Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Not everyone despises GMO foods, but I certainly am not of fan. From the two articles re-posted below, you can see that the big food companies and big pet food representatives want to keep us in the dark. They feel that GMO foods are "perfectly safe" and we should not be able to make our own decisions about what we are eating or feeding to our pets. Just awful.

From :

The DARK Act

In 2014, Vermont became the first state to require mandatory GMO labeling.  Connecticut and Maine have also passed GMO labeling laws that will go into effect once neighboring states pass similar laws and other states are currently looking to pass GMO labeling legislation.
In response to these state efforts, Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) introduced federal legislation developed by food companies that we in the consumer rights community have dubbed the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” Act (DARK Act). This anti-GMO labeling bill passed the House of Representatives in 2015 and similar legislation has just been introduced by Senator Roberts and could pass the Senate any day.
The Senate version of the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” (DARK) Act would:
  • Preempt states from requiring labeling of GMO foods.
  • Strip the Food and Drug Administration of its jurisdiction over GMO food disclosures.
  • Make it harder for companies like Campbell’s Soup to voluntarily disclose the presence of GMOs.
  • Make it the responsibility of USDA to promote biotechnology to consumers.
  • Continue the current, broken voluntary labeling system.
Americans want the Right to Know:
Dispelling GMO Labeling Myths:
  • GMO labeling will not increase food prices. Companies frequently change labels to highlight new innovations or to make new claims.
  • Voluntary labeling will not work. Companies have been allowed to make voluntary non-GMO disclosures since 2001, but consumers are more confused than ever.
  • There is no “patchwork quilt.” Current state GMO labeling laws are virtually identical, so there will be no “patchwork quilt” of different state laws. The responsible solution to concerns over a possible future patchwork would be the establishment of a uniform, national mandatory labeling standard.
  • GMO crops do not feed the world. Conventional and GMO corn and soybean yields have increased at the same rate. What’s more, S. farmersproduce only 4 percent of rice, wheat, fruits, and vegetables, and most U.S. corn and soybeans are used for animal feed and ethanol, not food.
  • GMO crops have increased herbicide applications. Widespread adoption of GMO crops has increased annual applications of glyphosate – a probable human carcinogen – from 16 million pounds to more than 280 million pounds.
  • GMO crops have led to more toxic herbicides. As weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, farmers have turned to more toxic weed killers linked to cancerParkinson’s disease, and reproductive problems.
Take action now! Americans need to tell their members of Congress to stop the DARK Act from becoming law and demand support for mandatory GMO labeling.

ON FEBRUARY 22, 2016

AFIA urges Senate action on food labeling bill

Proposal would recognize the safety of ingredients produced by modern agriculture biotechnology

 My interpretation: Basically, they are saying they recognize "the safety of GMO ingredients" and feel we should just accept them in our diets and the diets of our pets. I saw the AFIA reps in action at the AAFCO meeting. Not good.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) thanks Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) after the introduction of a proposal supporting a federal food labeling solution that recognizes the safety of ingredients produced by modern agriculture biotechnology. AFIA now urges action from the Senate, requesting the bill be taken up and passed in an expedited manner.
“The Vermont law requiring foods containing genetically modified ingredients to display on-package labels goes into effect on July 1. Although animal food is exempt from Vermont’s law, our industry supports a uniform, national labeling standard for products containing genetically modified ingredients,” said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA vice president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs. “If Congress implements a national law requiring a uniformed standard like what is contained in this bill, the food industry, animal food industry, farmers and consumers will share equal protection from unnecessary costs and different state mandated labeling requirements.”
Studies show the labeling of GM products will cost American families up to $500 more in groceries annually, with low-income families bearing the brunt of the changes.
“AFIA and the animal food industry welcome this bill with open arms as we seek a solution to this ongoing dilemma. We believe this is a fair resolution for both agriculture and consumers, as it provides consistency in the marketplace. We thank Chairman Roberts for his leadership to find a well-rounded and uniformed approach to national food labeling. Congress, we urge you to act on this opportunity quickly,” Wilkinson stated.

Monday, February 22, 2016


As many of you are aware, I have spent the last three weeks touring the Caribbean, with stays on Bequia, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts, as well as passing through Barbados, Antiqua, Nevis, and St. Vincent. My original purpose was to spend three weeks working on my next book about caring for your pets using natural therapies. However, once my feet hit the sandy beaches and my body started to detox from living life in hyper-speed, I realized how important it is to take time for myself. Anyone who knows me, knows that I work 7 days a week, 18 or more hours per day, and suffer from insomnia. My brain never stops. I worry, I ponder, I plan. It took five days before I could actually just SIT and watch the ocean.

One thing I have discovered on this trip is how important it is to do NOTHING once in a while. Chinese Medicine teaches the importance of BALANCE in our lives and I realize my life has been very out of balance. I've had to eat an incredibly restricted diet at home to counteract the emotional stress I deal with by working so much. Here in the islands, I have been able to eat and drink anything I want, with no side effects. That, alone, is enough proof that I need to find balance.

I am not ready to retire, but I do think I need to slow down...A LOT. Figuring out how to do that will be difficult, as I have so many irons in the fire and so many that depend on me (including my family, 9 spaniels, 4 cats, 6 horses, and a bunch of employees and patients). I love all the people that depend on me and I love serving them. But, I now realize that sometimes I need to be just a little bit selfish.

We used to own a home at the shore and once we hit the bridge to the island on Friday afternoon, I was able to sit on the beach and read trashy novels for 2 days without thinking so much about work. I don't want to own another home at the beach (kind of a nightmare really), but our little slice of heaven with spaniels in New Jersey can be that oasis. As long as I can remember the importance of nothing. And that sometimes, nothing is everything.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


As if we don't shower our pets with love every day, apparently we have been given a day to celebrate them. So, on this national day of loving, I have provided -

Ten Ways to Love Your Pet:
1. Spend a little extra time just sitting, petting, and talking to your pet today.
2. Get the leash and go for a walk with no agenda. Let them sniff everything they want.
3. Play with them with their favorite toy (we have one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that loves to play with her floppy frisbee and begs EVERY day for this).
4. Give them a special meal - we make a lot of home cooked stews for our dogs (my specialty is food therapy - using food for healing instead of using medicine).
5. Make some home made treats - there are a lot of online recipes for healthy treats.
6. Take them for a ride in the car, even if you don't go anywhere other than around the block.
7. Schedule a play date with other dogs if they are sociable.
8. Schedule a massage for your pet (or give your pet a massage).
9. Help your dog create his "bucket list" and do something on the list.
10. Actually listen to your dog. Learn to understand what he or she wants.

Healthy home made treat:
Grated coconut (I like the Cocotherapy coconut chips)
Add hot water to rehydrate; can simmer on stove for a few minutes to thicken.
Add two egg yolks and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Stir.
Beat the whites of two eggs until fluffy.
Fold into mixture of coconut and egg yolks and cinnamon.
Bake in mini muffin pan at 325 until firm.
Cool and eat. Feel free to share with your pets!

Friday, February 19, 2016


Lance and his "mom"
George relaxing with "mom"

A recent study done in Britain tested hormonal responses to dogs and cats after spending time with their owners. They tested the hormone, oxytocin, which is known to stimulate pleasure in our brain and helps mothers to bond with their offspring. They used swabs to collect saliva from each animal before and after spending ten minutes playing with the pet owner. While dogs showed an increase in hormone levels of 57.2%, cats only showed a 12% increase. One dog showed a 500% increase in oxytocin levels. (Do you think George has a high level in this photo? Talk about relaxing with mom!

Similar studies in humans show elevations of oxytocin levels when interacting with animals. Proof that we enjoy time spent with our "furkids". I certainly feel happier and more calm when I am around my pets (both cats and dogs). Perhaps my cats aren't quite as happy to interact with me, but I'd have a hard time believing that at night when they are lined up sleeping on top of me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Every day in practice we see pets with horrible dental disease. A report titled "Pet Oral Care Products and Services in the U.S." analyzes the market for dental hygiene and oral health products and services for dogs and cats. "The report covers products specifically marketed along oral care lines, with a focus on both edible oral care products, such as dental treats and chews, and inedible products, such as toothbrushes, teeth-cleaning sprays and dental gels. Pet oral care products are not a new development, but the continuing humanization and premiumization of the pet market, in addition to the growing focus on ingredients and safety, have greatly increased the appeal of products designed to address issues of pet dental hygiene and oral health. There's clearly a market for such products, with companion animals living longer than ever and 70%-80% of dogs and cats showing signs of oral disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society." 

Clearly, the pet food and treat industry is looking to produce products pet owners will buy to promote good dental hygiene. But many products on the market are harmful to our pets and actually contribute to dental disease, as they are made from wheat, poor quality fillers, sugar, corn syrup, Animal Digest, and carcinogenic chemicals like BHA, BHT, and colorful dyes. For instance: 


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, Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin, BHA (Used As A Preservative), Spearmint.

Rice, glycerin, water, wheat flour, rice flour, chicken by-product meal, corn germ meal, wheat gluten, brewer’s dried yeast, tricalcium phosphate, sugar, added color, gelatin, parsley flakes, pork, hydrogenated corn syrup, sodium caseinate, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, sorbic acid (a preservative), salt, phosphoric acid, rice starch, natural and artificial flavors, calcium propionate (a preservative), maltodextrins, Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, BHA (a preservative), BHT (a preservative), Blue 1, calcium carbonate, citric acid.

Unfortunately, the poor quality diets fed to most pets lead to more dental disease. My patients that eat raw diets and are fed raw meaty bones rarely show signs of dental disease, whereas those that eat kibble diets often have severe periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to kidney, liver, and heart disease due to circulating bacteria in the blood stream. Kibble contains carbohydrates which break down to sugars that feed the oral bacteria. Kibble sticks to the teeth and causes decay. Raw meat diets do not stick to the teeth and contain natural enzymes that help prevent tartar build up. Of course, some breeds are more prone to dental disease, including toy breeds and brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds.

Allprovide bones
If your pet has never been fed raw meaty bones, introduce them carefully. Make sure they are RAW and appropriately sized for your pet. Do not feed raw bones if your dog has a history of pancreatitis (unless you can remove most of the marrow) or if your dog has broken, fractured, or painful teeth. Always supervise your pet when feeding bones. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The Hegg turtle sanctuary was started in 1995 by Bequian Orton King, a retired fisherman who realized that one of nature's wonders was endangered. The Hawksbill turtles were once hunted for their meat, eggs, and shells, but are now protected. Orton King raised his first few hatchlings in a small plastic tub. From his desire to protect these beautiful creatures, the Hegg turtle sanctuary came to life. Since 1995, over 2,000 turtles have been returned to the sea.

The hatchlings are raised at the sanctuary until they are three years old before they are released. (The hatchlings in the photo above are about a year old.) They are carnivores; they are fed sardines, canned tuna, and small fish. They have powerful jaws and in the wild they eat conch, oysters, clams, including the shells. (What a great source of calcium!) Left to their own devices, only one in one thousand eggs will hatch and produce a turtle that makes its way back to the sea. At the sanctuary fifty out of every 100 turtles will survive.

There are a few turtles that will never leave the sanctuary, including one with a deformed, domed shell. The shell shape slows him down, leaving him as easy prey for predators. These turtles can live over 250 years! The nice young man that answered our questions was so helpful - I hope he spends his life watching over these wonderful creatures. The sanctuary must continue for a long time, as the residents will be there for at least three human generations!

More information is available here:
Donations are greatly appreciated.

For anyone traveling and swimming in the Caribbean, if you see a Hawsbill turtle with a "hole punch" on the shell by the tail, that turtle started its life at the Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.


While traveling in Bequia we took a tour of a plantation. This little dog lived at the plantation and followed us on the tour. We walked around a two acre plot of land and saw how easy it is to grow plants and trees to supply food for the restaurant. We sampled bananas, figs, coconut, papaya, sugar cane, guava, orange, grapefruit, mango, lime, lemon, papaya, dozens of herbs, and almonds. They also had chickens and goats to supply eggs, milk, and cheese. It's amazing how easily a family could have a healthy supply of great food. The fruit tastes so different than it does when it is shipped to the United States and chemically ripened.

The dog was happy to follow us and sample all the foods. Here, he is drinking the coconut milk from the fresh coconut. He had a beautiful, shiny coat, was perfect weight, and seemed very happy with his island life. 

Monday, February 15, 2016


For years, my mother faithfully applied the monthly topical flea and tick prevention and gave the monthly heartworm preventative we carry in our office. Every month, all year round. As I became more and more holistically focused in my practice, I became more unhappy with my mother's desire to use these products. Of course, when I was fresh out of veterinary school, I had also been fed the big-pharma scare tactics that our pets needed to be given these monthly chemicals or they would surely die from parasite-borne diseases. I had done such a great job of convincing my mother of that reality, that now I had trouble convincing her otherwise.

After years of having my own pets remain chemical-free, I finally confronted my mother. I had subtly suggested this in the past, but I was always met with resistance. I was so frustrated, I loudly stated "Have you EVER seen a flea or tick on your dog?" Her answer: "No. And I don't want to. The chemicals work great because she's never had a single flea or tick." And there was my answer.

You see, the products my mother was using had NO repellent properties. They worked by killing the parasites AFTER they got onto the pet. As you can see in the photo, this dog is groomed regularly, with a short coat. Fleas and ticks would be easy to find. This dog simply had no exposure to parasites where she lived. Yet she was being poisoned every month with neurotoxic chemicals. I finally convinced my mother she no longer needed to use the drugs. And, here's the best news...two years later, the dog STILL doesn't have any fleas or ticks! She also remains heartworm free, using the monthly preventative only a few months per year (we live in New Jersey).

Most "preventative" chemicals work by killing fleas and ticks after they are exposed to the chemicals given to the pet. If you live in a neighborhood with manicured lawns and a few trees, your pet may have minimal exposure to fleas and ticks. You have no need to use these toxins. Personally, even if my pets were in wooded areas (which they are) and were exposed to other dogs and cats that are flea infested (which they are), I still would not use these chemicals. The potential for dangerous side effects is too high. I wouldn't swallow or apply a can of insecticide to myself and I won't subject my pets to them either.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


While traveling through the Caribbean this month, I can't help checking out the local veterinary clinics, rescue organizations, pet stores, and pet food. It would seem that care of island dogs and cats is not a priority, as most female dogs are un-spayed, thin, and have huge mammary glands. The males are thin and not neutered. Most dogs have pretty severe flea infestations and I'm pretty sure heartworms are rampant. Most islanders do not seem to understand the need for any sort of veterinary care and the dogs seem pretty content to lie in any shade that can be found, while scratching and chewing at their eternal parasite visitors. Of course, as an outsider, I want to see the animals treated differently, but my American values are not necessarily the right values in this part of the world.

It would seem that Nestle Purina has a huge hold on the economy in third world countries, as Purina pet foods are the only processed American foods we have seen. We did find one brand made in Barbados, but the ingredients are so awful, even Beneful seems to be an improvement (did I actually say that???).

So, as I gaze at the incredibly awful choices available here on St. Lucia, I wonder, what would I feed my dogs if I lived here? Luckily, this island is big and they actually have grocery stores. I gazed in the frozen meat section, and what to my wondering eyes should appear...organ meats and chicken backs and all kinds of great ingredients for dog food! Add some fresh vegetables and maybe even some grains (because protein is pretty expensive here), and I think I could manage to keep my dogs healthy without resorting to the horrible processed foods. The only good thing about these foods for island dogs is the fact that they do have added vitamins and minerals (but they are synthetic and of the lowest possible quality). However, I would bet that the island dogs that survive on scraps from the human tables still fare the best.