Saturday, Oct. 2nd 2010

Itchy skin, puppy update

I’ve been polling my friends on Facebook (look up my Veterinary Alternatives page) to see what topics might be of interest.  One question that was raised is one I am frequently asked by acquaintances and clients alike:

What can I do about my pet’s dry, itchy skin?

It is important to note that there can be several causes of itching.   Parasites like mites or fleas are one, and are probably the easiest to deal with.  Your regular veterinarian is a good source of information on parasite control, and I have also had good luck with a garlic product from Springtime, Inc for my dogs.  A second cause is often allergies, to dust, pollens, or foods.  If your dog is sensitive to pollens, as usually indicated by seasonal itching worse in spring and/or fall, removing pollens from the haircoat helps in prevention.  Keep a damp towel or non-alcohol unscented baby wipes at the door your pet uses and wipe off their face (first), feet, and belly every time they come in from outside.  Weekly bathing, especially with a natural shampoo containing oatmeal, also helps minimize contact with their allergens.  Food allergy goes along with the next potential cause of itching which is an improper diet.  Some dogs are sensitive or allergic (not the same thing) to certain ingredients.  In many cases, however, the energetics of the food is really what is affecting your dog.

Dry kibble, especially if made with “hot” ingredients (in terms of Chinese medicine and food energetics) such as chicken or lamb, can be drying to the coat and cause redness, hot spots, panting, red tongue, and itching.  Changing to a less processed diet, either canned or home-made, and changing to neutral or cooling ingredients can really aid in relief of this itching.  See my website at for the new Therapeutic Foods heading.  However, a word of warning—you don’t want to go overboard with cooling ingredients, especially in older dogs or wintertime.  Moderation in all things!  If you plan to home-cook your pet’s diet, please consult with Dr. Leonard or another veterinarian skilled in diet balancing to be sure all your pet’s nutritional needs are met.  The recent Chinese Veterinary Food Therapy course she took allows for adjustment for your pet’s specific problems and customizing a diet.  If cooking for your dog is not practical, and for many of you it may not be, you can still learn how to correctly choose commercial products that are best for your situation and perhaps supplement with a few “people foods”.

On the topic of supplements, Missing Link (with or without glucosamine) flax seed supplement and Ultra EFA fatty acid supplement are both wonderful separately or together to ease allergic signs or dry coats.  Both are available from Dr. Leonard, just give her a call.  For more information, see the website’s archived newsletters.

Puppy Update:  Tally the whippet puppy is nearly 6 months old now.He has completed a puppy class and an agility foundation class.  His favorite trick is “boing” which involves jumping about 4 feet straight into the air (yes, on command).  While we still have some issues about whether it is appropriate to try to get our own raw chicken-on-the-hoof instead of waiting for Doc Sandi to get some out of the fridge, he is shaping into a great little dog.  He is growing great and his hair coat has a beautiful shine to it—home-cooked dog food is wonderful when properly balanced.  And the raw chicken backs keep his teeth looking perfectly white and clean!    Hopefully you can see the attached picture.  Don’t forget that Dr. Leonard has quite a bit of experience in dog training and animal behavior.  If you have a new pet or some behavior issues, she is happy to schedule a house-call to assist you with training!

Final Word:  Remember that if you refer a new client to Veterinary Alternatives, you get your choice of a half-price house call OR a half-price supplement of your choice.  Be sure to let your pet-owning holistic minded friends know about or Veterinary Alternatives on Facebook!  All past newsletters are on the webpage as well as lots of information on acupuncture and what holistic services are provided.

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