Sunday, September 25, 2011

Open House

Thank you to everyone who came to open house, it was fabulous!!! The band Moonlight Mile was excellent, I thought. The violin and guitar together were relaxing and entertaining. I enjoyed seeing clients outside of the normal appointment setting and meeting new people.  I hope you all met our new employees Michelle and Katie and learned something new about our clinic or about veterinary medicine.

If anyone has a burning question about veterinary medicine, or the clinic or me, please ask it here as it will guide me better in what to write about.

For the first time at our open house we had our laser out and Michelle was educating everyone on how it works. I wanted to mention that I just read an article in a recent veterinary publication about Laser Therapy. As many of you know we added Laser therapy to the practice in May.

Current research on lasers confirms that a specific wavelength of coherent light does indeed take away pain and heal tissue. Wavelengths from the mid 700's to the low 900's nanometers (nm) prove to penetrate the deepest and units with power of lower wattage (500 mW or less) can be applied directly to the skin thus delivering a measurable dose of light directly to the underlying tissues. Machines of high power, over 500 mW (some are 10 and 12 Watts) cannot touch the skin directly, must be moved constantly and risk damaging tissue. 

I am so proud to say that after months of research I purchased a low power laser with wavelength production of 808 and 905 nm.  This means treatments are safe and effective.

All dogs and cats with knee, elbow and hip arthritis and pain are great candidates for this treatment. It is possible they can be maintained with laser treatment alone and not have to use drugs for pain.

I'll sign off for now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Preventative Medicine

I would like to talk about preventative medicine. Why is it hard for people to enact preventative medicine for themselves and their pets? I think it is because we cannot measure what we prevented.

Modern medicine is held to a standard of “evidence-based” medicine. Essentially this means there are double blind studies to back up any and all treatments we provide. A drug or surgical treatment is given to a large number of dogs or cats with a disease, most of the animals benefit. At the same time the dog or cat not given the treatment must not gain a benefit. This is a good standard to maintain.

Two areas of research in support of preventative medicine come to mind. In 2002 a study reported that 25% food reduction in a group of Labrador Retrievers enjoyed a significantly longer life span than the control group who ate more food. We have also know for many years that having a female dog spayed before her first heat nearly eliminates her risk of getting mammary cancer (known as breast cancer in women). If you wait until after the second heat to have a female dog spayed then her chance of getting mammary cancer is 25%. These results really motivate me to recommend spaying your female dog before her first heat and to advise all pet owners to restrict caloric intake throughout life.

All too often it is hard to see what we gain when we live a healthy life. We all know people and dogs that eat or have been fed a poor diet and live to a ripe old age. We know people that smoke that live a normal life span. It leaves a person to wonder, what is the best way to maintain my health.

At this point I choose to fall back on common sense or what seems to be intuitively correct. For me this means eating and drinking in moderation. Eating whole, fresh food. Avoid smoking and ingestion of chemical-laden food. Exercise in moderation. Yes, I believe that too much exercise is unhealthy. Variety in food and types of exercise supports the idea that with variety we will get all our complex needs met.

Emotional stress in moderation is an important component to health. Work and play in balanced amounts.

Exposure to pathogens in the environment makes logical sense in that it teaches our immune system what is a pathogen and how to build up protection against it. Too much protection from disease is bad.

Okay, okay, this is nothing new, I know! But we get distracted by new drugs from these old truths that can not be tested in the modern scientific model. I wonder if our world is coming up on an era where we go back to common sense. Maybe it could be considered more of a realistic view of life as opposed to the view that there is a magic pill to cure what ails us all. Or a single magic berry! There really is no cure all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Laser Therapy for Pets

I am very excited about a new treatment that I am using: LASER therapy.  Often there are patients that have pain or inflammatory conditions that no drug will help or they will not allow acupuncture or take herbs or supplements.  In the past there was  nothing left to offer them.  Now I am employing my therapy laser for just such cases.

Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.  It sounds scary but it is basically light created by manipulating photons and using reflection to make  uniform beams of “light”.  There are different powers of lasers, everything from the low power like laser pointers to surgical cutting lasers.

Many therapy lasers are high power, however my unit is lower powered providing an unparalleled  level of safety for patients. What is amazing about this class of lasers is that there are essentially no harmful side effects (as long as you do not point the beam into the eye through the pupil). 

But even more amazing are its benefits. Scientific study has determined that there is a narrow band of wavelengths of light, known as the near infrared, that is absorbed by 2 important tissues in the body and result in healing.  These wavelengths of light are not visible by the human eye! They are between 780-950 nm.

Once the light wave is absorbed by the particular cell structures, one is a component of mitochondria and the other is hemoglobin, the energy production of the cell is turned on. In some cases direct gene stimulation occurs and a cascade of healing mediators ensues.  The laser does not heal, but rather turns on the tissue cells so they may heal themselves. The most notable and documented effect is control and elimination of pain, like arthritis pain. 

Scientific study is ongoing, but the general feeling is that there is no limit to what light can heal.  The trick is to know what wavelength to use and how much power to apply and for how long. 

One thing is for sure, it treats pain with no side effects. I have used it on my painful plantar fasciitis and get immediate pain relief.  I have been able to relieve painful mouth inflammation in 2 dogs and improve arthritis in a cat.  We have only just begun! It is not a panacea, and it requires an absolute diagnosis, but the applications will be many.

Treats pain, inflammation, infection, edema, wounds, and most likely many medical conditions.
Non-invasive, non-painful
No negative side effect
Treatment times may be very short
Can be applied where nothing else has worked
May be able to get patient off pain medications
Works with medications for better result or so that medications can be reduced

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Bikram yoga changed my life. I have said this many times, and it is true. Bikram Choudhury put together of sequence of 26 Hatha postures and began to teach them in a 105F room. The claim is that this sequence systematically works all parts of the body including internal organs, veins, ligaments and muscles. The heat is intended to warm the body to make it malleable and to sweat out toxins. After my first class several years ago I was hooked and within a month I felt completely different. My core strength had improved and my stress level had dramatically decreased. Then I moved to Salem, Bikram.

All types of yoga have the ability to change us. I like yoga that provides exercise but at the same time is a meditation. Meditation because when our mind is calm and open we can accomplish goals we once thought impossible. Part of this meditation is control of the breath which leads to control of the mind. When you are in control of your mind and emotions you have great power to go into the world and be successful.

Yoga also helps maintain a healthy flow of energy in the body. The result for me has been improved physical and mental health.

I was so excited to find "Hot Yoga" just next door to the clinic at Simply Blissed! While not the 26 Bikram style poses, the Hatha poses are led in a 100+F room and the experience is similar. The classes are packed, which shows you there is something to this yoga. It leaves one feeling so darn good.

Anyway, it got me wondering about how animals meditate and if they need meditation. I suppose they are much less affected by the stress of money and reputation than we are. Perhaps the sunbathing of my cat under the most beautifully blooming flowers is his meditation. A colleague of mine believes dogs walk to meditate or meditate on their walk. Exercise does seem to balance most dogs.

I am sure everyone has heard of Doga? Yoga with your dogs...anyone up for starting this in Salem????

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Silver Falls, OR and Sheeba and buddies

May Day

May 1st marks the end of a half a year of winter! Boy is this ever true this year in Willamette Valley, six months of cold and rainy. At least today I could see my shadow for most of the day and was able to get some color back in my cheeks. However, my bare feet remain a blinding, reflective, glowing, fluorescent bright white. If winter is over then why am I still bringing in the baby tomato plants over night so they don’t freeze?!

Hope this glorious day finds everyone well. With each passing year I cherish life, and all it has to offer, more and more.  Is this normal “getting old” syndrome? It becomes easier to step back and see the big picture and what is important in life. I am learning that the stress of what modern America expects of me should not ruin my day, month or entire life.  There is a rush to do this repair or paint the house, have kids or become an expert in a new area of medicine…until I mentally step back and back and back. I think of the whole country and then the whole world and my little worries seem so insignificant.  On the other hand the simple act of a stranger’s kindness or a shared meal with a friend can mean so much and make someone feel so good.

Recently I have been thinking more “cosmically” as I watch my dear companion Sheeba deteriorate with aging. She gets up everyday and goes through all the motions with her stiff (and I suspect, achy) body. She is so happy at times and attempts to run only to have the hind legs buckle and leave her pulling them along with the front legs. The latest concern is that she no longer can tell when she has to have a bowel movement. It is quite sweet to see her trudge up the ramp after going outside for “potty” only to find that once in, realizes she was not done and runs for the back door to try and get down the ramp with a fecal ball plopping out as she goes.  We’ve had a few accidents in the house of course.

So I wonder when she wants to go; looking in her eyes I ask: “Sheeba please just let me know when you want to go”. She is definitely NOT ready.  On the pillow within straight site of me she sits and stares at me, keeping vigil over my every move. Thanks Sheeba, I will be lonely when you are gone. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Aging Pets

It is easy to see our pets as ageless. They are forever our ”babies” even as their eyes become cloudy and they move more stiffly. I find myself disappointed that my 12 year old German Shepherd, Guinness, can no longer retrieve her favorite basketball or jog with me even 1 mile! When did it happen?! They are still so darn cute it is hard to understand that they are seniors. I mean I actually think it is sweet when Sheeba, almost 15, wets her bed!

Our walks should be called ‘bumbling strolls’. Imagine a one-eyed dog with a lung tumor and a partially paralyzed larynx (makes breathing difficult), hip dysplasia, back arthritis and a gimpy right front leg along with Sheeba who has a head tilt and is dizzy, a back end that does not seem to communicate with the front hind, and if you pet her too firmly she will fall over. Fun times. But we keep walking because I firmly believe when you stop moving you die.

The girls no longer can be left outside for fear of the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” scenario. Therefore they need to be let out at least 3 times a day or we find poop surprises. I am always amazed to see they make it to the kitchen and save my rugs, how sweet!

Meal times are fun too! Each dog gets about 10 pills/capsules of herbs and pain medications and supplements. Sheeba takes coaxing and tricking and 3 different flavors of cat food to get the pills down.

The 20 linear feet of home-made dog ramp has been a beautiful addition to the house, not!

Having two large breed dogs, over 12 years old who have health problems and need lots of care taking has made it quite clear to me: I am engaged in caring for the elderly.  Many of you may be doing the same. We owe it to our loyal companions. I realize how important this job is, that this caretaking of the elderly is a part of life. At times it makes me sad to know they will be gone, but I continue to be there for them with love and compassion. For our pets and elderly people it is one of the more important things we can do.