Sunday, March 3, 2013

Love handles on cats and dogs

The news can be as devastating then knowing your pet has a deadly disease: your veterinarian diagnosed your dog has being obese or overweight. If as a New Year resolution you would like your lovely chubby dog or kitty to lose weight, here is some help. Don’t worry; I know every family member has the best intentions. I like to call surplus adipose tissue: extra TLC (tender loving care). However, it been proven by research in dogs that extra TLC can decrease longevity and quality of life. Here are some important components of a successful weight loss program:

Sabrina recovering from a possible stroke which made her gain weight due to inactivity.

1-Essential stop: have a consultation with your primary care veterinarian for a weight in and evaluation of how much your critter needs to loose. Extra pounds (or ounces) keep the body in a perpetual state of inflammation.
2-Make sure all medical issues are under control or taken care of before embarking on a weight lost regiment: pain/hormonal/other medical issues. Some medical issues can make weight loss more challenging. In some cases, some medications can help hasten the weight loss; however it does not replace proper diet counseling.
3- Your primary care veterinarian will let you know the amount of weight loss we should see in average (some dogs may require shorter or longer time). Every case needs to be treated individually; there is no one size fits all. Hang in there; it might take 6 to 12 months, or more.
4-Maintain meal plans. See with your primary care veterinarian which diets are appropriate.

5-Keep a log of what is your pet is eating daily: amount/type, etc. Count every little crumble. Any treats needs to be properly evaluated for calorie content and added to the food log. Your veterinarian will let you know how many treats are appropriate. Also make sure everybody in the house knows about the weight loss plan and sticks to it.
6-Create workout logs: whatever you do, underwater treadmill/walk/jog/agility, etc. Make sure your veterinarian lets you know which activities are appropriate for your pet.
7-Monitor your pet sleep schedule and anxiety level (people leaving the house, holiday) for a healthier lifestyle.
8- Keep track of measurements: weight, chest/abdomen measurements, activity level with GPS devices, dog/kitty pedometer.
9-Capture inspiration and ideas from the web: losing weight can be daunting, do not give up and find inspiration of other successful pet owners.
10-Share your results with your friends through social media, video calls, etc.
11-Challenge your friends to get their pet to lose weight. Then show off at the beach or dog park.
Don’t forget, professional help is available to help achieve your pet’s goals. Remember to keep it fun for you and your pet. Paws on the Go is striving to get your pet on the go! I can help with a full program to help your pet achieve lean weight in the happiest way possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cat life stages

Do you know the life stages of a kitty? New guidelines formed by the AAHA and AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) present the following:

-          Kitten:  birth to 6 months old

-          Junior: 7 months to 2 years old

-          Prime: 7 months to 6 years old

-          Mature: 7 to 10 years old

-          Senior: 11 to 14 years old

-          Geriatric: 15 years +

This makes a 21 year old kitty the equivalent of a 100 year old human.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Is your dog and/or cat taking fish oils?

In the last few decades we are hearing about the benefits of supplementing fish oils. However questions arising are: where are the evidence, for which conditions would you use them, how much should you give, could they be harmful and which ones? Fish oils have been used for treating “rheumatism” back in 1783 in humans. The long chains PFUA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are the most known omega-3 for their health benefits. They are needed for the maintenance of several organs, cognitive function; they also have a role in inflammation and immune response.
In dogs, some evidence exists for supplementing in heart/skin/kidney/inflammatory and auto-immune joint disease, and in hyperlipidemia (not high blood cholesterol). Additional areas being researched right now for the use of omega-3 in dogs are: cognitive function disorders, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and cancer.

In dogs, the NRC (National Research Council) recommended allowance dose of omega-3 has been set, as well as a safe upper dose limit (over 10 times the recommended allowance). From the research done, doses for different disease process have been calculated, and are in excess of the recommended NRC daily dose. Actually, most people would be surprised at how large the doses are. The maximum safe dose of omega-3 has not been established in cats, and large doses in kitties need to be supervised by your veterinarian. In cats, you need to weight the risk of immunosuppression vs the benefit of the anti-inflammatory effect.

If you wish to add fish oils to a diet already containing omega-3, it is important to bring the ingredient list with the guaranteed analysis to your veterinarian. Some diets do not include the amount of omega-3, and you might need to contact the manufacturer to get the information. When diets have some omega-3 included, it is important to calculate how much your pet is already receiving, so we can figure how much omega-3 need to be supplemented to the existing diet. Of great importance too is the exact amounts of all the different omega-3 parts, since in fish oils, these are present: EPA, DHA, ALA and other probably minor omega-3. ALA (α-Linoleic Acid) also comes from flax, corn, canola and soybean oil. However, the amount of conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is usually very low, with flax seed having the best conversion. It can take 2.3 times more flax seed oil to have the same effect than fish oil.

Too much might be detrimental; they also add calories and fat to digest. I always recommended to start with a low dose as some dogs and cats cannot tolerate fish oils.

This is only a small window into fish oil supplementation in dogs and cats. They are a great adjunct in certain disease process; however they are not for all dogs and cats. Consult your veterinarian to know which dose is best suited for your dog or cat’s condition.

“Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals”, JAVMA, Vol 239, No.11, December 1, 2011, p.1441-1451

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy holidays and happy new year!

What a busy year!

8 classes (animal chiropractic over 12 days, massage class, advanced acupuncture training, spinal manipulation, pain management , orthotics and prosthesis), one examination for the veterinary pain practitioner certificate (14 books, 5 articles),  2 major conferences, couple of online classes.  Did I mention the dog fitness class I gave too? Add to this the once monthly Southern California Veterinary Medical Association chapter meeting where I am the secretary. And of course I had to work! I think I have earned my week's vacation around Christmas.

I met a ton of new patients this year and the physical rehabilitation aspect of the practice is growing rapidly. The knowledge gained by getting my CVPP (Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner) has helped me  get several patients even more comfortable.  Doing housecalls is such a nice way to treat dogs and cats and I enjoy every minute of it; yes, I love my job! With the knowledge I have accumulated over the last 6 years, I have even more tools in my box to help mobility issues in pets.

What will next year look like? Write my 2 case reports to complete my CVPP, finish the animal chiropractic classes, the NAVC conference in January, followed by a trigger point therapy course in February, then an advanced work shop on physical rehabilitation in May. And I will also be the new president for the Saddleback Capo Valley chapter of the SCVMA.

A big thank you to my clients which have followed me over the years, this would not be possible without you. Each pet I meet is special in their own way.
Happy holidays and happy new year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Latest patient news

Lot’s of catching up to do here!

Miss B has been a patient of mine for over a year. We started with a lot of back pain, trembling. I checked a video of last November compared to the pictures I did last year, and we have quite a new dog! Miss B is a 10 yrs old Shiba Inu, and with the help of medications, acupuncture, physical rehabilitation, she looks (back and pelvis much straighter!) and feels so much better. She is even starting to loose weight without loosing her energy. We are now weaning her from her acupuncture sessions, and increasing the therapeutic exercises to get her a strong core and help her proprioception. This has been a joint effort with neurology evaluation, follow ups by her primary care veterinarian and me. This does emphasize the team work involved to help those patients. Compare her posture today compare with her video of 2009: 

Miss B Novemeber 2010
Cina is a 10 yr old kitty with osteoarthritis of her elbows and left wrist. Kitties can be very challenging to treat, however with patience and discovering what makes them interested in any activities, we can get a therapeutic and treatment plan on their way. Easy at all time? No, however always worth trying. My poster child Rudee needed brushing by the owner and treats. That was enough to get me to work on him by myself without restraining. Cina‘s environment has been modified to accommodate her problems. When a dog or kitty has front leg/neck issues, they should not be jumping down and running down the stairs, ramps is a good way to get out of the car, get down the sofa, etc. Lot’s of website now have stairs and ramps for easy access to cars, sofa, bed, etc, 
Cina after some therapeutic exercises and laser therapy
It must be the month of the Labrador Retriever; I have 4 that I am treating right now for different reasons (Spencer, Molly, Elsa and Duke). Most have elbow arthritis, and hip dysplasia with secondary hip arthritis. Luke, a 2 1/3 yr Golden Retriever just got out of surgery and had some fragmented coronoid removed (in the elbow). Arthritis will still progress but we are positive that taking out those fragments will slow the progression. We’re on the ball with all the supplements and weight control for Luke. We’re now starting rehabilitation.

Benjamin is getting acupuncture and some manual therapy every 2 to 4 weeks for his sore back. He has a lot of fusing vertebraes in his back so flexibility is decreased. It is so fun to see a difference at the end of the session, from a hunched little guy, his back is straighter at the end the session and he likes to play more at home.

Elisha is a continual work in progress. Of 3 different problems, surgery took care of 2. He still has problem getting up, but he is regaining strength in his hind legs. I am doing some physical rehabilitation with him (laser therapy, physioball, acupuncture) and he is going for underwater treadmill sessions too.

Chille has been very sick with some intestinal problems, so we now can resume our therapy for back and knee pain. Her 4 other brother and sisters are jealous of the attention and they all barked at the door after my treatment session. Yes, that day there was 5 Australian Shepherds present (without counting the cats); lot’s of action at all time in this house, and never a boring moment too.

Supporting family members

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carts for dogs and kitties (Aka Wheelchair)

I recently got a call from a client wandering if I carried a certain brand of wheel chair. She wanted one for her elderly dog who needed help to get up. It took about 20 minutes on the phone to let her know that it was unfortunately a bad idea for her situation. Carts are great for dogs (and kitties) with paralysis, arthritis, deformities, amputation, severe multi joint arthritis, etc. However, people need to understand their limitations. The client who called me wanted to leave her dog all day in the hind leg wheelchair. Here is why you can’t:

-For 8 to 10 hours, the dog could not lie down, or only on his front legs. Some of my elderly patients can barely stand up for 5 minutes.
-Most dogs will likely get caught in furniture or the cart may tip over, meaning you need to supervise your dog at all time when in use.
You need to view the cart as a way to be able for your pet to follow family members restoring a sense of belonging, and to exercise outdoor. Small dogs may do very well in the house if there is enough space to maneuver around, but they still require supervision.

There is more, not all carts are good for all dogs. There are several cart companies out there. The choice of one as well as add-ons will depend of:
-How tall and heavy your pet is
-How much support is needed; is your pet unable to move, or need a little support
-What are your physical capabilities? Some wheelchairs have removable supports other you need to lift the dog’s legs into the cart. Regardless, there is some lifting involved.
-Is your pet going to be outdoor crazy or just take a 5 minute walk? There are different wheels depending of how active your pet is. Some dogs go skiing/swimming… so be warned!
-Belly strap might be needed for those with weak core stability.
-The height you place the dog in the cart depends if they can use or not their legs.
-Booties might be needed
-Wheels will be placed under the dog depending of their mobility issue(s). Put them at the wrong angle and you will place undue stress on certain parts of the body
-some dogs have progressive disease and a versatile cart is needed to accommodate the changes so you do not have to buy a new one every few weeks/months (like in DM).
-Measurements are so important; it may even take 2 to 3 people to do so.
-A custom cart might be better then a one size fit all, for example a dog with a large lipoma on the side of its chest need a space on the side bar to account for the space taken by the mass.
-And more depending of your unique situation.

There is also the issue of introducing your dog/kitty to the cart. I have seen so many clients just buying one without any professional help, spending the money to get a custom fit cart, and then be disappointed because the dog refused to be put in it. Patience is the key, and trained people in this area can make the transition so much easier.

So the bottom line: let a professional guide you in the choice and fitting of a cart to increase your chance of success. This will end up into a happy dog/kitty that will be comfortable. And let’s face it, they may outrun you! Just check my facebook page for all the fantastic stories about the wheelchair dogs, or should I say the wheelchair that gives them wings…

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pet-A-Palooza October 16-17

The So Cal Pet Expo organization puts up several fairs in OC to help place homeless pets. I had a booth in the one organized in OC: The Pet-A-Palooza last weekend. I took a picture of this lovely Chihuahua with a deformed leg and with the sweetest personality. If you want to adopt her (picture below), please e-mail the No Stray Left Behind group at . OK, so I have a bias towards Chihuahua if you haven't guessed it yet!
I am soooo cute!
We were treated to several entertaining shows, and the ones I had to pleasure to look at were the dog stunt show ( ), and a dock diving competition.


These gatherings are also a great opportunity to meet a person like Lorrie Boldrick DVM, who’s the veterinary supervisor for Freedom Dogs. The organization offers custom-trained specialty service dogs to wounded members of the military returning from armed conflict (

Bone Cancer Group talk October 22

This last Friday I was part of something very special. Last year, I was asked if I would talk to the Bone Cancer Dog group annual reunion. The group is composed of dog owners who lost their dog to bone cancer or pet owners interested to hear about it. They give information about bone cancer- (treatment, how to deal with amputations, etc, etc), and function as a support group. When I put my talk together, in concert with Nicole, we settled on holistic OSA-osteosarcoma- prevention and holistic pain management. Little did I know how big this group was. It was an experience well worth being part of.

When I got to the meeting place, well ahead of schedule, I met some of the members and got to know more about the Bone Cancer Group ( When I asked one person where they came from, I was surprised to see how far some were from. Not only they came from all over the US, but one person flew from Canada. For the last 6 years the group has been getting together once a year to meet, pay tribute to the loved ones they lost to bone cancer, do a memorial (so touching, each owner had a rock with a paw print and their name on it) and hear about what can be done for this raging and devastating disease. Even more impressive was when I talked to Ana Cilursu. She is an MD and is making sure people are helped in the best of way, making sure the information is the most scientifically accurate and helpful. So much information is out there, internet and all, and takes advantage of people in a dire situation promising cures. As usual I will tell you that if it sounds too good to be true, run away. OSA requires a multidisciplinary approach, and not one thing will take care of it.

When I was done with my talk I was delighted to answer people’s questions and hear about how they’ve been dealing with their situation. I was touched when Nicole presented me with a gift bag for the talk I gave them. One of the items in the bag was a book written by one of their member, Doug Koktavy: “The legacy of Beezer and Boomer” Lessons on Living and Dying from my canine brothers. In a world that might underestimate how attached we become to our pets, this book is welcomed. I already started to read it. A lot exists on how to deal with our beloved pets when they’ve passed away, but Doug felt that nothing was written about how to prepare you with the inevitable. He hopes this will be helpful to other owners.

Can I ask a question?