Posts Tagged ‘cat’

Diets for cancer in cats and dogs – you are what you eat, a fighting cancer machine

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Good nutrition is very important in any animal fighting cancer. You are what you eat and with cancer we need a diet that feeds and supports the body but starves the cancer. In fighting cancer with herbs and holistic medicine, we are relying on the body to do the fighting. This takes a strong immune system and a lot of energy. You need good food for this.

Cancer cannot utilize fats but loves to use carbohydrates, especially processed ones. Protein is somewhere in between.

A diet high in protein, moderate in fat and with no grain or very low grain is ideal. Home-made cooked, or raw diets are best. If that is not possible then a good quality high protein, canned commercial diet or a hydrated freeze dried raw diet can be substituted.

If your animal is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation you should not use a raw diet (freeze dried is fine). However for these animals a great option is a cooked diet. After they are done with these treatments the food can slowly be transitioned to raw if desired.

If your dog or cat is very debilitated from cancer and has not been on a raw diet before stick with a cooked or freeze dried food.

Commercial raw diets can be cooked as a more simple way to make home cooked food for your animal.

Below are a couple diets I have been using for years for my clients who have time to home cook. It is not an exact science so feel free to play around with them. Scroll down to see some of the commercial diets I recommend (canned, freeze dried and raw).

Sample cancer diets

Dog (approximately for a 40 lb dog per day)

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or raw meat including liver and organ meat (if you use fish or pork make sure it is cooked)
  • 1 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/4 cup yam, sweet potato or pumpkin, cooked or canned
  • 1/8 cup nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews
  • 2 T yogurt with live cultures
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil
  • a calcium supplement (see below)

Cat Cancer Diet See Making Crazy Awesome Homemade Cat Food

An alternative cat food recipe is Making Crazy Awesome Cat Food Part Two.

For homemade dog food (cats are hard to add extras to their food)

  • If possible I also recommend adding reishi, shitake, and/or maitake mushrooms to the diet. Mushrooms are strong immune stimulates and have anti-cancer properties. Add them in as some of the veggies. Mushrooms should always be cooked as the cooking releases their helpful properties and when they are not cooked they are mildly toxic. Alternatively Fungi Perfecti, in my opinion the best mushroom company around, offers a great powdered supplement called MUSH.
  • When picking vegetables, broccoli and other leafy dark green vegetables should be considered. Many studies have been done on broccoli’s effects against cancer. See the article Broccoli Fights Cancer.
  • I am not a large user of supplements, but I love Healthforce’s Vitamineral Powder and feel like it adds in both micronutrients and some added digestive support.
  • The pumpkin, sweet potato, yam, and cod liver oil are high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes mechanisms in the body that kill cancer cells and cause cell differentiation. Consider adding other sources of vitamin A such as liver and carrots.
  • A calcium supplement needs to be added to any diet made for cats and dogs. There are many ways to do this.
    • There are many commercial products such as Animal Essentials Natural Seaweed Calcium.
    • Bone Meal Powder can also be used. Use one teaspoon for an average sized dog.
    • Many people prefer to add a Centrum Silver a day for average to large sized dogs.
    • If you are feeding a raw diet you can feed raw chicken necks for calcium.
    • If you are using eggs in your diet consider smashing up the egg shell and adding it to the diet. One egg shell provides enough calcium for an average sized dog. 1/8-1/4 of an eggshell provides enough for a cat.
  • If you are making raw food make sure the meat is frozen for at least 48 hours to kill off any dangerous parasites.
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews are high in trace nutrients, minerals, vitamins and good fats. If possible include these in your diet. Cats sometimes do better with a little almond butter. Avoid macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs.

If you are using a commercial canned food I recommend the following

  • Weruva is a great food that seems home made. They have many varieties so make sure you find a grain free one. I have found this food much cheaper on
  • Instinct is completely grain free and very high in protein.
  • Taste of the Wild is another quality food I use in a lot of the dogs I work with.
  • There are other good ones out there but make sure they mostly contain meat and are grain free.

If you are using a commercial raw diet ideally pick one local to your area. I really like Darwin’s for raw dog and cat food and Rad Cat for cats.

For commercial home cooked food and raw food for cats and dogs in the Seattle area, Natural Pet Pantry is a good option. Fresh and local food and run by knowledgable and kind folks.

If you are looked for a good freeze dried raw Stella & Chewy’s is my favorite and even picky animals including cats seem to like it. With any of the freeze dried foods I recommend hydrating them.

I hate to see dogs and cats with cancer on dry food but if that is the only option then a no grain high quality diet such as Orijen can be used.

Remember that any food in the belly is more important then the best food sitting uneaten. Sometimes animals with cancer are so sick that they have very little appetite. In that case give them anything they will eat. When they are feeling better, focus on trying to get them to eat what is best for them.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs.

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang – Fighting Mast Cell Tumors and supporting the lungs against cancer

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, otherwise known as Drive out Stasis in the Mansion of Blood Decoction, has a beautiful red color from the wonderful Hong Hua or safflower flowers it contains. This is the last of my top five cancer formulas and a very special one at that. Where Hoxsey is somewhat toxic and cooling, Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is warming and nourishing. At the same time it is a quite strong cancer fighter.

