The life you save may be your pet’s!

There’s always been lots of information about second hand smoke and people but did you know there is considerable research proving secondhand smoke is harmful for pets too? Think about this everytime you light up in your house with Fido on your lap, or when you’re taking Spot to his favorite park. The American Lung Association of New Hampshire provides some stunning facts on why you should consider your pets when you smoke around them.


• Dogs that inhale secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lung or nasal cancer than dogs living in smoke-free homes.
• Dogs can experience allergic reactions to secondhand smoke. Common symptoms of this allergic reaction are the scratching, biting, and chewing of their skin. Owners often confuse this reaction with fleas or food allergies.
• Cigarette butts can also be deadly. Two butts, if eaten by a puppy, can cause death in a relatively short period of time.


• Birds can react badly to secondhand smoke and may develop eye problems, as well as other respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing.
• Birds that sit on a smoker’s hand can experience contact dermatitis from the nicotine that remains on the smoker’s hand. This can cause them to pull out their feathers.


• Cats exposed to secondhand smoke in the home have a higher rate of an oral cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, which may be due to the way cats groom themselves. When cats groom themselves they eat the poisons from secondhand smoke that have settled on their fur.
• Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of feline lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, than cats not exposed to secondhand smoke.
• Cats can develop respiratory problems, lung inflammation, and asthma as a result of secondhand smoke. There are 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, and 43 are known to cause cancer.

Other dangerous issues can occur……

By ingestion of cigarette or cigar butts which contain toxins. Death- From 1-5 cigarettes and from 1/3-1 cigar can be fatal if ingested.
By drinking water that contains cigar or cigarette butts (which can have high concentrations of nicotine)
By ingestion of nicotine replacement gum and patches.

Think again of the health effects:

• Breathing problems in dogs and asthmatic-like symptoms in cats
• Salivation
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting
• Cardiac abnormalities
• Respiratory difficulties and respiratory paralysis
• Feline lymphoma in cats
• Lung cancer in dogs
• Nasal cancer in dogs

• As in the case of children and others in the home, don’t smoke.
• If you must smoke take it outside- Don’t expose others to your smoke
• Don’t allow others to smoke around your pets.
• Keep ashtrays clean- Don’t leave butts in them for pets to find.
• Dispose of nicotine gum and patches in receptacles that can’t be accessed by pets.
• Consider quitting- The health effects of your smoking on pets is just one more good reason to quit.

We found this video online and thought we would share it – it was just fun to watch – especially if you are a dog owner!

In this video a group of dogs arrange a beach party complete with umbrellas, chairs, beach mats, surf boards, balls and other toys. You see them chasing each other, diving into the water for a swim and then playing with a beach ball and a frisbee. They clearly look like they’re all having a great day in the sand and water. Enjoy watching this fun video.

By Dr. Becker

The canine lifespan seems too short, doesn’t it?
By the time a large breed dog is 10 years old, he’s considered retirement age in human years. Giant breeds age fastest of all, but even the littlest guys at age 18 are the equivalent of a 90-year-old human. Most committed dog owners want to keep their furry companions with them as long as possible, well into old age.

Caring for a happy, healthy senior means providing:
1)  Physical and emotional comfort as your dog ages
2)  Balanced, species-appropriate nutrition, especially high-quality protein
3) Ongoing, regular opportunities for exercise, socialization and mental stimulation


IMG_0517Providing Physical and Emotional Comfort to an Aging Dog
If your dog seems physically uncomfortable, it’s important not to assume it’s just a natural part of aging. You want to make sure she’s not in pain, so a visit to the vet is in order.

• Twice-yearly vet visits are very important for older pets so that you and your vet can stay on top of physical and mental changes that may indicate a disease process underway. The sooner a health problem is diagnosed and treated, in most cases, the better the outcome.

• Keeping your pet at a healthy weight and physically active will help control arthritis and degenerative joint disease as he ages. Chiropractic adjustments, stretching, water exercises, and acupuncture can also provide enormous benefits in keeping dogs mobile in their later years.

• There are also supplements that can be added to your dog’s diet to help maintain healthy tendons, ligaments, joints and cartilage. These include glucosamine sulfate with MSM and eggshell membrane, omega-3 fats (krill oil), ubiquinol, supergreen foods like spirulina and astaxanthin, natural anti-inflammatory formulas (herbs, proteolytic enzymes and nutraceuticals), and Adequan injections, which can stimulate joint fluid very rapidly in pets with arthritis.

