Veterinary food therapist, Dr. Judy Morgan shares her knowledge on the power of food. Learn what the worst dog food ingredients are, how to feed an appropriate diet, and even how to home cook a customized, balanced dog food even if you don't cook for yourself!
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HOT DOGS: THE DANGER OF HIGH SUMMER TEMPERATURES
Mother Nature can be a cruel beast. She pummels the world with harsh weather, extreme highs and lows that can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. For the most part, we are shielded from some of her cruelest tricks, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t suffer. This time of year is especially hard as the world has been dormant from a long winter and is starting to wake up with a vengeance. Not only are our sinuses and noses assaulted with pollen from every tree and plant, but the temperature begins to rise precipitously and that is where things really start to go astray.
This rapid rise and change in temperature can be dangerous and even deadly for our beloved pets. Animals haven’t adjusted to the new heat and humidity and can find themselves struggling to maintain their body temperatures. This is when we begin to worry about heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both of these conditions are a rapid rise in the internal body temperature that can lead to severely debilitating diseases and even death.
Dogs and cats lack sweat glands (except in their feet) and so their only ability to cool themselves is by panting. Sometimes this isn’t an effective enough mechanism to cool the body and the internal temperature begins to rise. If an animal is older, has respiratory issues to begin with, or suffers from other problems, their panting might be even less effective and we can see a quicker rise in body temperature. At the office, we sometimes see animals come in with a core body temperature greater than 106 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, it isn’t surprising that there can be a lot of consequences including death to these animals.
Some tips to avoid heat stroke:
1) Never leave an animal in a locked car even if the windows are cracked open. Cars can become ovens when left in the hot sun.
2) Never leave an animal unattended outside in the spring and summer for long periods of time.
3) If you have an animal with breathing problems or one that is prone to breathing problems (Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, or other short nosed breeds), the above is especially true.
Some signs of heat stroke:
1) Uncontrollable panting, even when moved into a cool environment
2) Loss of consciousness
3) Vomiting or excessive drooling
If you see any of these symptoms or have any concerns, please bring your animal to a veterinarian right away. You can begin at home by running cool (not ice cold) water over your animal. Quick and effective cooling is necessary to help try and save your animal.
Even though Mother Nature can be cruel, by knowing her tricks and being able to avoid them, we can all have a happy and safe summer!
Canine Influenza has moved out of the mid-west and has now been found in Texas after a dog traveled from the Chicago area to Houston. How can you protect your dog?
1. Avoid travel to areas where the new influenza virus is suspected to be active (Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and now Texas).
2. Avoid taking your dog to areas where other dogs are present if at all possible: groomer, daycare, training, veterinary office; until the threat has passed over.
3. Ask your veterinarian if they are seeing any symptomatic dogs. Ask them if they have a plan in place to deal with sick dogs with flu symptoms. Ask if they are hospitalizing any sick dogs and if they have an isolation ward. We have a plan at our hospital. We ask if the coughing dog has had any exposure to dogs from the mid-west, if they have traveled to that area recently, or brought any dogs in. We will not allow those dogs into the building and will see them in an area away from our building, with full hazmat gear. They are scheduled at the very end of the day so no other dogs are exposed. All gowns, caps, masks, gloves, and equipment used is disposed of outside the building. We do not have an isolation ward, so we will not hospitalize dogs with influenza, but we have made arrangements with three 24-hour care facilities that have good isolation areas. After all, not only do we not want your dog exposed, we do not want our own pets to become ill.
4. Keep you dog’s immune system as healthy as possible. Include foods that are high in vitamin C and zinc in their diet (beef, cooked oysters, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, peas, Shiitake mushrooms, blueberries, strawberries, melons).
5. Support the immune system with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Shiitake mushrooms, Echinacea, or Astragalus.
6. Local honey can stimulate the immune system and also has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also soothes a sore throat for sick dogs.
7. Grandma’s chicken soup is actually good for treating influenza, especially if the dog is not eating well. Make up a batch to share with your pet (no onions) if he should fall ill.
