Dr. Gregory D. Sunvold and his pup

Highlights From Proper Puppy Nutrition: Advice on How to Feed Your New Puppy for a Long and Healthy Life

Get It Right from the Start

Apply nutritional principles to choosing a pet food. There is a sea of products available, so knowing what to look for in a quality pet food is key. The three important and universal components of puppy development include the gut, brain, and bones, and these components can serve as a guide to which food to feed.

The Gut

Puppies undergo a tremendous amount of gut bacterial changes as they grow. Gut flora changes can be associated with some unhealthy and undesirable events. We all want to avoid situations like diarrhea or constipation with new puppies.

How to Avoid Digestive Upset

Healthy intestinal bacteria foster a healthy gut. Prebiotics feed the gut bacteria and promote the healthy growth of probiotics. Probiotics then outcompete pathogens and prevent bad bacteria from growing.

Other gut enhancers include postbiotics and digestive enzymes. Postbiotics are byproducts of the fermentation process produced from probiotics. Examples of postbiotics added to pet foods include brewers’ yeast, lactic acids, and yeast culture. Digestive enzymes can help puppies absorb nutrients from food. Proteases (proteins), amylases (carbohydrates), and lipases (fats) can all be given to help a puppy’s digestion.

There are some recommended products like Prudence Absolute Immune Health that helps boost gut health. Prudence contains live probiotics which improve intestinal bacterial composition. It also contains beta-glucans which boost the immune system.

For food, Eukanuba Puppy is formulated to support good gut health. It contains fermentable fiber (beet pulp), has prebiotics, and is highly digestible.

70% of the immune system is in the gut. It is called Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT). What happens in the gut affects the rest of the body. The gut is foundational to immune health, and nutrition can play a role in enhancing your puppy’s immune health.

The Brain

Key nutrients needed for healthy brain development in puppies include Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are typically found in plant oils like corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil, while Omega-3 fatty acids come from flax, fish oil, and algae oil.

The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires EPA + DHA at a minimum of 0.05% for growth and reproduction. Studies have shown that puppies fed increased DHA had better trainability and vaccine titer response.


Minerals like calcium and phosphorus are used to form bones. Calcium is found in both animal proteins and grains. Phosphorus is generally higher in animal proteins than grains. AAFCO requires that the maximum calcium level for large breeds be reduced. The calcium to phosphorus ratio should be between 1:1 and 2:1.

Large breed puppies raised on a diet high in calcium can experience severe skeletal abnormalities and fast-growing bone disease. The breeds typically affected are Great Danes, Collies, Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Saint Bernards. Diets that do not follow the 1:1 or 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio should always be avoided for large breed puppies.

Practical Diet Tips for Puppy Diets

Puppy formulas are more energy dense than adult formulas. For large breed puppies, there are moderate levels of protein and fat to help skeletal development keep pace with their weight.

Protein sources that are highly digestible include chicken, beef, lamb, fish, elk and venison. By-product meals are generally more digestible than named species. For example, chicken by-product meals are more digestible than chicken.

Vitamins and minerals are essential for proper metabolism. For minerals, a blend of organic and inorganic minerals is best to assure the best use of minerals.

For gut health, moderately fermentable fibers like beet pulp or tomato pomace are beneficial to puppies. Prebiotics are essential for healthy intestinal development as well as live probiotics.

Dr. Sunvold’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

I have heard that wheat germ is important for heart health. Is that true What is it and what does it do?

WG is a source of protein but also contains a significant amount of fat.  Some thought that the fat is healthy for skin and coat.  Better option is a fish oil, algal oil, or Ahiflower.

I have been adding 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt in my puppy’s Royal Canin food in the morning and then 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in the dinner serving.  Is this good for him and would using virgin coconut oil be better for him instead of the extra virgin olive oil?

I love coconut oil over olive oil because it contains medium chain triglycerides.  MCT’s are unique FA that can cross the blood brain barrier.  MCT’s can be healthful for neural tissue development – just what a puppy needs to get a good foundation in life.  Good on you the Greek yogurt – lower sugar form of yogurt and possible source of probiotics.  If you can afford it, a better form of probiotics could be an actual probiotic supplement designed for development of puppies’ intestines.  I admire your commitment to good healthy nutrition.

There is so much controversy regarding grain free vs food with grain. Any insight?

Ahh the proverbial question about Grain Free and DCM in dogs.  In a nutshell, the science is not settled.  There was a lot of hype to begin with in promoting Grain Free diets.  Now it seems the hype has swung completely the other way.  FDA’s report in June 2018 rattled the industry about the possible association between Grain Free and DCM.  Unfortunately the only thing we really seem to know for sure is that genetics plays a role in DCM.  Does the diet’s composition?  That is far from being conclusively understood one way or another.  As an industry technical insider, I can tell you that most reputable manufacturers have modified diets as a preemptive move IF an association between certain diet ingredients and DCM is found to exist.  In closing, the burden of proof has now shifted to the accused (Diet is guilty!) to prove its innocence.  Unfortunately, “In the world of science, the absence of a negative is almost impossible to prove.”  You can quote me on that. Trustworthy, well-designed experimental studies will take long periods of time to conduct, will have multiple outcome variables, and will be expensive to conduct.  As a result, I suspect for the rest of my life we will be debating whether DCM is diet related.  I hope I am wrong, and we have more insight sooner as I prefer more ingredient options to be available.  The more ingredient options that are available, the more sustainable world we will all live in!

What is your opinion on starting free feeding at a puppy stage?

Good question.  It really depends on the food you are feeding, the puppy himself, and the puppy’s activity level.  We have a little more latitude in small/medium breed puppies.  Large breed puppies are susceptible to fast growing bone disease – hypertrophic osteodystrophy.  So LB puppies need to be very carefully monitored to assure they don’t gain weight too fast.  Regardless of breed size, take care to monitor backfat condition.  How do you do that?  Rub your fingers over your closed fist.  Fingers over knuckles represent malnourished.  Fingers over back of hand tendons represent too much condition (fat).  Fingers over clenched fingers next to your knuckles represent about right.  Translate that sensation to your puppy’s ribs to understand where your puppy is at.

Food recommendations for puppies with chicken and fish sensitivities?

Best recommendation is to switch diets to diets that don’t have chicken or fish in them.  They exist.  Many manufacturers have broad ranging lines of different protein options for just that specific reason.  I hope you can find a diet soon.  But don’t give up.  It’s out there.

Some articles I have read have said that other animals can get covid 19. Is that true or are they getting different disease?

There are a few scattered reports that seem like the owner received Covid-19 from a pet or vice versa.  But look, if it was easy to get Covid-19 from pets or other animals, we would know that by now.  Even if there is a risk, I’m keeping my pet.  Millie gives us way too much unconditional love!

Why are you saying by product is good when you should only have the protein and then protein meal?

Not exactly sure what’s being asked.  But here’s my thoughts on, for example, chicken by-product meal.  CBPM can, and most often is, be of very high quality.  CBPM and chicken meal are quite similar in how they are processed with the difference being things that may be included in CBPM such as necks and feet which don’t sound good to us – this becomes the “selling point” against CBPM vs. chicken meal (which doesn’t allow necks and feet, for example).  However, as stated the process by which either CBPM and CM are obtained is similar.  And it’s a good process because it involved cooking which helps liberate some of the amino acids ahead of process.  More importantly this process of obtaining CBPM and CM allows one to remove some of the undigestible components such as ash from the chicken.  Ash of course comes from bone.  This creates a more highly digestible/available form of chicken.  In contrast, chicken involves whole chicken which doesn’t normally undergo pre-processing like the meals.  Thus, you get everything with the chicken, not just the refined meals as with CBPM and CM.  Another important point about protein quality here is that processing methods can vary considerably.  So it’s up to the manufacturer to select different qualities of protein sources depending on the product design.  As a consumer I admit it’s impossible to understand the digestibility/nutrient availability of a pet food.  But just remember that not all by-product meals are of poor quality.  In fact, on balance they are generally more refined than specific named species such as chicken.  Sorry, just because something’s been marketed a certain way, doesn’t make it so.

Is it okay to mix two different brands of Large Breed Puppy food at every feeding?

Sure, if you properly transition the animal.  And I think this is an excellent feeding strategy to “de-risk” your pets health.  Why?  Because if there were ever a problem with one of the foods, then your pet would have the other to rely on for its nutrition.  Hopefully that never happens but I personally like the “backup” strategy.

I’ve changed my dog’s diet from grains to no grains, and he’s still had drainage from his eyes in an allergic reaction. What should I do?

