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Parvoviral infection, caused by canine parvovirus 2 (CPV-2) commonly affects young puppies. Kittens and cats have their own parvovirus that causes panleukopenia. However, vaccination is so effective that this disease is very rarely seen. Clinical signs are usually seen five to twelve days after the puppy is exposed to infected feces. The signs seen depend on the virulence of the virus, the amount of virus ingested, and the breed of puppy infected. Certain breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls, and Labrador Retrievers may be more severely infected than others. Signs seen include depression, lack of appetite, and vomiting, followed in 24 to 48 hours by diarrhea (often bloody). Diagnosis is made on clinical signs and testing of the feces for the virus.

Principal Natural Treatments

Homeopathic Nosodes
Nosodes, a special type of homeopathic remedy, are prepared from infectious organisms, such as distemper virus and staphylococcus bacteria. Remember that no matter what the source of the remedy; the actual ingredients are diluted in preparing the remedy. No measurable amount of the original source for the remedy remains, only the vital energy or life force, which imparts healing properties to the remedy. No harm will come to your pet regardless of the toxicity of the original compound used in the preparation of the remedy.

But, do nosodes work? Some doctors prefer nosodes manufactured by specific homeopathic pharmacies as they feel there is a definite difference in the ability of nosodes to stimulate the immune system. In their opinions, the manufacturer of the nosode is important and some vaccination nosodes work better than others.

To prevent disease, nosodes are supposed to work in the same manner as conventional vaccines, namely by stimulating antibodies to fight off infections. To treat disease, nosodes have been reported to control outbreaks of infectious disease in animals in a kennel situation. Homeopathic veterinarians have reported success in some patients when treating infectious disease with nosodes.

Glutamine
Glutamine or L-glutamine is an amino acid derived from another amino acid, glutamic acid.

There is no daily requirement for glutamine, as the body can make its own. High-protein foods such as meat, fish, beans, and dairy products are excellent sources of glutamine. Severe stresses may result in temporary glutamine deficiency.

Glutamine plays a role in the health of the immune system, digestive tract, and muscle cells, as well as other bodily functions. It appears to serve as a fuel for the cells that line the intestines (it serves as a primary energy source for the mucosal cells that line the intestinal tract). Because stress on the intestinal cells that can occur in parvovirus infection can increase the need for glutamine as the body replaces the cells lining the intestinal tract, glutamine is often recommended for pets with parvovirus.

It has also been suggested as a treatment for food allergies, based on the “leaky gut syndrome.” This theory holds that in some pets, whole proteins leak through the wall of the digestive tract and enter the blood, causing allergic reactions. Preliminary evidence suggests glutamine supplements might reduce leakage through the intestinal walls.

However, there is little real evidence that it works as a treatment for true food allergies, although it is highly recommended for pets with various bowel disorders.

Glutamine, being one of the body’s amino acids, is thought to be a safe supplement when taken at recommended dosages. Because many anti-epilepsy drugs work by blocking glutamate stimulation in the brain, high dosages of glutamine may overwhelm these drugs and pose a risk to pets with epilepsy. If your pet is taking anti-seizure medications, glutamine should only be used under veterinary supervision.

Maximum safe dosages for children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined; similar precautions are probably warranted in pets. Recommended dosages in pets is 250 to 3000 mg daily.

Probiotics/Prebiotics
Probiotics are defined as normal viable bacteria residing in the intestinal tract that promote normal bowel health. Probiotics are given orally and are usually indicated for use in intestinal disorders in which specific factors can disrupt the normal bacterial population, making the pet more susceptible to disease. Specific factors, which can disrupt the normal flora of the bowel include surgery, medications (including steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics (especially when used long-term), shipping, birthing, weaning, illness such as parvovirus infection, and dietary factors (poor quality diet, oxidative damage, stress). Improving the nutritional status of the intestinal tract may reduce bacterial movement across the bowel mucosa (lining), intestinal permeability, and systemic endotoxemia. Additionally, probiotics may supply nutrients to the pet, help in digestion, and allow for better conversion of food into nutrients.

Prebiotics are food supplements that are not digested and absorbed by the host but improve health by stimulating the growth and activity of selected intestinal bacteria. Currently, there are fewer studies on prebiotics.

There are numerous different probiotic products available, which can contain any combination of the following organisms:

  • Lactobacillus (L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. thermophiles, L. reuteri)
  • Acidophilus
  • Bacillus (specifically a patented strain called Bacillus CIP 5832)
  • Streptococcus S. bulgaricus
  • Enterococcus (E. faecium)
  • Bifidobacterium
  • B. bifidus
  • Saccharomyces (S. boulardii, which is actually a beneficial yeast not a bacterium)

The intestinal tract, especially the large intestine (colon) is home to millions of bacteria, most of which are harmless and in fact beneficial to the pet. The intestinal bacteria are essential to digestion and the synthesis of vitamin K and many of the B vitamins.

As mentioned, your pet’s intestinal tract contains billions of bacteria and yeasts. Some of these inhabitants are more helpful than others. Acidophilus and related probiotic bacteria not only help the digestive tract function, they also reduce the presence of less healthful organisms by competing with them for the limited space available.

Next month we will look at how probiotics work and their dosages, along with other natural and conventional treatments for Parvovirus.

EPHEDRA
IN CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE, ephedra is a well-known herbal supplement for people and pets with respiratory conditions including asthma.

Therapeutic Uses
Ma huang was traditionally used by Chinese herbalists during the early stages of respiratory infections, and also for the short-term treatment of certain kinds of asthma, eczema, hay fever, narcolepsy, and edema. However, ma huang was not supposed to be taken for an extended period of time, and people with less than robust constitutions were warned to use only low doses or avoid ma huang altogether. Japanese chemists isolated ephedrine from ma huang (only the Asian species of ephedra contains the active compounds ephedrine and pseudoephedrine). It soon became a primary treatment for asthma in the United States and abroad.

Ephedra’s other major ingredient, pseudoephedrine, became the decongestant Sudafed. Dieters now use ephedrine as a weight-loss supplement.

When used properly, ephedra may be useful as a short-term treatment for sinus congestion and mild asthma.

Dosages
In people, it is recommended that ephedrine not be used for more than one week. In view of the documented dangers of ephedrine, medical supervision is highly recommended when using ephedra. Some holistic veterinarians recommend not using it in pets due to the potential side effects.

The pet should be prescribed the lowest dosage possible and strict veterinary supervision is essential. For pets with asthma, long-term therapy will probably be necessary, and close monitoring by your veterinarian is essential.

Safety Issues

Those with enlargement of the prostate, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, or hyperthyroidism should not take ephedra. Furthermore, it should never be combined with MAO inhibitors or fatal reactions may develop. If symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, anxiety or restlessness develop, see your veterinarian.

Cats exhibit idiosyncratic reactions; for this reason, it should probably not be used in cats. Ephedra, most commonly prescribed for pets with asthma or respiratory problems, can cause heart arrhythmias and high blood pressure. Use with great caution in all pets. It should always be combined with other herbs to allow the use of the lowest dose of ephedra possible.

Ephedrine mimics the effects of adrenaline and causes symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, agitation, insomnia, nausea, and loss of appetite. Unscrupulous manufacturers have promoted ma huang as a natural hallucinogen (herbal ecstasy) and not as a bronchial decongestant. Dosages of ephedrine required to produce psychoactive effects are exceedingly toxic to the heart; the FDA has documented deaths of otherwise healthy young people who reportedly used ephedrine for psychedelic purposes.

Ephedra is not recommended for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver, heart or kidney disease; similar precautions are probably warranted in pets.

COLTSFOOT
The leaves and stems of the mature coltsfoot plant are often recommended by herbalists for the therapy of various respiratory disorders.

It is recommended for pets with asthma, and respiratory infections, including kennel cough. It acts as an antimicrobial, expectorant, and cough suppressant.

Safety Issues
The flowers (not the leaves and stems) contain small quantities of alkaloids that can cause liver damage or cancer if taken in large quantities. Use only as directed and for short periods of time (one to two weeks). Do not use in pregnant animals or pets with liver disease.

LOBELIA
Lobelia may be useful in certain respiratory condition in dogs and cats, including bronchitis and asthma, and as a general respiratory stimulant.

While useful for respiratory problems, lobelia can act as a nervous system depressant. This may make it useful for pets with excess nervous system stimulation, such as those with epilepsy or hyperactivity.

While generally safe, at high doses lobelia can cause vomiting. An active ingredient in lobelia has nicotine-like actions. It should not be used during pregnancy or lactation, and care should be used if combined with other supplements or medications that can depress the nervous system.

FEVERFEW
Feverfew contains several chemicals; the major one of interest is the lactone parthenolide. For many years, it was assumed that this was the active ingredient. Numerous articles were published explaining that parthenolide caused platelets to release serotonin and reduce the synthesis of prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and thromboxanes. Based on this premature explanation, authors complained that samples of feverfew on the market varied as much as ten-to-one in their parthenolide content.

However a study found that an extract of feverfew standardized to a high-parthenolide content is entirely ineffective. Apparently, this high-parthenolide extract lacked some essential substance or group of substances present in the whole leaf. What those substances may remain mysterious.

