Holistic Care a Boon for Seniors

Treating the Whole Pet for Quality of Life

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Meet Piper, a sweet 14-year-old Goldendoodle. Like many older dogs, while generally healthy, Piper periodically experiences back and hip pain, and has a bit of trouble getting around. All this is managed with the support of a great veterinarian.

When Dr. Louise Mesher of At Home Veterinary Services (AHVS), arrives at Piper’s home, she and her technician first do a thorough exam. Discussing any new issues and checking problem areas in her back and hips, the conversation naturally includes her quality of life, and treatment options to continue supporting her well-being. Mesher and her team treat the whole dog, considering quality of life in every step of the process. They first assess any medical concerns, then present a range of available treatments, detailing potential benefits and risks.

While discussing a pet’s aging and disease is difficult, it is extremely important — potentially preventing the need to make rash or emotional decisions later. Sometimes preventive treatment is “just what the doctor ordered,” but other times no action is best. A vet who is willing to discuss all the angles — with impeccable skills and a loving heart — is among a pet parent’s most important ally in navigating the later years of their beloved pet’s life. Dr. Mesher is just that for many, and it shows: this year Mesher and her practice won 1st Place Top Dog Awards for Home/Medical Vet, End of Life Care, and Cat Medical; and was voted Top 10 for Veterinarian (Dr. Heather Dillon and Dr. Mesher), Veterinary Practice, Specialty Medical, and Holistic Practitioner.

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In caring for seniors teamwork is king

“It is important to note that maintaining quality of life for elderly animals is not just about veterinary care,” Mesher explains. “It’s about organizing a whole support system. Each animal requires a different level of care, and each owner requires support from those around them. It’s a team approach.”

A full menu . . . and growing

AHVS provides many other services, including preventive and hospice care. For many animals, having care at home minimizes stress and allows for a relaxed, calm visit.

The ongoing care Piper receives includes acupuncture and therapeutic laser for back and hip pain. She also receives physical therapy (lucky dog!). Several members of the AHVS team are Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapists, and they teach Piper and her owners therapeutic exercises for strength and flexibility. AHVS now offers these services to assist patients with long-term injuries and debility. The wonderful team of vets is ready for just about anything, and unfailingly provides care that honors the human-animal bond at every stage of a pet’s life.

The October/November '17 (We Heart Our Aging Pets) issue is brought to you by At Home Veterinary Services.

Learn more: pdxhomevet.com * dvm@pdxhomevet.com * 503-281-1631

Pranic Healing

Options in wellness continue to grow

Complementary medical processes such as acupuncture and chiropractic care have expanded dramatically in recent years, helping pets with mobility, comfort and healing. Another recent option — energy or “pranic” healing — is a modality pet parents can do themselves to support their pet’s health and wellness.

Some are skeptical. When she first learned of Pranic Healing, Liza Burney was a practicing attorney with a left-brain, scientific perspective.  “I was not interested in airy-fairy stuff,” she says. “But I was dealing with a medical condition that mainstream medicine wasn’t resolving, so I began to explore alternatives.”

Burney says her exploration was systematic and methodical and included studying underlying research.  “Fortunately for me, Pranic Healing approaches healing the same way an engineer would, including years of testing. I learned a new paradigm of healing using the energy flowing from the hands to balance, harmonize, and transform the body’s energy fields, which supports and accelerates physical healing for people and pets.”

“I explored the process, and realized that in addition to the physical body, there is an entire system of energetic anatomy which, with a little training, can be sensed with the hands, evaluated and restored to a balanced state. When we understand that the condition of our physical body is directly related to the health of our energy fields, our entire approach to healing changes.   The first time I felt my dog’s energy field, it was like nothing else I’d experienced — and things have never been the same.”

The Principle

Pranic Healing is based on the principle that the body possesses the innate ability to heal itself and that healing can be accelerated by increasing vital energy (prana) to the affected part — this is fuel the body uses for healing.  With more fuel, the body heals more quickly, sometimes with surprising outcomes.

Burney shares this from a student:  “My dog, who is prone to skin conditions, developed a hot spot on the back of his leg. I tried what we learned in class and, after cleaning and applying topical spray to the site, applied Pranic Healing. I couldn’t find the injury the following morning! I finally found it — the spot was marked by a little patch of matted fur — the redness was gone.” 

Pranic Healing can help when traditional treatment options are uncertain.  “Western medicine sometimes has limitations treating certain conditions,” says Burney, “like ‘mystery’ digestive disorders.” For example, she cites a cat which chronic vomiting that the vet thought was some incurable disease.  After one Pranic Healing session, the next day that cat looked alert and began to eat without vomiting.  The owner couldn’t believe how quickly the cat responded, especially because the effect was long-lasting.

Emotional Conditions

Dogs have rich emotional lives, says Burney. Shelter dogs often struggle with fear and anxiety; others may be affected by the trauma of a divorce, or grief over the loss of a companion.  “Our emotional state is directly linked to the balance of our energy fields,” she says. “Which is good news, because we can use energetic tools to rebalance and strengthen the emotional body, which helps heal the symptoms.”

Pranic Healing can be learned by anyone — the basics in two hours. Intensive weekend workshops run 16 hours. Learn more at heart-to-heart-healing.com.

 

Dental Health and your Critters

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Conventional medicine, both human and veterinary, is recognizing more and more the importance of seeing the health of the body as an interconnected whole. There is perhaps no more important place to consider this than the mouth. Current conventional medicine has now made a solid connection between those with periodontal disease and those with heart disease. The same organism (a spirochete) that is responsible for periodontal disease is the same one causing heart disease in many cases! 

We understand that digestion begins in the mouth. If we think of the mouth as the origin of digestion, we recognize that, just like in the gut, maintaining a habitat for the right type of organism is critical. We now have available a wide range of probiotics to ‘reboot’ the gut microfauna and the best way to assure proper microfauna in the mouth is to feed your critter raw meat and cooked vegetables. 

I noticed over a decade ago that my dogs who ate a raw diet could lick the wounds on their pads caused by cuts from oyster shells (a notoriously ‘dirty’ wound) and heal quickly. My kibble-eating dogs prior to that always required a cone or some other means of keeping themselves from cleaning their own wounds.  It seemed very odd to me that wild dogs and cats cleaned wounds by licking and were healed, yet my dogs had to be protected from their own saliva! In my herbal critter practice it is quite satisfying to see this transformation take place and watch dogs and cats recapture their ability to speed their own healing just from changing the diet and supporting with herbs.

Getting your critters teeth checked regularly by your vet and watching for signs of mouth issues is so very important to their wellbeing! I have seen so many times cats or dogs who are elders return to youthful vitality almost overnight when the mouth infection and pain is resolved by removing teeth. Perhaps with our increasing devotion as a society (well a lot of us anyway) to our furry families, we will begin to see vets offering root canals as an option instead of removal of teeth.

Here are some things to watch for:

 - Separated coat

This is often first sign of any problem, it tells us that the critter is not grooming normally because they are not feeling well. In the case of mouth issues, this general malaise is compounded by the problem of mouth pain.

 - Returning to the feeding dish often yet only eating a few bites at a time. This is a serious sign of mouth pain, get your critter checked!

 - Weight loss    

 - Reacting after eating with signs like excessive chop licking.

 - Painful places around the mouth and sinuses when scratched

 - Digestive upset due to swallowing bacteria from the infection.

 - Discoloration of teeth and/or broken teeth. Fortunately many broken teeth can be sealed just like for humans.     

Editors note: If you notice these or any other symptoms of dental distress, take your animal to your vet as soon as possible.

The healing benefits of herbs

Freeway enjoys a Catnip-induced nap.

Freeway enjoys a Catnip-induced nap.

When something doesn’t seem right with our pet, most of us contact the vet.  An exam, maybe blood work and some diagnostics and your animal might be on the path to healing.  But what about when that doesn’t work?  Or if your pet becomes resistant to traditional drug therapies?  Then there are simply those who prefer alternative therapies.  An increasing number of pet lovers are looking to alternative treatment options . . . and they’re finding that sometimes they’re just what the doctor ordered. 

Still, for many, health modalities other than tradition Western practice remain a mystery.  Today we’re going to explore the matter.

What is an herbalist?

The American Herbalists Guild says, “Herbal medicine is the art and science of using herbs for promoting health and preventing and treating illness.”  The Guild goes on to point out that herbs have been used this way for more than 5000 years.  

The Ideal

Spot spoke with herbalist Sonja Boynton of Bluebird Herbals, who began applying herbs when her own dog was going into liver failure.  Traditional measures ceased to be effective, so she turned to plants.  The decision gave her beloved pet an additional two and a half healthy years.

Boynton says the ideal is in joining traditional veterinary knowledge with the use of an herbalist to get the best of both worlds.  Each has their areas of expertise, which can complement each other in health and healing.  Your herbalist, for example, doesn’t typically perform surgery, but with a background in botany, does know plants and their effect on the body.  Boynton says she’s the “first one to run to the vet” if she needs additional help or if herbs aren’t getting expected results.

Common Ailments

So what kinds of problems are commonly treated by herbs?  Sometimes pets overeat or get into things they shouldn’t, causing tummy upset.  Next time this happens, try Slippery Elm powder.  Mix a little into a few tablespoons of water until it forms a slurry and feed it to your pet disguised in something tasty like yogurt, canned food, or a smidge of honey.

Another way to get herbs into your pet are tinctures.  These are often alcohol- or glycerin-based herbal extractions in liquid form.  Tinctures are generally fairly potent, so just a few drops in your pet’s food will often do the trick. 

Herbalist Sonja Boynton produces organic herbal tonics and wellness products

Herbalist Sonja Boynton produces organic herbal tonics and wellness products

You’ll notice little was mentioned about dosage.  Boynton’s teacher, and modern herbal pioneer, Rosemary Gladstar refers to the safety of herbs as describing where they fall on the 'herbal clothesline,' generally into three categories.  On the left of the line, you have herbs like Slippery Elm and Calendula that can be given in any dose with no side effects.  Herbs “in the middle,” that should be used either with a good deal of knowledge or under the guidance of an herbalist include Goldenseal and Black Cohosh.  Those “on the far right,” which can cause damage if taken too often or at the wrong dose, are best used only under the close guidance of an herbalist such as Wormwood, Rue, and Black Walnut.

Herbs are used for many things, and can be taken proactively.  For example, Rosemary is often used as a preventative against cancer, according to Boynton, a disease affecting too many pets today.  “Rosemary is known to have cancer-fighting properties and is as an essential oil has been shown in clinical studies to be a more effective anti-microbial than bleach in killing staph infections,” says Boynton, adding, “Plus it’s an amazing brain tonic and anti-inflammatory.”

Catnip, while sending most kitties into blissful frenzy, is actually a nervous system tonic and is wonderful for the eyes, coat, and skin.  Alfalfa is good for kidneys, digestion, and arthritis.  Chickweed is helpful for tumors, and fennel works well for colic and flatulence in cats.  These are all examples of proactive treatments, of which Boynton concocts many.  Offering a variety of tinctures, Bluebird Herbals is the maker of Daily Doggie Tonic and a Daily Kitty Tonic, which work to strengthen and support the immune system, liver and kidneys.  Both tonics were recently made available in Spot’s Goodie Bags at local pet events.

Boynton says certain herbs are useful in focusing on particular organs as part of a treatment plan, such as the liver.  “The liver is a hardy, robust organ,” she says.  “It takes a lot of abuse before problems may arise.”   When concerns do arise, they can often be attributed to this one organ simply because it’s responsible for such a big job — handling toxin and waste removal.  Interestingly, allergies are one ‘concern’ that can arise from a liver that is out of balance.  “If the liver is overwhelmed, it pushes toxins out wherever it can and often it is through the skin,” Boynton explains.  “If a pet presents with allergy symptoms such as inflamed skin, smelly, itchy ears; or is scratchy, treat the liver and see if it resolves.” Some treatments work fast with herbs, others slow. The liver takes a long time to get out of balance and so it takes a long time to restore it to balance. Taking liver toning herbs 2-3x/day for 8-12 months is what I recommend to resolve allergies.

Herbs can be effective in treating both acute and chronic problems.  They rarely cause side effects and very few interactions with common medications.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander . . . and the dog, the cat, and even the family bird or reptile.  Boynton encourages pet owners to learn about plants or work with an herbalist to add them into their pets’ diets, noting that herbal treatments work best with a well-fed body.  High-quality diets help fuel the body with what it needs for healing.

