Raw V.S. Dry Food

Raw food & Freeze-dried Raw is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market.

Raw is a diet primarily of uncooked meat, edible bones, and organs. There are some Prepared or Packaged Raw diets that also include fruit and vegetables. Natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria are found in raw pet foods, undamaged by any heat application.

Freeze-Dried Raw has a freeze drying process that is widely appreciated as the most effective method of food preservation; it imparts the greatest shelf life and the least nutrient damage. The food is not heated; moisture is removed using a very high vacuum, preserving the natural ingredients.

Benefits of Raw and Freeze Dried Raw

  • Palatability is great! – pets like it, Yum Yum 
  • Superior digestibility – leads to improved stools & better overall health
  • Shinier coats & healthier skin
  • Cleaner teeth & breath
  • Improved weight control
  • Increased immunity
  • High energy levels

Dry Food

The majority of kibble (dry food) is cooked through an extrusion method. Similar to the microwave, the extrusion process greatly reduces the nutritional value of the food. It cooks at a high temperature for a short period of time. Extrusion type kibble is usually 25 – 45% starch, which has a low nutritional value. I recommend baked kibble.

Diets high in starch are a nutritional problem for our pets. Excess starch erodes a pet’s health in subtle ways, including blood sugar spikes, digestion issues & dermatitis.

“Grain free” kibble can also have starch. Kibble using pea protein, sweet potato and quinoa may be termed “grain-free” but can also have high starch content.

Raw diets and freeze-dried raw are one-sixth the starch content of kibble.*

Bite Out of Dental Disease


Yet another “wives tale” bites the dust. How many of you reading this today have a cat or dog that has had a dental? And how many times was that? What type of food does he/she eat? I would wager that 90% of you say your pet eats dry food. What is it that you have been told or heard on TV about feeding dry over canned or home-cooked or raw diets? Oh yes, that eating dry is better for their teeth. Now tell me, if that was the case why are there so many dogs and cats with poor dental hygiene, calculus, and gingivitis?
Fact is, there is very little even in the best of dry foods that is truly compatible with preventing any kind of a disease. Banfield Pet Hospital did a large survey with more than 2.5 million health records analyzed. They reported that, “preventable problems are on the rise.” This included conditions such as diabetes, ear infections, and obesity, with dental disease topping the list. 78 percent of dogs and 68 percent of cats over the age of 3 presented with some form of dental disease! And what is the common denominator? In my opinion it is the dry, highly refined, processed, corn, wheat, glutens, natural flavorings, soy foods they are given as a “complete and balanced” diet. You can feed EXPENSIVE foods that contain these ingredients. Read your labels.
I have had eight year old dogs present for an evaluation who had been on raw diet all their life and they had the teeth of a two year old and never had a dental. I have taken ones with dental calculus, corrected the nutritional deficiencies, put them on a home cooked or dehydrated or canned or raw diet and some raw bones weekly, and in 6-9 months the mouth is amazingly improved to the point of not even needing a dental! EVERTHING that goes wrong in the general health of your animal (or you for that matter), not including injuries like auto accidents, has a nutritional component. Nothing preserves wellness like whole food nutrition.
The American Animal Hospital Association in June of 2010 released the results of a consortium on nutritional recommendations. They say that “every patient visiting a veterinarian should have a nutritional assessment.” A complete nutritional assessment would include a fur mineral, toxic metal, and oxidation rate analysis, called Tissue Mineral Analysis. This is painless and simple. It only requires the clipping of fur. Once the report is complete the next step is to balance the body with specific minerals and vitamins along with helping to chelate out any toxic metals.
A person using this approach can take 18 to 36 months to clear up but animals respond in half or less the time. Getting on the road to better health starts at the food dish. Take a bite out of dental disease other illness and degenerative conditions by putting some real nutrition back into your animal’s life.

© Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc.

Dog Pain

This list is an assessment tool which covers the sensorial and emotional aspects of pain.

Being able to identify a set of behaviors can help to reliably detect pain. For each of these signs, they are frequently present in both low and high levels of pain.

1. Lameness, abnormal gait
2. Difficulty in jumping or moving in a certain way or direction, unable to do stairs
3. Legs splayed out rather than under body
4. Reluctant to move, avoid situations that could elicit pain
5. Reaction to palpation, dislike or intolerance of handling
6. Withdrawn, hiding
7. Sleeping more
8. Playing less. Less interested in going for a walk
9. Licking inanimate objects (can often be a sign of intestinal pain)
10. Overall activity less than normal, moves slower
11. Change in mood, grumpy
12. Restlessness; pacing, getting up and down and adjusting position or place
13. Wobbly
14. Hunched back or sway back
15. Shifting weight off area of body
16. Licking excessively or rubbing a certain area of the body
17. Lower or tilted head, ears in unusual position
18. Temperamental, Yelp or growl when being petted or other animal comes near space
19. Change in form of feeding behavior, type of food preferred, avoiding or decreased appetite
20. Weeping, red, cloudy or squinting eyes
21. Looks depressed
22. Groaning, moaning, grunting
23. Heavy panting, increased heart rate when doing nothing (and it’s not hot!)
24. Hanging or tucked tail
25. Change in toileting habits e.g. not lifting leg, not squatting low, defecating in house drops out
© IVE, Inc. 2016

Cat Pain

This list is an assessment tool which covers the sensorial and emotional aspects of pain.

Being able to identify a set of behaviors can help to reliably detect pain. For each of these signs, they are frequently present in both low and high levels of pain.

1. Lameness
2. Difficulty in jumping
3. Abnormal gait
4. Reluctant to move
5. Reaction to palpation
6. Withdrawn, hiding
7. Absence of grooming
8. Playing less
9. Decreased appetite
10. Overall activity less than normal
11. Change in mood
12. Not rubbing on people or doing it less
13. Temperamental, hissing
14. Hunched up posture
15. Shifting weight off area of body
16. Licking excessively in certain area
17. Lower head position, ears pinned or not up right
18. Involuntary forced blinking
19. Change in form of feeding behavior, type of food preferred, avoiding
20. Avoiding areas of bright light
21. Growling
22. Groaning
23. Eyes closed
24. Tail flicking
25. Straining to urinate
© IVE, Inc. 2016

Animal Pain

Pain is invisible, but its symptoms are not. We can’t point it out, like a growth or broken bone. But we are aware of its presence, at least in ourselves. Knowing when an animal is in pain can be more difficult.
Depending on the nature of the animal, they may hide the symptoms to avoid being targeted. As in an herbivore (rabbit, deer, mouse) not wanting to appear ill and become someone’s meal, or a chicken who doesn’t want to get pecked on by others. Logically they do not think that, but innately they know. And just like in humans, some complain more about their pain and woes, while others grin and bear it.
Animals do speak to us in many ways. Some of them are; the size of the pupil, movement of ears, quivering of the skin, swishing a tail, avoiding being petted, not wanting to mingle with others, stomping, growling, kicking, bucking, or biting. These are all forms of communication. Some in a whisper and others are more similar to hollering, trying to get the point across.
Other indicators that pain is present to some degree somewhere include; moaning or crying, grinding teeth in rabbits, change in personality, abnormal gait, shifting weight, altered posture, guarding a part of the body, difficulty getting up or down, history of a surgery or injury.
Pain can exist from a recent surgery, injury, sprain, internal organ disease, cancer, and the most common is arthritis. Acute pain is obvious and distressing.  Chronic pain is that which lasts over 2 to 3 months and is not resolving. It can often be subtle, and masked as “getting old” or “slowing down.”  Those with chronic pain often develop a familiarity with it and make it even more difficult to determine its presence.
My focus is key on working to eliminate pain. I offer many options to treat the various causes of pain in animals including physical rehabilitation, chiropractic, microcurrent and laser therapy, therapeutic massage and customized exercise programs.   Oral support comes in the form of supplements, herbs, medication, and nutritional optimization.
For more information about pain in animals visit my other websites: www.AnimalRehabStLouis.com and www.Alpha-StimForAnimals.com, and the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management at www.IVAPM.org.

© Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises can be a part of your dog’s recovery program.
Proper stretching can increase flexibility and range of motion (ROM), relieve certain kinds of joint and muscle pain, stimulate nerve conduction and body awareness, heighten proprioception, improve performance, and help prevent injuries.
Muscles and connective tissue naturally tend to stiffen if they are overused or underused. Stiffness can result in injury, lead to inactivity, and eventually speed up the aging process of the musculoskeletal system. To remain supple, the connective tissue and muscles need regular stretching. Stiffness is a symptom and reaction to pain or discomfort, be it from overworking unprepared muscle groups (sore muscles), arthritis, spinal bone instability or fixation, even dental malfunction.
Massaging the body and properly stretching the joints will loosen muscles and connective tissue, sending signals to the mechanoreceptors about the joints and their capacity to flex and extend. Massage will help to eliminate toxins and lactic acid by improving circulation to the tissue, further reducing soreness.
Stretching also provides a pain-relieving effect, which might be due to an increased pain threshold or simply because the muscle becomes stronger. Through a regular stretching program, muscles become stronger and thus able to absorb more energy, which also reduces injury. The more energy muscle can absorb, the more resistant the muscle is to injury.

Important points to remember:

  • Understand the goals or purpose and how to effectively deliver the exercises
  • Be in a calm area where everyone is relaxed, as the stretching will be more productive if the muscles are not tense
  • Take the time to do them correctly (no shortcuts)
  • Always start conservatively then gradually increase the length of stretch, the angle or height of the stretch, and the number or repetitions
  • Pay attention to the behavior or response(s) your pet gives with each stretch
  • Keep notes on the changes you see so you can report to the doctor on your next visit

Benefits of Stretching Exercises:

  • Pain relieving effect
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Reduce likelihood of injury when standing, sitting, jumping, etc.
  • Relieve spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury
  • Improve posture
  • Good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post workout muscle fatigue and soreness

A good stretch will be comfortable and effective. A “bad” stretch will be met with resistance or failure to make any positive gain in flexibility, range of motion, or performance. Lack of improvement or an unwillingness to do the exercises indicates the current program should be stopped until you visit with our doctor.
With a regular routine consisting of a few three-to-five-minute exercises several days a week, your pet can begin to show improvement in as early as one week.

Purchase the DVD “Fitness in Motion® Stretching Exercises for Dogs.” Waatch it often, it will help you gain your confidence. $40

Cold and Heat Therapy

COLD or cryotherapy should be used immediately after a new injury to help reduce the degree of trauma the tissue will have to deal with. Initiating cold for up to 20 minutes at a time can do several things.

  • By decreasing the cell metabolic rate it slows the requirement for nutrients, oxygen, and perfusion. Slowing its work capacity allows for a quiet environment in the face of trauma and the changes that brings to the area.
    Vasoconstriction helps to stop bleeding, reducing bruising and swelling.
  • Decreasing an inflammatory response means less redness, less pain, and potentially less chance for infection.
  • A decreased nerve conduction velocity is achieved by the chilling effect. Slowing nerve transmission is how it reduces pain.
  • Decreasing muscle contraction helps further to prevent nerve irritation and pain. Contraction of muscle at the site of a fracture can make a surgical reduction more difficult when the muscle must be relaxed to achieve positioning again.
  • Increased pain threshold means that it takes more pain before the minds would perceive pain exists. This effect helps the body deal better with what has happened and keeps the adrenal cortisol stress response lower.
  • Decreasing collagen and muscle capacity and response to stretch keeps the tissue in more of its true shape and size so that less swelling occurs.

For all these reasons it is wise to apply cold therapy for the first 3 days after injury or at the end of a busy day when a body suffers from a chronic arthritic or inflammatory condition. Utilizing massage with cold therapy yields better results than either done alone.

Applying Cold Therapy:
WHEN – During the first 72 hours after tissue injury
HOW – 15 minutes per treatment (do not exceed 20 minutes) 3 to 5 times per day
WHAT – You can use any of the following. Cold plus massage benefits more than cold used alone.

  • Ice cups – fill Styrofoam cups, freeze tear off part of cup and use to massage and chill the area
  • Cold packs – these are commercially available or you can make your own with a freezer zip lock bag. Mix 2 parts water and 1 part isopropyl alcohol. Put in freezer where it will become a cold pliable icy bag. Wrap in a small towel before applying to the animal’s body.
  • Flax pillow in the freezer

HEAT or thermal therapy is used starting 3 days after an injury or for a chronic condition like arthritis to help create circulation and relaxation in tissue. Heat helps with muscle spasms, tendinitis, bursitis, scars and contracted tissue, sprains and strains, and chronic pain. It does this by:

  • Increasing the body’s capacity to use oxygen.
  • It further increases membrane diffusion and enzymatic activity using the oxygen and moving metabolic wastes (toxins and trash) out of the traumatized tissue area. Getting the old cellular debris expelled further reduces pain.
  • Opening up blood vessels (vasodilation) also gets more nutrients into the joints and tissue.
  • Relaxation of irritated muscle spindles at the heart of the trigger points will neutralize those zones allowing the muscle to function more optimally.
  • Locally heat decreases pain by decreasing muscle spasm and connective tissue ischemia and lengthens the shortened fascia that had been putting pressure on nerves.
  • Heat causes a reflex pain inhibition by increasing the temperature of sensory nerve cells. The message of heat travels rapidly to the brain, blocking out the pain message and raising the threshold of the sensory nerve endings resulting in long term pain relief.

