Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Working with rescue has provided a wonderful outlet for my desire to give back to the world. By helping animals, I am helping people. Families who can no longer care for senior pets and people who work in shelters, seeing so much death, are ecstatic when these old, sick animals find a permanent place to call home. By providing medical care for these special pets, I am rewarded by being able to decrease their pain and suffering.
At Monkey's House hospice and senior sanctuary, Michele and Jeff Allen care for fifteen to twenty dogs on a daily basis. It takes a lot of work, money, and food to care for that many dogs. Recently, Monkey's House was extremely fortunate to have this wonderful freezer donated. It's huge and holds enough food to feed the gang for a few weeks. But someone has to fill the freezer. We are extremely grateful to the folks at Allprovide raw pet food for filling the freezer. Shipments arrive like clockwork and the dogs at Monkey's House are being fed food that is better than any shelter or rescue dog could ever beg for! Thanks to the high quality of the food in their dishes, these dogs are blooming with renewed energy and good health. Skin and ear infections clear up without the use of antibiotics. Arthritic joints are much less painful, and the dogs are able to run through the fields at Monkey's House.
It takes a village to care for this many rescue dogs. But with the help of many volunteer hours, monetary and supply donations, these dogs are thriving. Thank you to everyone for all your help!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Date night with dogs with Jeff and Michele Allen

Every pet rescue group needs donations and volunteers to help with the work involved in caring for animals. I work closely with a senior dog sanctuary for homeless shelter dogs, called Monkey's House. Michele and Jeff Allen work tirelessly to care for close to twenty dogs on a daily basis. They have recently started accepting donations of time, money, and supplies from volunteers. There is still a lot of work to be done to get the new accomodations ready for dogs. They want all the dogs to feel they are in a home environment, so individual rooms are being prepared for groups of dogs. Michele has been known to pick up furnishings along the side of the road if something appears useful and in decent condition. She has an eye for supplies she needs and has put out a call for things like used cribs, crib mattresses, cabinets, and even had an electric heating fireplace donated.

With twenty dogs currently in their care, it can be difficult to make sure every dog has its own "personal time" with human attention. To that end, Michele and Jeff came up with the idea of "Date night with dogs". The next time you want some snuggle time with your partner, why not head on over to Monkey's House with your favorite bottle of wine and some popcorn. Grab a few dogs, turn on the fireplace, and pop in a movie. You'll have quality time with your significant other and the dogs will have quality snuggle time. And you don't have to tell if you slip them a piece of popcorn or two...

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Does your cat suffer from litter box aversion? We see clients daily who have complaints about cats urinating or defecating in unacceptable places in the house. Cats are commonly dumped at shelters or forced to live outside due to house soiling issues. Unfortunately, many of these cats could be cured of their box aversion if the root of the problem was discovered.

Here are a few simple rules if you are having a problem with your cat:

1. Take your cat in for a complete physical exam, including lab work that tests for diabetes, hyperthyroidism, urinary tract infection, and bladder stones. Many cats will avoid the box if there is pain on urinating. If they are suffering from diabetes or hyperthyroidism they may have to urinate so frequently they just can't make it to the box. Once disease is treated, most cats will return to using their boxes with no problem.

2. Have one more box than the number of cats in the household. Many cats do not like to share their box.

3. Have multiple types of litter available. Some cats prefer clay, but others may prefer plastic beads, compressed newspaper, or soil-type litters.

4. Have a litter box on every level of the house. This may not be possible, but particularly for older cats, climbing multiple levels of stairs to get to the litter box may be problematic.

5. Make sure the cat can get to the litter box easily, without being chased by dogs, bully cats, or small children. Don't put the box near noisy equipment like the furnace or dehumdifier, both of which can scare the cat.

6. Place litter boxes far away from feeding stations. No one likes to eat in the bathroom.

7. Clean the litter boxes by scooping feces and urine clumps twice daily. After all, who wants to use the un-flushed toilet?

Friday, December 18, 2015


Our adopted 14 year old Cocker Spaniel, Scout, was featured in a blog a couple weeks ago when he kept licking his foot to tell me he had a serious problem. I amputated the fifth digit on his right front foot because I knew there was most likely a cancer present. The results are in: squamous cell carcinoma in the nail bed. Luckily, there were clean margins, because I amputated at the third joint instead of just taking the claw and bone. Chances of spread to other areas are only 10 - 29%. Dogs with clear margins have an average of 309 days until signs of spread. Those are pretty good odds for a guy who is already 14. He's back to trotting around with just a little limp and is his happy goofy self again, now that the E-collar is off (boy, did he hate that thing!).
But we want Scout to have the absolute best chance of staying cancer-free, so his diet is going to be changed up a bit. He already eats a raw diet and takes a few supplements that will help. The raw diet is great because he is strong and basically healthy. If he was very weak, I would use a gently cooked diet instead, so that his body wouldn't have to work hard to digest the food. Cancer cells grow best on carbohydrate or fat sources, depending on the type of cancer. So I will make sure his raw meals are fairly low fat, as they are already low carbohydrate. Eggs and ground walnuts or almonds will also find their way into his meals. Along with his 300 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids and 200 mg of CoQ10, I'll be adding 300 mg Shiitake mushrooms or mushroom extract, 1/4 teaspoon Golden Paste (a combination of turmeric, fresh black pepper, and coconut oil), 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground ginger root, 800 mg IP-6 twice daily, and a few extra helpings of love. Luckily, he loves to eat and we can throw anything in his bowl, so he won't even notice a few extra capsules in there. Hopefully, I'll still be showing videos of a happy old man years from now!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Anyone who knows me, knows I hate winter and cold weather. This year, our "winter" has consisted of 60-degree days, as it has been unseasonably warm. So why have I been wrapped in blankets and winter coats for the past three weeks? I've been experiencing fever, chills, lethargy, muscle aches...just not right. Last week I succumbed to the dreaded intestinal flu, which made for a fun couple of days (congee to the rescue). This week, my symptoms drove me back to my bed, even forcing me to cancel appointments half way through the day, which is unheard of. After 36 hours in bed, I realized I was suffering from a sinus infection (because my sinuses starting draining). Sigh...

So, now the choice: tough it out with herbs, tea, and rest to get through the ordeal naturally OR take antibiotics. The natural route is definitely my preferred choice, but that would leave me stuck in bed for a few more days, which absolutely does not jive with my 10-hour work days at the office. To top it off, Hue was nice enough to give me the gift of a weekend in New York City, seeing the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show, and going to the Today Show live...THIS weekend.

Unfortunately, the antibiotic choice won. I needed to get back on my feet quickly and I knew the antibiotics would make that happen. Within 24 hours, I am almost human (at least able to stay upright for more than a few minutes and I am almost making coherent sentences). I am continuing to eat really healthy - no sugars, no starches, no alcohol; basically leafy greens, brightly colored veggies, and protein. I am continuing with all my prescribed homeopathic drops, vitamin D, probiotics, omega 3's, and iodine supplements. Because I normally suffer from yeast overgrowth, this course of antibiotics will require about 6 months of very strict diet to get me back on the right course. But I made a choice because I saw it as the best short term solution for now.

The same problems happen every time our pets are given antibiotics. It upsets the bowel flora (the good bacteria that live there), causes overgrowth of the bad bacteria, overgrowth of yeast, and leaky gut syndrome. For me, that all causes a fuzzy mind, swelling of my joints, and generalized fatigue. I can only imagine our animals suffer the same effects, but how would we know?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Monkey's House Dogs get to visit Santa
Getting involved in pet rescue has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Earlier in 2015 I joined the board of Monkey's House sanctuary and hospice for senior dogs with no home. I've cried sad tears over neglect cases and happy tears when a broken, battered dog is returned to good health and happiness. My heart has expanded with the joy we've been able to bring to these dogs.
Would you also like to experience the thrill of having your heart grow three sizes today? There are many ways to give back during the holidays, and all year long, without spending money. Many rescue groups and shelters run on very small budgets and are thrilled to have help. Consider some of these ways you might be able to lend a hand:
1. Donate food, towels, blankets, crates, leashes, collars, paper towels, cleaning supplies, printer paper, or postage stamps to a rescue group. Clean out your closets and find some old towels or blankets you don't use any more. It's okay if they are a bit tattered; the pets will love them!
2. Lend a hand at the shelter for a few hours. You may be able to walk dogs, spend some time brushing or grooming, or help out with feeding. But cleaning, painting, fence repairs, lawn trimming, landscaping, and washing laundry can also help!
3. Offer to transport pets that need a ride to a new home or a into a shelter or rescue.
4. Offer to foster animals that need a place to stay overnight or for an extended period of time.
5. Donate cash and get a tax write off.
6. Promote the shelter or rescue group on your social media pages. Get your friends involved.
7. Collect donations through your service clubs or school groups. It's great to get kids involved! For service groups that need to log hours of community service, pet rescue is a great mission.
Every little bit helps and by working together, we can make a huge difference in the lives of these pets!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The holidays can bring special dangers to many pets. Enjoy the holidays by celebrating responsibly!
1. Decorations - tinsel is a choking hazard and can cause bowel obstruction and perforation. It can also get wrapped around body parts, cutting off circulation. Glass ornaments can break, which can lacerate feet or cause intestinal bleeding if eaten. Electric cords can be chewed, leading to shock or electrocution. Put a fence around the Christmas tree so pets cannot reach the tree or put the tree in a room that is not accessible to pets. Don't use tinsel; use plastic ornaments. Make sure all cords are secured. Apply bitter tasting sprays to cords.
2. Candles - Burning hazard for pets and possibility of a house fire if knocked over by a pet.  Keep all candles in areas where they are not accessible to pets.
3.  Baking - chocolate, particularly dark chocolate used for baking, contains theobromine. Theobromine causes vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, and seizures. Toxic to dogs, cats, and birds.  Bread dough with yeast can result in bloating and alcohol toxicity due to fermentation in the stomach. Low blood sugar, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, coma, and death may result. Put away all baking products where pets cannot reach them. Never leave rising dough in an area accessible to pets. Macadamia nuts are toxic and can cause vomiting, lethargy, and hyperthermia. Raisins can cause kidney failure. 
4. Package wrappings - Cats, in particular, are attracted to ribbons and strings. Some dogs will also find these to be great items for chewing. Be careful when wrapping packages if you have pets that find these irresistible. I put ribbons on packages right before I walk out of the house to deliver them to someone else. No ribbons in my home because they can cause bowel obstruction and perforation.
5. Parties and crowds - Many pets are nervous or anxious when guests arrive. They may be prone to snapping or acting out when too many strangers are in their environment. If you are having a large gathering and your pet may find this stressful, consider allowing your pet to stay with a friend or possibly boarding your pet for the day or night. A scared pet may bolt out a door that opens and closes as guests arrive and depart. Be sure your pets are microchipped and tagged with identification.
6. Holiday feasts - Sharing table food with your pets isn't always bad, but overindulgence can be disastrous. Trimmings and gravies that are high in fat can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis, which can be fatal. 
7. Decorative plants - Poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, and pine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal irritation. Use artificial plants or place them out of reach.
8. Traveling with pets – Make sure pets are secured in the car in crates, seatbelts, or other pet restraints. Pets can become a projectile in an accident, injuring themselves and others in the vehicle. Also, make sure pets have ID tags and/or a microchip. In case of accidental escape (at rest stops, in an accident, etc) the ID will be the only chance of recovering the lost pet.
Follow these helpful tips to have the happiest holidays ever with your pets!

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Degenerative myelopathy is a disease of the nervous system of dogs, which affects nerves at the level of the spinal cord. It is found most commonly in German Shepherds, but has been diagnosed in over 100 breeds, including Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Rhodesion Ridgebacks, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and Boxers. The disease is seen in dogs that carry mutations in the SOD1 gene. SOD1 is superoxide dismutase, which is a gene responsible for repairing oxidative damage to cells. Cells containing high amounts of lipid (fats) are the most susceptible to oxidative damage. Nerve cells are coated with myelin, which is a form of lipid, so damage to nerve cells will occur if SOD1 is not working. This is one of the reasons the disease does not show up until later in life - it takes many years of oxidative damage to become symptomatic. Dogs that do not carry the SOD1 mutation are never afflicted with the disease. This same gene mutation is found in people suffering with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Symptoms of DM include hind end weakness which progresses to hind end paralysis, and eventually to paralysis of all muscles throughout the body. Dogs that lose hind end function will often do well with a hind end cart until the front limb muscles also become paralyzed. Slings and booties can also help. Eventually, all muscles in the body will become paralyzed and the animal will succumb to respiratory failure. Most pet owners elect euthanasia six to twelve months after diagnosis.

At this time there is no effective treatment for DM. Medications like low dose Naltrexone (Skip's Pharmacy), aminocaproic acid, N-acetylcysteine, and supplements like ubiquinol, selenium, Vitamins B, C, and E, bromelain,omega 3 fatty acids, gingko, and ginseng have all been recommended. Treatments like chiropractic adjustments and electroacupuncture may stimulate better nerve function. Keeping the muscles as strong as possible with exercise and physical therapy is an important component to maintaining mobility for as long as possible.These dogs should be kept free of stress, as this disease seems to have some long term,stress-related component.

Recommended doses for some antioxidant supplements include Vitamin E 1,000-2,000 IU per day, Vitamin C 1000-2000 mg per day, B-complex - 2 high potency capsules per day or stress formulation 1 capsule per day, Selenium 100 (small dog) to 200 (large dog) ug/day, and Aminocaproic Acid 250 mg/ml suspension, mix 2 ml with 1 ml chicken broth and give every 8 hours.

Genetic testing for DM is available through the University of Missouri with samples of saliva from a cheek swab or through blood DNA testing. This has made diagnosis easier, as a dog must have two bad copies of the SOD1 gene in order to be symptomatic. DM is not diagnosed with MRI, CT scan, or other testing, but these may be used to rule out other diseases.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Unfortunately, many well-meaning pet owners confuse feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet with feeding pieces of raw grocery store meat to their dog or cat. Although this is a good source of protein and some minerals, it doesn't represent a balanced diet. A diet of muscle meat doesn't contain many of the vital nutrients our pets need, including vitamins A, D, E, and the B vitamins. It also lacks minerals like potassium, copper, zinc, iron, iodine, and choline. The diet will be deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Over time, these deficiencies will wreak havoc on the pet's health. This is one of the reasons traditional veterinarians are against "raw feeding" - it needs to be done right. Not only do you need to feed muscle meat, but 10 to 15% of the diet should also be made of organs - not just one type of organ. Vegetables and fruits can add some really important nutrients, but many prey-model folks are against feeding any vegetable or fruit matter. A diet of 10% organs, 55-60% muscle meat, and 25% vegetable and fruit ingredients would be close to ideal (for cats, the mix should be closer to 90% meat and organs and 10% vegetable matter).

A vitamin and mineral mix (home made or store bought) should be added to balance the diet if you are not willing to balance the diet completely using food sources. The mix needs to contain sources of vitamin D, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, and folic acid (taurine for cats). 

Some people try to do a better job at raw feeding by buying a special "butcher's dog food blend" containing ground meat, bone, and organs. In my opinion, this is also dangerous. There are a lot of missing vitamins and minerals here. And unless the butcher can provide an analysis of the food, how do you have any idea how much fat, protein, and moisture are present? Because you are probably getting the waste pieces that are not fit for human consumption, there is a good chance you are feeding a very high fat product. For dogs prone to pancreatitis, this could be a nightmare. I checked many "butcher's" dog food sites and few of them provided a nutritional analysis on their products. Most products were incomplete diets.

For people that are old hands and well educated in raw feeding dogs, there's a good chance they are getting the diet more closely balanced. If they weren't, their dogs would show signs of trouble. For the new folks to raw feeding, don't just "wing it". Get good advice from people who have the knowledge to teach you how to balance the diet. Buy a good book on raw feeding, like Dr. Karen Becker's Real Food For Healthy Dogs and Cats. 

If you are just starting out with raw feeding, stick with a pre-made raw food with a guaranteed analysis so that you know you are feeding a balanced diet. That way, if you have a pet with special needs, you will know exactly how much fat and protein are in the diet. It won't be a guessing game. Most of my dogs currently eat Allprovide raw food because there is a guaranteed analysis on every batch and the ingredients are all human grade. Two dogs eat Stella N Chewy's frozen raw rabbit because they have protein allergies. Raw feeding is probably the healthiest way to feed our pets, but make sure you are feeding a balanced, high quality diet.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Mars Petcare announced October 9th it will acquire Blue Pearl, the nation's biggest chain of companion animal specialty and emergency care clinics. They already own more than 900 Banfield pet hospitals, Royal Canin, Pedigree, Iams, Eukanuba, and Natura pet foods, with a total of 38 brands in their portfolio. (I'm guessing we won't be seeing Hill's prescription diets offered at Banfield.)