Resources

Bluebird Herbals Daily Doggie and Kitty Tonic

Bluebird Herbals Daily Doggie and Kitty Tonic

If you’re intrigued, here are a couple of ways Boynton suggests getting started.  She recommends the book Herbs for Pets by Mary L. Wulff-Tilford and Gregory L. Tilford, which includes comprehensive instructions, step-by-steps, historical facts about herb use, and examples for practical application.  The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat by groundbreaking critter herbalist Juliette deBairacli Levy is a bit more advanced, Boynton says, but great for anyone who wants to jump in wholeheartedly.  Rosemary Gladstar has a wonderful website packed with information at SageMountain.com.

Once you’re educated and ready to start using plants and herbs in your pet’s health plan, Boynton says, “Yay!  Good for you!”  She also issues this caution:  Herbs, particularly those in powder form, have a shelf life and can spoil.  You can grow your own, or purchase from experienced herb distributors such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Zack Woods Herb Farm.  Such online retailers offer plentiful stock via convenient online shopping.  The important thing, says Boynton:  do your homework and make sure you’re getting high quality.  Boynton also suggests always going organic for the best results.

While no single health alternative takes the place of traditional veterinary medicine, many swear by the health and healing power of herbs.  And the best solution just might be a combination of traditional and alternative.  Of course, in an emergency, always consult with your vet. 

Photos courtesy of Bluebird Herbals

Think your cat won’t take to herbs?  Watch Sonja serving up Daily Kitty Tonic to a sweet, finicky old girl named Freeway in this video.

Using herbs to prevent and treat fur balls in cats

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Well, it is that time of year again folks! As you are undoubtedly aware, we just celebrated Hairball Awareness Day!  Doesn’t it feel like you just put the decorations away from last year? But, I jest.

Fur balls are caused by a buildup of fur in the stomach. When the gastrointestinal tract of a cat is well lubricated and a cat has adequate digestive fire, fur balls are absent except on rare occasion during periods of intense shedding in the spring and fall. Generally fur balls are an indicator of a possible imbalance, but are harmless in themselves.  If you suspect any obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) from fur balls or any type of material, it is a serious condition. So if your cat experiences lethargy and/or lack of appetite and liveliness, consult your cat companions’ veterinarian or health care provider immediately.

If your cat experiences repeated fur ball episodes, it is likely that the GI is dry and hot, as in the case of having intestinal worms, or dry and cold, in the case of finicky appetite caused by a low digestive fire. In either case the GI needs lubrication with herbs and raw diet. Imagine a hot, inflamed GI and then imagine a shard of kibble going through, OUCH! Since carnivores only chew their food enough to fit down their throat, they do not soften food in the mouth like we do when we chew.

The best GI lubricant is slippery elm. It moistens and soothes everything it touches and it is easy to get most cats to take it!  Do not give slippery elm dry as a tablet or capsule as it will wick moisture from the GI instead of wicking moisture from the milk or water that it is soaking in. Slippery elm also eliminates the irritable bowel symptoms often caused by fur balls.

How to give cats medicine for fur balls

1.      Wisk ½ tsp. of slippery elm powder (cut and sifted slippery elm is only marginally helpful here) into about an ounce (more if you have a finicky cat) of room temperature milk. Cold milk causes excess congestion and mucous and is generally not good for anyone, cat or human. 

2.      Wisk in a small pinch of turmeric, fennel or other spice in it if your cat will allow it. Start very small!

3.      Give to your cat to enjoy

What? Your cat didn’t drink it?

·         Does she/he enjoy milk? If not try half and half or try the suggestion below

·         Wisk ¼ tsp. slippery elm powder in a tablespoon of water and mix into ½ of a can of wet cat food or

·         Wisk ¼ tsp. into sardines in water.

If she/he still won’t eat it, reduce the amount of slippery elm powder even further and ramp up the dose over the course of a week if possible.  Any slippery elm is better than none.

Butter or clarified butter works well for temporary help but the slippery elm treats the symptom (the fur ball) and the disorder (the dry GI). Butter is a great remedy to administer at the time your cat has the initial hacking/coughing of a fur ball episode.

Preventing Fur balls

If you have a long haired cat who preens often, you might try to support the GI at the beginning of each shedding season by giving the slippery elm remedy above.  Fur balls (accumulation of fur in the stomach) and excreting a lot of fur through stools will dry and inflame the GI and causes weakness in immunity to worms and other intestinal parasites.  You can also brush the cat (use a human grade dense bristle hair brush for the best cat-tongue-like brush). For added benefit, mist a bit of water on the brush and now you have made yourself a perfect cat tongue!  Also, see my blog on Natural Flea Treatments for more information about the benefits of brushing your companions.

Fur balls can be a sign of:

·         A long haired cat who is a fastidious groomer during shedding season may have a fur ball or two per year

·         An elder cat whose GI has dried out

·         Intestinal parasites which can cause fur balls by drying the GI – fur balls also cause GI dryness that can make cats weak to intestinal parasites

·         Lack of available clean water

·         Irritable bowel

·         Other GI difficulties and diseases

With this knowledge, we may be able to look forward to next year’s Hairball Awareness Day with a little less distress.

Wishing you well!

Learn more about Sonja’s herbal remedies and treatments and www.bluebirdherbals.com.

The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog

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The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog by Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown, DVM

This month we dove into The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog 2nd Edition by longtime breeder Wendy Volhard and Veterinarian Kerry Brown.  The term “holistic” may be a buzzword, but philosophically it means considering the whole animal when dealing with its well-being and care.

The book especially highlights the holistic when it comes to healthful feeding.  In large part it recommends Volhard’s “Natural Diet,” which she uses for her own dogs.  Additionally, the guide explains the applications of many natural remedies.  Your dog has arthritis?  You may want to try arnica.  Is he a stool eater?  Does she have dry skin?  There are natural remedies for many afflictions.

In regards to feeding, the plan for the Natural Diet is detailed through menu choices for dogs of various ages, sizes, and activity levels.  Dr. Brown lends credibility by advocating for yearly blood tests to make sure the diet meets your pet’s needs.

Even if you do not intend to change what your dog eats you may be interested in the detailed explanations of the advantages of raw food from a biological point of view.  Instead of using popular phrases like “what a wolf would eat” the book explains how the canine body digests food and why raw is appropriate and kibble is not.

Upon first read, some of the ideas seem outlandish in the face of western medicine and modern feeding methods.  Some practices (such as once-a-week fasting) sound extreme, but dogs share 98 percent of their DNA with wolves.  Domestic dogs rarely exercise as much as wolves, but the processes of digestion and nutritional requirements are proportionately very similar.  Today’s pet owners battle obesity, diabetes, liver failure, cancer ,and other canine maladies with so much regularity that it makes great sense to learn about keeping your dog healthy through holistic means. 

 

Do you have a “Dogi”?

The whole Barkhas family practices yoga with Jaya.  Here, "mom" Peony works with her.

The whole Barkhas family practices yoga with Jaya.  Here, "mom" Peony works with her.

Dogs can learn yoga right along with you

Suman Barkhas puts a twist on the traditional yoga practice.  For him, downward-facing dog is not just for humans.  A yoga and tai chi teacher based in Eugene, OR for 10 years, when Barkhas noticed his dog Jaya doing what looked like yoga poses, he encouraged it.

Jaya, whose name means “Victory” in Sanskrit, was adopted from Eugene’s Greenhill Humane Society four years ago.  “When we got this dog, she was very much abused and scared,” says Barkhas.  “She had been traumatized.  Having a good environment and a family playing with her, Jaya was able to come out of that fear.”

Stretching in the form of “downward dog” with all four paws on the floor and the hips bent upward, is natural for dogs.  But Barkhas’s three teenagers began using treats to train Jaya to remain in the position for extended times.

“Working with the food was a big challenge for Jaya,” says Barkhas.  “She was always nervous about food.  The trick of putting a dog biscuit on her nose and having her stay there for a minute without moving or eating helped to teach the pose and patience, which was rewarding because Jaya’s behavior changed.  It cultivated discipline.”  Barkhas says this also taught Jaya to hold the poses without growling or moving.  

Suman Barkhas considers himself more Jaya's dad than "master," though he is in fact a master...of yoga and tai chi.

Suman Barkhas considers himself more Jaya's dad than "master," though he is in fact a master...of yoga and tai chi.

Barkhas was born 48 years ago in the Mongolian capitol city of Ulan Bator.  He trained as a yoga monk in India in the early ’90s, then traveled throughout Asia and India teaching yoga for nearly a decade.  While traveling, he met his wife, who hailed from Eugene.  They settled there for good together 10 years ago.  “I learned yoga as a teenager and started practicing on my own,” says Barkhas.  “I started meeting monks from India and one of them invited me to come to India.  I was searching for, ‘How do I live in this world in harmony and be peaceful and happy?  I found the answer in yoga.”

Since settling in Eugene, Barkhas has continued teaching yoga and tai chi in parks, community centers, and at Peacehealth Medical Center at Riverbend.  He also works with yoga and tai chi instructors training for Oregon licenses.

While Barkhas has decades of training and experience, he believes that with patience, anyone can involve their dog in their yoga practice the way he and his family has.  “It was a gradual change,” he says.  “You train your pet while you’re playing with them and taking walks so they walk without pulling.  For Jaya that discipline took several months of walking every morning; her fear and trauma was deep.”  

Barkhas’s children taught Jaya how to stand and hold a position, and how to open doors.  “It took several months to a couple of years to get used to that,” he says.  Now Jaya has mastered standing on two legs with a biscuit on her nose, holding the position for about a minute —“which is really good focus,” says Barkhas.  Jaya also now lies down and stays in position for as long as instructed.  “It’s the beginning of training,” Barkhas says.  “She’s not mastered, not yet.  Mastering is a constant process.  Any dog can be trained if you give them time, especially if you train with the help of food, giving the reward each time.  Of course, we have to pay attention to how to train in a nice way.”

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Yoga is about more than physical and mental health, says Barkhas; it’s also about living in harmony with your environment.  If your dog is already your best friend, then involving him or her in your practice can further strengthen that bond.

“A lot of people think yoga is shaping yourself or exercise or breathing,” he says.  It is not only that; it goes beyond.  Once you start cultivating that lifestyle you are actually becoming peaceful with yourself and others, in harmony with plants and animals and everything.  It very much goes with any faith, any belief, because we all are humans.  We call ourselves superior but yet we have to learn from our environment — the plant world, the animal world — because our ego takes over.  We have to lean to be humble, living peacefully in the environment and doing good to ourselves and others.  Yoga teaches everything.”

To learn more about Suman Barkhas and his yoga and tai chi teachings, visit TaiChiYogaCenter.com or call 541-515-0462.

Organic Pet Product Company born through necessity

Pictured (l to r) Sue Smith, Ben and Elana Hoerter.  Horses, Bella and Christy, dogs Amy and Hannah and Sammy the cat.

Pictured (l to r) Sue Smith, Ben and Elana Hoerter.  Horses, Bella and Christy, dogs Amy and Hannah and Sammy the cat.

Since its first public appearance at the Saturday Market in downtown Eugene, Oregon, local pet product manufacturer Mad About Organics has grown by leaps and bounds.  Now approaching its fourth year in business, the company has grown to distribute product lines to over 200 stores nationally and internationally. 

Many people are concerned about effectiveness when considering a move to organic, chemical-free products says MAO owner and operator, Ben Hoerter, and he and his family were no exception.  This now booming Eugene-based concern began from just that kind of concern, coupled with necessity.

Several years ago, Ben Hoerter’s wife Elana and her mother Sue Smith were breeding a mare at a time when flies were rampant.  Worried about the amount of chemicals in conventional fly sprays and not wanting to expose the mare or her growing foal, Elana Hoerter and Mrs. Smith began working on a natural solution.  The process was bolstered by Smith’s medical background as a registered nurse, and Elana Hoerter’s Masters Degree in Equine Genetics from Oregon State University. 

Through extensive scientific research the pair formulated Horse Insect Relief Spray, which proved to be ideal for mare and baby.  This first success fueled them to continue their work, which ultimately led them to develop of a full line of equine products that is safe and effective for animals four weeks and older, including pregnant females.

As the Hoerter and Smith families not only love horses but also dogs and cats, it was a natural for them to expand their focus to include products for the smaller species.  Today the company boasts an entire line of quality organic pet care products, including multiple dog and cat shampoos, topical treatments for fleas, ticks, and skin conditions, an insect relief spray, and a healing ear cleaner that’s good for both dogs and cats.

Hoerter says their thriving company is a testament to peoples’ growing desire to seek more effective organic products. “I think people are becoming more educated and looking for more natural products.  Our animals are our kids, and we want them to be healthy and with us as long as possible.”

Contact and learn more about Mad About Organics at www.MadAboutOrganics.com.

Allergies and the Liver

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If your critter has flea or other allergies, this is almost always a reflection of a liver out of balance. It is truly amazing and deeply rewarding to see cats and dogs who have suffered with these symptoms for most of their life to see them return to vibrant health! Since it takes a long time for a liver to get out of balance, it also takes a long time to return it to health.  In most cases, daily treatment with liver herbs will completely resolve an allergy in a year. In some cases the allergies are improved but not eliminated in a year and the treatment is given for 18 months or more.

I offer my patients a formula I make called Long Live Liver for problems such as this.  The formula includes milk thistle, dandelion, burdock and yellow dock roots, sarsaparilla, licorice and a bunch of other helpful herbs.  Give ¼ tsp for a 50-pound dog twice daily. For cats give 10 drops (or less if yours gives you cat-itude), twice daily in a strong tasting treat such as bonito flakes. Bonito flakes are available in most natural food stores in the Asian section, bonito is a dried flaked tuna fish.  Also give fish oil. I like one from Spectrum called ‘Small Fish Oil’ to avoid the concentration of toxins in the larger fish such as cod.

During the time that we are uprooting the cause of the disease by strengthening the liver, we continue to use herbal and/or conventional treatments to help ease symptoms, but we are slowly uprooting the disease. Keeping the lymph clear and operating smoothly is amazingly helpful.  Cleavers and/or chickweed as an infusion added to meals or a dose of Lymphatic Formula twice daily can do wonders. If you are using the tincture, you can just add it with the Long Live Liver Formula to the treat you are giving the medicine in.

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It is no wonder we are seeing so many of our beloved critters suffer from allergies such as flea allergies, chronic ear infections, and all kinds of respiratory and itchy skin and coat conditions. In the past, conditions such as allergies, arthritis and asthma all fell under the medical heading of ‘dirty blood.’ Consider that the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins, both natural metabolic ones as well as newly created environmental ones.  Chemically treated lawns, rugs, flea killing medications and poor diet and even good quality foods that are high in residual pesticides are all adding to the workload and problems of the liver. The liver is quite overworked!

Two of my favorite foods that help balance the liver are flat-leaf parsley and burdock root.  Burdock root is usually available from most natural food stores in the produce section.  Just shred the root raw into food or cook it for yourself with other vegetables and enjoy.  Take the leftovers and puree them (a Magic Bullet is awesome here) and add to other food. Parsley is best given raw pureed or just chopped fine and sprinkled over critter food.  Cats, of course, being cats, need to be coaxed by a puree. Mix the puree with some sardines or sardine water (don’t use the sardines in oil), canned mackerel or even mixed with wet cat food. 

It may take a little experimenting with your own critters’ personal taste to introduce these new foods into their diet, but patience can often will out even the most finicky of our furry ones.

Be Well!

For more information about herbal remedies, please visit BluebirdHerbals.com.

A Natural Approach to Relieving Flea Problems and Flea Allergies

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The most powerful tool for eliminating flea problems is one that you probably have: the brush!

Brushing your cat or dog outdoors (or on a towel that youshake outdoors) is absolutely amazing at keeping the flea population in check. Eighty percent of the flea population is in the form of eggs. These eggsare easily removed with a gentle but somewhat vigorous (alternating brush strokes with the fur, and then against the fur) brushing. You will also dislodge many pupae and larvae – the adults simply jump off.  Every day you can remove more than 80% of the flea population in the area it is most highly concentrated in, your critter! 

Taking dog and cat beds outside and shaking them once a week adds even more benefit. Vacuuming under and around critter beds once a week is usually sufficient.  Make sure you put some Diatomaceous Earth (found in garden shops as a slug killer) in your vacuum bag to prevent eggs from hatching and adult fleas from climbing out!  In a week or two, a flea infestation becomes a flea issue. In a couple more weeks, the flea population is so low that fleas are no longer a problem and you can go to a less intense brushing, bed shaking, and vacuuming routine.

If your critter does not enjoy being brushed, you will need to work slowly to rebuild her trust, working for short periods of 30-60 seconds of brushing in a feel-good area. For cats, usually the cheeks and top of the head is preferred while dogs tend to like the top of the head, neck, belly and chest. Be patient and this will become enjoyable for you both, especially when your neighbors tell you how vibrant your critter’s coat is!

Next time I’ll talk about how allergies may often be a sign of a liver imbalance and how to best treat this imbalance.

Wishing you well!

Learn more about Sonja's work at BluebirdHerbals.com