industry contamination and attempts at water purification. The air our pets breath and the soil our pets walk on are sources of additional toxins. Airborne toxins can be a result of car and industry exhaust, cigarette smoke, out gassing from new carpeting or photocopiers. Plant, grass, weed, tree pollens, and biting insects can also be classified as toxins. The pets yard may become another source of toxins if lawn chemicals are used.

Worm eggs, fleas, ticks and dangerous bacteria are somewhat different types of toxins that can be found in the yard or dog parks. Finally, we should not forget about household toxins such as those found in the trash can, garage floor, under the sink, or in the basement. Even drugs and vaccines may be consider a source of toxins if the pet is over immunized or develops a reaction to a medication.

Psychological and physical stress can be looked at as a different form of toxin. . Excessive stress suppresses the animal immune system and can exhaust the adrenal glands. Psychological stress can result from abuse and punishment, lack of human companionship, and lack of training resulting in an adversary relationship with their owner. Stress also results from loud noises such as fireworks, lack of sunlight, lack of shade and ventilation with heat stress as a possible outcome, and lack of warm housing during the winter. Asking a dog to hold its urine for an excessively time is very stressful. It may surprise you that not providing your pet an opportunity for exercise is also a form of stress.

The final cause of disease is a genetic defect which can show up as physical birth defects, congenital organ disease, allergies, immune deficiencies and autoimmune disease to name just a few. The health of our genes and immune system determines how successful our pets will be at dealing with nutritional and environmental toxins.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Itching and Scratching: Holistic Allergy Care for Dogs and Cat Skin Disease

 

Just as with people, dogs and cats itch and scratch for many reason.    Discovering the cause of the itching and scratching can be a difficult and time consuming process.     Careful attention must be paid to history, clinical examination, and laboratory findings.    The most common diseases that can cause itching and scratching include bacterial infections, allergies, food hypersensitivities,  sarcoptic mange mites, demodectic mange mites, fleas, yeast, ringworm infections,   autoimmune diseases, and hormonal and metabolic  disorders. Sometimes it is easy for the veterinarian to diagnose the cause of itching and scratching , for example,  when a pet has fleas crawling all over his or her body    At other times,   as with allergies,  the diagnosis can be much more difficult to arrive at .  Consequently, pet owners should understand that their veterinarian may not always be  able to diagnose and prescribe  the  total treatment for the pet’s itching and scratching on the initial visit.

One of the major reasons the  diagnosis of a pet’s itching and scratching can be difficult is because more than one cause of itching and scratching can be present at the same time.      For example,  a dog or cat may have a primary allergy infection  that  allows a secondary bacterial or yeast infection to develop.    Unless both the primary and secondary causes of itching are diagnosed and treated, the scratching may lessen but it will not stop completely.

To help sort out all the possible causes of a dog or cat’s itchy skin one or more laboratory tests are often needed.   One of the most common tests performed on a pet with itchy skin is a “skin scraping”.   The skin scraping is placed under the microscope and examined for the presence of mites and fungus.    Another test called an “impression smear” is performed by pushing a glass slide firmly against the affected skin, staining it with a dye, and examining it under the microscope for bacteria, white blood cells,  yeast and mites.    A third test called a “trichogram” requires plucking hairs and examining them under the microscope for fungus and mites.    If a fungus is suspected as a cause of the scratching, a ”fungal culture” is performed on hairs harvested from affected areas.   If fungal elements are present they will grow in the culture within 3 weeks. For the very difficult cases, diagnosis may necessitate surgical removal of a small core of skin so that it can be sent to the pathologist for microscopic exam.   This surgical procedure is known as a “key punch biopsy”.     If a food allergy is suspected as cause of a pet’s scratching,  a “limited ingredient diet” should be fed for several weeks to see if it results in relief from the itching.    If airborne allergens are suspected blood or skin testing should be performed in an attempt to discover  the specific offending allergen.  Unfortunately both airborne and food borne allergies are often  present at the same time.

To further complicate diagnostic efforts, understand that yeast and bacterial infections may be either a primary or secondary cause of a pet’s scratching, whereas allergies, mites or fleas are usually the primary cause.     The reader should understand that getting rid of the most primary cause will not always stop the itching if the secondary cause is not addressed and eliminated.    Furthermore,    it is not always possible to find a flea on a dog with fleas or a mite on a dog with mites.   If this is the case then “therapeutic testing “is necessary to make the diagnostic connection.   For example, if giving a mite dip or flea medicine stops the pets itching then a diagnosis of fleas or mites is made by association.  However, if the pet with fleas or mites has a secondary bacterial infection the scratching may only be reduced but  not disappear.

When treating mites or bacterial infections the veterinarian must always consider the possibility of an underlying immune deficiency predisposing the animal to such infections. Consequently, a thyroid test should be run to see if a “hypothyroid” condition could be suppressing immunity.     Also, consider that nutritional deficiencies could be producing an immune deficiency, so evaluating the pet’s diet is very mportant.

Besides the above more common causes of scratching there are a number of less common causes that include hyperadrenalcorticism, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, liver disease, Mast cell tumors, Cutaneous lymphoma,  Inflammatory Mammary Carcinoma,  and maldigestion.

Of course the treatment for pruritis (itching) depends on the diagnosis, however improving nutrition and reducing toxins will be beneficial regardless of the diagnosis.   Along this line, feeding food with a minimal amount of grain will reduce the likelihood of the pet developing a leaky gut syndrome.   A leaky gut will allow intestinal toxins and allergens to enter the liver circulation, overwhelm the livers detoxification capabilities and consequently enter systemic circulation.   This will overstimulate the immune system and make allergic response more likely .

I addition to eliminating dietary grain, food trials that begin by feeding a limited ingredient diet consisting only of a single novel protein and single novel carbohydrate will help greatly in minimizing allergic skin disease.   Feeding a limited ingredient diet will make it  less likely for food allergens to be  present.   Once the allergy symptoms are controlled by this limited diet other food ingredients should be added one by onei n an attempt to identify what foods are allergenic and which are safe.  This approach to treating allergic itching and scratching is know as a “food trial”.  Once the allergenic foods have been identified a healthier diet can be formulated  and  used in place of the limited ingredient diet.   For those not wanting to go through  the above food elimination process  predigested food are commercially available.  By predigesting the food the protein molecules are broken down into much smaller molecules which are then no longer allergenic.

In order to identify airborne and environmental allergens a sample of the pet’s blood can be sent to a laboratory that performs allergy testing.     In about 2 weeks the laboratory will send back a report on what environmental allergens the pet is sensitive too.   This same company can prepare  a hyposensitizing serum containing all of the identified allergens.    This serum will then be used to perform hyposensitizing therapy on the allergic animal.   Such serums are injected according a predesigned  schedule .     The protocol provides continually higher doses  be given.    At first the injections are given every few days but eventually they may only be given monthly.   Unfortunately hypo-sensitizing injections are not always the solution and it may take up to 9 months to see if the the therapy is effective.

Up to this point most of  the recommendations and therapies discussed have been entirely conventional.   I will now discuss more alternative therapies.   To begin with, providing digestive enzymes to a meat based low grain diet will help minimize allergens.  Then providing nutraceuticals to heal any damaged areas of the intestine and  support liver function  will help the pet repair his or he leaky gut.   Systemic enzymes should be given on an empty stomach so that they will be absorbed into the blood stream and circulate in the blood and act as a blood cleanser thereby destroying  circulating immune complexes.  Omega 3 fatty acids are important for overall skin health and to provide anti inflammatory support.  Next anti inflammatory herbs and antioxidants nutrients can be given to further reduce inflammation and minimize itching and scratching.   Natural cleansing shampoos should be given at least weekly to remove airborne allergens on the pet’s skin.   These shampoos should be followed with a cream rinse that contains a local skin anesthetic, colloidal oatmeal, and skin moisturizer.   Skin sprays containing aloe, calendula, tea tree oil, and oil of lavender are very soothing and easy to apply.    Several homotoxicological remedies are helpful with allergic skin problems.   If the pet is terribly itchy and the chewing and scratching is causing self trauma then oral natural hydrocortisone can be given for a limited period of time to reduce inflammation and calm the skin down  until the other approaches kick in.   Natural hydrocortisone is cortisone that has been harvested from the Yam plant and appears to have fewer side effects when compared to laboratory manufactured prednisone or prednisolone.   Furthermore, the herb Yucca has a strong anti inflammatory, anti itch  activity as does the plant sterol betasitosterol.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Youth Is Where Pet Life Extension & Anti-aging Begin

Most pet lovers do not become interested in the idea of anti aging until they first notice their dear puppy or kitten has grown old. Unfortunately, by that time the greatest opportunities for extending their pets life has been missed. So caregivers should begin thinking about life extension when their pet is very young and all organs are strong and healthy. Keep in mind that from birth pets are exposed to food and environmental toxins that slowly  steal their health and shorten their life. If you wait until your pet becomes a senior citizens before becoming concerned with the concept of anti aging then irreparable damage has already been done and then all that you can do is protect what ever organ cell still exist.

From the beginning of life free radicals in the form of airborne, food and water toxins begin to destroy healthy your pet’s cells and tissues. Providing healthy air, food and water may require extra work but will greatly reduce toxin and free radical damage that would other wise slowly steal the health of  your pup or kitten. The most healthy diets are relatively free of toxins, provide nutrients that support liver function, encourage detoxification, and avoid nutrients that lead to a “leaky gut syndrome”.  The ideal diet for  dogs and cats is a homemade  rare or raw meat, no grain diet. Ideally, the meat should be organic and from grass fed livestock, while veggies should be organic, colorful and steamed or grated. If homemade diets are not an option for you then feed a high quality commercial diet that is over 40% meat by dry weight and contains a minimum of grain. It is impossible, even for a veterinarian, to determine the percent meat in a commercial diet by simply looking at the bag. You must call the company and ask the nutritionist this question, “On a dry matter basis, what percent of the food is meat protein”. Understand that grains and veggies also have protein so the percent protein on the bag does not tell you how much is meat protein. Finally, adding supplemental digestive enzymes, probiotics, trace minerals and omega fatty acids to either a commercial or homemade diet will plug many of the nutritional holes resulting from poor farming practices and commercial processing of food. Regretfully, because of space limitations,  we can not go into all of the other factors that must be considered when choosing the optimal commercial diet. Therefore, you may want to go to my website Doc4pets.com and click on the nutrition heading for a much more comprehensive write up on pet diets.

Next to good nutrition regular dental hygiene is the most important thing pet care takers  can provide their pets in order to insure them a longer healthier life. Because tartar is a breeding ground for bacteria, by keeping tartar to a minimum fewer bacterial toxins will get into the blood stream and damage the pets liver and kidneys. Daily home dental care combined with a yearly professional dental prophylaxis will make a hug difference in the health of your pet during his or her senior years.

We all live in a toxic world and as hard as we may try we can’t eliminate them all. However, any effort we make to minimize our pet’s exposure to environmental toxins will pay off big time in terms of extending their life. Environmental toxins involve such hazards as household cleaning products, lawn pesticides, radon, cigarette smoke, paint fumes, fumes from no stick cooking utensils, automobile fumes, poisonous plants, rat poisons and spilled antifreeze. Keep in mind that pets are much closer to the ground than we are and therefore more exposed to many environmental toxins. Bird owners should know that their feathered friend is much more sensitive to airborne toxins and therefore every effort should be made to keep them away from fumes resulting from paint, no stick cook ware, tobacco smoke, house hold deodorizers and even fireplace fumes. If you must apply weed and insect killer to your lawn try to use organic products keeping in mind that if you apply non organic chemicals then pets that get outside will walk through the grass and then lick the residual chemicals off their feet or ingest these toxin when they nibble on the grass. There are now a number of companies that manufacture non toxic home cleaning products that can replace those toxic products you may now be using. Once again space restraints limit this discussion on environmental toxins so if you have further interest to learn more please visit my website and go to my blog and look through the archive of articles till you find the ones involving environmental toxins and detoxification.

Avoiding toxins is one thing but getting rid of them once already in the body is a whole different issue. Toxins accumulate in our pet’s body slowly and without producing symptoms until the concentration of toxins destroys enough tissue to produce outward disease. Of course the idea is to be proactive and get rid of these toxins before symptoms become obvious. The process of detoxification can be accomplished in several ways, ie. homeopathy, herbal supplements, and nutritiona ls. I recommend all my patient go through a homeopathic detox twice yearly. Most toxins are  “free radicals”  that steel electrons and damage vital tissue. Adding a number of antioxidants to the daily diet will help neutralize these free radicals, prevent cellular damage and provide additional years of normal function for important organ systems. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Resveratrol are examples of nutritional antioxidants. Milk Thistle and Burdock root are examples of  herbal anti oxidants.

The process of detoxification is enhanced by supporting those organs which are most instrumental in removing toxins from the body. Of those organs the liver is the most important. Dimethylglycine, SAM-E, MSM, Detox Kit and liver glandular are a few examples of nutraceutical which support the liver.

Constant emotional stress can steal healthy years from your pet.  Excessive emotional stress is truly a toxin in that stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which inturn causes inflammation and free radical damage. Early obedience training will go along way in reducing emotional stress because a well behaved dog is a contribution family whereas a dog that misbehaves, bitesl, barks excessivel or destroys family property will result in repeated reprimands and in family upsets and discontentment. If behavioral training fails their are holistic supplements than can help calm and control your pet.

Regular exercise is an important part of maintaining good health because it not only helps to main a slim muscular appearance it also relieves boredom and allows your pet to get rid of pent up energy that otherwise might be vented through destructive behavior such as chewing on shoes, furniture or lamp cords. Walking or jogging with your dog is great for both of you. Playing fetch the ball or Frisbee are other fun activities. Agility training, hunting and visits to the dog park are additional approaches to getting rid of energy and reducing unwanted behavior. Exercising with your pet is a great way to strengthen the human animal bond

Chiropractic care is something most pet owners never consider until their pet is lame or injured. However semi annual, proactive spinal adjustments are important not only in maintaining a healthy neuromuscular skeletal system but is also very effective in keeping internal organs functioning properly.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com*

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, South Lyon, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Prolotherapy in Dogs: Non Surgical Joint Repair of Cruciate Ligament Tears & Arthritis

You have probably heard of athletes rupturing their “ACL” but didn’t really know what that meant. The abbreviation ACL stands for “anterior cruciate ligament”. This ligament is found inside the knee joint and helps to maintain its overall stability. When this cruciate ligament is stretched or torn as a result of a sudden traumatic movement the knee joint is no longer stable and begins to move in abnormal ways. This abnormal movement called “drawer movement results in pain, cartilage degeneration and eventually in arthritis. Conventional medical advice for a cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture would be to have the knee repaired surgically. There are several surgical techniques which are all quite effective in returning the knee joint to normal function, however, they are all quite expensive and have a 3 to 6 month re-cooperative period where the dog is significantly favoring the leg and placing additional stress on the opposite leg.

In a large breed young animal cruciate ligament surgery may be the smartest thing to do but in an older animal the surgery may not be the best route to follow. Consider first that neither anesthetic nor surgery is easy on an older animal. Secondly, understand that the surgery will cause the animal to bare weight entirely on the opposite limb for a good 3 months. This added stress can lead to both arthritis and occassionaly a cruciate ligament tear in the opposite hind leg. The two most recommended cruciate surgeries are the “ lateral suture technique” and the “TPLO”. Both are equally effective in the long run and both have inherent problems. The suture technique surgery uses a heavy duty suture to stabilize the joint. Although rare, this suture can slip, break or even get caught up on arthritic spurs already present. The TPLO is a more aggressive surgery where a portion of the tibial bone is purposely broken in order to change its alignment with the femur. The TPLO knee surgery has more risk of bone infection and could even result in a non union fracture. It is a significantly more expensive surgery and produces no better long term outcome than the less aggressive less expensive suture technique. The TPLO surgery may fail to produce the hoped for stability and is more likely to result in arthritis than the lateral suture technique.

For all of the above reasons, do not jump into surgery without first considering other options. If you search the internet you may discover articles on “prolotherapy” as a method for rehabilitating damaged joints. Prolotherapy has been used for over 30 years to repair hyper-mobile, unstable joints in humans. It however is just starting to take its rightful place in veterinary medicine, although it is still considered to be in the realm of alternative medicine. Prolotherapy, proliferative, or sclerosing therapy are simply different names for the same thing. Prolotherapy is a way of tightening up loose unstable, hyper-mobile joints by injecting a “sclerosing” agent in and around the joint. The sclerosing agent produces a thickening of the joint capsule and of the external ligaments of the joint. This thickening of the ligaments act like scar tissue and eventually contract with time. The thickening and contraction of the ligaments and joint capsule increase joint stability and relieves joint pain. Prolotherapy commonly takes place in 5 to 6 sessions spaced approximately 3 weeks apart. During each session the joint is shaved and disinfected with a surgical scrub. Then multiple injections are carefully placed in the ligaments and joint capsule and even into the joint space. Because of the number of injections most dogs will need to sedated but usually not anesthetized. Although I tell caregivers not to expect any positive results until at least the third treatment I am occasionally surprised to see improvement after just one treatment. Although side effects from prolotherapy are rare, a joint infection is possible and consequently I surgically scrub the knee before each prolo session and give antibiotics to go home. In very rare occasions it is possible for prolotherapy to injure a nerve passing by the knee however this has never happen to me and should not happen if care is taken to apply the sclerosing agents only to those areas of the knee where nerves are abscent.

In order to encourage more rapid fibrosis and joint thickening I often apply soft laser therapy to the knee with a non cutting therapeutic laser device that employs 5 lasers of various frequencies . Soft lasers are therapeutic devices that should not be confused with surgical lasers. The soft laser is painless, quick and has next to no adverse side effects. Soft laser therapy supports the prolotherapy by further encouraging fibrosis of the joint capsule and external ligaments. I also recommend that oral doses of “Orthoflex” and vitamin C be given at home throughout the prolotherapy process. Another modality I often recommend be used in conjunction with prolotherapy is pulsed magnetic therapy. The pulsed magnetic waves reduce pain and help the joint recuperate. Finally, to further support the prolotherapy, injections of “Adequan” and “Legend” can be given to encourage cartilage health, joint fluid production and overall joint rehabilitation.

Prolotherapy for torn cruciate ligaments may not be successful if there is a torn meniscal cartilage in the joint. It is also possible that in spite of multiple injections the thickening of the external ligaments may not be adequate to stabilize the joint and consequently the dog’s lameness remain. That being said, when the choice is between joint surgery or prolotherapy, prolotherapy being safer, less invasive and less expensive makes more sense especially in the senior patient.

Prolotherapy can be performed on almost any joint of the body. Personally I have performed prolo on knee joints, elbow joints, hip joints, the sacro illiacs joints and the lumbo sacral joints.  It is a good choice of therapy for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia,  shoulder dysplasia or for any joint problem where there  is arthritis resulting from stretched ligaments.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Treating Pet Behavior Problems Holisticly With Amino Acid Therapy

At Woodside Animal Clinic we have been having increasing success managing fearful, aggressive, and destructive behavior with minerals, anti anxiety herbs, homeopathics, flower essences, essential oils, nutritional and dietary changes and especially “neurotransmitter therapy”. Often several of these supplements are used in combination and then combined with behavior modification techniques.    The use of the neurotransmitter therapy along with dietary modification and nutra -ceuticals appears to place an animal in a state where they are calmer, less dominant, and less fearful so they are easier to manage and train.

Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals derived from specific amino acid precursors. The brain produces four primary neurotransmitters which in turn produce distinctly different brain states.   These different states of mind create a mood which affects the rest of the body thru both nerve pathways and endocrine (hormonal) connections.  Neurotransmitters appear to be the master conductors of the body.    Of course there are other neurotransmitters besides these major four but , for the sake of space, I will limit my discussion to these four.

Communication between the brain and the body, between the various endocrine organs, and between various cells of the body is necessary to maintain balance and have all parts of the body work in harmony. Think again of an orchestra with its many different instruments playing their distinct parts each of which must harmonize with the whole.    In order for this to happen there must be a conductor to guide the individual orchestral sections.    The conductor not only cues the various instruments he also calls for greater or lesser volume, and maintains the tempo depending on what the music calls for.    Of course the orchestra we call a living body is much more complicated and therefore a   much more sophisticated line of communication is needed. In the paragraphs to follow I will discuss neurotransmitter and how they conduct the bodies vast communication network.

Whether you are a human being or a pet your brain produces 4  major neurotransmitters each of which cause the brain to operate at distinctly different frequencies which in turn produces distinctly different mental  states or moods.  Below is a chart listing  these 4 distinctions as they relate to humans.   Since the  brains  of animals are anatomically similar and produce these same neurotransmitters   we can only assume that they experience similar  mental states.   The basic personality differences we find in young  animals may be a result of excesses or  deficiencies in these chemicals.  ie. shy fear biters or aggressive dominance etc.  As  we learn more about these 4 major neurotransmitters we may be able to adjust or  balance them in  people and pets in order to correct basic personality  disorders.

Neurochemical      Frequency         Brain wave        Amino acid                      Mental state       Function                                                                                                                                                                                               .

1) Dopamine (12-16 hertz)                   Delta waves         Tyrosine                           Sleep                       Voltage

2) Acetylcholine   (8-12 hertz)          Theta waves       phosphotidylserine

3) GABA (4-8  hertz)                                  Alpha waves       Glutamine                      Daydreaming       Rhythm

4} Serotonin (1-4  hertz)                        Beta                        Tryptophan                     Thinking

These brain states,  however, are not limited to the brain,   they affect the  entire body via  their connection to the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and secretion of  information molecules.    Here is where  the body- mind  connection is born.

If any one the nutritional precursors (amino acids) used to manufacture these 4 major  neuro chemicals is  deficient then the   associated neurotransmitter will  be deficient and the body’s mental state  will be affected.  Adding one or more of the above amino  acids to the  diet can help correct a neuro-transmitter deficiency and re establish balance between  these 4 neuro chemicals.    The 4 amino acid precursors tryptophan,  tyrosine,  phosphatidylserine, and glutamine  can be  used to change an animal’s or person’s overall tone and personality.

Allow me to give you a very quick course in neurotransmitters.  The nervous system is made up of individual cells called neurons.   They act more or less as the body’s wiring.   Electrical nerve impulses pass down  this wiring.   When a nerve impulse reaches the end of a neuron it is able to jump over to the next neuron using chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.    These neuro-chemicals are stored in tiny sacs at the end of each neuron.   When the nerve impulse reaches the end  of the neuron it triggers a response which causes these sacs to empty there contents into the gap that separates one nerve from another.   These spaces are known as synapses.     When the secreted neurotransmitters  reach the other side of the synapse they cause the next neuron to fire and the impulses continues down the nerve accordingly.

Now lets talk in more detail about the four major neurotransmitters:

GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid) is the brain’s natural Valium.  It is synthesized in the body from its precursor amino acid Glutamine.  Vitamin B6  and pyridoxine 6 phosphate are also  precursor needed to form GABA.   GABA is involved in the production of endorphins which produces the GABA quality of calmness.     GABA is also the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter and the major controller of brain rhythm.  A rhythmic brain creates and receives electricity in a smooth and even flow as contrasted with bursts.   Rhythm determines how we handle life’s stresses.   GABA hinders the transmission of impulses from one neuron to another and slows neuronal transmission.  It has a calming and quieting influence which provide relaxing, anti anxiety and anti convulsive effects.    Inositol enhances the effects of GABA.

Serotonin is the brains natural Prozac.  The body manufactures Serotonin from the precursor amino acid tryptophan.   By increasing the amount of tryptophan in the diet you can elevate the serotonin levels thereby producing the same effect as Prozac.    Balancing the brain means synchronizing the right and left hemispheres.  When our hemispheres are “in sync” we feel peaceful and secure.

Dopamine is the 3rd major neurotransmitters.   Dopamine manages brain voltage .  The nervous system manufactures dopamine from the amino acid precursor Tyrosine.  Tyrosine is converted to L Dopa and then to Dopamine.   Dopamine has many important roles in behavior including sleep, mood, attention and learning.  It is associated with stimulation of the  pleasure centers of the brain .  Deficient dopamine is linked to attention deficit disorders  and loss of creativity in humans.  Dopamine has been associated with the processing of pain such that decreased levels of dopamine encourage painful conditions such as fibromyalgia in people.  Insufficient dopamine can cause  Parkinsons , in which the body loose its ability to execute smooth controlled movements.   It is important to point out that we must always balance Serotonin with Dopamine.   If we just add tryptophan with out tyrosine to the diet we will drive down the dopamine neurotransmitters and loose brain voltage.

