Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Raw Food Diet for Me

Three years ago, my wife Lauren snapped another branch of my conventional diet paradigm tree without even realizing it. She found a magazine article on the supermodel Carol Alt. It was about raw food diet for people. Carol Alt was sharing how her many health problems had greatly improved eating a “high raw” diet. High raw is rather arbitrarily defined as a diet consisting of 80% or higher raw foods. As Lauren was recounting the candid account of vanishing disease conditions I had an epiphany. An OMG, How-Could-I-Have-Missed-This-All-These-Years epiphany.

I had to go raw. For me, there was no choice not to. I had been preaching this for years for my patients! I had been going over the common sense philosophy of this diet with every new client for many years! Yet, it had never occurred to me to apply it to my own life. How could I have missed it? Oh sure, I always ate a great cooked food diet. Plenty of local, organic food. Low in all the problematic stuff - red meat, fats, refined sugars, and dairy. And, of course, I had near zero tolerance for the really toxic crap – artificial chemicals, colors and flavors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc.

So I’ve been mostly raw, sometimes 50%, sometimes 100%, for the past three years. And soon I’ll be doing a juice feast. It will surely change my life, and how I practice veterinary medicine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rabid dogs: the other kind

Not all dogs that suffer from rabies have aggressive symptoms. This video shows the other most common form the disease takes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Raw Food Conversion

Three years after graduating from vet school I was helping the well known veterinary homeopath Richard Pitcairn create his first-ever certification course for veterinary homeopathy. Richard is often referred to as the Father of American Veterinary Homeopathy. He solicited my opinion on including the topic of nutrition in the course. I rolled my eyes. “That’s not what vets will be coming to the course for,” I said, knowing full well he’d be talking about that stupid raw food stuff. But he included it anyway (thank goodness) and we all learned a lot more than we had in school. And Richard has a way of teaching that just makes sense to the scientific mind. So, I was converted.

I began cautiously, and with only a little faith. When I started changing my patients’ diets to natural and raw, my success rate jumped dramatically. Most notable among the early cures were the diabetic cats. I was curing about 50% of these cases. After adding the diet changes my cure rate for feline diabetes rose to above 95%, and has remained there ever since. Wow. Now I was a true believer. So, on I went happily nourishing my patients with species-appropriate diets, and getting better and better results. I’ve made changes to the recommendations over time as a result of feedback from my patients and their people. I’ve adapted the diet to fit a busy lifestyle, to fit a tight budget, to be sensitive to vegetarian/vegan pet owners, and to please a fussy, finicky eater, and still get the maximum benefit. I've made this basic raw pet diet information available free on my web site.

I’m delighted that now there are raw food diets available commercially! There is Nature’s Variety, Aunt Jeni’s Home Made, Stella and Chewy’s, Bravo, Oma’s Pride, and Steve’s, just to name a few. My clients that prefer convenience have used these wonderful products with great results. Other clients looking for the most inexpensive way to feed optimally will prepare the diet themselves from my design. It’s great to have the choice!

I love when a dear paradigm of mine gets crushed. And so it was with my views on conventional diets vs. natural/raw feeding of dogs and cats. My patients felt better and got healthier, and did it quicker, too. My clients were happier, and so was I.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to feed cats.

My interview with Rick and Amanda of SuperFunScience.com about proper pet nutrition. In a nutshell: the closer your pet's meal is to actual prey, the happier and healthier he or she will be.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I learned in school about pet nutrition

I have for many years advocated for raw food (especially raw meat) diets for dogs and cats. It wasn’t always that way. For the first few years of my homeopathic practice, I made the typical recommendations of most conventional veterinarians: “Get a high quality, good brand commercial canned or dry pet food.” I’m not sure how we evaluated what “good” or “high quality” was. I remember recommending Eukanuba® because it was only sold at pet supply stores (not at the grocery stores), and their published product information said they had higher-quality ingredients. It had the appearance of being different, and somehow that translated into better. Many veterinarians recommended it and sold it.

Here’s the amazing thing: we knew little more about pet nutrition than the average pet owner, as we were educated little more than the average pet owner. Though I went to a great veterinary school (University of Missouri) that produced exceptionally well-prepared graduates for clinical practice, the bulk of my nutritional education consisted of a few hours per day for one week. That’s right – a grand total of one week out of four years for a discipline that is now one of the three main pillars of my approach to optimal health for pets. And that’s not the oddest part. Believe it or not, it was taught by a Hill’s® Pet Food company representative. It seems many of the veterinary schools in the U.S. use Hill’s reps to teach nutrition! I would guess the schools save money by not having to have a full time nutritionist on staff, or they get deeper discounts on their Hill’s products.

Hill’s is the maker of the line of prescription diets called Prescription Diet (though there is nothing really “prescription” about it) and Science Diet. You may have heard of their much imitated string of acronym named diets – R/D, W/D, C/D, etc. To their credit most of the teaching was good, generic physiology, with only about 10-25% of the time spent on how their products fit the needs of various pathologies. It was good marketing for them and a good start of a nutritional education for us. But, it was not enough.

And that was all there was. Most pet owners do not realize this fact, but I have just checked with recently graduated vets and the story is still very much the same.

I intend to keep blogging on this particular topic so stay tuned.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Cost of Holistic Vet Care

When Willy Simone had a near-fatal attack of FUS, I was ready to recommend a cystotomy if I was unable to successfully treat him. This is a surgical procedure that will clear the blockage.

I have always maintained that the cost of keeping a pet in my care is 50-70% less expensive than conventional veterinary care, and this case is a perfect example of how.

A cystotomy is the recommended conventional procedure for urinary blockage in cats. Veterinary hospitals in the Hudson Valley, where I am located, charge about $1,000 for this surgery, after you figure in the hospitalization and anesthesia costs. The same surgery performed on a cat like Willy in New York City, where he lives, costs about $2,400.

My fee, after all was said and done with Willy, was less than half that of my neighbors', and less than 20% of the cost of a reputable veterinary hospital in New York City.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Curing a Cat's Urinary Crisis Over the Phone

I got the first call about Willy as I was preparing to go to Boston for the marathon. Willy is a ten-year-old male cat, and his owner Ann had seen him straining unsuccessfully on the litter box.
Feline Urological Syndrome, or FUS, is a blockage that prevents a cat from urinating. Left untreated, the cat can become toxic and die, as it is unable to remove waste products from its body.
The Simones live in New York City, two hours' drive on a good day. Had his condition worsened, I would have recommended bringing him in for local care, like a cystotomy - a surgical procedure that effectively straightens out the kinks and clears all the blockages.
However, I also knew that the drive and the surgery would further compromise Willy's immune system by adding stress. Although I was prepared to recommend surgery, I instead treated Willy homeopathically, as well as with a combination of herbs and modifications to his diet.
I spoke with Ann about Willy several times over the weekend, even as my partner competed in the Boston Marathon. By Monday Willy was able to urinate again.
A lot of animals are stressed about cars, and whenever I can take some of that stress off by treating over the phone it's my pleasure.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Herbal Repellents for Fleas, Ticks, and Other External Parasites

I have two poodles in my family who enjoy spending quite a bit of time outside in this beautiful weather (you can learn a bit more about Bijou and Janvi by taking a peek at my Facebook account, if you're so inclined). Running around in the woods within our invisible fence, they have plenty of opportunity to bring home unwelcome friends, especially ticks. Now I'm a veterinarian, and I know that ticks function very much like slow-acting mosquitoes, but it's still pretty disgusting finding a bunch of those engorged buggers on my boys.
Enter Buck Mountain Botanicals, the formulator of the amazing cancer drug Neoplasene. They have a product called Parasite Dust for Animals, which is a combination of three ingredients (neem herb, yarrow, and diatom flour) and a triple threat for external parasites. As described in the clinical guide:
  • Yarrow functions as a repellent
  • Neem heals the wounds created by the parasites
  • Diatom flour dessicates the bugs

I pulled a few bloated ticks off of my poodle Bijou this morning and Terence poured a small amount of the dust on them as an experiment. Their little legs, which had been slowly wriggling, stopped moving within seconds. I've been told that this product even works on embedded parasites like scabies and mange, and I'm inclined to agree!