The number one place I use this formula is for dogs with mast cell cancer. This is a cancer that often arises if there is impaired blood flow to the skin. Without good blood flow the immune system can not find and destroy the cancer cells that arise. Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang helps promote blood flow to the skin so the immune system can reach mast cell cancer. In my experience this formula helps to reduce tumor size, occasionally shrink the small tumors completely and prevent formulation of new mast cell tumors. These dogs are often prone to reoccurrence, not necessarily because tumors spread, but because the underlying disease process still exists.

I also will use this formula topically mixed with a little DMSO Gel or with vitamin E or aloe if DMSO can not be purchased or the tumor is by the mouth. For DMSO I use about two tablespoons of herbs for 4 ounces of gel and mix it in the gel jar. The other carriers you just want to make a paste that will stick to the skin. I apply the herb/DMSO paste directly to the tumors. Please read about DMSO and discuss with your vet before using. Because mast cell tumors can cause a sudden release of histamine when irritated, especially with larger tumors this should not be applied without veterinary guidance. A good article on DMSO is DMSO – many uses, much controversy.

This is a formula that I use in any of the dogs and cats I treat with lung metastasis. It has an amazing ability to move blood away from tumors in the chest and out to the periphery of the body. This starves tumor cells in the lungs.

In addition it is good against any intra-thoracic tumor, thyroid adenocarcinomas, and salivary tumors. It can also be effective against some of the blood borne cancers like leukemia and myeloma.

This formula has been shown to increase immunity, kill cancer cells and enhance the effects of radiation therapy. It has strong anti-oxidant effects and helps to support the body and immune system in its fight against cancer.

It is a combination of the following herbs

  • Tao Ren (peach seed)
  • Dang Gui (angelica root)
  • Hong Hua (safflower flowers)
  • Chuan Niu Xi (cyathula root)
  • Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia)
  • Chi Shao (red peony root)
  • Zhi Ke (bitter orange)
  • Chuan Xiong (lovage root)
  • Jie Geng (platycodon root)
  • Chai Hu (bupleurum root)
  • Gan Cao (licorice root)

I usually add San Leng (scirpus rhizome) and E Zhu (turmeric) to this formula to enhance its effect against cancer. Studies done on these two herbs show that they have a significant effect in inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

The main effects of this formula involves taking blood away from tumor cells and moving it to the parts of the body which need it. However Chai Hu has direct effects in killing cancer cells as discussed in the article about Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Tao Ren contains the same bound form of cyanide found in apricot seeds, which has a strong effect on cancer cells but spares normal cells.

In addition to cancer I also use this formula for many forms of heart disease, hacking coughs, bronchitis, dry skin and itching, fear, and back pain.

This formula works best for tumors that are considered blood stasis in Chinese medicine and better for tumors in the cranial third of the body. There are slight modifications made to this formula for internal tumors in the middle and caudal body. See Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang and Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang.

If I use ground herbs, I usually dose this formula at 1/8 teaspoon twice a day for small dogs, ¼ teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 30lb, ½ teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 70lb and 1 teaspoon twice a day for dogs over 70 lbs. I will occasionally dose it just in the morning if I am giving Xiao Chai Hu Tang in the evening.

If using a tincture I dose it at 0.2ml per 5lb once or twice a day.

I sell powdered Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang with the added San Leng and E Zhu through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil.

If you want to buy the base formula, the teapill form is sold on
Stasis In The Mansion Of Blood Teapills (Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang Wan) If you use tea pills I highly, highly recommend finding a way to add in San Leng and E Zhu. The formula just doesn’t work as well without these two ingredients.
To use tea pills I dose cats and very small dogs at two pills twice a day, medium sized dogs at 4-5 pills twice a day and large dogs at 8 pills twice a day.

Please check with you animal’s primary vet before using this formula.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Kidney failure in cats – how Chinese medicine and diet can help

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Food sitting in a dish uneaten does not help a cat get better.

In other words, the best food left uneaten does nothing.

Yet many cats with kidney/renal disease are put on a low protein diet such as Science Diet’s K/D diet that they will not eat. And from my experience cats with renal disease should not be on K/D or other low protein kidney diets to began with.

Many cats get kidney failure as they age, yet western medicine does not have a good treatment to reverse or prevent this disease. The most common treatments involve a low protein diet and subcutaneous fluids.

So what do I recommend for cats with renal disease, if you know they do not have inflammatory kidney disease (explained later in this article)?

A high protein canned or home cooked diet made with good quality protein. I recommend using Instinct, Weruva, or Go/Now grain free if you use a commercial diet. Raw food is ok if they will tolerate it and are not severely sick.

What high protein?!
But my vet said I need to feed low protein!

Here is one of the commonly sited studies on PubMed that proves that high protein does not make kidney disease worse in cats.
Protein and calorie effects on progression of induced chronic renal failure in cats

So let’s talk a little about what is going on with renal disease and why I recommend the diets I do.

From a Chinese Medicine view we have two main types of renal failure, inflammatory and deficient/ischemic.

Deficient or ischemic kidney disease

This is the more common type of renal failure. These guys are usually thin, not great eaters and may or may not be vomiting. The inflammatory cats may also shift to this after you get the inflammation down.

I really hate to see these guys on K/D or low protein.

In this form of renal failure there is not enough blood going to the kidneys and the cells are dying from ischemia (lack of oxygen). They may also have renal hypertension (high blood pressure) which causes even more damage. Many of these cats are also anemic making the problem even worse.

These cats need protein both to increase blood flow and blood volume (you can’t make blood without protein) and to repair the damage to the kidney cells (you can’t repair cells without protein).

And yes many of these cells are not dead and can be repaired once you improve blood flow.

  • I recommend a high protein canned food such as Instinct, or grain free Weruva or Go for these guys.
  • I highly recommend acupuncture for deficient cats. They not only feel better, eat better but often we can reduce their kidney numbers or get them back to normal
  • Infrared light therapy can be very helpful for these kitties and can be done at home. Infrared light helps to improve blood circulation into the kidneys and wake up kidney cells that are still alive but don’t have enough blood flow. See my article Infrared light therapy for instructions on how to use this therapy.
  • I also often put these cats on a Chinese formula containing Shu Di Huang (also known as rehmannia). Shu Di Huang formulas help repair kidney cells, lower kidney numbers on blood work and lower blood pressure. It is best to find a holistic vet to help you determine the best formula. If you can’t find someone to help you the base formula Liu Wei Di Huang Wan can be used. This formula is now available in powder form that can be made into a tea from my etsy shop Kingdom of Basil

I’ve had many cats convert back to normal through diet, acupuncture and herbs.

From my experience, if they stay on K/D, I can not convert them back. They need to be on high protein if they have this type of kidney disease to improve numbers. If they are inflammatory we get rid of the inflammation and then put them on high protein even if the numbers are normal to keep them stable and out of renal failure.

Although it is not my favorite approach, I have maintained cats with ischemic renal disease on dry Orijen or high protein/no grain diets. If somehow they have to be on dry I always go with a high protein. They tend to stay stable on high protein dry and sub-Q fluids. I also find sometimes you need a little dry in the old guys. My old cat Basil needs a little dry to maintain his weight because he just didn’t eat enough canned.

So why does my western veterinarian recommend a low protein diet?

We do know that high phosphorus can be bad in renal disease. There is higher phosphorus levels in protein so it is hard to get low phosphorus without doing a low protein diet. So low phosphorus has translated into low protein. My experience has shown me that the higher phosphorus doesn’t seem to cause as large an issue as the low protein does in cats with kidney failure.

Inflammatory kidney disease
We do not see much inflammatory kidney disease in cats and most of it is in cats younger than 10 years old. In inflammatory kidney disease, there is inflammation in the kidneys that causes the the kidneys to not function well and reduces the blood flow to the cells.

It can be hard to tell these cats from deficient kidney kitties as there is much overlap in symptoms. These cats tend to vomit a lot but still have a fairly good appetite. They almost always have a high cholesterol on blood work and tend to have kidney numbers that are just barely elevated. They also may have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, elevated liver enzymes, chronic pancreatitis or vomiting. And these cats tend to be younger, usually the old thin kitties are not inflammatory.

Usually with acupuncture and herbs we can clear this stage up in a month or two. If it is mild and recent their kidney numbers may go back to normal. If they have had it awhile we then see the ischemic renal disease underneath.

These guys should not have high protein but also should not have high grain (which causes inflammation).

  • I recommend a normal to moderate protein canned food such as Avoderm, Pinnacle or Nature’s Variety Homestyle. High protein increases blood flow which will cause more inflammatory cells to go to the kidneys, we don’t want that but also we need some protein to maintain the cells
  • I also recommend acupuncture for these cats to reduce the inflammation and support the kidneys
  • For inflammatory kidney disease herbal treatment can be amazingly effective. It is best if you can work with a holistic vet to determine the most appropriate formula.
    • So what do I do if I can’t figure out if my cat has inflammatory or ischemic kidney disease?

    • 1. Find a holistic vet who can help to make that determination.A holistic vet can also help you get your cat on an appropriate herbal formula and do acupuncture to help support the kidneys .
    • 2. If you can’t find a vet to work with, feed a moderate protein canned food.
    • What can I do to prevent kidney failure in cats who are currently healthy?

    • 1. Do not overvaccinate. We now know that the FVRCP causes many cats to have antibodies against their own kidneys. See the article To vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question.
    • 2. Do not feed your cat a dry food only diet. Make sure your cat is on a high protein, good quality diet of canned food, home cooked or raw food. Cats on dry food only diets are always in a mild state of dehydration. Long term this dehydration can hurt their kidneys. See How do I pick the best food for my cat’s health.

How do I pick the best food for my cat’s health?

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

So what do I feed my cat? And how do I change their food?

Anyone who has been owned by a cat knows that changing their food can be one of the hardest projects to undertake. Of course there are those cats who will eat anything but they are rare.

So how do you choose what to feed your cat and how do you find something they will eat?

Many of these rules you will recognize from my dog food article but cats are still cats and there are differences.

Here are some rules of thumb to follow with the kitties:

  • 1. Always feed high quality food – So how do I tell what is high quality you ask
    • Ideally cats should be on a raw diet but if not…
    • Feed canned or homemade food or mostly canned or homemade food
    • Make sure meat is the first ingredient and that it is real meat. It should be chicken or turkey or some other recognizable meat or fish(not animal which can be euthanized cats and dogs- yuck!). There should be no by products which can be diseased meat, feathers, blood, pus, etc.

      In cats this is especially important. Cats are true carnivores meaning they will die without meat. Because of this meat should be most of their diet. They absolutely should not be on a grain heavy diet. And cats should never be on a vegetarian diet.

    • Stay away from corn and wheat. Many animals are allergic to these and usually only low quality foods have corn. The one exception I can think of to this is that Weruva has a couple foods that have chunks of corn in them. I still think this is a high quality food.
    • Learn how to read labels. You want to see a list of foods you recognize at the top (in cats this should be mostly meat), and then a list of vitamin and minerals you may not, closer to the bottom. Avoid dyes, preservatives like BHA, BHT, and erythoxyquin, food stabilizers like propylene glycol, and sugars and salt. For more information on how to read a label see the article What is really in pet food? from Born Free USA.
  • 2. Here is a list of my favorite brands There are other good foods out there also but these are the ones I recommend most often. Here is a good article from Rad Cat on Transitioning to Raw Food.
    • Rad Cat is one of the best raw foods out there. This company only focuses on cats and they make a great food!
    • Weruva This is the only cat food that looks good enough that I would eat it! Made with whole foods and there is no question when you open the can. There fish favorites are very yummy and a good starting food to switch over the picky cats.
    • Homestyle by Prairie, Instinct, Nature’s Variety raw foods are all made by Nature’s Variety. Prairie is their main line, Instinct is grain free and they also make a great raw line I recommend under the Nature’s Variety name. I have been happy with all their foods.
    • Merrick makes a great line of canned and dry foods. Their foods are yummy to many cats and they have a very cute marketing campaign.
    • Avoderm and Pinnacle are both solid good natural foods. Avoderm is marketed for animals with itchy skin and can make a difference in cats with environmental allergies.
    • Orijen My top choice if you have to feed dry food. Orijen is a great company with a tasty, very high quality grain free food. They locally source all their ingredients and package their own food.
    • Felidae is a good and solid food with some added cranberry for urinary health. Many cats really love it.
    • Evanger’s makes a mackerel and gravy that many sick cats will eat when they will not eat anything else.
    • Darwin’s Pet is a great northwest company which makes raw diets. If you live in the Seattle area they will deliver to your doorstep. They have a very good quality product and because they are a small company a lot of control on what goes into their food. Some cats seem to not tolerate their food as well as the Rad Cat because of the small pieces of bone in it. My cats would spit them out and leave them in the dish for me which made me wonder if they were getting enough calcium. However some cats do very well on their food.
    • Go! and Now!Moderate protein diets with grain free varieties, these two foods are good solid options. Tasty options if the higher protein Orijen doesn’t work and a very good canned option
    • The Natural Pet Pantry is located in Burien, Washington. They have a great cooked and raw product and will make to order if your cat needs a special diet.
    • Wellness is a good solid food with good ingredients.
    • Paw’s Cafe is another great local company in the Seattle area which makes homemade food, raw diets and custom diets. Great folks and very high quality diets. So far they only deliver to the Eastside but there is talk they may come over to Seattle soon. If they do they will be up there with Darwin’s.
    • Update 5/20/10 Because of the recent buyout of Natura pet by Proctor and Gamble I no longer recommend Innova, Evo and California Natural and will be switching my kitties over to Orijen for dry food.

    I used to feed multiple brands of food to my own cats and switch flavors and brands daily. If your cat’s stomach allows it I recommend switching brands and varieties of food. This also helps if you do need to switch their food for some health reason later in life. Now I make my own raw food and switch ingredients between meat sources.

    If I have missed the food you feed your cat add a comment and I will give you my opinion on it.

  • 3. Cats should not be on exclusively dry food ever and any cat over eight years of age (or a younger geriatric animal) should get no or very little dry food.

    Cats have a funny relationship with water. They don’t drink much of it. In fact cats on dry food only are always in a slightly dehydrated state. This can lead to kidney failure, urinary tract problems and other health issues.

    Dry food is cheapest and some people can not afford to feed anything but it. If dry food is all you can afford, adding a little water, chicken broth, wet food or good quality table scraps will help. There are also some animals that simply do not do well on anything but a dry food or will not eat anything but a dry food. If you feed only a dry diet make sure it is high quality and grain free.

    High quality dry food with water or broth is better than low quality wet food.

  • 4. Grain free foods vs foods with grain

    Our cats should be on a diet with a high protein content and should be eating almost all meat. I prefer cats to be on grain free diets. However, if they are feed a food with grain, meat should be at least 2/3 of the food.

    Animals with allergies, cancer, or epilepsy should absolutely be on a grain free diet. Many animals with chronic vomiting also do better on a grain free diet diet.

    If you feed a food with grain, oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice are ideal grain sources. Corn and wheat should not be feed to cats.

    Healthy animals can be on a high quality diet with a little grain or without grain but I recommend dry food be grain free in cats.

  • 5. Senior diets, weight loss diets and overweight cats

    Just say no to senior diets! Senior diets usually reduce the amount of protein and add more grain. Older cats do not need this! Avoid anything labeled a senior diet unless it is grain free.

    Weight loss diets also reduce the protein and add more bulk in grain. This is not how you get a cat to loss weight. The best way to reduce weight on your overweight cat is to feed a high protein, no grain, raw, cooked or canned food only diet! Also know as the Catkins diet.

    Evo and some of the other good quality foods now have weight loss, grain free diets with reduced fat, high protein and no grain. These are ok but avoid any weight loss diet with grain.

  • 5. The least processed the food the better (also known as dry vs canned vs raw vs cooked)

    In the ideal world we would all have time to come home each day and cook for ourselves and our pets. However many people don’t have time to cook for themselves or their cats.

    If you do have time to cook for your cats see my article Making crazy awesome homemade cat food.

    If you can, start your cat on a raw diet or cook for them at home. There are also companies like Paw’s Cafe and Natural Pet Pantry that make homemade cat food. If you are against feeding raw food or your cat doesn’t tolerate it, raw foods can also be cooked. Crock pots and steamers are ideal for this. Although you can always throw it in a frying pan.

    If you feed a raw diet make sure you use a commercial product that is frozen or if you make your own freeze it before using it to kill of any potential parasites.

    In cats if you make a cooked food, you must add a supplement with taurine to it. Cats will die without taurine and while they get enough on raw food there is a debate on if they get enough from cooked. To be safe always add some to homemade cooked food. Commercial foods already add it.

    In general the less proceeded the food the better. With raw being on the top, followed by cooked, canned and finally dry. But do what works for your household.

    There are almost no overweight cats on raw diets. If your cat is overweight get them off the dry food.

    <Any cat who has had urinary tract problems should be on a diet without dry food and the best way to prevent urinary problems is to avoid dry food.

    My own cats cats used to eat high quality canned food with a little dry Orijen overnight. I only added the dry after I discovered that my older cat needed a little at night or he would vomit up bile. My older cat has since passed away but I have a new girl who loves her “crunchies” so I still feed little dry in the evening along with homemade raw.

    While I have a number of animals on homemade or raw diets, many of my clients feed their cats a mixture of high quality dry and wet because of convenience and cost.

  • 6. Pick the meat which is best for your cat. If possible rotate meat sources.

    If your animal has obvious allergies then this choice is made for you. If not, I am highly in favor of switching protein sources routinely. This reduces your animals chance of developing allergies and adds some variety to your their diet. Imagine if you had to eat the same thing over and over again. Boring!

    Chinese medicine also has an energetic system for working with food. See my article The dance of life and the energetics of food for more information.

    I do not recommend feeding pork to cats because of the way pigs are raised and the energetics that go along with that. Pork must never be eaten raw because of the diseases that pigs carry.

    Tuna should be limited to one can a week. For foods with just a little tuna for favor use your own judgement. Tuna is high in heavy metals and can also lead to problems with vitamin B deficiency. The exception to this is when you are working with a picky cat who doesn’t like canned food. Many times starting with the tuna flavors will help switch them over and then you can add in other canned foods. Never feed straight human tuna because without the added vitamins you end up with vitamin B and E deficiencies.

  • 7. Table scraps are ok

    No really, I know we as a veterinary community have told you they aren’t. But if you eat healthy food it is fine for your cat to have some. Just remember – no onions or chocolate.

  • 8. For animals in kidney failure, the quality of the protein is much more important than the amount of protein.

    For years the veterinary community has recommended low protein for cats in kidney failure. The new studies out however show that diets moderate in very high quality protein are best for these animals.

    The best thing you can do for your cat in kidney failure is to keep them off the dry food. Feed high quality canned or home cooked with moderate protein. I do not recommend switching a cat with kidney failure to a raw diet if they are not already on one.

    Avoid the low quality, low protein prescription kidney diets.

    For more information on kidney failure and cats see my article Kidney failure in cats – how Chinese medicine and diet can help

  • 9. Avoid the addictive grocery store brands like Friskies and Fancy Freast

    These foods are highly addictive to cats and it is very hard to get your cat off of them once they are on them.

    High in wheat, corn, soy, and salt and with animal by-product (euthanized cats and dogs with a little euthanasia solution in it) this is the last thing you want to feed your cat. Yuck!

    However many cats love these foods. The high salt and artificial flavors make them highly addictive. Stay away from these at all costs!

    Not only are they not good for your cat’s health but there also seems to be a higher rate of urinary tract disease in cats on these foods.

  • 10. How do I switch over my picky cat to a new food?

    Cats can be hard to switch over to a new food. Sometimes nothing can seem more impossible. Here is a few things that can help.

    • If you are switching to raw, cook it and salt it first. And then mix a little in with their normal food.
    • Get free samples at the pet store or buy many small cans of food to try. There may be one magic flavor that does it for your cat’s pallet.
    • If your cat likes fish and you are switching to a canned food try Weruva’s fish flavors or Evanger’s mackerel with gravy. If your cat is into poultry try Weruva’s chicken and gravy or Instinct’s chicken.
    • If your cat will not eat canned food, add a little salt. You can take it away slowly after they are eating the wet food.
    • Mix the new food in with their old food. Just add a little at first and then increase it
    • If they are not sick, give them three days not to eat. Most cats will eat what you offer on the third day. If your cat is overweight absolutely do not fast them for more than three days. If overweight cats do not eat for more than three days they are at risk of a disease called hepatic lipidosis which can be deadly!
    • If you are switching their dry, try Orijen – most cats like it’s flavor and will eat it, even the picky ones
    • Some cats get soft stools when being switched over to a new food. This should improve in a week. If it doesn’t try another food.
  • I hope this information helps. Do the best you can with it and try to have fun! After all, you know your cat better than anyone else!

    Helpful links
    Dog Aware’s dog food page More information than you could ever use about dog food!. While this is a dog site much of the information on it is also relative to cats.
    Born Free’s What’s Really In Pet Food A great article about pet food companies and processing.

    Books about cat food and diet
    Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
    The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats
    The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care
    Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health
    Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food
    Not Fit for a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food
    Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative

    Update – Since writing this article I’ve gotten to participate in a great thread of questions about it on the West Seattle Blog. Please check out the post How to pick a good cat food where I also explain how to figure out the exact amount of food your cat needs.

    Also see How do I pick the best food for my dog’s health?.

    Christmas is coming!

    Saturday, December 19th, 2009

    Send me your favorite animal photos and I will post them here.

    My animal companion has to go under anesthesia – what can I do to help?

    Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

    If we are lucky our animal friends only have to go through surgery once, when they are spayed or neutered. However many animals do need to be under anethesia other times either for a dental cleaning, to get sutures, or to have surgery. Whatever the reason, surgery and anethesia are hard on our animal friends. But there are things you can do to help them recover faster and more comfortably.

    As always, check with your veterinarian on any supplements you use.

  • 1. Arnica
    Arnica is a homeopathic remedy which helps with bruising and trauma. Over the years I have been amazed and impressed at how much difference this very safe remedy can make in healing. I have seen incisions heal in half the time and dogs have very little bruising and swelling in situations you would normally expect to see it.

    I always recommend Arnica for all my animal patients who have to undergo surgery or any other procedure that there will be tissue or bone trauma. Because it is a homeopathic remedy it is very safe ever for old and debilitated animals.

    I use the Arnica 30c pellets and dose them at 2-3 pellets (usually 2 for cats/small dogs and 3 for dogs) the morning of surgery, the evening after surgery, and then three times a day for three days. Because the pellets are so small they can safely be given the morning of surgery.

    Arnica can be bought at most health and supplement stores or by clicking on Arnica.

  • 2. Acupuncture
    I highly recommend an acupuncture treatment right after surgery or anesthesia. Acupuncture can help with clearing anesthesia from an animal’s system and decrease the chance of them having a hard recovery. Acupuncture can also help ease pain and speed healing.

    If possible acupuncture can be performed the day of surgery after an animal has woken up. Many times this is not possible because of the hours acupuncturists work and I end up treating most animals the day after surgery.

    Acupuncture can also help dogs who have had bad recoveries to anesthesia in the past and and make it possible to perform dentals or surgeries on these sensitive animals.

  • 3.Yunnan Baiyao
    While I don’t recommend Yunnan Baiyao (also called Yunnan Paiyao) for all animals undergoing surgery or anethesia, it is still one of my most important herbal formulas. I mainly use it in any procedure or surgery where there is a concern about bleeding. This includes many tumor removal and abdominal surgeries. I have seen this wonderful herbal formula save animal’s lives before.

    Please see my article, A Magic Vial of Yunnan Baiyao and the wikipedia article.

    I usually dose Yunnan Baiyao at one capsule twice a day for a few days before and after surgery for your average sized dog. Cats and small dogs, I use the powder and put about a 1/8 of a teaspoon in their food twice a day.

    Yunnan Baiyao can be bought in most international districts and by clicking on Yunnan Baiyao above.

  • 4.Reiki
    If one of my animals need to undergo surgery I always give them a reiki session before to get them into a good place for surgery. I usually work with a local practitioner, Rose DeDan, who also does animal communication. She is able to help explain what is going to happen and put their body in the best possible place for surgery and/or anesthesia.
  • 5.Pain medication
    Enough can not be said about pain medication. Make sure your veterinarian gives your animal pain medication before surgery and sends you home with something you can give at home. Nothing is worse then seeing our animals in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Routine dentals do not usually need pain meds.
  • 6. Companionship and love!
    You are the safest person to your animal. They want to be with you after surgery and they want to feel loved and cared for. If possible consider taking a day off work after their surgery or plan your animal’s surgery or procedure on a Friday.
  • 7. Somewhere healing to recover
    It is so important to have somewhere safe, quiet, warm and soft to recover after surgery. Anesthesia can make the senses more sensitive and many animals get headaches coming out of surgery. Often times the drugs used also make our animal friends disoriented. Make sure that there is no access to stairs and nothing to fall off of. Keeping lights dim and sound to a minimum also helps. Sometimes classical music played softly will help relax our friends.
  • I hope these simple suggestions are helpful! I know they have helped many of the animals I work with and my own beloved animal companions.

