Health & Hygiene

Pet Fur Trimming for Health!

health dog fur crazy pet salonPlease see our “did you know” page for additional health concerns.

The grooming of your pet’s fur is not solely for cosmetic reasons. A well-groomed pet is rewarded with many health benefits, including:

Regular trimming in between the pads of the paws reduces the chance of fungal growth and collection of debris. In addition, your pet will get better traction and won’t slip on your tile floors!

Neatly trimmed “private areas” stay cleaner and therefore, much healthier. A neatly trimmed anal area is less likely to have feces sticking to it. This can cause terrible irritation and irritability.

Keeping the area surrounding the eyes neatly trimmed keeps that area cleaner and less likely to lead to infection. It also keeps the fur from going into the eyes, which can be very uncomfortable for your pet.

A Home Dental Program For Your Pet

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

Step 1: Introduce a brushing program to pets gradually. Avoid restraining your pet and keep brushing sessions short. A cat or small dog can be held in your lap. Praise and reassure your pet throughout the process.
Step 2: At first, dip one of your fingers into the toothpaste and rub it gently over your pet’s gums and teeth.
Make the initial sessions short and positive (approx. 2-3 minutes).
Step 3: Gradually introduce gauze over the finger and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion.
Step 4: Finally, you can introduce a soft toothbrush designed specifically for pets. Your vet, or local pet store carries dental kits which include a finger brush or toothbrush and toothpaste.
Important: Please do not use “people” toothpaste as it will upset your pet’s stomach. Use pet toothpaste only.

Holistic Medicine… is it really an alternative?

by Dr. Russell Swift, DVM, HMC

Recently, people have become very interested in natural healing alternatives commonly referred to as “holistic”, “complimentary”, or “alternative” medicines. Acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition, herbs and homeopathy are the most widespread alternative therapies available. This interest is expanding rapidly into the world of pets. Unfortunately, the majority of the population are not aware of the potential healing power of these alternative systems. Conventional medicine follows a reductionist philosophy. They focus on what they consider the exact location or cause of disease and then attempt to remove it, kill it or suppress it. For example, antibiotics are used to kill germs, tumors are removed or destroyed and allergic reactions are suppressed with drugs. The problem is that none of these therapies address the real reasons the pet is sick. Healthy animals do not get serious infections, tumors or allergies. A pet’s immune system is malfunctioning BEFORE these “diseases” occur. Therefore, what needs to be addressed is the functioning of the ENTIRE body, mind and spirit of the pet. Through this approach, the whole body functions better and it can prevent or cure almost anything.
Even more discouraging is the fact that many so-called preventive medical procedures are actually damaging. Vaccinations are very dangerous to the immune system. Many chronic and acute health problems can be directly attributed to annual “shots”. Often symptoms appear or are aggravated within 3-4 months of vaccine administration. The most recent information being published in mainstream veterinary literature is that annual boosters are NOT necessary and their use should be reconsidered. In addition, current recommendations are to vaccinate for parvo, distemper and rabies only and never simultaneously. Many holistic vets feel that good nutrition and homeopathy can prevent these conditions as well if not better than vaccination. They would like to see vaccinations done away with completely.

Many of the chronic diseases from which pets suffer are a direct result of inadequate and even toxic pet foods. A natural diet for dogs and cats consists of the same components found in a mouse, rabbit, bird or other prey. Basically, meat (including organs and glands), bones, vegetables, live digestive bacteria and active enzymes are the ingredients required. The key is that these ingredients must be fed the same way they are found in nature – RAW. “Raw” means raw, not canned, kibbled, boiled or cooked in any way. Cooked foods, especially meat protein, is very difficult to digest and assimilate. Partially digested protein fragments are irritating to the immune system. One of the more common manifestations of this immune irritation is allergic dermatitis of all sorts. Feeding studies going back to the 1930’s and 40’s clearly demonstrate the negative effects cooked foods have on animals. The famous Pottenger study showed that cats fed cooked foods developed a wide array of chronic diseases including allergies, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, liver and kidney failure and overall weakened immunity. Natural nutrition can improve virtually any condition and by itself cure a great many. The risks of food borne diseases are greatly outweighed by the benefits when feeding raw foods. The benefits of processed foods pale in comparison to the almost guaranteed appearance of chronic suffering. A basic supplement program should include digestive enzymes, digestive bacteria, trace minerals and raw gland and organ concentrates. These are nutrients that are difficult to get in home prepared foods because of farming practices and meat processing and availability.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years. The life energy of the body (chi) flows through a series of channels (meridians). This energy is responsible for maintaining health and body functions. The energy may become excessive, deficient or blocked. There are points along the meridians through which the energy flow can be adjusted. This is usually accomplished through the use of needles. Lasers and pressure (acupressure) may also be used. Balancing and restoring energy flow can result in tremendous health benefits. With the improved health, diseases are eliminated.

The central nervous system is a major communications system within the body. Interference with nerve function can result in a tremendous number of symptoms. Physical and emotional stresses cause misalignment of spinal bones and impeded nerve communication. Chiropractic adjustments restore proper nervous system function resulting in the elimination of a variety of health problems. There is another benefit to chiropractic that is not often discussed. Three acupuncture meridians (see above) run along and beside the spinal bones. Therefore, re-aligning the spine allows better energy flow.

There are several different systems of herbal medicine in use: Chinese, Western and Ayurvedic (from India). The Chinese and Ayurvedic approaches focus on the energy of the body. Different herbs are used to balance the body. The Chinese system attempts to balance Yin and Yang, the opposite types of energy within the body. If the body is too Yin, the herbalist balances it with Yang herbs and vice versa. There are also herbs to strengthen the life energy (chi) and cleanse and nourish the body. Western herbs focus more on the physical body.
The herbs nourish and/or cleanse the body thereby strengthening it’s ability to heal.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine which is nearly 200 years old. It was started by Samual Hahnemann, M.D. at the end of the 1700’s. Dr. Hahnemann found that by using high dilutions of substances according to the law of similars, he could stimulate the body to heal itself of many diseases. According to the law of similars, disease is cured by stimulating the body with an energy remedy. The remedy is derived from a substance which if given in large doses is capable of producing the same symptoms the patient is experiencing. For example, homeopathically prepared onion (Allium cepa) may be given if a patient is experiencing tearing eyes, watery, irritating discharge from the nose and a desire for fresh air. Most of you would recognize these symptoms as those produced when exposed to the vapors of cut onions. However, these symptoms may also occur in someone with hayfever. The cause is not important. How the individual responds is what counts. This results in individualized remedy selection based on the patient, NOT THE DISEASE. The treatment of arthritis in 10 dogs may require a different remedy for each one. While the mechanism of action behind homeopathy is not well understood, what is understood is that IT WORKS! Millions have been successfully treated without the dangerous side effects of drugs.

These are only a few of the holistic alternatives available. Others include massage, Bach flower essences, bio-magnets and color therapy. The practitioners of all of these systems recognize the individual as a whole body with a mind and spirit not as a liver or kidney problem. They realize that only the individual can heal him or herself. However, the healing mechanisms must be allowed to operate unhindered. Holistic healing methods maximize healing functions and remove existing impediments. Many so-called incurable diseases (allergies, asthma, arthritis and cancer to name a few) have been and currently are being cured through these techniques. Unfortunately, conventional medical practices have the potential to destroy the body’s ability to heal. Therefore, it is best to seek these natural options as early as possible and preferably not as a “last resort”. Since veterinary schools do not teach about these alternatives, most veterinarians are skeptical. It is up to the interested animal lover to seek the best option for his or her furry companion.

Dr. Russell Swift has a holistic house call practice in South Florida. He is available to clients outside his travel area for phone consultations. He can be reached at 561.391.5615 or visit his website: