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ach pet has individual dietary and health needs that vary by species, breed, activity level, age, health conditions, allergic sensitivities, environment, etc. It is up to the owner and their veterinarian to determine the needs of the animal. However, there is almost certainly a correlation between the quality of a diet's ingredients and a pet's long term health. With most pets, this becomes even more evident as the pet grows older. Diets/environments containing toxic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotic residues and/or liver toxic food preservatives can be contributing factors to liver and kidney dysfunction, hypersensitivities (allergies) involving the skin, feline asthma and neoplasms (tumors, including cancer). For an ill pet, consultation with a trusted veterinarian regarding dietary and other matters is essential. A diet beneficial for one particular individual and/or breed of dog or cat may be harmful to another. Further, it is possible for an animal to develop an allergic response to ingredients in a diet they have been given for years. Dietary needs may also change as your pet becomes a senior and/or develops specific health conditions such as kidney disease. Dietary changes for senior pets may include lower levels of higher availability protein, lower phosphorous levels, additional vitamin and herbal supplementation, fewer calories and more digestible ingredients. Dietary supplements should be designed specifically for the species that it is given to and recommended dosages should never be exceeded. Sometimes less is more. Monitoring the effects of dietary changes requires careful observation, caution, patience and common sense. For example, does the addition of a new ingredient or supplement cause an animal to itch more or develop other reactions? Finally, regarding diet, avoid any diet that contains Ethoxyquin, BHA, Propyl Gallate, Propylene Glycol and/or BHT (this ingredient list is not exhaustive). Commercial Foods to possibly avoid include:

bullet ALPO - Beef (BHA)
bullet FRISKIES (BHA & Ethoxyquin)
bullet HEINZ (BHA)
bullet HILL'S SCIENCE DIET (BHA & Ethoxyquin)
bullet PEDIGREE (BHA and BHT)
bullet RALSTON ONE (Ethoxyquin)

Also: see the following FDA Consumer Bulletin: "Understanding Pet Food labels," by David A. Dzanis, D.V.M., Ph.D.

In addition, pet foods listing one or more of the following as ingredients should be avoided and/or reevaluated as a primary nutrient source for your pet: Meat Meal, Animal Fat, Poultry By-Products, Soybean Meal, Rice-Gluten, Wheat Mids, Peanut Hulls, Rice Bran, Wheat Flour, Wheat Bran, Rice Flour, Artificial Colors and Flavors or any other substandard, low quality, by-product from human food processing. In addition, some animals are allergic to ground corn, corn starch and other corn based ingredients. Natural, organic, cooked and/or uncontaminated raw homemade diets in combination with natural vitamins / herbs / minerals / enzymes/ probiotics) should also be seriously considered. See: "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats". While a fresh, correctly portioned and balanced, natural, home diet may be somewhat more expensive than a dry food diet, it will reduce health problems and lead to a happier life for your pet. Fresh water should be available to your pet at all times indoors and out. Occasional 24 hour fasting or calorie reduction (with oatmeal and other cleansing foods) may also be beneficial to give the digestive and elimination systems a rest. Finally, the dietary recommendations for dogs and cats are not totally dissimilar from those for humans, except that humans are omnivorous and do not require meat in their diet. See: Vegetarianism. However, while dogs and especially cats require meat, a meat only diet would be unbalanced and harmful to them. Further, a cat's nutritional needs vary considerably from a dog's.

Finding a competent, communicative and caring veterinarian is not an easy task. It is important that you and your veterinarian communicate well and that there is mutual trust. It is recommended that cats and dogs over the age of six receive health exams at least twice per year. Blood, urinalysis and other diagnostic tests should also be done semi-annually or as needed. Animals under the age of six should be examined at least annually and as needed. These exams and tests should be done even if the animal appears in good health. The goal of periodic exams is to identify potentially serious problems early and begin needed treatment and/or dietary modifications. Stools should also be closely monitored for changes in color and/or consistency, presence of parasites, etc. In general, any change in your animal's behavior, appearance, eating, drinking, defecation, urination, stools, vision, hearing, breathing, appetite, gait, unusual discharges, coat changes, scratching, seizures, swallowing, soreness, weakness, etc. may be a cause of concern and should be promptly brought to the attention of your veterinarian.

Animal pet insurance may help reduce out of pocket costs resulting from from injury or illness. Some plans also cover routine exams, dental cleaning, spaying, heartworm medication and flea medications such as Advantage. As with "human insurers," you don't know how readily animal insurers pay claims and renew/cancel policies until there is a serious health problem. Most plans have annual caps and some have a schedule of benefits. Some exclude hereditary disorders. 80/20 plans that pay 80% after the deductible is satisfied, up to the annual benefit maximum, are preferable to those that pay from a fixed schedule of benefits. I have had good experiences thus far with Petsheatlh Care Plan.

Anti-heartworm preparations such as Interceptor (mibemycin oxime) should be administered monthly after testing and approval by your vet. However, even these medications have been implicated in causing certain conditions such as immune medicated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) and immune mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). See: Heartworm medication reaction?  

Vaccines should be administered at the frequency recommended by your vet and as required by law. See: CSU Small Animal Vaccination Protocol for their vaccination recommendations. Quoting from the CSU Web Site: 

"This [Vaccination] Program recommends the standard three shot series for puppies (parvovirus, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza, distemper) and kittens (panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus) to include rabies after 12 weeks of age for cats and 16 weeks of age for dogs. Following the initial puppy and kitten immunization series, cats and dogs will be boostered one year later and then every three years thereafter for all the above diseases. Similar small animal vaccination programs have been recently adopted by the University of Wisconsin, Texas A & M and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Other available small animal vaccines, which may need more frequent administration, i.e., intranasal parainfluenza, Bordetella, feline leukemia, Lyme, etc., may be recommended for CSU client animals on an "at risk" basis but are not a part of the routine Colorado State University protocol for small animals." 

The Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force web site contains useful information on vaccine induced sarcomas (cancers) in cats.

Toxic anti-flea treatments should be avoided. Instead the animal should receive routine antiseptic and/or oatmeal based/herbal shampoos such as Ark Naturals Neem Protect, that soothe the skin, remove fleas and prevent or treat skin infection. See: "Healthy pets, no fleas."  Advantage and similar non-toxic anti-flea treatments may also be considered. If used, they should be started before fleas appear in your area, to prevent the flea irritation/scratching cycle from ever beginning. The animal should be routinely checked for ticks and mites. There are dangers to cats/kittens if exposed in anyway to flea and/or tick products designed for dogs. See: Flea Control Warning for Cat & Dog Households! Exposure to any toxic substances including dangerous plants and household chemicals should be avoided. See: National Animal Poison Control Center; PetitionOnline: Hartz Flea & Tick Products - Dangerous for Pets & Poisons on Pets: Health Hazards from Flea and Tick Products.

A dog or cat should have their teeth brushed (front and back/both sides of the tooth) two to three times per week or more frequently as needed. If required, dental cleanings should be done, with appropriate kidney/liver function blood testing and precautions taken before the animal is given anesthesia. Good grooming, daily examination and palpation with noting of general condition and any unusual lumps, routine exercise, monitoring of weight and daily play, touch and attention are also essential for good health. As an animal grows older, they require even more affection and attention to their medical needs. Since pets can't verbally communicate how they are feeling, it is up to the owner to watch for any changes in health and/or behavior that may require a vet visit. For a summary of medical advances for older pets, see the article/press release: "Advances In Animal Medicine Increase Quality Of Life For Older Pets," from the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Finally, safety precautions should be taken when traveling with pets, such as using canine vehicle restraints, crating, never leaving your pet alone in a car (risking heat stroke and theft), not allowing your dog to stick his head out the window of a moving car, not allowing your pet to go under a car, keeping your pet away from anti-freeze and other poisons, etc. Cars heat up -- even on days that seem cool to you. Regardless of whether the windows are cracked, the temperature inside a car can get over 120 degrees in minutes. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you see a pet locked in a hot car.

Pet Wellness & Diet
What's Really in Pet Food?
Food Not Fit for a Pet

FDA: Pet food tainting might be intentional: Plastics chemical can make feed appear more protein-rich

Comments: The March 2007 recall of multiple brands of pet foods that were produced at Menu Foods, once again confirms the dangers of commercial dog food and the greed of many pet food manufacturers. It also underscores that there is no "free lunch." If it seems absurdly "cheap" to feed your pet, it is because it is absurdly cheap and what is compromised is your pet's health and ultimately your pocketbook.

Pet Foods /Supplements

Animal Essentials

Ark Naturals


Designing Health

The Dog Food Project

Dr. Goodpet

Feed This, Inc.
Information about feeding raw whole food to cats & dogs.

Flower Essence Society
Promotes plant research and empirical clinical research on the therapeutic effects of flower essences.

Green Foods Corporation

Natura Pet Products (Recommended)

Natural Dog Foods (Carol Boyle)


PHD Holistic Pet Food & Products


Solid Gold

Pet Insurance

Pet Assure

Petplan USA

PetsHealth Care Plan
Policy has a pre-existing condition clause that starts from policy renewal (date of new annual policy) and includes the previous 180 days.
So a dog diagnosed with Cushing's disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. on 10/1/02 for a policy that "renews" on 11/1/02, would have one month of coverage for that condition in 2002 and be excluded from coverage for the next and subsequent policy years unless treatment free for 180 days.

Veterinary Pet Insurance
Policy uses a schedule of benefits that may cover less than 50% of the actual treatment costs for a given condition.

General Health Information

All-Care Animal Referral Center

Holistic Veterinary Medicine:
Acupuncture, Chiropractic,
Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Nutritional Therapy & Other
Alternative Modalities.

Amby's Plants Toxic to Cats | Colorado State Guide to Poisonous Plants

The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture
Mission is to promote the art and science of Veterinary Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

American Heartworm Society

American Holistic Veterinary Association
Information on holistic veterinary medicine, Listing of member vets, Quarterly journal subscription, etc.

Animal Advocate

Canine Epilepsy

Cornell Veterinary Medicine

CSU Small Animal Vaccination Protocol

Cushing's Disease and Cushing's Syndrome

"The Nature of Animal Healing: The Path to Your Pet's Health, Happiness and Longevity," by Martin Goldstein

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. Very highly Recommended

Ehrlichia: AIDS of the Canine World

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)


"Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog," by Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown, D.V.M


Holistic medicine for dogs and cats: Home of the Webdoctor


Ian Billinghurst's book "Give your Dog a Bone"

The Integrated Animal
Facilitates communicating with animals at a deep soul level. In addition to a deeper understanding of the soul connection between human & animals, this communication can be used to help resolve behavioral, health, & grieving & loss issues. Lauren McCall brings a life-long love
of animals to her TTouch, Reiki & Animal Communication practice. She is a TTouch Practitioner, level 3, holds Second and Fourth Degree Reiki and has studied with
a number of animal communicators.

Kathleen A. ("Kat") Berard
Animal Communicator (Pet Psychic), Bach Flower Essences Practitioner, Wild Earth Animal Essences Practitioner, and Holistic Care Consultant.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Living with Blind Dogs

Morris Animal Foundation

National Animal Poison Control Center

National Center for Homeopathy

Nutrition Analysis Tool / USDA Nutrient Database

The Pet Care Forum



Ruff Rider
Canine Vehicle Restraint Training Harness.

Senior Dogs Project

Shirley's Wellness Cafe
Presents alternative, holistic, complimentary, integrative & preventative methods of healing.

University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Warning!: Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force


"We provide veterinary health information relating to dogs and cats. We have an extensive collection of information online
in our
Dog Health Information and
Cat Health Information pages. Our staff members are the owners and employees of a small animal veterinary hospital. We
have the training and experience necessary to help you understand diseases, disorders and health maintenance requirements of
dogs & cats. We believe that well informed people take better care of their pets!"


Whole Dog Journal
Articles about all aspects of dog care and training. Features natural care, diet & training advice, information about complementary therapies like chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, & homeopathy, & advice from experts in the field.

Your Animals Health-Dr. Wendell Belfield


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