Sunday, 17 February 2013

Anxiety and Stress in Dogs – The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Treating, Preventing Dog Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is a very serious and increasingly common issue in dogs – in-fact it has become an epidemic issue. 

Anxiety when left unaddressed or when addressed in the wrong way can quickly increase in intensity. Anxiety may take many forms, separation anxiety, fear of unfamiliar inanimate or animate objects, sounds, weather – i.e. thunderstorms, or insecurity leading to aggressive-reactive behaviour.

The most effective and beneficial approach to solving your dog’s anxiety issues is definitely NOT medicating your dog with anti-depressants such as Doggie-Prozac. Doggie-Prozac will not cure your dog – in addition it can also cause very serious health issues, you can read about that here. On the other hand, ensuring that your dog has a sufficient daily intake of quality Omega-3 fatty acids can have a beneficial effect on your dog’s ability to overcome anxiety.

In order to successfully remedy anxiety, each factor that contributes to the condition must be addressed. My approach is two-fold  - during the course of a session:
  • My primary focus in curing anxiety in a dog is to observe, analyze and improve the dog’s peoples’ habits and communication skills;
  • Then once habits and communication are addressed it is time to look at the dog’s overall diet.

Omega Fatty Acids are a good example of the gap between that actual ability of a kibble to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements vs. the dog owner’s expectations that he/she has purchased a nutritionally appropriate and complete product. Purchasing an expensive dog kibble (regardless if from a pet store or veterinary office) is not an assurance that your dog’s nutritional needs will be properly met.  

I have yet to find a dog kibble that comes close to providing the correct balance of Omega-3 fatty acids (Polyinsaturated Alpha-linolenic acid [ALA], Eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] vs. Omega 6-fatty acids. This means that you need to know how to make-up for the lack-of-balance of good fats in your dog’s diet.

EPA’s Importance In Proper Brain Function

A proper daily in-take of EPA can help your dog better handle stress…

  • Increases the fluidity of cell membranes;
  • Improves communication between brain cells;
  • As such daily ingestion of enough EPA:
    • Works to support proper functioning of the brain, and;
    • Enables calming.

Ingesting too much of the Omega-6 fatty acid Arachidonic Acid (AA) causes cellular inflammation.
  • The brain is very sensitive to cellular inflammation. 
  • Cellular inflammation creates a breakdown in the signalling between cells. 
  • When breakdown occurs the brain cannot function at optimal levels.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are ineffective in treating brain cell inflammation as they cannot cross the blood-brain barrier that isolates the brain from undesirable substances in the blood-stream. 

When brain cells become inflamed the only substance that can protect these compromised cells is sufficient levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. 

When the level of Omega 3 fatty acids available to the brain are insufficient, neuro-inflammation is exacerbated and disruption of signalling between nerves becomes significant. 

The brain uses two Omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA. While DHA is an important and necessary structural component of the brain, EPA is the primary anti-inflammatory Omega fatty acid for the brain. When used by the brain EPA has a short life-span. This means that the supply of EPA (via the blood stream to the brain) must be constantly present. For this reason it is very important to make sure that your dog is taking in a sufficient amount of EPA on a daily basis. 

Commercially manufactured dog kibble has relatively high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and respectively low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • To make matters worse, when coupled with increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids refined carbohydrates (such as wheat flour, rice and sugar):
    • Increase insulin production;
    • Which in-turn increases the amount of AA (the Omega-6 fatty acid which causes inflammation);
    • At the same time decreased consumption of EPA:
      • Results in an increased AA to EPA ratio;
      • Which further exacerbates inflammation.

DHA’s Importance To Brain Function

When the brain is not receiving sufficient daily amounts of DHA, serotonin levels are decreased. Decreased levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety.

Other Impacts on Brain Function, of Insufficient Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Deficiency Can:
  • Compromise the blood-brain barrier. 
    • This barrier protects the brain from uninhibited flow of undesirable substances/matter into the brain;
  • Decrease normal blood flow to the brain;
  • Decrease phosphatidylserine (PS) levels; 
    • PS is a naturally occurring anti-depressant, and also helps improve the ability to concentrate.
In Conclusion…

If you are feeding your dog commercially manufactured dog kibble:
  • I encourage you to read the food manufactures' label,and;
  • Check the Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 fatty acid percentage, and; 
  • Then supplement your dog’s diet with Omega-3 fatty acids to suit. 
If you are feeding your dog a raw diet or homemade dog food you will still need to supplement your dog’s intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • You can read more about Omega Fatty Acids for your dog:
  • All of the other ways Omega-3 fatty acids support your dog’s health;
  • Options for providing Omega-3 fatty acids in your dog’s daily diet;
    by clicking here.

