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.