How to prevent cancer in dogs and cats – repost

January 11th, 2016

I often get the question, “how do I prevent cancer in my dog or cat?”

This is always a hard question to answer. There are so many factors involved in the development of cancer that even doing everything we can to avoid it, animals can still get cancer.

In addition cancer forms when multiple control processes in the body fail. There are many things we still do not understand about both why cancer forms and how to treat it effectively. I am certain that in the next fifty years we will understand a lot more and with the new gene and stem cell therapies that are emerging we will look back on how we work with cancer now as barbaric and ineffective.

Cancer is a breakdown of the immune system and the processing and chemical/hormonal systems in the body that regulate cell growth. Every day cancer cells form in our body and our immune system immediately finds them and destroys them. In addition there are chemical and hormonal processes in our body which stop cells from becoming cancerous. These processes make it so cells age and die naturally as new cells take their place. In cancer this does not happen. The signals for cells to age don’t work and cells rapidly divide and reproduce.

We know that there are genetic factors involved in cancer. This is especially apparent in the purebred dogs. The Bernese Mountain dogs are the most likely breed to have cancer. I have never meet one who did not die of cancer, which is a shame for such a beautiful and kind dog. Most get cancer before their eighth birthday. They are closely followed in percentage of cancer cases by the Golden Retrievers and Boxers, who also are very prone to cancer.

Toxins and pollutants also have a role in cancer. BPA in plastics has been linked to cancer. Estrogens in our water supply may also contribute. We know there are industrial chemicals in the environment and pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals lead to cell damage and chemical abnormalities in the body, which can cause a failure of signals that stop cells from becoming cancerous or in a weakened immune system.

So with all these factors, what can we do to prevent cancer in your animal companions?

  • In my opinion the number one thing you can do to help your animal friend is to feed the best diet possible. I prefer raw diets of high quality meat but a good home cooked or canned diet can also be great. If you feed canned food make sure the company which makes the food is not using BPA coated cans. If you can’t afford anything but dry feed a high quality dry food with high protein. Consider adding cancer fighting foods to their diet See Diets for Cancer – you are what you eat a fighting cancer machine.
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other toxins. Make sure you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, and when you are out walking your dog try to avoid the lawns that are too green and weed free. Be careful what chemicals you use in your home. Do not use harsh cleaning chemicals around your animal.
  • Only use flea medications if needed unless your animal has a flea allergy. Yes these are also pesticides and the jury is still out on how toxic these products are to your animal friend. I feel like it is becoming too common to just put animals on year round flea treatment even when it is not needed. If you do use flea medications use the least toxic ones possible and avoid products with multiple ingredients.
  • Avoid over vaccination. I do believe in vaccination but I believe the current vaccine schedules are more than is needed. There are studies confirming the links between vaccination and certain types of cancer like fibrosarcoma. While the correlation is harder to prove with other cancers there does seem to be association between over vaccination and certain cancers like hemangiosarcoma and leukemia. See To vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question part 1 cats and part 2 dogs.
  • Keep your animal from becoming overweight and make sure they get exercise. Overweight animals are more prone to both cancer and inflammatory disorders such as asthma, inflammatory bowl disease, diabetes and Cushings disease. Exercise helps promote good blood flow and a healthy immune system.
  • Do not smoke around your animal. There are studies that show that second hand smoke significantly increases the risk of cancer in your animal by three times the rate of animals in non-smoking households.
  • Depending on the source of your water consider using a water filtration system. Some water contains toxins, hormones, and heavy metal contamination.
  • If you have an animal at high risk of cancer because of breed or because of factors you can not control consider some extra anti-cancer tools
    1. Add supplements to their diet to help control cancer like Cod Liver Oil, extra vitamin A and D, IP-6, Coenzyme Q10 and/or mushroom supplements like MUSH Medicinal Mushroom Blend or Host Defense MyCommunity
    2. Work with an acupuncturist or holistic vet to do treatments to help correct any imbalances early or to do occasional detox treatments. This can be done with acupuncture, herbs, homeopathics or other therapies.
    3. Get regular check ups to catch cancer early and when it is treatable.

Is there more cancer in our animals then there used to be?

It is hard to tell. I believe a lot of cancer used to not get diagnosed. It was the ain’t doing right dog in the backyard that wasn’t taken to the vet, the cat who just wandered off one day.

