The Basics Of Pet Health

May 14th, 2012

Small but healthy Jack RusselDog diet, cat diet, diet and diet again!

It can’t be said enough - “Diet is the key to health!”  We say it over and over again here on Pet Health Problems.

Lets deal with the marketing hype first.

Do older people buy special food? No! They eat less of the same!

Then why should we have food for older dogs or cats?

If you look closely at the analysis of food for older dogs and  cats you will see that the protein and fat level is lower than the adult foods. You may also see some supplements added for healthy joints or a herb for urinary problems and the only reason these products are in there is to sell the product – to appeal to your sense of what you think is right. The reality is common sense.

We have puppy foods and puppy foods for large breed dogs. Let me tell you how the large breed puppy food came about.

Originally we had the puppy foods which were high in protein and fat, This acted like a fertiliser on a young plant – it forced growth of the muscle mass beyond the capability of the skeletal system. In other words problems like hip dysplasia became very prominent, especially in large breed dogs.

The pet food companies recognized this dilemma and the marketers, being good at what they do, turned a negative into a positive.

A light bulb went off in someone’s head and they said – “lets have a puppy food for large breed dogs – it will have lower protein and fat and hey presto – we can market the new food as avoiding problems like hip dysplasia”. Problem solved folks. The concept was then applied throughout the industry and across the pet food range.

Just imagine Mrs. Jones, walking through the supermarket with her 4 year old son sat high up in the trolley and she meets Mrs. Smith  who has her 5 year old daughter standing in the trolley. The conversation begins. “Oh hi Dorothy, I am in here looking for a lower protein and fat food for our Jimmy here, he is getting a bit on the big side and I need to slow down his growth”.   Absolute garbage – Is it not? Lets get real here!!

Of course we now have the breed specific and those poor souls who have bought into that will no doubt buy into the new dog food coming on the market in a bout 5 years time – the “Curly Coated Dog Food” or the “Curly tailed dog food”. Made specifically for your dog with a curly coat. Maybe they will match it with a food for men with hairy chests!

Lets get back to basics – puppies need higher levels of protein and fat for growth but they eat more food per body weight than adult dogs so they naturally get more protein and fat.

Let me show you this simple truth.

An adult dog, 2 years old and not spayed or neutered, weighing 20 kg, fed a high quality diet, should thrive on around 200 grams of food per day. That is 10 grams per kilogram of body weight is enough. The protein level is 20% and the fat level is 10%.

Now the puppy at 4 months weighs 12 kgs but eats 140 grams of food. The puppy takes in 28grams of protein and 14grams of fat. The adult dog takes in 20grams of protein and 10grams of fat.

It is as simple as that – don’t be fooled. Read about the problems associated with the long term use of high levels of protein and you will see the dangers.


May 4th, 2012

Cancer used to be the reserve of older dogs, but that is now changing and old and young now have the opportunity to experience such traumatic turns in their lives.

Dr Martin Goldstein, who specializes in cancer, suggests in his book ‘The Nature of Animal Healing’, that. “It is the perfect disease for a holistic vet to fight. It is the ultimate expression of ill health, the result of the body as a whole – a holistic failure – to keep itself healthy.”

Dealing with cancer is therefore about restoring ultimate health and getting healthy.

Goldstein uses the analogy of the janitor at school on nightshift taking ill and the teachers and students facing an ever increasing problem with accumulation of rubbish.

Essentially Goldstein argues that it is not the rubbish which has attacked the school any more than cancer attacks the body.

Goldstein asks “How does conventional medicine respond?” “By burning the rubbish! Not only does it put the whole building at risk, it fails to solve the problem.”

Conventional treatments, radiation and chemotherapy are about killing off fast growing cells including white blood cells which are the bodies defense against cancer. So we put the whole building at risk!

Different cancers require different treatment strategies and we simply don’t know enough about each to be able to cover the range.

In so far as natural approaches are concerned, The Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine suggests that there is sufficient evidence to support the use of antioxidants, flavones and flavanoids, bromelain, turmeric, and fish oil in most cases of cancer.