• Regular massage can help keep your senior pet’s muscles toned and reduce the slackening that comes with aging. Massaged muscles are looser, which makes it easier for your pet to move around comfortably.

• Massage also improves circulation and encourages lymphatic drainage. It can ease the stiffness of arthritis, which helps your pet maintain his normal gait and active lifestyle. Massage also loosens the muscles around joints, which helps promote ease of movement.

• If your dog is having some urine dribbling or incontinence as a result of his age (and not caused by an underlying condition that should be addressed), provide him with more frequent potty trips outside. You can also reintroduce him to his crate if he was crate trained initially.
If your dog has problems hearing or seeing, use odor cues like scented candles or other aromatherapy products to help him find his way around.

• Consider purchasing or building ramps for a dog who is having trouble getting into the car or up on the bed or a favorite chair.

• For sleep problems in older dogs, try increasing his daytime activity level. Let your pet sleep in your bedroom. Sleeping near you should help ease any anxiety that is contributing to his nighttime restlessness.

• Guide your dog with clear cues and easy-to-follow instructions, especially if he’s showing signs of mental decline. And when you talk to your dog, keep your voice quiet, calm and kind.

The Importance of High-Quality Protein for Older Pets
Contrary to what many pet owners and even veterinarians believe, studies indicate dogs (and cats) need more protein as they age, not less. The reason senior dog food formulas boast reduced protein content is because the poor-quality protein they use is difficult to digest, especially for older dogs who’ve been fed the stuff all their lives. The rendered protein sources used by most major pet food manufacturers put chronic strain on the kidneys and liver, so by the time a dog is into her senior years, her organs can no longer do their job efficiently. This is why commercial reduced protein diets for senior pets were created.

It’s an unfortunate situation, because your dog actually needs more protein as she ages – not less – in order to maintain healthy lean muscle mass and good organ and immune function. But the type of protein most dogs thrive on is whole, unprocessed, and preferably raw.

Older Dogs Still Need Exercise, Socialization and Mental Stimulation
Senior and even geriatric dogs still need daily exercise to maintain good health and a resilient frame. Certainly older dogs can’t exercise or compete with the same intensity as the younger set, but they still need regular walks and other age-appropriate physical activity.

There are three types of strengthening exercises that can also be of tremendous help to aging canine bodies:
• Passive range-of-motion (PROM) exercises can benefit both incapacitated and physically healthy pets.
• Balance and proprioception (spatial orientation and movement) exercises help older pets remain flexible while also encouraging improved balance and physical stability.
• Targeted strengthening exercises are designed to work the big muscle groups that help with standing, walking and running.
No matter how old your dog is, she still needs regular social interaction with other pets and/or people. As is the case with humans as we age, if your four-legged family member doesn’t stay active and involved in life, her world can become a confusing, intimidating place. She needs regular exposure to other pets and people, but take care not to over stimulate your dog – short periods of socialization and playtime in controlled situations are ideal.

Enriching your dog’s environment can help to alleviate or stall the mental confusion and decline of cognitive function that often come with old age. Sticking to a predictable daily routine can help reduce a pet’s anxiety and mental uncertainty.

Puzzle toys like the Clever K9 provide fun and mental stimulation.

Supplements that can help improve mental decline in aging dogs include S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), vitamin B6, vitamin E, resveratrol, ginkgo biloba, and phosphatidylserine.


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.

By Dr. Becker

CatCrossEyedTraveling with a pet can be very stressful, especially if the pet is a cat. In fact, unless you have a very compelling reason for bringing kitty along on your road trip, I don’t recommend you do it. Unless your cat happens to like car rides – and actually, there are a few cats that do – my suggestion would be to leave him in his own environment, which is at home.

Leaving your kitty at home with a caring and responsible pet sitter is the best thing you can do. The next best option would be to leave him with a competent friend or family member, and, of course, there’s always a boarding facility that focuses on cats as your last option. Of course, if you’re moving from one location to another, your pet must move with you. In that case, you’ll need to prepare ahead of time for the challenges of traveling with a feline.

Carriers: The Safest Way to Travel with Cats

It’s always safest to keep your kitty in a well-ventilated carrier when he’s in your vehicle. It may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but not when you consider that most cats just don’t travel well. They wind up cowering on the floorboards of moving vehicles. Or they find a way to get stuck up inside one of the seats. Or they move frantically from the front seat to the back seat, back and forth, back and forth. So as you can see, traveling with kitty in a carrier is the lesser of evils.

