Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Long Road to Recovery ~ Audra Alley, DVM, CVA, DABVP Canine & Feline Practice

Physical therapy has always been a huge part of successful orthopedic surgery recovery in humans, and yet we struggle to provide that level of recovery care to our animals. One of my dogs, Mercury, was born with a bad hip (hip dysplasia). It affected one side more than the other, and despite all of the medical options we tried, he was still experiencing discomfort. I consulted with a local surgeon, Dr. Jack Gallagher, to review all of our options for providing Mercury with a pain free future.

The two options we discussed at some length were the total hip replacement and a procedure called FHO (femoral head ostectomy).  Given our lifestyle and home – 2 teenagers, 2 dogs, 2 cats, split level home with all hard wood floors – we decided that the FHO would be the best option for our family and our goal of him being pain free.

Surgery went well, but he was pretty painful after the procedure, and I have to admit that I hated doing physical therapy with him because it was uncomfortable, and he did not like it. We did some, but it was clearly not enough. Six weeks after surgery, his preference was to walk on three legs instead of four legs, and his “bad" leg was becoming more and more atrophied.

Finally, I decided that we needed professional help and went to see Dr. Lauren Whitley at Go! Vet Rehab. We came up with a plan of exercises, different medications, massage, swimming, laser and Assisi Loop therapies, and a diet change to incorporate more fish oils and glucosamine. Within the first week, Mercury started putting the foot on the ground when he was walking. We continue to visit Dr. Whitley weekly, and Mercury continues to make slow and steady improvements. We expect it to take four to six months to get him where we want him to be.

His first visit to the pool was quite amusing, as he was not so excited. For the first lap, he was a willing participant. The second lap was questionable, and the third lap was not going to happen. J  

After a few more visits, the pool got better and better (along with the treats), and he now enjoys going to the pool.


It is still very challenging to get all of his exercises done in a day, but we have made it a team effort with my children, my husband, and myself all taking turns getting it done throughout the day.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Diminishing Dryness ~ Christa Riddle, DVM, CVA, CVCH

North Carolina is a wonderful place to live. It has a nice climate of four distinct seasons, but each can challenge a pet with skin problems. The winter season can be a fun time of year, especially for dogs that hate the heat, but it often contributes to dry skin. Itchy dogs and cats this time of the year often have seriously dry skin. Understanding why skin gets dry in the first place is a good place to start.

During cold weather, our pets drink less. It's not hot outside, so thirst is reduced. As a result of decreased fluid intake, blood volume is less. At the same time, cold conditions cause circulating blood to centralize around the internal organs and constrict at the periphery such as feet, ears, nose, etc. The combination of reduced blood volume and less peripheral circulation leads to dryness in the skin and reduced circulation to feet and pads, nose, ears, and skin. Those are internal causes of dryness to the skin. External causes of dryness in winter are low humidity (both inside and outside the house) and exposure to wind, cold water, and excessive soap use (from shampooing and bathing).

Now that we understand why our pets experience dryness to the skin in winter, let's look at a few solutions below.

  • Bathe less often and with a moisturizing shampoo such as oatmeal. Remember to use lukewarm water. If water is too hot, it can contribute to dryness. Bathing too frequently will remove natural oils from a pet's coat and skin.
  • Supplement the diet with Omega 3 fatty acids; Nordic Naturals is a fantastic option that we carry in-house at Shiloh.  
  • Brushing a pet will stimulate the hair follicles to release natural oils onto the skin.
  • Consider running a humidifier in your home. Adjust thermostat to be between 65-68 degrees. The warmest room should be the living room, bedrooms a few degrees cooler. Don't allow your pet to always sleep by the air registers, fireplaces, or gas heaters. These areas are too warm and too drying. Move the pet bed to an alternative location.

  • Dress your pet in a coat when outside to reduce exposure to wind and winter precipitation.
  • Apply Vitamin E oil (which can be purchased over-the-counter) to dry pads and nose cracks. For dogs spending a lot of time in the snow, use a specially designed wax to protect the pads and prevent snowballing between the pads and toes.

  • Exercise more! Exercise will increase blood flow to the skin and help with peripheral dryness.
  • Encourage adequate fluid intake by feeding a moist diet or by adding extra water to the diet. Remember the desire to drink water is reduced in the winter.
  • Feed sardines for their omega 3 fatty acid content as well as moisture especially for cats eating a dry diet.
  • Seek help if home remedies don't help or a rash is noticed. Your veterinarian can help you if your pet's dryness is not diminishing with the suggestions above. Lack of improvement or severe dryness could be a sign of thyroid imbalance, skin infection (pyoderma), or other internal medical concern. I often use Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture if the above therapies are ineffective but no serious medical conditions exist. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Dreaded Nail Trim ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

There are few things in the world of pet ownership that people avoid like the task of trimming nails. We get it--you don't like it, your pet doesn't like it, and if it goes wrong, things can get scary looking very quickly. Don't let fear and frustration get in your way! If you avoid trimming your pet's nails regularly, the problem will only get worse, and it can result in walking difficulty and nails getting snagged and torn off.

Nail Anatomy

One of the most important factors in trimming a dog's nails properly is knowing exactly what and where you're trimming. Some dogs have translucent white nails that make this a little easier; for dark-nailed dogs, the key is going relatively slowly.

Underneath each nail, there is a fleshy portion full of sensitive blood vessels known as the "quick". When this is cut, it can be very painful for your dog, and it also has a tendency to bleed like crazy. 
No matter how careful you are, this is always a possibility. Be sure to have styptic powder (also known as "Kwik Stop") on hand to stop the bleeding should this occur. Take a small amount of this dry, yellow powder and blot it directly on to the bleeding area of the nail. In a pinch, you can also use flour or corn starch and apply pressure to the area. 
Some dogs have longer quicks than others, especially if nail trims don't happen often. The best way to reduce the length of the quick (short of surgical intervention) is to trim the nails often over a long period of time (every 2-3 weeks, depending on how quickly your dog's nails grow). 

New Puppies
If you're starting from scratch with a new puppy, the world is your oyster. Don't waste this precious time to make sure that future nail trims will be a positive (or at least tolerable) experience. From the time that they first come home, make it a point to touch their feet and ears. Play with their feet constantly--make it a normal occurrence. 

When their sharp little puppy nails begin to grow, you can start training them for trims (the earlier the better!). Most puppy nails can be trimmed easily with cat nail scissors, pictured right. DO NOT attempt to tackle all four paws on the first go. Instead, break out a delicious treat (peanut butter is one of our favorites), trim a single nail, and reward that puppy!!! Throw a party of excitement and praise. If your puppy did well with the first nail, trim another in a few minutes, repeating the treat and praise. If your puppy was a little stressed during the first one, that's OK--this is new, and you will teach them that it's safe. Continue to play with their feet and give occasional treats during this process. Try the trimmers again tomorrow. 

Each time you trim, add one or two more nails, repeating the treat giving process. If done consistently, there's a good chance that your dog will associate nail trims with petting and treats rather than terror. 

Adult Dogs
With adult dogs, acclimation to nail trims can be a little more tricky, particularly if they never got used to their paws being touched or if they've had negative experiences with past nail trims. I owned a basset hound when I was young who would scream like he was being murdered when he saw the nail trimmers come out of the drawer, even if he was on the other side of the room (Maxwell, my droopy drama queen).

Re-training is possible in many adult dogs. You'll need to follow the puppy process (foot touching, treating, one nail, treating, two nails, treating, and so on), but you'll have to be very careful to do this at their pace. Be patient, and avoid irritation or anger--they will pick up on your feelings, and this will create stress.

Having the right tools can also make a big difference. Not all dog nail trimmers are built alike, and each creates a different feeling for the dog. If blades are dull, they can feel uncomfortable pressure, and it makes trimming much harder for you. Don't buy the cheapest plastic trimmers you can find, even if they tout built-in "safety guards". As we discussed with nail anatomy, all dogs are different, and those companies can't possibly predict where your dog's quick ends. (I also find that the nail guard pieces can be a hindrance that just blocks you from seeing where you're about to cut, so I avoid these in general.)

There are three primary tools for adult dog nail trimmers: 
  • Guillotine Clippers - These clippers work just as the name implies. You slip them over the front of the nail, apply pressure, and the tip comes off like a guillotine. In my professional opinion, there is no good reason to ever use this type of trimmer. This old-fashioned design is harder to use and often results in accidental quicking. Avoid!
  • Miller's Forge Trimmers - For adult dogs, these are my trimmers of choice. Opt for a design with a thick, stainless steel blade and a sturdy handle. With this design, you can trim a large section, or you can turn it as needed to "shave" small bits of the nail from multiple angles (ideal for dark nails) until you find the quick. 
  • Dremels - Yes, the power tool. It's not as scary as it sounds, and many dogs prefer this option unless they are particularly sensitive to noise or vibration. Dremels create a tingling sensation that can feel strange, but it is not painful (I've used them on myself!). They're also faster, harder to quick your dog, and you can get much closer to the quick, helping to reduce its length over time. Opt for the name brand pet Dremel, which is both powerful and relatively quiet, cordless, and has "low" and "high" settings and a wall charger. 

Other pet brands are often more expensive and less effective, and some garage dremels are too powerful (and also loud and scary). As with regular trimmers, a slow introduction with treats is best. Start by just turning it on near your dog and giving treats so that they get used to the appearance and sound.

