Post from January, 2012

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Monday, 30. January 2012 13:38

So, what does that mean? It means taking care of your dog’s mouth is asBrushing Teeth! important as taking care of your own. Chew toys designed for aiding the removal of plaque, raw bones, and brushing your dog’s teeth – ideally weekly – will help tremendously in preventing long-term health problems. The consequences of not doing these things are certainly not worth it. Our family dog, Lulu, died young for a small dog at 12. We did not clean her teeth and towards the end of her life she suffered from gingivitis (infection of the gums) and endocarditis (infection of the heart). There is a direct link between dental hygiene and the health of your dog or cat’s immune system and organs such as the heart, kidney, and liver. I have no doubts she would have lived longer if we had been more aware of the importance of dental hygiene.

So, how do you get your furry friends, cat or dog, interested in a teeth brushing? First, start early when they’re kittens and puppies. Our littlest pup is now used to getting her teeth brushed and will cock her head to the side and relax her lips in anticipation of the brush. It’s super cute.

If, you’ve started later in life as I have with my chocolate Labrador then the best is to relax them by stroking their head, cheeks, and calmly talk to them while rolling them on their side. When they are comfortable, lift their lips back and rub their teeth, either with a piece of gauze, or if they are comfortable, ideally with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t use human toothpaste. It contains fluoride; if swallowed in huge quantities it can be toxic and dogs can’t rinse and spit! The toothpaste I use is Kissable! from Cain &Able – all natural pet toothpaste.

If your dog or cat will not let you brush their teeth then using a pill or powdered form of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Pet Naturals, or Plaque Off is an option. Preliminary studies have shown that CoQ10 is particulary useful in the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease and gingivitis in pets. Plaque Off contains Ascophyllum nodosumis, a specific kind of seaweed that shows benefits in dental health for animals and humans. Customers and employees at the Big Bad Woof have noticed the effects they see in their own animals. It takes a few months, but you will see a decrease in plaque on their teeth.

Chewable snacks are another option for maintaining dental health. At the Big Bad Woof, we usually promote products that do not contain soy, wheat gluten, or corn. The ubiquitousness of these ingredients may lead to the development of allergies in your pet. Some suggested products are below.

  • True Blue – Super easy dental swipes. If using gauze to cleanse your dogs teeth, this product has added ingredients to freshen breath.
  • Breath-less – A company based out of FL sells products similar to Greenies.
  • Paragon – A company based in Holland sells dental chews for dogs in fun shapes.
  • Zukes – A company based in CO sells dental bones for dogs.
  • Smart n’tasty – A company based in California sells dental treats for cats and dogs.
  • For raw food enthusiasts – Chicken necks or turkey necks can decrease the build-up of plaque.

I hope this finds you excited about the prospect of improving your dog or cat’s health starting the month of February! Don’t be afraid to try new things, research your choices, and consult your veterinarian.

Category:Nutrition, Pet Wellness | Comments (1) | Author:

The “New” Way to Relieve Your Pet’s Pain, Whatever the Cause

Wednesday, 11. January 2012 7:43

By Dr. Karen Becker

Chiropractic comes from the Greek words ‘cheir’ (which means ‘hand’), and ‘praxis’ (which means ‘done by hand’).

Chiropractic has been a popular form of therapy for humans for centuries, but veterinary chiropractic has only gained acceptance in the traditional vet community in the last 15 years.

Chiropractic is based on manual spinal manipulation.

It uses the body’s own healing abilities and the relationship between the spine and the nervous system to restore and maintain good health.

Chiropractic therapy focuses on the vertebral column.

The goal is to alter the progression of the disease process and restore the critical relationship between the spine and the central nervous system.

Chiropractic actually has its own language. Vertebral lesions are called subluxations and describe vertebra with an abnormal positional relationship.

In other words, when bones in the spine are out of position in relation to one another, and if they are not moving properly, then this vertebral alignment problem creates disturbances in the way the body moves, which interferes with nerve function.

These disturbances are called vertebral subluxation complexes or VSCs. They are also called segmental dysfunction.

Signs Your Pet May Have a Subluxation

Symptoms in a pet with a subluxation can range from mild to severe. Generally, if there is pain, you’ll notice a change in your pet’s behavior.