And even though most cats fight being put into a carrier, once they’re in it and in unfamiliar surroundings – let’s say your vehicle or a hotel room– they’re actually quite happy to be in a secure, small environment. Try to view the carrier as your pet’s safe, cozy spot during travel rather than a jail cell.

Choosing a Carrier

There are many carriers to choose from. You can buy carriers made of wired mesh, hard plastic, and, in the case of soft-sided carriers, fabric. Whatever type you choose, it needs to be large enough for your kitty to stand, sit, lay down, and turn around in. If you have more than one cat traveling with you, you can opt to select a carrier that’s roomy enough for both of them. But if your kitties aren’t best friends, I recommend you get a carrier for each of them. I also recommend you buy the carrier well in advance and get your cat as comfortable with it as possible at home.

Put the carrier in your cat’s favorite room and leave the door open. Entice her to go into the carrier on her own with food treats, toys, and comfy bedding. You can even try feeding her in there to help her view the carrier as a non-threatening space. Once your cat isn’t afraid to be in the carrier, zip her in and relocate carrier and cat to another room.

Getting Kitty Used to the Carrier in the Car

When your cat gets used to being inside the carrier and moving around the house, it’s time to take her for some short drives. Secure the carrier in your vehicle so it won’t move around while you’re traveling.

Some cats get car sick, others don’t like the sound or feel of the wind when car windows are down. Some kitties also do better not seeing the world pass by in a frightening blur around them. You might want to secure the carrier on the floor of your vehicle or if you have an SUV, in the back storage area to limit your cat’s exposure to some of the sights, sounds and smells that can occur while traveling. Partially covering a wire carrier with a light towel can also help kitties feel more secure in the car.

If your vehicle happens to be a pick-up truck with an open back bed, obviously, don’t put your cat back there. It’s sad that I even have to mention it, but actually, I’ve had kitties arrive at my clinic in the beds of pick-up trucks and everyone is horrified — except the cat’s owner. Never put a living creature in the back of a pick-up truck.

It’s important to make more than just one trip around the block with your cat. You need to take several short, preliminary drives leading up to your trip so you can make adjustments in your car for the carrier if needed.

Check your kitty’s reaction to make sure he’s adjusting well to the trips.

One of my clients has traveled and moved multiple times with two kitties, and after some trial and error, she’s found that one kitty does best on the passenger side floorboard, and the other kitty does well on the seat beside her. She positions both of the carriers where the cats can see her. While she’s driving, she sings to the cats, and because they are close, she can also reach into the carriers and give them an occasional reassuring scratch on the ear to let them know she’s there and everything’s fine. She’s able to look at them and they’re able to look at each other. I do recommend that while you’re traveling, you leave the radio very low. I don’t recommend a lot of loud, thumping music. Calm, quiet music can be somewhat soothing. Remember not to aim air conditioning or heat vents directly at the carrier. Gradually increase the length of your test drives to get your cat used to the sensation of being in a carrier inside a moving vehicle.

Important Travel Tips

• Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with a current ID tag. If your cat is microchipped, make sure the information is current in the microchip company’s database.
• It’s important when you travel to put together a travel kit for your pet. Include appropriate paperwork. Your veterinarian can advise you, if you’re traveling out of the country, what documents you will need. Your kit should include food, fresh bottled water, bowls, treats, a harness and leash, and any supplements or medications your kitty is taking.
• Needless to say, a first aid kit for emergencies is a good idea. You can include a comb, some toys, and, of course, bedding. It’s also an excellent idea to include some recent pictures of your cat from various angles that would show any unique markings or any unique characteristics about her in the event – God forbid – that she gets away from you while traveling.
• If you plan to feed her fresh or raw homemade food during the trip, obviously you need to pack an ice chest or some way to keep the food frozen. If you opt to switch to canned food for your journey, it’s important you make the dietary transition a week or so before you plan to leave, so you don’t encounter any unexpected bouts of diarrhea during your trip.
• Have clean up supplies on hand. Sometimes, there are potty accidents or vomit episodes that need cleaning up.
• Most kitties won’t use their litter box in a moving vehicle. If you make stops along the way, you can try to entice him to use the box at rest areas. It’s important to have a litter box available when you make stops, but it also means that you’ll need a litter scoop and some plastic bags for used litter if your cat does decide to take advantage of the litter box.
• You need to make sure to never open the cat carrier while there are any car doors or windows, even a sunroof, open. It’s a precaution you should follow religiously at all times when traveling with your cat.
• I don’t recommend you try and feed your kitty while the car is moving. Most cats will not eat when there’s any type of motion. In fact, the best recommendation is a light meal a few hours before departure. If you’re traveling some distance and will be staying at a hotel in the evening, feed a second meal once your kitty has settled down in your room for the night. In the morning, feed kitty some breakfast a couple hours before you actually get back on the road.
• Obviously, you should never leave your cat unattended in a car that’s not running. It can become very hot or very cold in a matter of minutes.

