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Shawn Messonnier, DVM

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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!

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SAMe stand for S-adenosylmethionine. It is closely related to the ATP molecule, which the body uses for energy for the cells. When ATP combines with the amino acid methionine, S-adenosylmethionine is formed.

SAMe was discovered in Italy in 1952. First investigated as a treatment for depression, along the way it was accidentally noted to improve arthritis symptoms, which was a positive “side-effect.” SAMe is presently classed with glucosamine and chondroitin as a...

Constipation, often suspected by pet owners but in fact rarely diagnosed, occurs when the pet is unable to properly evacuate his or her bowels. As a result, the feces remain in the colon where water from the fecal material continues to be absorbed by the colon. The fecal matter dries out and forms a hard mass. While constipation can occur in dogs (usually as a result of eating large amounts of foreign material), true constipation usually occurs in cats.

Principal...

Upper respiratory infections are common in kittens and rare in most adult cats. Common infectious organisms include the Bordetella bacterium, feline herpes virus (viral rhinotracheitis), feline calicivirus, mycoplasma, and Chlamydia psittaci.

Infection occurs as a result of contact with the organism, which is present in nasal, eye, and salivary secretions from infected or diseased cats. Common clinical signs include discharge from the eyes and...

Chondroitin sulfate is the major glycosaminoglycan found in cartilage; it also helps inhibit enzymes that are destructive to the joints. Chondroitin sulfate is a naturally occurring substance in the body.

Therapeutic Uses
A study in the 1998 journal, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, reported that chondroitin sulfate is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Because chondroitin production by the body decreases with aging, supplementation...

Degenerative myelopathy is a common cause of neurological dysfunction of the rear limbs (posterior paralysis) of dogs. Other causes include intervertebral disk disease, spinal tumors, hypothyroidism, and cauda equine syndrome. Most commonly, middle-aged to older larger breed dogs, especially German Shepherds are affected. The disorder is slowly progressive and often confused with hip dysplasia; many pets mistakenly diagnosed with hip dysplasia in fact have degenerative myelopathy....

Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine (hormonal) disease of dogs and is most commonly seen in middle-aged to older dogs. The average age of dogs with hypothyroidism is seven years of age. While any breed can be affected, increased incidence of hypothyroidism is seen in Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Great Danes, Irish Setters, Doberman Pinschers, and Old English Sheepdogs.

The cause of hypothyroidism is believed to be immunemedicated thyroiditis,...

Common uses for white willow bark are for arthritis, pain and inflammation in dogs, which may affect your pet more in the cold winter months.

In 1828, European chemists extracted the substance salicin from white willow, which was soon purified to salicylic acid. Chemists later modified salicylic acid (this time from the herb meadowsweet) to create acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. Willow bark contains salicin and can be considered a natural form of aspirin. It is used for...

Cushing’s disease, hyperadrenocorticism, results in overproduction of adrenal gland hormones, most commonly glucocorticoids. The disorder is relatively common in middle-aged to older dogs and rare in cats. Cushing’s disease usually occurs as a result of a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of the pituitary gland. Rarely, a tumor (benign or cancerous) of the adrenal gland(s) may occur. Long-term administration of corticosteroids causes a steroid-induced Cushing’s syndrome that...

This month we conclude our series on Autoimmune Disorders in pets. The final article discusses the best type of fatty acids to use for your pet’s inflammatory issues.

FATTY ACID SUPPLEMENTATION
Is supplementation with fatty acid capsules or liquids the best approach, or is dietary manipulation preferred for the treatment of inflammatory conditions? There are, in fact, diets constructed with this “ideal” ratio (of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids)....

This month we begin a three-part series on autoimmune diseases in pets. Autoimmune diseases, which occur more commonly in dogs than in cats, are those diseases in which the pet’s body forms antibodies attacking its own tissues. The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is not known. However, many doctors feel that the immune system may malfunction as a result of infections or chronic exposure to toxins. The fact that an increased number of cases are seen shortly following repeated...

Addison’s disease, also called hypoadrenocorticism, is an uncommon disease of dogs and occurs rarely in cats. The cause is unknown in some cases; in others it appears as an immune-mediated disorder in which the pet’s body makes antibodies that destroy its own adrenal glands. Chronic use of corticosteroids (such as prednisone) can cause secondary Addison’s disease if the corticosteroid administration is suddenly stopped rather than gradually withdrawn from the...

Glandular therapy (cell therapy, tissue therapy) is the use of whole animal tissues or extracts of these tissues for health maintenance and the therapy of mild health problems typically involving the glands of the body. Glandular therapy is “tissue specific.” In other words, liver extracts benefit the liver, thyroid extracts benefit the thyroid gland, adrenal extracts benefit the adrenal gland, and so forth. Current research supports this concept that the glandular supplements...

Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in pets. Anticonvulsant medications such as phenobarbital, diazepam, or potassium bromide are commonly prescribed conventional medications.

Correcting the diet is important, as there is anecdotal evidence that food hypersensitivity may be the cause of seizures in some pets. A small number of cases treated concurrently with anticonvulsant medicines plus antioxidants (at the dosages used for treating allergic dermatitis) have shown...

This month we begin a two-part discussion on orthomolecular medicine (often called “megavitamin therapy”). Orthomolecular medicine seeks to use increased levels of vitamins and minerals (mainly antioxidants) to help treat a variety of medical disorders. While daily amounts of vitamins and minerals have been recommended as an attempt to prevent nutritional deficiencies, orthomolecular medicine uses higher doses as part of the therapy for disease.

The pet food industry...

Ear infections in dogs and cats are caused by bacteria, yeasts, or ear mites. Chronic ear infections occur in certain breeds such as Retrievers and Spaniels due to anatomic abnormalities or lifestyle (frequent swimming). Chronic ear infections may also be caused by underlying abnormalities such as food allergies, atopy, or hypothyroidism. Accurate diagnosis requires examination of the ear discharge under a microscope (ear cytology). A medicated ear flushing (sedation is often required) will...

Canine cognitive disorder (canine cognitive dysfunction) is a medical condition associated with age-related deterioration of a dog’s cognitive functioning. The condition most commonly affects dogs 11 years of age and older. The results of several recent studies showed that 48 percent of dogs eight years of age and older, 62 percent of dogs 11 to 16 years of age, and 100 percent of dogs 16 years of age and older exhibited at least one of the changes that occurs in dogs with cognitive...

In dogs and cats, the most common types of heart disease include cardiomyopathy and valvular heart disease. Congestive heart failure occurs late in the course of any type of heart disease as the heart muscle fails to adequately pump blood throughout the body.

Valvular heart disease is the most common heart disease in dogs, occurring most commonly in older small breed dogs (the prevalence is estimated at 75 percent of dogs over 16 years of age). This condition occurs as the heart...

The final installment on nutrients for your pets’ centers around vitamins, additives and the energy content of your pet’s food.

VITAMINS FOR PETS
Like minerals, vitamins function as enzymes or coenzymes. Pure vitamin deficiencies or toxicities are rarely encountered in pets fed quality processed diets, as pet food manufacturers overcompensate and make sure the food contains more than enough of these compounds. There are a few rare exceptions:...

NUTRIENTS & DIET

We have discussed in previous articles the essentials of water, carbohydrates, protein and fat in your pet’s diet. This month we will look at the merits of minerals.

Minerals include such substances as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc, among others. As a rule, minerals function as co-enzymes that help control numerous biochemical reactions in the body. Minerals also are constituents of bone muscle, and are involved in the growth and...

NUTRIENTS & DIET

We have discussed in previous articles the essentials of water, carbohydrates and protein in your pet’s diet. This month we will look at the merits of fat.

Fats are used for energy and are necessary for the absorption of vitamins, A, D, E, and K. Fats also are used in the body’s production of hormones, for insulation, for protection of vital organs, for lubrication, for buoyancy, and as precursors to amino acids. Fats also make diets...