Applying Heat Therapy:
WHEN – After 72 hours with an acute injury or with a chronic condition
HOW – Up to 20 minutes or divided doing 10 minutes on/ 10 off/10 on. The temperature of the target tissue must elevate at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit, but DO NOT exceed 12 degrees elevation. Moist heat is preferred.

  • Flax pillows
  • Air activated heat wrap applications can be used.
  • Moist heat towel
  • Take a small towel and saturate with water then ring out most of it. Put it into a plastic bag and place in the microwave for 1 minute, invert the towel exposing the inside and heat for additional time if needed. When finished heating take the towel out of the plastic and wrap it in a dry towel then lay across the affected area.

Obesity and Exercise

Statistic and surveys have shown that people who exercise with their pets will stick to a program more successfully than if they are doing it for themselves alone.
Obesity is the most commonly recognized nutritional problem in dogs. Obesity is defined as a body weight that is greater than 20% above optimal body weight. It is predominantly caused by over-consumption of calories, under-expenditure of energy, and improper nutrient balance (more carbohydrates in relation to the protein). There is a common belief that protein restriction is helpful in older animals, yet no scientific evidence shows that reduced dietary protein is beneficial for the healthy older dog or cat. In fact, reduced protein diets for older pets may have adverse effects by contributing to the muscle loss that occurs with aging.
Risk factors for gaining excessive weight include neutering, mid to older age, inactivity, indoor lifestyle, and genetic predisposition. Obese animals, like people, usually show signs of concurrent disease: lameness, increased drinking and urinating, increased respiratory effort or panting, sleeping more, poor skin and coat, and heart stress with circulatory malfunction.
For a dog that already has difficulty getting around, creating an exercise program can be challenging. The last thing we want is to increase pain. A well planned weight-loss program includes a patient-specific nutritional therapy of reducing typical cereals or grains like wheat, corn, gluten, and rice, balancing protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and water. Address needs of the endocrine system to create optimal metabolism helps the body adapt and change.
Initiate a home exercise routine, which for some may be gentle massage, range of motion, frequent but very short walks, and exercises using a ball. Balls are great for older pets and ones that have difficulty holding up their weight or tend to lie down rather than stand. It is a support that allows them some independence as they regain function.
For those with medical considerations or where the weather interferes with exercise, use a facility with physical rehabilitation technology, such as the underwater treadmill. Water walking allows for less weight and body mass on the legs, more flexion of the joints, buoyancy, better body balance, and an almost massage-like effect on the legs. At higher levels it can be a cardiovascular exercise that improves conditioning, muscle tone, and overall well-being.

To successfully manage a weight reduction plan for your dog or cat, you should:

1. Feed a balanced grain-free diet. (For insightful information from a veterinarian regarding the effects of diet read www.dogtorj.com.)
2. Feed alone, away from other animals to reduce the incentive to eat fast. You may choose to put the food in a muffin pan to further slow him/her down.
3. Feed only the snacks or treats outlined in the balanced program. Best to choose from whole food items like dehydrated meat and vegetables.
4. Avoid eating in front of your dog when he/she will not be getting anything.
5. Exercise your dog or cat as prescribed. Start out slow doing several brief exercise periods a day. Gradually increase the duration as he loses the weight and wants to do more. Keep a journal of distance and/or time spent.
6. Weigh in every two weeks and record body weight.
7. Have a weight-loss reassessment done starting monthly then working up to every 3 months as the program successfully progresses. This will include weight, pelvic and thoracic circumference measurements, nutrition adjustments, exercise evaluation, and behavioral improvements.

A better lifestyle and exercise is the best chance for a longer life. Substantial research progress is deepening our understanding of obesity and the aging process, leading veterinarians and pet owners toward better guidelines including nutritional interventions and lifestyle decision that will promote healthy longevity. Considering the fact that the obesity rates of pets has climbed right along with their human counterpart seems the thing to do is get everybody in the house eating better (healthier) and exercising more.

© Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc.

Losing It

Trying to help your pet lose weight can be frustrating. Traditional “weight loss” diets often lack sufficient levels of the vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals that animals specifically need based on individual idiosyncrasies. The bottom line is that what is on the bag is not enough. Changing how a body recognizes and metabolizes its food (nutrients) needs to be addressed for any weight loss program to be healthy. Here are two dogs that have successfully experienced losing weight and enjoying every bite of it!