Holistic Support
Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar is Good For Your Dog, Cat and You – Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been used for centuries for its medical properties and as a dietary supplement. In Greece, around 400 BC the father of modern medicine – Hippocrates prescribed ACV with honey to treat many ailments. By the later part of the 1700s about 70% of all farmers in USA’s New England states owned-operated apple cider milling/pressing equipment.  Due to the many uses and availability of ACV, it became a common currency of exchange – particularly in rural areas where coins were comparatively in short supply.

Naturally fermented, unpasteurized, organic ACV contains ‘mother of vinegar’ - a cloudy sediment-filled liquid which contains the healthful properties of ACV.

Distilled, pasteurized, over-processed ACV (the type of ACV that is available at most the grocery stores), lacks the beneficial properties of unpasteurized, organic ACV as the pasteurizing, filtering process destroys the ‘mother of vinegar’.

In this article you will learn about…
  • The beneficial properties of ACV;
  • Health benefits of ACV;
  • The many beneficial ways to use ACV for your dog’s health;
  • Dosage (provided for dogs, cats, humans)
  • What to look for when buying ACV;
  • Cautions, side effects;

 Beneficial Properties In Mother of Vinegar
  • Acetic acid (the primary active ingredient);
  • Amino, Lactic and Propionic Acid;
  • Anti-bacterial – when used topically and ingested, ACV inhibits the growth of bad bacteria;
  • Anti-fungal;
  • Anti-viral;
  • Vitamins and minerals including:
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2 and B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Pro-vitamin Beta-Carotene, Vitamin P (bioflavonoids);
  • Potassium – protects against tooth decay, heart-healthy as it helps to keeps blood pressure in-check – ACV is an excellent source of easily-absorbable potassium;
    Pectin – helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol);
  • Potash – source of fibre.

Health Benefits/Uses of Organic ACV

Aids Digestion
ACV helps to stimulate stomach acid. Stomach acid aids the digestion of protein and fats.

De-Toxer ACV helps to clean the blood and liver of toxins. A constant and heavy toxic load forces the liver to work overtime – eventually leading to organ fatigue, toxicity and finally organ failure. A dog can end-up carrying a serious toxic load as he/she may ingest and otherwise absorb multiple toxins in the course of a typical day…for example:
  • Many commercially manufactured dog and cat food (dry kibble, wet canned food, treats);
  • Fluorinated water;
  • Road-salt (very carcinogenic);
  • Chemical-based household cleaners (breathing in the vapours, licking surfaces, lying on chemically cleaned surfaces);
  • Surface contact and/or ingesting grass treated with fertilizers and pesticides. 

Dietary Supplement
ACV can be used topically and as a dietary supplement. As a dietary supplement ACV can be added directly to your dog’s and cat's fresh drinking water or to one of your dog’s daily meals. I add ACV directly to my dogs’ food once a day.

Dosage (human dosage provided at the bottom of the article):
  • Small Dogs (and cats) up to 14 lbs - 1 tsp;
  • Medium Dogs (and cats) 15 lbs to 34 lbs - 2 ts;
  • Large Dogs:
    • 35 lbs to 84 lbs - 1 tbs;
    • 85 lbs to 134 lbs - 1.5 tbsp;
    • 135 lbs to 200 lbs – 2 tbsp.
Ear Care
  • ACV can be used to clean your dog’s and cat's ear;
  • ACV can be used to treat yeast –based ear infections.
  • Combine equal parts of ACV and distilled water, mix the solution; 
  • With a syringe or dropper, gently drop about 10 drops of the liquid into your dog’s /cat's ear - make sure that the syringe is located at the entrance to the ear canal - the syringe should never be placed inside of the ear canal. 
  • Gently rub/massage the ear in a circular motion, then remove your hand and let your dog/cat shake its head.
Caution – do not use this treatment if you dog’s ear drums are perforated or punctured. To learn more about ear infections, causes and other options for treatments and remedies continue reading here.

If your dog or cat is prone to yeast-based ear infections…
  • Most cases of yeast-based ear infections in dogs and cats are a result of Candida (overgrowth of bad bacteria in the GI Tract which causes leaky-gut syndrome and results in yeast infection which may surface in the ears, paws, etc. 
  • Grains in a dog's and cat's diet are the number one cause of food sensitivity leading to yeast infections!
  • Sugar in a dog’s and cat's diet can cause Candida – many commercially made dog and cat treats/dog food contain both grains and sugar!
  • So, to cure the problem you have to do two things:  
    • Get the intensity of the infection – inflammation, under control = the treatment; 
    • Fix your dog’s and cat's diet - this is the long-term maintenance portion of the solution = the remedy.
Fur and Skin Health
ACV helps prevent dry skin, promotes the growth and maintenance of healthy fur and is effective in the treatment of:
  • Acne – apply undiluted ACV with a soft cloth or cotton ball;
  • Burns (minor) – apply undiluted ACV with a soft cloth or cotton ball;
  • Hot Spots;
  • Skin Infections.

As a Treatment for Hot Spots and Skin Infections
For hot spots and skin infections:
  • Bath your dog or cat in a warm (not hot!) Rooibos Tea, and;
  • Then do a second rinse using:
    • 1 part ACV to 3 parts water – if the effected spot is small you can use a soft cloth or cotton ball to apply both rinses.
    • If the skin is broken dilute the ACV mixture further (1 part ACV to 4 parts water);
      • Then be very careful as the acidic nature of ACV can cause stinging/pain; 
      • Test a small area first by dabbing the ACV/water solution with a cotton ball onto a tiny test area, do not do a full soak on skin with broken areas without testing first!
      • My dogs and cats are very tolerant of ACV and have never reacted to it with discomfort.
Skunk Odour treatment
  • Sponge undiluted ACV onto fur and skin – avoiding eyes;
  • Allow the ACV to dry;
  • Follow with non-toxic, non-carcinogenic Shampoo and Rinse

GI Tract Health - Promotes Growth of Good Flora
ACV is a prebiotic and helps maintain the proper acid/alkaline balance of the digestive tract.
  • Prebiotics feed probiotics;
  • Probiotics are the healthy microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in a dog’s GI Tract.
  • When the population of good bacteria is depleted bad bacteria can flourish resulting in candida and other health issues. 
  • Helps prevent and remedy constipation;
  • Helps regularize bowl movements;
  • Helps keep the colon clean.

Metabolism Booster, Appetite Reducer
If your dog, cat or yourself have a slow metabolisim - adding ACV to the diet can help increase the rate of metabolism. In addition to ACV, turmeric is another excellent metabolism (and immune system) booster. Both can be added to the diet. My dog's get both turmeric and ACV as part of their daily diet.
In addition, ACV can be taken in-between or before meals to stave-off hunger. If you need your dog to loose weight you can also add some fresh fruits and vegetables to his/her diet in between meals. This will help keep the GI tract clean, detox, provide antioxidants and important vitamins and nutrients. But it is important to know which fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs and proper preparation to ensure maximum benefits. You can read about that here.

Treatment, Remedy for Eye Infections
Distilled Water and ACV (room temperature)
Not for use with pink-eye
  • Combine;
    • 2 tbs distilled water with;
    • 4 drops of ACV;
    • Stir well;
    • Drop 2 to 3 drops in the eye two to three times a day until the infection clears;
If you would like to understand more about eye infections...
  • Typical Causes of an Eye Infection;
  • Typical Signs that Your Dog's or Cat's Eye May Be Infected;  
  • Typical Signs of Pink Eye - Conjunctivitis
  • Contagiousness of Eye Infections
  • Treating and Curing Eye Infections
    • Topical Treatments
    • Ingested (Dietary) Remedies 
  • Duration of Treatment
  • When To Get Your Dog or Cat to Your Veterinarian
  • You can read this article.
Insect Repellent – Natural, Safe
Parasites such as fleas, ticks mosquitoes and worms do not do well in an environment that is not supportive of their life and reproductive requirements. Such parasites do not like acidic environments. ACV is acidic and therefore not an attractive substance for these parasites.The following topical treatment kills adult fleas and is soothing on a dog’s skin…

Topical Treatment for Infestation of Fleas   
Natural Shampoo with ACV, Aloe Vera and Tea Tree-Oil
CAUTION - Do not use this recipe on cats - see further below for cat appropriate recipes (and other recipes for dogs)

This treatment kills fleas as they will drown in the soapy water, the after shampoo rinse and spray acidifies the surface of skin and fur making it an inhospitable environment for fleas. Don't over apply this recipe - this recipe includes tea tree oil. Tea tree oil should always be used with restraint. It is a potent substance which should never be over used on a dog and should not be used on cats at all...

You will need:
  • An 8 oz bottle;
  • Tea Tree Oil (don't use tee tree oil on cats);
  • 100% Aloe Vera Juice;
  • ACV;
  • Fresh, clean water.
  • Pour the shampoo into the 8 ounce bottle;
  • Add 10 drops of tea tree oil;
  • Add 1 tablespoon of aloa vera juice;
  • Shake well.
  • Shampoo Your Dog;
  • Wait 6 to 10 minutes.
Rinse Your Dog
  • Then rinse with ACV diluted in water – 1 tablespoon ACV for every pint of water.
  • Allow your dog to shake the excess water off;
 After-Rinse Spray
  • Then follow-up with a spray of equal parts ACV to water;  
  • You can also add fresh squeezed lemon juice;
  • Do not get the shampoo, rinse or spray in your dog’s eyes;
  • The spray can be used on a daily basis and may be used several times a day. 
Natural Spray, Spot-on and Collar Drop Recipes to repel Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitos from Cats and Dogs

  • DIY Natural, Herbal, Homeopathic Flea, Tick, Mosquito Repellent Sprays, Rubs, Dips, Rinse for Dogs and Cats- read here.

  • DIY Natural, Herbal, Homeopathic Flea, Tick, Mosquito Spot-On and Collar Drops for Dogs and Cats- read here

Body pH Balance - Restore, Maintain Good pH Balance

ACV is an excellent aid to restore pH balance. Poor diet can disrupt the pH balance of your dog’s blood. Acidification of the blood creates a foot-hold for the development of various illnesses.

AVC for Cleaning
Daily exposure to the air born vapours, droplets, and surface residue of chemical based household cleaners are one of the villains a dog’s system must fight to stay healthy. You can help reduce the daily stress on his/her system by making your own dog friendly household cleaners. In addition, many of the chemicals are lethally poisonous to dogs and other animals. You can use ACV as a multipurpose cleaner either on its own or with fresh lemon juice and/or baking soda. I use ACV to clean counters, floors, carpet etc. ACV is an amazing all-purpose house-hold cleaner. To learn about the many ways you can use ACV to replace chemical based household cleaners read on here.

Cautions, Side Effects
If your dog is on insulin or diuretics do not add ACV to his/her diet without consulting your veterinarian as there could be an interaction between the insulin/drugs and the ACV. When ACV is taken with a meal, ACV slows the rise of blood sugar – this suggests that a reduced amount of insulin is required to process the food. The dosage of insulin you give your dog may have to be adjusted to account for lower blood-sugar levels.

Dogs who are suffering from an irritated intestinal tract lining should not take (ingest) ACV.

What to Look for When Buying Organic ACV
Make sure you are purchasing ACV which is:
  • Organic;
    Organic ACV has more nutrients than non-organic ACV;
  • Organic ACV does not have the high-levels of toxins (pesticides and herbicides) present in ACV made from non-organic apples;
  • Unfiltered;
  • Unpasteurized – you should be able to see a little sediment floating at the bottom of the bottle.
Additional Information - Pertaining to Human Dosage

1tbsp of organic un-pasterized ACV mixed with water can be:
  • Consumed prior to meals to stave-off hunger, speed-up the metabolism and as, well provide all of the benefits noted above;
  • Consumed after a meal to remedy:
    • Heartburn problems;
    • Acid reflex.
As ACV is very acidic it is much easier to ingest when it is mixed with another liquid. Mix your dosage of ACV with one of the following:
  • 8 oz of water;
  • 8 oz of cooled green tea;
  • 8 oz of Rooibos tea.
Maximum Dosage for Humans:
2 tbsp three times a day.

Holistic Support

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.