Fearful or Aggressive Dogs 
For some dogs, retraining can only go so far. When there is true anxiety surrounding a nail trim, sedation is not a bad option. This can mean anything from a chew or pill given at home 30 minutes to an hour prior to the nail trim, or in extreme cases, an injectable sedative administered by your veterinarian. This is not to be confused with full anesthesia, and it generally poses very little risk to your pet. Rather than being a ball of stress and nerves while the person trimming struggles, your dog takes a nice nap and wakes up with shorter nails and little to no idea of what just happened. We would be happy to discuss the different options should your dog be a candidate for nail trim sedation.

Cat Claws
Cats are a mixed bag when it comes to nail trims. Their claws are much easier to trim in general since they are translucent and small, but as most feline fanatics already know, they don't always tolerate things that are not their idea. It never hurts to have a helper offering a distraction (or gentle restraint of the head or other paws if needed). Since cats retract their nails, the easiest way to start is to use your thumb and pointer finger to apply a very gentle pressure at the top and bottom of the paw at the joint behind the claw. Once the nail is exposed and you can see the pink area of the quick, you can quickly and easily snip off the sharp tip with cat nail scissors. As with dogs, sedation might be recommended if your cat becomes particularly stressed out during this process.

Helpful Tips  
  • For many dogs, less is more. Restraint is necessary in some cases, but some dogs are more bothered by the idea of being held still than by the nail trim itself. Always err on the side of caution, however. If your dog is prone to biting and wary of having his feet touched, it is not a good idea to attempt this technique without a muzzle or a helper. 
  • Try a different environment. My roommate's 85 pound rottweiler mix is a giant baby if you try to trim his nails in the kitchen, but he cooperates in the bathtub with little issue. See if your dog has a "safe" place that he might prefer. 
  • Let someone else take over. Frequently, dogs know what they can get away with when they're dealing with mom or dad, or they might be feeding off of your own anxiety or stress. When another person steps in, the process could go entirely differently. As always, we are happy to help with this. We can even provide housecall nail trims should your pet do better with these in his home environment. 
  • Walk your dog on rough surfaces. Asphalt can act like a nail file, grinding down the nails and helping to keep them relatively short. 

Request a Demonstration
If you're unsure how to use any of the tools that we've discussed here properly or just need a good idea of how to go about trimming your dog's nails, we are more than happy to show you. Personally, I enjoy trimming nails, and I am always ready to help others feel more confident about it. On your next visit to Shiloh, don't hesitate to ask us for a demonstration.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What Is Veterinary Chinese Herbal Medicine? ~ Christa Riddle, DVM, CVA, CVCH

Chinese herbal medicine is one of the five branches of Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. I am fortunate to have the knowledge to apply Chinese herbal medicine to many of my patients with chronic conditions such as Cushing's disease, kidney failure, chronic urinary tract infections, seizures, cancerallergies, asthma and arthritis. The list of conditions that I can use these herbal medicines on could go on and on. I see good results in many patients that have not received adequate or lasting results with conventional modern medicines and pharmaceuticals. I think Chinese herbal medicine is powerful in that regard! It's incredible to me that something so ancient, simple, and with reduced side effects can be such a powerful medicine for so many conditions.

Western Herbal vs. Chinese Herbal Medicine
Many clients are familiar with herbal remedies, but usually Western herbals.  Echinachia is an example of a Western herbal. We know it can help strengthen the immune system and help us fight colds or the flu. The major difference between Chinese herbal medicine and Western herbal medicine is that Chinese herbal medicines are given in a formula of multiple herbs and Western herbs are generally given as a single herb. Chinese herbal medicines also use minerals and some animal products in addition to plant based roots, seeds, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and petals. A Chinese herbal formula is a recipe of herbals from the Chinese materia medica (or formulary) to create a supplement that is balanced. The side effects of a single herbal will be balanced with one or more herbals to create balance in the formula. In my experience, Chinese herbal medicine appears to have fewer side effects compared to pharmaceuticals and this is most likely due to the balance created by combing multiple herbals in a formula.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Use in Dogs and Cats
Use of Chinese herbal medicines in veterinary medicine (especially dogs and cats) is much newer than its use in humans. In the United States, Chinese herbal medicines have been used for less than 40 years.  Chinese herbal medicine has been used in humans for over 1000 years! Compare that to pharmaceuticals that are used and/or tested in animals before application in people. It is comforting to me that humans have been the "guinea pig" for these traditional medicines. Many formulas were developed hundreds of years ago and are still used because of their effectiveness.

Pattern of Imbalance vs. Disease
In our modern culture, pharmaceuticals are used to treat specific conditions or diseases. All patients with the same condition are treated with the same medicine. For example, take the case of a dog with arthritis. If the dog is limping or stiff and has evidence of degenerative joint changes on a radiograph we would diagnose arthritis or degenerative joint disease and prescribe an anti-inflammatory pain medicine. By contrast, an arthritic dog treated with Chinese herbal medicine would receive a formula based on the pattern of imbalance. Therefore, every arthritic dog doesn't get the same formula since there are at least three choices for arthritic dogs. One pattern would be too much heat in the body where the dog would pant, have preference for cool areas of the house, have panting and/or increased thirst, and maybe do better in the winter months. The second pattern of imbalance would be a patient that has too much cold in the body and have preference for warm areas of the house or lie in the sun, the body might feel cold especially the feet and ears, and the arthritis might be better in the summer. The last imbalance might be too much dampness in the body which might be a dog with an oily coat, obesity, and worse on rainy or humid days. These three dogs all have arthritis and would be treated with the same anti-inflammatory medicine if we use a pharmaceutical, but three different Chinese herbal formulas since their patterns of imbalance are different. For this reason, examination of the patient is crucial when prescribing Chinese herbal medicines. If the cold patient gets the herbal formula that is best for the hot patient it might make the patient feel worse.

Integrated Medicine
Many clients are concerned with using herbal medicines with pharmaceuticals. Only in rare cases can the two not be used together. The good news is that you don't have to choose one therapy since most of my herbal patients get both conventional pharmaceuticals and Chinese herbal medicines. Treatment with both may be the most effective treatment for the patient. For example, the "hot" arthritic dog treated with an anti-inflammatory will have reduced pain but can also get herbals that help with reducing the excess heat signs in the body. The quality of life is enhanced when we can help with pain and the other symptoms that are associated with the body's imbalance.

Forms of Herbal Medicine Available
Chinese herbal medicines are generally in tablet, tea pill, capsule or granular form. See the pictures below for details. Some Chinese herbal formulas can also be used topically as a salve, dry powder, ear drop, or eye drop. Many clients are sometimes uncomfortable with the "volume" of herbal medicine given. It's important to remember for herbal medicine especially that volume does not always equal potency. Most herbals are ground in the whole plant form so only small amounts of active ingredients are present in the final product. Contrast to pharmaceuticals, where the active ingredient is synthesized, purified, and concentrated to create a potent powder or tablet. We are comfortable with the small size of our modern medicine in capsules and tablets and sometimes feel out of the comfort zone with the herbals most of time only because of the volume of granules needed, or number of capsules or tablets needed. Herbals are much less potent and therefore more volume is necessary to achieve the desired effect.


Herbal powder/granules and capsules with powder

Herbal Tablet
Most of the herbal products used in Chinese herbal medicine are only native to regions in Asia, specifically China. Safety of these raw products is cited as a major concern of many who use or oppose Chinese herbal medicine. The products that I prescribe are produced in the United States by companies with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and who diligently get third party testing for toxins and impurities such as heavy metals, antibiotics and antifungals, mold, bacteria, pesticides and insecticides. Some herbals need to be processed by cooking or stir-frying to reduce the toxicity of them. The companies that I use ensure the raw ingredients are properly processed and tested prior to creating the formulas and final products. Some people may also know that traditional medicines in Asia sometimes use products from endangered plant and animal species. The companies I use do not use these endangered products. Examples of these products would be tiger bone, rhino horn, and bear bile. It's also important to know that ephedra is not used in any Chinese herbal product produced in the United States.

Example of Commonly Used Chinese Herbal Formula
To illustrate what a Chinese herbal formula really is, look at the ingredients of a very commonly used supplement below. The indications for this formula would be vomiting, diarrhea, and poor appetite. I have used it successfully in herding breeds with anxiety induced low appetite and body weight. I have also used it in patients with liver disorders and poor appetite. It can also be used in pets with anxiety induced appetite or digestive concerns. In people it can be used for treating PMS. The formula name: Xiao Yao San can be loosely translated as Free Wanderer, Rambling Ease, or Going With the Flow.

Formula Name: Xiao Yao San
Bupleurum (Chai Hu)
Angelica (Dang Gui)
Peonia (Bai Shao Yao)
Atractylodes (Bai Zhu)
Poria (Fu Ling)
Licorice (Gan Cao)

There are six herbs in this formula that work together to restore harmony and balance to the liver and digestive tract. 50% of the herbs work on the liver and 50% work on the intestines. 

I have spent more than 165 hours of continuing education in the last two years to gain more knowledge in this branch of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). The intention of this post was to introduce the reader to basic information about the benefits and applications of Chinese herbal medicine in veterinary patients. I have witnessed the healing power that Chinese herbal medicines can provide to patients, especially with chronic diseases. It's safe to use this medicine in both the young and old. It can be safely and successfully combined with modern medicines, including chemotherapy. It can dramatically improve the quality of life in older pets with incurable conditions. If you haven't considered its use for your pet, I encourage you to take a second look. If you have already witnessed the benefits of its healing properties, I encourage you to share your experiences with others or by leaving a comment on this blog. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Matters of the Heart ~ Trisha, Technician

Ruby (whom you met in my park walk blog post back in August) is my approximately 6-year-old boxer mix rescued 2 years ago from a puppy mill. After the Genetic Health Analysis test, we determined that she is actually 7/8 American Staffordshire Terrier and 1/8 Boxer, but she is the perfect dog for our family.

When we adopted her, I knew that she was heartworm positive. I wasn’t aware of her other medical issues (mammary tumor, mast cell tumors, and fractured canine tooth), but we were able to manage those.

Heartworm disease is thankfully not very prevalent at Shiloh Animal Hospital because we have such great owners who really see the importance of giving their monthly heartworm preventative. However, heartworms are definitely heavily prevalent in North Carolina as a whole.

Heartworms are spread through mosquitoes, and we know that even indoor animals are susceptible since we can obviously be bitten by mosquitoes even in our homes.
Through a complex life cycle, the immature stages of heartworms infect the mosquitoes after they have a blood meal from an infected animal. If the mosquito then goes for another blood meal in a non-protected dog, then those immature heartworms progress and have an opportunity to turn into the full, adult form. The monthly heartworm preventative that you give (Heartgard, Trifexis, Advantage Multi, Interceptor, Sentinel, etc.) works by killing the immature, larval stages before they’re able to grow into the adults. Once the adults are present in the animal’s heart and lungs, preventative cannot treat the existing worms (but it will prevent more from developing).

Once we confirmed Ruby’s heartworm disease with a simple blood test, I knew that we would have to proceed with treatment. You might have heard that there is a “slow-kill” method involving giving multiple doses of regular heartworm preventatives. Unfortunately, "slow-kill" is not ever really a good option, as all it does is prevent more from developing and waits for the adults to die on their own which can take 5-7 years! In that time, the damage that can be done to the dog's heart and lungs is irreparable. Ruby’s health depended on getting her body rid of the worms. We submitted a full blood panel to check on the function of the internal organs, and everything looked good. We also performed radiographs to assess if there were any changes to the heart and lungs that we needed to be aware of. For treatment, we started with an antibiotic that actually kills the internal gut of the existing worms and prevents them from being able to produce the immature stages that mosquitoes would then continue to spread. We also had to use a tapering dose of steroids to ensure that her body would be less reactive to the dying process of these worms.

The immiticide injections are a necessary hardship. The product is administered intramuscularly in a series of 3 injections as recommended by American Heartworm Society. The first injection helps to kill off approximately 50% of the worms along with continued steroid use helps to prevent any reactions. One month later, we then administered injections 2 & 3 on consecutive days, which then statistically treats another 50% of the worms each day. These injections can be uncomfortable, so we recommend treating with a cold-light laser, ice pack, and/or pain medications to help decrease inflammation at the site.

Ruby was a champ and really didn’t let the injections change her life at all. The biggest change came from her owners, who had to stop running or playing for the next 3 months. This in some ways can be the hardest part of the treatment, since everyone loves playing with their dogs!  But this crucial step helps to minimize the potential for reaction. As the immiticide kills the adult heartworms, the disintegration of the worms in the heart and lungs breaks the worms up into small pieces, and we need to avoid over-exerting the heart in an effort to prevent throwing a clot or blockage of those pieces to the blood vessels.

On January 1st, Ruby got to start the new year by going back to paying and running! We got her a lacrosse ball for Christmas that year, and boy did she love running the yard. There was only one more step in this process. Four months after the last injection, we had to recheck a heartworm test. The 3-injection protocol is the surest way to fully treat the disease, but there is a small chance that there might still be heartworms even after this treatment. Ruby was negative, meaning we were successful and cleared!

Needless to say, we still give her heartworm prevention EVERY SINGLE month both during and after the treatment. There are no winter breaks, since North Carolina can still have mosquitoes all year long. Even as a holistic practice, we recommend one of the commercially available pharmaceuticals since there is no proven natural product at this point, and it’s not worth the risk. All dogs and even cats are at risk, and so we recommend it for every pet we see.

From the moment that a pet gets bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes 6 months to test positive on the blood test, yet at that point, the heartworms are too developed for regular  preventatives to have any effect.  And even if detected “early,” we would still recommend the same level of care and treatment protocol to give us the best chance of treating the full infection. I don’t wish this infection upon any pet or owner, so keep your pet protected with the simple, cheap, and effective way of preventing this devastating disease.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Getting Loopy ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

Back in my first ever post to this blog, I mentioned something called the Assisi Loop. I wanted to circle back to that today to talk a little more in-depth about what it is and why each and every person reading this should be completely amazed by it.

Simply put, the Assisi Loop is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical device that helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing in a targeted area on the body. It has no negative side effects, and it can be used in combination with medications as needed without any risk for drug interaction. In order to accomplish this, the Loop encourages the production and release of naturally occurring nitric oxide, which stimulates the body to heal itself. For a more detailed explanation of the science behind this device, watch this video.

One of the first patients to benefit from the use of the Assisi Loop after we began carrying this product was my little old "hospice" foster dog, Gramps. I put "hospice" in quotations because when we pulled this dog from a rural South Carolina shelter, he was in terrible shape--so terrible that we didn't expect he might live longer than a few weeks. He was diagnosed with Intervetrebral Disc Disease, had severely arthritic and previously broken front legs that healed improperly, and his bloodwork values indicated that his internal organ function was completely out of whack. The Loop was relatively new to our practice at the time, but I figured that this little guy had nothing to lose.

I started using the Loop on Gramps' crooked, sad little front legs right away. Within days of starting Loop treatments (three times daily at first), he was walking without assistance and was very obviously more comfortable. I was so impressed with his progress on this front that I decided to try something a little more challenging and hold the loop over his liver. If it could reduce inflammation in his legs, why not his internal organs? I was pleasantly surprised to find that retesting his bloodwork only one week later revealed a significant improvement. 

Because of this drastic improvement, we cautiously moved forward with treating another major problem. Gramps had dental disease so extreme that most of his teeth required removal and left him with a partially fractured jaw. However, Looping his muzzle after this procedure helped him to recover much faster than expected.

Gramps went on to recover and live a happy, comfortable, and snuggly seven months (FAR beyond his original prognosis). While I would love to take all the credit as his doting foster mom, I know that the Loop was a major reason for the extension in both his quantity and quality of life. I am forever grateful that we were able to give him the time in a loving home that he so deserved with the help of this unique device. 

I own two Loops myself, and many of our clients have also had similarly amazing results. One of our favorite felines, Tommy, used the Loop regularly, and his owner was about as smitten with it as I am. "I placed the Loop under his shoulder if he was lying on his right side, on top of his elbow if he was on his left side. He never objected to its placement and did nothing to dislodge it. Within the first two or three days, he was far more active and jumping his usual places...He no longer took two minutes to ease himself down on the bed or chair and he had fun romping up and down our hallway for the first time in forever...All in all I think of the Loop as a magic wand."

"Magic wand" is right! Obviously there is science behind the "magic," but for myself and the other pet parents who've seen what it can do, it will always feel like magic. Veterinary medicine has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, and it's finally reaching a point where owners can truly give their pets the best care possible with ease in the comfort of their own home.

If you think that your pet might benefit from the use of a Loop, don't hesitate to ask us about it. I will happily continue to rant and rave in person!

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks ~ Audra Alley, DVM, CVA, DABVP

I’m not sure if learning gets harder the older we get, or if we just have too many other things on our mind.  
I am so excited to be learning a new skill that I'm hoping will help many patients to be more comfortable, but I have to say that “re-learning” anatomy that I first learned 20(ish ☺) years ago is a little challenging! I love the “observation” part of medicine where I get to watch a patient move around and try to determine what is bothering them--what are they overusing, what are they trying not to move, and what could be causing that? Now, I am also learning new ways to evaluate these animals with hands-on manipulation.  
Veterinary medical manipulation (chiropractic) has been around for a long time. I had the pleasure of working with a veterinary chiropractic in the past, and we were able to achieve some pretty remarkable results when combining my acupuncture with her chiropractic skills.
Here’s an interesting perspective: there are 319 bones in the typical dog, and they should never actually touch. The skeleton is supported by muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and the ends of bones are protected by cartilage. Since they don’t actually touch, it makes sense that there should be some (albeit very small in some cases) movement of each individual bone. When this movement is restricted, we start to develop problems. Chiropractic allows us to detect these restrictions and correct them before a patient develops chronic pain or loses the ability to function normally.
I have to send a shout out to Dr. Ben Schemmel, my chiropractor, for helping to keep me functional. Last year, I had severe pain in my neck, and my right hand was going numb. My physical therapist helped a little but just couldn’t get it to resolve, and massage seemed to make it worse. Dr. Schemmel worked on me a couple times a week for a while, and before long, I was as good as new!
Sometimes, it is really hard to tell if our pets are suffering in silence. Recently, I saw a Labrador that was limping a bit on a front leg, but her regular vet really couldn’t find anything wrong with the leg. She tagged along with her brother one day for a visit to Shiloh, so we decided to check her out too. I also couldn’t find anything wrong with her leg, so I asked the owner if I could practice my new chiropractic skills on her kiddo. She agreed, and I found restrictions in the right side of her neck. I adjusted the area, and she immediately seemed to feel better–she trotted around the exam room wagging her tail and bouncing around. Here’s the best part: her limp went away! I suspect that the restriction in her neck was creating some inflammation around the nerves that come off of the spinal cord to go to her front leg, and it was uncomfortable for her (much like my hand was becoming numb from my neck issue).
I have a long way to go and many, many hours of studying to do before I sit for my certification exam in December, but it will be so worth it if I can help keep our pets moving, active, and feeling good.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Food as Medicine: Goji Berries ~ Christa Riddle, DVM, CVA, CVCH

This is one of my favorite quotations and a basis for the way I would like to practice veterinary medicine. If there is a food or a diet that can accomplish healing in a patient, I would prefer that to medication. A few years ago, I posted on my personal blog about the medicinal benefits of goji berries, and I wanted to re-share that with my Shiloh clients. Read below to learn more about this amazing superfood.

Dried Goji Berries
What are goji berries?
Goji berries are a fruit that grows on an evergreen shrub found in subtropical and temperate regions of China, Tibet and Mongolia. Goji berries are also called wolf berries, Lycium, or by the Chinese pin-yin Gou Qi Zi. 

What's special about goji berries?
These berries are rich in antioxidants, specifically beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. They are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin C. Goji berries also contain 18 amino acids, 8 polysaccharides, 6 monosaccharides, and 5 unsaturated fatty acids. You can get an abundance of nutrients in just one small berry!

What are the clinical applications?
In Chinese herbal medicine, goji berries are combined with additional herbs to help with eye disorders, endocrine disorders such as diabetes and Cushing's diseases, premature aging, coughing, hypertension, and infertility. Goji berries have been used by herbalists in China for over 6,000 years! 

What do goji berries taste like?
The berries have a mild tangy taste, slightly sweet and slightly sour. When eaten in the dried form, they have the texture and consistency of raisins. (FYI--you should never feed raisins to your pet).

What are the forms of goji berries available?
The most widely available form is dried fruit. There are juices and teas available but the health benefits are less well documented with these forms. You can find goji berries at health food stores, Asian supermarkets, and online.

Are there possible drug interactions?
Goji berries may interact with anticoagulant medications at high doses.

Can goji berries be used as food therapy?
Goji berries can be used long term for food therapy in animals and people. Before starting this with your pet, please check with your integrative veterinarian or experienced herbalist for proper use and dosage.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Felines and Flora ~ Rebecca, Technician

They say that the freshest food you can eat is the food that you grow yourself, but what about your pet’s food? I started growing some herbs and produce in and around my house last year, and I swear that it really does taste better grown fresh from the garden. This new interest in gardening lead me to start wondering how I could incorporate the same fresh ingredients into my cats' diet.

I have two cats, Charlie and Arya, but Arya was the main kitty who inspired me to add some greens into their lives. I started growing some wheatgrass indoors to add some extra vitamins to my morning smoothie, and before long, I started to find Arya jumping on the counter to nibble at the blades of wheatgrass. Once I learned that it helps aid feline digestion (no more hairballs!), I began offering it to my cats practically every morning. Not only does it have a high fiber content, but it also contains chlorophyll, folic acid, vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, and more! Keep in mind--with wheatgrass or oatgrass, if you leave them to grow up to five feet, the grains will become toxic; however, my grass has never made it farther than twelve inches.

Once I found out how much my cats love nibbling on some wheatgrass, I started to research other edible plants that I could grow for my cats and for myself. Catnip is an obvious choice, since it is a well-known kitty pleaser. The scent gives them bursts of energy, while if they eat the herb, it actually works to relieve stress and anxiety.

If your cat likes to ingest the catnip, it can be great to give before or after a trip to the vet’s office to help calm their nerves. One of the best uses for human consumption of catnip is to brew it into a tea. It can be used to aid digestion, calm nerves, and as a natural sedative. I will occasionally drink catnip tea an hour before bed if I'm feeling restless, and it puts me straight to sleep! If you prefer to keep your catnip for your kitties, a catnip tea bath can also be used to help relieve some itchy skin; just check with your veterinarian first, as this might not be recommended in all cases.

If your kitty is one of the sad few who do not get the bursts of energy associated with catnip, don't give up just yet! Valerian might be your next best bet. While cats seem to like the leaves and flowers, they will go crazy for the dried root. Valerian root is a stimulant, which means that it will send your cat dancing and rolling around your house. We bet you’ll never see your cat quite as happy as he is on Valerian root.

Some of the typical produce that you might already be growing can be enjoyed by our feline friends and can be beneficial to them as well. Parsley leaves contain vitamin A, B, and C, beta carotene, and potassium, so they’re a great addition to any edible garden. Carrot tops (Charlie's favorite), with their vitamin A and beta carotene, can be a great snack as well.

Whenever I am growing produce or herbs for myself or my kitties, I always try to start from seed. Going through the entire growing process helps to ensure that there are no chemicals added into the mix, and I can be confident that what we are eating is safe and extremely healthful. I try to have two or three pots of each plant growing so that I can get the most out of my production. I typically have plants that are only for human consumption (sorry Charlie, no sharing), plants that are accessible to my cats to nibble on as they please, and a set of plants in "recovery" from having their leaves bitten or being slightly uprooted. Most plants will recover and continue to grow well as long as you save them before more than 1/3 of the plant is destroyed.

Most importantly, when talking about edible plants, it’s worth having the knowledge of which plants to definitely not allow access to in and around your household. The most commonly encountered plants that are toxic to cats include:

       Autumn Crocus
       Lily of the Valley
       Sago Palm
       Tulips and Hyacinths

Visit the pet poison help website for a complete list of poisons.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Schutzhund Training ~ Niki, Assistant

One of the activities I have enjoyed most as a pet owner is the sport of Schutzhund. In the past fifteen years, I have owned a total of four Rottweilers, all of whom have competed and won Schutzhund titles. My last Rottweiler, Tyson (pictured below being adorable), was a rescue who was four-years-old when I adopted him, so his training started later in life. However, this did not seem to be a problem for him, because he was very eager to work and loved to please me. We went on to get our Schutzhund 2 (intermediate) and AD (endurance) titles.

Schutzhund training began in Germany. It was used primarily among breeders of German Shepherds for suitability testing, which provided reliable results concerning a dog's character, temperament, and physical ability. This type of testing allowed breeders to use only the highest quality of working dogs for breeding purposes. Other working dogs that adopted this testing were Belgian Malinois, Rottweilers, Doberman, and Pitbulls. Today, Schutzhund in the U.S can be a very rewarding, albeit grueling, sport for both the handler and the dog. In one day, the dog and the handler are put through three separate challenges. The end result of this sport is having a strong, confident dog who is willing to joyfully perform the tasks that the handler asks of him or her.
It should be noted that Schutzhund is not for dogs who already have temperament or aggression issues. Dogs who are shown to be aggressive or have temperament issues will be disqualified. (This usually means that if you have a dog who has bitten people in the past for unknown reasons, Schutzhund is not a good fit for you.)
Phase A: Obedience
The obedience phase shows the dog’s "want" or "enjoyment" to perform for their handler. The handler and the dog must have an exceptional working relationship in order to perform the tasks required in the obedience portion of Schutzhund. The obedience phase requires the handler to have complete control of his or her dog during the tasks of heeling on and off leash and walking through a crowd of people (the dog must not stop to sniff or allow for any distractions). The handler must be able to give the “sit” or “down” command at any time in a crowd or standing alone, and the dog must obey. Other activities include the dog staying in a “down” position while another dog or group of dogs works around it. Also during the obedience challenge, two shots are fired from a blank gun, and the dog must not react unfavorably.
Phase B: Tracking
In the tracking phase of Schutzhund, the dog must use its innate aptness to track a person, as well as  things that might have been dropped or lost along the path. Many people mistake Schutzhund tracking for search and rescue dogs. Schutzhund tracking is very specific and is judged based on the precision of the dog's ability to track a person’s  steps, whereas search and rescue dogs predominately use air scenting for tracking. This phase is usually conducted in dirt or grass.
Phase C: Protection
The last phase of Schutzhund is the protection category. Protection work should not be attempted until the obedience phase has been mastered by both the dog and the handler.  People should not confuse this phase of training with personal protection training or attack dogs.  In this category, the temperament and character of the dog is tested. The handler must have complete control at all times both on and off leash. In this level of competition, the dog must be courageous, but not vicious. This requires the working dog to have self confidence, prey drive, the willingness to obey its handler (being aware and responsive of commands given at all times), and the ability to perform under pressure. Protection work includes both on and off leash tasks. During these tasks, the dog must be protective of the handler without biting until given the command. The dog is only allowed to bite the sleeve of the "helper" (i.e. the “bad guy”) and is judged on its bite (full mouth vs. front teeth only). During this exercise, the dog MUST release when given the command to do so, or it will fail this phase of Schutzhund. The "bad guy" in this phase might hide behind a screen or in an open field, then approaching the handler in an aggressive manner.
Schutzhund training, while challenging, has been very rewarding for myself and for my dogs. If you think that you might be interested in trying this with your dog, start early. While some adult dogs like Tyson will pick it up quickly, it is best to instill at a young age.
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