Please contact Dr Bruce Syme on firstname.lastname@example.org for more specific Veterinary advice.
General Diet and Product Questions
Constitutional Health is the health we are born with it, and it primarily relates to our immune system. Most of us (animals and people) are born with strong CH, and can fight off diseases very efficiently. The immune system starts very strong, and requires minimal up-keep during the first 1/3-1/2 of our lives… a bit like a new re-chargeable battery the first half of the battery’s life, a quick charge lasts a long time.
As we grow older, that initial “charge” wears off, and the immune system comes to rely on our nutritional intake to maintain its efficiency which is why we tend to get sicker as we get older, and take longer to re-cover from illness. Many illnesses can become chronic..ie we never quite fully recover which are termed degenerative diseases (eg arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer). It is for this reason that what we eat in the latter years of life becomes so important, but conversely, it is also why we can eat a pretty poor diet in the first half of our lives without suffering major problems.
The same is true for dogs many young dogs can eat a very bad diet for the first 4-6 years, without showing too much ill-effect, but the next 6+ years will take it’s toll, and these dogs will start to show signs of ageing, skin problems, dull coat, bad teeth, arthritis …… The importance of understanding CH is to be able to explain to clients why they should look at improving their dogs diet, even if, as a young dog, they seem fine and healthy.
Yes, it is actually a very common practice for breeders and multiple dog owners to make up large batches of the Complete Mix at one time. For best results soak at room temperature for the 24 hrs or for immediate use soak and stir in hot water. After that it can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days. Many people will add the meat to the mix, and then freeze portions for future use. The product can be safely frozen for up to 6 months without affecting the quality.
No, this is a common mistake. The Premium Choice product is all ready combined with the Complete Mix (eg it is fresh meat (kangaroo and tripe) and soaked Complete Mix) – it is our “Ready to Serve” option, whereas Complete Mix is the DIY version.
As a general rule, the answer is No. Both the Complete Mix and the Premium Choice are fully balanced diets, and they require no supplements at all. We have specific puppy diets that are designed to have extra supplements to support growing pups. However, for pets recovering from surgery, or for bitches that are feeding a litter of puppies, or for older pets with kidney failure, then YES, these are times when adding health Booster is a good idea!
Raw Kangaroo is my preferred meat because it is low in fat and high in protein. For dogs with allergy problems Kangaroo meat will often provide a “unique protein” which when combined with some other natural supplements, will often solve skin problems. Be sure to get preservative free meat. Refer to “Dr Bruce’s Articles” on the home page for more pro’s and con’s of many other meats.
Can a dog or cat be allergic to Vets All Natural?
Keep in mind the benefits in nearly all cases; strongly outweigh the risk, however
Yeast, in the Health Booster or Complete Mix, can cause red itchy.
An allergy to the Green Lipped mussel in the Joint Formula can causes vomiting or diarrhoea
These reactions are very rare, but the truth is that an animal can be allergic to any single food ingredient, so it is always possible.
When treating a long term skin condition or allergy, it can take 6-8 weeks to get good long term results, however most owners will report improvement in coat shine, loss of body odour, and improved general wellbeing within 2 weeks.
Improvement using Shark cart or Joint Formula will take about 2 weeks to become evident, and will continue to improve for about 3 months, and then plateau at which stage the owner can reduce to the maintenance dose.
The ear cleaner and dermal ointment will work within 3-4 days. With diet changes and using the Health Booster, I suggest 6-8 weeks for a full “turn around” in health. Omega Blend takes 3 weeks to reverse deficiency and a further 3 weeks to complete coat improvement and allergy control.
Health Booster is perfect for growing puppies, but should be used according to the instructions. It has a high level of calcium, so you do not need additional calcium supplements. Also important to note that it should be used in diets that do not all ready have calcium added..ie don’t add it to a commercial puppy food that is all ready calcium balanced, or else you will end up with too much calcium. It is designed for use with puppies eating raw meat or home made diets. It is fine to add it to adult dog’s diets at any time, because they are fully-grown.
There are no contraindications with other medications. In fact, the Shark Cartilage and Joint Formula work very well in conjunction with anti-inflammatory drugs, and actually protect the gut lining from ulceration from the drugs. All the products and natural and can complement other products.
Are there any other products in the range that are not suitable for certain aged, or conditioned dogs?
The Omega Blend oil contains vitamin A, which can become toxic if taken at high doses (ie 4-5 times recommended dose rate) over long periods (12 months plus) Dogs should go onto the maintenance dose after 3 weeks, as per the instructions.
Any dog with severe ear infection that has a “head tilt” (can suggest ruptured eardrum) should be advised to seek veterinary attention before using the ear cleaner. Any solution put into an ear when the eardrum is ruptured can cause damage to the inner ear nerves. Luckily this is pretty rare, and only happens with grass seeds in the ear, or long term un-treated ear infections.
There are no other contraindications with any of the other products, with dogs of any age or condition.
The Omega Blend oil should ideally be stored below 25″C, and refrigerated once opened, as per the label. The product is however, when full, and sealed in the bottle, stable up to 35″C (but not recommended for long term storage).
I would treat this as a type of gut or digestive allergy. The dog needs a very pure diet to remain stable. The Omega Blend Oil would be useful in lessening the symptoms of the “allergy”, and should be digested without causing any problems. I would also suggest that a low dose of shark cartilage powder (1/2 normal dose) would help this dog, as it accelerates repair to the gut lining. Finally, I would suggest she get a pro biotic supplement (ie Skin and Coat formula) to help restore gut flora and reduce gut sensitivity
I would be very surprised if the oil had caused the loose bowels in this dog, given that I have not heard of it happening at all in the last 15 yrs. It is possible if the owner was very heavy handed, as any gross overload of oil will cause loose stools. There are medical conditions that affect the pancreas (digestive gland) that can cause intolerance to fats in the diet, but the omega 3 fats generally do not cause problems, even in these dogs. I suspect it is most likely coincidental (ie the dog has eaten something else), but I would agree with starting the oil again, to see if it happens again, and if it does, go onto the maintenance dose as suggested. But let me know, as it would be a first.
The main reason we don’t feed cat food to dogs is that it is much richer, and higher in calories, than dog food and dogs will usually end up overweight if they eat it constantly but it is not dangerous per se. The reverse is not true however. Cats should not be fed dog food, as there are several elements in a cats diet that they will not get from dog food (ie arachidonic acid, taurine etc), and they will end up with serious deficiencies!
Sometimes you need to trim off extra pad growth, a bit like corns. Pad tissue is dead, not living, so you can trim or sand it back easily. You can also try dermal ointment, lanolin, or even Vaseline, but it does get messy. I would be suspicious that the diet is not perfect, and may be deficient in zinc, so swap to Vets All Natural or add Skin and Coat powder which has added zinc.
Bones and Joints Questions
What are the differences between Vets All Natural Joint Formula / Shark Cartilage powder and Sasha’s Blend?
Sasha’s Blend is a good product, but it is not greatly different to pure Shark Cartilage. It acts at the level of GAG’s (Glycosaminoglycans) like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which stimulate cartilage repair and give some natural pain relief.
The Joint Formula has all the benefits of the GAGs (shark cartilage and green lipped mussel), but also takes into account the nutritional aspects of arthritis, by providing additional calcium and magnesium (Dolomite), copper, sulphur, boron and vitamin C..which all act to prevent old age bone degeneration (eg osteoporosis) and weakening of the skeletal structures, and encourage strengthening of these tissues. The ginger and flax seed also act as natural pain relievers, and improve blood supply to the joints for enhanced mobility.
In short, the Joint Formula is a much more complete and long term approach to treating old age arthritis, and combines not only neutraceuticals and vitamins, but also critical mineral supplements and herbs.
The Joint Formula is slightly bitter (we don’t add any artificial flavours to our products), and this can make it hard for some dogs to eat. One simple method to fix this problem is to mix the Joint Formula powder with a small amount of honey, and then add it to the dog food. The honey removes the bitter taste, and most dogs will then happily eat it. Be sure to mix the Joint Formula with the meal well. Crushed stock cubes will also assist.
Boron is a micronutrient (meaning we only need micro amounts), and is involved in maintaining bone mineralisation. Bone is a matrix of living cells, fibrous material, and calcified minerals (mainly calcium). Boron makes sure that the calcium stays bound to the matrix of the bone. If we become deficient in boron (animals and people), over time, calcium begins to leach out of the bone, and is lost in our urine. The result is weakening of bones = osteoporosis.
Due to the fact that Australia is an ancient continent, and that much of the normal top soil has been eroded away over billions of years (which is where the boron is found), most soils in Australia are boron deficient..which means the food we eat (fruit, vegies, meat, milk) is also boron deficient…and this is why Australia has such a high incidence of osteoporosis in the aged community (50% of women and 30% of men over 60).
Osteoporosis also results in arthritis, as a result of the weakened bones (which also weakens the joints of the bones), and causes abnormal calcium deposits and bone spurs to grow outside the bone and on the joints. This the classical “old age” arthritis we see in dogs, and is why Joint Formula (with added boron) is so effective.
