Why Dry Food is Not the Best Food for Your Cat







Here’s another great article by Holistic Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker:

By Dr. Becker

More evidence has emerged linking dry food diets and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

A study was conducted at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine to evaluate urethral obstruction (UO), which is an extremely common, life-threatening condition in cats.

The urethra is a small tube through which urine flows from your cat’s bladder to the outside of the body.

Urethral obstructions are usually mineral crystals or stones, or plugs of inflammatory material that form in the kidneys (a process known as urolithiasis), pass down into the bladder, and get stuck in the urethra, blocking the passage of urine from the body.

The urethra in male cats is longer and narrower than in females, so obstructions are more often seen in males.

Once a blockage develops in the urethra, the kidneys continue to produce urine and the urine starts building up in the bladder.

This is not only painful for the cat, it can also quickly interfere with kidney function.

The job of the kidneys is to flush waste from the body, and when they aren’t working properly, toxins accumulate in the bloodstream.

Feline urethral obstructions, if not treated promptly, can result in death in a matter of days.

Dog Diagnosed with Megasophagus? Don’t despair!


By Green Dog Pet Supply

“Megaesophagus is a condition in which a dog’s esophagus is enlarged to the point that food remains in the esophagus and never makes it down to the stomach and is instead regurgitated. The muscle contraction and relaxation that normally takes place to move food down to the stomach doesn’t work. Megaesophagus can be present since birth or can develop in adult dogs. If left untreated, it can cause a range of problems, including starvation and aspiration pneumonia.” This quote was extracted from a site called The Pet Project and their post details how to get a hold of “Baily’s Chair” which enables dogs to eat in a way that lets food get down into the stomach more easily, as well as giving many great resources for where to go for support and information about this condition. Check out this fantastic You Tube video of a dog using a chair like this – it’s so flippin’ cute how the dog jumps into place!

In the “Answers from Experts” (03/99 issue) of the Whole Dog Journal, Holistic vet Dr Carolyn Blakey suggests that homeopathy can help, as well as acupuncture, “which would be great for stimulating whatever tonal ability the dog may have. <! — more — >With megaesophagus, the whole problem is a lack of innervation (sufficient supply and activity of the nerves). The messages are just not getting through to the esophagus to constrict and move food down; it gets all flaccid. But acupuncture can get those neurotransmitters working, or at least, get them working better than before.”
She also mentions that it would be important to have a good vitamin mineral supplement as well as digestive enzymes to help the dog (or cat) to absorb more nutrition from the food that makes it into the stomach.

Simple Solution for Dogs that Bark out the Windows

By Green Dog Pet Supply

A customer shared her very clever solution to a long time problem she was having. Her dog loves to bark out of the window, and was not only creating a lot of noise for her close neighbors, but she was also shredding her blinds. The shredded blinds not only looked terrible, they were an expensive loss. Then she hit upon the great idea to purchase a sort of contact paper made for windows that made them look frosted, and the problem was solved! They still let plenty of light in, they look attractive, they provide valuable privacy for houses that are close to the neighbors, and by only frosting the bottom panes, the owner can still look out the top part of the window if she needs to see outside. The dog can’t get up that high though, so the visual stimuli that were causing her to bark (squirrels, people passing, etc) were removed. She’s calmer, the neighbors are happier, and the new blinds remain unshredded, as there’s nothing to see by pushing them out of the way. Check out this awesome DYI site that shows beautiful ways to embellish the frosted glass look with a paint pen. Beautiful!

Have Fun and Be Safe on Thanksgiving


By Green Dog Pet Supply

So of course tomorrow, watch out for your pets when your house is full of people:

  • Make sure if they’re overwhelmed they get moved to a quieter place in the house with a nice raw bone or bully stick or stuffed Kong to work on.
  • Make sure they’re wearing their ID tags in case they sneak out the door as people come and go.
  • Make sure no one slips them too much turkey, especially skin and gravy, as Pancreatitis can set in quickly with too many rich fats. Of course, cooked turkey bones are extremely dangerous for dogs – cooking any poultry bones changes them from edible to sharp and splintery.
  • Be careful of the wrappings, strings and foil etc that were involved with turkey cooking, as they seem yummy too. Protect this sort of garbage from your pets.
  • Raisins, grapes, rising bread dough, onions and chocolate often play roles tomorrow in the big meal, and they are all toxic to dogs.
  • Raw turkey necks, however, are a great treat for dogs (unless their Thanksgiving day is filled with too many other treats – maybe save that for a quieter day if they haven’t had one before), and the raw liver and heart are worth cutting up and giving little pieces to both the kitties and the dogs.
  • Keep your emergency vet # in an easy to find place in case your pet eats something they shouldn’t
  • Have a wonderful holiday!

Good News About the Latest Canine Vaccination Guidelines


By Dr. Becker

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force has updated their vaccination guidelines for 2011.

According to AAHAnet.org:

Developed in a manner consistent with best vaccination practices, the 2011 Guidelines include expert opinions supported by scientific study, published and unpublished documents, and encompass all canine vaccines currently licensed in the U.S. and Canada. The task force that developed the guidelines included experts in immunology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, law, and clinical practice.

I’m encouraged by, if not blissful about the new guidelines.

The absolute highlight is that all core vaccines with the exception of the 1-year rabies are now recommended at 3-year or greater intervals.

Even more exciting is the task force has acknowledged that in the case of the non-rabies core vaccines, immunity lasts at least 5 years for distemper and parvo, and at least 7 years for adenovirus.

Hopefully these new guidelines will help more dog owners understand the long-lasting effect of those puppy shots! And hopefully, more dog owners will now request titers rather than automatically revaccinating their canine companions for distemper, parvo and adenovirus.

Summary of New AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines for 2011

Please note: My vaccine recommendations and those of Dr. Ronald Schultz, follow this summary.


Canine Distemper (CDV)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Parvo (CPV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 7 years.

Rabies 1-year

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For all dogs: annually as required by law

Rabies 3-year

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For all dogs: within 1 year of initial dose regardless of age at time of initial dose, then every 3 years thereafter as required by law


Measles Vaccine (MV)

This vaccine is supposed to provide temporary immunization of young puppies against distemper by ‘cross-protecting’ them against the disease in the event there are still maternally derived antibodies present. It is always given in combination with other vaccines — distemper plus measles, or a 4-way combination of distemper plus measles plus adenovirus plus parainfluenza.

It is only recommended for healthy dogs between 6 and 12 weeks of age.

Canine Parainfluenza (CPiV)

There are two delivery systems for this vaccine — intranasal and parenteral (injected).

This is a flu vaccine. The intranasal form prevents clinical signs of illness, infection and shedding. The injected form prevents clinical illness, but not infection or shedding. It is used for dogs that aggressively resist intranasal delivery.

The parenteral vaccine is always given in combination with certain core vaccines; the intranasal form is always given in combination with the bordetella vaccine alone, or with bordetella plus adenovirus.

It is always given in a single dose. Revaccination recommendations, depending on the form of the vaccine (intranasal or parenteral), are per the combined core vaccine schedule, annually, or more frequently for ‘high risk’ animals.

Bordetella (Bb) Vaccine

The bordetella vaccine can also be delivered intranasally or by injection.

Parenteral administration requires two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart. For the initial vaccination, it is recommended the second dose be given at least a week before the dog is boarded, attends a dog show, etc. Revaccination is recommended annually

The intranasal vaccine is single dose, with revaccination recommended annually or more often for ‘high risk’ dogs. Some dogs experience side effects for 3 to 10 days after vaccination, including coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) — Intranasal

The intranasal form of the adenovirus vaccine is a non-core vaccine.

It’s recommended for dogs at risk for respiratory infection caused by the adenovirus, and it may not provide immunity against canine hepatitis. It should not be considered a replacement for the injectable form of the vaccine.

This vaccine is available only in combination with the intranasal bordetella and parainfluenza vaccines.

Canine Influenza

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 6 weeks. Annual revaccination is recommended.

Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age. Revaccination is recommended annually and/or at the beginning of tick season as determined regionally.

Notes: Recommended only for use in dogs with known risk of exposure, living in or visiting regions where exposure risk is high or where Lyme disease is endemic. Tick control products are required in addition to the vaccine.

Leptospira interrogans

This refers to the 4-way killed whole cell or subunit bacterin. The 2-way killed bacterin form of this vaccine is not recommended.

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age.  Revaccination is recommended annually, but only for dogs with reasonable risk of exposure.

Notes: Vaccination should be based on known geographic occurrence/prevalence and exposure risk of the individual dog.

Canine Oral Melanoma

This vaccine is only available for treatment of dogs with malignant melanoma. It is not intended for the prevention of oral melanoma.

Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback rattlesnake vaccine) (toxoid)

Field efficacy and experimental challenge data in dogs are not available at this time. (Vaccine efficacy and dose recommendations are based on toxin neutralization studies conducted in mice.)

Canine Coronavirus (CCov)

This vaccine is not recommended. Neither the modified live nor the killed CCov vaccine has proved effective against combination coronavirus/parvo disease. Only the parvo vaccine is protective against dual viruses.

What Dr. Ron Schultz Recommends

For those of you not familiar with Dr. Schultz, I recommend you watch my 4-part video series with him. You can find links to all 4 videos and articles here.

Dr. Schultz is one of the preeminent experts in the field of veterinary vaccines. If you read the full AAHA vaccination guidelines report, you’ll see his work referenced throughout.

Dr. Schultz recommends not starting a puppy or kitten core vaccination program before 6 to 8 weeks of age, with revaccinations no more frequent than every 4 weeks. So for example, if you start the program at 8 weeks, you would give another dose of the core vaccines at 12 weeks, and the third dose at 16 weeks.

Dr. Schultz’s core vaccine protocol for his own family’s pets differs in that he actually runs antibody titers on the mother to know exactly when the best time is to effectively immunize the puppy or kitten for the 3 core viruses. Then he titers the little ones 2 or more weeks after the vaccine, and as long as the response is adequate, he doesn’t in most cases revaccinate for the rest of the pet’s life.

When it comes to rabies vaccines, Dr. Schultz gives the first vaccine after 4 months of age, revaccinates in a year, and then again in 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. In other words, he follows the law for 3-year rabies vaccines, even though he doesn’t believe a vaccination every 3 years is necessary for immunization.

Currently Dr. Schultz is in year 4 of a 7-year study of the rabies vaccine. You can read more about the study at the Rabies Challenge Fund. His goal is to be able to recommend that after an animal is vaccinated at from 12 to 24 weeks for rabies, there’s no need for re-vaccination every 3 years.

Hopefully we’ll see the results of his 7-year study reflected in a future revision of the AAHA’s canine vaccination guidelines, as well as in state and local laws.

My Vaccination Protocol

My protocol at Natural Pet is a first round of the 3 cores before 12 weeks of age, usually around 9 to 10 weeks. Then I boost between 15 and 16 weeks. Then I titer 2 weeks after the second round to see if the animal has been immunized and not just vaccinated.

My rabies protocol mirrors Dr. Schultz’s, except I prefer to wait until 6 months of age before giving rabies vaccine.

As for the non-core vaccines, I don’t recommend any of them. Visit the following pages for a discussion of:

Note several non-core vaccines are only available in combination with other vaccines, some of which are core. I recommend you check with your vet to ensure none of the non-core vaccines are being piggy-backed on core vaccines your pet receives. Most traditional vets do not carry single vaccines, so ask to see the vaccine vial before assuming your pet is only receiving one agent at a time.

Fantastic Videos to Help You Pick the Best Foods for Your Pets

These are two videos I wish I had made myself, as we have these discussions with people on a daily basis. I also wish Dr. Becker was here in Portland – I’d give anything to be able to refer customers to her veterinary practice, and to have her out to the store for lectures, etc. The good news is that she has a great website/e-mail newsletter that addresses so many important health issues for pets. I highly encourage you to sign up for her free e-mail newsletter, and to peruse the archived articles on her website.

Here are two short videos filmed at our friends’ store, “Bad Dog Frida” – a great independent pet supply store in Madison, WI.
This one tells you about the best types of foods to feed your pets:

and this one outlines the types of foods you should avoid and how to recognize them:

Time to ditch the old couch for our pets’ sake?


By Green Dog Pet Supply

I just stumbled upon an interesting article about flame retardants in furniture having agreater cumulative effect in the bodies of our pets than in people. Apparently many of these chemicals were phased out in 2004 in the U.S., but of course many of us own furniture manufactured before that time. It’s very important to try to minimize chemical exposure for our pets and our children- those little bodies are even more susceptible to toxins than we are.  Here’s the link. http://news.discovery.com/animals/ditch-your-old-couch-for-your-dogs-sake-110427.html

Training a Cat

otisblueeyesThere’s a lot of cat stuff on our minds these days as we’ve recently adopted a 10 year old Himalayan cat.
So many people think that cats don’t need anything – we hear this all the time. They seem to understand that dogs need interaction, exercise and mental stimulation, but cats, (especially indoor cats) need these things as well. One thing we hear a lot from the people who think their cats don’t need anything is how horrible their cats’ behavior is and how destructive these cats are to their home!
We needed to teach Otis a lot of new things when we brought him in, as we were turning him from an indoor/outdoor cat to an entirely indoor cat, so making sure he was good at a litter box and scratching posts and keeping him stimulated enough to make up for his outdoor time was all important. I thought it might be fun to share a few videos with you.
Cats can certainly be trained through positive reinforcement techniques to follow commands. He’s got a pretty good recall and he sits like a champ on command. I also needed him to get the heck out from under my feet in the kitchen – I decided to use the threshold of the kitchen as a visual marker; something easy for him to understand. Get over the threshold and stay there and the treats you seek will come to you:

It’s been working well. First I lured him with a treat into the spot, while I said the command, then I started saying “get in your spot” and then luring and rewarding him, and then I would say the command and pause before luring him. It took longer than it would have taken a dog, but he eventually had that “Aha moment” and did it himself. Now, he needs to stay in the spot for longer and longer periods to get treats.


He had a history of being brushed and liking it in the past (you have to brush a Himalayan!) but when he came to us he didn’t tolerate it much. Mostly he wanted to play and bite the brush, and forget about brushing anything but his cheeks and back. So, we started with what he would tolerate, and just when he was doing a nice job, we’d stop and get a treat. Of course over time he’d tolerate a bit more and a bit more. I’d try to reward it when he did a slightly better job than usual, and if I pushed it too long and he got cranky/silly about it, I just stopped and left.
Each time he rolled over on his back (even when he wasn’t being brushed) I’d use the word “belly” while I talked to him, and if he let me touch and later rub the belly (without snapping the bear trap shut – our name for the attack we’d often get if we touched it) I’d give him a treat. We’ve gotten pretty far and I was impressed when he started making the connection for giving up the belly when I asked for it:

Any pet can learn to tolerate and eventually enjoy things they don’t like using this same process. Nail trims, handling body parts they don’t like touched, and being brushed are just three practical examples. You have to start with something they do tolerate or even enjoy, even if that means that you have to start with something that hardly looks like the behavior you want to achieve. Building up slowly is the key – even the tiniest progress is worth rewarding, and never ever forcing something they’re uncomfortable with.  Here’s another post about this process. It’s worth working on! If you ever want to talk to me (Christine) in more detail about your specific challenge, please do come in and I’ll try to help you with some tips

Chicken Necks for Cats and Dogs

Otis came to us at 10 years old with quite a bit of plaque on his teeth (pretty normal for a cat that only eats kibble) and during his dental cleaning, the vet noticed that he has a few abnormalities in the design of his mouth that  could cause trouble if not kept clean (pretty normal for a Himalayan). So, I’ve been working on acclimating him to having toothpaste rubbed on his gums with the hope of brushing them someday, etc. Another strategy we’ve employed is that we’ve started giving him chicken neck treats and have found it so interesting to watch him process them, as he chews and chews them on both sides of his mouth. Truthfully, I had recommended them to my customers, but before we had Otis, we have never had a cat that I could give them to – our last was in her 20s before we thought about giving her necks and she wouldn’t have done well with them at that point. I thought it would be interesting to people to see how they process them, so I took this video.  It also seems so stimulating for his mind – it takes him a while to figure out how he’s going to pick them up (I edited out a lot of that at the beginning of the video) and you can see him really thinking and giving it great effort, and he seems so satisfied all night on the nights we’ve been giving them. In fact, we’ve linked it to a game to make it all more exciting for him: There’s a great toy called “Da Bird”, whose feathers spin as they fly through the air, really simulating a bird in flight very realistically. When he makes an especially spectacular catch, he runs with it in his mouth to the kitchen and we give him his 1″ piece of neck, so it’s like he’s hunting, catching, and eating a bird. We adopted Otis because he had proven he could not remain safe outdoors (hit and badly injured by a car once and stolen at least once and luckily recovered). We wanted him to be safe and to protect the wildlife he was hunting during his 10 years as an indoor/outdoor cat, and we knew that turning him into an indoor cat meant that we would have to meet his physical and emotional needs to remain content indoors. As an indoor cat, this activity is very very exciting and satisfying for him, it’s supercharged the game making him exercise more strenuously, and no songbirds were harmed! We started with a piece of neck once a week, and have moved to about 3x a week. We believe that though he will continue to need regular dental cleanings, these yummy meat tooth scrubbers have helped his mouth stay cleaner. To create his treats, I buy half dozen whole chicken necks at a time, remove the skins, rinse them briefly and cut them into 1″ pieces with kitchen shears. I put the whole batch on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually, and dump them into a freezer bag. On the nights we’re going to give one, we thaw it in a bowl of cool water – it takes very little time. Chicken gizzards also make a great cat chew/treat when cut into smaller pieces, though it takes less time for him to chew them than the necks.

Dog eating turkey neckFor dogs, you can choose from chicken necks for puppies or small dogs, duck necks (medium sized) or turkey necks for larger dogs. These can easily replace a meal for dogs. If your dog has never had one, perhaps hold it for them at first so they get the idea that it’s for chewing (I suppose I should say to be careful of your fingers, also made of meat and bone).  The benefits are great – so delicious and interesting to chew, and they really use their back teeth for crunching them up, making for a good toothbrush. We met a holistic vet recently who told us that he recommends feeding 3 raw poultry parts per week for dogs, in place of commercial joint supplements, due to the high levels of natural glucosamine and chondroitin and other joint supporting nutrients in the collagen and connective tissues of bone in a highly bio-available state. Another nice benefit for dogs with anal gland issues – several chicken necks a week can make nice hard stools that help to express the anal glands more effectively.

That photo above links to a great video that shows how valuable poultry necks are for cleaning dogs’ teeth. (Photo and video from reelrawdog.com

Feel weird about giving them? We did too a bit at first, but as long as chicken is raw, it can be fed to pets – never ever ever EVER cook poultry bones (or other kind of bone) and give them to pets – cooking makes the bones brittle and very dangerous. Raw poultry necks have smaller more pliable bones and lots of collagen. Our holistic vet thinks raw chicken necks are great! Think of all the hundreds of thousands of feral cats out there eating whole mice and birds – crunch crunch crunch! (Their presence is a real disaster for wildlife as a result – please see this link!)  However, for those that question whether cats can and do eat larger prey, and whether the tiny bones in a chicken neck could be unsafe for a cat to eat, here’s a video of a cat chewing the head off of a fairly large ground squirrel (of course this also illustrates what a risk cats are to wildlife. Not for the squeamish, but the point here is to show what their physical ability is to process meat and bone):

When feeding necks and other bones regularly to your pets, try to source organically fed/grass fed meats and bones to cut down on environmental contaminates. Try and buy them fresh from the best place you can (meat meant for humans to eat in supermarkets likely has a higher bacterial count than one sourced directly from a local farm (as supermarket meats are being sold with the understanding that it’s meant to be cooked), or those from an Independent pet supply store, processed for the purpose of pets eating them raw. This is more of a concern for the safety of the humans handling them than for the pets. If these options aren’t possible, here are some good instructions on disinfecting raw bones if it makes you feel more comfortable.



Dog Eating a Turkey Neck

I stumbled on this video on YouTube that shows nicely how well a turkey neck can help to clean a dog’s teeth. I also think it’s a good idea to hold them like this to make sure the dog’s getting the teeth cleaning value (just watch your fingers as they will feel the same to a dog’s mouth!). Stop on by and pick up a pack of turkey necks today!

PS: it’s always a good idea to make your dogs earn their treats – this guys does a good job of that