Taking Care of the Liver

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is a crucial part of the digestive system, as well as playing a role in the immune system. Most blood from the intestinal tract is routed through the liver for detoxification. The liver can operate effectively with only 20% of its cells working, so it has a large reserve capacity. Without the liver, the body is doomed within days. But the good news is that, with proper support, the liver can completely regenerate itself after injury or disease. These traits make the liver truly remarkable; and mean that even serious liver disease is survivable and has a much better prognosis than similar damage to other organs.

The liver is also one of the few organs with key differences between dogs and cats. The dog’s liver is very similar to that of humans and other mammals. However, a cat’s liver contains fewer metabolic enzymes and has a diminished ability to handle toxins. The development of liver disease is also due to different causes between dogs and cats. In dogs, liver failure is commonly due to congenital problems, traumatic injury, infections, or other disease. Cats, on the other hand, can develop liver disease not only from infection or trauma, but also from seemingly minor stresses, such as not eating enough for whatever reason.

Keeping the Liver Healthy.
Preventing liver disease is a whole lot easier than curing it. A high-quality diet, including at least some wet food for both dogs and cats, is the first and most basic step. Additionally, there are herbal and nutritional supplements that can support and strengthen the liver so that it can handle damage and disease more efficiently. Supportive supplements with specific benefits for the liver include:

Probiotics to balance the digestive system
Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend
Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes
Pet Naturals Digest Support for Cats and Dogs

Antioxidants to prevent and reduce inflammation
Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend
Vetri-Science Antiox

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
 

Co-Enzyme Q10 to enhance cellular metabolism and prevent the formation of damaging oxygen free radicals. It is best absorbed in an oil formulation, such as:
Vetri-Science CoQsol

General support for liver health and nose-to-tail wellness. If you want keep things simple and give just one terrific supplement to your pet, these products contain milk thistle, taurine, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and Omega-3 fatty acids, along with important vitamins and minerals:

Only Natural Pet Super Daily Canine Senior
Only Natural Pet Super Daily Feline Senior
 

Supplementing your pet’s diet with a portion of cooked organic calves’ or chicken liver once or twice a week will provide all the ingredients needed to keep the liver in good repair. It’s important to buy it fresh and organic because the liver is the body’s main detoxifying organ, and there may be stored toxins in non-organic that could harm your pet.

If Your Pet is Sick.
In dogs with liver disease, a precise diagnosis is important. This usually involves blood tests, and possibly also ultrasound or even biopsy of the liver. Different causes need different treatment. For example, in a puppy with a liver shunt (an abnormal blood vessel that bypasses the important detoxification processes of the liver), a high protein diet—which is normally fine for the liver—could be deadly. Cats have a less diverse potential problem list, mostly involving either inflammation or hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Signs are similar, and treatment in cats nearly always comes down to: “feed the liver,” although specific treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be needed, depending on the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, feeding an animal with liver disease both crucial and difficult, since these pets tend to not want to eat at all. Force-feeding or even surgical placement of a feeding tube may be necessary components of treatment. Just mix the supplements with a little blenderized canned food, and force-feed the mixture by syringe or via tube. Here are a few tips to make this process easier:

  • Mix up the whole day’s worth of food in the morning, with all the supplements in it.
  • Set aside a portion for the first feeding, and put the remainder in the refrigerator.
  • For subsequent feedings, take out the appropriate portion, mix a little hot water in to warm and soften it, and you’re ready to go.

The herb milk thistle is an important healer for the liver in times of stress or disease. It protects the liver from toxins and helps it regenerate.
The active ingredient of milk thistle, “silymarin,” reaches high levels in the bile and liver tissue. It can be used in the treatment of hepatic lipidosis, chronic hepatitis (generalized liver inflammation), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts), and pericholangitis (inflammation of the tissue around the bile ducts). It may be useful in preventing or treating some liver problems, as well as gallstones, by thinning the bile.
It is very safe. You can give up to 250 mg of milk thistle daily for every 10 pounds of your pet’s body weight. It is most effective when given in smaller portions throughout the day than in one big dose. Two of our favorite milk thistle products are:

Super Milk Thistle X
Only Natural Pet Liv-Herb Herbal Formula

Omega-3 fatty acids can be given at higher doses for a sick animal. Give 2 or 3 times the normally recommended amount; up to 3,000 mg per day for a large dog.

Carnitine, an amino acid, is extremely important for cats with hepatic lipidosis, but is helpful for all dogs and cats, especially those who eat a lot of high-carbohydrate dry food. Give 250-500 mg/day for a cat. Carnitine is also important for heart muscle function in both dogs and cats. Our highest potency products are:

Vetri-Science Cardio-Strength



Vitaline L-Carnitine

A pet with liver disease needs professional care from your veterinarian, but you can greatly help the healing process with the right supplements, and of course plenty of TLC!

Grieving the Loss of a Companion

By Dave Goff

A couple of months ago my household lost one of our cherished members. Sable was the sweetest cat I have ever known. Death of a dog or cat She truly wanted nothing more than love, some good food, a good brushing and more love. Unfortunately, she also had some congenital issues that suddenly and dramatically came to a head. One day she was demanding to be brushed, two days later we were sitting with her in a quiet room at our vets’ office and watching the light fade away.

As I said, it has been a few months. I am just now able to really speak about this without my chest and throat clenching up and my brain shifting into neutral for minutes on end. My wife and I have been working to make sure that we work through our grief in positive ways and to remember Sable in the best ways we can.

For us, losing Sable was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through, so I thought I would write a bit about strategies that might help when coping with the loss of a family companion.

  1. First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve. Sure, you will still have to find a way to get through the day-to-day grind, but you need to have a bit of time to yourself when you can allow yourself to fully let go and grieve in whatever way is best for you. In the car, bathroom breaks, going on walks at lunch, time with close friends, etc…

  2. Everyone grieves differently. Don’t be upset with yourself and feel that you are being overly dramatic, or conversely, overly cold about your loss. At the same time, allow others some space to feel the grief in the way that they need to. How you express grief is likely to be as unique as you are.

  3. Talk about your pet. Tell stories to others and remember all the good things. Try to think of the funniest quirk or habit that would always make you smile. It is important to make sure that your strongest memories aren’t the ones from just before their passing, but the wide array of memories throughout your lives together.

  4. Not everyone will understand. It is wonderful to be able to talk and share memories of your pet, but sometimes there will be people who just don’t understand. Just acknowledge that these people see pets differently than you do and be aware of it. I would suggest not talking to those people about your loss. It would have upset me terribly if anybody had said “what’s the big deal? It’s just a cat.” That moment probably isn’t the best moment to discuss differing value systems.

  5. Do something symbolic. We got a sturdy plant and we mixed Sable’s ashes in with its soil. We also donated some newer toys of hers to a shelter, and picked up some extra food to go with it. If you are an artist or writer, it might help to express your memories in that way, with poetry or a painting.

  6. Get another pet. You can never replace a family member. Each and every one of our pets is unique and special and no dog or cat will ever be the same as the one we lost, but there are definitely good reasons to consider a new family member. Sometimes a new pet will help fill in those deafening silences and hollow days, not to diminish your grief, but just to avoid being overwhelmed by it. Also, there a lot of animals that need someone to love and care for them and if you are reading this, I think I can assume you would be a good candidate.

  7. Take care of yourself. Proper nutrition, sunlight and exercise are crucial when dealing with grief. Studies have shown a link between malnutrition and depression, so why would you want to make a bad situation worse? Walking a new puppy is a great way to get exercise…

  8. If you have children, talk to them. It is best to be honest and realistic with children. This will probably be the first time a child has to deal with the death of a loved one and it is essential that it be as positive as possible. Avoid euphemisms, like “put to sleep” or “went away.” Children can take things like this very literally. Imagine a child fearing going to bed after hearing that “Sparky was put to sleep” and then never came back again. As hard as it is, it is really best to confront the subject head on and use words like “died” and “dead.”

  9. Remember that your other pets may grieve too, or even just pick up on the emotions in the household. During this time it is important to be aware of how animals might express their emotions and look at ways to help them as well. Personally, I think a round of flower essences like Bach’s Rescue Remedy or Grieving Flower Essences for everybody can be a great idea.

  10. Lastly, do not obsess on assigning blame. Even if someone was directly at fault, remember that you need time to grieve and it won’t help to focus excessively on feelings of guilt or anger. Don’t let time that should be spent remembering your best friend turn into a huge negative experience full of fighting and blame.

Grief when you lose someone you love is a reality and nothing will take away the pain of that loss, but hopefully some of these strategies can help you deal with the pain in positive ways.

Emergency Pet Care – Lily’s Bee Sting

By Sarah Wadleigh LilyLily

One of my favorite books is The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by CJ Puotinen.   I keep one copy on my desk at work, and another at home.  This book brings together a wealth of information from many holistic healthcare experts on many subjects. It’s a compendium of natural treatments and emergency first-aid strategies, as well as some wonderful dietary information and explanations of how various energetic treatments work.  It’s a great book!  Get yourself a copy!

That said, a few weeks ago, I found out just how valuable this book really is.   We were installing a new garden in our back yard  Both our dogs were outside, and had been chasing the bees that buzz around the flowers in an already-existing garden.  As the dogs ran by, I noticed that our puppy’s muzzle looked a little swollen.  On closer examination, her lip was quite swollen – she had obviously been stung by a bee.

As it happens, Lily, our 11 month old Corgi, is immune-impaired due to a rare congenital condition called a dermoid cyst.  She has had numerous and fairly serious health issues in her young life, and we keep a very close eye on her.

When I saw the swelling, I realized she was having a strong reaction to the sting, and worried that she might go into shock.  Her eyes were becoming unfocused, and the swelling was rapidly progressing up the side of her face toward her eye.  Her muzzle, in a matter of seconds, became so swollen that I couldn’t get my finger under her lip to look for a stinger!

Realizing that I needed to take immediate action, I referred to my Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and looked up “Bites and Stings”.   The first remedy listed was “herbal therapy.”   Instructions were to place mashed or pureed greens on the sting, or in the absence of fresh greens, powdered greens/herbs.

Honestly, I have never used such a remedy, even though I’m all about eating greens.  I had a certain degree of doubt as to whether this type of remedy would work, and I had brief visions of a pending emergency room visit.  I had to try something immediately, though, so I cast my fate to the wind and mixed about a tablespoon of Dr. Harvey’s MultiVitamin, Mineral and Herbal Supplement with ½ teaspoon of nutritional clay and probably 1 teaspoon of lavender hydrosol.

My husband was assisting and helping me remain calm.  We put Lily on a towel on the couch, and I took a plastic knife and used it as a trowel to spread the mixture across her lip and the side of her face.  At first, I tried to pack some of it under her lip, but she ended up licking and swallowing it, so I focused on getting the rest on the outside of her muzzle and face.  She was very cooperative, and once the greens were spread across her face, fell into a deep sleep as I held a piece of gauze over the poultice. 

For 25 minutes, she slept deeply, and I watched as the swelling gradually, but steadily went down and down.  I had a hard time believing that it was actually working, and even asked my husband if he could detect a reduction in swelling.  He was skeptical, too, and said he thought it still looked pretty swollen.

I was getting concerned about her deep sleep, wondering if she might be falling into unconsciousness.  I shook her gently, and she woke up and acted like nothing had ever happened. (Looking back, I think the Lavender hydrosol helped her relax and fall asleep.)  The swelling was completely gone within 40 minutes!  And all because of some powdered greens!  My faith in herbal medicine is once again renewed, and I have promised myself that I will always consult my Encyclopedia and my other holistic books whenever I have an emergency or question about a health issue.

Being informed about all treatment options is very empowering, so I encourage all of you to develop your own holistic pet care library!  And I leave you with this question…  If greens can do this from the outside, what are they doing on the inside when you eat them?