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"In 2001 a very special little kitten came to stay at our house named Emma. She weighed in at a whopping 2 ½ pounds. When she was about 9 months old she began vomiting and wouldn’t eat. The doctors at Piney Creek Square Veterinary Clinic took x-rays, but nothing showed up on them. She was losing weight, and she was thin by nature anyway, so everyone was worried about her. Dr. Behrns came to the rescue and performed emergency surgery on our little girl. She found an almond trying to pass into Emma’s stomach. Of course, it would not have shown up on an x-ray. Thank you, Dr. Behrns, for saving Emma’s life."

-Margo K.

Our Furry Family Feels The Cold Too

In case you didn’t notice the advent of fall with all the pumpkin spice items abounding in retail sector – did you know there are even Pumpkin Spice GREENIES®?!?!? – the cooler weather signifies the change. Not only do we feel it but our furry family members do too. I have told many clients that in the spring I rejoice in seeing some of the old timer patients make it through the colder seasons. But as the fall is upon us, I feel the angst creep in my gut as I see those “old” old timers, as well as some “new” old timers coming in for visits. I liken our pets and their outward expression of their internal health issues to a house of cards. These cats and dogs can hold it together for quite some time, with a half a dozen concerns and maybe more, and all it takes is one additional challenge, such as a change in barometric pressure, that can blow that house of cards down. I want to talk about a couple of things: an insurance policy for the aches and pains to come and a resolution for those already showing the signs of aging in their day to day activities.

The Insurance Policy

I like to talk to clients about getting their senior pets started on a regimen in the hopes of putting off the need for prescriptions further into the future. A senior pet, cat or dog, is generally defined as those eight years of age or older. And while prescriptions can get to the heart of the matter quickly where pain and arthritis are concerned, they are not without their side effects. Now ALL pets will require pain and arthritis medicine on a regular basis as they age. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could use those medications at a lower dose or if they were not needed, consistently, until an older age? Supplements allow us to do that! For those pets eight years of age and older, I want them to be on three things to support their health: Essential Fatty Acids, Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Protandim (NRF2). This combination can not only provide improvement in mobility but many of our clients already using this regimen are reporting back to us that their pets have more energy and act younger!

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are nothing new to medicine, human or veterinary. They are recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties for the WHOLE body. There is also an abundance of research regarding dietary fatty acids and their anti-cancer effects. I won’t spend a lot of time on this, as I suspect many of you are already on fatty acids yourself. If you would like to look more at what EFAs can do for your pet, our neighbor to the north, Colorado State University-College Of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has a great resource on EFA dosing: http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/small-animal/sports-medicine-rehabilitation/Pages/fish-oil-dosing-chart.aspx. To meet this dietary need, we carry 1-TDC for our cats and small dogs at the clinic and I recommend Nordic Naturals for their purity, efficacy and third-party testing.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are nutraceuticals many people are likely familiar with as well. I have found the quality of these supplements makes a significant difference on whether clients observe an improvement in their pet’s mobility. A majority of this type of human over-the-counter nutraceutical products, and certainly those that are less expensive, do not measure up to their label claims. Over the years, I have found the glucosamine/chondroitin products made by Nutramax® have shown pet owners a noted change for the better. And since Dasuquin Advanced® has become a part of the Nutramax® family, I must say there isn’t a better product out there. Not only does it include the glucosamine/chondroitin but the added anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capabilities of Boswellia, turmeric and green tea.

Protandim, an NRF-2 activator, is one of the newest anti-oxidants on the block and is made by an anti-aging company called LifeVantage. What is NRF-2? According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, “NRF-2 is a protein that controls how certain genes are expressed. These genes help protect the cell from the damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules made during normal cell metabolism). Free radicals may play a part in cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases of aging.” It is reasonable to consider that, as mammals, our pets are experiencing similar bouts of cellular stress that humans do making the inclusion of an anti-oxidant booster, such as Protandim/Petandim, a huge help in the quality of our furry friends’ longevity.

The Sure Thing

I am very honest with my clients about the integrative philosophy of our practice. I simply state that our doctors will never abandon the training we gleaned from veterinary school. HOWEVER, our “toolbox” of methods is much bigger than most other veterinary clinics/hospitals around. This means that while we possess the knowledge of complementary, natural and holistic practices of managing mobility concerns of our pets, if they are actively in pain, many times conventional prescriptions are one of our first defenses in offering relief. In addition to Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), there are many human medications that are used and are considered Extra-Label Drug Use (ELDU) on the veterinary side of medicine. With the use of multiple medications, as well as supplements, we are managing pain with a multi-modal approach, covering as many aspects of the pain pathway possible.

The first thing I must say about NSAIDs is…DON’T USE OVER-THE COUNTER, HUMAN NSAIDS! The days of giving you pet an aspirin have gone by the wayside as safer medications have been made available for veterinary patients. And giving ibuprofen/Advil® and acetaminophen/Tylenol®, as well as any other human NSAIDs, can be a sure route to your pet ending up in the ER facing, at the least, damage to the GI tract and, at the most, organ failure and even possibly death. Products on the market, such as Rimadyl®, Deramaxx® and the newly released Galliprant®, are specifically designed for dogs. Cats unfortunately have limited offerings in the NSAID department and those available are for short term use or carry a “black-box” warning. More research and development is needed around NSAIDs for our feline friends. Because each animal is different in the way they are able to metabolize drugs, it is important bloodwork that consists of a complete blood count (CBC) and a serum chemistry/organ function panel is performed before considering the long term use of an NSAID. And bloodwork is required every 6-12 months along with a physical exam to meet the legal requirements for the continued use of a prescription.

Other pain management drugs commonly, and safely, used alongside an NSAID in veterinary medicine are human medications that many times were originally prescribed for something other than pain. Now one that was derived and used for pain is Tramadol, an opiate or narcotic analgesic. But others used, such as Gabapentin (anti-convulsant/anti-seizure) and Amantadine (anti-viral), may leave one wondering, “Why did my veterinarian prescribe this?” Rest assured, there is research and experience supporting these medications help relieve pain in dogs and cats. They are all attacking various points along the pain pathway to offer relief from the toll time takes on our pets’ joints.

The Rest of the Story

This is what sets Piney Creek Square Integrative Veterinary Medicine apart! We can offer so many other options to alleviate pain using complementary medicine. It also allows our doctors to customize how we approach YOUR pet’s pain and mobility issues. I’ve already talked about the EFAs, Dasuquin Advanced® and Protandim® above. In addition to these foundational supplements and nutraceuticals we offer the following:

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine/TCVM (www.tcvm.com) – TCVM is comprised of notably Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. But it also includes Food Therapy and Tui-Na, a Chinese form of medical massage. For a more in-depth explanation of TCVM, I invite you to visit www.tcvm.com/About/WhatisTCVM.aspx. Both Dr. Kate Dohse and Dr. Merry Gibson are graduates of the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.

PrimeMyBody Cannabidiol CBD Extract (www.primemybody.com) – “PrimeMyBody combines nanoenhanced technology with a sustainable, naturally grown hemp oil, which has been used for a wide range of healthy benefits dating back more than 3,000 years.” The nanoenhanced technology offers the benefits of a newer generation of dietary supplements meaning a faster and more potent delivery system to the body. No THC or psychoactive components here, making this legal in all 50 states.

Companion Class IV Therapeutic Laser (www.litecure.com/companion/for-pet-owners/) – The use of laser therapy offers photobiomodulation therapy which results in beneficial therapeutic outcomes including but not limited to the alleviation of pain or inflammation, immunomodulation, and promotion of wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Jing Tang Herbs (http://store.tcvmherbal.com/quality.asp) – “Herbal quality control is essential and the first priority of Dr. Xie’s Jing Tang Herbal.” The integrity of Jing Tang Herbals is maintained with the following procedures: Good Manufacturing Practices Standard, Laboratory Testing, Certification of Analysis, Tracking and Controlling Sourcing.

Standard Process Whole Food Supplements (www.standardprocess.com)  – “Standard Process supplements can provide your pet with essential nutritional complexity by providing whole food-based nutrients that support optimal body function.” Since 1929, Standard Process has been making optimal nutrition possible.

Young Living Essential Oils (www.youngliving.com) – “Through the painstaking steps of our proprietary Seed to Seal production process, we produce the best, most authentic essential oils in the world.” Young Living’s long standing history and their Seed to Seal (www.seedtoseal.com) promise are why we use their essential oils in our practice. Animals cannot process all essential oils the same way humans do and that’s why it’s important to know where the oils are sourced and how they are processed, like Young Living. Any other essential oil company is not worth the risk of potential harm to your pet.

Much of what is available in complementary medicine is part of an embattled mix of evidence based medicine and thousands of years of healing arts. And much of what you will find on most of the available websites above come with the disclaimer, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” For those skeptics, I invite you to visit www.pubmed.gov, the database of research through the National Institute of Health and enter the following terms, to name a few, into the search box:  “oxidative stress”, “NRF2”, “acupuncture”, “cbd”, “frankincense”, “lavender”.  For those folks not inclined to pour through all the scientific research jargon, at the very least I invite you to note the number of research papers and abstracts published about the different subjects.

Our doctors are pleased to share with you what we know and what we have seen that has helped support our patients’ health…and, quite frankly, what hasn’t. Complementary veterinary medicine isn’t a one size fits all – It’s not for every patient and it’s not for every pet owner, and we respect that. I can share with you that I was once a skeptic to these different methods and as I have learned more about each of them, they have become a part of my desire to live a healthful life.

I hope I leave you looking at what you can be doing for the comfort of your pet. For those young and healthy adults, it’s never too early for owners to start the “The Insurance Policy”. If your pet is eight years of age or older, start “The Insurance Policy” now with the possible addition of an occasional “Sure Thing”. And if your pet already has “Insurance” and the “Sure Thing”, then let’s look at at “The Rest of the Story” to either decrease the dose of the side-effect, inducing prescriptions for a more natural approach or to add on a third tier to those aging geriatric pets still full of life but needing more relief than the “Insurance” and “Sure Thing” can provide.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about what you can do for your pet and for trusting Piney Creek Square Integrative Medicine with their care. And look forward to next month where I will talk more about nutrition and how to sort out what makes a diet worthy enough for me to recommend and feed my own pets.