Integrative Therapy in Dogs with Nervous System & Other Disorders
R.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Maintaining health is becoming increasingly difficult. All animals are born with a tremendous
capacity to heal. In fact, most (up to 80%) patients who experience a temporary illness will
overcome the illness without costly intervention. This healing system is now beginning to be
understood and involves an integrated system of immune regulation by the body, offering
resistance to disease and injury. Unfortunately, this healing system can be overwhelmed by
many factors including poor diet, bad hygiene and chronic exposure to environmental stresses.
Pollution in the environment leads to internal pollution as the pollutants are concentrated over
time. Internal pollution poisons the healing system. In the worst cases, one of two outcomes can
be predicted. The immune system can be increased, leading to chronic immune diseases.
Alternatively, the immune system can be shutdown, leading to cancer. It is not always possible
to live in a pollution-free environment, it can come into the body through air, food or water. On
the other hand, the latter sources of pollution can be minimized through healthy nutrition and
safe drinking water.
Traditional Western medicine is excellent in diagnosing disease and in treating acute disease.
However, the treatment of chronic immune disease and cancer have yet to achieve the same
level of success. Part of this is due to the fact that these conditions respond slowly and best
when the healing system is taken into account during the treatment process. Eastern medicine,
which involves long-term changes in "life-style", has many aspects which make it better in
treating chronic conditions, since the goal of Eastern medicine is to support the healing system.
A new concept which is beginning to take hold in the West is "Integrative Medicine", where the
best of both Western and Eastern medicine are combined to offer the patient the best chances
of returning to health. If an animal breaks its leg, it needs to be taken to an emergency facility to
have it diagnosed and "set". Once this has been performed, then the patient needs to heal, by
whatever means supports that best.
This series of pages is designed to explain certain changes in diet, life-style and supplements
for which there is ample scientific evidence to suggest that they will help animals stay healthy
and to assist them when healing from disease. Many of the recommendations are good for all
dogs, while others recommendations are made for specific conditions. Some of the measures
should be initiated early in the life of the dog, so that their maximal impact in improving the
dog's "life-style" can be seen. Other measures should be added as the dog ages to help
maintain health through all phases of life. The effects of "lifestyle" changes will always be seen;
however, these measures are better at preventing disease, than stopping it when the disease
process is far advanced. It is never to soon for healthy choices. As with any form of medication
or treatment protocol, consult with your veterinarian about the appropriateness of these
suggestions for your dog.
The importance of regular aerobic exercise in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases
should not be overlooked. Many studies in human beings have demonstrated improved muscle
performance, memory and cerebral blood flow in patients who undertake aerobic exercise.
Many of the goals of treatment in chronic neurodegenerative diseases are obtainable through
regular exercise. Two forms of exercise seem the most useful: walking and swimming. Both
have their merits and they may not be exclusive. A number of owners have reported that
swimming assists dogs beyond the exercise of mere walking. Swimming generally increases
muscle tone and allows movement without stress on joints. Walking, on the other hand, helps
build strength, since gravity is involved. In older patients, particularly those with arthritis,
gradually building the exercise program is important. In addition, allowing a day of rest between
heavy workouts can help the patient recover faster from the exercise. A good general reference
of exercise physiology and exercise programs is a book by Jeff Galloway: Galloway's Book on
Publications, Inc., Bolinas , CA , 1984.
I recommend starting with 5-10 minutes of walking or swimming every other day for 2 weeks.
Then, increase the length of exercise time to a goal of 30 minutes twice a week and a long walk
of 1 hour once a week. If your dog already exceeds this limits, that is fine. However, remember
to provide a day of easier exercise between vigorous workouts. This is particularly important as
the patient gets older. It is sustained exercise which is important, walking in the backyard is not
adequate. Many patients with chronic spinal disorders have remained functional because of
exercise alone. We use to think that hospitalization was harmful to patients. We now know this
is the lack of exercise which is harmful. Make sure your pet gets their exercise if they are
hospitalized or kenneled for any period of time.
Dietary and dietary supplement management of dogs has not received great attention. We, and
others, have long sense recommended certain dietary additives do in part to deficient levels of
certain vitamins in dogs afflicted with some disease. On the other hand, diet may have a
powerful influence on the development of chronic degenerative diseases and new information
suggests that dietary regulation might play a more significant role in the progression and
development of diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Elimination of toxins from pre-processed
food may assist in preventing a number of immune-related disorders. Diet might help in
correcting this defect and allow the immune system in dogs to stabilize. The principles of dietary
therapy are outlined here, including a "home-made" diet. For those who cannot "cook" for their
dog, the basic diet should be supplemented with the additional ingredients listed below. It is
best to choose a dog food which is close in protein content and is as "natural" as possible. Wild
dogs were not meat eaters. They ate bodies, including intestinal contents (often laden with
plants and plant materials). Dogs have evolved so that eating animal fats and protein do not
cause them to suffer the same problems as human beings when eating these sources of
saturated fats. Even so, dogs probably suffer from the same causes of dietary and
environmental intoxication which affects human beings.
The basic diet and its components have been check for balance. In addition to the basic
components, we are adding vitamins, minerals and natural herb supplements for which no
specific requirement is known or at levels which are to provide a specific pharmacologic effect.
Again, we recommend those compounds which scientific evidence supports their efficacy. Used
according to the following formula, the diet and compounds should not do any harm and have
the potential to do good. By cooking for your dog, you can select healthy products which do not
have preservatives and additives which might be harmful. In addition, you have the option to
use organically grown foods. If the dietary approach is successful, patients may not need to use
other medications to prevent further deterioration.
Basic diet: (based upon 1 serving size for 30-50 pounds body weight)
2 oz Boneless Pork Center Loin Chop (boiled, baked or fried in olive oil)
4 oz Tofu (soybean curd)
8 oz Long Grain Brown Rice (3 oz cooked in 6 oz water)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Whole Carrots (boiled and then cut up)
1 cup Spinach (cooked)
4 Tbs Green Bell Pepper (chopped and steamed)
4 Broccoli Spears (boiled and then cut up)
This diet (1 serving for 30-50 pounds body weight) provides approximately 1160-1460 calories
per serving. You can substitute poultry meats, beef and lamb for the pork chop. This will alter
the composition slightly, mainly by adding additional fat. The weight of meat is based upon
boneless weight. Most of the items can be prepared in a microwave. Based upon your dogs
body weight, you will need to make more or less. For example, if your dog weighs 80 pounds,
multiply all the ingredients by 1.5 (can be as high as 2.5 times, though), keeping their relative
proportions. This is a starting point. You can also make this portion of the diet in advance,
aliquot it into appropriate quantities and freeze it for later use. Just before feeding time, remove
the diet from the freezer and thaw in hot (or boiling) water or microwave to defrost. To complete
the diet, add (amount per serving) before serving:
1 tsp Dry Ground Ginger
2 Raw Garlic Cloves (crushed)
½ tsp Dry Mustard
Using the above diet, approximately 1 serving equals 1 can of commercial dog food. The exact
requirements for your dog can be approximated by substituting the diet on that basis. You
should weigh your dog each week, if losing weight, increase the amount of the diet given. If
gaining weight, cut back on the amount given. Eventually, the correct amount will be clear. The
reason why the amount has such a broad range in that ideas about the daily caloric
requirements vary. Since many dogs have sensitive stomachs, it may be wise to phase in the
new diet by mixing it with their existing food until they have adapted. Start by mixing the diet
with their existing food in equal amounts. After 1 week, increase the diet to 75% of their food.
After another week, switch completely over to the diet. This diet is balanced and high in most of
the vitamins and minerals which your dog will need. Any shortcomings will be corrected with the
supplements given below as part of the treatment.
The general purpose of the diet is to provide excellent quality of ingredients with protein
coming from Soybean curd (tofu). Tofu contains many valuable flavonoids and other ingredients
which promote health. If you decide to use a commercial food, you may want to use a Soybean
Concentrate which contains these ingredients, but lacks the extra protein. Alternatively, you can
add tofu to the diet (5-6 oz/day) and add honey or molasses to it (¼ cup) to make it taste better.
Reduce the commercial diet by 25-33% and monitor your dogs weight, reducing or increasing
the commercial diet accordingly. The addition of raw garlic is to provide garlic's
anti-inflammatory action and (since it is raw) to provide an antibiotic action. Raw garlic is
antibacterial and anti-fungal. This action is lost when garlic is cooked or dried. Dry ginger is also
a good anti-inflammatory. Together with garlic, dry ginger can replace the need for aspirin-like
(NSAID) drugs. Fresh ginger or pickled ginger are also good anti-emetic compounds, calming
the stomach. Mustard provides ingredients which support improve digestion and bowel function.
So, raw garlic, dry ginger (occasionally using fresh or pickled ginger) and dry mustard should be
added to the food, even if it is commercial. These will not unbalance the commercial food,
providing important drug properties without the side-effects of "non-natural" drugs. Using the
vegetables, the diet also provides many nutrient and vitamins which are not found in
commercial dog food. If commercial dog food is given, giving extra Soy Concentrate, Soy
Lecithin and Beta-Carotene to the diet will improve the commercial food. They are not needed, if
you feed the above diet. The diet provides a balanced, moderate protein and fat diet which is
high in many essential nutrients. The only commercial food which fulfills many of the goals is
Canine Vegetarian Diet
, available from many specialty pet supply stores.
If your dog is on commercial dog food or on the above "home-cooked" diet, there is no need for
a multivitamin supplement. If you desire to give your dog a multivitamin, then one of the pet
vitamins daily is plenty.
B complex is a balanced form of vitamin B supplementation; which is the only way B vitamins
should be given, unless specifically instructed to give one of the B vitamins by your veterinarian.
B vitamins are cofactors for a number of important biological processes. They are important in
maintaining a positive environment for neural regenerative efforts. In addition, they are water
soluble so that any excess is merely eliminated in the urine. I recommend that all dogs receive
B complex supplements twice a day. For small dogs, use the regular B complex. For medium
size dogs, use high potency B complex (B 50s). For large dogs, use high potency stress formula
B complex (B 100s).
Vitamin E is an important nutrient which has been shown to have a number of physiologic and
pharmacologic effects. It in a potent antioxidant and reduces fat oxidation and increases the
production of HDL cholesterol. At higher doses, it also reduces cyclooxygenase and
lipooxygenase activities, decreasing production of prostaglandins and leukotreines. As such, it
is a potent anti-inflammatory drug. It will reduce platelet function and prolong the bleeding time
slightly in healthy individuals. There is no known side-effects to vitamin E at levels less than
4000-6000 IU per day (except in cats, where levels >100 IU/day can create hepatolipidosis). I
recommend that vitamin E be given to all dogs. For dogs under 2 years of age, give 400 IU of
vitamin E daily. For dogs over 2 years of age, give 800 IU of vitamin E daily.
Vitamin C works with vitamin E and helps regenerate vitamin E, potentiating its antioxidant
effect. Vitamin C supplementation does no harm, since the excess is excreted through the
kidney. While dogs produce vitamin C in their bodies (unlike human beings and guinea pigs who
must have it in their diet), under stress or disease, they may need vitamin C in excess of their
manufacturing capacity. In excessive dose, vitamin C can cause flatulence and diarrhea. This
intestinal tolerance level varies among dogs, but is generally around 3000 mg per day in an
adult German Shepherd. I recommend this be given to all dogs. For dogs under 2 years of age,
give 250 mg vitamin C twice a day. For dogs over 2 years of age, give 500 mg of vitamin C
Selenium is an important mineral which has antioxidant properties similar to vitamin E. Vitamin
E can replace the requirement for selenium in the body, but selenium cannot substitute for
vitamin E. In addition, selenium does not cross the blood-brain barrier like vitamin E. On the
other hand, selenium may help allow vitamin E to be more effective. Many plant sources are low
in selenium and supplementation may be important. Selenium can create toxicity if given at too
high a level; therefore, never give more that 200 µg of selenium per day in large dogs nor more
than 100 µg per day to small dogs.
Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant which may protect against certain forms of cancer. It
is available in fresh vegetables and can be provided by eating plenty of these. If vegetables are
lacking in the diet, then supplementation with extra beta-carotene is probably wise. The dosage
should be between 10,000 and 25,000 IU daily, depending upon the size of the dog. It is
available through most health food stores. On the other hand, it is easier to give a carrot,
providing not only the beta-carotene, but also other nutrients. (One medium raw carrot has
25,000 IU of beta-carotene; cooking reduces the content by half.)
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the
constituents of fish oils that act as anti-inflammatory agents and may be worth trying if your dog
has an autoimmune disorder or arthritis. Many versions of these substances are on the shelves
of health-food stores, from salmon oil to capsules of concentrated EPA. However, eating some
cooked salmon or sardines may have benefits over capsular forms of the fish oils. Alternatively,
you can give ground flax seeds, flax oil, or hemp oil as a dietary supplement; rather than fish
oils. These materials will reduce platelet function for a brief period in dogs, but it seems that
dogs compensate for this within about 8 weeks. Omega-3 fatty acids replace the 2-series fatty
acids over time. As such, cellular stimulation produces 3-series prostaglandins and
thromboxanes. The later does not cause inflammation and reduce blood flow like the 2-series
thromboxanes. I recommend all dogs receive 1000 mg of fish oil capsule, 1 T ground flax seeds
or eat 2 sardines every day. Since some studies have demonstrated negative or adverse effects
using fish oil capsules (due to spoilage), I prefer giving sardines or ground flax seeds as the
Evening primrose oil, black currant oil or borage oil are natural sources of gammalinolenic acid,
a fatty acid which is hard to get in the diet. GLA is an effective anti-inflammatory agent with
none of the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. It also promotes healthy growth of skin, hair,
and nails. It may be good for skin conditions, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. It takes six to
eight weeks to see changes after adding GLA to the diet. I recommend small to medium dogs
receive 500 mg of a GLA source daily, either as evening primrose oil, as black currant oil or as
borage oil. Large dogs should receive 500 mg of a GLA source twice a day.
One tonic I recommend is an herbal preparation made from the leaves of the ginkgo tree
(Ginkgo biloba). Recently extracts of ginkgo leaves have attracted much attention from
researchers because of their ability to increase blood flow to the brain. You can buy capsules of
these extracts in most health-food stores, although different brands vary considerably in their
content of active ingredients (ginkgolides). Ginkgo is nontoxic. For dogs with nervous system
disorders, give 1 capsule twice a day.
Ginseng: (males only)
Two species of ginseng are available: Oriental ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng
(Panax quinquefolium). Both are full of compounds (ginsenosides) that work on the
pituitary-adrenal axis, increasing resistance to stress and affecting metabolism, skin and muscle
tone, and hormonal balance. Oriental ginseng is more of a stimulant and can raise blood
pressure in some people, so I recommend using only the American species for dogs. Ginseng
probably has little to offer young dogs, but may provide an increase in vitality to older one. I
recommend using 1 capsule of American ginseng once or twice a day in male dogs over 6
Dong quai: (females only)
Dong quai is a Chinese herbal remedy made from the root of Angelica sinensis, a large plant in
the carrot family. It is often called "female ginseng," because it is a general tonic for women and
the female reproductive system in much the same way that ginseng acts as a tonic for men and
the male reproductive system. Dong quai is available in the form of encapsulated extracts. It is a
good general remedy for female dogs who lack energy. I recommend using 1 capsule of dong
quai once or twice a day for female dogs over 5 years of the age.
Green tea is a good general tonic and has some cholesterol lowering effects. It also contains
theophylline which can help boost energy. It is available as a capsular extract or you can make
green tea and add it to the diet. I recommend 1 capsule (or cup) twice a day for dogs.
Grape seed extract:
A great deal of recent evidence supports the value of grape seed extract in reducing free
radicals and decreasing the chances of developing chronic diseases. It is best to use
standardized extracts. Alternatively, your dog can drink 1 cup of "purple" grape juice a day. The
dose of the extract is 1 capsule daily (usually 50 mg in strength).
Siberian ginseng is derived from the root of a large, spiny shrub (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
found in Siberia and northern China . It is a relative of true ginseng, but has entirely different
properties. Siberian ginseng has "adaptogenic" properties and reduces physiologic responses
to stress. Scientific investigations suggest it increases physical performance and endurance and
improves immune function. For dogs, give 1 capsule twice a day.
An important aspect of your pets development is play and attention from you, the owner. Not
only do human beings benefit from contact with animals, animals benefit from the care and
interaction with their owners. Companionship and care given mutually will help the owner and
the pet live happier and healthier lives. No matter how busy or hectic things seem to be, be sure
to spend time with your pet. It is best to set aside play time. This can be part of the regular
exercise period, but also make time to cuddle, hold and touch your pet. It is also good to
"practice" manipulations which might be needed in times of injury or illness so that they will be
less stressful should they be needed. Don't worry, your pet will welcome the attention.
Two things have been ingrained in the teaching of veterinarians for years: 1) dogs should eat
dog food and 2) dogs should be vaccinated yearly for every disease imaginable. Hopefully, we
have dispelled the myth for the former; that is, dogs should eat good food, not necessarily dog
food. If we place food for dogs on a scale of 1 to 10, then balanced, home-prepared food (such
as the diet above) rates a 10, since it can use fresh, choice ingredients. Highly processed food,
like hamburgers, french fries and T.V. dinners (which some owners eat), probably only rate a 1
for dogs. Good commercial dog foods rate a 6-7, without other additions. Nature's Recipe
(Canine Vegetarian diet) rates an 8.
Currently, we recognize that dogs probably are over vaccinated and there is mounting evidence
that these vaccinations may play a role in the increasing incidence of auto-immune diseases
and even cancers that we see today. Unfortunately, no one knows the real need for vaccination,
but yearly boosters for all infectious diseases is overkill. Clearly, in many cases, the
vaccinations are not necessary and giving them may cause problems. The risks of not giving
vaccinations (once the healthy young dog has been adequately immunized) is becoming less
than the risk of giving them. This is an important issue and more data will be coming based
upon the current research and observations by concerned veterinarians. This is what appears to
be the prevailing view that dogs should receive their puppy series against the major canine
diseases, including parvovirus and bordetella. These vaccinations should be repeated at 1 year
of age. After that time, only necessary vaccines should be given. That includes, of course, the
legally required rabies vaccinations. On the other hand, it is clear that rabies vaccination is
effective for up to 3 years in the dog. As such, it may be necessary to lobby local and state
governments to reflect rabies vaccination requirements which fit the scientific evidence. Once
puppihood is over, further parvovirus vaccination is probably unwarranted. The disease in adults
is mild and self-limiting. Intranasal vaccination for bordetella may provide life-long immunity. In
areas where Lyme's disease or leptospirosis are not prevalent, vaccination for these agents
seems unnecessary. On the other hand, vaccination for canine distemper and canine hepatitis
virus are probably warranted at some time while the animal ages. There are currently 3 ways to
do this: 1) monitor titers and vaccinate when the IgG antibody titer drops below 1:50 (although
this may not be any more valid than guessing), 2) re-vaccinate when the dog gets 10-12 years
old (which in many cases will be adequate), or 3) play the odds and vaccinate every 3 years
(which is similar to the recommendation for cats by the Board of Feline Practitioners).
No one wants their pet to contract a preventable disease, yet most healthy animals do not need
vaccination as often as is currently practiced. Immunodefficient animals may not respond
adequately regardless of the vaccination schedule. Discuss these options with your veterinarian
and make an informed choice about vaccination. Hopefully, your veterinarian will have thought
and struggled with these issues and be able to support your decision about your pet's health. R
: Just because you dog does not need yearly vaccinations, they should still have a yearly
check-up by your veterinarian!
Links to Integrative Therapy for Specific Conditions:
The information presented here is for educational usage. It is not an
endorsement of any particular product. You will need to discuss the measures and natural
alternatives with your veterinarian. If the problem worsens or new signs develop, discontinue
medication and seek appropriate veterinary medical care. This material represents the views of
the author and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the VMTH or the University
of Florida .
Physical Properties of Escherichia coli Spheroplast Membranes Yen Sun,Tzu-Lin Sun,and Huey W. Huang1Department of Physics & Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, Texas We investigated the physical properties of bacterial cytoplasmic membranes by applying the method of micropi- pette aspiration to Escherichia coli spheroplasts. We found that the properties of spheroplast membranes are significantlydifferent from that of laboratory-prepared lipid vesicles or that of previously investigated animal cells. The spheroplasts canadjust their internal osmolality by increasing their volumes more than three times upon osmotic downshift. Until the spheroplastsare swollen to their volume limit, their membranes are tensionless. At constant external osmolality, aspiration increases thesurface area of the membrane and creates tension. What distinguishes spheroplast membranes from lipid bilayers is that thearea change of a spheroplast membrane by tension is a relaxation process. No such time dependence is observed in lipidbilayers. The equilibrium tension-area relation is reversible. The apparent area stretching moduli are several times smallerthan that of stretching a lipid bilayer. We conclude that spheroplasts maintain a minimum surface area without tension by a mem-brane reservoir that removes the excessive membranes from the minimum surface area. Volume expansion eventually exhauststhe membrane reservoir; then the membrane behaves like a lipid bilayer with a comparable stretching modulus. Interestingly, themembranes cease to refold when spheroplasts lost viability, implying that the membrane reservoir is metabolically maintained.
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