Therapeutic Uses Feverfew is often recommended in people with migraines and for its anti-inflammatory effects, which help pets with asthma. It might also be of benefit for pets with arthritis. This herb inhibits platelet clumping and inhibits the formation of histamine and serotonin, which may be of benefit to pets with asthma or allergies. It contains (especially the flowers and upper stems) pyrethrins and can be used as a natural flea control rinse.

It may be useful as a safe “aspirin substitute” in cats as it does not contain salicylic acid.

Avoid during pregnancy to prevent abortion. The fresh foliage can cause mouth ulcers, and only the dried herb should be used. Feed a test dose first to check for oral irritation and sensitivity. Do not use internally for more than one week at a time. Do not use in pregnant animals.

Do not use in animals with platelet problems or bleeding disorders.

Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established; similar warnings probably apply in pets.

Garlic contains a number of nutrients, and a number of sulfur compounds that have been shown to have medical qualities, especially allicin and alliin.

The sulfur compounds present in garlic may increase phase II detoxification enzymes. By increasing phase II enzymes, the risk of many degenerative conditions may be reduced significantly.

Allicin, one of the active ingredients in garlic, has been shown to have antimicrobial qualities that may be more effective than tetracycline. While garlic is an effective antibiotic when it contacts the tissue directly, there is no reason to believe it will work to fight infections systemically if you take it orally. There is no question raw garlic can kill a wide variety of microorganisms by direct contact, including fungi, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. This may explain why applying garlic directly to a wound was traditionally done to prevent infection. However, garlic can cause burns when it is applied to the skin.

Therapeutic Uses
Garlic has also been proposed as a treatment for asthma and diabetes. Eating garlic is commonly claimed to raise immunity. In people, several large studies strongly suggest a diet high in garlic can prevent cancer. In one study, women whose diets included significant quantities of garlic were approximately 30 percent less likely to develop colon cancer. The interpretations of studies like this one are always a bit controversial; as it’s possible the women ate a lot of garlic but also made other healthful lifestyle choices.

Moderately good studies have found garlic (including garlic powder) also appears to slightly improve hypertension in people and pets, protect against free radicals, and slow blood coagulation. Putting all these benefits together, garlic may be a broad-spectrum treatment for arterial disease. Garlic can be used for allergic dermatitis as it contains chemicals that can reduce the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.

It is also a cardiovascular tonic and can help prevent blood clots. The cholesterol-reducing effects of garlic may also be helpful for pets with heart disease or high blood cholesterol.

Garlic has been used to control fleas and some owners report positive results.

It is recommended for pets with tapeworms and has shown effects against roundworms and hookworms in people.

Scientific Evidence
Garlic has been shown to stimulate white blood cells (killer cells) in human AIDS patients. And also shown to prevent tumor formation in rats (due to its diallyl sulfide component and due to its liver-strengthening chemicals).

Garlic can decrease blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels; certain forms of garlic have been shown to lower total cholesterol levels by nine to twelve percent, as well as possibly improve the ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Virtually all studies in people used garlic standardized to alliin content, whereas garlic oil did not seem to be effective; conflicting results have been shown for garlic powder, although some results are encouraging.

Dosages
Allicin is not necessary for all of garlic’s purported benefits but is needed to confer the antibiotic properties of garlic. When used for infections, the allicin potential of the garlic compound used is important. Since allicin is an unstable compound that is easily destroyed, fresh garlic or products with an identified allicin potential should be used. Because it is hard to know if a prepared formula has the guaranteed amount of allicin listed on the label unless the product comes from a reputable manufacturer, many herbalists recommend using fresh garlic cloves when the content is important. For prepared products, the product should provide a daily dose of at least 10 mg alliin or a total allicin potential of 4000 micrograms (4–5 mg), which approximates one clove of garlic. In people a typical dosage of garlic is 900 mg daily of a garlic powder extract standardized to contain 1.3 percent alliin, providing about 12,000 mcg daily. This recommendation needs to be extrapolated for use in pets. Many manufacturers claim an allicin potential at the time of manufacture. This is not helpful, as it does not reveal the allicin potential of the finished product and whether or not the product is stable. Read labels carefully.

However, a great deal of controversy exists over the proper dosage and form of garlic. In people, most everyone agrees one or two raw garlic cloves a day are adequate for most purposes. Virtual trade wars have taken place over the potency and effectiveness of various dried, aged, or deodorized garlic preparations. The problem has to do with the way garlic is naturally constructed.

A relatively odorless substance, alliin is one of the most important compounds in garlic. When garlic is crushed or cut, an enzyme called allinase is brought in contact with alliin, turning it into allicin. The allicin itself then rapidly breaks down into entirely different compounds. Allicin is most responsible for the strong odor. It can also blister the skin and kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Presumably, the garlic plant uses allicin as a form of protection from pests and parasites. It also may provide much of the medicinal benefits of garlic.

Some garlic producers declare alliin and allicin have nothing to do with garlic’s effectiveness and simply sell products without it. This is particularly true of aged powdered garlic and garlic oil. But others feel certain allicin is absolutely essential. However, to make it relatively odorless, they must prevent the alliin from turning into allicin until the product is consumed. To accomplish this feat, they engage in marvelously complex manufacturing processes, each unique and proprietary. How well this works is a point of controversy.

The best that can be said is that in most studies that found cholesterol-lowering powers in garlic, the daily dosage supplied at least 10 mg of alliin. This is sometimes stated in terms of how much allicin will be created from that alliin. The number you should look for is 4 to 5 mg of allicin potential. Alliin-free aged garlic also appears to be effective when taken at a dose of 1 to 7.2 g daily.

To use garlic for other uses such as cancer, antioxidants, nutritional supplement, or immune booster, any form will probably work if the garlic has not been subjected to extreme heat (such as roasting). Raw garlic cloves are probably preferred.

Safety Issues
Too much garlic can be toxic to pets, causing Heinz body anemia. As a rule, I recommend following label directions for commercially prepared products. For feeding fresh garlic, I use one clove per 10 to 30 pounds of body weight per day. There do not appear to be any animal toxicity studies on the most commonly used form of powdered garlic standardized to alliin content.

Do not use in pets with anemia. Do not use in pets scheduled for surgery due to increased bleeding times. Refrain from use at least one week before and one week after surgery. Topical garlic can cause skin irritation, blistering and even third-degree burns, so be very careful about applying garlic to the skin.

Garlic may cause intestinal gas. Reduce dosage if this occurs.

Taking garlic at the same time as taking ginkgo or high-dose vitamin E might conceivably cause a risk of bleeding problems.

Pinellia Combination is a Chinese herbal mix. This formula contains ginseng, ginger, jujube, coptis, and scute, along with pinellia, and is for vomiting in pets.

Because of the Chinese diagnosis and classification of diseases, the ingredients in each formula may vary. Individual Chinese pharmacists include herbs in their tented formulas based upon their experience. However, they can compound formulas to the needs of an individual pet.

For example, a Western diagnosis of allergies allows a selection of treatment based upon this diagnosis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), diagnosis and treatment are based upon the need to rebalance the patient so the individual, not the disease, is treated. As an example, with TCM we might be concerned about selecting herbs to circulate Qi, nurture Yin, or invigorate Yang. This system has been used for thousands of years, even prior to the advent of Western medicine, and the herbal treatments have been passed down through time.

This doesn't mean Chinese herbal formulas cannot be used based upon a Western diagnosis, only that if the herbal formula doesn't work, it might indicate the need for another formula or a correct TCM diagnosis so that the correct remedy can be selected.

Herbs are usually supplied in powder or capsule form; tinctures can also be found. Many products made for humans can be used in pets. Unfortunately, the "correct" dosage for the pet has not been determined for many herbs, and clinical experience and extrapolation from human data is often used. The lower dosage is usually used and dosage increased if needed. Compared to traditional drug therapy, herbal treatments usually take longer (several weeks or longer) before an effect is seen. As with Western herbal therapy, quality control in the manufacturing of the product used is important, and only herbs from reliable companies should be used. The following guidelines serve as a starting point for herbal therapy.

Dosages
Use 1 gram per 20 pounds, 2 to 3 times daily of concentrated herbs for dogs and cats; 4 grams of fresh herbs/20 pounds, 2 to 3 times daily for dogs and cats; tinctures 5 to 10 drops per 20 pounds, 2 to 3 times daily for dogs and cats.

Alternately, some herbalists recommend extrapolation based on weight. Since human doses are based on a 150-pound male, a recommended dose of 3 capsules given 3 times daily for this 150-pound male would extrapolate to 1 capsule given 3 times daily for a 50-pound dog. There are some suggestions that dogs and cats require more herb per pound of body weight than humans. This would supplest a 10-pound cat should receive 20 percent of the recommended human dosage, whereas a 25-pound dog should receive 25 percent of the human dosage.

Safety Issues
While many herbs are used safely in pets, remember many potent drugs (such as digitalis, vincristine, or aspirin) were first described in plants and herbs, and have actually been extracted from plants and herbs. This means it is essential you work with your holistic veterinarian before using herbal remedies in your pet. For example, a report of a Chinese herbal cream used on people for skin disorders showed a high level of the steroid dexamethasone in the product, with the highest levels in the products recommended for children. Other reports of the product ma huang, which contains the potent drug ephedra, revealed varying levels of ephedra in a number of products tested. Stories such as these reinforce the need for proper medical care and advice when using complementary therapies in pets.

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