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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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Enzymes are used for a variety of functions in the pet’s body. Cellular processes, digestion, and absorption of dietary nutrients are dependent upon the proper enzymes. Most commonly, owners often think of enzymes as necessary for digestion of food. In fact, enzymes produced by the pancreas are essential for digestion of nutrients in the diet. Once properly digested by pancreatic enzymes, the dietary nutrients can be absorbed by the pet.

The pancreas produces...

Inositol is present in all animal tissues, with the highest levels in the heart and brain. It is part of the membranes (outer linings) of all cells, and plays a role in helping the liver process fats as well as contributing to the function of muscles and nerves.

This vitamin, unofficially referred to as “vitamin B8,” promotes the growth of hair, reduces cholesterol levels, contributes to the function of muscles and nerves, and has a calming effect. As with Choline,...

Heartworms are caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis and are transmitted by the bite of the mosquito. When a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito infected with heartworms, the immature larvae carried by the mosquito enter through the mosquito bite in the skin. From the site of the bite, the larvae continue to molt and travel through the pet’s body. Approximately six months after infection, the mature larvae enter the pet’s heart and pulmonary vessels in the lungs 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 with this...

Epilepsy is the name given to seizural disorders in dogs and cats for which there is no identifiable cause. Primary epilepsy is the result of functional cerebral disturbances without obvious causes other than a possible hereditary predisposition.

For a diagnosis of epilepsy to be made, other causes of seizures (including poisoning, infection, tumors, and cranial trauma) must be ruled out through diagnostic testing. While true epilepsy can occur in pets of any age, most commonly...

Common Uses
Supplement for arthritis, allergy, epilepsy, cancer prevention, immune support

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is required by people and some animals. Humans and certain animals (such as guinea pigs and monkeys) lack the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase needed for the formation of vitamin C. Dogs and cats possess this enzyme and can therefore synthesize vitamin C. As such, dogs and cats do not have a specific dietary requirement for this...

There is no one vitamin B, but rather a complex of many B vitamins. All of them help maintain the health of the nervous system, skin, eyes, hair, liver, muscle, and brain. They function as coenzymes in energy production and may help reduce anxiety or depression.

Because most foods contain B vitamins, deficiencies of vitamins are rare in pets. An exception is thiamine deficiency in cats. Supplementation with the B vitamin choline is indicated in older pets, especially those...

Bilberry, related to the blueberry, came to popularity during World War II, when British Royal Air Force pilots reported that eating bilberry jam improved their night vision.

THERAPEUTIC USES
Bilberry is most commonly taken internally in people to help with disorders of the eyes, including macular degeneration and cataract formation due to its antioxidant effects. Its flavonoid compounds (anthocyanosides) are the most pharmacologically active. These flavonoids...

Vitamin D (a fat-soluble vitamin) is needed for proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestinal tract. It is needed for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, protects against muscle weakness, and regulates the heart. Vitamin D helps prevent hypocalcemia and osteoporosis, enhance immunity, and is needed for proper thyroid function and blood clotting.

Vitamin D in food or supplements is converted into an active form by ultraviolet light from the sun...

Heartworms are caused by the parasite Dirofilaria inmitis and are transmitted by the bite of the mosquito. When a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito infected with heartworms, the immature larvae carried by the mosquito enter through the mosquito bite in the skin. From the site of the mosquito bite, the larvae continue to molt and travel through the pet’s body. Approximately six months after infection, the mature larvae enter the pet’s heart and pulmonary vessels in the lungs and finish...

Diabetes mellitus is a common endocrine pancreatic disorder of cats and dogs. The incidence of diabetes in cats and dogs is reported to be anywhere from one in 100 to one in 500 pets.


Diabetes is classified as type I or type II. Type I diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. In this disorder, there is destruction of the beta cells (insulin-producing cells) of the pancreas. Treatment involves replacing insulin through insulin injections given one to two times per...

Periodontal disease is the most common infectious (caused by bacteria) disease in dogs and cats. It is estimated that 80 percent or more of dogs and cats between the ages of one and three years have some evidence of periodontal disease that requires treatment.


Normal teeth should be white. Gums should be light pink, except in those breeds with pigmented gums (such as Chows). While all pets have some amount of noticeable breath odor, pets with periodontal disease have noticeably...

Common uses include cancer and shedding

Selenium is a trace mineral that our bodies use to produce glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that serves as a natural antioxidant. Selenium is also required for normal pancreatic function and lipid absorption. Glutathione peroxidase works with vitamin E to protect cell membranes from damage caused by dangerous, naturally occurring substances known as free radicals. Adequate amounts of selenium can spare vitamin E, and adequate amounts...

Just what constitutes the best or most appropriate diet for a pet is quite a controversial topic and there are as many opinions as there are doctors. Often the opinions are based more on emotion than on objective medical facts. When it comes to having facts to back one view or the other, sometimes they are hard to find.


No matter which type of diet—homemade or processed—is chosen, it must meet at least five requirements:

  1. The diet must contain the...

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxine hydrochloride, pyridoxal-5-phosphate) plays a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells). Cats have a higher requirement for vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) due to high transmitter activity from their high protein requirement.

Pyridoxine affects physical and mental health and is needed for most body functions. It maintains sodium and potassium balance and is necessary in water...

Riboflavin also known, as vitamin b2 is an essential nutrient required for life.

Riboflavin functions as part of a number of coenzymes in most cells. It is an integral part of flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide. These enzymes are used to transfer hydrogen ions (which are supplied by sugars and fatty acids in the diet) to the cytochrome and hydrogen ion transfer systems to supply energy to the body (via production of adenosine triphosphate, or...

(Niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, inositol hexaniacinate)

Vitamin B3 is required for proper function of more than 50 enzymes. Without it, your body would not be able to release energy or make fats from carbohydrates. Vitamin B3 is also used to make sex hormones and other important chemical signal molecules.

Vitamin B3 is needed for healthy skin and...

(Pantothenic acid, Calcium pantothenate)

Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, is known as the anti-stress vitamin since it is involved in the production of adrenal hormones and antibodies produced by the body’s white blood cells. Like other vitamins, it assists in vitamin metabolism and helps in the conversation of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy for the body.