RAW DEAL?

RAW FEEDING RAW DEAL?

RAW FEEDING RISKS

Recent news headlines have suggested that raw feeding dogs and cats could be bad for their health, and yours.

The concerns surround contamination of raw meat pet food with bacteria which can cause gastroenteritis in humans, and in animals.

Any raw meat can be contaminated with bacteria including salmonella and e.coli. Every year people become ill from eating undercooked meat, especially during barbecue season, and we are constantly reminded to ensure high risk meats such as chicken and mince are thoroughly cooked, that separate utensils are used for raw and cooked meats, and that we wash our hands well after handling raw meat.

So, what’s different about raw dog and cat foods?

Not much really…except that we feed the meat raw! Major raw food suppliers claim that they tolerate a lower bacterial count in their foods than would be tolerated in meat for human consumption as their food is not going to be cooked. Bacterial contamination levels may be unknown in meat direct from slaughterhouses, butchers, or game dealers.

Dogs fed salmonella contaminated food don’t necessarily become ill. That fast gastric transit time in dogs may account for their ability to eat meat that would make humans ill. However, dogs fed raw meat contaminated with salmonella will shed higher numbers of the organism into the environment. This has implications for human health as salmonella can cause very serious symptoms, even death in those with compromised immune systems.

Other risks associated with raw feeding include obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract by chunks of bone, and fractured teeth from chewing on bones.

Does this mean you shouldn’t raw feed?

RAW FEEDING SAFETY

Despite numerous studies showing that raw fed dogs shed higher levels of potentially pathogenic bacteria than kibble fed dogs, cases of gastrointestinal disease in raw fed dogs and their owners does not appear higher than those in kibble fed dogs in my practice. In fact most of the GE cases I treat are fed dry or canned dog food ( I always ask!)…but their owners do often admit that their pets will scavenge dead creatures, and discarded food on walks. Added to this, there have been several cases of dry dog food recalls due to salmonella contamination, and dried treats such as pig’s ear may also be contaminated.

Raw bones are softer than the cooked bones and antlers which are sold as dog chews. Dental fractures and gastrointestinal obstructions are a genuine risk when feeding raw bones to dogs. However, cooked bones, antler chews, and hard nylon chews can also fracture teeth; I have yet to remove a raw bone intestinal foreign body, but have removed numerous chewed and swallowed dog toys and stones. I have treated a raw fed dog who needed surgery to remove bone from his oesophagus, but colleagues have treated more dogs which have swallowed large chunks of rawhide or pig’s ear. The risks of tooth fracture and obstructions can be minimised by feeding appropriate size and type bones, or by feeding only ground bone.

Vets who support raw feeding have always advised that certain dogs in certain families may not be suitable for raw feeding, and that excellent hygiene is required in any family with a pet dog.

Families with members who are immunocompromised should avoid raw feeding due to the increased handling of raw meat, and potential higher contamination of the home with potentially pathogenic bacteria. If raw feeding in a home with young children care should be taken to protect children through good hygiene, for example; handwashing, separate food preparation utensils for pets, and avoiding licking by pets.

Immunocompromised pets may not be suitable candidates for a raw diet. This would include dogs receiving high dose steroids, chemotherapy, or recovering from certain illnesses.

ALTERNATIVES TO RAW

Where a raw fed pet’s circumstances change, but owners want to continue feeding a high meat ‘natural’ diet, what are the options?

Firstly, consider switching from home-made raw to a commercial complete raw food. These are tested to ensure low bacterial contamination, as well as being nutritionally balanced, and requiring less handling.

If that is considered too high risk, look for lightly cooked high meat foods, often sold in tray or pouches.

Finally, there are increasing dry food options, both extruded kibble, and baked which are made with over 60% meat.

VETERINARY ADVICE ON RAW

If you are concerned about your dog or cat’s raw diet, and want advice on how to feed raw safely, consult a vet who understands and supports raw feeding.

 

 

GOODBYE GOUDHURST

GOODBYE GOUDHURST VETS

Many happy years offering clinics at Goudhurst Vets and Equine Clinic in Goudhurst are coming to an end. 

Vicky will be concentrating on home visits for Acupuncture and Behaviour problems, and will continue to offer Holistic and Herbal medicine consultations at Companion Care Vets in Eastbourne (01323 649315).

Existing acupuncture clients at Goudhurst will be transferred to vet Caroline Borer, who has recently undertaken acupuncture training. Repeat prescriptions of herbs can be delivered to Goudhurst by arrangement.

Vicky’s final clinic at Goudhurst will be on Thursday 4th January.

VETERINARY HERBAL MEDICINE UNDER THREAT?

RCVS THREATENS ‘ALTERNATIVE’ VETERINARY MEDICINE!

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has released a statement in which it appears to threaten Vets who use ‘alternative’ therapies. It focuses on Homeopathy, but could lead to problems for Vets who prescribe herbs or use acupuncture too. https://www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-views/news/college-publishes-complementary-medicines-statement/

WE DON’T DO ‘ALTERNATIVE’ VETERINARY MEDICINE

At the moment we are not concerned that the RCVS statement will affect our work at Four Seasons Holistic Veterinary Care because we use herbal medicine, diet, lifestyle changes, acupuncture, and physical therapies to complement conventional diagnosis and treatment, or where no conventional medication is available or suitable. We only work on referral from your First Opinion practice and choose therapies which are supported by laboratory studies and clinical trials as well as case studies. 

At Four Seasons Holistic Veterinary Care we don’t call our therapies ‘alternative’ because Vicky is first and foremost a qualified, experienced Vet. If she feels a pet needs conventional diagnostic tests such as a blood test or radiographs your pet will be referred back to your First Opinion practice, or these may be performed at Companion Care Vets Eastbourne if you are visiting the clinic there. Some cases may need conventional pain relief before starting acupuncture or physical therapy at home. The welfare of your pet is our primary concern at all times.

COMPLEMENTARY VETERINARY MEDICINE BACKED BY SCIENCE

At Four Seasons Holistic Veterinary Care we choose to use treatments which are backed by laboratory research, clinical trials, and case studies.

Herbal medicines contain complex combinations of active ingredients, many of which have been extensively studied. We often use herbs with active ingredients which act on the same receptors as conventional drugs. Valerian, for example, contains valerenic acid which modulates GABA receptor function and reduces the breakdown of GABA, leading to sedation.

Sometimes we have data from clinical trials in animals, other studies may only have been done on cell cultures, so we interpret the results with great care. We don’t promise miracle cures, but we try to choose therapies which will improve your pet’s quality of life.

MORE FUN WITH FIREWORKS!?

FIREWORKS! FUN OR FRIGHTENING?

 As the night’s draw in the chance of fireworks being let off increases. In Sussex Bonfire Season begins in September and continues through to December, and in other areas of the country fireworks may be use to celebrate Divali and at New Year.

Many pets are scared by fireworks, but they are here to stay…so what can you do?

PART TWO: PREVENTING PROBLEMS

Dogs

Ideally the breeder of your puppy should start proofing your puppy against noise phobias from as early as two or three weeks old. Being in a busy household and hearing pots and pans crash, vacuums whine, children shriek, and perhaps specific noise CDs while he is too young to be afraid should mean your puppy is less sensitive to sounds once you get him home. This is particularly important with certain breeds such as Border Collies. Continue this training once you bring your puppy home using noise apps or CDs (try the Sound Proof Puppy app http://www.my-puppy-training.com/ or the Clix Noises and Sounds CD http://www.companyofanimals.co.uk/product/clix-noises-sounds-cd ).

The same apps/CDs can be used to desensitise older dogs to noises, including fireworks. Start in a place where your dog feels relaxed (such as your kitchen or lounge), and wait until they are doing something pleasant such as eating or playing with you. Then start a noise CD on minimum volume – you may not even be able to hear it. Repeat this daily, gradually increasing the volume. If at any point your dog reacts negatively go back to a lower volume. Once you can play the CD loud, play it in other rooms (go down a few levels of volume). Ideally your dog will notice the noise but return to eating or playing. The next steps are to play the fireworks randomly when the dog isn’t already eating or playing. Go right back to low volume and if your dog doesn’t react give food treat or play a game. Once your dog seems pretty happy about the CD noises you won’t need to practice every day, but some training in the build up to bonfire season is a good idea. Unfortunately the CDs aren’t perfect reproductions of fireworks, and may lack some of the high pitched noises only dogs can hear, they also don’t come with big flashes in the sky. This means some dogs will desensitise well to CDs but still be afraid of real fireworks, though they usually cope better than before training.

If at any point your dog seems distressed by the training, or you can’t progress past very low volume consult your vet for referral to a behaviourist. Some dogs will need medication and general behavioural therapy to get them feeling good enough to start noise desensitisation.

Other Animals

It is possible to use desensitisation programmes with other animals, but it simply isn’t practical to try and desensitise whole herds of cattle or flocks of sheep!

The noise CDs discussed above could be used in horses in a similar way to dogs; playing them very softly at first while grooming or feeding the horse, and maybe while schooling him later on. It would be important to carry the desensitisation training on into the evenings, and to be aware that it is harder to protect horses from the startling flashes in the sky.

Cats can be desensitised in the same way as dogs, though training sessions should be shorter.

 

FUN WITH FIREWORKS!?

FIREWORKS! FUN OR FRIGHTENING?

 As the night’s draw in the chance of fireworks being let off increases. In Sussex Bonfire Season begins in September and continues through to December, and in other areas of the country fireworks may be use to celebrate Divali and at New Year.

Many pets are scared by fireworks, but they are here to stay…so what can you do?

PART ONE; DEALING WITH A DISPLAY

Dogs and cats and fireworks

Ideally you should start desensitising your pets to firework noises well in advance of bonfire season (see Part 2 Prevention) but it is easy to forget how upset your pet got until the nights start drawing in.

If bonfire season has crept up on you don’t try to start a desensitisation programme; instead plan to help your dog or cat cope.

Many dogs and cats like to retreat to a safe den during fireworks so make sure they have one. For dogs this might mean a crate covered in a blanket, or putting their bed behind the sofa. Cardboard boxes work well for cats! Introduce these safe dens in advance of bonfire season if possible. Some dogs and cats respond well to tight fitting calming vests called Thunder Shirts.

Consider pheromones which can help to relax pets. DAP (for dogs) comes as a collar, diffuser, or spray; and Feliway for cats comes as a diffuser or spray. Both are available from your vet or online, and should be used for a couple of weeks before you expect fireworks to start. Your vet might also suggest herbal and nutraceutical calmers. Some of these act very quickly, others should be given for a week or so before you expect fireworks. For more serious firework phobias your vet may prescribe sedative or anxiolytic drugs, but be sure to book an appointment to discuss these well ahead of time. A new, very effective gel is available which acts quickly to calm pets with noise phobias, even if they are already showing signs of fear, but this can only be prescribed after consultation with your vet. Some owners find a big carbohydrate meal in the evening helps their dogs be calmer during fireworks, but don’t do this if your dog tends to have vomiting or diarrhoea when stressed.

Keep your pet indoors when you know a bonfire event is planned. As people may let fireworks off outside planned event times it is sensible to lock cat flaps after dark and to ensure your dog has been walked before dusk. Close curtains and turn on the lights so flashes outside are less noticeable. If your dog is particularly afraid of fireworks it would be sensible to take him into the garden on a well-fitting collar or harness and lead to toilet during fireworks season, just in case one goes off. Also make sure the garden is secure to reduce the risk of escape.

During a display have the TV or radio on to mask sounds and as a distraction. Some dogs can be distracted during fireworks by play or training exercises, others will want to cuddle up for security, and others will feel best in their den. Be guided by your dog and don’t try to make him do anything he doesn’t want to. Don’t leave dogs which are likely to be distressed by fireworks on their own during displays. The easiest solution for some dogs living close to organised displays can be to go and visit a friend in another village for the evening.

Horses and fireworks

Most horses will be safest in their stables during firework displays, however make sure someone is watching them and can take action if they become afraid. Some horse will react badly if in an enclosed area as they can feel trapped, and will be better released into a paddock. If your horse is nervous prepare for a nearby event by rugging and booting them to reduce the risk of injury. Your vet may also be able to prescribe either herbal or nutraceutical calmers, or sedatives for badly affected horses. Alternatively consider moving very nervous horses to stables or field further away from the event.

Livestock and fireworks

Livestock will startle at the beginning of a display but usually settle fairly quickly when they realise there is no harm. Like horses they may react more badly to being in a confined space. Move sensitive livestock such as in calf cows and pregnant ewes as far from the event as possible and ensure that fences are secure and safe to reduce the risk of injuries.

Small pets and fireworks

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs being kept outside could be scared by the noise and flashes of fireworks so consider bringing their hutch inside during bonfire season. If you notice a decrease in how much your rabbit or guinea pig is eating visit the vet as stress can cause gut stasis, which can be serious if left untreated.

 

NEEM

NEEM FOR PARASITE CONTROL

When our Holistic Vet Vicky goes on holiday she can’t help but look around for medicinal plants and she found lots of Neem trees in Kenya. The latin name for Neem is Azadirachta Indica.

WHAT IS NEEM USED FOR IN ANIMALS?

Neem is a popular remedy with indigenous peoples for a large range of parasitic problems on both animals and plants. Published research shows that extracts from neem seeds and leaves can be effective on animals against mites, ticks, fleas, and fungal infections. Neem can have various effects on parasites including repelling them, reducing their feeding on an animal, disturbing the growth of larval stages, and reducing the parasite’s ability to breed or lay viable eggs.

GREAT! WHY AREN’T WE ALL USING NEEM?

The main downside to neem is that it has a smell most people find unpleasant. Commercial neem based products will attempt to disguise this, or will use extracts with less smell. Neem extracts degrade fairly quickly after application so need to be applied every 4-8days. 

IS NEEM SAFE?

Aqeuous preparations of neem are reported to be well tolerated, neem oils may be less well tolerated. Short term overdose, or long term use, may be associated with reduced fertility. Fertility returns once treatment is stopped. Ingestion of pure neem seed oil is dangerous and can cause vomiting, metabolic acidosis, drowsiness, a rapid rate of breathing, and even seizures. The best advice would be to use commercially available products which have been tested as safe for use on animals, and to use and store neem products in a way which minimises the risk of your pet ingesting them. Be sure to choose cat safe products for cats, who are especially at risk from ingesting essential oils.

Neem also appears to be relatively safe to non-target insects and spiders, but may be toxic to fish so take care around your fish tanks and ponds.

TURMERIC; SUPERFOOD OR SUPERFAD?

TURMERIC; A WONDERHERB FOR PETS! Or is it?

USES FOR TURMERIC IN PETS

The main reasons pet owners use turmeric are for arthritis and for cancer prevention.

Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that turmeric helps pets with arthritis, there have been relatively few clinical studies. In Vitro (lab studies in isolated tissues) studies have shown that turmeric extracts can reduce inflammatory cytokines, and reduce cartilage degradation. Turmeric appears to work like some of the more modern anti-inflammatory drugs by inhibiting COX2 enzymes which cause inflammation in preference to COX 1 enzymes which are needed for many normal processes in the body. Studies in live animals have in some cases shown little effect from giving turmeric, but in others have shown improvement in arthritis symptoms. Larger scale studies are needed to draw more accurate conclusions.

The role of turmeric in cancer cases is more complex. In lab tests turmeric extracts can actually cause DNA damage, which could increase the risk of cancer. However, the low risk of stomach cancer in people in India has been attributed to turmeric in the diet. Several studies have shown that turmeric extracts can inhibit cancer cell growth in the lab, but again, studies in live animals are lacking.

PROBLEMS WITH TURMERIC FOR PETS

Turmeric is a relatively safe herb to use, but one reason for this is that the active compounds aren’t very well absorbed. Dissolving turmeric in oil may increase its bioavailabity, as may adding in black pepper, however studies have focuses on rats and result may not be the same for dogs and cats.

Turmeric should be used with caution in pets who are receiving medications. Turmeric can inhibit an enzyme pathway which is important in breaking down some commonly used drugs including digoxin, anticoagulants, cyclosporin, and some anti-inflammatories. This could lead to toxicity over time. Turmeric has also been shown to reduce the absorption of iron from the diet.

In some animals turmeric is associated  with irritation of the gut. If this cause vomiting or diarrhoea be aware that turmeric really stains! It should also not be used in animals with gallstones, or those with a tendency to produce oxalate crystals or stones.

Turmeric powder sold for cooking can have variable amounts of active compounds, and the volatile oils will be lost during drying and processing. Fresh roots contain more oils, but the growing conditions can still affect the levels of active compounds. Over the counter supplements don’t always contain sufficient quantity or quality of active compounds.

IS TURMERIC RIGHT FOR MY PET?

We like turmeric, and recommend it to many of our clients. But it won’t be suitable for all pets. We strongly recommend contacting a vet trained in herbal medicine to suggest if turmeric will be useful and safe.

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We want to say sorry for not keeping on top of the blog as well as we should have done this year. We’ve been very busy with Vicky our vet breeding a litter of puppies as well as completing coursework for her behaviour qualification.

HOLISTIC VETERINARY CLINICS:

Goudhurst Vets, Bedgebury Road on Thursdays from 11.30. Call direct on 01580 211981. 

Companion Care Vets Eastbourne, Lottbridge Drove on Mondays and Fridays. Call direct on 01323 649315.

Home visits are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays within a 15mile radius of Ninfield (Battle, Bexhill, Hastings, St Leonards, Westfield, Fairlight for example). Call or text on 07958142959, or email health@holistcvetsussex.co.uk

HOLISTIC VETERINARY SERVICES AVAILABLE:

Herbal Medicine; we use practitioner only tinctures and herbal tablets, as well as supplements from Nutravet. In most cases we produce bespoke combinations of herbs specifically designed for your pet. Herbal medicines can be used alongside conventional medicines to increase their effects, or to reduce side effects, or they can be used on their own where conventional medicines are unavailable or unsuitable.

Acupuncture: we use acupuncture extensively for musculoskeletal problems, from muscle sprains in working dogs, to arthritis in older animals. We have also had success in some spinal injury cases, and in pets with incontinence.

Physiotherapy; we frequently recommend that owners carry out exercises at home to help their pet’s mobility, sometimes we will also recommend treatment by canine therapists such as bowen therapists and hydrotherapists.

Behaviour; Vicky is a trained animal behaviourist and is happy to discuss prevention of problems in young animals, as well as helping owners understand and treat their pet’s behaviour problems. An understanding of the behavioural needs of pets also means we can help them cope with changes to their lifestyle caused by illness or injury.

Nutrition; we feel a good diet is the key to a healthy pet! We fully support those owners who want to raw feed, but can also help adapt other diets to improve health and behaviour.

Pupternity Leave

PUPTERNITY LEAVE

Just a short post today to let you know we will have very limited availability for appointments for the next 2 weeks as vet Vicky’s dog is expecting a litter!

DOMINANT DOGS

HOW DO I DEAL WITH MY DOMINANT DOG?

NEWSFLASH….your dog isn’t dominant!

Dominance theory is out of date thinking. It was based on observations of captive wolf packs whose behaviour bears no resemblance to the dog in your home, and little to wild wolves!

DOOR RUSHING, LEAD PULLING, CLIMBING ON THE SOFA….ALL DOMINANT BEHAVIOURS!

NOPE!

Door rushing: Your dog wants to be the first to get out to the good stuff!

Lead pulling: Your dog wants you to hurry to the park to let him off for a run!

Sofas and beds: Your dog likes to be up high so he can see better, and the sofa smells of you!

SO! WHAT DO I DO WITH MY DOMINANT DOG?!

1) Accept your dog isn’t trying to take over your home, or the world. Dogs are pretty happy being dogs and letting us earn the money for food and balls and stuff. They might want to compete with you, or other dogs, for things like food, balls, the sofa, getting to the park first….but they don’t want to be boss. 

2) Learn how dogs really see the world. They like food, other dogs, people, sniffing, fetching, digging, chewing, ripping stuff up (in varying amounts depending on the dog!). They do what makes them happy, they avoid what makes them unhappy.

3) Understand why your dog is doing things you don’t like. Have you taught him self control, to walk on a loose lead, to wait when you open the door? If you don’t teach your dog the rules of living in your house then….he’ll just be a dog!

4) If your dog starts doing things which are against your house rules, ask why. Are you, or another family member bending the rules? This can be very confusing for dogs! Is you dog hitting puberty/ getting old/ been ill/ had a bad experience?

QUIT WANTING TO BE A PACK LEADER…BECOME A TEAM LEADER!

If you want to play wolves….put on a fur suit and pee up the trees in your garden. Your dog still won’t know you’re an alpha wolf!

Instead of seeing dog ownership as a constant battle for supremacy, work on becoming a better team. Make sure you have clear rules about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Teach your dog the rules through fair methods of training where he can earn rewards (food, play, cuddles) for making the right choices.

If you are having bigger training or behaviour issues get in touch!

Extra Reading:

We don’t often suggest extra reading but there are a few great books if this has piqued your interest…

‘The Culture Clash’ Jean Donaldson

‘Dominance in Dogs; Fact or Fiction” Barry Eaton

‘How Dogs Learn’ Birch and Bailey