[ 2 ] August 13, 2015 |


Our animal companions’ health isn’t guaranteed for life.  Many pets are healthier during their juvenile months and develop illness during their adult and senior years.  Fortunately, owners can intervene by prioritizing everyday health habits for their companion animals to prevent or minimize disease.




Restrict Calories And Promote Daily Exercise Prevent Obesity

Approximately 98 million pets (54 percent of dogs and cats) living in the United States are overweight or obese according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP is at  Obesity is completely preventable and has a variety of potentially irreversible health consequences.

Arthritis, cardiovascular disease (heart failure, high blood pressure, etc.), metabolic disorders (diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, hypothyroidism, etc.) and other preventable conditions can be avoided or minimized when pets maintain a normal body condition on a lifelong basis. Dogs consuming a calorie-restricted diet have been proven to live two years longer than those lacking calorie restriction.

Owners should partner with their veterinarian, to establish their pet’s Body Condition Score and determine a safe weight-loss or maintenance plan. Exercise both burns calories and provides behavioral stimulation that satisfies a pet’s need for interaction and strengthens the pet-owner bond. (Ohio State University provides a tool for this at


Whole Foods Over Processed Pet Diets and Treats

Nature makes food for people and animals in a format that maintains the structural integrity of the nutrients.  Humans then highly process nature’s ingredients in creating nutritionally complete and balanced diets for dogs and cats that are conveniently available to dispense from a bag or can.

Most pet foods and treats are made with feed-grade ingredients that have been deemed unfit for human consumption.  Feed-grade consumables are permitted to have a higher level of toxins, such as mold-based aflatoxin and vomitoxin, which only needs to be ingested in small quantities to damage the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small and large intestine), kidneys, liver, pancreas and immune system.  Such toxins are even carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

Additionally, serious and chronic ailments can be associated with eating grain and protein “meals and by-products,” artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and other ingredients found in many commercially available pet foods and treats.

Human-grade, whole-food, home-prepared or commercial diets having undergone minimal refinement should be fed in place of processed dry (kibble) or canned pet foods and treats.


Resolve And PreventPeriodontal Disease

Many dog or cat mouths exude an unpleasant odor, but such doesn’t have to be the case and typically indicates the presence of periodontal disease or serious health problems. Millions of bacteria live in the mouth and can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums (gingivitis) and other mouth structures (fractured teeth, open sores, tumors, etc.).  The heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, joints and other body systems are showered with a continuous stream of toxic bacteria capable of causing irreversible damage.

Like in humans, periodontal disease in pets is very preventable.  Unfortunately, most pet owners make little to no effort to regularly clean their dog or cat’s teeth. It’s actually neglectful to not make a priority of preventing or resolving of a pet’s periodontal disease.

Seek your veterinarian’s guidance about the best way to address your pet’s current state of periodontal disease, such as anesthetic or non-anesthetic dental cleaning and daily home care.  Gently brushing with a moistened, soft-bristle brush safely and inexpensively reduces bacteria and protects internal organs from bacterial damage.


Reduce Your Pet’s Need to Consume Medications Potentially Having Serious Side Effects

A variety of veterinary and human medications are prescribed to treat infection, reduce inflammation, minimize pain and kill cancer cells.  As we strive to cure, there’s always potential that mild to severe side effects can occur.  Therefore, it’s crucial that owners reduce their pets’ reliance on prescription medications.

When a holistic approach to whole body health is taken, many diseases can improve or resolve.  For example, a dog’s discomfort experienced from arthritis, trauma, surgery and cancer can be managed while reliance on prescription medications is reduced by taking a multi-modal approach to pain management, including:
• Environmental modification (making your home, yard and car ’pet-safer’, etc.)
• Nutraceuticals (fish oil-derived omega fatty acids, joint support products, antioxidants, etc.)
• Healthy weight management (dietary modification, exercise, calorie restriction, etc.)
• Physical Rehabilitation (massage, stretching, range of motion, acupuncture, laser treatment, etc.)

If the healthiest possible state is maintained, then medication requirements can be minimized, regardless of a pet’s age or history of disease.

Judiciously Vaccinate And Pursue Antibody Titers

I’m pro-vaccination when it comes to preventing potentially life-threatening diseases.  Yet, there can be health consequences associated with vaccine administration.  Even a single vaccination can cause a Vaccine-Associated Adverse Event (VAAE), including:
• Hypersensitivity (‘allergic’) reactions
• Worsening of inflammatory conditions (skin, digestive tract, etc.)
• Emergence of immune system diseases (immune-mediated disease, cancer, etc.)
• Organ system failure
• Seizure activity
• Death

Therefore, I recommend a judicious approach be taken with canine and feline vaccinations, so that pets are put at less risk for VAAEs, including:

• Only vaccinate when an animal is healthy and there are no detectable signs of illness on physical exam or diagnostic testing (blood, urine, and fecal tests, x-rays, etc.).
• Administer vaccines individually, as if VAAE occurs. When more than one vaccine is given, then determining which vaccinations are to blame is possible.
• Perform blood tests called antibody titers to determine a pet’s current level of immunity as a result of previous vaccinations.  If antibody levels are sufficient, then it’s most likely that a pet will       be able to fend off future infections.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “revaccination of patients with sufficient immunity does not necessarily add to their          disease protection and may increase the potential risk of post-vaccination adverse events.”  VacciCheck offers veterinarians a means of testing their canine patients’ antibody levels for Canine          Distemper Virus, Infectious Hepatitis, and Parvovirus that takes only 30 minutes and can be done before a Distemper combination vaccination may be unnecessarily given.

An individualized, case-based approach is a vital aspect in determining the most appropriate vaccination protocol for our canine and feline companions.


Follow Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ (Veterinarian, Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and Certified Veterinary Journalist) on Twitter @PatrickMahaney, on facebook at, on Instagram at, or catch his many informative YouTube videos at You can also subscribe to an emailed version of Dr. Mahaney’s veterinary blog on his website, the California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness (CPAW), Inc. at


Category: General

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