Saturday, Mar. 2nd 2013

Diabetes, degenerative myelopathy, wellness plans

Veterinary Alternatives March 2013 Newsletter

Spring is on the way! This would be a good time to order garlic for flea and tick prevention for your dogs if you plan to use it.  Here is a link to the product I use: Bug-Off Garlic for dogs.  They also have a version for horses.  It’s a freeze-dried garlic powder dosed by the pound and mixed in food daily.  I have found it to be extremely effective.  I start my dogs at a half dose by the beginning of April and work them up to the minimum recommended dose over a week or so to let them get used to the taste.  I keep them at that dose until I see a tick on them (never see fleas….), usually sometime in June.  At that time I increase the dose by 50% or so and that is usually enough for the rest of the season, until a couple of good hard freezes in October.  Too bad garlic isn’t safe to use in cats, but if yours are indoors as they should be, you shouldn’t have a significant problem anyway.  And yes, your dog will have garlic breath for a little while after they eat, but that beats fleas in your bed….

Last Month, I discussed several chronic health problems that may be better relieved by holistic medicine than by conventional medicine.  I will continue along those lines with two more chronic diseases that holistic medicine can help control.

Diabetes Mellitus: As I’m sure you are aware, this disease is a pancreatic islet cell deficiency of insulin which means the body is unable to properly absorb and utilize the sugars absorbed from the diet.  This causes elevated blood sugar levels and severely disrupts metabolism.  Symptoms include increased water consumption and urination, rapid weight loss, and sometimes a voracious appetite.  Be aware these symptoms are similar in other hormonal disorders so blood testing is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.  Once diagnosed, your regular veterinarian will help determine the correct dosage of insulin, which must be injected once or twice daily according to the pet’s response.  When treating diabetes mellitus, I would never recommend stopping prescribed insulin.  However, blood sugar regulation can be better achieved through a careful diet, containing ample amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber to slow absorption of sugars in the diet, a well-balanced protein source, and limited carbohydrates.  Weight loss is important to achieve if the pet is overweight.  Acupuncture may help balance the animal’s system in terms of Chinese diagnosis.  Exercise can also help with blood sugar regulation.  In cats, it is important to find a grain-free diet they will eat consistently, preferably in canned form to increase water intake.  Most diabetic cats need a weight-loss plan as well.  Along with these recommendations, regular chiropractic to make sure of proper nervous system function should be performed.  As part of my house-call services, I can offer instruction on proper insulin injection technique, and even teach how to draw blood for home glucose checks if desired.  Adding cinnamon to the diet has not been tested in animals to see if it lowers blood sugar, but there is certainly no harm in it if you use reasonable amounts, and it may be worth a try.

Degenerative Myelopathy: This disease is a degeneration of the myelin sheaths, or insulation, around nerve cells in the spinal cord.  It is most common in larger breed dogs, particularly German Shepherds and shepherd mixes but can be seen in other breeds as well, including Corgis.  There is no conventional treatment for this disease, although vitamin supplements and exercise may be prescribed.  As the myelin coating on the nerves degenerates, there is progressive loss of nerve function beginning at the back of the spinal cord and gradually progressing forward.  Initially, signs are very subtle and may include slight weakness of the hind limbs or dragging of the rear toenails when walking.  This progresses over a period of months to increasing weakness, muscle loss, and ultimately loss of urinary and fecal continence and inability to rise and walk.  Most dogs, once diagnosed, reach the point of incontinence and inability to walk within a year or less.  However, if they are diagnosed before there is significant loss of function, acupuncture and cold laser, combined with chiropractic and physical therapy, can be very effective in slowing this progression.  I have treated two patients that maintained function over two years after diagnosis.  The acupuncture is most important, by stimulating the nervous system and increasing its function despite ongoing degeneration.  Chiropractic can help with joint dysfunction that has occurred as a result of poor mobility, falls, and altered movement.  Cold laser may be beneficial in maintaining nerve function.  Supplements such as vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and herbs may be used as well.  Finally, exercise must be maintained to keep muscle strength and nerve function as high as possible.  With regular treatments and careful adherence to the wellness plan, adequate function can be maintained for a longer period than without acupuncture.  Unfortunately, despite treatment, degeneration of the myelin cells does continue and ultimately, the pet’s condition will rapidly deteriorate.  But I have found the progression to be much slower with holistic therapies, thus prolonging quality of life for the pet.

Wellness Plans: As I research ideas for my future integrative practice, I have been considering the idea of wellness plans.  A few veterinary clinics have started to use these.  The idea is that the client pays a set monthly amount for a year, and in return receives certain services as part of the plan and a discount on other services.  The total amount paid for the year is less than would be paid for the included services if paid individually and the client knows what the monthly bill will be and can spread out veterinary costs over a whole year.  I am interested in the thoughts my own clients have on this idea.  As a pet owner, does it appeal to you?  What services would you like to see included?  As an example, for a new puppy or kitten, the plan might include three sets of vaccinations, one chiropractic exam, a deworming, one or two fecal exams for parasites, a heartworm or feline leukemia test, spay/neuter surgery (with slightly higher monthly charge for females), puppy socialization classes (again, different cost for dog vs cat), and a discount on other services.  For free, you might receive nail trims, weigh-ins/socialization visits, and brief exams by a vet tech to look for any issues.  Senior pets or those with chronic health issues might receive vaccinations or antibody titer test, two or three chiropractic exams, one set of x-rays, two full blood panels, two smaller blood panels (like a thyroid screen, kidney function monitoring, or blood glucose curve), four office calls, one extended consultation with the doctor, and service discount.  Monthly cost would add up to 10-20% less than the cost of the individual services.  These plans would be optional, and probably involve some form of automatic deposit.  Please respond with any thoughts you have, either as an email or on my Facebook page.  Would this be an option you would use?

Posted in General | Comments Off on Diabetes, degenerative myelopathy, wellness plans

Comments are closed.

Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

Facebook Google+ YouTube

In order to better serve our clients, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment.

Payment expected upon provision of service.

© Whole Health Pet Center. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy
Site Created by KC Web Specialists, LLC.