Are you afraid of challenging your veterinarian’s recommendations? Don’t be. You should be able to have a conversation instead of a battle of wills. Educate yourself before the visit and make a list of questions you would like answered. Discuss your pet’s lifestyle with the doctor, which will help both of you understand which vaccinations are really necessary, if any. Request a titer for distemper and parvovirus instead of automatically vaccinating. Take a stool sample with you and ask to have it checked for intestinal parasites, rather than just accepting a dewormer your pet may not need. Ask which types of heartworm and flea/tick preventatives the practice carries. If you are comfortable with the products they have, purchase from the practice. If they do not carry the preventatives that you feel are safer, ask for a written prescription so you can fill it elsewhere. My personal preferences are Interceptor for heartworms, Frontline for ticks (if you absolutely must use a chemical), and Advantage for fleas only (if you absolutely must use a chemical). The reasons for my choices are given in my book “From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing”. The annual examination of your pet is very important to have a basis of health status. Don’t skip the exam, even if your pet is not due for “shots”. Make good use of the annual visit to keep your pet in the best shape possible. #veterinaryexam, #goodhealthforpets, #petdoctor
VACCINES: GOOD, BAD, or UGLY
This has been a bit of a frustrating week for me when it comes to vaccines. As a holistic practitioner, I caution people about over-vaccination of their pets and try to be proactive about good health. I started the day with a ten-pound Chihuahua owned by great pet parents. They had been in last week for than annual exam and consented to having titers for vaccine status performed, rather than just vaccinating the dog if he did not need to have a booster. Unfortunately, the titer for distemper came back low, so a vaccine booster was recommended. The dog is six years old and has not needed vaccinations since he was a year old. Five year duration of immunity is fairly typical, so this was not shocking news. The dog was presented yesterday for the booster vaccine. Within an hour his face and ears swelled and the Chihuahua resembled a Shar Pei. The owners rushed him back to the office for injections of antihistamines and steroids, thereby avoiding a possibly life-threatening problem. The good news: he won’t need vaccines for the next three to five years. The bad news: when he is nine or ten years old he may have another low titer. My recommendation is to never vaccinated this pet again, as the risk is too large.
This particular case has an obvious connection to the vaccines, but what about the more subtle cases that may go undetected? A good example came to light this week. We vaccinated a nine-year-old, thirteen pound, healthy cat in early January for Rabies and FVRCP (distemper, upper respiratory virus vaccine). Three weeks later the cat was presented for weight loss and decreased appetite. The caring owners agreed to a full work up, including laboratory testing and abdominal ultrasound. The only abnormalities found was complete suppression of all cell lines produced by the bone marrow (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). I was suspicious the cat may have been suffering from vaccine-related disease, but had no proof. But then…another case came across my desk. A woman I had met at an expo in Maryland in January sent me the history on her cat, which was identical to the history of the cat at my clinic. Vaccines (same drug manufacturers) had been given, followed by general lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Lab results were identical: everything fine except complete suppression of the bone marrow. Both cats are indoor cats and both tested negative for FIV, Feline Leukemia, and FIP. So what is the connection? The thing they had in common was the vaccinations given. One cat in New Jersey, one in Maryland. I called the vaccine manufacturers and spoke with staff veterinarians who were very helpful and offered to pay for more diagnostics for the cats. Fortunately, the cat at my clinic is responding well to steroids being given. The Maryland cat is under the care of a different veterinarian.
And here’s where it gets more frustrating for me. I called the veterinarian in charge of the care for the cat in Maryland. I explained the similarities in the cases and response of the cat in our care. I offered to give her the case number and information for the veterinarians at the vaccine manufacturing sights. I was stunned when the veterinarian became defensive and belligerent, stating she saw no similarities and that she demanded all her patients receive annual vaccinations or they were not allowed to be treated at her clinic. She refused to take the information or provide follow up on the case. She said a lot of negative comments about the owner of the cat in her care, stating the owner wouldn’t follow her directions and got everything confused and doesn’t listen to her. In the client’s defense: she is an older woman who probably doesn’t understand everything being thrown at her and does tend to get a little confused (I’ve spoken with her quite a few times). I can only hope this cat gets the care and follow-up that is needed. I called the owner and told her my suspicions and recommended she get follow-up lab work as soon as possible and to make sure the weight loss and bone marrow suppression are controlled.
No, I can’t prove these problems are vaccine related. But they certainly are suspicious. Yes, vaccines have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, both pet and human. They have their place in our lives, but they must be used judiciously, in healthy pets. All three of these pets seemed healthy prior to vaccine administration, but obviously, something went wrong. How many cases of vaccine-related illness go undiagnosed or unreported? That’s what scares me. So be proactive: insist on titers, don’t over-vaccinate your pets, particularly the indoor cats. Protect your pets; you are their only voice. Don’t be talked into or forced into giving your pets something they don’t need. Talk about individual risk for your pet.