Acetylcholine is the  4th major neurotransmitter.   Acetylcholine  works primarily at the synapse and allows for the transmission of nerve impulses across the synapse or space between two nerves or at the neuromuscular junction.    If too little of the amino acid precursor, phosphatidlyserine , is present in the diet there will eventually develop a deficiency of acetylcholine.  Such a deficiency will cause nerve transmission to slow down and consequently communication between different parts of the brain and body will be affected   Providing   increased levels of either choline or phosphatidylserine  in the diet will stimulate the production of acetycholine in Alzheimers patients and dogs with cognitive disorders..   It  helps them to think more clearly.  Choline loading has been used with senior pets to help them remain more aware, reduce urinary incontinence and help prevent seizures. This form of therapy is known as “choline loading.”  We have had good success treating urinary incontinence and senility in dogs and cats by stimulating acetylcholine production.

Anxiety and depression problems can be treated with neurotransmitter therapy combined with one or more of the following supplements:  B vitamins especially niacinamide;  Minerals primarily magnesium;   Herbs such as valerian, St Johns Wart, kava kava, and chamomile;   Essential oils such as Lavender;  flower essences and homeopathics; laser therapy, electro crystal rebalancing and acupuncture.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

What Does It Mean To Have a “Healthy Pet”

If you were to ask the average pet caregiver how they judge whether their pet is healthy they might answer that they would know by making sure he or she was active, mobile, ate well, had normal stools and in general was free of any signs or symptoms that might suggest illness. Unfortunately, a state of good health is not synonymus with the absence of symptoms. The pet’s caretaker might respond by asking how can this be true. The answer is that often symptoms only appear when significant damage has already been done to an organ system.   Previous to the onset of symptoms , disease was present but at a sub-clincal level. Unfortunately if we wait for the appearance of symptoms before taking steps to treat or protect our pets we will always be swimming up stream . So the point is that it takes time for organs to be damaged to the point where symptoms become apparent. Each organ has a critical threshold of damage when symptoms will become noticeable. How then can we detect , treat or better yet prevent early organ damage when no symptoms are apparent?

We need to accept unfortunate truth that we and our pets live in a toxic world that is constantly trying to steal a little bit of our health . The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the psychologically stressful nature of our lives continually threatens our health and that of our pet. Consequently, none of us are healthy as we might believe. We are all carrying a toxic load in the form of both chemicals and psychological stress. On top of this, as a result of poor farming practices, and food processing techniques, the food that we and our pets eat is almost always deficient in essential nutrients like trace minerals, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and antioxidants. Unfortunately, these deficient nutrients are essential in helping our pet’s body mount an attack to remove these toxins and cleanse our bodies. The point is that we are all toxic to some degree and probably becoming more toxic every day. The problems is insidious and each day little by little our health is being stolen from us. Since it is impossible to totally avoid toxins in our day to day life, what we can do is slow down the toxic degeneration of our bodies by minimizing exposure and following a program of detoxification. In the following paragraph I will briefy mention the important steps a pet caregiver can take to help their pet live a longer and healthier life. I apologize for not having the space to go in to much detail but If you are interested in a greater depth of understanding you may visit my website Doc4pets and then click on my blog.

Maximizing nutrition and minimizing toxins in your pet’s food can be accomplish best by feeding your dog or cat a homemade, meat based diet either raw/rare or lightly cooks . Of course organic ingredients and grass fed meat are best for your pet if you can afford them. Whether homemade of commercial, diets should contain at least 40% meat by dry weight. Avoid grains and feed colorful steamed (not raw) veggies which contain lots of antioxidants. Grains tend to be hard for carnivores to digest and promote the development of a “Leaky Gut Syndrome” which allows intestinal toxins to leak into blood stream and overwhelm the livers ability to cleanse the blood. Soaking food ingredients in hydrogen peroxide or grapefruit seed extract will help reduce external toxins that might be present in the food. Adding digestive enzymes supplements to the pet food will maximize availability of the nutrients while at the same time minimize the likelihood of food allergies.

Next in importance is minimizing house hold and yard toxins that your pet could be exposed to . Because our pets are closer to the ground than we are they are more exposed to toxic chemicals. Non toxic home cleaning supplies are now easy to obtain.. If pesticides are used in the house or yard make sure they are non toxic to your pet. Check you garage and basement for chemicals your pet can ingest. Have your basement tested for Radon. If you have a bird don’t cook with non stick utensils as these items can be toxic to them. Don’t smoke inside your house and don’t jog with your pet by busy streets where car fumes are more likely to be inhaled.

Routine dental care is extremely important in reducing your pets toxic exposure. Dental tartar is a great breeding ground for bacteria and bacterial toxins which are easily absorbed into the general circulation and which then damage the liver, kidney, heart and lungs. The importance of home dental care and a yearly professional dental exam, cleaning and polishing is next, only to good nutrition in its importance to your pet’s good health.

Finally, see your veterinarian at least once yearly. Senior pets should be seen twice yearly. He or she can advise you on how to prevent contagious viral and bacterial toxins. Early detection of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworm can minimize damage done by these parasites. They can also detect blood parasites such a heartworm disease and recommend ways to prevent these intestinal and blood parasites. Blood and urine testing can help detect disease before and symptoms become apparent. At Woodside we are now carrying a homeotoxicologic “Detox Kit” which contains remedies to be placed in the pets drinking water and is used for one month twice yearly.

Take the time , ideally once weekly, to give your pet a health evaluation which includes a home physical exam and careful observation of the animals breathing, urinating, and defecating. When you look at your pet check for a bright energetic personality, a good weight for the breed, a shiny hair coat, an absence of odor, a good appetite, a firm daily stool, effortless breathing, defecating, and urinating.

