Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The full article: Anxiety in Pets

In order to understand anxiety we first have to understand what fear is and the role it may play in anxiety. Fear is an instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object that appears to present an external threat, whether real or perceived. The result is an autonomic nervous system response. This is your pet's normal “fight or flight” response.

Whereas, Anxiety is the anticipation of future dangers that result in body reactions (also known as physiologic reactions) associated with fear. You can see these reactions in a frightened or anxious animal, they include: elimination (urination and/or passage of bowel movements), destruction (eating your shoes for instance), over-grooming in cats, and excessive barking or crying. These are only the visible signs, many of our pets, especially cats will hide their anxiety from us.

The most common form of anxiety in our pets is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can result in any of the physiological reactions listed above. Also, if your pet has separation anxiety they are more likely to have noise phobias, such as a fear of thunderstorm or the dreaded vacuum cleaner. Separation anxiety can be treated with acupuncture, herbs, medications and/or calming pheromones. In addition adjusting their environment and behavioral modification are useful.

In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), anxiety and phobias are considered disturbances of the Shen or emotions. The intellect is housed in the brain, but the emotions (the Shen) are controlled by the Heart. Thus the heart is not just the organ that pumps blood throughout the body, but the whole Chinese Heart System, which incorporates the heart, blood vessels and the entire nutritive system for maintaining the health of the body and is also responsible for helping to maintain a healthy emotional balance. If the Heart System is deficient, or if problems with other bodily systems negatively affect the Heart, then a Shen disturbance can result. The most common Shen disturbances we face in veterinary medicine in dogs are separation anxiety, noise phobias and aggression. In cats, we most commonly see litterbox issues.

Because the Shen is housed in the Heart, we can treat acupuncture points along the Heart meridian to directly influence the functioning of the Heart System to improve Shen disturbances. When the Shen disturbance is due to Heart deficiency, we can treat points to nourish and strengthen the Heart, which bolsters the Shen. In addition to acupuncture, we also use TCVM herbal preparations for long-term Heart and Shen support. These herbs can be used in conjunction with conventional Western drugs if needed.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Whole Pet Technician Tips for helping dogs through Fireworks!

  1. As the owner it is best if you do not get excessively emotional or coddling to a pet that is anxious, it may make them feel insecure with you as their protector. Instead act calm and confident as though nothing at all is awry.
  2. Keep your pet in a dark room that is furthest away and most protected from firework noise. Or, allow them to go into a closet or under a table where they feel safe.
  3. Play music moderately loud. Play something that the pet has heard played in the house before, a favorite CD.
  4. Apply a pheremone collar (Adaptil) or install room pheremone diffusers several days before and after July 4th.
  5. Place a “ThunderShirt” to help calm your pet (available for both cats and dogs). A snug piece of clothing may have the same effect.
  6. Put Bach flower essence “Rescue Remedy” for pets in their water and around the house.Or try "Harmonese" herbal supplement beginning one week before fireworks.

Case study on Anxiety Disorders in Dogs

Hello all. Anxiety disorders in dogs are the source of discomfort and stress for the dog and for us as pet owners. There is no "cure all" for behavior problems, but at Whole Pet I see a good amount of success combining medication with alternative therapy or with just alternative therapies. Here is a case I would like to share with you about one of my patients.

This is "Wally" He is 11 1/2 years old. He was treated at Whole Pet for anxiety and is doing GREAT.
Wally is loved by a family that has been burdened with some stress and illness. So, naturally he is feeling some of the family's stress. As a result, Wally started to present with abnormal behavior. He would have vacant staring around the house, get lost and run into things. He also became very lethargic. He had some energy in the morning but then would crash and sleep after noon. He would get very nervous if owner was away from him. Regularly he suffered from constipation, even though he drank excessively.

At presentation, treatment included Clomipramine medication for anxiety and Lactulose medication for constipation. The goal of the owner was to wean him off the Clomipramine drug, and the Lactulose for constipation. In addition she wanted him to have energy and be happy again.

A Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) approach was desired for Wally since the medications did not work that well..and they wanted him to have his life back. Based on TCVM Wally was diagnosed with Liver Qi Stagnation (this develops from emotional or physical stress) + Qi deficiency (represented by lack of energy) + yin deficiency (stress leads to heat and the yin is all used up cooling the heat).

I prescribed acupuncture every 2-3 weeks for 4-6 treatments as well as Chinese herbs. After one acupuncture treatment Wally had more energy and was playing with the other dog in the house. After 2 treatments he was less anxious and not staring into space. Wally received 6 acupuncture treatments from early February to early May, at which time the owner was completely satisfied that Wally had more energy and was so much happier.

Two Chinese herbal formulas were used. First, Wei Qi Booster to help booster Qi or energy. This formula is great for older dogs as it boosts the immune system also and helps fight diseases like cancer and dementia. A second formula called Er Yin Jian was added to nourish the “yin” or cooling and grounding aspect of the body. This formula is good for behavior disorders caused by yin deficiency. I also believed this formula would help resolve his constipation. After we had Wally on the formulas several weeks we began to wean him off the Clomipramine and then off the Lactulose. He is now off both, with no constipation and he is very happy. Herbals may be continued for 3-6 months depending on how Wally feels.

Wally illustrates how TCVM can be used for anxiety disorders. TCVM may be used as a first line treatment or if medication does not work as expected, or side effects of medication prevent using them.