There is a lot more information on individual vaccinations in my book “From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing”.
Get educated so you are armed for the conversation with your veterinarian. Be sure your pet receives an EXAMINATION prior to vaccination so you know your pet is healthy enough to receive the vaccinations that are needed.
#vaccinations, #petcare, #sickpets
DON'T BE MEAN
Yesterday was a particularly rough day at the office. It seemed that anyone with a gripe about anything wanted to take it out on me and my staff. I’m not sure why people think that yelling and screaming and ranting will result in a favorable outcome. There’s an old saying “You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”. I think more people should pay attention to this adage. I understand people get emotional when it comes to dealing with the health of their pets, but it makes sense to me that being nice to the person that can possibly be the most help to your pet would be a wise decision. I love most of my clients and I have a very soft heart for people struggling to make ends meet and wanting to take the best possible care of their pets. I am not a mean person, but I do have specific parameters that I must follow.
Pets taking chronic medications need to be examined periodically to be sure the medications are not causing side effects or harm to the pet. Part of that examination must include lab work. I don’t hide the fact that I require exams and lab work. Clients know this from the outset. If I require a recheck in three months, the client has three months to set aside a few dollars each week to pay for the follow up care. It should not come as a shock every time we request to see the pet. I am willing to work hard for people who are nice to me and want me to work WITH them in the care of their pets. But demanding, yelling, and slamming doors will never win me over. Rudeness toward my staff is unconscionable.
Everyone makes mistakes and forgiveness should be part of everyone’s vocabulary. If my technician accidentally calls your female pet “him” because she has a masculine name like Phil or Steve, you must be willing to forgive instead of carrying on a rant. If you don’t call ahead for medications it is unfair to carry on loudly because you have to wait for them to be filled. Seriously, do you act like this at the pharmacy as well? If your pet has been vomiting and had diarrhea for three days and you are a thousand miles away from home, wouldn’t it make more sense to go to a local veterinarian than to call me and demand I tell you how to treat your pet yourself? Stop calling and asking Dr. Google and get your pet seen. Their life is at stake.
Be your pet’s advocate and be nice to the staff at the veterinary office. It seems like common sense. And while you’re at it, be nice to your doctor, your hair dresser, the pharmacist, and everyone who works in any service industry. We work hard to serve you and only want the best for you.
I will leave you with this:
IF DR. SEUSS WAS A VETERINARIAN
I won’t dispense it Sam I Am
I won’t dispense without exam.
I won’t dispense it to your dog,
Although you’ll bash me in a blog.
I won’t dispense it to your friend
Who yells at me without an end.
I won’t dispense it for the ear,
For the eyes, or for the rear.
I won’t dispense it though you yell,
How mean I am; the world you’ll tell.
I won’t dispense it to your cat,
To your bird or to your rat.
I won’t give in, I’m standing tall,
Although you’ll whine and cry and call.
I won’t dispense it Sam I Am,
You can’t have meds without exam.
PUPLOAF FOR CANCER PATIENTS
If you follow my blogs, you’ve probably heard about puploaf. Puploaf was originally invented by me as an easy way to serve a home cooked high quality meal to your dogs without having to worry about using a lot of supplements. I used Honest Kitchen Preference as the base mix for the puploaf to ensure that dogs would be fed high quality vegetables along with all the vitamins and minerals that were needed. Puploaf has been extremely popular and is now a common household term throughout the country and around the world! Honest Kitchen has since come out with a new product called Honest Kitchen Kindly. The Kindly base mix is similar to Preference, but without sweet potatoes. So for pets with allergies to potatoes or pets with cancer that need a low carb diet, the Kindly solves the problem! For those who missed it, here is the puploaf recipe:
2 pounds lean ground meat (beef, bison, turkey, chicken, veal, venison, or a combination)
½ pound ground organ meat (hearts, liver, gizzards, kidney)
½ - 1 cup Honest Kitchen base mix rehydrated (amount depends on whether you like your diet to be meat heavy)
½ cup cooked barley or quinoa - not essential, eliminate if you want your puploaf to be grain-free
3 to 4 eggs
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, place in loaf or square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness of the loaf. Add probiotics at the time of serving. Serve at room temperature. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Can be frozen for later use. At our house we make it in large batches, 35 pounds at a time.