I’m sorry for your dog’s condition.  The quick answer is see your veterinarian for health issues.  More broadly I would recommend you first look at his environment.  Get down on your hands and knees at his level.  Is there something in his environment that may be irritating his eyes?  If nothing’s obvious then go back to thinking about his diet.  Candidly, changing from grains to no grains is probably less likely to identify an issue than to switch protein sources or seek a diet more greatly enriched in n-3 f.a.  It is possible that a protein source may be irritating him.  Seek a different protein source with an n-6 f.a. / n-3 f.a. ratio of less than 6:1.

I used to feed my poodle a raw diet, my vet said sometimes raw can actual cause upset stomachs. Is this true and If so why?

If a raw diet has a high load of spoilage organisms such as pseudomonas, the pet may react to it.  Further, if the raw diet has partially spoiled, the rotten meat may smell interesting to the poodle but may not be well tolerated due to protein breakdown products from the meat’s degradation.  To be fair, many folks feed raw products without issues to their dog.  Your veterinarian may be taking an extra cautious step.  Certainly your veterinarian is intending to act in the best interest of your pet.  Again, if you feed a raw product take extra care to handle it properly to reduce any pathogen or spoilage organism growth.  And take care around indiscriminate children who may want to enjoy your pet’s meal – a big no, no!  Of course wash your own hands after handling a raw diet as well.

Let’s say by-product is better if processed correctly. There is no way to know how it was processed on the bag, so how would you know? Typically I’ve seen by-products in cheaply made products more so that I have no trust in.

You are an astute consumer.  This is exactly the problem.  I believe we have the world’s greatest regulatory agency governing pet food – AAFCO.  And yet there are still opportunities to improve our ingredient labeling and label disclosure process.  Ideally pet food manufacturers would test each product they market and disclose those results.  Even large manufacturers cannot afford to do this however. There is no obvious way to improve this communication.  But you are on to something.  Cheaply priced food often is just that – cheap.  Even though I’m a bit of industry technical insider, I still face the same dilemma you do.  How do I handle it with our own pets?  I try feeding different products.  Does the stool smell foul?  Do they seem to create excessive piles?  What happens to their skin and coat?  Breath?  Activity/energy level?  And so forth.  From a label perspective let me share one further insight – I like to see more ingredients rather than less.  Why?  Because more ingredients tend to decrease the variability of the product from bag to bag.  Limited ingredient diets have a place – addressing skin allergies as an example.  However, a risk with “concentrating” the nutrition from fewer ingredient sources is that from bag to bag the product is more susceptible to variation in changes in the few ingredient sources.  Hope that makes sense!

Isn’t meat protein more important to feed than plant since dogs are carnivores?

Good question.  I tend to stick with meat sources since they are more similar in their amino acid balance to the animal’s body composition.  However, I deeply respect folks that choose a vegan lifestyle for themselves and sometimes their pets.  It is most definitely true that all required nutrients can be met through plants/vegan diets.  So if veganism is your pursuit, those products exist which are definitely complete and balanced.

I have a lab mix puppy, and we are not sure what the mix is, but he has super long legs and big paws so we think he will be large when full grown. He was getting kind of chunky, but he is a 7-month-old baby, so should we be feeding him less or let him eat the recommended amount of Fromm puppy food?

Congrats!  Sounds like a lot of fun!  Large breed puppies are susceptible to fast growing bone disease – hypertrophic osteodystrophy.  So LB puppies need to be very carefully monitored to assure they don’t gain weight too fast.  Take care to monitor backfat condition.  How do you do that?  Rub your fingers over your closed fist.  Fingers over knuckles represent malnourished.  Fingers over back of hand tendons represent too much condition (fat).  Fingers over clenched fingers next to your knuckles represent about right.  Translate that sensation to your puppy’s ribs to understand where your puppy is at.  Feed accordingly.

Can you briefly summarize what you are recommending we add to the diet for our puppies?

The way I understand your question is what can we add to help our puppy’s development that is beyond what may be in a complete and balanced food.  My answer is:  live probiotics (speeds normalization of intestinal microbiota and may help fight off infection), digestive enzymes (helps with nutrient digestion), beta-glucan source (helps boost immune system), prebiotics such as galactoligosaccharides (helps push the intestinal microbiota towards a more protective, beneficial type such as bifidobacteria).

The vet told my grandma last week that wheat germ is essential for heart health. Is this true?

Well, he/she may be thinking about the n-3 f.a. ALA found in WG.  Better forms of n-3 f.a. are from marine sources such as fish oils or algal oils.

How do you feel about the presence of aflatoxinsmycotoxins in low quality carbohydrates and is there any link to cancer?

Yeah, this is a problem in the industry.  And the industry just has to be vigilant and on guard.  What happens is that crops grown under a variety of conditions can get fungus/molds growing on them.  And farmers don’t really know it or can control it well either.  Every growing season is different.  So again there are monitoring protocols in place that attempt to screen this out.  Unfortunately mistakes get made or “conveniently overlooked” due to obtaining “cheaper” sources of grains.  Okay to your specific question, there seems to be an association, at least in humans between aflatoxins and cancer.  But this is generally over a prolonged exposure period at low levels.  Higher levels are going to have acute effects ranging from digestive upsets to organ impairment.   My greater concern with fungal derived toxins is with acute affects due to “mistakes.”  Otherwise proper screening of grains should result in grains with no more than ordinary risk levels to the pet (or humans for that matter!).

Dandruff, even with omegas, can it be a yeast allergy? Is goat’s milk good for this?

Yeah, I suppose a topical yeast infection is always possible.  Goat’s milk topically or orally?  Not sure from the wording of the question.  Since we’re talking about nutrition, I’ll take it as “Is it helpful to feed Goat’s milk to control dandruff?”  I think that dandruff control is probably a stretch as to a benefit that can be gained from your pet consuming Goat’s milk.

Can dead dogs be in by-products How do you know what is in byproduct meal?

I do not know of any pets that are rendered into protein meals.  You can look here on AAFCO’s website for a definition of meals used in pet food.

For more information on pet nutrition, check out Dr. Sunvold’s blog here.

Dr. Mary Manspeaker and her pup

Highlights from Scary Things Can Happen: How to Respond in Emergency Situations

What Makes an Emergency?

An emergency is a situation in which your pet needs immediate attention in order to prevent suffering, worsening of disease, or death. Sometimes, an emergency situation is not always obvious.

What are the Most Common Animal Emergencies?


Trauma is a very common reason for pets to end up at an emergency center. Examples of trauma can include motor vehicle accidents, getting stepped on, jumping or falling off surfaces, and animal attacks. The typical clinical signs that occur with trauma include but are not limited to bleeding, seizures, head trauma, broken bones, paralysis, puncture wounds, and difficulty breathing.


Seizures are also very common for unscheduled vet visits.  A seizure typically lasts seconds and involves uncontrollable body movements caused by a neurologic disturbance. Often, the issue is you don’t know how long one will last when they occur, so it’s always good to get your pet to the vet quickly. Usually, when you arrive your pet will not be seizing, but the veterinarian will be able to assess your pet and make recommendations for future prevention.



There are lots of different toxins that are harmful to dogs and cats, such as people food, medications, insecticides, and antifreeze. For example, xylitol is an artificial sweetener added to chewing gum and other foods. It is extremely toxic to pets, so make sure you check your foods. Even products like yogurt can contain xylitol. Check out xylitol free, safe peanut butter for your pup here. Grapes and raisins are toxic, but the toxic dose is unknown, so it’s best to just avoid giving those to pets. Also, garlic and chocolate are toxic and best to completely avoid.

Clinical toxicity can vary greatly. Some of the most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea. If the substance is highly toxic, it can cause organ failure.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions are common for overnight or weekend emergencies. These include things like insect stings and some drug reactions. Most common symptoms include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling, and redness of the skin. It is not common for a pet to die due to an allergic reaction, but the symptoms are dramatic. Allergic reactions can be delayed, sometimes happening hours or even days later, but most happen quickly.

medical condition


Bloat is a true emergency and occurs when the stomach distends. Certain large breeds are predisposed to bloat, like deep chested dog breeds. Other causes can be stress and overeating or swallowing air. Clinical signs include retching, salivating, distended abdomen, and stomach pain. A pet will not get better without veterinarian intervention.


For cats, vomiting hairballs is normal. You’ll want to recognize whether your cat is vomiting with hair or not. Regurgitating is not vomiting and involves throwing up undigested food. Does your pet always eat grass or is it new behavior? That can be one way to determine underlying issues.


Diarrhea can be caused by a variety of factors, including diet, parasites, viral infection, toxins, and organ dysfunction. Clinical signs include loose, runny stool, straining to defecate with no results, and accidents in the house. For less severe cases of diarrhea, pumpkin can help lessen symptoms.

Inability to Stand

A sudden inability to stand can be caused by adrenal disease, ruptured spleen, tick paralysis, vestibular disease, and more. It’s important that older dogs see their veterinarian more frequently so that when something like vestibular disease occurs, it is easier for the veterinarian to diagnose.

Heat Stress

Heat stress is something seen too often. Causes are high environmental temperatures, such as a dog chained outside or kept in a hot car. Pugs and other short nosed breeds are more prone to heat stress. If not caught quickly enough, heat stress can be fatal.

Respiratory Emergencies

Respiratory emergencies can cause unscheduled vet visits. Reverse sneezing is not an emergency. It looks scary but it’s a normal phenomenon. Cats if having trouble breathing will typically be quiet so it’s important to pay close attention to any abnormal behavior.

What to do When Faced With an Emergency?

Stay calm so that you can think clearly.

Be safe. An injured pet may bite or scratch while in pain. Use a towel wrap to secure an injured pet. Always keep this in mind before grabbing an injured or sick pet.

Try to assess the situation. Is your pet having trouble breathing? Is there ongoing blood loss? Does your pet seem in pain? These are questions that your veterinarian will ask.

If you need to move your pet, you can place your pet on a towel to move, similar to a stretcher. You will need two people for this.

It’s good to have your pet’s medical history available if you are going to another vet in an emergency.

Always call the vet ahead of time.

Make sure you secure your pet when driving.

Keep a first aid kit on hand at all times. These items will come in handy in an emergency. Make sure you have Benadryl 25 mg tablets. Also, items like Wondercide Skin Tonic, Vetericyn Eye Wash, and Vetericyn Antimicrobial Gel are important additions to any first aid kit.

Try to secure an emergency fund, because emergency services are expensive. Look into buying pet insurance. Some, but not all services are reimbursed. Typically, you have to pay in full and then the pet insurance company reimburses you afterward. The average cost of emergency treatment is around $3,000 so try to make sure you have that available if possible.

Dr. Manspeaker’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

How important is it for your dog to see a vet during their pregnancy and how many puppies does a mom typically have with a first litter?

It is important for a mom to see a vet during pregnancy because you want to make sure she is at a healthy weight at all times and does not need deworming. As far as the number of pups, it depends on the type of dog. Typically, small breed dogs have fewer puppies than large breed dogs. Your veterinarian can do x-rays or ultrasounds to give you an estimate of how many.

Do you have any experience using Adaptil and Compsure for anxious pets?

Yes, they both work well and are a great starting point to reducing anxiety.

What is the best location for taking a cat’s temperature with a laser thermometer?

The inside of the ear where there is no hair or on the belly would be best. Laser thermometers are not as accurate as rectal thermometers, so you may want to compare the two.

Can you recommend any advice for separation anxiety for my dog? 

Separation anxiety can be managed with behavior modification and environmental enrichment, but it can also be severe enough where the pet needs meds to control the anxiety. I suggest documenting the behavior and discussing with your vet. It may be a good first step to start with behavioral modification and environmental enrichment.




Tina Brown, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVD

Highlights from Dermatology & Our Pets: Vet Advice on Common Skin Conditions, Such as Allergies and Ear Infections

Allergic Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Scratching is typically the first symptom we think about with allergies. For dogs, if they scratch toward the back portion of their body, it could be fleas. With dogs that have red paws, itchy ears, or a red face, the allergy might be environmental.

Short coated dogs can have lesions that look like small areas of hair loss with scales. With bacterial infections, short coated dogs have patches of skin loss.

With long coated dogs, dry, flaky skin can be an active skin infection. You must part the hair to get a closer look at the skin.

Recurring ear infections are also common with dogs. They range from mild to very severe with a lot of bacteria and inflamed ears. Ear infections are associated more commonly with food allergies or bacterial infections rather than fleas.

With cats, they can lick and chew their feet just like dogs. Cats can also have ear infections. This is often the only physical manifestation of an allergy.

Diagnostic Plans and Treatment

You always want to rule out other causes, and then treat for secondary infections. Treating secondary infections will often help alleviate allergic reactions.  A skin scrape is usually the first diagnostic test. A skin scrape can diagnose mites, either scabies or demodex mites. Scabies are contagious and difficult to see in a skin scrape while demodex mites are not contagious.

Another test your vet could utilize is a flea comb to look for flea dirt that would indicate your pet has fleas. A trichogram can be used to examine cat hair and determine whether cats are overgrooming which can indicate an allergy. A Woods lamp also helps rule out ringworm, as well as a ringworm culture. A skin or ear cytology helps determine if there’s yeast or bacteria overgrowth.

Bacterial Skin Infections

Antibiotic resistance does occur. With a skin infection, you’ll want to have your pet on a minimum of three weeks on an antibiotic treatment. Previous antibiotic treatment does increase the risk of resistance. If your pet does not respond to treatment appropriately, your veterinarian will want to prescribe a different antibiotic.

Ear infections

There’s always an underlying cause for recurring ear infections, such as a food hypersensitivity or flea allergies. Chronic ear infections can result in your pet needing ear surgery so it’s best to seek treatment early to avoid surgery.

A young ginger tabby cat on the wooden floor.

Allergies or Atopic Dermatitis

The immune system overresponds to allergens such as indoor or outdoor allergens and food sensitivities. Allergy patients tend to have a different skin barrier that allows them to absorb allergens more than dogs without allergies.

Food hypersensitivity can look identical to environmental allergies but are not seasonal. It can occur at any age and is usually not associated with a change in diet. The dog must eat the same food for 1-3 years before developing sensitivities. An elimination diet is the best way to determine a food sensitivity because, unfortunately, allergy testing still is not accurate for food sensitivities.

84% of atopic dermatitis in dogs is mostly indoor while 24% is seasonal. Allergy testing can be used to identify the offending allergens.

Symptomatic Therapy: Antihistamines

Antihistamines can be effective in very mild cases. These don’t typically help for really allergic dogs and cats, and they don’t work right away. They usually take several weeks in order to provide relief.

Symptomatic Therapy: Steroids

Steroids work very quickly but over time lose effectiveness, and there is an increased risk of side effects like Cushing’s disease and diabetes. Therefore, steroids are safest in most patients for short term use at the lowest possible dose.

Symptomatic therapy: Apoquel/Cytopoint

Each medication blocks one mediator in the itch pathway. They are not a steroid and can provide immediate relief. Apoquel is not as specific as its target so there is a contraindication in the label with a history of cancer or severe infections. The advantage to both medications is that they don’t interfere with intradermal allergy testing. It is important to remember that neither of these medications should be a replacement for diagnostics such as a skin scrape.

Atopic Dermatitis

In the past, treatment to atopic dermatitis has been reactive. However, it requires an integrated approach. There is no quick “cure” for allergies, so you must find the safest long-term plan. This often requires pet parents to seek out a specialist to identify short-term and long-term goals. Allergies typically get worse every year, so a plan going forward is needed to keep the reaction under control.

Allergen specific immunotherapy is the only treatment option that does not suppress the immune system and can provide long term management. Intradermal skin testing tends to be the most accurate versus blood testing because it is more specific.

Allergy testing can be done in both dogs and cats. Most are a combination of grasses, weeds, trees, and molds. Unfortunately, you can’t completely avoid these allergens. The allergy serum is formulated and will be specific to each patient.  This is the safest, most affordable option for long-term management, especially if the pet has a history of cancer or some other underlying disease.

Dr. Brown’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

Should you blow-dry the dog if you are bathing them daily due to allergies and using medicated shampooing?

I would say, it’s fine to blow-dry if they will tolerate it. But I wouldn’t use high heat to avoid excess itching.

What shampoo can I use with my cats to help with their itch as they over groom?

I would suggest any type of oatmeal or medicated shampoo, if it’s labeled safe for cats. Always, investigate the underlying cause if both cats are itching. Be sure they are on flea control to remove any external parasites as well!

What about allergies and continuing anal gland issues? I’ve had several dogs with allergies, and they all have seemed to get very full anal glands quite quickly. Is there a connection, and is there anything we can do to help the anal glands specifically?

Anal glands could potentially be related, because if the skin is inflamed, the anal glands could also be inflamed. If the pet is scooting or licking the area often, it could stimulate the area. I would recommend an allergy work-up to determine the cause.

I’m curious how allergies tie in to SLO (symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy). My mother’s Greyhound has it, and I’m wondering if environmental or food allergies that are untreated can be a contributing cause to his SLO flares (which result in him losing a nail at random).

There have been some cases of SLO that have been related to food hyper-sensitivity, but that is not always the case. Many dogs have SLO with no underlying primary factors. Greyhounds are predisposed to this disease and will require, to some extent, lifelong therapy such as pentoxifylline or doxycycline /niacinamide. Fatty acid and Vitamin E supplementation may also be helpful if the patient continues to have problems. On these meds, you can also consider a food trial.

Is there a copy of this webinar for notes?

We will have the recording available for today’s session on this same website (hfu.hollywoodfeed.com) by next week.

My dog has ear infections, hot spots, warts on the paws. I recently got her tested for allergies, and she is allergic to EVERYTHING. What do you suggest for long term feedings? I have gone to preparing my dog meals. She is an American bulldog.

Many dermatologists feel like a homecooked diet is the best option to eliminate food hypersensitivity. I would contact a board-certified nutritionist to design a diet specifically for your pet if homecooked meals will be fed long term. This is to ensure the diet consists of the proper balance of vitamins and nutrients that your dog needs.

Is it dangerous to give hemp oil to my senior dog?

I would need to know more about this pet. I wouldn’t feel comfortable making a recommendation without knowing more about this pet & their needs.

My 10-year-old Yorkie has developed what the vet called papilloma.  She recently had an ear infection and after the treatment, she got these places all on her spine (primarily).

Multiple types of masses can occur as pets get older, some are benign and cosmetic – while others can be more serious. We usually recommend a fine needle aspirate and cytological review and removal if indicated.

Any information on tear staining? Our dog does not itch, and ears are fine but lots of tear staining.

This is a common problem in certain breeds. This may be a better question for a veterinary ophthalmologist.

In your profession, have you noticed general care vets turning to Apoquel and Cytopoint to just “treat the symptoms” instead of actually trying to determine the cause of it? I hear this a lot and have experienced with my own dog. I have been to multiple vets in different cities, and I always just get a prescription for Apoquel every single time, no matter the problem, with no care or explanation as to what it could be.

I think the veterinarian’s goal is to make your pet feel more comfortable. However, those things don’t treat the underlying problems. So it is important to do skin scrapings & cytologies.

Is a mouth swab allergy test accurate?

We do not believe mouth swabs or hair allergy tests are accurate currently.

Does Hollywood Feed have a natural product that includes vitamins, minerals, herbs & supplements like others you see on TV (that you sprinkle on their food) that work well in slowing the itching & really helping with their bones & tendons where they can walk & get around better?

Prudence Immune Health and Prudence Hip & Joint both contain natural ingredients including vitamins, minerals, and herbs. We see fantastic results from both of these supplements.

We have a topical itch relief spray with lidocaine. Is this safe to use on paws, if the dog is prone to licking their paws?

Lidocaine and other topical anesthetics such as Pramoxine are safe to use topically, but they may not be enough to reduce the itch.

With the scooting of the butt on the rug, what do you suggest for ease of comfort?

I would recommend following up with your vet. Consider these questions: Do the anal glands need to be expressed, and is the area itchy due to yeast or bacteria that might need to be treated?

My dog was tested at Dr. Brown’s office, but it’s been 2+ years since he has been on the vaccine, can he resume without retesting?

If we were doing well on immunotherapy before, we may not need to retest in order to resume the serum. We understand life happens, and it’s hard to follow up with the treatment long term. If the serum was discontinued because you feel like it wasn’t working, we can repeat allergy testing to identify new allergens. Contact Dr. Brown’s office for options!

I have a papillon that was diagnosed with PLE 4 years ago and has developed allergies and chronic ear infections more and more in the last couple of years. Most recently we used a different ear drop with an infection and she went deaf. She can’t really stomach steroids anymore and we’ve tried the Cytopoint shots. Do you have any recommendations and anything at all that might bring her hearing back as well as good shampoos or topicals to use during skin infections and itchiness?

More than likely the ear infections & skin infections are due to allergies. Even with PLE, you could pursue an allergy work-up such as intradermal testing. That would be a safe option with the current medications. Without knowing more about the medication used for her ears, I can’t comment on regaining hearing. There is a hearing test, but I would start with an Otic Exam.

What is a good shampoo to use?

If they are prone to skin infections, I would suggest a medicated shampoo. If not, a general shampoo labeled for pets would be fine to use.

I have a Shepherd Corgi mix with hot spots, dark skin spots, and crusty areas. Is fish-based food the best to change to? He is on Just 6 (turkey formula), and he is hypersensitive at springtime. Also, he has paws that lose hair and are itchy. He sneezes and does this weird cat cough. Vet keeps saying its allergies and we tried Apoquel. He responded badly to it after 3 weeks on it, with aggressive tendencies. He has been trained; the medication just made him unruly, so we took him off, and he’s back to normal).

I agree that you have some level of environmental allergies because you’ve noticed seasonal flares. It sounds like he has an active skin infection with the crust and dark spots. This may be why other symptomatic therapies have not helped. It’s a rare side effect, but I have had patients have changes in their behavior while taking Apoquel.

What should I look in a medicated shampoo and conditioner or sprays?

For medicated shampoos, I often use a 3-4% chlorhexidine. For a lower concentration of chlorhexidine mixed with an antifungal such as miconazole. Some pets can be hypersensitive to chlorhexidine. In those cases, I might use a benzoyl peroxide product for antibacterial properties.

I have a light golden who has significant bronzing on the cheeks, under ears, tail and paws but does not scratch nor lick. He does also have significant dark brown almost black goopy debris in the ears that I clean out frequently.   Anything else that can cause this bronzing? Is ear and skin cytology the best first step?

I would say ear & skin cytology is the best first step. It sounds like you may have mild allergies. Some patients that are very low level of itch and frequently lick can have significant bronzing, and others that lick their feet all the time can have no bronzing. For the ears, your pet may be making excess waxy debris, but if you don’t have an ear infection associated with it, continuing to use an ear cleanser to remove excess debris is a good idea.

My baby is on Cytopoint and Ketoconazole. What are some great topical items? My dog gets super smelly, like rancid smelly. We are bathing 2-3x a week.  There’s a waxy build up on the skin, and you can see it washing away. Baths sometimes relieve the itch and the stink and waxy build up can be back within a day. No ear infections, itch on the face, sides and paws, loss of hair at the paws and around the eyes. What does the waxy build up and smell tell you?

The waxy build up and smell tells me that the glands of the skin are inflamed and overproducing substances. We often see this with allergy patients. You are doing a good job with topical therapy. And I would use the medicated shampoo twice a week up to every other day. Treatment of the underlying allergy such as allergy testing and desensitization may help the problem more than Cytopoint. Cytopoint only helps the itch associated with the allergy.

I have a Husky about 1 and 12 years old and a small Chihuahua. The small dog licks the ear of the husky, and the husky has developed a reoccurring ear infection. What do we do?

The dog that is licking the other dog’s ear is not a primary cause. The husky is presenting signs of ear infections, but the infections are not being caused by the other dog.

Can i give my dog Apoquel and Zyrtec in the same day?

You can give these medications together.

Our dog (5 yrs) seems to have seasonal allergies – late summer fall itchiness started at 2 years old.  Two years she’s had minor skin infections between toes and abdomen.  Have cleared up with antibiotics from the vet.  Her allergies are fairly “under control” between using a prescription medicated shampoo weekly or more on feet and Benadryl all fall season. We start that when she begins itching in July and August and stop it usually in November.  We live in Iowa so with fall season she still is itching but this year and last is not developing skin infections or more severe things that we can tell.  Would you recommend keeping this approach as long as she isn’t severely symptomatic (still feel bad for her with itchiness) or is it worth trying one of the newer allergy medicines?  Not sure if it’s worth the potential side effects or unknown risks since they are “newer”.

I think you’re doing a great job managing her allergies with topical therapy and antihistamines. It sounds like the allergies are still mild. If she has an acute flare up and is uncomfortable, it’s not wrong to reach for new medications and therapies. If her allergies escalate and you’re having to get these medications on a regular basis, I would contact a local dermatologist for a work-up.

Since I’ve had blood allergy panel and still having issues mentioned above that you addressed, should we have intradermal test to get more specific?

If you have had the blood allergy panel and immunotherapy was not helpful, I would consult with vet to see if intradermal allergy testing would be your next step.

How often can I give Chlorpheniramine on a daily basis? The bottle says 2 – 3 times a day but I have heard long term it can cause organ issues. Also, how long does it take to start working?

We think that antihistamines are safe 2-3x times a day. We usually recommend giving these medications up to 2 weeks to determine if it’s beneficial or not.

If a dog has chronic yeast infections, ears or skin, will a low glycemic diet be beneficial E.g. raw frozen, Zignature or Country Naturals LID?

There is not a correlation between glycemic index and yeast overgrowth. I would focus more on avoiding any potential food hypersensitivity.

The cat I have was feral and has now become a pet. She has anxiety but now has bumps on her neck and is losing fur. All my cats are on flea, lice and mite meds. We tried changing her diet, but nothing has help. We can’t get her to a vet because she will not get in a carrier. I also cannot get a vet to do home visits. Do you have any advice of what meds to try or food to give?

If all the cats are on good flea control, it’s likely that you do have food hypersensitivity or environmental allergies. You can try an elimination diet with novel proteins. If you tried this in the past, it’s likely environmental. I would continue trying to look for more home veterinarians.

My dog has what the vet calls warts. Do they need to be removed or how can I treat them when they open? He has them on his feet, back, and neck.

If the skin masses are benign, they do not need to be removed. But if they are bothering your pet and becoming itchy or bleeding, they may be removed by something like a punch biopsy or a surgical removal.

EFAs and fish oils are recommended for skin and coat health.  With the warnings of heavy metal toxins, how do we choose a safe supplement?

Look for essential fatty acid supplements that are available for pets.

Would you suggest Betadine or Eqyss Antimocrobial shampoo for a regular weekly washing?

I would have to know the percentage of betadine to be sure it wouldn’t irritate the skin. I am not familiar with Eqyss. It seems like it’s formulated for horses. If this is for a cat or dog, you would need something that is formulated for them.

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to food elimination trials? What suggestions do you have that may help ensure owner and patient compliance?

One of the biggest struggles is if the patient is on oral medication and finding ways to give the meds using a treat that does not go against the trial. Also, making sure that everyone in the household is on board with the food trial.

Have you seen a correlation between dogs with atopic dermatitis with over-stimulated immune systems who have also been over-vaccinated (i.e. more than what’s recommended by AAHA protocols)?

I have not seen a correlation between these two things.

What is your opinion on Dinovite?

I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I have had some clients report to me that it didn’t work well for them, but that may be because those were extreme patients.

Which topical anti-itch medications do you recommend? I’ve been tempted to use hydrocortisone cream or betamethasone cream, but I’m afraid my pets will lick it off. Also, which medicated shampoos can help eliminate itching? Dogs are already on Apoquel and Zyrtec.

We do routinely use topical steroids, and minimal ingestion is usually okay. I would start with hydrocortisone. I would use sparingly on areas where the skin is thin like the abdomen.

Are Bichons predisposed to environmental allergies? What about food allergies?

Yes, this breed is definitely predisposed to environmental allergies. Food allergies are common, too.

How long should you keep your dog on Apoquel?

We use this medication to keep patients comfortable, but I would avoid chronic, yearlong usage of the medication.

Which non-prescription topicals do you recommend?

There are some over the counter promaxine containing and hydrocortisone containing topicals that could be used to spot treat those areas. However, speak to your primary veterinarian first.

What medicines are in “medicated” shampoo that help with infection resolution and itching?

 Most common antibacterial agents are chlorhexidine and benzoyl peroxide. For yeast, it’s miconazole. There are other meds that work by changing PH of the skin that help keep bacteria & yeast growth minimal.

Do you believe early weaning for a puppy can cause allergy symptoms later in life due to not receiving enough mother’s milk? In Memphis, we see a ton of bully breeds that were weaned and sold too soon. We almost always deal with itchiness and sensitivities as the puppy grows into adulthood.

I don’t know if there is any consensus on how age of weaning affects predisposition. However, bully breeds, especially in Memphis, are often predisposed to allergies.

One of my cats chews the fur on his legs and tummy. There is no redness on his skin. Is it allergies or stress?

More than likely allergies.

What kind of flea prevention works best?

This is individualized based on the pet and the household. I would need more information.

Will supplements for skin, like Omegas, help the skin defend better against allergens?

There are some studies that show that it can help provide anti-inflammatory mediators. However, in very severe allergies it may not be enough to completely alleviate a problem.


Highlights from Our Symphony with Animals: The Psychology Between Human and Animal Bonds

Our Bond with Animals

In the 1970s, Biologist Edward Wilson coined the phrase biophilia to describe humans’ love of life. It is the inherent need to connect to other life, even insects and plants. Our relationship with animals is where our biophilia is especially evident.

Three-fourths of American households now include animals. This trend is growing across the world, too. We are no longer their owners. They are our companions, and we are their moms and dads. When we’re unable to bring animals into our homes, we seek them elsewhere. We join bird watching clubs, go on safaris, and visit wildlife sanctuaries. While zoos are problematic, they are so popular because humans feel the need to seek out other animals.

Humans have an innate capacity to empathize with animals. Animals seem to capture our hearts like no one else can. As a neurologist, I found myself asking where does that come from and how does that affect us all? In 1946, the WHO defined health as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of complete, physical, mental, and social well-being. In medicine, how we govern ourselves, how we work, and how we play can impact our health.

How Animals Impact Our Well-Being

For five years, I traveled the country asking how animals impact our social well-being. Studies show being with animals for a short period of time can increase our physical and mental health in measurable ways. Petting your cat or dog for just fifteen minutes can decrease blood pressure, lower baseline heart rate, and even reduce cholesterol. Some studies suggest being with animals can increase our lifespan. Not only do animals affect us physically, they also boost the release of positive neurochemicals. Other studies show the same boost occurs in animals and shows there’s a mutual benefit.

Animals can provide a companionship that is unique and help us see the world through a different lens. They can help people who have experienced trauma to reengage with the world. Not only can animals teach us joy, they can also teach empathy.

First Animal Therapy Program in Prison

At Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Ohio, there were rumors for decades about the brutal treatment of the inmates. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when three reporters conducted an undercover investigation, that the treatment came to light. This investigation led to a litany of reforms. One gained national attention. David Lee was a social worker at the institution in the seventies and eighties. He was an animal lover, so for 60 days he brought in aquariums and birds to the most suicidal and depressed wards and compared those with similar wards with no animals.

After 60 days, the results were irrefutable. Inmates were able to cut medication by half, had fewer violent outbreaks, and no suicide attempts. On the other wards, eight suicide attempts occurred and the same level of medication was needed. This was the first documented animal therapy program at a prison.

David expanded the program and brought in other animals like hamsters and cats. Many inmates would tell reporters they were learning kindness for the first time with their interactions with these animals. The program showed that animals could teach even those we consider unteachable empathy.

What Happens When We Break Our Bond with Animals?

Unfortunately, humans can also be incredibly cruel to animals. So how does that happen? How do humans suppress empathy? Many serial killers start off by hurting animals, but why? This hasn’t been studied extensively.

Violence toward animals is more strongly linked to everyday crimes. The NYPD has a squad that’s solely focused on crimes against animals. They know that humans who commit animal abuse are linked to violent crimes. That link is so strong that the FBI now tracks animal abuse the way it tracks murders.

Despite this positive change, the FBI and our police forces are failing to recognize a crucial issue. Most violence against animals is caused by our industries and our government. These places are hidden from our view because they affront our natural empathy for animals. As a society, what we have done is tell our industries and governments that we will look the other way.

Studies show that how we think about animals and the language we use to describe them can affect our relationships to them. We’ve given them labels that remove us from empathizing with these animals. We are becoming more aware of who these animals are so to further reduce them we turn them into parts, like nuggets, thighs, and strips. Our truths about animals is the creation of language we’ve used. To ease our conscious, we’ve labeled them.

The Importance of Regaining Empathy Toward Animals

Studies show us how to regain empathy toward animals, which also connects to empathy with humans. We’re more likely to have increased empathy to those who are more like us and those who are physically nearer to us. It’s easier for us to feel empathy for cats and dogs rather than mice or pigs because we’re more familiar with them. The more we familiarize ourselves with different types of animals and see how similar they are to us, the more we can increase empathy to them.

People can learn to reengage with empathy that may have been hidden. Empathy is the natural progression of our species, and it can and will grow. We can help people to see our well-being isn’t separate from the well-being of animals. We largely share the same struggles, and the solution is the same. Empathy for animals is the natural extension of empathy for other humans. What we gain when we recognize our kinship with animals is our health and happiness.

Is your dog stressed by the pandemic, too? Header

Highlights from Is Your Dog Stressed by the Pandemic Too?

How Has Covid-19 Affected Our Pets?

Not only have our normal routines been altered by Covid-19, our pets’ lives have been disrupted as well. More people are working from home, and online shopping has increased the amount of deliveries to front doors. Dogs’ normal schedules have been upended as owners shift walking and outdoor time to accommodate work.

More people are fostering and adopting dogs to relieve full animal shelters, while many might not be prepared to deal with a dog with an unknown history. Dog walking and people visiting dog parks has also increased.

All these changes can contribute to increased stress and anxiety in our pets.

Risk of Dog Bites

Most of the time, a dog bite occurs from a family dog biting a family member or guest. Since more people are home for longer periods of time, the chances of a dog bite are higher now.

Having more people in the home throughout the day may also mean the family dog is spending more time outside, and some are being tethered. This can lead to additional stress and anxiety for the dogs who aren’t accustomed to being outside more.

More people are enjoying outside time with their pets currently as well, which means more confrontations between dog owners and other dogs. Many dog bites happen when owners try to stop a dog fight during a walk or at the dog park.

Tips for Navigating the New Normal

  1. Have a routine for your pets which includes exercise, stimulation, toys and activities. Some great toys to encourage mental stimulation include puzzle toys, Kong Wobbler, and fun squeaky toys!
  2. Create a pet care plan in case you are incapacitated.
  3. Be careful when visitors come to your property. The front door is a hot spot.
  4. Plan kid’s play dates carefully and make sure you know your child will be safe at other’s homes during play dates.
  5. When the mail delivery is made, children (who are usually not home at that time), often run out to greet the carrier and block the vision of your dog if he is kept in a yard or pen so he cannot see deliveries.
  6. Take advantage of new technology that shows when your packages will be delivered to avoid issues with mail carriers and your dog.

Develop a Pet Care Plan

Especially now, it’s important to have a plan for your pets in case you are unable to care for them during an emergency. Make sure you write the plan down, preferably keeping a printed copy and one that can be emailed to necessary parties.

When creating your pet care plan, establish who would care for your animals in case of an emergency and whether this person (friend or family member) would keep your pets at your home to care for them or take them to the caretaker’s residence.

Make sure you have enough pet food, pet medicine, and other supplies your pet might need while you’re gone. Also, make sure the person who is trusted to care for your pets has full access to your home. Leave a way for your pets’ caretaker to transport your pets if needed, such as a crate or kennel.

If you can’t find someone to care for your pets, be sure to leave your veterinarian’s contact information, including care information for your pets, in a conspicuous place for first responders to locate.

Did You Know?

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. According to the CDC, more than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. 800,000 of those are serious enough to require medical attention.

Dog bites cost over $1 billion a year, with insurance companies paying out $250 million in liability claims. Dog attacks account for one-third of all homeowner liability claims.

How to Prevent a Dog Bite

  • Teach children how to properly approach a dog
  • Socialize your dog and use positive reinforcement
  • Never leave children unsupervised with dogs
  • When walking your dog, stay in your bubble and always keep your dog leashed
  • Understand your dog and other dog’s body language – A dog yawning can mean he is nervous, not sleepy, so be sure to examine the context
  • Do not disturb any dog who is caring for puppies, eating or sleeping
  • Never reach through or over a fence to pet a dog
  • Do not run past or from a dog
  • Do not encourage rough play with your puppy or dog
  • Always ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting a dog and let the dog sniff your hand before petting
  • Never approach any unfamiliar dog. If an unfamiliar dog approaches, stand still with your arms to the side.
  • Only allow people into your bubble if you feel they will greet your dog appropriately
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Highlights from Oncology & Our Pets: How Cancer Affects Our Pets & Why Life with Cancer Can Be Quality Life by Dr. Kathy L. Mitchener

Why Consider Treating Cancer?

In the eighties, an old dog was considered a senior at 7-9 years, while an old cat was a senior at 9-10 years. Now, our pets are living longer, which strengthens the bond between humans and pets. The goal of treating cancer is to preserve that bond.

#1 Natural Cause of Death

Cancer is reported by pet owners as the number one natural cause of death. Fortunately, it is also the most curable of all chronic diseases.

However, cancer is different because we deal with it emotionally different. Our past experien

ces with cancer in humans often color our experiences with cancer in our pets. Cancer is clients’ number one health concern. Cancer is a physical disease, and this causes pet owners to be more fearful of it than other diseases.

What Causes Cancer?

Today, about 50% of all dogs and cats will develop cancer. This is due to a variety of reasons. Dogs and cats are living much longer than previous decades. They are receiving more exams in their lifetimes, so illnesses like cancer are being diagnosed more frequently. Even the diagnostics vets use has greatly improved.

Genetics is a significant factor. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Boxers are all more likely to develop cancer.

The environment also plays a role. Things like secondhand smoke, sun exposure, and pesticides all contribute to an increased likelihood of cancer. Dogs and cats live in the environment differently than humans do. When they become exposed to toxic chemicals, they often ingest them from licking their paws or inhale them from sniffing the grass, etc.

How to Treat Cancer

In order to diagnose cancer early, it’s best to schedule more checkups with your veterinarian. Pay attention to any changes in behavior at home as well. If you notice a lump, bump, limp, cough or gag, it’s best to schedule an appointment for your pet to be examined. Alternatively, even if your pet has no symptoms, he or she could have cancer, so trust your intuition. If you feel something is off, don’t dismiss it.

Invest in your dog or cat’s nutrition. Feeding a healthy, nutritious diet can help prevent illnesses. For dogs and cats with cancer, the right nutrition can contribute to quality of life, enhanced survival, enhanced remission, and decreased side effects. Diets that are especially beneficial for pets with cancer are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in carbohydrates with moderate protein. Some of the recommended diets for dogs and cats with cancer include grain free, The Honest Kitchen, and home cooked (based on strict guidelines outlined on balanceit.com).

Life with Cancer Must Be Quality Life

The “cancer paradigm is changing from terminal disease to chronic disease.” Due to advancements in chemo-therapies and other therapies, dogs and cats with cancer can have quality lives, and that is always worth fighting for.

By thinking outside the box and combining approaches to treating cancer, you can achieve quality of life for your pet. Because there are different types of cancer, there should be different approaches to dealing with the specific type. Over the past decade, new treatment strategies have contributed to enhanced survival for pets with cancer. Increased time with our four-legged best friends is considered a success. There are thousands of dogs and cats who’re undergoing cancer treatment or have in the past and are living full, pain-free lives.

Dr. Mitchener’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

What is your stance on raw diets for cancer, especially the Answers diet that offers a fermented straight diet with virtually no carbohydrates?

They are low carb. However, we don’t know that the fermentation process makes them any safer. Until there’s more data, I’d be stretched to tell you that’s the direction to go. If you want to feed that, find it from a reputable source, and then talk with your veterinarian about why you want to feed that.

What is your opinion of using goat’s milk to reduce cancerous tumors?

There’s no data and scientific work to show that goat’s milk cures or treats cancer. What does goat’s milk have in it? It’s got a lot of good nutritional stuff in it, that when part of a balanced nutritional program can help support the body and make the body better capable of managing the cancer that’s present.

My Golden Retriever has a black spot behind his lower teeth that he didn’t have before. Should I get this checked out?

Yes, I would absolutely get that checked.

We’ve had two Standard Poodles who died of tumors on the spleen or liver. They both collapsed, and that was the only symptom. One was around 11 and the other was 13 years old. What could we have done, and would these tumors have been operably removed in an earlier stage?

Hindsight is 2020. We all know that. If I would do one thing, in large breed dogs especially, once they are 5 to 6 years of age, start doing annual diagnostic profiles looking at chest films, abdominal films and a scanning abdominal ultrasound because you might have picked that up earlier. A year is a long time though for a dog, so there’s a possibility you may not have. At least going forward, look at starting diagnostic testing earlier or running bloodwork like the cancer screening profile to see if there’s an index of suspicion. The truth is that hemangioma sarcoma is very tough to diagnose early on. It’s a silent killer and a very tough disease.

Raw and fermented goat’s milk contains CLA, and by adding it to my dog’s diet she is now cancer free! Have you heard of this?

Goat’s milk and fermented products are all the rage and have been for some time. I had a client a number of years ago believing that goat’s milk cures cancer. I’m not so sure that your dog had cancer and now doesn’t, and that it’s related to goat’s milk. If these products actually cured cancer, I’d be selling them. I think there are probably other factors. Has CLA been used to treat cancer in the dog? Absolutely. It’s part of a nutritional program that’s used primarily in breast cancer, so there’s probably a link there. But do I think that’s connected directly to the cure of cancer? Probably not, there are probably other factors or a misdiagnosis as well.

Is it lawn pesticides or herbicides that could be detrimental? My dog was diagnosed with TCC, or possibly another type of bladder cancer, and I’m very concerned we could’ve somehow caused her fate.

One of the things that cancer does to us is that it wears on us and makes us angry and feel guilty. What could I have done to have prevented that? Did I do something that could have caused that? And the reality is that we know there are links between herbicides, pesticides and various forms of cancer. As I spoke about earlier, transitional cell carcinoma in the corn belt in the Midwest is very prevalent in women and especially in Scottie dogs. Do I know that the chemicals you sprayed on your lawn caused the cancer? There’s no way we can tell you that for sure. However, if you can avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your yard I would. The problem you run in to is that your neighbors might be using those chemicals while you’re not. I think we’ll learn a lot more about chemicals and we’ll trend more towards using natural options.

Are you familiar with the dog magazines Dogs Naturally and Whole Dog Journal? Which one do you feel provides more accurate information when it comes to nutrition and raw diets?

I do subscribe to and read Whole Dog Journal. In any magazine, there are things that I go along with and things I don’t. The best thing is to pick the one you want to subscribe to. Then, select an article of interest and take it to your veterinarian to discuss and ask questions. It helps veterinarians learn and grow.

Do you feel the chemicals or ingredients used to make toys, supplies, food or treats cause cancer?

I don’t know that we have any data to support that, but we must be cautious about what we allow our dogs and cats to chew on and what’s in those products.

If my dog had cancer, what specific fruits or veggies should I add to my dog’s diet?

Whatever your dog will eat! Broccoli and cauliflower are great but stay away from those vegetables that are high in carbohydrates like corn and carrots. Sweet potatoes are great for a low glycemic index and a slow release of carbs. Blueberries are great as well. Bananas and apples are higher in sugar. If you go to the balanceit.com website, it will help you select for a low carb diet that’s higher in fat and protein and it’ll work with you on what amounts of fruits and vegetables are best.

Speaking of pet insurance, do you have a recommendation on a company?

It’s difficult to make a recommendation. Maybe with a bottle of wine I could talk to you about it personally! The cool thing about pet insurance is that it’s much better than it’s been even 5 or 10 years ago. I find that my clients who have pet insurance use it, and it takes the financial worry out of diagnosing and treating their pets’ diseases. I’m a huge advocate for it.

I adopted a 5-year-old Frenchie last year. When do I need to start worrying about cancer and what type is she susceptible to?

Cancer is not a prominent thing in the Frenchie breed. They’ve got lots of other problems like back issues and loss of spinal function. But the bottom line is that you shouldn’t be worried about it. I want you to have a conversation about how to prevent it with your veterinarian and work with them to develop a long-term treatment strategy. If you’re still concerned, have your vet run the Vitamin D, TK1 and C reactive protein profile and see if there’s an index of suspicion for her. Don’t worry. Take action.

My 11-year-old dog is in late stage nasal cancer and hasn’t eaten in 4 days. What do you recommend?

If your dog hasn’t eaten, he’s probably clinically dehydrated, so you’ll need to get to your veterinarian. Find out why he’s not eating. Is it because he can’t smell, does he not feel good, does he have some kidney impairment, is there a drug he’s taking that’s causing him not to eat? Go to your regular veterinarian and say he hasn’t eaten in a significant number of days and we need to get some nutrition in him or we’re going to lose him. If that’s the case, there are additional things you can do for nasal carcinoma to help control the symptoms.

My 9-year-old Lab has been diagnosed with spindle cell tumor and surgery was successful in removing it with clean borders. We are being told no other follow up is needed. Is this a standard course of treatment?

There’s a lot of unanswered questions there. Spindle cell tumor is a soft tissue sarcoma. It depends upon location, margins, grade, and how clean were the margins. Were they 1 mm margins or were they 2 cm margins? So there’s a lot of unanswered questions. My recommendation with any dog with cancer, if you are concerned and you need more information, either go back to your veterinarian or contact a specialist. There are two of us in town, and either one would be happy to discuss that with you. We would need the histopath and to see the dog to make a judgement as to what needs to be done next.

Why is weight loss a symptom of cancer even when the dog is eating well or eating more?

In the early stages of cancer cachexia, the cancer is altering the metabolism so it can survive and thrive while the body starves. If we allow that to progress unchecked for months or years, that cancer patient will ultimately start to lose weight and look anorexic. In that situation, it’s probably partially the cancer cachexia. In addition, depending upon where the cancer is affecting the patient (in a dog that’s eating well it’s probably not affecting the GI tract) it can affect things like absorption depending on the location.

How do you fell about homemade pet food diets in the treatment or prevention of cancer, and do you have any websites or book recommendations or certain recipes you like?

I’ll refer you to the website called balanceit.com developed by UC Davis by a team of veterinary board of nutritionists. It gives you the options to select what you want to feed your dog and then it shows you how to balance it so that your dog is fed a balanced, nutritious diet.

I’ve read that chicken may have issues for a dog to eat, raw chicken as part of a raw diet. Does anyone know if red meat is more likely to cause cancer than any other meat dogs or other animals may eat?

The truth is that we don’t know the answer. We do know that raw chicken, raw beef, or any other raw meat has the potential to have salmonella or enteropathogenic E. coli present in it as contaminants, and those are a problem. The American Veterinary Medical Association has taken a strong stand against the use of raw diet, especially those developed at home without any nutritional guidance.

What is the concern with The Honest Kitchen?

I believe it’s a dehydrated raw food, and because The Honest Kitchen is unable to provide information on what temperature they use during the dehydration process, we aren’t sure if pathogens are still present in their food.

Information on The Honest Kitchen’s dehydration process:

The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated formulas are actually slow cooked and then dehydrated. It’s a cooked food so it’s very safe, and it’s made in a facility that also makes human foods. Their safety is bar none. Click on the links to learn more about THK’s safety procedures!




The Skinny on Fat, Joe Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACN header

Highlights from The Skinny on Fat Obesity by Dr. Joe Bartges

A Big Problem

According to the 2018 National Pet Obesity Survey, around 55 – 60% of cats and dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese. For pets, obesity is defined as 30% above ideal body weight.

Causes of Obesity

While several factors can contribute to obesity, weight gain is simply that intake is greater than activity. Not enough energy expenditure will eventually lead to increased weight.

Pets that are indoors and have low activity are more likely to be overweight. Factors like gender, breed, and age can also contribute to obesity. For dogs, females tend to be more overweight than males while in cats it’s reversed. Having an owner who is overweight also increases the likelihood the pet will be overweight or obese.

Complications of Obesity

There are numerous health risks associated with obesity including chronic inflammation, hypertension, osteoarthritis, cancer, and decreased lifespan. In addition to these serious health complications, obese pets also have increased risk of endocrinopathies, orthopedic issues, heart and lung problems, skin issues, and functional problems such as decreased mobility. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found in a study that dogs fed 25% fewer calories saw a 16% increase in life span.

Diagnosing Your Pet as Overweight

Diagnosing obesity can be difficult and requires a physical examination. In certain cases, what is believed to be obesity might be due to fluid retention from an underlying medical issue, a dense overcoat, or pregnancy.

A helpful way to determine whether your pet is overweight on your own involves inspecting your hands and relating them to your pet’s ribs and top of the spine. With a closed fist, rub your finger across your knuckles. If your pet’s ribs or top of spine feel like the dip between each knuckle, your pet is thin.

Now, with your hand flat, rub your finger across your knuckles and notice there is not an extreme dip between the bones. If this is what your pet’s ribs or top of spine feels like, your pet’s weight is ideal. Finally, flip your hand over with your palm facing up. Notice how when rubbing you can’t feel the bones at all. If your pet’s ribs or top of spine feel like this, your pet is overweight.

For an in-depth diagnosis, your veterinarian will rule out any other medical conditions and use a body composition or muscle condition score to assess your pet’s weight.


Treating Uncomplicated Obesity

Weight loss is a team effort between you, your pet, and professionals. There are three main ways to achieve weight loss: intake control, caloric control, and metabolic control. Changing your pet’s food to a lower calorie, higher fiber option while decreasing portion size and increasing exercise is the most comprehensive strategy.

Typically, animals should lose 1-2% of body weight per week. Weight gain and reduction are not linear. Time and consistency are key to your pet losing weight. Ultimately, it is easier to prevent weight gain in pets than it is to reduce weight.

Dr. Bartges’ Responses to Unanswered Questions from the Class

My dog seeks out a certain grass to eat. Should I give her vegetables to help with her digestion?

No one knows for certain why they eat grass. It’s possible that it’s digestion. It’s possible that it’s just a preferred texture. Vegetables likely won’t make much of a difference in this case.

What type of food would you recommend for a dog who has hip problems because she is overweight?

First, get the excess weight off of the pet. At that point, try a diet that is beneficial to her joints.
Hollywood Feed suggests also adding a joint supplement – like Prudence!


How can I get a thin dog to gain weight? She’s on a raw diet, she’s fed more than the other dogs and I try to limit her activity. She also has high anxiety and nervousness which contribute to her being thin.

Her current diet does not sound like it is working for her. She may have a problem with absorption, or she is just not getting what her body needs from the current diet. I would suggest getting her evaluated by a vet to make sure she’s healthy & parasite free. Then, check to make sure she is being fed the right amount of food for her body. If all is well, she may just need a totally different type of food. Anxiety is likely not contributing to her weight, at least not that much.

Hollywood Feed suggests goats milk from Answers, Primal or The Honest Kitchen to add weight and calming supplements like Progility or Heavenly Hounds for her anxiety!

What are good feeding toys/puzzles for cats, and is that a good option for dogs as well?

Dog puzzle toys are often just as good for cats!! In fact, some highly intelligent herding dogs have had trouble figuring out some puzzle toys – but when given to the cats, they were a perfect fit! I suggest starting out with a lower difficulty puzzle toy so that your pet doesn’t get too frustrated. Then, as they master that one – graduate to a harder one!

Hollywood Feed suggests trying a Bob-a-lot or a Kong Wobbler!

How much less food do you need to feed?

In most situations, you start by estimating the pet’s ideal weight. Then, calculate the amount of food needed to meet their resting energy requirements & feed that amount to induce weight loss. Be sure to do this under the guidance of your veterinarian to ensure your pet is losing a healthy amount of weight at the appropriate rate.

How well do cats digest dairy?

Cats actually digest dairy quite well. The closer they are to birth, the better, because they had just recently been nursing. The lactase enzyme is still present in their system, so if they are reintroduced, they usually maintain the ability to digest it quite well.

Hollywood Feed suggests goats’ milk!

What is a good toy that a golden retriever would like that gives them exercise?

Provide something that they can retrieve! This will keep them entertained and moving!

Hollywood Feed suggests toys like Chuck It!, Petsafe Automatic Ball Launcher, Tennis Balls, Kong Frisbees, and Mammoth Rope Toys!

What are some good exercises to do with my dog besides walking and running?

Get with a professional trainer to get your dog more active! If you are not able to walk or run, try a long game of fetch or tug-of-war. Even better, try some of these activities in the water!

Hollywood Feed suggests fun, waterproof toys like Chuck It!


What is a kcal and how do I convert it to normal calories for my customers?

Kcal is 1,000 calories. For the most part, when dealing with food, people are often referring to kcals rather than calories – so there is often no need to convert.

How do you recommend animal care professionals address weight issues with clients when they say the vet says the weight is fine?

In all honesty, vets and nurses are ALSO trying to avoid this awkward conversation. It’s not uncommon for some vets to wait until the client asks for their advice on their pet’s weight. As a person in the animal industry, politely urge these pet parents to discuss their pet’s weight at their next vet appointment. Use the body condition score to reference this visually. If the pet parent asks their vet about the weight, the vet will be happy to finally have that conversation and provide a plan.

I have an 11-month-old AmStaff Mastiff female. She has been on a PMR diet since December and is thriving, but (1) I want to make sure she’s getting all she needs, nutrition-wise and (2) is just cutting back on her 80-10-10 amount of feed enough for her to lose weight? She is 97lbs and her professional trainer believes she’s too heavy.

Prey model raw food diets are supposed to mimic eating freshly caught prey with the 80:10:10 (muscle meat:bone:organs). First, be sure that the chosen diet is complete and balanced and meets all of the nutritional requirements. For instance, bones don’t necessarily provide calcium. You often see bone meal in pet food diets to ensure calcium is being provided. If calcium is low in the diet, it’s possible that there is an imbalance of calcium:phosphorous. You also need to be sure that the meat you’ve chosen is not too high in fat. For instance, you could have an usually low in fat protein like beef, but the marbling in the beef could be high – meaning that slab of beef could be too high in fat. Talk with your vet about the details of your pet’s diet and be sure that this is providing everything they need in the correct amounts.

What is the best diet adult dog food for small dogs (chihuahuas) with a small sized kibble?

There is not one ‘best’ dog food. Every pet has different needs. Look at the pet food labels, call the companies, and make a decision based on how your dog seems to be handling the diet.

Hollywood Feed carries a variety of small breed diet food. We’d be happy to make recommendations based on what your dog needs.

Do you recommend a certain dog food to help a 5-year-old Golden Retriever from getting health problems that they are noted for getting or a supplement?  Thanks!!

Goldens typically get cancer, lymphoma, skin disease, DCM (may have a taurine deficiency). Very few, if any, studies look into prevention. Most studies are about treating the disease. I may recommend feeding a diet that is higher in protein than the average adult dog food. Goldens tend to be active dogs and we want to retain their muscle mass.

Hollywood Feed suggests adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s diet, like Prudence Absolute Immune Health or Healthy Essentials Probiotic Spray.

Does coconut oil really help with shedding? What about grape seed or fish oil?

Not sure about grape seed oil or coconut oil, but fish oil could be great for multiple issues such as an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic (if certain dosage used), or even arthritis.

Hollywood Feed suggests Prudence Complete Skin and Coat with Krill Oil!

What’s a good weight gain (weekly) for kittens just weaned?

Gain about 100 grams a week until about 5-6 months of age. Males gain about 125-150 grams/week. Females gain about 100 grams/week.

Would it be better to not neuter or spay your pet just to cut out the obesity risk? Is something like a vasectomy a better idea?

Generally, I suggest to wait until a certain age or life stage before spaying/castrating.

Amy Lear, CPDT-KA, ABCDT, ABCCT and her pup header

Highlights from Homeschool for Canines with Trainer Amy Lear

Keep a Close Eye

With anything new – please monitor your pets! This applies to a new bed, kennel, chew, toy, collar, harness, etc. Some items are not right for every pet – make sure that this new item is something appropriate & safe for your pet. As always, please remember the Hollywood Feed Promise: If your pet doesn’t love it, or if you don’t love it, we’ll gladly replace or refund it!

Use a clicker, high-value treats, and a treat bag when you’re training your pet with new commands. 

Stick to a Routine

Keep a routine – use a kennel or a bed! This gives both of you your own space to escape to. Make the kennel a positive space. Give them a high-value treat or toy while they are inside of the crate

Use Toys to Combat Boredom

Use a filled Kong to give your pet something to focus on during your mealtime, while you’re working from home, or to just give them a fun & stimulating treat! Check out some recipes here:

You can also keep your pets stimulated with maze bowls, Kong Wobblers, Bob-A-Lots! Fill these items with food or treats to keep their minds busy & active. 

Poochie Bells for Potty Training

If you’re teaching potty training to a new pet – puppy or adult – try using Poochie Bells! Hang these on the door you will open when letting them out to potty. Have your dog use their hand or or nose to ring the bells each time you go outside to potty. Eventually, they’ll associate the sound of the bells with going outside to potty. This will let them alert you when they need to go outside! 

Tools for Pullers

If your dog is pulling during a walk – try out the Easy-Walk Harness by PetSafe! This is a front-clip harness, and it’s the same harness that Thor was wearing during each class. Martingale collars are also a great option for pulling. These slip over the head & get tight when the dog pulls – but they have a ‘stop’ so that they will only get so tight when pulled. 

Help Alleviate Your Pet’s Anxiety

To help ease your pet’s anxiety try a calming treat, a Thundershirt, pheromones or even a stimulating chew to keep them occupied. Treats like Heavenly Hounds and Progility offer calming ingredients to soothe your pet during storms, traveling, or separation anxiety.


Try The Pet Corrector™ for Unwanted Behaviors

If your dog needs a bit of a push in the right direction during training, try The Pet Corrector™ Canned Air. This device emits a hiss of compressed gas (HFC 134a) that’s completely safe for dogs. The gas releases a white noise on the broad spectrum – either a low-frequency rumble or high-frequency hiss depending on the setting. It’s effective for treating pet’s unwanted behaviors.