Compounds that inhibit chemical reactions with oxygen.

Antioxidants are substances that counteract naturally occurring toxic substances called free radicals.

These reactions, which occur in many contexts, include oxidation reactions that cause cell damage in humans and other animals, as well as degradation of fatty foods, resulting in undesirable color changes or rancidity.

The classic example is when you take a bite from an apple – if left, the exposed apple flesh will turn brown because of oxidation.

Chemical antioxidants include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), propyl gallate and of course ethoxyquinn. Natural and synthetic antioxidants are added to food to prevent undesirable deterioration.

Flavones and flavanoids.

Yellow pigments found in plants. Flavones belong to the group of compounds known as flavonoids

Apart from their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, flavonoids are known for their ability to strengthen capillary walls.

Green tea, lemons (outer skin and white pith), and the central white core of citrus fruit generally, are a particularly rich source of flavonoids.

The white pith of green peppers is also rich in flavonoids, as is the skin of colorful berries and grapes.

Some herbs (such as Ginkgo biloba) are taken partly for the action of their flavonoids.


Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that is beneficial to the breakdown of proteins. Bromelain (Enzyme) is a strong anti-inflammatory.

The only other source of Bromelain is pineapple juice.


Turmeric also inhibits tumor growth and may well prevent cancer.

Green tea, may inhibit tumor growth as well as preventing cancer.

Fish Oils.

Fish oils; Omega 3 fatty acids have an established role in cancer management compared to Omega 6 which is reckoned to promote tumor growth. Omega 3 is also available from hemp seed oil.


, Luaths and Burns products contain a range of quality carbohydrates, vegetables, proteins, fats and seaweed which all contribute to promote health and vitality and at the same time allows the internal organs to function in a more efficient manner.

The high quality ingredients results in smaller stools which in turn indicates ease of digestion and therefore lower levels of food are required. The approach here is simple - get healthy and deal with the problem.

Dog Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

May 2nd, 2012

Question. What are Dog Urinary Tract Infections?

The lining of the bladder and/or urethra becomes inflamed making urination difficult and painful.

Question. What causes dog urinary tract infections?

Answer. We believe they occur for two main reasons.

Reason 1. Firstly the diet is creating the wrong thermal conditions in the body.

By this we mean that food is creating warm damp conditions in the body a bit like a swamp and it becomes a hotbed for bacterial overgrowth.

Reason 2. Secondly, poor diet may create toxins in the urine which will irritate the wall of the bladder as they pass along to the urethra.

Question. What can you do?

Answer. Change your dog over to a holistic diet which takes into account the thermal impact that ingredients have on your dogs body and of course the dogs health.

Colitis in dogs

January 6th, 2012

Colitis in dogs is the term used to describe inflamation of the colon (lower bowel).

When the colon becomes inflamed for whatever reason, it can no longer store faeces or absorb water normally.

Symptoms of colitis in dogs can include:

  • Stools containing mucus
  • Cramping
  • Fresh blood in the stools
  • Diarrhoea or loose stools
  • Lack of stool consistency, from complete liquid to solid or a mixture
  • Vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and weight loss in severe cases


  • Dog eating something that it should not have done.
  • Dogs who habitually raid the bins get colitis quite frequently.
  • Poor quality foods, dairy products, or fatty foods are common culprits.
  • Dietary intolerance to specific food ingredients.
  • Parasites, including hookworm and whipworm.

Please note that the cause of colitis in dogs sometimes cannot be identified.


Diet is now recognised as being of major importance in the long-term management of colitis in dogs.

Robbie’s Holistic Cuisine from the Land Of Holistic Pets is known to be an excellent diet for dogs with colitis.

Land of Holistic Pets also have a herbal formula called Intesti-Care which works wonders if an outbreak occurs.

One very important point about colitis - remember it is inflamation of the colon. The skin in the digestive track is for the want of a better term - raw and maybe bleeding.

You need to go gently with food. DO NOT give your dogs digestive system too much work to do by giving poor quality foods or too much food.

Pet Nutrition - not to be forgotten!

October 6th, 2011

Almost every day I read in the newspapers about ‘eat this’ and ‘eat that for health’.

Food companies have long-ago recognised this trend and have been marketing low-fat, low-calorie, or low-carb versions of this or that. Organic sugar is now common place on supermarket shelves as are many other organic versions of everyday food products.

But with all of this attention to our own health, we may be forgetting the nutrition of our loyal companion pets.

Sure, pet food companies have created special formulas for overweight, older, or active dogs; but even these blends do not meet the necessary requirements for your pet’s health.

Never in my wildest dreams can I imagine a mother pushing her shopping trolley through the aisles of a supermarket looking for a lower protein food for her 8 year old son who is on the big side. Similarly, saying to her friend, that the child’s grandmother switched to a lower protein food 4 weeks ago and is doing much better. Simply ask yourself, “What level of protein do you feed your children?”

Concerning special foods for older pets, again, we ask whether you buy “older people’s foods”. Of course not!!

The athlete may make special allowances for increased stamina but it doesn’t amount to high levels of protein – the marathon runner stocks up on complex carbohydrates.

I have the good fortune to live on both sides of the big pond and hear a lot of discussion about what is right and wrong for our pets in terms of diet. The wolf is often quoted as the ancestral relation of the domestic dog.

I am going to let you in on a secret – we have wild coyotes live around us in the USA and they love hay and fresh cut grass. They don’t have shinny gloss like coats, they don’t go shopping for their food either – they scavenge and hunt small animals – but they appear healthy!

The domestic dog and cat needs good food like the rest of us but the fancy labels, the cute shapes and bright colours and flavoured this and that are not for the benefit of your dog or cat. They are there because they appeal to you! Yes – you the pet owner!

You’re the one with money and the pet food companies need you to part with it so they can make a profit.

Think of the potato crisps or chips as they are called in the US. There are more flavours of these products than I care to mention and every one of them tainted with a chemical cocktail of colours and flavours  - E this and E that!  This is the business philosophy we need to put behind us and start think health for pets first! Start reading the labels. When you don’t know – don’t buy!

Not all pet foods contain poor quality ingredients, but you have to read and understand the labels in order to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, pet food companies use obscure terms to describe the ingredients that go into their products.

What we are about here is getting you the pet owner to make informed choices that will benefit the health of your pet, and take simple cost effective steps to minimize health problems and give your captive friend the best you can.

Article by George Burns of Burns Pet Health and Land of Holistic Pets.

The Holistic Approach to Diet and Pet Health

September 13th, 2011

Holistic dietsHolistic comes from the word ‘holism’ meaning that whole entities have an existence other than the mere sum of their parts.

Webster’s dictionary goes on to say that ‘holistic’ “involves the principle of holism in a system of therapeutics mainly nutritional”.

Holistic practitioners have always seen improvements in health when proper pet nutrition is used.

This is not a new concept, in fact the principles of natural health and diet are a revival of ancient ones only recently recognized in mainstream medicine.

The homeopathic practitioner for example only recognizes one disease, disturbance of the vital force. They see the body as being like still water in a pond and disease being a ripple on the surface when a stone is thrown in. The symptoms and their severity are indicators of the level of disturbance to the vital force.

So one may ask why is natural pet food and nutrition is so important?

The answer lies simply in experience and observation. It was not by accident that Hippocrates, the founding father of medicine coined the phrase “we are what we eat”. It is as obvious as swallowing cyanide; our body stops working altogether.

In terms of holistic pet nutrition one may well raise the question of what is a good healthy dog diet?

Surely a good dog or cat diet is one that helps the body and mind function in a normal healthy way. When fed in the correct proportions of course.

Medicinal Herbs and Homeopathy are a focused form of intervention that counter and correct individual imbalances. Diet will achieve the same result but be slower acting. This is why prevention is much better than cure.

Article summarised from Burns Pet Health - read complete article.

We love our pets

September 1st, 2011

Happy health dog and catAs loving, caring pet owners we are responsible for the health and well being of our pets. After all, they are harmless animals and are completely dependent upon us for their food, shelter, warmth and protection.

There are lots of ways that we can reciprocate with our pets and give them something in return for the love, trust, obedience and affection that they give us.

One of the best ways to show someone we love them is by offering them nice food. This is true among humans and animals alike.

So, as the owners and guardians of our pets we surely would want to give them the best diet possible; both for good health and also to satisfy taste.

Not only that but we also want to give our pets regular exercise, the occasional treat and also of course some kind words. We know that hearing kind, encouraging words can lift our mood and the same applies to our pets.

Of course they can sometimes mis-behave and require some correction but in general they will be happier pets when spoken to favourably, given regular exercise and a healthy, wholesome, holistic diet.

Bladder Stones

July 7th, 2011

Stones are formed when urine pH levels, or other chemical factors, cause the minerals to bind and form crystals, which in turn build upon each other to create solid structures - “stones”, also known as uroliths.

Uroliths are most likely to occur in the bladder, but they sometimes form in the kidneys. There are  3 main types of stone/uroliths, Calcium oxalate, Urate and Cystine.

There are a number of specialised diets available from vets that deal with this problem but they appear contradictory in their approach.

While one may suggest that the urine needs to be more alkaline the other suggests more acidic.

My own experience is that when using a holistic approach then you can mimimise the potential for such problem but cannot clear it with diet only. A clear range of herbs has been identified which along with proper diet in the correct form and quantity can address it.

Herbs to deal with this problem are as follows:

Diurectic Herbs - combined with increased fluid intake crystallisation and stone formation reduced with the use of this type of herb - Examples of herbs that are diurectics include,  Horsetail, Corn Silk, Dandelion and Parsley.

Demulcent Herbs - thought to reduce inflammation by coating tissues. Herbs in this category include Marshmallow Root, Corn Silk and Parsley.

Antimicrobial Herbs are needed when this problem exists particularly when chronic urinary track problems exist. Herbs in this category include Uva-Ursi, Buchu, horsetail and Cranbury.

The ace in the pack is a Chinese herb called Lysimachia which is considered to break up the stones. It is used in several Chinese patented formulas for both Gall Bladder and urinary stones.

A  herbal formulation on the market called Stone Solve combines the above range of herbs  and when used along with the correct diet in minimal quantities can address this problem. We suggest a quality dehydrated food that when the water is added will help increase the fluid intake and work better in conjunction with the Diurectic Herbs.

Pancreatitis in dogs

June 11th, 2011

So, what exactly is Pancreatitis?

The pancreas has two main functions.

Its first is to produce enzymes that help the dog digest its food.

Its other function is to produce insulin, which regulates the blood sugar level.

Pancreatitis is simply an inflammation of the pancreas organ.

There are two types of pancreatitis in dogs; acute ( sharp and severe in effect) or chronic (recurring frequently) .

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are milder and are often mistaken for other illnesses.

While chronic pancreatitis is the milder form of the two, it’s a continuing inflammatory disease that’s often accompanied by degenerative, irreversible damage.

On the other hand acute pancreatitis is usually more severe, but when it’s over, there’s no remaining damage to organs.

There’s another very severe form of this condition called ‘necrotizing pancreatitis’, in which the damage is so severe that portions of the pancreas are actually destroyed. This has been referred to  as ‘hemorrhagic pancreatitis’. Early intervention is imperative to save the dogs life.

Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

In a large number of cases, the cause of pancreatitis in dogs  remains unclear.

There are however factors common to the problem and it is generally diet that is the main issue.

In today’s world of highly processed dog foods and cat foods, sugar beet pulp is often included to allow manufacturers to add high levels of unnecessary fat in the diet - this makes the food more tasty.

The fat however is not required and slows the digestive system to the point where it becomes very sluggish for the dog.

Dogs with diets high in fat, and dogs who have recently gotten into the trash or have been fed greasy table scraps, seem to have a higher incidence of the disease.

A single high fat meal can cause pancreatitis in a dog whose normal diet is moderate or low in fat.

Other factors which may contribute to pancreatitis in dogs are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Trauma
  • Obesity
  • Long term use of steroids
  • High Cholesterol
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

The above list is not exhaustive.

Copraphagia (cats or dogs eating poop)

May 27th, 2011

There is a lot of speculation on what causes animal to eat their own poop.

Disgusting as it sounds to us humans, many animal species indulge in this it isn’t always something to be concerned about – at least as far as our animal companions’ health is concerned. You need to check out other  medical conditions such as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI, to ensure that copraphagia isn’t the result of something that requires medical intervention.

To our pets, we presume that  eating their own poop isn’t too different from any other sort of scavenging that is part of their natural instinct.  Some consider that consumption of dung from cows, horses and sheep may actually be beneficial for dogs, and provides a rich source of good bacteria and other nutrients. The risks however are high of consuming worm infested dung and /or  medications and such like with which these herbivores may have been treated with.

As humans we find the practice disgusting and certainly those of us with small children certainly don’t want kisses from an animal family member who has consumed dung of any kind. There are some things that can be done to manage and prevent the problem, from a holistic perspective – which means taking all aspects of the issue into consideration and treating the being ‘as a whole’.

The Nutritional Element

Many experts agree that animals on a poor quality diet may be more susceptible to picking up the poop-eating habit. In many cases, changing to a fresh, whole-foods diet with lots of vegetables and minimally processed ingredients will help with the problem. Food allergies and mal-absorption issues can also be a factor.
Supplementation  in the form of kelp, spirulina, alfalfa or other high-nutrient foods is recommended. Digestive enzyme supplementation is also a good idea to help improve absorption and assimilation of the nutrients in your dogs food making it less attractive and decreasing the need.


Training your dog is a vital component of  the holistic approach to prevent copraphagia. Management begins with prompt cleanup of the yard to remove temptation, and use of a leash to prevent access to or contact with faeces that might have gone undetected, out on walks.

Teaching the command ‘Leave it!’ is also immensely helpful. Start on a leash, and reward with a well-timed click, treats and lots of praise each time you successfully call your pup away. Don’t reward for coming away after eating poop – the reward should only come for successfully averting the undesired behaviour.

One other approach is to supplement your dogs diet with pineapple chunks for a about a week making sure that you strictly control  access to any faeces during this period. I cannot vouch for it personally but it has been suggested that the pineapple chunks will eventually impart an undesirable taste to the faeces. After a week of feeding the pineapple you allow the dog to take its own faeces in the hope and expectation that it will put the dog off.

Some pet owners report success with the application of hot sauce or chilli powder to stools, to provide a negative experience when they are consumed but in the time it takes to apply these seasoning’s, it’s more efficient to actually pick up and remove temptation.  The use of punishment for stool eating is not recommended

Behavioural Issues

Some cases of copraphagia result form a learned behaviour – the mother cleaning up after her pups or  copying and  joining in with other dogs’  at the dog park.  Copraphagia does seem to be more common in dogs who live  with cats. They start off unable to resist the high-protein left over’s in the litter tray and move on to other types of faeces later on.

In other instances, stool eating can begin in an animal’s attempt to alleviate boredom, loneliness, anxiety, which results from being left alone for long periods of time, or other stressful situations. Stuffed Kong’s, raw meaty bones and other ‘interactive’ puzzle toys filled with treats can provide a useful management tool to address the emotional causes.

Whatever the cause, a multi-pronged approach that takes into account all aspects of copraphagia is more likely to yield success than focusing on one factor alone.

Use a high quality digestive tonic or support to strengthen the digestive system.  Undigested food could be contributing to the problem and the long term use of highly processed, poor quality dog foods can result in a weak digestive system.