VCA (WOOF on NASDAQ) is a leading provider of pet health care services, owning over 600 small animal veterinary hospitals (VCA Animal Hospitals) in the US and Canada. They also own one of the largest veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the US and Canada (Antech Diagnostics), the leading animal diagnostic imaging company in the market (Sound), and VetSTREET, a leading provider of veterinary practice marketing solutions. Word is they have also bought a PR firm to handle their advertising and marketing.

Smaller corporate ventures like Vetcor, Brightheart, National Veterinary Associates, Petpartners, Vetpartners, and others are also buying up privately owned veterinary practices. Most veterinary corporations are not owned by veterinarians. They are owned by investors and business folks. Do they have the best interest of our pets or their bank accounts as their main concern? They certainly have greater buying power by purchasing items in huge quantities, getting discounts the independent practices will never see. To be efficient, large corporations often set up standards of what the doctors can and can't do, how they can and can't do it, and what they can and can't buy. They standardize everything. Does that jeopardize the healthcare of the patients? Can doctors and pet owners make their own choices?

The days of the independent veterinary practice may be numbered, like the mom and pop drugstores of my youth. Does this really matter to the pet owner? Statistics show that most clients choose their veterinarian based on location and the doctor. If they like the doctor, they stick with the practice. Most people don't really seem to care whether the practice is corporate-owned or independently owned.

I think there are pros and cons to every situation. My best advice is to find a practice you like, whether it is close to home or far away. Find a doctor that communicates with you and loves your pets. After all, the pets are what really matter.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Two weeks ago one of our 14-year-old Cocker Spaniels that we adopted 6 months ago started licking his right front foot. He has some breathing problems, so he made VERY loud, annoying slurping noises. It was so annoying I checked to see what he was doing. There was an ulcerated mass on the top of his last toe. I figured it was a typical Cocker wart, so I took him to the office and removed it using a local anesthetic. I threw the mass away with no further thought. That night, Scout continued licking the foot. I figured that now he was licking because of the tiny sutures in his foot. I applied LickGuard ointment, which he hated. Three or four times every day for a week, we coated the foot in LickGuard. Scout would run around the house like we had just really made him mad.

Fast forward ten days. The licking is constant. By now the sutures have healed. So I took an x-ray of his foot. Just what I feared: there was a problem with the toe itself. The bone within the nail was disintegrating. Most likely we were dealing with a nail bed tumor and those are rarely anything good. Surgery is risky with Scout due to his breathing issues and the fact that he can only open his mouth about an inch, due to scarring from infections earlier in his life. Intubation of his airway is difficult. But I was left with no choice.

I am happy to say that Scout was a champ through surgery. I amputated the toe at the level of the metacarpal/phalangeal joint, working really hard to focus on the surgery and not on the fact that I own this guy. It's hard to remain calm when it's my own pet on the table.

This is a photo during recovery. He is wearing a bandage and a boot. Now that he is home, he is trying to figure out how to hop on three legs when all legs are arthritic. I had to giggle when he tried to lift his hind leg on the same side to urinate the first time after surgery. Obviously, standing on two legs on the same side did not work out so well. He's still working on figuring that out, but for now, I help hold up the back end.

Biopsy results won't be back for a week, but I expect it won't be good news. We'll figure out what to do when we get them. I tell clients all the time not to ignore what their pets are trying to tell them. Scout was diligently telling me there was a problem. I kept trying to tell him to leave it alone. Sometimes we just need to listen better.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


  1. Bring your dog on a leash or your cat in a sturdy carrier. Keep the dog on a short leash in the clinic. Accustom your pet to its carrier and to traveling in the car ahead of time. If your pet is aggressive toward other animals, let the staff know that in advance. They may be able to take your pet in through a private entrance.
  2. If your veterinarian doesn't already have your pet's medical record on file, bring it with you or have your previous veterinary team send or fax the records. At a minimum, bring your own notes on your pet's health and medical history. Have a list of medications with strength, dosing schedule, and length of time your pet has been receiving medication.
  3. Arrive on time or a few minutes early for your appointment. Call ahead if you are running behind. (You can also request your veterinary office to call you if they are running behind.) Turn off your cell phone.
  4. If you have financial concerns, be upfront about that. Knowing this in advance can help your veterinarian make recommendations that will provide the most efficient use of your financial resources.
  5. Have a list of questions ready so you will be sure to cover any concerns you may have. If your pet has been ill, bring a list of symptoms, length of time they have been present, and whether the pet has had similar symptoms in the past or has been treated for similar problems. If you do not vaccinate your pet or use limited vaccinations, make sure the veterinarian understands your point of view.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


I really should stay out of pet stores. I see products that make me want to slit my wrists because I know they are popular, but they are so misleading to the pet owner! Dribble some shizzle on that kibble? I'm not sure of the definition of shizzle, but I don't think it's a good thing. This product is touted as a cute way to add vitamins and minerals to the diet. Two problems: if you are feeding a complete and balanced diet, you shouldn't need to add more vitamins and minerals. And if your ARE going to add supplemental vitamins and minerals, please add high quality ingredients. I would consider the chemical soup in this product to be of low quality, including ingredients whose safety have been questioned for years, like sodium selenite, potassium sorbate, tricalcium phosphate, and maltodextrin - yup, that's sugar. The amounts of omega 3 fatty acid and glucosamine are negligible, so you are not providing a useful joint or coat supplement. If you are using this to balance a home cooked diet, the calcium levels are far too low. If you have a dog with allergies, I would definitely steer clear. Please don't be fooled by cute advertising gimmicks. My rating on this product - 1 star (most websites don't allow you to use zero stars).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