A dog in pain will often pant more than normal. He also might pace or yelp. He may sit or stand in an abnormal, awkward position. He might also show problems with his coordination.

He might drag a foot, or move his head or tail strangely. Sometimes there is discomfort when a collar or harness is put on.

Dogs and cats may refuse to jump up on things or move in normal ways. Some pets will develop fear biting because of the pain. Many show sensitivity to being touched in certain places on their body.

Sometimes you can even detect a pain response in your pet’s facial expression.

And then there are the sort of normal signs of pain like excessive vocalizing – yelling, yowling, and even screaming. All these signs are indications your pet is having a pain response, and in fact, she may be in much more pain than you’re aware of. Subluxations can cause other problems as well, including stiffness, lameness, difficulty going up and down stairs, muscle atrophy, changes in gait like ‘sidewinding’ or ‘crabbing’, stumbling, weakness and paralysis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When you take your pet to a veterinary chiropractor, the first thing he or she will do is get a history on your pet, including information about her lifestyle and her overall health status. The chiropractor will also want to see any prior x-rays taken on your pet.

A chiropractic exam includes a neurologic assessment, an evaluation of stance and gain, motion, and static palpation.

Each abnormality in positioning that is discovered during the exam will be corrected through manipulations, which are called adjustments.

The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association defines an adjustment as, “a short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by a hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.”

Adjustments can be performed on vertebral joints, extremity joints, and cranial sutures. The goal of an adjustment is to restore normal position and movement of the vertebral column, which in turn improves neurologic function.

Most animals respond well to adjustments. They are instinctively aware of the problem in their body, and most of the time they are pretty tolerant of the chiropractor’s manipulations. In fact – and I’ve seen this in my own practice – some pets actually adjust their position to help the chiropractor in treating the subluxation.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Pets

Chiropractic care is an excellent way to prevent and treat joint degeneration in your pet. Proper vertebral alignment keeps the body from shifting into unhealthy positions to compensate for joint pain caused by injury or degeneration.

Regular manual orthopedic manipulation, especially with large and giant breed dogs, will help keep the musculoskeletal system from degenerating as the aging process occurs. It can also help keep your pet moving comfortably throughout her whole life.

Dogs with floating kneecaps can benefit greatly from chiropractic adjustments to keep the hips and knees in alignment and to help prevent the condition from progressing.

Dogs with hip dysplasia can avoid compensating injuries through chiropractic adjustments as well.

Some pets with urinary incontinence are helped by chiropractic adjustments, and I have seen many cases in my practice of improved bladder tone and neurologic function through maintenance chiropractic care.

If your pet has been injured, a veterinary chiropractor can help realign the spine to avoid compensating injuries from occurring in addition to the underlying primary injury.

If your pet has had surgery with general anesthesia, I always recommend a visit to the veterinary chiropractor afterwards to realign a body that has potentially been flopping or jerking around while the animal was anesthetized.

I also recommend maintenance chiropractic care proactively for all my patients to reduce the risk of injury and joint degeneration. This is especially good for puppies and kittens because they are ‘loose’ – their joints are not yet completely formed. Their bones are still growing and they’re prone to subluxations.

Other conditions that often respond well to chiropractic care include:

  • Neck and back pain
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Tail injuries
  • Sporting or working dog injuries
  • Muscle spasms and nerve problems
  • Bowel, bladder and other internal organ disorders
  • Injuries from slips, falls, accidents
  • Maintenance of joint and spine health
  • Jaw or TMJ problems
  • Post-surgical healing

I have also seen dramatic improvement using chiropractic for patients with internal medical issues, for example chronic constipation.

Finding a Licensed Practitioner

If you decide to explore chiropractic care for your pet, it’s important to find a practitioner who is licensed for pets.

Human chiropractors can become licensed to treat pets, but only after special training. Two-legged animals (humans) have an entirely different biochemical system than four-legged pets. So you must insure that the practitioner you choose to care for your dog or cat, whether it’s a veterinarian or a chiropractor, is certified to perform chiropractic on animals.

You can search for a certified animal chiropractor in your area at the American Veterinary Chiropractor Association and/or the College of Animal Chiropractic.

“Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.”

Category:Integrative Therapies, Pet Wellness | Comment (0) | Author: