No, not Detroit, we are talking about VITAMIN D! Ever wondered why your dogs nose changes color in the colder months? Or maybe you hadn’t even noticed this happening…not every animal will experience a fading in his or her nose color but it is not uncommon. Just the other day I was looking at my own pups nose and it had gone from pitch black to a soft pink color. After talking with my veterinarian, he explained how this is a common thing that medium to larger sized dogs experience with the drop in temperature. Due to the grayness of northern winters, the lack of light can also alter the pigment found only in the nose. Diagnosed as “winter nose”, there’s really nothing to worry about. Research has shown that adding some good quality vitamin D to your pet’s diet can help maintain that pigment and regain some of the original color. In addition to the coloration change, many animals tend to get a bit more lethargic in the winter, similar to people who are lacking in vitamin D. If you are unable to get any change with altering diet, don’t fret, winter only lasts a few months and before you know it as the snow begins to melt the noses begin to darken!
Normally I like to write about things that don’t necessarily directly pertain to chiropractic. However, this post will be a bit different. Lately I’ve had multiple patients come to me struggling with incontinence issues. These are animals of all types, ages, and environments. Some have had problems for years, others have had them for only a few months. Regardless of how unique each case may seem, they were all told nothing could be done for their pets and they should look into options such as surgery, drugs, diapers, or euthanasia.
That’s a pretty heavy set of possibilities for pet owners. Fortunately, several of these people decided to take matters into their own hands and research other possible therapies. There are several alternative options for incontinence, but I will focus on chiropractic today.
Incontinence in animals, the nervous system’s role
The nervous system controls every system in the body and is composed of two main parts. The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord and acts like a control center. Extending from the spinal cord are the nerves that comprise the peripheral nervous system. The role of the brain and spinal cord is to receive input from the body and make decisions on what to do. Think of it like the thermostat in your house. When the temperature rises above its setting, the AC kicks in to cool things. The central nervous system is like the thermostat.
The brain and spinal cord need information to be effective. That is where the peripheral nervous system comes into play. Nerves extend from the spinal cord to every system in the body. These nerves act like highways transmitting information from the organs of the body to the central system for processing. After the information is processed, directions are sent back via the nerve highways to the body.
Does the nervous system control the bladder? It certainly plays a large role.
How can chiropractic care help?
Chiropractors are trained to assess an animal’s body for biomechanical abnormalities called structural shifts of the spine. When areas of the spine aren’t moving well, it leads to inflammation and tension on local nerves. These nerves are responsible for transmitting information to and from the control centers in the spinal cord and brain. By correcting structural shifts of the spine, we reduce local inflammation and tension on the nerve highway in the body.
The bladder and bowel are regulated by a number of different factors including the nervous system. There are several nerves that direct the bowel and bladder to constrict and/or relax. If these nerves are interfered with then we may see problems with the system it controls. This is what happens with urinary incontinence related to dysfunction of the spine. As a matter of fact, there is a research paper published on chiropractic and its potential role in urinary incontinence that focuses on these mechanisms.
What causes structural dysfunction of the spine?
Sometimes a trauma as simple as an animal taking a tumble onto their hind end is the culprit. Other times it comes from years and years of repetitive tasks aggravating the areas of the spine associated with bladder function. Regardless of how it starts, there is hope for any animal suffering from incontinence. If a structural abnormality is present then it can be corrected. Once corrected over a few visits we can evaluate the pet and see if there’s any improvement. One of the nice things about animal chiropractic is that typically animals respond within 3 visits if they are going to, so there’s no need for a lengthy treatment plan.
If your pet suffers from urinary incontinence and nothing else helps, it’s certainly worth trying animal chiropractic care. When searching for an animal chiropractor it’s best to search for someone board certified with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association. If a practitioner has this certification you can trust that they’ve been through a rigorous program and are trained appropriately to work with your pet.
A common problem I’ve come across as of late seems to be fussy cats. Cats that have been around for at least a decade, eating the same food for their entire lives, all of a sudden want nothing to do with their regimen and simply demand something different. Now one might think that a cat eating the same thing for ten years is just cruel, but you would be quite wrong. Cats are creatures of habit, when they find something they like, they stick with it. It isn’t uncommon that a few times throughout their lives you’ll find their palates have suddenly changed, just be prepared and be ready to try several different options before finding one that pleases your furry friend.
For starters, you need to find a place that offers samples of a variety of foods so that way your baby has options. Second you need to make sure the food you are giving them is filled with a lot of protein from meat, cats are carnivores afterall and need to be treated as such. Putting a cat on a high carbohydrate, low meat diet is a BAD plan.
Feeling adventurous and wanting to cook for your cat? You are a brave soul. On top of that you need to do extensive research as to what can go in your kitties food. For example don’t try and add flavor with garlic and onion, as those are highly toxic to cats. Wanting to up the fruit intake? Avoid all things grape.
The best thing you can do is go to your local pet shop and talk with a consultant. Options are endless for your whiskered love and these people are here to help. With brands like Stella and Chewy (a freeze dried raw food) to others called Fussy Kitty (how appropriate), you are bound to find something to please that palate. And when all the researching and sampling pays off and you’ve found the golden giblet, be prepared to feed that for another several years and pray they don’t go out of business!
One of my favorite topics as of late is essential oils. Now I know what you may be thinking, it’s a bit farfetched to expect an oil to do anything outside of cooking and being well, oily, and you couldn’t be more wrong. Essential oils deserve a category for themselves when it comes to alternative medicine, and they are quickly carving that spot out. If we go back to the roots of modern medicine, we’ll find that it all started with Hippocrates and his theory that disease came from our environment, not from superstition or displeased gods. The first medicines came from plants, herbs, and spices. Why are we then surprised when essential oils, basically the life blood of plants, have such healing properties?
The best part about the oils is that they are 100% natural, no additives, no toxins, nothing. They come from what makes these plants survive, the life blood, and with that comes great healing properties. The premise behind oils has to do with the frequency of the body, frequency of the oils, and creating an environment where the immune system functions at a high enough frequency to prevent sickness and/or to heal disease faster. For more information and details on oils, I always consult Jill Tack of the Pet Beastro as she is my residential expert naturopath. I will continue to post about various oils that can help your animal heal and function at an optimum.
This issue I’d like to focus on lavender. Now I know you’ve heard of the plant lavender, the color lavender, the smell lavender, but perhaps you hadn’t heard of lavender oil. Lavender in particular has amazing properties that works well for calming and healing. Does your animal have aggression issues? Anxiety? Lavender should be your go to. What about open wounds? Any bites or scratches? Allergies or skin issues? Lavender can help with that too. How about dandruff? Sleeping issues? Lavender is your man!
At this point I think I’ve made it crystal clear how much lavender essential oil can do for you and your animal, all that’s left is for you to try it and see the difference it makes all on your own. No need to take my word for it, look at the research and be impressed all on your own. The only thing I caution is purchased an essential oil that is not of the highest quality. I recommend Be Young Essential Oils, they can be purchased through a representative or at certain natural shops. For questions regarding essential oils and or where to find them, don’t hesitate to contact me!
During these winter months we do everything in our power to avoid slip and falls on the ice. We get up early to plow the driveway (whether by shovel or blower) so we can go about our day. Sometimes if it’s sunny enough we get lucky and that snow starts to melt, problems happen when the sun goes down and that water freezes over again. Time to bust out the salt, problem solved…or is it problem created? At least for your pet that’s the case.
Most melting salts contain chemicals and substances harmful to your pooch’s paws. Have you ever gotten back from a walk and noticed your dog profusely licking at his paw pads? Digging and biting at them even? And when you go to check them out they seem bright red and raw! Their paws are not safe in the winter, and the best way to prevent aggravation is to wash their feet the minute you get home. Another great way to prevent hurt paws is by utilizing puppy booties. I know, I know, it may seem silly but they protect against both frostbite and salt aggravation.
In addition to being harmful to the actual feet of your pup, the salt can do even more damage if ingested in certain amounts. Those exact amounts vary based on your animals size. Regardless it is best to keep your animal from eating large amounts of snow and ice where salt is being use or could have drained. To be pet-friendly this winter, look into using salts that don’t contain harmful chemicals such as calcium chloride and sodium chloride. There are a few products currently available, just be sure to read the label before you buy!
Being in the Michigan area we all know how cold it can get during the winter, so we bundle up. Did you ever think how important it is to bundle up your animal too? All those coats, sweaters, and boots aren’t just to be fashionable, they actually serve a serious purpose! Animals can experience frostbite just as people do, except we may not be as aware of their suffering. The most affected areas are those first to lose bloodflow, such as the ears, nose, genitals, and toes. Leaving your pet outside for an extended period of time can predispose them to frostbite.
What’s The Mechanism Behind Frostbite?
It’s quite simple actually. When the body gets cold, blood vessels constrict in order to conserve heat and keep the organs warm. The ears, nose, and toes are furthest away from these important organs so they are the first to lose blood flow in an effort to protect the body. In doing so the tissues in these areas will quickly start to lose nutrition (carried by blood vessels and stored in the blood). If an area of the body becomes the same temperature as it’s surroundings, after several hours it can die completely.
How Do We Prevent It?
The best way to prevent frostbite is to keep your animal warm and inside. When letting the animal out, do so for limited amounts of time. Never let your animal outside when he/she is wet as this can expedite the frostbite process.
If My Animal Gets Frostbite, What Do I Do?
The first thing you should do is call your veterinarian. They will give you instructions on how to handle everything. From what I’ve seen, the best thing you can do is warm the area back up slowly and keep it warm using warm water, never hot. Using any indirect heat is a BAD idea. Always dry the area thoroughly and keep the animal warm when transporting to the vet.
What’s The Ultimate Lesson Here?
Frostbite is COMPLETELY preventable! Be vigilant of your animal and keep them nice and warm and crisis can be averted.
One thing I’ve learned this winter is that our own pets get colds and flus no different than their owners. I know this because my poor little man, Mowgli, came home from a weekend at the kennel with a productive cough, stuffy nose, fever, and bloodshot eyes. Of course I was incredibly worried, and after some research my nerves were calmed down. Poor little guy was fighting the common cold, only for our fur babies these common colds can last a significant amount of time. Naturally I consulted some veterinarian friends and they confirmed that this is not uncommon after spending a night at a boarding facility. I was most concerned with whether or not this was to be expected EVERY time I’d take him overnight, or if this was something other animals could catch from my little guy. Turns out both answers are a yes.
In order to help prevent future problems, I spoke with my number one naturopath who advised some essential oils to be used prior to any visit to a kennel. These specific oils help guard the body and increase the immune system. In addition my pup gets adjusted before and after his visit, not only for his immune system health, but for his musculoskeletal system help. Those pups can be rough out there and it’s best to get him checked afterwards to avoid any long-standing issues.
The best ways to prevent the cold this season in your pet is to be very conscious of their activities, monitor their eating habits, and playtime. If they seem rundown it’s always in their best interest to increase vitamin C intake as well as colloidal silver. Any citrus essential oil is a nice way to boost the immune system, and of course getting adjusted helps to ensure the nervous system is functioning at an optimum, thus allowing the immune system to work at its full potential. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian and keep in mind there are alternative ways to help your pet be healthy!
Curious to know a bit more about chiropractic? Watch the attached video and see if it answers some questions!
Living in Michigan, we get much of what we Michiganders call seasons, though lately it’s been mainly a cool summer and an even cooler winter. Needless to say with the weather changes we experience, I’ve had a lot of inquiries as to whether or not this can affect our animals. The answer, undoubtedly, is yes. Not only is the temperature dropping and rising without warning, the pressure in the atmosphere is also changing. These rapid changes in pressure and temp. are difficult on our own bodies, and naturally take a toll on our animals as well.
With people, drop in atmospheric pressure also causes our blood pressure to drop. So why not with animals as well? Does it seem that your pup or kitten is just a little more sluggish when the cold starts to come on? Perhaps they don’t mind foregoing that afternoon walk for a nap in front of the fire instead. Well it isn’t that they are lazy necessarily, rather they get exhausted more quickly from less activity. The colder the weather, the more energy it takes to heat the body, regardless of how furry your four-legged one may be, the amount of energy necessary to keep them going increases!
What else can this drop in temperature cause? Joint pain! Some studies have found that colder climates can increase the viscosity (or thickness) in fluids throughout the body. Increased thickness of fluids means less lubrication for your joints, leading to increased joint pain. People experience joint pain in the colder weather and often times before a storm, one would think our animals can experience the exact same thing, and one would be correct!
With December having arrived, do what you can to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible. Make sure they are getting examined annually and monitor them throughout the winter months. One of the best ways to improve and maintain joint health is through chiropractic care. Get those furry family members adjusted and keep them happy throughout the holiday season!
Something I’ve been quite intrigued with lately is the increasing number of ear aches and ear infections happening in the small domestic animals. In 25 years of having animals I cannot think of a single time where one of my little ones had an ear problem. Then again, growing up I’m not sure I would’ve known what to look for to know something was going on with my pet’s ears. After doing a little research, it’s fairly simple to tell when something isn’t quite right in the ear of an animal.
Common Signs Include:
Excessive ear scratching, colored discharge from the ear, loss of balance, dizziness, running into things, difficulty hearing, redness, swelling, etc.
As always when these are present it is important to see a veterinarian and decide a method of treatment. There are multiple options that include medication and holistic approaches. Some treat with oils, others with packing the ears, others with specific drugs, and then some just let the infection run its course. Regardless of what you choose it’s important to monitor the animal’s progress.
In humans, research has shown that chiropractic has a high success rate in helping to prevent and alleviate ear infections, especially in infants. Being aware of this I decided to compare the anatomy of these small animals to that of an infant. It appears that the anatomy is quite similar, with only a few minor exceptions regarding size and length of the canal itself. With that in mind, it would stand to reason that dogs and cats under chiropractic care could benefit from adjustments, especially while experiencing an ear infection.
My goal of course is to keep the animal as happy and healthy as possible so these ear infections can be avoided altogether. Unfortunately some of our pups are more prone to infection due to outer structure of the ear and activity level (lots of swimming…). The main point is to recognize that chiropractic is just one more option when it comes to alternative therapies for your animal experiencing an ear infection or those that tend to get them more often than not!