When it is time to say good-bye

Our pets bring so much to our lives – love, companionship, joy, playfulness.  It is devastating to face the moment of truth when a beloved pet may be leaving our lives.  There are difficult decisions to make, finances to consider, and most importantly, we do not want our pet to suffer needlessly.  These decisions can be heart-wrenching, to say the least.

How do you decide how long to treat your pet, and with what?  Do you feel selfish by keeping your pet alive in order to avoid the loss?  There is often a dead end reached in allopathic medicine where ‘no more’ can be done.  In alternative medicine, however, there are many options to choose from regardless of your pet stage of life.

This is not to say that we can stop your pet from aging or stop the progression of disease, but there are definitely options that can improve your pet’s quality of life both mentally and physically.  These options include energy work, essential oils, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, homeopathy and animal communication.  Within each of these modalities, there are many options available to help your pet.

As you pet reached its ‘golden years’  seek out alternative therapies that you are comfortable and you will find great comfort for both you and your pet.

Helping your dog through thunderstorm and firework season

It is that time of year that the skies begin to boom, much to the terror of many of our canine friends.  Many dogs have fears of loud noises , and thunderstorms and fireworks seem to top the list for most.  The good news is that there are some very effective natural ways to help calm your pet this time of year.

1. Flower essences – the best known essences are the Bach flower essences, of which there are 38. Every flower actually has its own energetic essence that can have therapeutic benefit.  The most effective remedy will vary with the individual constitution of your pet, so you may need to try a few to see which is most effective.  These essences can be given full strength in the mouth or put in the water dish for ongoing benefit.  Two of my favorites for fear and anxiety are Rock rose and Mimulus, or you can try the old standby Rescue remedy which is a combination of five of the essences.

2. Essential oils – these are also plant products, but are processed differently than the flower essences and use a variety of  parts from the plants.  Some suggestions on specific oils include lavender and valerian.  These oils can be applied topically, ingested in a capsule or used as aroma therapy.  It is very important to check for the purity of oils before used for ingestion, as some are diluted with potentially toxic substances.  Caution must be used when administering essential oils to cats as there is some evidence that they may not be able to process them properly which can lead to toxicity.  I do not recommend direct application in either the oral or topical form to cats, and aromatherapy should only be used intermittently.

3. Body wraps – many of you have heard of Thunder shirts.  I have seen better success with a product called the Anxiety wrap, see more at anxiety wrap.  This product actually targets specific acupressure points that help with anxiety.

All of the above can be used alone or in combination.  Often times, the effect is enhanced when more than one modality is used.  In some cases, we still need to go the route of traditional sedatives such as Valium or Acepromazine, but I still recommend the use of the natural therapies as they will often decrease the amount of sedative that is needed.

Remember also to keep your pet confined in a place it cannot escape from or become injured while trying to escape.  A panicky pet will often exhibit unusual behavior such as jumping fences or chewing through enclosures.

If you are with your pet when it becomes frightened, try a distraction such as a toy or treat and reward any signs of calm behavior.  We sometimes re-enforce the fear by providing attention for the behavior in the form of comfort.

All pets are different and will respond differently to different therapies.  I recommend trying a variety of combinations until you find the best one for your friend.

Talking to your pets

Do you find yourself scratching your head sometimes and wondering why your pets do certain things?  Have you ever wondered what your pets are thinking?   I sure did when my Chihuahua, C-Jay, continued to pee on the carpet after what I considered to be my best efforts to train her to use the litterbox or go outside.  See:                 http://drjudyholisticvet.com/2011/12/litterbox-training-your-dog/  to read about my adventure in litterbox training.

As an holistic veterinarian, I often see clients that rely on animal communicators to help them learn more about their pets.  I had never done this with my pets, although I have always been interested in learning more about what my pets are thinking and how we can live in better harmony.

I contacted Kate Solisti http://www.akinshipwithanimals.com/  for help with my litterbox issues.  She helped me understand where C-Jay was coming from, and gave me some useful advice and things I could modify to help curb the unpopular behaviors.  Kate is also very experienced in using flower essences to help pets modify their emotional experiences.

Chihuahuas are notorious for creating house-breaking challenges, and many of them end up in shelters each year due to a lack of resolution.  Believe me, they are very different from many of their canine counterparts.  By learning more about C-Jay’s viewpoint and what was driving her behavior, I was able to begin to resolve the situation.  We are still on week one of figuring this out, but I feel confident that we will come to a resolution.