These lovely jarred stews for dogs caught my attention while I was in a pet store today. I thought they looked appetizing and I'm sure many people would think the same thing. My big question: how many pet owners believe this is a complete and balanced meal for their pets? How many people are making the mistake of feeding this food by itself? There are so many nutritional deficiencies I can't begin to list them all. (One jar contains venison and yams. Nothing else.) The label is not complete and does not come close to AAFCO and FDA standards (not that I'm a big fan of those guys, but the standards are there for a reason). Amount to feed is left up to the pet owner. Calories are listed per 100 grams, but the food is 32 ounces. Who is going to do the math?
The directions state "feed alone OR WITH your favorite kibble for a COMPLETE MEAL. This is so ambiguous I wonder how many pet owners will not realize that this needs to be fed with a complete diet to supply the necessary nutrients. No mention of calcium and phosphorous content. Do I need to add a mineral supplement? (The answer is yes, but that's only because I know this diet is way off in calcium/phosphorous balance based on ingredients.)
Website for this company? Useless. They also sell dog coats. There is more information on the coats than there is on the food. Yet this product is available nationwide. While they may be using good ingredients, there is a lot of confusion for how much to feed and the fact that this is not meant to be fed as a complete diet.
If the commercial diet you are feeding does not say "complete and balanced" and name the life stage it is meant for (all life stages, growth, mature, senior, puppy, etc), it is meant to be used as a supplement, not as a complete diet. Don't be fooled into feeding your pet an incomplete diet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Is grain-free really better? According to a national survey, grain-free items now account for 1/3 of all pet food sales, bringing in 2.6 BILLION dollars last year. What happened to all the grains? They were replaced by potatoes or legumes: peas, lentils, chickpeas. Many pets have allergies to legumes and these are definitely not good for dogs used for breeding, as legumes contain phytoestrogens. Grain free isn't always better, but it is the new buzz-word. Dogs with allergies may fare no better when fed legumes or potatoes than when they are fed grains. Cats are carnivores and these ingredients have no place in cat food. Some pets will do better on grain-free diets, but that may be because, historically, grain-free foods have been made by companies that supply better ingredients overall. But even the worst pet food companies can see the results of the survey and realize they can benefit monetarily by producing "grain-free" diets, even if the rest of the ingredients are awful. Bottom line: buyer beware! Do your research. Know the company producing the food. Make sure you are buying a high-quality product.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Public speaking has always been a fun hobby for me. When I was in high school I joined a competitive public speaking group and won my first trophy at a competition in Philadelphia. I also had to give presentations for my 4-H project and went on to win competitions at the state level. I know many people get weak in the knees when they have to speak to a group, but for me it's like taking a hit of adrenaline. I also happen to love to travel. I have no problem hopping on a plane or jumping in the RV to hit the road. There's always more excitement just around the corner.

This has worked well for me, especially since my goal is to speak to a million pet owners this year. I want to help people understand how to keep their pets healthy, to understand the pitfalls of over-vaccination and over-medication, and how to choose the right foods for their individual needs. When I speak to a group I know I am helping hundreds of pets, not just the few that can come to my office.
In the past year I have spoken at dog clubs, veterinary meetings, dog show specialties, pet expos, and nutrition seminars. I enjoy every event.

If you have a group that needs a speaker, send me a message. I can only reach my goal of 1,000,000 with your help!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This photo was taken by me. It is piece of Acana Duck and Bartlett Pear kibble. A pet owner gave me this piece of kibble after she poured it from her new bag of food. Since starting this bag of food, her dog has had diarrhea. Even though she stopped feeding the food after a few days, the dog has continued to have diarrhea and is on week two, even with a bland diet. Her pet is being seen by a veterinarian. The food has not had further testing yet, so we don't know if there is a problem with the food that is causing the diarrhea. I have asked her to report this to the pet food company. However, this piece of kibble contains a green piece of plastic. It is embedded in the kibble. I'm pretty sure plastic is not in the ingredient list. What's up Acana?


This photo was taken by someone else two weeks ago. It is ProPlan Adult Shredded Blend Chicken and Rice Formula kibble that contains pieces of metal. When questioned, Purina's answer was "this happens sometimes in factories, machines break and things get into the food". How often does machinery break? Since Purina is owned by Nestle, does this make you wonder what ends up in the products we eat or feed our children? The UPC code on the bag of kibble is UPC #38100 13059. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Meet Myra. Myra is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Bichon Frise mix. She is 6 years old. She was released into rescue by her owners in January, 2015, because she had chronic allergies and skin infections. She also urinated on the carpet a lot. She was unhappy, constantly licking and chewing her skin, and spent most of her time hiding in her crate. She had been fed Purina Dog Chow her entire life.
When Myra came into rescue, we discovered she had severe allergies, along with oxalate bladder stones. She had surgery to remove the stones. We started feeding a commercial, frozen raw rabbit diet. We added probiotics to her food to help strengthen her immune system and she had weekly Thera-Clean baths (uses water, no soap). She was also given a short course of antibiotics to clear the overwhelming infections in her bladder and skin, based on cultures of the skin and urine.
Within a week, Myra started to look and feel better. She was sad and seemed to be traumatized by being re-homed. But with a lot of love and TLC, she started coming out of the crate and interacting with other dogs in the house. She did not bark for the first 3 months in foster care.
I am happy to say, Myra is now an active, energetic, playful, wonderful dog. She grows hair faster than any dog in the house and never has urinary accidents. If only her original owners could have realized how easy it could be to solve her problems. Bad pet food is responsible for many pets being re-homed, euthanized, or abandoned because owners think allergic diseases are too hard to deal with.
If you have an allergic pet, don't give up hope. But DO find the right diet.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


I recently had a client come into the office for advice on feeding her dog. She was doing a great job of making a home made diet that was well balanced. Her dog was still suffering with some yeast infections in the ears and hot spots. When questioned further, she was feeding her dogs incredibly horrible treats and snacks. You cannot feed a diet that is 90% good and expect that to overcome the horrendous effects of the ingredients in the other 10% of the diet. Not to mention, these are empty calories!


Wheat Flour, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Crystalline Fructose, Water, Glycerin, Beef, Salt, Dried Cheese Product, Soy Protein Concentrate, Citric Acid (Used as a Preservative), Vegetable Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Sorbate (Used as a Preservative), Garlic Powder, Natural Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose, Iron Oxide (Color), BHA (Used as a Preservative), Onion Extract.
WHEAT: Known allergen for many dogs
CORN SYRUP: Dogs definitely do not need corn syrup in their diet! (GMO)
SUGAR: Dogs definitely do not need sugar in their diet!
CRYSTALLINE FRUCTOSE: A third form of sugar!
SOY PROTEIN: Known allergen for many dogs.
TITANIUM DIOXIDE: Causes allergic skin reactions and hypersensitivity.
RED 40, YELLOW 6, YELLOW 5, BHA: Known carcinogens
SODIUM CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE: Undigestible plant fiber. May cause laxative effect.
IRON OXIDE: Can cause allergic reactions.

ONION EXTRACT: No onions for dogs please. Anemia and gastroenteritis can be caused by chronic exposure or eating large amounts of onion.
Oh yeah, there's a little beef thrown in there somewhere, but it's ingredient #7, just before salt. Because the label states "Beef and Cheese FLAVOR", that means only 3% of the ingredients need to be beef or cheese. If you have a diabetic dog, this treat would make his blood sugar soar. DO NOT FEED!

Friday, November 6, 2015


Rice, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken By-Product Meal, Propylene Glycol, Dried Skim Milk, Modified Food Starch, Dextrin, Water, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Bone Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Gelatin, Animal Digest, Potassium Sorbate (Used as a Preservative), Phosphoric Acid, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Natural Smoke Flavor, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, BHA (Used as a Preservative).

Carcinogenicity tests showed that addition of the antioxidant BHA to the diet of rats induced high incidences of squamous cell carcinoma of the forestomach of both sexes. Male hamsters given BHA for 24 weeks also developed papilloma showing downward growth into the submucosa of the forestomach. These results indicate that BHA should be classified in the category of "sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity".

Food dyes, synthesized originally from coal tar and now petroleum, have long been controversial because of safety concerns. Many dyes have been banned because of their adverse effects on laboratory animals or inadequate testing.


This review finds that all of the nine currently US-approved dyes raise health concerns of varying degrees. Red 3 causes cancer in animals, and there is evidence that several other dyes also are carcinogenic. Three dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens. At least four dyes (Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) cause hypersensitivity reactions. 
FDA testing determined that the pet food ingredient ‘animal digest’ to be a likely source of pentobarbital – the drug used to euthanize animals.  Thus, the pet food ingredient ‘animal digest’ can start with animal protein “such as” euthanized animals – any euthanized animal.
I wouldn't let my pets near this. Why would you? This seal only means the dental treat helped removed as much plaque as brushing twice weekly. Does NOT mean this is a healthy product. Veterinarians should be ashamed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Great Reviews for Needles to Natural!

Have you purchased your copy yet? Available in Kindle, Nook, paperback, and hardback.http://www.drjudymorgan.com/FromNeedlestoNatural-detail.htm

By Catherine  
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a long time dog parent, I can not stress enough how wonderful this book is. Dr. Judy Morgan
is an Holistic Veterinarian with 30 years of practice. Her book shares her journey on how she
became holistic and natural in her approach to her patients. It is written in an entertaining format,
but make no mistake about it, this book is jammed packed with information that will help keep
your animals not just healthy but thriving. I have 3 examples living here with me. I have not only
read this book cover to cover, but have picked it back up numerous times to research different
things. In my mind this is the best animal care book out there.

Wow... could not be any better to help your pets
Verified Purchase
This review is from: From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing (Paperback)
This is an outstanding book for anyone with dogs or cats. Judy Morgan knows her
stuff. She is not one of those far out holistic vets who never uses traditional medicine.
She uses the best of both. The tips in various chapters that I found particularly
helpful dealt with digestive issues and the benefits of variety types of foods and
supplements. I can't recommend this more highly. It is a "go to" book for an array
of health issues.

the book ended too soon!
Verified Purchase
This review is from: From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing (Kindle Edition)
This book is written as if the author, Judy Morgan DVM is sitting in the same room
with you. A very easy read with a wealth of information. I get energized just by
reading the information. She has been in practice for 30 years and knows what works.
Health naturally not by needles. I wish she practiced in Texas! Thanks Dr Morgan!

A Source to Trust
This review is from: From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing (Hardcover)

This book is a great introduction to the world of holistic healing for our companion
animals, and it also adds information those of us who have used some of the methods
for years do not know. In short, everyone who reads it will learn something, and
that's always a good thing. Having a vet who also has studied these treatments, I
can tell you that they DO work. Two of our "dog girls" lived longer than we ever
thought possible when first diagnosed with serious health issues. Trust Dr. Judy.
She knows whereof she speaks!

