Saturday, Jul. 2nd 2011

Damp Heat, Flame-Retardant Chemicals, Europe

Veterinary Alternatives July 2011 Newsletter

Well, sorry this is so late! With a three-week trip to Europe accompanying my son and a large group of teenagers on a band/choir/orchestra concert tour, it has taken me a bit to get back into the swing of things. I will try to get back on my first-week-of-the-month schedule in future.

Pet Health Issues:

I have been seeing a lot of damp-heat issues lately. This manifests as itching, skin infections, hot spots, bladder infections, ear infections, and other red/oozy/itchy/burning health issues. The extreme heat and humidity we have been experiencing contributes to this problem, but so can diet and the animal’s own constitution. Not much you can do about the constitution, but changing from a chicken or lamb-based diet to one based on fish, turkey, or duck, or even beef, can aid in controlling these problems. If your pet or another you know has chronic issues of this type, let me know and we can begin to address them.


Pet Health News:

Recently on my Facebook page (have you “liked” Veterinary Alternatives” yet?) I posted a note about a recent study showing dogs have higher blood levels of common flame retardant chemicals than people do. A recent Journal of the AVMA article expounded more on the topic. Dogs have 5-10 times higher levels than people, what I didn’t already know was cats have 20-100 times higher levels if they live inside. These chemicals are also found at higher levels in dry cat and dog food than in human-grade meat and poultry, probably due to processing techniques. I see this as another reason to feed less-processed foods to our pets, as well as to consider seeking out carpets, furniture, electronics, and other products lower in chemical additives. This study was published in late April online by the journal of Environmental Science and Technology if you have further interest.


A Side Note:

Observations from Europe as regards pets and holistic health:

Pharmacies are EVERYWHERE, every 2-3 blocks. Each advertises with a green flashing plus sign, and each seems to specialize in different categories, such as hair products, beauty products, etc. Several advertise prominently that they carry herbal, homeopathic, and natural products—it seems this is more common in Europe than here, too bad for us!

Dogs are also EVERYWHERE: they sit next to their owners at outdoor cafes, they are in stores, shops, airports, taking taxis or buses or subways….they are clearly as welcome in most places (or possibly more) as children! Again, why not in the US?

Dogs and cats are also EVERYWHERE in Greece: while I would normally have been concerned about the high number of strays and poor unwed teenage mother cats, they are obviously in better health than most strays in the US. In Athens, many of the dogs wear a red collar with a rubber tag, indicating they have been neutered and vaccinated even though they are un-owned. Many of them clearly have their own territory that they hang out in, making daily rounds and otherwise not bothering anyone. The cat food section in grocery stores on Greek islands is quite large given the small size of the towns—apparently many people feed the strays in their area. Many of the strays are quite friendly, allowing petting and not running away as they often do here. Oddly, though, I saw no kittens and no small stray dogs—so I suspect the percent of strays that do well is fairly low, and there may be a reason all those bigger dogs looked well fed. Most stray dogs were lab-sized, and I was surprised that they tended to have coats similar to labs or shepherds, as I would have expected shorter coats in a hot climate.


Well, I’m glad to be back, seeing my patients again and getting back into my regular routine, but it’s always refreshing to experience a new culture, new cuisines, and new terrain.


Remember holistic techniques such as acupuncture and food therapy work for more than just pain, arthritis, etc. Consider them also to re-balance your pet’s constitution and help them be healthier overall. My goal, as always, is to help my patients be as healthy as they can possibly be, no matter what health issues they may be saddled with.

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