cathissingExtra Help for Stressed-Out Cats

Despite your best efforts to make your cat comfortable on a road trip, the truth is most kitties are totally stressed out during travel and despise the entire experience. There are a few natural products I have found very beneficial in helping to calm a frightened and very stressed-out cat:

• OptiBalance’s Stress and Trauma Relief Formula for cats
• Feliway spray is a calming pheromone product that you can spray in the cat carrier 15 minutes before you put your kitty in it
• Some people have also used Bach flower essences, including Rescue Remedy, with some success

Some cat owners planning to travel with their pet ask for kitty sedatives from their veterinarian. But in my experience, they’re actually counterproductive for cats, so I’m not a fan of giving a kitty any type of Quaalude for sedation during road trips. I’ve found homeopathic Aconitum provides far better results calming cats during travel.


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.

Greenville, Spartanburg, and Landrum area horses may soon have reasons to “whinny” for joy.

Have you heard about stem cell therapy?  Well, it’s not as spooky as it sounds. First fat is collected from your horse.  The fat is processed, removing and concentrating the animal’s own stem cells.  Then the stem cells are injected into the affected area.

Picture 8Stem cell therapy has been proven to reduce inflammation and to regenerate ligament, tendon and joint tissues.  The results have been pretty amazing…. around 77% of horses treated have had complete recoveries from ligament and tendon injuries, and around 57% of those suffering joint diseases have reported a full recovery.  ALL of the animals receiving stem cell therapy experienced a better quality of life, more mobility and less pain.

Injuries such as torn tendons which would take at least 4 months or so to heal, can be healed with this therapy in a matter of weeks! In most cases 1 treatment is all that is necessary.  Cost per treatment runs around $2,500.  Get more details from your Vet.

Nine Safe, Natural Remedies for Kennel Cough

1)  Nosodes. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy derived from a pathological specimen. Nosodes stimulate the natural immune system to react against specific diseases. Kennel cough nosodes are particularly effective.

2)  Esberitox. This is a fast-acting Echinacea that I have found very effective in reducing the virulence of bordetella infections.

3)  Vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is an antiviral and E provides immune system support.

4)  Oregano oil has antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

5)  Astragalus is an herb used in Chinese medicine to enhance the immune system, support lung function and stimulate the regeneration of bronchial cells.

6)  Raw garlic and olive leaf are natural antibacterial and antiviral agents.

7)  Raw honey will ease the discomfort of coughing, and certain herbs will soothe and naturally suppress a cough, among them licorice root and marshmallow.

8)  Essential oils can be used to help a pup with kennel cough breathe easier. Oils of eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Chamomile has a calming effect.

9)  Slippery Elm can help soothe sore and irritated throats.

As always, you should talk with your holistic veterinarian about natural remedies and the doses or applications most appropriate for your pet. If your dog seems to be coughing a lot or making choking sounds, he may have a case of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough.

Believe it or not, as awful as the choking, hacking noises sound, most episodes of kennel cough are not serious and resolve without treatment.

By Jean Hofve, DVM

Surgery – now there’s a scary word! Beyond spaying or neutering, most of us don’t really give much thought to surgical procedures that might be in our pets’ futures. However, it may not be quite as unlikely as you think!