In the book she explains even the most technical subjects in a manner that can 
be easily understood by anyone who cares about their pets 
Verified Purchase
This review is from: From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing (Paperback)
I have read and re-read this book, it has become my "dog bible". Dr. Morgan's knowledge 
and compassion are refreshing! In the book she explains even the most technical subjects 
in a manner that can be easily understood by anyone who cares about their dog. I was so 
impressed with it that I gifted my son with a copy for Christmas. Thank you, Dr Morgan, 
for helping me give my precious pups a healthier, happier life!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Testicular Tumors Can Cause Hair Loss

Testicular tumors in old un-neutered male dogs can cause some problems. They are most commonly found in undescended testicles that have remained in the abdomen or in the inguinal canal. This little guy (who is ancient, a rescue kid) came with a sparse hair coat and one very large testicle. The hormones being produced by the large testicle with the tumor caused the second testicle to shrink. The hormones are also responsible for hair loss and weak hair coat. Castration should be curative. These tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body. Once the tumor is removed, the excess hormone production is gone. Hopefully, this little guy will grow more hair and have a glossy coat in a few months! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dental Care in Pets Saves Lives

Dental care in pets is one of the most often overlooked aspects of health care. I've posted videos, blogs, and photos in the past, but it bears repeating. The bacteria that lies within the mouth spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream. Filtering organs like the heart valves, liver, and kidney tubules catch a lot of the bacteria as they stream through the organ. Bacteria become trapped and set up infections and inflammation, leading to mitral valve disease, liver disease, and kidney failure. The best form of dental care is daily brushing, just like you would do for yourself. Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda to perform this chore. I like coconut oil or natural products without chemicals and dyes.
Feeding a species appropriate diet that is not loaded with carbohydrates will also help you in the battle to fight dental infection. Pets are not designed to eat a high carbohydrate load. Carbohydrates can actually promote dental decay because they break down into sugars. So the old myth that dry kibble is good for your pet's teeth is FALSE. 
Have your pet's teeth checked at least once a year by your veterinarian. Even though an anesthetic procedure is scary, it is better to have a healthy mouth for overall good health. I am NOT in favor of the new non-anesthetic dental cleanings. It is impossible to thoroughly clean under the gum line and on the back sides of the teeth in an awake animal. Scraping tartar without adequate polishing leaves etching on the teeth, which actually promotes tartar and plaque build up.
The pets that had these rotten teeth (photos) both had grade 5 heart murmurs. With proper anesthesia, fluids, and monitoring, their procedures were safely performed. Please don't wait for your pet's teeth to get this bad. Be kind - get their teeth cleaned.
The only part that isn't rotten is the tip of the root on the right.

Infected teeth smell bad and they hurt!

Check out Kalvatin Dental Spray

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Price and ingredient comparison for dog food.

You want to feed your 10 pound dog a beef diet. Cesar's recommends 2.5 trays per day, at $4.52 per pound ON SALE (normally $6.00 per pound). This comes out to $2.47 per day. (And the first ingredients are water and chicken, not beef). Allprovide is $4.20 per pound and would cost $1.57 per day, which is 37% less cost per day. And the ingredients are REAL food with no synthetic vitamins. Still think you can't afford to feed a raw, high quality food? Think again. Stop throwing your money away on processed food with poor ingredients.

 Allprovide​ Ingredients: Beef, Turkey with Bone, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Green Kale, Small Red Beans(sprouted), Milled Flaxseed, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Dried Sea Kelp, Oregano Leaf, Organic Turmeric, Vitamin E Supplement

Cesar's Ingredients: Ingredients: sufficient water for processing, chicken, beef, chicken liver, meat by-products, dried potatoes, starch, wheat gluten, minerals (calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, magnesium proteinate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide), dried carrots, dried peas, pea fiber, salt, wheat flour, sodium tripolyphosphate, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin e supplement, biotin, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin b1], vitamin b12 supplement, riboflavin [vitamin b2], vitamin a supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride), added color, natural flavor, xanthan gum, guar gum.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Those of us who practice alternative medicine commonly state that traditional Western medicine is great for putting out fires. Drugs are used to treat things that are inflammatory, like arthr-ITIS, pancreat-ITIS, dermat-ITIS, encephal-ITIS, etc. "Itis" indicates inflammation and drugs are used to decrease the symptoms and pain of inflammation. Therefore - putting out fires. But wouldn't it be better if you could PREDICT where inflammation might occur BEFORE it occurs? Wouldn't you rather be pro-active and stop the train before it gets going at 100 miles per hour? That's were alternative medicine like Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine can be a powerful ally.

I did a consultation the other day for a dog with kidney disease. The dog was a typical "Water" dog,
Toxic Red Tongue
meaning it's five element constitution was Water - fearful, apt to bite when afraid, black coat color, thin build. Because the Water element is ruled by the Kidney and Bladder systems, it would have been predictable that this dog would develop kidney issues later in life. If we had designed a diet and lifestyle to support the Kidney system early in life, there is a greater chance this pet would not have developed kidney issues. No guarantees, but certainly worth consideration. Of course, genetics plays some role in the course of certain diseases over a lifetime. But if you KNOW the pet has a genetic predisposition toward developing a certain disease, wouldn't you do everything in your power to prevent or delay the onset of disease and symptoms?

My head receptionist has a senior dog that appeared to be the picture of health. But she was slowly losing weight. Most pet owners would not have noticed a problem. The weight loss was subtle. Lab work showed all systems were normal. But the one thing that was abnormal on exam was this dog's tongue color. It was brick red, something I call toxic red. I knew something wasn't right (and actually was very wrong!) based on the tongue color. Most traditional veterinarians would have proclaimed everything was in great working order. But based on the tongue color, I insisted on an abdominal x-ray. We were going on a tumor hunt because I knew there had to be one somewhere. The x-ray showed her spleen to be somewhat enlarged, with a very small bulge along one edge. The dog was taken for an ultrasound, where it was proclaimed the spleen had abnormal texture and contour. We went to surgery and removed a VERY abnormal spleen, filled with cancer. Parts of the intestine looked thickened and scarred, so we performed an intestinal biopsy as well. We are still waiting for the biopsy results to confirm what kind of cancer was lurking. The big question - what would have happened if we had waited? How much would this pet's life have been shortened by allowing the cancerous organ to remain until it ruptured and the cancer spread? This dog is a typical Earth personality, which is ruled by Spleen and Stomach. See any connection here? Tumor in spleen, Earth dog ruled by Spleen......

Unfortunately, too many pet owners wait until the fire has been burning out of control, treating the "symptoms" with drugs and medications. If given the right tools, the body could help itself heal and medications could be diminished or eliminated altogether. Early intervention can help pets live longer. Holistic medicine saves lives.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


The vast majority of pet owners buy their pet food in the same store where they buy their groceries. Many pet parents purchase diets prescribed by their pet's veterinarian to treat different disease problems. But is there really a difference in the quality of ingredients used to make these foods? While some foods are proclaimed to be made in US facilities, the real question lies in the sourcing of the ingredients to make those foods. It is IMPOSSIBLE to know where the ingredients started by reading the pet food label. Pet food companies are allowed to say "Made in the USA" if the food is put together in the US. It does not mean the ingredients started in the US. Commonly, synthetic vitamin/mineral supplements are sourced overseas, usually China. The latest new ploy, now that pet parents have decided to avoid products "Made in China" is for the pet food companies to source or assemble in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, or Taiwan. The question is, how safe are ingredients originating in those countries? What oversight governs production of food (or feed) products? Who tests the ingredients before entry into the United States? My recommendation for every consumer (yes, you have homework) is to call the company that makes the food you want to feed. Ask them where they source their ingredients. Ask if the meat is sourced from free range, antibiotic-free, hormone-free flocks or herds. Ask them what kind of purity and quality testing they perform. Ask if they use synthetic vitamins or real vitamins. Ask if they add artificial flavors and colors. Once you make a list of questions, you can easily find a phone number to reach the company by looking online or looking on a bag or can of the food. A good pet food company will readily answer your questions and be pleased to serve you. I recently called Allprovide pet food and asked these questions. The owner of the company answered the phone and provided a clear answer to every question. I called the Dingo pet treat company and got a run-around with a lot of unanswered questions. Who would you buy from?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Xylitol and Artificial Sweeteners are Extremely Toxic to Dogs

Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, snacks, oral rinses, peanut butter, toothpaste, and supplements. Xylitol can be extremely toxic when eaten by dogs. The xylitol content of these products can vary widely depending on brand and flavor.

Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Black-tarry stool
  • Coma or death
If you suspect your dog ingested xylitol, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) immediately. 

In dogs, ingestion of 1 gram per 20 pounds of body weight can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes. Take the packaging with you when you see your veterinarian so the amount ingested can be determined. Ingestion of larger amounts can result in liver failure. Depending on the symptoms in your dog, vomiting may be induced by your veterinarian. Treatment includes monitoring of blood sugar and liver values, IV fluids, sugar supplementation in IV fluids, and liver protective drugs [e.g., milk thistle, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)], as needed. Activated charcoal does not reliably bind xylitol, therefore it is not recommended. Blood work (evaluating liver function) should be re-evaluated 2-3 days after discharge, depending on the toxic dose ingested.

Please keep all products containing xylitol out of reach from your pet. I see pets that have taken these products from lady’s purses quite commonly and I have also seen cases where children “shared” with the family dog.

Kidney Failure in Cats and How to Treat it Naturall

Kidney failure in cats is the number one problem reported to pet insurance companies. Some things that can contribute to kidney disease include
high blood pressure, chronic urinary tract infection, urinary tract obstruction, viral diseases, and some drugs (like NSAIDS).

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include: 

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Rough coat
  • Poor grooming
  • Vomiting
  • Increased or decreased thirst and urination
Cats do not drink enough water in general. When they are fed dry food they make very concentrated urine and the kidneys have to work very hard. Because the urine is so concentrated the cats tend to make crystals and stones in their urinary tract. Kidney stones are much more common since we have been feeding so much dry food to cats.

One simple solution to kidney disease prevention is feeding a high-moisture, species appropriate diet. In nature, cats would eat fresh-killed prey that is high in moisture and protein. Dry food with only 3-6% moisture that is high in carbohydrates is inappropriate for cats and contributes to chronic kidney disease.

Treatment for kidney disease includes feeding a very high moisture diet. Traditional veterinarians recommend feeding low protein diets, including dry diets. These are inappropriate, in my opinion.
Newer research has shown that old animals have a higher need for protein and should not be fed overly protein-restricted diets. Treatment can include subcutaneous fluids given frequently, injections of B vitamins, D vitamin supplementation, high moisture species-appropriate diet (meat!), supplements, blood pressure medications, and a low-stress environment. Acupuncture and herbals can also be very helpful.

For more information, check out my book From Needles To Natural, the chapters on kidney disease and feeding cats.

Order Today