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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

How Christmas Reminds Me of the Most Important Gift of All: My Own Dog's Health

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and joyous "whatever" may be your preferred means of celebrating with family and friends during winter’s months.

For me, this time of year has special significance as the transition from Thanksgiving into Christmas marks the anniversary of my dog Cardiff’s last episode of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). In fact, the last time he recovered from this chronic and often fatal disease was at the end of 2009.

One of my favorite memories of Cardiff is him maniacally squeaking a Bad Cuz toy he received as a Christmas gift (thanks Grandma Gerry!). The seeming mania with which he squeaks is actually one of the side effect of the steroids needed to suppress his immune system’s instruction of his own red blood cells. (See Cardiff on ‘Roids (featuring Baz Cuz). The incessant noise drives me crazy, but I’d gladly hear Cardiff’s enthusiastic behavior over the panting, groaning, and other sounds he emits during times of illness.

Actually, his health has never been better, in part because of the daily action I take to reduce the likelihood he’ll have another occurrence. My holistic approach to Cardiff’s care involves the following components and has motivated me to share my experiences and perspective with petMD readers:

1. Lifestyle modification

Avoiding dog parks, confinement in a hospital or kennel facility, and other situations that cause unnecessary excitement, stress, or exposure to infectious organisms.

See:

a) Is Bringing Your Pet to Work the Healthiest Decision?

b) Prioritize Your Pet's Safety When 'Bombs are Bursting' in the Air

c) Ticks: Opportunistic Bloodsuckers and Vectors for Disease Transmission

d) Clinical Signs, Infectious Diseases, and Natural Treatment Options for Fleas

2. Infection and inflammation reduction

Cleansing Cardiff’s teeth and gums to reduce periodontal disease and supporting his joint health through an oral chondroprotectant (joint support product) and omega fatty acid supplement.

See:

a) Importance of Periodontal Health in Maintaining Your Pet’s Heart Health

b) Top Three Tips for Pet Dental Care from a Veterinary Dental Specialist

3. Whole food diet and lean body maintenance

Providing freshly prepared, moist, whole food nutrition based on Chinese medicine principles (to "cool" the heat energy that potentially leads to an overactive immune system); foods that are of the same quality as the foods consumed by humans (i.e., no processed kibble or canned foods); and foods without excess calories.

See:

a) Are You Poisoning Your Companion Animal by Feeding Pet Grade Foods?

b) The Chicken, the Egg, and the Rabbit: Which Comes First on My Food Energy List?

c) The Health Benefits Pumpkin Provides for Our Pets

d) Health Implications Associated with Pet Obesity

e) How My Personal Journey from Fat to Fit Applies to You and Your Pets

4. Avoidance of immune system overstimulation

Performing blood tests (antibody titers) to determine the current level of immunity his body has mounted to previous vaccinations.

See:

a) Molly’s Bill Exempts Some Dogs from Rabies Vaccination

*

This is the approach I take in addressing the health of my canine and feline patients on a day-to-day basis, which is summarized in Top Five Holistic Pet Health Strategies.

I strive to not sound preachy, but I must stress that the most important thing you should do on a daily basis is prioritize the health of your pets and yourself. When your or your pet’s health begins to fail as a result of not taking logical preventive measures (whole food based diet, exercise, weight maintenance or reduction, etc.), then a potentially irreversible chain of physiologic events occurs that could seriously compromise one’s financial situation, ability to function, and overall quality of life.

With that said, it’s been an honor and pleasure to regularly express my perspective on veterinary medicine through The Daily Vet. I greatly enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to reach a diverse audience of pet lovers worldwide. For those of you who have regularly read and commented on my posts, I thank you and am grateful for your readership.

Make sure to check back next week for the summary of my top five pet stories of 2012.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Cardiff sniffs out his gift bag, by Dr. Mahaney

Comments  8

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  • Merry Christmas
    12/25/2012 08:52am

    Merry Christmas to both you and Cardiff. I truly appreciate having a holistic vet willing to write about sometimes controversial sunjects.

  • 12/31/2012 08:42pm

    Thank you for your comments and ongoing leadership.
    I appreciate your appreciation of my perspective and will strive to bring new, stimulating, and appropriately controversial material to The Daily Vet in the future.
    Dr. PM

  • Cardiff
    12/25/2012 01:24pm

    Cardiff is so lucky to have you. He's obviously doing well and is happy. What more could we ask for our critters?

  • 12/26/2012 12:09am

    That is truly something to be thankful for. We celebrated that last year. This year, we are dealing with a disc injury :-(

  • 12/31/2012 08:45pm

    Yes, the health of our pets (and ourselves) is truly the most important thing we can ask for at any time of year.
    I'm serious sorry to hear about your pet's disc injury. Is it improving? What it means are you using for treatment and prevention of further injury?
    Incidentally, I am dealing with a flareup of my own back pain that has had me less than mobile for two days now. Fortunately, my condition is rapidly improving with rest, anti-inflammatory medication, laser treatment, and some much needed zzzzzs.
    Dr. PM

  • 01/01/2013 01:58am

    I see it's not obvious from the user name; this is Jasmine we're talking about.

    There are updates on my blog; latest one here http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.ca/2013/01/jasmines-disc-injury-parole-hearing.html and the events that led up to it at the bottom under related articles.

    It's been little under three weeks and she's greatly improved to what it was when it happened. She was in so much pain then, even morphine shot didn't do much for her :-( She doesn't seem to be in pain at this time, and looking quite good. The proprioceptive reflexes in her hind left are not where they should be, at least not yet.

    Initial treatment was aggressive given the amount of pain and leg involvement. Morphine shot, steroids shot, short term high dose of prednisone, now at the lowest level, and Tramadol (along with things she already gets)

    Her chiro, who also has laser was gone for the holidays. Appointment is on the 8th.

    Jasmine cannot have NSAIDs, but is on ProInflazyme and Traumeel, plus some anti-inflammatory food things.

    Also had two acupuncture treatments since the injury.

    Not completely sure what to do in sense of prevention as we have no clue when and how it could have happened. Have been using shoulder harness ever since her neck x-rays 4 years ago (she's been asymptomatic till now, but there are some malformations and spondylosis in the neck). Introduced raised bowls. Could use other ideas for prevention.

    Sorry about your back :-( Glad it's improving!

  • 01/07/2013 01:30am

    Thank you for clarifying that you were referring to Jasmine!
    I hope that she'll continue to improve with her multimodal pain management protocol.
    I appreciate your use of western medications as a means of trying to control episodes that are more severe along with the use of nutraceuticals/etc to manage the day to day and prevent further episodes from occurring.
    I completely sympathize with Jasmine, as my own back problems recently flared up!
    Keep on healing Jasmine!
    Dr. PM

  • 01/07/2013 01:45am

    Yeah, you would have a good idea how she might have felt ...

    This was the first time I agreed to putting her on steroids. She was in such a bad shape and in so much pain; if there ever was the right time to use the big guns such as morphine and steroids, this was it.

    Besides the pain we were worried about lasting damage to the spinal cord from too much inflammation.

    She seems to be doing good, getting out again so her old happy self. Hoping the functionality returns fully too, will see at next check up.

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