We definitely do a lot more diagnosing these days and with it catch more cancer then we used to. However I think our world has also become more toxic, with chemicals and pollutants. Our cats and dogs are down on the grass, sniffing, eating, licking their feet. Our animals are on our couches and beds that have flame retardant chemicals on them, they are eating foods that are becoming more unhealthy, they are being treated with more pesticides then every. So it is hard to say if there is really more cancer or that we are just doing more to diagnose and treat it then ever before.

There is no way to completely avoid the risk of cancer but there are ways to decrease the risk. Many of these suggestions also can help avoid the risk of other chronic diseases and help animals have more energy and vitality as they age.

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

Taking care of ourselves so we can care for our elderly and sick animals

January 4th, 2016

Lately the topic of compassion fatigue has been coming up for me over and over again with my clients. Night time yowling cats, banging dogs, dogs that need check ins every few hours or six meals a day. It’s exhausting! I’ve written so much about animals on this blog, and how to treat them in hospice, and how to care for them well, and how to make them better. But I feel like I need to write more about the wonderful caregivers who care for these loved animals and who don’t always take good care of themselves in the process.

So here goes!

Did you know there’s a difference between a caregiver and a caretaker? I learned this recently. A caregiver is someone who gives care to another person or being with love, because they choose to, and with no resentment. A caretaker is someone who gives care to another without those elements. It doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, that they’re flawed in some way, or that they’re doing anything wrong. In fact we often times swing between caregiver and caretaker. One of the biggest elements in the swing is self-care.

No matter how much we love a person or animal, we will build up resentment if we’re not taking proper care of ourselves. It is not selfish to put ourselves in front of those we are caring for. In fact not only is it not selfish, but it is necessary for us to care well for another being.

One of my counselors once told me about the pitcher and the bowl. If you put a pitcher in the middle of a large glass bowl and you fill the bowl with water, the picture will fall over. If you once again put the pitcher in the middle of the bowl, and fill the pitcher with water first, the pitcher will fill, stay firmly planted, and then will overflow filling the bowl. We are the pitcher and we must fill ourselves before we can get to others. Otherwise we will topple over and not only not be able to take care of ourselves but not be able to take care of anyone else either. We give better care when we take care of ourselves.

This is extremely hard to do in a society that value self-sacrifice and makes self-care out to be a selfish act. It is even harder to do when sometimes we feel it means that our loved ones do not get quite the care that we wish we could give them.

Yesterday I went for healing session for the first time with Virginia Rain down the street. She posed the question to me, what if your body was your pet? How would you treat it then? It’s an interesting question. Even those of us that do quite a bit of self-care, exercise, eating well, sleeping well, we don’t always take proper care of our body. We take it for granted that it’ll be there to support us and we don’t honor it or care for it like we would our beloved companion animals.

So what are the most important elements of self-care so we can be good caregivers to our animals?

Number one is sleep. Without sleep it doesn’t matter how much self-care we do we’re good to be a mess. Our body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Most people I know don’t get this and most people I know taking care of a hospice animal really don’t get this. So what does this mean? It means that sometimes we have to put our animals in a different room and ignore their whining, pacing or yowling so we can sleep. This is one of the most difficult things to do for caregiver. But it’s also the most important. If we cannot do this, then sometimes we have to enlist help from a spouse, a friend, or someone else that can help us have time to sleep.

Another important thing is making sure that we get self-care for our body. Especially with larger dogs that need to be lifted and moved, we need to keep our body in good shape. Throwing your back out when you have a 70-pound dog you need to carry around is not going to be a good plan. And the time to deal with that is in prevention and not waiting until it happens. Body care can include things like getting acupuncture, bodywork or massage, chiropractic adjustments, and making sure that we have time to stretch and exercise. One of the main reasons I started Kingdom of Basil was so my human caregiving clients could get their own healing care in the same building as their animal companions.

Emotional well being is also extremely important. It is so easy to just shove our emotions deep into our body because we don’t want to feel them. Hospice care is hard and a lot of grief comes up around watching our loved ones slowly pass away and struggle. Pushing our emotions down only makes us more ill. It’s important to have an outlet for emotions. This may be a support group, a trusted counselor, an energy healer, or someone else who can help us do release of these emotions.

While this last suggestion may not seem that important, it really is. We need to continue to have a life. Hospice care is so emotionally draining that having some normality is really important. We need to still take time to get together with friends, to go out to eat, to connect with other people. This all will help us be better healers for our animal friends. Often times help is needed with this also. Many cities have people with businesses that can help take care of hospice animals. In West Seattle, two of my clients retired and started to pet care business. They’re able to help out with the midday care, veterinary appointments and have experience taken care special need animals. Look for something like them I’m in your city.

I think one of the most important things to remember about hospice care it is to be gentle to ourselves. No one can do it perfectly. We can’t always be there. I think a good start is to treat ourselves with the same kindness that we treat our animal companions that we care about.

Resources in Seattle

Please excuse any typos – this article was written with dictation software.

On to 2016

December 31st, 2015

You know I’m ready for this year to be done. I’ve always said that being kicked in the behind gives you a chance to look at your life and fix those places you have gone astray but it doesn’t mean it’s not painful when it happens.

I feel like it’s not just me. Most of my healer friends have also had a really hard year.

This year, I’ve lost some of the dogs and cats who had been in my practice for longer than any others, who were my friends. This year I watched the people connected to them grieve, as did I. This year the left side of my body gave out on me. This year my son did not graduate from high school. This year my husband left. So if you are wondering why I haven’t been writing, that kind of sums it up.

In February the left side of my body suddenly stopped working correctly. I couldn’t move my left toes, could barely use my left fingers, and the whole left side of my body would shake uncontrollably. After waiting a month to get in with the neurologist, I was sent for an MRI, STAT possible diagnosis of brain tumor high on the list. I remember lying in the MRI machine making deals with god over not wanting to die at age of 42. After an agonizing wait, I finally got the news that my MRI was normal. And after a sigh of relief, that I wasn’t going to die in the next year, I realize that the things left on the list were also pretty dire, with Parkinson’s being at the top.

But you know something. I learned a long time ago that diagnoses tie you to the condition. And according to a dog named Lou, diagnoses are only as good as the paper they’re printed on. And I knew from my work with dogs who did not understand what diseases they had, that healing was possible even in the face of serious disease when our mind had not yet resigned to being stuck in a certain state. So I made the decision to stop all diagnostics and not let someone put a name to what was going on with me. There’s a lot of power in naming something and I chose to take a path without names. If I thought there was things on the list there were easily treatable I would’ve not taking this path, but those had already been ruled out.

And so began my dive into one of the most intense healing journeys I’ve ever been on. Over the past year, I’ve gathered together one of the most amazing groups of healers, who believe in me and have helped me work through this illness. The left side of my body is still abnormal, it still shakes, I still can’t type. But I have gotten better and my symptoms have changed for the better and they no longer fit Parkinson’s disease. And emotionally I’m starting to heal. I realize the damage that is been done by me shoving emotions into my body for the past 42 years and I’m cleaning house. It’s not pleasant, everything I have ever decided not to feel I am feeling now. Believe me that can be painful. My body and my illness are guiding me on this journey

I now consider my neurologic disease my super power, at least most of the time. Yes there’s times I still get scared, there’s times I still feel alone, there’s times I think why me. But overall, it has enabled me to be more in touch with who I am, it has made me a better healer, and it’s opened up a journey where I will be well someday. I’m learning so much more about healing than I ever knew, and I’m learning that sometimes I have to put myself first, and I’m learning about the power that emotion has to make our body ill and how we can reverse that.

And as much as this year has been incredibly hard, I am so blessed. I have the best job in the world. I have a job I can do even with my left side not functioning right. I am daily blessed by working with some of the kindest people and the best animals in the world. My work helps me heal. Even on the days that I’m ready to give up, I know that there are so many people that support me and care about me. And there’s so many people that I care about also.

But I’m still ready for this year to be over with. So here’s to an incredible 2016, full of healing, love, and new beginnings. Blessings to you all. And an incredible thank you to everyone that has supported me on this journey.

Fireworks and our animal friends – surviving the sky falling down

June 8th, 2015

Soon we will celebrate July 4th. Unfortunately for many of our animal friends this can also be a stressful time because of the loud fireworks that many people set off. For many animals, fireworks can seem like the world is ending and every year animals injury themselves by trying to escape out of houses or by running away and getting lost or hit by cars.

If you have an animal who is afraid of fireworks or a new animal in your household this is a good time to be home with them if at all possible. Here are some things you can do to avoid stress and injury to your furry companion. Not everything works for every animal and many of these suggestions can be used in combination. Some animals get such severe anxiety that they need to be sedated with medication, so if your animal falls under that category this is the time to call your veterinarian. Most of the suggested products below can be purchased at natural pet supply stores or online by clicking on the links.

  1. Put on loud music or turn up the television to cancel out the noise. If your animal is prone to stress I would suggest classical or other calming music.
  2. Use pheromone sprays such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. aka Dog Appeasing Pheromone for dogs to calm them down. The comfort zone products are the same as the vet products that are called just Feliway and DAP but are cheaper and can be bought at pet supply stores.
  3. Spray a natural lavender product around the house. Lavender can be very calming but make sure you use a natural product and not one full of chemicals. Do not spray directly on your animal.
  4. Bach flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy can be very helpful for stressed animals. These are homeopathic in nature and very safe for even the oldest of animals. Put a few drops in their mouth or on the ear and a few drops in all the drinking bowls in the house.
  5. My Kingdom of Basil Calm and Peaceful formula is great for taking the edge off anxiety in dogs. Animals’ Apawthecary’s Tranquility Blend works well for anxiety in both cats and dogs. However check with your veterinarian if your animal is on any medications or has any major health issues before using these.
  6. Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt , or Anxiety Wrap can help your dog if they have problems with anxiety from fireworks. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work.

    It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. Wearing the shirt enhances your dog’s sense of their own body and makes them feel more confident in their movements and behavior. You can use a snug fitting human T-shirt, a Thundershirt , or an anxiety wrap.

  7. If you are home, talk to your animal calmly and rub them gently. If they become agitated try to stay calm. Your stress will only make them more stressed.
  8. Make sure all windows and doors are closed. Do not leave your animal outside.

Have a wonderful 4th and thank you for visiting!

Holistic options for arthritis in our animal friends

May 19th, 2015

It’s sad to see our animal companions no longer be able to do the things they once could do as they age and grow older. All older animals have some amount of arthritis, although some have many more problems with it.

Unfortunately, Western medicine has very few options for treating arthritis and uses mostly drugs, to treat the pain. This is starting to change with some veterinarians doing stem cell and plasma rich platelet injections. However these treatments can still be expensive. Ask your vet about if these treatments are right for your dog. Some animals are not able to tolerate these drugs and many times animals are on three different drugs and it still isn’t enough.

In some animals arthritis manifests as weakness caused by the inflammation pushes on the nerves. Many dogs walk around like their feet are asleep, tripping over things, stumbling and no longer having the strength to jump into the car or onto the bed. Unfortunately because they can no longer walk as far or do as much as they used to, their muscles start to atrophy or waste away, causing a vicious cycle. As the weakness increased, they do less, which causes more atrophy from disuse, leading to more weakness and more atrophy and less activity. In the end many of these animals can no longer get up on their own or even take a short walk.

In other animals arthritis will manifest as pain, which can also prevent movement and cause the weakness/atrophy cycle. Many of these animals will become moody and withdrawn and may even snap and bite at their people out of fear of pain. It is so hard to see our friends have so much pain that they no longer want our affection.

In most animals there is a combination of pain and weakness.

Usually dogs suffer more than cats because they carry more weight and are used to daily activity. Also people often don’t notice that their cats are painful because they spend so much time sitting and sleeping

So what do we do for our friends to help them live out their old years happy and pain free?

  • Acupuncture Being an acupuncturist, I always recommend acupuncture first. Of course, this is also because I have seen how well it works in the animals I treat. I often find that if I can work with animals when they first have problems, they do so well, I only need to treat them every one to three months. Unfortunately most of the animals I see have had problems for a while and their people only learned about acupuncture when they had tried everything that western medicine had to offer. In these animals, acupuncture can still work and work well but usually treatments need to be closer together.

    It is so nice to see these animals happy and able to enjoy life again!

  • Hydrotherapy is a great option especially in dogs who have muscle atrophy. Unfortunately it cannot be done with cats, although Sheila Wells at Wellspings has told me they have worked with rabbits before. Hydrotherapy is done in a small swimming pool and involves massage and physical therapy in the water. I have seen excellent results with hydrotherapy especially combined with acupuncture. Hydrotherapy helps to rebuild muscles, increase range of motion and work out sore and sensitive areas of the body without the impact on the body of exercise on land. My favorite pool is Wellsprings in Seattle Washington. They have a great website with lots of information and photos that I love to refer people to. Click on the link to check it out!
  • herbs5

  • Herbs
    I have worked with Chinese herbs with many of these arthritic dogs and some cats. The combination of acupuncture and herbs usually helps with pain and movement and helps animals maintain between treatments. I rarely use Chinese herbs in cats because they are very sensitive to them and it is hard to medicate cats. I sell an senior dog herbal formula called Senior Dog Support, through my etsy shop, that helps with arthritis pain and improves blood circulation into the joints. Your holistic veterinarian may have something else they recommend.
  • Fish oil/ Omega oils
    The Omega 3 Fatty Acids in fish and cod liver oil actually helps decrease arthritic inflammation in dogs (not true for cats although it helps with other things). Adding a little fish oil to the diet can help many animals.My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals – Pet Cod Liver Oil . Nordic Naturals is one of the best brands for quality and they test for heavy metals and contaminants.
  • Glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin
    These supplements help to decrease inflammation and rebuild damaged cartilage. They are often sold in combination. The nice thing about these supplements is that they have few side effects and are very safe. Some animals have a wonderful response to them and some have almost no response. It usually takes a month to six weeks to see if your animal will have a positive response. Adequan, similar to glucosamine is also available in an injectable form and works better in some animals. It is also a lot easier to give to cats who are hard to medicate daily. After the initial series of injections it usually only needs to be given once a month. Adequan can only be purchased through your veterinarian. My favorite glucosamine product is Sea Mobility Beef Joint Rescue jerk treats, they work well and are very tasty. There are other good ones out there.
  • Infra-red light therapy – Infrared light helps ease the pain of arthritis in joints and increase blood circulation to the area. It is very cheap to do and can be done at home. See my article Infrared Light Therapy for kidney failure, incontinence and arthritis.
  • Chiropractics
    Many animals have subluxations of their spine especially as they age. A good chiropractor can often help with mobility and pain. I have found that chiropractic adjustments work best in animals with a very tight back and more pain then weakness. For my own cat, chiropractic adjustments have worked better than anything else we have tried and have made his life much better. Make sure you find a chiropractor who is used to working with animals and knows animal anatomy.
  • Massage/Acupressure
    Massage can help to loosen tight muscles and increase blood circulation. It also can help with pain.We know it works for us, why not for our animal friends. Once again make sure you find a massage practitioner who is certified to work with animals. I have two amazing massage therapists I work with in Seattle, Kim Rogers and Jen Streit. Kim also does humans!

    Acupressure works with the acupuncture points and helps decrease pain and relax muscles.

    There are many great books on acupressure and massage for animals. Here are a few
    The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure
    Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure
    The Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program for Dogs, Revised Edition
    The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats, Revised Edition
    Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

  • Reiki/Bowen/Polarity/Craniosacral and other energy therapies These therapies help stimulate the body to heal and can decrease pain and improve quality of life. Since there is little regulation of these therapies it is important to get a referral before seeing someone. This is especially true of Reiki since there are so many people who practice it. A good practitioner can make a huge difference in an animal’s quality of life.

It is better to do one thing and stick with it than to jump around between therapies. Often times animals will began with me doing acupuncture and herbs and then we will add in other therapies as needed. If I can’t help an animal with acupuncture I will refer them to another practitioner to try something else. Don’t make too many changes all at once in an old animal’s life. Go slowly instead.

Treating severe skin disease herbally

January 25th, 2015

Here is the article that everyone has asked for and I have been hesitant to write. How to treat that nasty, oozy, itchy skin with herbal treatments. If you haven’t read Itchy Dogs – the Link Between Inflammation and Diet please start with it first. Consider this article part two.

Why have I resisted writing this article?
Mostly because skin is one of the most frustrating things to treat. The reason for that is it often takes a long time to see improvement. There can be a lot of ups and downs along the way. It involves switching formulas as you go along, using multiple formulas together and understanding your dog’s (or cat’s) disease.

I rarely see mild skin disease in my practice. Usually by the time dogs come my way they have been on multiple drugs, diets and supplements. They are often hairless or with large areas of baldness and redness. And their human caregivers are often in tears. Skin disease that is resistant to treatment can be more heartbreaking than cancer. These dogs scratch until they bleed, they are often in e collars or jackets, they itch all the time, they don’t sleep at night and everyone is miserable. Ok they aren’t all quite so bad but many are.

Even with everything I do I feel like I can only get about 60% of these dogs to a good place. But remember that about 90% of dogs I see have already tried everything so in reality 60% isn’t bad. It usually takes time, 6-18 months to get good improvement and most importantly it takes people who are willing to be patient.

  1. Where to start – Diet! So before anything else – Dogs with severe skin inflammation and itching need to be on a 100% raw diet unless they absolutely can not tolerate it and then they should be on cooked whole foods diet. The diet should be 100% grain free and very low in starch – so no potatoes. If you haven’t read part one Itchy Dogs – the Link Between Inflammation and Diet, go and read it now! I have cleared some dogs up with just a shift to 100% raw food.
  2. Keep any medications that are helping on board as you work with herbs. I want to see how the dog is doing and if I pull away medications too fast I may not be able to tell what the herbs I am adding are doing compared to what the drugs are or are not doing. These dogs are uncomfortable and it takes time for herbs to work. I want them to stay comfortable as we work at the root of the disease.
  3. I almost always put these dogs on a liquid alcohol nettles tincture at a dosage of 0.2ml per 5lb of body weight 3-4 times a day. This reduces the itch and also starts the process of desensitizing your dog to any environmental allergies they may have. If you buy this commercially it can be quite expensive. I make it in large batches for my clients or have them learn to make it themselves at home. To make nettles tincture fill a mason jar with 1/3 dried nettles (I use Mountain Rose Herbs). Fill to the top with Vodka. Shake lightly daily for 3-4 weeks. Drain and make sure to squeeze the nettles leaves to get the liquid out.
  4. Chinese herbals – Almost all my dogs go on one or two of these formulas. We are often jumping back and forth between them, adjusting dosages and making small changes. Because of this it is best to have a holistic vet to help you. Often the first changes are improvements in skin quality, reduction of lesions and improvement in pulse/tongue. The itch is the last part to go and can take 6-12 months to improve significantly. Part of why I start nettles is that it can have a more immediate effect on itch. Below are the most common formulas I use.
    • Qing Ying Tang – When I get a dog in with severe itching and they are scratching constantly, if they are bald and there skin is hot and/or red, I immediately put them on a formula called Qing Ying Tang. This formula helps with blood flow to the skin, has antibiotic properties and reduces inflammation and “cools the blood.” If you are into pulse diagnosis these dogs often have a superficial fast “hot” pulse. They may actually have cold feet even with their body radiating heat. They have so much inflammation in their skin that the blood flow has been impaired. The first step is to get back the blood flow to clear out any infection and inflammation. It is not uncommon for them to get worse for a few days when you start this formula and then they get better.
    • Si Miao San – this is one of the workhorses of Chinese medicine, and though milder than prednisone, often something we will reach for as we pull dogs off of prednisone. This is a great anti-inflammatory formula and works well for yeast. It is really good for itchy skin mostly on the belly, arm and leg pits and in skin folds. If most of the inflammation is centered in these areas I start with this formula. In the dogs I start on QYT I often find in 2-3 weeks they will improve and than get worse again, with the inflammation now being worse in the pits and on the belly. When this happens I add in SMS but keep the QYT also. Over time I teach the dog’s people to work with balancing these two formulas. If the pits and belly get more itchy –more SMS and less QYT. If the back and sides are the focus of the itch then more QYT and less SMS. This formula can also improve dogs with chronic yeast infections in their ears. Si Miao San is also a formula I use quite often for dogs prone to diarrhea and smelly gas so if you are unsure if you should start with QYT or SMS and your dog is very gassy, SMS might be the way to go
    • Xiao Feng San – this is a formula I use often for mild itch and in dogs with more severe itch that have skin that still looks healthy. These dogs will often act like they are biting at bugs and the place of itch will rapidly shift. This formula can be used short time for mild periods of environment allergies and more long time for dogs with chronic itch. Make sure you check for fleas if your dog is acting this way. This formula is a milder mix between helping with inflammation and improving blood flow.
    • Si Wu Xiao Feng Yin – this is a formula that I don’t use that often but sometimes it is very appropriate. I use it mainly for dogs with itchy skin that is dry and flaky where the itch is along the back and on the sides of the body. This formula helps with blood flow to the skin but is not as cooling as Qing Ying Tang. These dogs also do well on a fish oil supplement. This is also a formula I sometimes switch dogs on QYT to as they are doing better when the itch is mainly on the sides and back.
  5. I have long held off on writing this article because I think it is so important to work with a holistic vet on this issue. You really need someone to direct you. This is a hard issue and I find we are often going back and forth between formulas. I sometimes adjust formulas to better suit a dog or use formulas not in this list. I hope this can still be of help for those of you out there without vet access and also to vets who want to work with Chinese medicine and help their clients.
  6. Remember this takes time! Many of these dogs have had skin disease for years. It can take a year or more to get them back in balance.

Happy, healthy skin travels!

Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs – holistic approaches to slow progression

January 22nd, 2015

Degenerative myelopathy is a grave diagnosis. There is still so little we know about this disease and there is no known cure or even a treatment that can control symptoms long term.

I’m not going to dive too deeply into DM but just briefly cover the condition. DM is a degenerative nerve disorder of dogs. We most often compare it to ALS in humans and though it is a similar disease in presentation there are many differences. (In DM unlike ALS it is the axons of nerves that are effected and there is no glutamate build up). DM causes a progressive lose of nervous function starting in the hind legs and progressing to the front of the body. It can look very similar to a disc compression issue when it starts. We know there is a genetic mutation that has a large role in DM and this mutation can be tested for by your veterinarian. Not all dogs with the mutation will get DM. However in a dog with progressive hind limb weakness where disc disease has been ruled out, a positive mutation test is usually considered diagnostic. There is some thought that early and repetitive trauma to the spinal code in the thoracic spine is a precursor to this disease for dogs with the genetic mutation.

We cannot reverse or even stop the progression of this disease but there are things that can be done to slow it down. Even with slowing things down, it is hard to get more than a year of time after diagnosis and often times it is less.

Dr. Clemmons has developed a protocol that many folks follow. Unfortunately most people only use part of his protocol, the supplements he recommends. This protocol is actually three fold and for the best results all parts of his protocol should be followed. I’ve also added in some herbals that seem to help slow down progression used by Dr. Steve Mardsen.

  1. Diet – these dogs should be on an unprocessed diet high in antioxidants. Whole foods are going to be the best – either a cooked stew, raw diet or homemade diet. Ideally high in multicolored vegetables and some fruits, low in grains and with good quality meat or fish. (Fish must always be cooked)
  2. Physical exercise and body work/manipulation – this ideally would include swimming or hydrotherapy to keep the muscles strong, massage to improve muscle function, acupuncture to help with blood flow, and chiropractic adjustment to help keep the spinal system in alignment. Although all parts of this protocol are important the very most important is physical exercise every day if possible.
  3. Herbs and supplements – these would include antioxidants to help prevent cell damage. Here are Dr. Clemmon’s recommendations. I also recommend an herbal containing Chai Hu, Milk Thistle and Curcumin. I use a modification of Xiao Chai Hu Tang with added Milk Thistle and Curcumin. One of my favorite veterinary herbalists, Dr. Mardsen, has done some of his own work with this disease and found that Chai Hu or bupleurum has much added benefit in that it stops inflammation in the spinal cord and reduces one of the main players in the disease, superoxide dismutase. Curcumin and milk thistle have long been used with DM to reduce gliosis and cytokine production in the spinal code leading reduction of inflammation.

I hope that sometime in the future we will understand more about this disease and will have a cure or better treatments. It is so hard to see those we love struggle.

More reading on Dr. Clemmon’s protocol and DM

Welcome to 2015!

January 1st, 2015

izzy1While I have had some amazing changes in 2014, including opening Kingdom of Basil our holistic clinic for people and their animals, I am happy to move onto a new year. Here’s a list of goals I would like to accomplish in the new year

  • Move Kingdom of Basil into its full potential Truthfully this year we did a lot to just get it off the ground. In the new year I would like to see our wonderful clinic become full of many practitioners with thriving businesses and hopefully get the store up and running. We are on our way with two news practitioners starting in February. Joleen Black, EAMP will be working with people with acupuncture and herbs and Erika Nelson, DMV, CVA will join use doing acupuncture and herbal medicine for animals. In addition Jen Streit, SAMP will join use helping with the herbal business.
  • Get the book out! I had no idea how easy it is to get bogged down with editing. The integrative care animal cancer book will remain forever available online but I would like to get it out on ebook and paper form.
  • Blog more I have to admit it has been hard to find time to write lately with getting the clinic up and running but I love to share knowledge and I hope to have time in the new year to do more of that.
  • Make more herbal products – I love making salves and new formulas and playing with my herbs. I want to make more fun products to share with you and your animal companions!
  • Get into my other writing again Did you know I have a novel I’m writing, a children’s book I want to publish someday? I really want to find time this year to get back into my creative writing. I recently was invited to join a writing group and I hope that will help motivate me and inspire me to pick up this writing again
  • wart

  • Grow, share, reach the world I am so inspired by being able to reach people all over the world. I want to continue to see more and more people and their animals benefit from what I can share.
  • Keep things open I truly believe that you can make a living off of sharing information and not having a “sticker price” for knowledge. See A World of Sharing and Trust – Why Everything on Path With Paws is Free and Sharable. I want to continue to prove this. Please share everything I post with friends, relatives, co-workers, your vet, your animals!
  • Here’s to a wonderful 2015!

    Support for dogs with papilloma wart outbreaks

    October 17th, 2014

    wartHere’s a neat little formula for supporting young dogs with papilloma virus outbreaks.

    If you don’t know, papilloma virus in dogs can cause warts. Young dogs can easily pass on the virus to other young dogs. Sometimes there is just a wart or two that forms in the mouth or on the face and other times you can have dogs with many, many warts. With time they will go away but I have found this formula really speeds up the time to resolution, often times with warts starting to fall off within a week of starting it.

    It is a simple formula of four herbs

    • Echinacea purpurea which is a strong antiviral and immune stimulant
    • St. John’s Wort helps with its antiviral effects
    • Cat’s Claw also often used for pain and inflammation also is a strong immune stimulant
    • and finally

    • Licorice root helps to balance this formula and helps the body to integrate and use it. It is also though to have more direct immune stimulant actions.

    This formula is usually well tolerated by dogs. I love making it because of the wonderful textures and colors of the four herbs. It is now available as Wart Immune Support in my Kingdom of Basil store.

    Change your perception

    September 17th, 2014

    My perception of the world has been blown. This weekend I had the honor of being able to attend a day of lectures by Jeffrey Yuan on essential oils. And I’m pretty sure I walked away a new person. If someone could have reached into my soul and opened up the reality of the world in a room buzzing with florescent lights I would have told you that was crazy. But that was exactly what happened. It seemed that we were all touched deeply, Jeffrey had a message for all of all not just on how we practice, but on who we truly are.

    I thought I was treating the root of disease in my patients. I thought I was reaching for the root of my own problems. But I learned that there is a level far deeper than the root. In the end it is our perception of the world that changes us and cures us, not the root, not even the emotions that lie there.

    This was a lecture about oils but it also applies to herbs, and acupuncture and psychotherapy. It was a lecture about our core beliefs of the world. With your intention, you apply oils and change the animal’s perception of the world, with that you change the owner’s perception of the world. Through our animals we heal, through us they grow. Chronic disease occurs when our view of the world is rigid. To make it move again we need to change the way we look at it. Not just processing emotions, not just healing emotional wounds, we need to open our hearts and take another view, not be bound by our beliefs or what we have been told or what we have been taught. When we perceive the world as not getting better our consciousness is stuck, we are rigid and disease occurs.

    Through plants we can begin this work. Pu Gong Ying or dandelion “makes our grandfather more outstanding” or brings out our ancestral qualities. Did you know that other plants grow better around dandelions because dandelion provides nutrients to the soil? Just like a kind and gentle grandfather. Roots help to strengthen us and ground us and help us see where we belong. Seeds help us start a new beginning. Flowers change the way we view life and especially high altitude flowers and plants help us endure and start a new direction. They know what it is like to live in a place of low oxygen and can help us move into a place of love when there has not been enough love in our lives. Barks, which support a tree, help us when we are rigid and diseased in our bones and our support; they help us break out of chronic disease patterns there. Our inability to let go of pain settles into our joints.

    I am so excited to get back in my pharmacy. What herbs will call out to help? What will I discover in the formulas I make? What new points will call out to me when doing acupuncture? What will facing the world from a different direction bring?