THANKS FOR A WONDERFUL YEAR
As we head into the holiday rush I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the wonderful things we have accomplished during the past year. We have broadened our scope of treatments at the hospital, offering things like prolotherapy, stem cell therapy, ultrasound, and increased use of acupuncture and herbal therapies. We have been blessed with a great staff that works hard, gets along well, and cares about our clients and patients the way we would want our own pets treated.
My work with pet rescue this year has been challenging, but extremely rewarding. We have offered more care to more rescued animals than ever before. I have been amazed by the generosity of friends, sales reps, clients, and even people I have never met, in helping us care for these rescued souls.
My first book, “From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing” has been a big success and I love that I have been able to help people around the globe with their pet’s health. My second book is close to being finished; recipes for cooking healthy meals for dogs. My Facebook page Judy Morgan D.V.M has developed a great following, again, reaching folks around the world. It’s been exciting to learn how animals are cared for in other countries. One thing that rings true, no matter where people live, is that we all love our animals and want to do what is best for them.
I hope everyone has a peaceful, joyful holiday season. Snuggle your pets and enjoy some time relaxing with them.
The Secret Lives Of Cats...And Of Treats by Dr. Anthony
I love to make up stories about my cats. Their mysterious nature and curiosity lend themselves to narratives that capture the imagination and provide hours of entertainment. I currently have four cats—three of which I have acquired through my work as a veterinarian and one that I acquired through my relationship—and all four have very different personalities and very different narratives.
While I know that we love all of our animals the same, we all have secret favorites that have captured our hearts more than the other. For me, it is Marge, a large and in charge sassy tabby cat who arrived at the door of our practice with her four kittens having been found in a dumpster and rescued. We kept her and let her wean her kittens and found homes for them, but Marge sat there. Since it was kitten season, she adopted and nursed orphaned kittens without any hesitation. She would bop them on the head, pull them close to her, begin grooming them, and allow them to nurse. She finally got adopted but was brought back the next day because she peed on a pile of clothes. That’s when I decided that she needed to come home to me. Overnight she peed on all of my shirts until I figured out that she didn’t like covered litter boxes and since that time, she has given me no issues.
In my head, she has a back story equivalent to one of the women in Orange is the New Black, a tough street smart bad cat who learned to do anything to survive for herself and her kittens. Her voice is gruff and she has a sway and swagger to her walk from her years on the streets. I have no doubt that she committed acts that she isn’t proud of but needed to for survival. Even now that she wants for nothing, she sits above and dominates the other cats who don’t share her story and don’t know what it’s like to wake up in a dumpster, caring for yourself and four kittens.
When I start daydreaming about what Marge must have been like before I got her, I begin to chuckle at how ridiculous it all sounds to create a whole persona and back story about a cat. This is human nature though, we love to anthropomorphize, or give our animals human type qualities. It helps us bond with them and care for them and in the end it benefits us as much as it does them.
Where I don’t see it helping is when it gets manipulated to get us to buy things that not only do our animals not need but actually might be harmful to them. Manufacturers use this to their advantage to sell all kinds of products—nail polish for animals, rain coats and galoshes, but especially treats. If you go and look at the treat selection at any pet food store, they are not being made for our animals, but they are made for us and what we want to feed our animals. We want to feel like our pets are human and want to feed them the things that we love. Who doesn’t love bacon or a nice steak and who wouldn’t want to feed their animals something that looks exactly like a strip of bacon or a juicy T-bone?
However, what the manufactures don’t tell you is that those treats have a cost in terms of ingredients. Those nice little T-bone steaks have on the package in big letters that they are made with real beef. However, a look on the back reveals that beef is the eighth ingredient and the top two ingredients are ground wheat and corn gluten meal, a far cry from the flavorful food we think we are feeding. We want to believe that when we feed those little steak shapes that our pets are getting the same feelings that we get when we eat those same foods and pet food companies are more than happy to provide a method for us to capture those feelings.
How about instead of feeding those highly manufactured foods, you feed actual pieces of beef, chicken, fish, or even bacon. Not only will your beloved animal get the benefits of eating fresh proteins, you will strengthen the bond with your pet. It reminds me of one of the first weeks that I had Marge and had gotten pizza and discovered that she was walking away with a whole slice. I’m not sure what she was planning on doing with it, but it was amusing to watch and added a few paragraphs to her narrative.
Don’t let yourself be tricked. While I know that Marge doesn’t speak like an ex-convict and that it is all in my head, don’t let those sneaky manufacturers play on the love for your pet to buy things that they don’t need and actually might cause them harm.