This blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a veterinarian if your pet is ill.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Nose Knows or Does It?

People think dogs and cats should normally have wet noses and if they are dry then there is a problems. Not so.

That is actually an old wives tale. Pets with high temperatures can have cold, wet noses. Conversely, warm noses don't mean that there is a temperature. The nose isn't a very reliable measure of wellness.

The only way to check your pet's temperature is the old fashioned way - using a rectal thermometer.

Taking Your Pet's Temperature

This is probably the least fun thing you will have to do for your pet but following these tips will make the process easier.

If you get all your supplies ready before you get your pet, you can make taking his temperature go much more smoothly. You will need a rectal thermometer, petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls and someone who is willing to help hold your pet still while you work.

Gather all of these items in one place. Shake down the thermometer if you are using an older one. If you have a newer digital one, make sure it is turned on and set at the low setting. Lightly coat it with petroleum jelly. Soak a cotton ball in alcohol and set it aside. Now you are ready for your pet.

Have your helper hold your pet steady and lift his tail. With the older thermometer, gently twirl the thermometer into the rectum about 1 to 3 inches. For larger animals you may have to go in further to get a reading. The newer ones you only need to get the tip inside the rectum. Hold it in place for 2 minutes or for however long your thermometer directions say. Some of the newer ones can take a readying in seconds. Pull it out when the time is up, wipe it clean and take a reading.

Normal temperature for dogs and cat is between 100.5 and 102.5 F. If your pet is a degree or more over the normal range, he may have a fever and you should call the vet. Use the alcohol soaked cotton ball to clean the thermometer.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herbal tranquilizer and antidepressant. The active components include hypericin and hyperforin. This herb raises levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine which helps maintain normal mood and emotional stability.

In dogs and cats this herb is used for depression, separation and certain forms of aggression. Some supplements combine this herb with other sedating herbs like Valerian, passion flower and others. I have given this to my cat with seizures to help calm her. St John's Wort may also be helpful as an antibacterial and antiviral agent.

Dose 1/8 to 1/4 of the human dose recommended on the label.


Probiotics are very helpful for pets. They are various healthy beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Streptococcus thermophilus that normally live in the intestines and promote normal bowel health.

I give my pets probiotics whenever there is possibility of upsetting the normal intestinal flora - surgery, while taking antibiotics or chemotherapy and if suffering from illness or stress. Probiotics can supply nutrients, aid in digestion, reduce pathogenic bacteria and yeasts and allow for better conversion of food into nutrients.

Probiotics improve the health of the gastrointestinal system in pets as well as in people. They produce chemicals that decrease the amount of harmful bacteria. They decrease toxins produced by this bacteria. They block adhesion of harmful bacteria to the intestinal cells and compete for nutrients needed for growth by pathogenic organisms. Overall probiotics stimulate the immune systems of the intestines.

Since probiotics are live organisms it is important that you buy quality products. They come in dosages of several million to several billion live organisms. Some pet brands add strains that are acid and bile resistant to give them with food. This makes them more apt to get digested and into the intestines rather than be destroyed in the stomach via digestive juices.

I suggest to give cats and dogs 1/8 to 1/4 of the human dose of supplements. Larger animals should take more.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pet First Aid Kit

Emergencies can happen without warming. Do you have the materials in one place to give first aid to your pet? Here is a simple list of what to include:

* Your Vet's phone number
* The phone number to the closest emergency 24-hour clinic
* A first aid manual for pets
* Muzzles the correct size for your pets
* Antibacterial soap
* Antibiotic ointment
* Bandaging materials - 2-inch stretchable and non stretchable gauze rolls and gauze pads in a variety of sizes
* Blunt tipped scissors
* Cotton balls
* Disposable rubber gloves
* Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
* Masking tape
* Needle-nose pliers
* Petroleum jelly
* Plastic needles syringe or turkey baster
* Rectal thermometer
* Saline solution
* Tweezers

Book Review: 50 Games to Play with Your Cat by Jackie Strachan

All of us cat lovers know this simple fact. Cats will play with the package/box/wrapper and leave the toy alone! How many of our cats love the rings from milk bottles, cardboard boxes and crinkled paper better than the expensive toys we buy for them?

This book explains how you can make toys for cats out of simple materials we have around the house. The Box of Balls for example is just a box with holes cut out and reinforced to let the cats play with the balls inside but not pull them out. Not rocket science but most of us would not normally think to make this. Instead we go to the store and buy "Bizzy Kitty" based on the same idea.

The book is divided up into categories of play activities and lounging accommodations. They give ideas for ball games, catnip toys, hide and seek games,kitty condos you can make and stalking games to play with our cats.

The book's suggestions relate well to our tough economy. Anyone with a new cat can make toys for him/her without spending a lot of money. Just buying food and litter can be more than enough to spend plus vet bills.

Check this book out. I found mine at a thrift shop for less than a dollar. You might too! Keep a look out for it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Colostrum to Boost Immune System

Colostrum, called mother's gold , is a thick yellow substance that is produced toward the end of a female's pregnancy, emitted by her mammary glands during the first 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. For humans the first few breast feedings produce the newborn with colostrum, one of the main reasons breastfeeding is encouraged.

This colostrum delivers some very important substances to all newborns.
Immune factors to facilitate the development of a strong immune system.
Growth factors, essential in creation and maintenance of bone, muscle, nerves and cartilage.
Antibodies (immunoglobulins) that protect from invading organisms, minimize the severity of an illness and stimulate the infant's own immune system.

Colostrum is not new as a treatment. It was used for thousands of years by Ayurvedic physicians in India. In our country doctors in the 1950's used it to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The colostrum on the market is bovine colostrum. The molecular structure of the immune and growth factors of bovine colostrum is actually very similar to those found in humans, so cows are universal donors for colostrum. Plus bovine colustrum is actually superior than human colostrum in having more factors, is better absorbed and being able to control the environment in making colostrum.

Colostrum is used for boosting the immune system, countering the effects of aging,and mproving the mechanisms of digestion. It is used in treating allergies, asthma, arthritis, IBS, colitis, leaky gut syndrome, skin problems (making a paste to apply topically) and infections.

People and pets can benefit from colostrum since it not species specific. I give my cats with FIV, IBS and other immune issues colostrum in their food. There is very little if any real milk in it so it does not cause allergic reactions and does not interfere with other medications.

Buy only colostrum from New Zealand cows as they are raised on pesticide free grain and grass and not given any hormones or antibiotics during their life time. One company I suggest is Symbiotics for New Zealand colostrum. You can find this in any health food store or online.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Chica posed for this "stuff on my cat" photo! Not willingly though!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

National Poison Prevention Week

This third week of March marks National Poison Prevention Week. Listed below are several articles on poison, toxic plants, Pet Poison Hot line and other related articles.

It is up to you to make sure your pets and children are safe from any toxic substance in and around your home. This is a great opportunity to make sure all toxic substances are put away in a safe place.

For more info on poison prevention check out

Kitten Healed - Heartwarming Story!

This article is from Best Friends Pet Sanctuary website. It is nice to hear of a pet story with a happy and maybe miraculous ending!

January 27, 2009 : 9:17 AM ET

Not many cats can give vets the kind of jaw-dropping double-take that C.C. pulled off. But then, C.C. is no ordinary girl. When C.C. was found as a stray kitten, she was injured badly. She couldn’t use her back legs, she had a fractured pelvis, and she was incontinent.
C.C. had been living as a feral kitten and learned to be afraid of people. Still, the folks who found her knew she needed help. They wouldn’t take no for an answer! She came to Best Friends for emergency care.

At Best Friends, she received all the medical help she needed. (Along with some TLC she didn’t think she needed!) It was obvious from the beginning that she would require long-term special care. A shelter specializing in incontinent cats heard about C.C. and offered to take her once she was healthy enough to travel. Until then, C.C. had a cozy bed and all the comforts she wanted right at Best Friends.

It’s amazing, though, what a determined kitten can do. That TLC worked wonders, even though C.C. resisted affection at first. Not only did she start trusting people, she began to feel better … lots better. In fact, as her body grew and matured, it seemed to miraculously fix itself. She lost the limp and started using the litter box more often than could be considered accidental.

The vets and caregivers wondered if she was regaining continence. Nerve damage hardly ever reverses, but all signs pointed to a complete recovery for C.C. So, they monitored her closely during a trial period without expressing her bladder. Call it luck, call it a miracle, but C.C. passed with ease! After many days of observation, she was pronounced cured. The only thing left from her injuries now is a slightly crooked tail, but even that looks somehow exotic on C.C.

The shelter that had offered to take her bowed out once they learned she was no longer incontinent. After all, they need the space for harder-to-place cats. So C.C. decided to call Best Friends her home for now. But, with all the tricks she has up her sleeve, it won't be long before she woos a family of her own. Welcome, C.C. What a way to turn those medical books upside down!

Story by David Dickson
Photo by Molly Wald

Friday, March 13, 2009

Formerly Feral -- Tabitha and Lily

Tabitha is one of Lily's litters. She is a beautiful tabby, very loving and affectionate. Her mom Lily, the white kitty, had 3 litters before I could catch her..very smart little cat! Even with the Have-a-heart trap Lily would pull the food bowl towards one side and use her paw to eat from the cage, not going inside.

I finally won her confidence and she and her last litter walked into our enclosed porch themselves. Now all of the cats are spayed and have a forever home with us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trouble with Skunks

With the weather warming up, our pets, especially dogs will start exploring more and getting into trouble with the local wildlife.

Here are some tips to help get rid of the smell if your dog has had a run in with a skunk.

The first thing to do if it looks like your dog got sprayed in the eyes is to rinse them with a saline solution or water.

Then take him outside for a thorough bath. According to Prevention magazine's master groomer and vets, the best anti-smell approach is equal parts dish washing detergent (Dawn or Palmolive), 3% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, making sure you avoid your dog's eyes. Use rubber gloves to do this to protect yourself from the scent.

After washing, rinse him thoroughly with equal parts red wine vinegar and water. The vinegar may tint the fur a pink color but that will wear off. Let the vinegar dry on the coat to absorb the odor. You can rinse it off in 6 to 12 hours or just let it wear off naturally.

When it rains and your dog gets wet, the skunk smell may come back. Keep a spray bottle of the vinegar and water solution to spray on when the odor returns. It could take a few months to completely get rid of all odor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dangerous Spring Plants

With spring not long off pet owners need to be aware of the dangers of some of the plants and shrubs soon to be blooming and greening up outdoors. The list below is from the ASPCA Poisonous Plant List.

Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestion of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Members of the Rhododendron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

English IvyAlso called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

How to Find a Holistic Veterinarian

When I moved to a different part of my state I needed to find another vet I could trust like my old one Dr. Maggie Federhart at Whispering Waters Animal Clinic in Boone and I wanted a holistic vet like her too.

There are not as many out there as you would think. I checked with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association ( Their web site has a section to click on to find a holistic vet near you. I also asked my vet if she knew anyone in our area. She did but they were no longer operating. I looked in the local phone book for ads about holistic vets. My new vet had an ad stating she was holistic. Finally I talked to local people who had pets, about who they went to..people at health food stores, pet stores, natural food stores etc.

The reason I prefer holistic vets to conventional ones is because they are more interested in healing pets than treating diseases. They don't just focus on the problem at hand but look at what would bring total wellness to the animal. The goal of holistic pet care is to prevent disease rather than just treat it. They use many types of alternative treatments - acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, herbs, Chinese medicine and nutrition.

By using all of the above methods, I did find a great holistic vet locally to bring my pets to for health care. I use Dr. Heather Sinclair of Haw Creek Animal Hospital in Asheville. But I keep in contact with my old vet through phone consultations. After all Maggie knows all my pets from treating them through the years. Most holistic vets will offer phone consults for those who live a distance away as long as you have a vet nearby to run tests and physically examine the pet.

I have had a holistic vet for my animals now for 10 years and would not have it any other way. I even use holistic doctors for my husband and I!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul
remains unawakened."

- Anatole France

Homeopathic Remedies for Common Ailments

I have explained about homeopathic remedies in detail in an earlier post. I want to list here some common ailments and the remedies most likely to help heal them. I always keep a good selection of remedies on hand in case I need them.

Apis mellifica
Hepar Sulphuris calcarea

Accidents and Trauma
Aconitum napellas
Arnica montana

Arsenicum album
Rhus toxicodendrun

Bryonia alba
Calcarea florica
Rhus Tox
Ruta graveolens

Spongia tosta

Uva ursi

Arsenicum album

Eye Conditons
Argentum nitricum
Natrum muriatricum
Rhus Tox

Ferrum Phosphorus

Nat mur
Rhus tox
Urtica urens

Insect Bites
Lachesis muta
Ledum palustre

Motion Sickness
Cocculus indicus


Ars album
Mercurius vivus
Nat Mur
Nux Vomica

SAMe for pets

SAMe or S-Adenosylmethionine is a human supplement that can be helpful for pets. Special SAMe is specifically made for animals. Some of the benefits of SAMe for your pets are listed below.

1) It promotes the health of the liver.

2) It may help slow the aging process in senior pets.

3) It is helpful for disorders of the joints and connective tissue, including arthritis.

4) It may lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease.

5) SAMe+ is a powerful antioxidant that can help detoxify the liver.

Special SAMe+, while labeled for pets, is great for people too. In addition, this product is not just your everyday SAMe that you can purchase at the drug store---it is third party tested for purity and potency and includes additional ingredients for maximum absorption and effectiveness. Special SAMe+ tablets are enterically coated in order to prevent its breakdown by stomach acidity and promote intact absorption in the small intestine. Vitamins B6, B12, and folate were added in order to provide cofactors for the natural conversions of SAMe to L-homocysteine and then safely to L-cysteine

SAMe+ has been scientifically shown in research studies to help relieve joint pain, elevate mood and support the liver.

For joint pain, Special SAMe+ is a great addition to use along with standard joint supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, etc.

As with any herbs or supplements, ask your vet before giving to your pet to make sure there aren't any conditions that might be adversely affected by taking SAMe.

Special SAMe is available through web site or other sources online.

Monday, March 2, 2009

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

This is one phone number that should be on every pet owner's refrigerator!

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the only 24-hour, 365-day facility of its kind staffed by 30 veterinarians, 12 of who are board-certified toxicologists/veterinary toxicologists.

Located in Urbana, Ill., the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners, and specific diagnostic and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances. In 2006, the center handled over 116,000 cases. The APCC also provides extensive veterinary toxicology consulting on a wide array of subjects, including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, and regulatory reporting.

For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the APCC, please call (888) 426-4435 or visit

Raisins and Grapes are Toxic to Pets

An email message is circulating that raisins can be toxic to pets. This one is true.

From April 2003 to April 2004, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center managed 140 cases, each involving one or more dogs that ingested varying amounts of raisins or grapes. Of these cases, over 50 animals developed clinical signs ranging from vomiting to life-threatening kidney failure, and seven dogs died.

Much is still yet to be discovered about the toxic principle associated with grape and raisin ingestions, as well as the exact mechanism leading to kidney damage in some dogs. It is also not clear if only canines are susceptible to developing a toxicosis, and additionally if only certain dogs are affected, or if chronic, long term ingestions can lead to the same effects as large, acute or single ingestions.As there are still many unknowns with the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises not giving grapes or raisins to pets in any amount.

Please call (888) 426-4435 if you have a pet that has ingested grapes or raisins, or you suspect may be experiencing problems.

Chronic Renal Failure

I noticed my oldest cat Chica, at age 16, was vomiting yellow frothy liquid. She had lost weight and seemed to be a little off. She was drinking more and urinating pale urine in large volumes.

I called my vet and made an appointment to bring Chica in. To start her off she told me to give Chica the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica to stop the vomiting. It worked.

At the appointment, after a physical exam, Maggie told me she thought Chica had renal failure. We did blood work to be sure but all her symptoms were right on target. I was upset as I had just gone through illnesses with one of my other cats. Maggie told me she had great luck with some new natural treatments for renal failure and to not give up hope.

What we ended up using for her treatment are the products below...this is two years later and Chica is going strong.

Feline Renal Support by Standard Process of Palmyra, WI
This is a supplement made of bovine glandulars - kidney, liver, spleen. Plus other herbal ingredients. I give Chica two tablets a day.

Rehnnannie Eight Formula
This is a Chinese herbal mix for strengthening the kidneys. I give her 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon twice a day.

Terrain Max - Kidney Terrain (T-12)
This is a multivitamin, mineral and cofactor supplement to boost kidneys. It is made by Apex Energetics of Irvine, CA. It contains a mix of colostrum, dandelion, nettle, flower remedies and other herbs and minerals. I giver her 6 drops daily.

And finally Renelix, a homeopathic medicine for kidney dysfunction.
it is made in Germany and distributed by BioResource, Inc. of Cotati, CA. This has various homeopathic remedies used for detoxifying the kidneys, bladder and urological tract. I give her 4-6 drops a day of this.

A very important treatment is subcutaneous hydration. Renal failure causes toxins to build in their system and this will help flush them out. Most vets tell you to start doing this weekly or more often depending on the diagnosis. I am not able to do this since Chica puts up a fight and struggles, wails. It is too stressful for her to force her to do this. I found that Renelix does the job and give this to her daily instead.

I had already changed the cat food to a better quality brand like Wellness, Pet Gaurd, Innova to start. It seems the holistic view to diet is that high quality protein with little or no additives is best. The less the kidneys have to process in terms of toxins, the better they function.

You need to work with your vet and to try to find a holistic vet near you to help add to the treatment. I found western medicine to be very inadequate as far as treatment options for renal failure.

Another avenue I recommend is (See my sidebar)I found Renelix and Terrain Max through her site. This site belongs to Susan Davis who is a nutritionist for animals. Her dog was diagnosed with renal failure. She looked for options and created this site to help others. She also does consultations to patients not living near her in California.

Good luck and keep trying new things. So much comes into the healthcare markets everyday!


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