In conclusion don’t assume your dog or cat is perfectly healthy just because your pet is not displaying obvious symptoms. Toxins are constantly undermining your pet’s health and damage may develop slowly and unnoticed until enough injury occurs to cause organ failure. Therefore, be vigilant, proactive and never take your pets good health for granite.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Holistic Concepts About Arthritis, Lameness & Stem Cell Therapy

Arthritis is probably the most common of the chronic diseases that progressively steals quality life from our senior dogs. Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can effect any size dog or cat but is seen much more often in larger breed dogs. Arthritis often starts with stiffness and is first noticed when the older dog has a hard time rising in the morning. In time the owner may noticed that their dog is slower going up the stairs and may be reluctant to jump into the car. A dog with hip displasia or hip arthritis tends to run like a rabbit using both back legs at once. As the arthritis progresses the dog may begin to hold up or favor one limb. He or she may walk with short stiff steps and the dog’s gait may show a hind end instability (swaying).  The pet’s hind legs may shuffle along the ground while walking.  At the end stages of arthritis the pet may not be able to rise without the owners help. It is a sad thing to see otherwise healthy animals euthanized because their caregiver is unable to lift them up in order to get them outside when they need to eliminate.

It is my opinion much of the arthritis our dogs experience could be eliminated by changing their diets from a grain based food to a more meat based recipe when they are young.  Just because the first ingredient on the pet food  ingredient list is meat does not make the diet meat based. The only way to distinguish if a food is meat based is to asked the company’s nutritionist (not customer support person) “what percent of their food is meat when measured on a dry matter basis ?” Judged on this basis, most pet foods are no more than 20% meat. Grain based diets are hard for carnivores to digest and the poorly digested large grain protein molecules act as allergens which damage the intestinal lining and result in a “leaky gut syndrome”. This leaky gut allows grain protein molecules to get into the blood stream where they can migrate to the pet’s joints and set up an inflammatory reaction. Feeding your pet a meat based diet will help prevent the above sequence of events. Supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes, fish oil, and antioxidants will help reduce the likelihood of arthritis.

If your dog has already developed arthritis there are a number of ways  to help slow its progression  and reduce the discomfort it produces.  Personally, I am not a big proponent of using non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)  like Rimidyl or Deramax to reduce inflammation and pain because their long term use may result in gastro intestinal, liver, and kidney disease .  Injections of “chondroprotective” substances, like Adequin and hylauronidic acid which will increase joint fluid production and encourage cartilage and ligament repair can be  a much more effective arthritis remedies.   It has also been shown that long term use of NSAID drugs in humans actually results in cartilage degeneration .   Providing  oral glucosamine, chondroitin , MSM, Gerizyme, Adequin, Legend, Zeel , systemic enzymes, hyaluronic acid, Comfort Zone and antioxidants in place of NSAIDs can also be very helpful in restoring joint integrity and, in my opinion, is a much preferred approach to the more problematic drugs.

Other  alternative/ holistic ways to treat advanced arthritis include , acupuncture, chiropractic,  Frequency Specific Microcurrent therapy (FSM), “infra-sonic therapy”, “pulsed magnetic therapy”, prolotherapy, gold bead implants, cold laser therapy, physical therapy,  and massage therapy.  Teaching pet owners how to massage their pet and provide passive range of motion can be very helpful in extending and enhancing their pets quality of life.   Of course it goes without saying that keeping your pet at the proper weight and frequencly trimming your dog’s nails will make a big difference in how he or she walks.  Prolotherapy is a non surgical approach to treating torn cruciate ligaments and in my hands has been quite successful in repairing unstable  the knee joints in dogs.    

Finally, I want let my readers to know about a very exciting advance in arthritis therapy. Adult stem cell technology is now available to help treat advanced arthritis. The stem cells are harvested from the patients own fat. These stem cells can be injected intravenously or directly into joints.  Fat derived stem cells are “non embryonic” andwill develop into connective tissue and cartilaginous cells which will help to rejuvenate the damaged joint.  This technology  has already been used successfully in hundreds of dogs and horses and although still on the expensive side is now available to the family pet. Presently I am one of the few veterinarians certified to provide such therapy.  Adding “cold laser therapy” to stem cell therapy has improved  my chances of a successful outcome.

Detecting the early signs of arthritis and instituting early treatment can make a huge difference in the success of therapy. Providing a high quality meat based diet, with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants along with weight management and regular exercise can help prevent the onset of arthritis and help extend both the quality and quantity of the pet’s life.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both conventional andalternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

Pet Back Pain, Lameness & Paralysis: Ruptured Disks & Other Spinal Cord Disease

Dogs and cats have a number of diseases involving the spinal cord that produce lameness, paralysis, weakness and incoordination and consequently are easily confused with each other. These diseases include inter-vertebral disk disease, , degenerative myelopathy, Wobblers, lumbo-sacral stenosis, spinal cord tumors, and fibro-cartilagious infarcts. On initial physical exam all these diseases have a number of symptoms in common. Diagnostic tests which help further define the problem include radiographs, myelograms, and MRI’s.    All of the above diseases can cause hind leg weakness, incoordination and gait abnormalities. All cause a break in communication between the brain and back legs such that the head does not always know what the back legs are doing .   Such a communication breakdown results in the paws knuckling over, the hind end swaying or collapsing,  the dog having a hard time rising or going up stairs and the loss of bladder control.   Of these diseases, we can expect that pain may be present with only 3:  disk disease, wobblers and lumbo-sacral stenosis. Of the six diseases mentioned, inter-vertebral disk disease, wobblers and fibrocartilaginous infarcts usually have the a sudden onset. .

Intervertebral disk disease in the dog is an all to common problem especially in breeds with long backs and short thick legs, aka. chondrodystrophoid. These breeds include dachunds, bassets, beagles, welsh corgis, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, American cockers, Bichons and French bulldogs. In these breeds the problems may occur as early as 1 to 2 years of age.  IVD may also occur in non chondrodystrophoid breeds but usually at 6 to 10 years of age.  The most common symptoms of disk disease are pain, weakness, loss of coordination, and paralysis. The disease can also affect bladder control. However in very early stages of disk disease the dog may experience only pain and display an anxious uncomfortable attitude, a hunched back, tense abdomen and decrease in activity.   As the condition advances the pain commonly becomes very severe and the dog may cry out when he or she moves in a particular way or is picked up under the abdomen.  The next stage of disk disease  is often hind leg weakness, incoordination and/or paralysis. At this point the pain may or may not disappear.  Commonly this progression happens within days but can extend to weeks. If the disk protrusion occurs in the dog’s neck the pain is often more severe. Just petting the dogs head may cause him or her to cry out.  The dog will hold his head and neck in a rigid head down stance and will will turn his whole body instead of bending his neck.  Cervical (neck) disk disease can cause neurological problems in both the front and back legs whereas disk disease in the mid back will affect only the back legs.

It is difficult to distinguish cervical disk disease from a disease commonly known as Wobblers. Wobblers (aka cervical vertebral instability)  is, as the name implies,  a result of an unstable joint in the neck producing pressure on the spinal cord.  Wobblers is usually a disease of large, fast growing dogs. Great Danes usually develop the disease as puppies where as in Dobermans the problem occurs more often in adults. The disease most commonly presents as a dog with severe neck pain and gait abnormalities in both front and back legs. To distinguish this disease from a ruptured disk or a spinal tumor requires either a myelogram or an MRI.    Of course it is possible for the above symptoms to be caused by a blood clot in the spine or spinal tumor, neither of which occurs with any frequency.  Finally, if the breed of dog is correct for disk disease, and if there has been no sudden onset or trauma then there is approximately a 95% chance that a disk rupture has occurred.

Another disease that can easily be confused with inter-vertebral disk disease is Degenerative Myelopathy.  Degenerative myelopathy is a slow progressive disease of large older dogs, most commonly the German Shepherds.   In its early stages the dog owners often mistakes it for arthritis.   Degenerative myelopathy is an insidious, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that develops slowly over years. It is a result of degeneration of the fatty myelin sheath that surrounds most nerves and acts as an insulator.  One of  the first sign of degenerative myelopathy is the dragging of the top side of the nails on the back feet. This dragging can be detected either by the sound of the gait or by examining the top side of the back nails for abnormal wear. As the disease progresses the hind limbs become weak and an obvious incoordination develops. The hind legs may cross with one another and the dog may look drunk in the hind end. He or she may stumble. If you place the dog’s foot in a position where the top of the toes are on the floor, the dog will often not return the foot to the proper position or take a long time doing it. This is because there is a loss of “conscious proprioception” which means that the brain does not know the position of the back legs. If a dog has Degenerative myelopath then pushing on the dog’s rear end from side to side often causes the dog to fall over or have a hard time keeping his balance. In the later stages of this disease the hind end will become so weak and uncoordinated that the dog will be unable to get up. If the dog does manage to rise he or she will quickly fall down after taking only a few steps. The only good new about this disease is that there is never any pain involved. It is important to rule out a chronic disk disease before accepting degenerative myelopathy as your pet’s fate. Unfortunately that requires an expensive MRI or myelogram to make such a decision.

Lumbo Sacral Stenosis is known by a number of names such as lumbo-sacral instability, lumbo-sacral malformation, lumbo-sacral malarticulation, spondylolithesis, and cauda equina syndrome. All of these describe arthritis involving the last lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum which is a part of the pelvis. This disease often involves the disk as well. Together both problems progressively narrow the spinal canal which in turn puts pressure on the spinal nerves and causes pain and dysfunction. The most common symptom is pain which involves the back, both hind legs, and the tail. Dogs usually have trouble rising. Defecating and urinating are difficult because of pain.  Dogs with this problem find defecation and urination difficult due to pain on squating.  They may become incontinent and may be seen biting at their rear end.

Blood clots and fibro-cartilaginous infarcts can also cause similar spinal cord disease but they are quite rare and so I will not discuss them at this time.

Now back to intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). Conventional treatment for IVDD  involves medicating with steroids, antioxidants,  muscle relaxants, cage rest and surgical decompression. If surgery is indicated a myelogram or MRI must be performed to pin point the exact location of the lesion and confirm the physical diagnosis. These tests commonly can run into many thousands of dollars and should only be considered if the owner is planning to follow through with any surgery indicated by the information these tests provide.  ” Disk fenestration” surgery or a vertebral ” hemi-laminectomy” are the surgeries performed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord.   Both surgeries can run into the thousands of dollars and the diagnostics plus the surgery could easily run between 4 to 5 thousand. If you have a dog that may require these surgeries you should know that the surgeries are not always successful in restoring function and on occasions dogs can come out of surgery in worse shape than when they went in.   You should also be made aware that these surgeries especially those involving the neck require long periods of recuperation.

Owners who are hesitant to put their injured older dogs through anesthesia, surgery, and an extended recuperative period may want to consider holistic modalities as an alternative. For those who cannot afford the expense of high tech diagnostics and surgery I also suggest you take a look at alternative or holistic modalities. The holistic therapies I am talking about include electro acupuncture, cold laser therapy, infrasonic therapy, pulsed magnetic therapy, chiropractic, electro crystal rebalancing, nutritional therapy, prolotherapy, bio identical steroid therapy, antioxidant therapy, megavitamin therapy, and systemic enzyme therapy.    Please understand that there are no guarantees with any one or a combination of the above alternative therapies, each case being unique in its own right. We have, however, had some excellent results with these alternative approaches and can offer testamonials to their effectiveness.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles with both conventional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is the author of 4 pet care books and he writes a monthly pet care column in the Mirror newspaper.  He is the past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association.

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over the greater Detroit Michigan area including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, Romeo, Windsor, and Toledo.

Veterinary Chiropractic Care, Spinal Adjustment and VOM for Dogs and Cats

Chiropractic medicine whether for humans or animals is a very misunderstood medical modality. Most people who go to chiropractors for treatment, think that when they get an adjustment the chiropractor is actually “putting  bones back in place”.  They believe that they feel relief from the chiropractic adjustment because their spine is immediately realigned .  This misconception stems from old chiropractic theory that actually taught chiropractors that they were  “putting bones back in place”.   Newer chiropractic theory however teaches chiropractic students that when they perform an adjustment they are creating movement in the joint but not putting the bone back in place.  The movement they create in the vertebral joint stimulates “mechano nerve receptors” in that joint to produce a reflex that blocks pain transmission.   The blockage of the pain reflex provides pain control  by alleviating muscle spasm and by dilating blood vessels. The relaxation of the paraspinal muscles resulting from the thrust of the adjustment is what indirectly results in the spinal  realignment.