HOLLY: 8 year old spayed yellow Labrador Retriever who weighs 122 pounds. She is fed a top line dry food for large dogs. Holly has had problems with weight most of her life, afraid of storms, repeated ear infections, and now has problems doing the things she enjoys the most; going for walks and swimming. She has difficulty bending her left elbow, swelling in left hock, 5/10 pain score, and her nutritional assessment indicates problems with liver and endocrine function and carbohydrate metabolism.
Plan: Weight goal 85#, home cooked grain free diet at 1 cup twice a day, 1-2 eggs at bedtime, ½ cup protein and veggie snacks during the day. Vitamins, minerals, and tissue extracts specifically to address her conditions, medications and supplements for her pain and inflammation. Chiropractic adjustments and rechecks monthly with changes to program, daily walks as she can tolerate.
We are not at the goal point yet but Holly continues to improve and had a great summer without pain.

Date Weight Pelvis Thorax Comments
Nov 122 lbs 94 cm 96 cm
Dec 122 lbs 88 cm 96 cm Playing with toys, activity level up, likes food, not hungry
Jan 108 lbs 86 cm 94.5 cm Fell on ice, rear end sore
Mar 104 lbs 83 cm 92 cm Seems stiff
Apr 105 lbs Winter was difficult, add microcurrent therapy for pain
Jun 98.5 lbs 80 cm 88 cm Doing more outside
Aug 98.2 lbs 83 cm 91 cm Swimming every day, no limp in 2 months

BLAZE: A 9 ½ year old, male neutered Border Collie mix was eating a lamb and rice dry food for most of his life. He developed degenerative joint disease in both hips, had problems walking, and was overweight. His owners were hoping to avoid hip surgery. Addressing his pain and arthritis was vital to getting him moving. Initially drugs were used for his pain but with some herbs, vitamin and mineral replacements, and correcting his body metabolism, it wasn’t long before he was able to scale-down. A home-made diet was selected for him. In April Blaze tipped the scale at 91 pounds and by August he was below 75. That is a 16 pound loss in 4 months! Part of his program included underwater treadmill exercise. He enjoys his water therapy, runs and plays, and has no difficulty getting up or playing. His happiness level is way up!

If your pet is overweight here are steps to take:
1) Read the label on the food you are feeding. Does if fit what this animal would eat out in the real world? For help with understanding this read www.DoctorJ.com . Then make a better change.
2) Is pain part of the reason? If so, aside from medications, consider other therapy that can relieve it such as massage, hot/cold packs, liniments, herbs, and pain specific therapeutic modalities.
3) Is there a daily exercise program? If not, get one that fits your pet’s ability and current status.
4) For those with long term obstinate obesity, adjusting endocrine and metabolic trends will most likely be needed to get the pounds dropping.

© Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc.

Keeping Cool

You want to exercise your dog but you also know the summer temperature and humidity can be dangerous. How do you keep your pooch cool and yet enjoy the outdoors? Try some of these options!
1. Walk early morning and later in the evening. The morning is the preferred time as the ground has had all night to cool off, therefore cooling the asphalt and cement so it is better on the paws.
2. For longer fur, clip the belly allowing for more ventilation.
3. Wet him down before you hit the road. Take a spray bottle of water to moisten as needed, helping to evaporate the heat. You can use it for his drinking water too.
4. Find outlets where there are water sources like ponds, creeks, and pools. Minimally get a few stops where he can at least get his feet wet to help in cooling. Or make your own canine water park and have some fun playing in the water of your own back yard!
5. Neck coolie wraps are a lightweight, easy to apply, and an underutilized cooling method. Small plastic cooling gels covered with fabric that can be tied around the neck and sit over the carotid artery and jugular vein. As the blood in these vessels passes by the cooling wrap, the temperature of the internal arterial and venous blood is lowered. Keep these in your freezer and apply before you take your dog for a walk or outdoor play time in the summer.
6. Similar to the neck coolie is a body vest of similar design. This will be heavier but for a capable individual this will add additional body cooling on hot days.
7. If exercising outside is just not possible consider the underwater treadmill. It’s like you mall-walking; indoors, climate-controlled, gets the circulation going yet avoiding the heat and humidity. Another advantage for this exercise is that the overweight or older pet can walk easier since they weigh less in the water.
Exercise can be fun for your pooch, and good for your health as well. Take plenty of water for both of you. If it will be a hotter day consider Pedialyte or Gator-aid type products to keep electrolytes in circulation. And by the way, those neck coolies work for you too!

© Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc.