Just like us, our animals are constantly exposed to toxins in their food and environment. Here’s how to help them back to wellness.
Mystie was a sweet six-year-old spayed female border collie/springer spaniel cross. When she first came to our clinic, we investigated her medical history, which was routine: puppy vaccines, spay, parasite prevention medication, annual boosters for rabies, distemper, hepatitis and kennel cough, with leptospirosis added in the past three years. She was on a medical weight-reducing diet.
She had no illness, other than two ear infections that were treated with a medicated ointment. But Mystie was slowing down. She showed less interest in her Frisbee, was more aloof, and her daily runs were becoming walks. Her owners attributed the change to her age. Upon examination, Mystie was found to have a mild doggy body odor despite good grooming. She also had a small amount of mucus and crusty discharge in the corners of her eyes, tartar accumulation on her upper molars, a little wax in both ears, and a soft, painless, easily moveable growth under the skin on her right thigh. Her coat was lusterless with mild dandruff on her back, and she was 15% overweight.
Her blood tests were within normal limits and heartworm and stool parasite tests were negative. We did distemper and parvovirus vaccine titers and they came back positive, indicating an antibody response to those vaccines. Mystie presented the typical picture of the “basically healthy but toxic dog” – in other words, declining health without overt pathology.
Mystie’s guardians, who had always done what they believed best for their canine companion, felt guilty that she showed signs of toxicity. I assured them we could begin to immediately reverse the situation.
DIET: Mystie was eating a food that contained low quality ingredients along with additives, hormones, pesticides, etc. The nutrition she was receiving was inadequate and unable to meet the demands of energy expenditure, healing and detoxification.
ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: Mystie’s family lives in a new housing development adjacent to agricultural land. New houses tend to be highly polluted because the chemicals in new building materials outgas. Pesticides on lawns and surrounding agricultural land are also a problem, as is air pollution.
Toxins are also normally produced in the body as byproducts of digestion and metabolism.
VACCINES: Too many.
DRUGS: Antibiotics, de-wormers, heartworm and flea prevention products.
Detoxification is how the body rids itself of poison, and is a process that’s always taking place. Due to poor quality food, over-vaccination and other factors, the detoxification organs (the liver is the main one) become stressed. The process consequently becomes less efficient and needs assistance.
In alternative medicine, detoxification is the extra support we give the body to help it carry out its natural detoxing process. It also helps with the breakdown of some of the toxins that the body can’t get rid of on its own. It’s important to do this because illness can result from accumulated toxins in the body.
Natural remedies such as homeopathic preparations, herbs, and nutritional supplements can be used to help an animal detox. Equally important is reducing toxic exposure; improving the diet is an essential part of the equation, as is limiting vaccines, drugs and environmental toxins. For Mystie, I used a basic protocol that I’ve utilized with hundreds of companion animals.
General detox protocol:
1) A grain-free home-prepared diet. The new diet begins with a “water only” fast (12 to 36 hours for dogs, max. 12 hours for cats.)
2) Nutritional supplements: fish oil; probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria); high quality vitamin/mineral supplement formulated for dogs or cats; digestive enzymes.
Choosing the right probiotic supplement for your dog is of utmost importance, especially considering the massive benefits it can deliver. Active ingredients play a pivotal role in determining the effectiveness of these supplements. A higher concentration of active ingredients means a potent supplement that can effectively bolster your dog’s immune system, improve digestion, and enhance nutrient absorption. Therefore, when selecting probiotics for dogs, always consider the quantity of active ingredients, as it can make all the difference in your pet’s health and well-being.
3) HEEL Detox Kit, to start after the diet is completely switched. The kit contains three homeopathic remedies, each of which supports cleansing and drainage: Nux-vomica Homaccord for the liver and gut; Berberis Homaccord for kidneys and gall bladder; Lyphosot for the lymphatic system. I generally recommend two to ten drops of each remedy daily; the dosage is based on weight. Add each to water bowl daily for three weeks, stop for one week, and repeat for another three weeks. If a pet won’t drink water with the remedies in it, they can be dropped on food or in salmon juice.
4) Other: Weekly local application of diatomaceous earth for flea prevention (on the pet’s coat); Stool test for parasites rather than treat unnecessarily; Limit exposure to vaccines, drugs and other chemicals.
It’s not uncommon for an animal to have a reaction while detoxing. It may include an aggravation of existing symptoms, a recurrence of old ones and/or the development of new ones. Some examples are: Loose stools and/or mucus in stools for a few days to a few weeks (if watery or bloody, consult a veterinarian); Discharge from the eyes; Increased body odour and/or itchiness.
Three months later, Mystie’s weight had dropped by four pounds. Her coat was shiny and free of dandruff and odour. The growth, ear wax and dental tartar had improved 20% to 25%. She was like a puppy again!
Like ourselves, animals are constantly exposed to toxic substances in their food and environment. Feeding your dog or cat a high quality premium diet made with whole, fresh ingredients and free of artificial preservatives, colouring and other chemicals, is an excellent start. Along with that, minimizing vaccines and exposure to toxins, along with a regular detoxification program (spring and fall) can help maintain or restore your companion’s health and zest for life.
A 1989 study of more than 8,000 dogs showed that canine bladder cancer was associated with their living in industrialized countries, mimicking the distribution of bladder cancer among humans. Between 1975 and 1995, the incidence of bladder cancer in dogs examined at veterinary teaching schools in North America increased six-fold.
Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, wirehaired fox terriers, and West Highland white terriers all had a higher risk than mixed breeds, suggesting a genetic susceptibility to cancer among the terriers, but not a reason for the increase. When researchers interviewed the owners of Scottish terriers with bladder cancer, they found that dogs whose owners had used phenoxy acid herbicides on their lawns were four to seven times more likely to have cancer than dogs whose owners had not. Phenoxy acid is an active ingredient in 2, 4-D, a widely used herbicide that has been linked to various cancers.
The “cancer in dogs” studies reveal the multi-factorial nature of cancer. Bladder cancer in dogs is linked to the use of insecticidal flea and tick dips, but more so if the dogs were obese and lived near another source of pesticides. Dietary protection is important, too. In the terrier study, the researchers found that when the Scotties ate green leafy vegetables three times a week, there was a 90% reduction in their risk of cancer. (www.preventcancernow.ca)
(Editor’s Note: One easy way to kick start a spring cleanse for your dog is to grate raw apple into their food. Start with a teaspoonful, and gradually work up to a half or a whole apple. Another useful tool is unpasteurized apple cider vinegar – start with adding a half teaspoon to a dog or cat’s food or water bowl, and gradually work up to a teaspoon or more depending on their body weight. This helps to clear inflammation and balance the body’s pH.)
Dr. Sasan Haghighat can be reached at NorthEast Newmarket Veterinary Services, a holistic clinic in Newmarket, Ont. at 987 Davis Drive. For appointments call (905) 830-1030; visit his website: https://holistic-vet.ca/dr-sasan-haghighat-hyatt-dvm-cva/
Holistic vets in the U.S.: American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, www.ahvma.org
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