Common surgeries in adult dogs and cats include:
• Dental procedures. Most pets will need dental cleaning under anesthesia at some point; many pets need it yearly. Sometimes tooth extractions – which can be quite traumatic – are also necessary.
• Mass biopsy or removal. Older pets tend to get a variety of lumps, bumps, and tumors. For instance, lipomas (benign fatty tumors) are especially common in retrievers and a few other breeds, but any dog or cat may get them. Most of the time it’s not necessary to remove them, but occasionally they interfere with function, and that’s a different story. Suspicious or malignant (cancerous) masses may need to be surgically biopsied or removed.
• Orthopedic surgery. Broken bones, ruptured tendons or ligaments, or other joint dysfunctions, may need surgery to regain or maintain mobility. Long-backed dogs are prone to slipped or damaged spinal discs that may require surgery to prevent or minimize paralysis.
• Abscess. Both dogs and cats can be the victims of bite wounds and abscesses (subcutaneous pockets of infection). Depending on the size and severity, it may be necessary to perform surgery to open and drain the abscess, or clean and suture wounds.
• Unexpected Trauma/Injuries. Life happens! Any pet may fall, get stepped on, catch a tail in a door, or any of a million other accidents that could require surgical intervention. (Tip: keep contact info for your veterinarian and/or local emergency clinic in your car, wallet, or other easy-to-access location.)

Veterinary Care
Many problems are caught early at an annual examination, so this is a necessity. Even if your pet is not receiving any vaccinations, a yearly head-to-tail exam is one of the most important preventive health programs you can provide for your pet. For older pets, an exam every 6 months is even better. Remember, dogs and cats age 5 to 7 times faster than we do, and they can’t talk to tell you “my stomach feels funny” or “I have a headache” or “my back is sore.” It’s one thing if you feel fine and skip your yearly physical; but for your pet, that’s equivalent to you not seeing a doctor for 10-15 years! Cats are particularly good at hiding symptoms until they are far advanced. So schedule that check-up today!

If your vet finds a problem that requires surgery – or, of course, if you notice something that seems wrong and your vet determines the need for surgery – then it’s time for action.

Ask your veterinarian what monitoring equipment is used for surgery, and if a technician or assistant will be there throughout the procedure. Having a second set of eyes and hands is the most valuable addition to any surgery. Most patients will benefit from intravenous fluids, and consistent monitoring of heart and respiratory rates as well as blood pressure.

Do ask your veterinarian if she is comfortable with the particular procedure being considered. If she hasn’t done many; or it’s a complex procedure; or one that requires specialized equipment; you may wish to get a referral to a board-certified surgeon.

Picture 21How to Prepare your Pet for Surgery
In most cases, your veterinarian will recommend withholding food for 10-12 hours before you drop your pet off for surgery. It’s usually okay to have water available. Why no food? Because many pre-anesthetic drugs cause nausea. If your pet vomits as it is falling asleep, the normal reflex that prevents food from going down the main airway may not work, and aspiration of food can cause serious pneumonia. However, you can give flower essences such as Rescue Remedy by rubbing a few drops on your pet’s ears and paws (and a few drops for yourself!) to help with pre-surgery jitters. Start a day or two beforehand if possible, giving 3 or 4 doses per day.

Post-op Care
Your veterinarian or her assistant will give you follow-up care instructions. For minor procedures, little or no restriction may be needed. If you have Traumeel® drops or tablets, or homeopathic Arnica 30C (all available at most health food stores), one dose after surgery, one at bedtime, and one the next morning will help reduce pain and bruising.

Many (but not all) animals will be happy to see dinner that evening. However, it’s best to feed only a small amount initially (about 1/4 to 1/3 of usual); if the food stays down, you can offer the rest of the meal in about half an hour. If appetite is a problem and your vet has okayed feeding, try turkey or chicken baby food (make sure it contains no onion or garlic powder), or a special treat food to get the GI system moving again. Use digestive enzymes and probiotics to help prevent tummy upset. A high protein food and extra antioxidants will promote faster, better healing.

It’s best if you can be home with your pet at least through their first night home, in case any problems arise; although you probably don’t have to stay up all night! Your vet can advise you whether you can make travel plans soon after surgery. If you will be out of town soon after a pet’s significant surgery, it may be best to board your dog or cat with the vet while you’re gone.

For major surgeries, especially orthopedic procedures, activity restriction may be necessary up to several weeks. Do not take these restrictions lightly! Too many dogs are allowed to resume normal activities far too soon; this can completely disrupt the surgery and necessitate a repeat performance. The second repair will be done on tissue that is already scarred, and results may not be as good. Cats may need to be confined in something like a large dog crate to prevent them jumping; dogs may need to be leash-walked only, possibly with support, and not allowed to run or play rough.

Yes, surgery is scary, but it will help to ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable with it, and be properly prepared. It will make the whole ordeal much better for you and your pet!

By Dr. Becker

The cooking process makes bones more brittle, increasing the likelihood they might splinter and cause internal injury to your dog. Cooking can also remove the nutrition contained in bones. In an April 20, 2010 Consumer Update, the FDA lists the following risks associated with giving your dog a cooked bone to chew:
•  Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
•  Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
•  Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
•  Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
•  Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
•  Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
•  Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
•  Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian. Bones also contain a lot of calcium, which is very firming to the stool.
•  Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
•  Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

Are Any Bones Safe for My Dog?
Raw bones can be both safe and healthy providing you follow some guidelines. You’re probably aware your dog’s ancestors and counterparts in the wild have been eating bones forever. Canines in their natural habitat eat prey, including the meat, bones and stomach contents. In fact, your pup has a biological requirement for the nutrients found in bone marrow and the bones themselves. Dogs love to chew raw bones for the yummy taste, the mental stimulation, and also because all that gnawing is great exercise for the muscles of the jaw.

Picture 17Two Types of Raw Bones
We recommend to all dog parents that they separate bones into two categories:
1) Edible bones
2) Recreational bones
Edible bones are the hollow, non weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are soft, pliable, do not contain marrow, and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder.
These bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals which can be an essential part of your pup’s balanced raw food diet.
Recreational bones – big chunks of beef or bison femur or hip bones filled with marrow — don’t supply significant dietary nutrition for your dog (they are not designed to be chewed up and swallowed, only gnawed on), but they do provide mental stimulation and are great for your pup’s oral health. When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially a meaty one with cartilage and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing. This helps to break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease. Dogs in the wild have beautiful teeth and healthy gums. This is because the prey they eat requires a lot of chewing, and the sinewy composition helps to clean each entire tooth.

Guidelines for Feeding Recreational Bones Safely
The health risks listed above for cooked bones can also apply to recreational raw bones if your dog has unrestricted, unsupervised access to them. The following are do’s and don’ts for feeding recreational raw bones (and yes, they have to be raw, not steamed, boiled or baked):

Do supervise your dog closely while he’s working on a bone. That way you can react immediately if your pup happens to choke, or if you notice any blood on the bone or around your dog’s mouth from over aggressive gnawing. You’ll also know when your dog has chewed down to the hard brittle part of a knuckle bone, making splinters more likely. When the bone has been gnawed down in size throw it out. Do not allow your dog to chew it down to a small chunk he can swallow.
Do separate dogs in a multi-dog household before feeding bones. Dogs can get quite territorial about bones and some dogs will fight over them.
Do feed fresh raw bones in your dog’s crate, or on a towel or other surface you can clean, or outside as long as you can supervise him. Fresh raw bones become a gooey, greasy mess until your dog has gnawed them clean, so make sure to protect your flooring and furniture.
Don’t give them to a dog that has had restorative dental work/crowns.
Don’t give them to your dog if she has a predisposition to pancreatitis. Raw bone marrow is very rich and can cause diarrhea and a flare-up of pancreatitis. Instead, you can feed a “low fat” version by thawing the bone and scooping out the marrow to reduce the fat content.
Don’t give a recreational bone to a dog that’s likely to try to swallow it whole or bite it in two and eat it in huge chunks.

Give your dog a bone to chew after she’s full from a meal. Hungry dogs are more tempted to swallow a bone whole or break it apart and swallow large chunks. This increases the risk of an obstruction in the digestive tract. Don’t feed small bones that can be swallowed whole or pose a choking risk, or bones that have been cut, such as a leg bone. Cut bones are more likely to splinter. Don’t feed pork bones or rib bones. They’re more likely to splinter than other types of bones.


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.

Ever heard of Cold Laser?  Sounds like something out of the X Files, but it actually utilizes the healing power of light.  Not just any light, but specific light emitting diodes.  This light energy is absorbed by the cells and is converted to a type of chemical energy, which serves to “feed”  the injured cells, causing them to replenish and regenerate.  The newly recharged cells are then able to replicate at a super pace to help heal the injured area more quickly.

You’ve probably heard how Nitric Oxide production is necessary to open up capillaries and increase blood flow, thereby preventing heart attacks and increasing circulation.  Well, cold laser therapy has been proven to increase the body’s natural production of Nitric Oxide by a whopping 700%.  This is very important since greater blood flow and increased circulation allows much needed oxygen and nutrients into the injured area, greatly reducing inflammation.

Cold lasers have proven highly effective for horses,  with an efficacy rate of around 90%.
I would imagine the success rate for use in humans and our pets is equally as great!

Picture 16This type of treatment is highly recommended for:
•  Slow healing wounds
•  Arthritus
•  Ligament/tendon injuries
•  Stifle injury
•  Laminitis
•  Fractures

Three effects of Cold Laser Therapy are widely accepted:
1. Reduction of Inflamation
2. Analgesia
3. Antibacterial/Antiviral

Heartworm disease in dogs - it’s a potentially very serious disease, which sounds very ominous. What could be worse than a parasitic disease of the heart? One of the more common questions I was asked by pet owners was whether or not their dog really needed to be on a conventional preventive medication. More often than not, most clients are told only one thing: to give their dog a monthly Heartworm preventive. In this article I’ll explain exactly what is heartworm, the causes of heartworm, determining if your dog needs to be on a preventive heartworm medication, and the holistic options available to prevent heartworm in pets.

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasitic worm which infects mostly dogs. Although all internal parasites can be harmful to your pet, heartworm infestation is serious and can cause death. The worm mainly affects the lung arteries, and clinical signs are associated with damage to the lungs, and then the heart. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes carry heartworm, but when an infected mosquito bites your pet, it can transfer larvae to the animal’s tissues. The worms require development in the mosquito at a temperatures above 27 °C (80 °F) ; below 14 °C (57 °F), development cannot occur, and the cycle will be halted. If the temperature is warm enough, and the heartworm larvae progresses to being infective, they can infect another dog. These larvae then migrate through the body, until they reach the animal’s heart and lungs. There the adult worms will grow. They can grow to 70 -110 cm long and cause a great deal of damage to the heart and lungs.

Dogs show no sign of infection with heartworm during the first 6 months. The first signs include a cough, especially after exercise. As the disease advances, signs can include fainting, pronounced coughing, syncope, crackles in the lungs, general weakness, and heart failure. In serious cases of heartworm disease, it can lead to sudden death.

Most (certainly not all) holistic veterinarians consider the use of pharmaceutical preventatives to be less harmful than a heartworm infection. What you need to be aware of is the incidence of Heartworm in your area, and whether or not your pet really is at risk of Heartworm disease. For example in Canada, Heartworm is difficult to acquire, and usually not fatal; far less than the dire warnings and marketing claims of the Heartworm preventive companies. For heartworm to be transmitted to your pet, you need the correct temperature for a long enough period of time, the right climate, and the correct species and sex of mosquito.

Holistic heartworm prevention options include many common sense natural health suggestions to keep your dog’s immune system healthy, along with preventing mosquito bites. First avoid unnecessary vaccines- keep your dog’s immune system healthy. Avoid repeated uses of steroids, or conventional antibiotics. Provide excellent nutrition by feeding quality natural brands of dog food, home diets and raw food. Ensure that the diet includes certain neutraceuticals that help prime the immune response; essential fatty acids in adequate levels, probiotics, and consider the use of colostrum. Practice excellent mosquito control, for this is the insect that spreads heartworm. I have had some great success with a natural mosquito repellent using cedarwood oil. Use natural alternatives when possible – this can mean using nosodes and herbal supplements, while also having your dog tested for heartworm. This is better under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian.

My thoughts on conventional use of monthly heartworm preventives are this: If you are in a high risk area, use the conventional preventives, but for as short duration as possible- ie when the conditions really exist to transmit the disease. Use the lowest effective dose of the preventives; you can also follow up the conventional meds with liver supportive products such as milk thistle and Vitamin E. If you live in an area with little to no risk of heartworm, consider no use of conventional medication.

You should now have a better understanding of what heartworm is in dogs, and how it is spread from dog to dog. Now you know the clinical signs of heartworm infection, plus are able to determine whether or not your dog needs heartworm preventives based on the incidence in your area. Lastly you can use some of the suggested holistic modalities to prevent heartworm, avoiding the potential side effects of the conventional heartworm drugs.




Dr Andrew Jones is the author of a NEW Free Ebook, Dog Health Secrets, which gives you over 100 safe, natural and effective at home remedies to solve your dog’s health problems quickly and easily at home. He reveals what Vaccines to AVOID and what to give, The BEST food to feed, plus HOW to save money on veterinary fees. Go to: Dog Health Secrets Book