    The Dance of Life and the Energetics of Food

    Monday, November 23rd, 2009

    Rose DeDan, a local shaman and healer, wrote a wonderful article today on her blog, The Dance of Life, The endless cycle of birth, death and our relationship to the food we consume. It give new meaning to the saying “you are what you eat.” She talks about the energetics of our food and how the way animals are raised can affect our health. We are all energetic beings and just as we take on the energy of those around us, we can also take on the energy of the animals we consume. If they have been treated well and fairly we end up with nutritious food, if they have not been it can lead to many health problems for us.

    The Chinese take this one step further. They also look at the normal energetic characteristics of the animals we eat in determining a proper diet. Many of my clients who have asked about diet for their animals have seen this in action. For example for a flighty nervous dog I would never suggest rabbit or deer because both are nervous animals. An anxious dog would do best on beef or bison which are both large and grounded creatures. On the flip side a very sluggish dog may do better on something light and energetic like a deer or rabbit.

    Food also has a temperature and other characteristics in Chinese Medicine. Trout is the hottest meat and a dog who is always cold would do well on it. Seaweed and Cucumber are considered cold and can cool a dog with excess heat. Sweet potato and pumpkin are sweet and help with digestion. Beef is good at tonifying the blood and helping with weakness. Carrots and other root vegetables are very grounding and help an animal be more connected to the earth.

    There are many great books on this subject!

    For further reading

    My favorite book on this subject (although written for people) Prince Wen Hui’s Cook: Chinese Dietary Therapy

    Another good book although with more information then the average person needs Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition

    One of my favorite books on Chinese Medicine with a great food section in back Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

    Introduction to Tellington TTouch Class offered in West Seattle

    Thursday, November 19th, 2009

    From Rose DeDan

    I became interested in Tellington TTouch, a long time ago, but that interest kind of got sidelined while focusing on my shamanic training.

    Recently I read some very impressive stories by a long-time animal communicator that fanned that interest back into action, especially since I have wanted some additional assistance for Puma, my wonderful dog companion, as he enters his senior years. And lo, and behold, Shannon Finch’s name crossed my path. So, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing is now hosting a TTouch class in Seattle for the very first time! (And I believe there will be a live demo with said dog, and perhaps one of my cats who is shy of being handled – I may borrow a video camera for that!)

    • Do you have a shy or aggressive dog?
    • A cat who is getting along in years?
    • A bird who squawks incessently?
    • Are you interested in enhancing the bond with your animals?

    Then this hands-on workshop is for you.

    For more information on TTouch see What is TTouch?

    When: Saturday, December 5, 2009, 9:30am-12:30pm
    Where: Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing Office, Alki (directions sent at time of registration)

    You’ll learn how to improve your animal’s health and wellbeing with several TTouch techniques
    that release the tension, fear and anxiety that lead to behavior problems.

    You’ll learn how to ease the ailments associated with aging as well as first aid measures that can
    save your animal’s life.

    And while TTouch can assist the healing of injuries and illness, and help change undesirable behaviors, it also builds a deeper rapport between humans and animals, so your critter doesn’t have to have a problem in order to benefit from this class.

    Please do not bring your animal to the workshop, we’ll be practicing on willing stuffies (stuffed animals) this time around!

    Registration: Fee $95/person. Class size is limited to a small number of participants. Call Rose De Dan at 206-933-7877 or email her at wildkingdomreiki (at) earthlink (dot) net for more information or to register.

    Shannon Finch is owner of The AnimalKind Company in Stanwood, focusing on positive training for all species. She is a certified Tellington Touch practitioner for both companion animals and horses. She has worked with of animals of many species, from dogs, cats, and horses, to birds, reptiles, rabbits and pocket pets, and even farm critters such as cows, goats, and chickens.

    Shannon has taught TTouch all over the west, including Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the Hawaii Humane Society, has given presentations for numerous local animal welfare groups, including PAWS, the Alternative Humane Society of Bellingham, Hooterville, (now Homeward Bound), Canines for Citizens’ Independence, Pasado’s Safe Haven, Purrfect Pals, Skagit Humane Society, and the Monroe Pet Expo. She’s also taught animal behavior and TTouch classes for Everett Community College. She is currently working on her thesis for a Master’s Degree in Humane Education.

    AVMA puts out FAQ page for pet owners on H1N1

    Friday, November 6th, 2009

    Frequently Asked Questions about the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus and Pets

    Updated November 6, 2009

    These questions and answers are based on what is currently known about the virus, and will be updated as we get new information.

    Q: Can my pet get the 2009 H1N1 virus?
    A:Until recently, we had no reason to believe pets could be infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus because it is very uncommon for flu viruses to jump between species. However, on October 9, 2009, a USDA laboratory confirmed 2009/H1N1 infection in a ferret. The ferret’s owner had recently been ill with the flu. Ferrets are more susceptible to infection with influenza viruses, so this was not altogether surprising. At this time, there are no reports of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus being transmitted from a ferret to a person.

    On November 4, the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that a pet cat was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The cat’s owners were ill and the cat developed respiratory symptoms shortly afterward. The cat has recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people.

    Pets that live indoors, especially cats, tend to have close contact with their owners – after all, that’s why we have pets – and that increases their chances of being exposed to diseases. The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (for example, washing your hands). In addition, it’s more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet’s health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill.

    Q: I’ve heard about ferrets and a cat getting the 2009 H1N1 virus. Should I get rid of my ferret or cat so my family is protected?
    A:Certainly not. This is not cause for panic and extreme measures. You are much more likely to catch the flu (any type of flu, including the 2009 H1N1 flu) from an infected person than you are from an animal. So far, all of the pets infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus became infected from being around their ill owners. The main lesson here is that if you’re feeling ill and have flu-like symptoms, you should probably limit your contact with your pets (and other people, for that matter) until you are feeling better. As always, if your pet is showing signs of illness, it should be examined by a veterinarian.

    Q: The 2009 H1N1 virus has infected poultry. What about my pet bird? Can it be infected?
    A:We know it can infect poultry, but we don’t know if it can affect other birds (including pet birds).

    Q: What symptoms would I see in my dog or cat if it developed H1N1?
    A:So far, there haven’t been any reports of dogs infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. Based on what’s been reported, ferrets and one cat – and probably dogs, if they can become infected with the virus – have shown signs of respiratory illness. These signs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, or changes in breathing (including difficulty breathing).

    Keep in mind that dogs currently have their own flu virus, the H3N8 influenza (canine influenza) virus, going around. So far, this flu virus has only been spread from dog to dog. Dogs infected with the canine influenza virus show the same symptoms as dogs with kennel cough – fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, and maybe a runny nose. For more in-depth information on canine influenza, view our canine influenza backgrounder.

    Q: How serious is this disease in dogs or cats?
    A:We don’t yet know. There haven’t been any reports of dogs infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, and there has only been one cat confirmed to be infected. The infected cat recovered from its illness.

    Q:Should I keep the people in the house who have respiratory disease away from the pet and vice-versa?
    A:Until we know more about the risks of spreading the virus from person to pet, pet to pet, or pet to person, it’s a good idea to limit contact between an ill family member and other family members and pets. If your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian.

    Q: Is there a vaccine that can be used for pets? Can the human H1N1 vaccine be used for pets? What about the canine influenza vaccine?
    A: There is not a licensed and approved 2009 H1N1 vaccine for pets. The human H1N1 vaccine should not be used for pets. The canine influenza vaccine, which protects dogs from the H3N8 flu virus, will not protect pets against the 2009 H1N1 virus and should not be used in any species other than dogs.

    Q: Someone in my home is ill and may have the 2009 H1N1 virus. Should we board our pet(s) until this person has recovered?
    A: That decision is really up to you. Your pet may have already been exposed to the virus by the time the family member starts showing symptoms, so it might not be best to uproot your pet, possibly stressing them, and put them in another environment. If you’re worried your pet may become infected with the influenza virus, treat your pet like you would any other family member – follow good hygiene when you come in contact with them, and limit their exposure to ill family members.

    Q: Can my pot-bellied pig get the 2009 H1N1 virus and give it to me?
    A: To date, the 2009 H1N1 virus has not been reported in pot-bellied pigs. However, the possibility of human-to-pig transmission of the virus warrants extra caution by pig owners. After all, pot-bellied pigs are considered swine, and therefore may be susceptible to the virus. For the time being, a cautious approach would include all contact between your pig and anyone who is ill or has recently been exposed to an ill person. Remember that pot-bellied pigs can become ill from a number of causes, and keeping your pig healthy and free of disease helps protect your pig as well as you. If you have a pet pig and it appears ill, consult a veterinarian immediately.

    Here is the direct link to the page.

    funny pictures of cats with captions
    see more Lolcats and funny pictures

    H1N1 Swine flu confirmed in a cat (and a couple ferrets)

    Thursday, November 5th, 2009

    Yesterday the veterinary community got the first confirmation that a cat had been officially diagnosed with H1N1 (aka swine flu) . So far this is the only case and the cat caught it from its people, not from other cats. The cat has recovered from its illness and has no permanent problems from being sick.

    Here is the official release and the link to the American Veterinary Medical Association website for new releases on H1N1

    At this point we do not know if this will continue to be an issue in cats or how sick cats will get with H1N1 . In fact we have very little information to go on. There is no vaccine for cats and I do not believe there will be.

    H1N1 has not been documented in dogs although has been isolated in one ferret and possibly in another. One of these ferrets has died, the other one is recovering.

    The vaccine for H1N1 in people does not prevent infection or transmission of H1N1, it just reduces severity, so getting vaccinated for H1N1 does not protect your cats from exposure.

    My best advise at this time is to be extra careful with hand washing if you have the flu and keep stress to your cat as low as possible.

    I will update you as more information becomes available.

    2pm update – just found out that the ferret with confirmed H1N1 is recovering. There is another ferret who died but it is not confirmed that it is from H1N1 yet although suspected.

    11/19/09 update – more cats and ferrets have come down with H1N1. There are still very few cases and most animals are recovering well. One cat has however died of suspected H1N1 infection although it has yet to be confirmed. Please follow the AVMA page linked above for further updates.