Chiropractic care can do more than eliminate back and neck pain. Through the stimulation of  “somato-visceral reflexes” chiropractic care can support  internal organ function.   Chiropractic care can also produce “myofascial release” by stimulation of the “golgi bodies” in the muscle tendons.  Consequently chiropractic  can help people and pets  with “myofascitis” and “fibromyalgia”

Human chiropractors get their training at chiropractic schools whereas veterinarians receive their training in spinal adjustment via an intense postgraduate course offered by special schools.  There are 2 schools of training in veterinary spinal adjustment .  One school of training is in association with the   American Veterinary  Chiropractic Association (AVCA). The other  school of training  is offered by VOM (Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation).  AVCA is primarily a manual adjusting group which means they use only their hands to perform an adjustment.  VOM on the other hand teaches adjustment using mechanical and electrical devices called accelerometers.   Dr. Simon has been trained in both approaches.  In addition he performs a third type of adjustment known as “Logan Basic” .   Logan Basic is a very gentle form of chiropractic that was developed and first taught at Logan Chiropractic College.   It involves putting pressure on the pelvic sacro-tuberous ligament in order to relax the para-spinal muscles.  This relaxation allows adjustments to be done with very little force.  Dr. Simon frequently utilizes Logan Basic in conjunction with VOM.

Please keep in mind that just as with acupuncture, chiropractic care requires a series of treatments to get desired results.   Also remember that chiropractic  is not limited to musculoskeletal and neurological problems but can also be used to treat a wide variet of internal organ problems.

Dr. Simon is aware that there are human chiropractors who attempt to adjust pets at night after their regular office hours.   He would like to warn pet owners that only those human  chiropractors that have attended and graduated from a  recognized post graduate program  in veterinary anatomy and neurology should attempt such adjustments and only under veterinary supervision.

VETERINARY ORTHOPEDIC MANIPULATION:   VOM

Veterinary Orthopedic-neural Manipulation otherwise known as VOM is a non-invasive healing technology that is similar to classical chiropractic medicine in that it locates areas called subluxation that exists along the animal’s spinal cord and reduces the subluxations such that proper nervous tissue communication is re-established.   A “spinal accelerometer” is used to assess the health of the spine and adjustments are made using this same instrument.    As the practitioner tests the entire spine with the accelerometer,  he watches for specific reflexes, called “reads”, to occur.   These reads are evidence of pathology called “subluxations”.   Subluxations cause vascular constriction, reduced circulation and decreased oxygenation to muscles and other tissues of the body.   The results of these subluxations changes can be seen as muscle spasm, pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. After identifying these abnormal areas along the vertebral column the practitioner will use the same instrument to apply light force to the vertebrae in the affected area.   The motion created will stimulate a nerve impulse in the mechano-receptors  of the vertebral joint.   These nerve impulses will  travel to the spinal cord where they in turn stimulate cells called “interneuron’s”.   Interneuron stimulation dilates blood vessels, increases circulation and oxygenation of muscles, reduces spasm, stops pain, and increases range of motion.

Most abnormal functions of the body are a result of muscle spasm of one sort or another and consequently reduction of subluxations can have far reaching health benefits.

The VOM technology uses very gentle adjusting techniques which are safer than classical chiropractic methods.  The VOM practitioner is termed a “chiropractitioner” as opposed to a chiropractor.     However, just like chiropractic care VOM therapy is not accomplished in a single visit or adjustment.   Follow up evaluations and adjustments scheduled at very specific intervals are required if long term healing is to occur.

For more information on the VOM technique and to watch a video of the technique in action please visit the website:  LABH.com/vom

The VOM technique is often followed by the MFR technique which produces myofascial release.   MFR enhances VOM by further relieving the increased muscle spasms and fascial tension caused by subluxations.   The resulting decreased muscle spasm provides the animal  with pain reduction and decreases the recurrence of subluxation.  Consequently the overall healing process is accelerated.

VOM can be used to treat non-musculo-skeletal conditions including organ disease (somato-visceral disease).  VOM is used to promote a balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (organ function) components of the autonomic nervous system.  Using VOM in this way complements its use on musculo-skeletal system by further altering the blood flow and nervous stimulation to all areas of the body.   VOM utilizes sites on the body similar to acupuncture points as well as other sites to return balance too the autonomic nervous system

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal,  one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles with both conventional and alternative medicine.  Dr.  Simon is the author  of 4 pet care books and he writes a monthly pet care column in the Mirror newspaper.   He is a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and a past board of both American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.

Woodside Animal Clinic  sees pets from all over the greater Detroit Michigan area including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson,  Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Waterford, Union Lake,  Rochester,  Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica,   Romeo,  Windsor, and Toledo.

Physical Rehabilitation for Pets

Physical therapy is something that people who are injured or who have undergone surgery expect to go through as part of their recuperation. Unfortunately it has only been within the last 8 years that physical therapy has been readily available for injured animals.  Orthopedic injuries, neurological problems, trauma, and arthritis are all maladies that can benefit from  physical therapy.

There are number of therapies that can be utilized to help rehabilitate injured or painful pets.  Among them are acupuncture, chiropractic, nutritional and herbal support,  intravenous and transcutaneous lasers therapy  , pulsed magnetic therapy,  infrasonic and ultrasonic therapy,  microcurrent stimulation, underwater treadmill, hydrotherapy,  prolotherapy, range of motion and therapeutic exercise, massage therapy, balance and proprioception equipment.  Other supportive measures we use are systemic enzyme therapy, antioxidant therapy, DMSO, homeopathy, and herbal therapy

The following conditions are just a few we have successfully treated with rehabilitation therapy: Wobblers and intervertebral disk disease,  arthritis, cruciate ligament tears, post surgical cruciate ligament repairs, lumbo-sacral stenosis,  hip dysplasia,  degenerative myelopathy and any soft tissue injury involving post surgical wounds, damaged tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

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Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal,  one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles with both conventional and alternative medicine.  Dr.  Simon is the author  of 4 pet care books and he writes a monthly pet care column in the Mirror newspaper.   He is a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and has served on the board of both the South Eastern Veterinary Medical Association and the American HolisticVeterinary Medical Association.

Woodside Animal Clinic  sees pets from all over the greater Detroit Michigan area including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson,  Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Waterford, Union Lake,  Rochester,  Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica,   Romeo,  Windsor, and Toledo.