Boron is found in good levels in bone itself, and in fruits and vegetables grown in good soil (ie organic farming etc). Dogs that eat a natural diet with plenty of raw bones will get adequate boron, but those
that eat a predominantly processed diet are more likely to be deficient, and develop signs of arthritis at a much younger age.
Are the products designed as a long-term treatment plan or can they also be used for injury recovery?
The products can be used for long term and short-term problems. Shark Cartilage is ideal for short-term recovery from injury or surgery. I suggest starting it a week after the incident to allow primary blood vessels to grow first. The Health Booster Powder is also useful for recovery from illness or injury. The Joint Formula can be used to assist with broken bone repair.
Shark Cartilage powder has been shown to prevent the growth of new blood vessels into tumours which is why it has been recommended as a treatment for cancer. It is because of this ability, that we take the precautionary step of not recommending it for use in growing puppies or in pregnancy as both situations rely on the growth of new blood vessels. The precaution is theoretical only ie there have been no reported cases of problems caused by its use, but I do not believe it is worth taking any chances. The Joint Formula also contains shark cartilage, so we follow the same recommendations, but it is specifically designed for use in older pets, so it should not be an issue.
I have a mare that is in heavy work, and needs the Joint Formula but also is going now to get in foal.
1. How soon before should I stop using it to go into foal?
2. Can mares have JF while pregnant?
3. How soon after foaling can I re- start?
The recommendation not to use during pregnancy is a precaution, based on the fact that shark cartilage, one of the main ingredients, is able to block the growth of new blood vessels, which could, in theory, interfere with placental growth. I have not heard this happening, but why take the chance. I would stop using JF once the mare is cycling and taken to the stallion, and you could restart as soon as she has foaled.
Joint Formula can be used safely in combination with Metacam, or any other anti-inflammatory drugs, in fact, JF will actually protect the lining of the gut from ulceration – which is one of the potential side effects of Metacam etc. You can start to wean the dog off Metacam after about 2-3 weeks. Very old/badly arthritic dogs may need both, and they will do better on JF plus Metacam, than just Metacam alone.
Shark cartilage powder will accelerate tissue repair in most parts of the body (eg joints and ligaments, including cartilage, but also skin, hair, nails, and the lining of the gut, respiratory tract (eg trachea, bronchii) and the urogenital tract.
The Joint Formula has about 30% Shark Cartilage, so there is no real need to add more for long term use. If you have an old arthritic dog that also has an acute joint injury (eg cruciate tear etc), then an extra dose of Shark Cartilage for 4-6 weeks would be helpful.
If a dog is managing well on shark cartilage alone, I would tend to leave it on it, until it no longer does the job, then swap to JF. JF is more for the older dogs, with bone degeneration and marked pain…the Anti inflammatory herbs (devils claw and ginger) will help here, as will the dolomite and boron. Younger dogs will do well on s/cart alone for many years.
There will always be a few dogs that will put up a fuss about new tastes in their food. Long term there will be benefits at ½ the dose, but it will be slower. I have a client who mixes the JF with minced meat and a beef stock cube, and makes small hamburger balls, which the dog eats as a treat away from regular meal times but he wont eat the JF in his dinner. Might be worth a try if the client is dedicated enough? It is also worth suggesting they try the medi treats Joint Support.
Yes, unfortunately luxating patella is a physical problem (a torn ligament) and does need surgery to correct it, and sooner rather than later, to prevent arthritis in the patella groove. Using shark cartilage powder can slow down arthritic changes, but it will NOT fix the problem.
Omega Blend oil is ideal for the allergic dog. It will work reasonably well alone, but much better with a high quality diet, preferably a raw food diet. It should be used in conjunction with the Health Booster only if the diet is not premium brand, or is home made ie to supply a broader range of vitamins, minerals and trace elements if the diet is suspected to be deficient.
The Omega Blend oil will actually alter the immune system’s reaction to allergens so yes it does treat the problem, not just mask the symptoms.
The ideal combination for Allergies is using the Omega Blend Oil, with the new Skin and Coat formula, with the Premium Choice Allerblend or Complete Mix Sensitive Skin.
With dogs on cortisone therapy for skin disease, it is important to allow the dog to complete its full course. Normally the dog will be on a weaning dose at the end (one tab every second day etc), which is a very important step, and can be continued for a few weeks without severe negative effects.
When moving onto Omega Blend Oil, it is good to have a 2-3 week cross over period, ie, start the OB oil about 2-3 weeks before the cortisone treatment finishes..this way the oil has had a chance to have its effect on the immune system before the cortisone is withdrawn, and there should be no lag time or relapse in between.
Cortisone blocks both of the “inflammatory” pathways..the parts of the immune system that create swelling, pain, heat etc as a means of fighting disease or injury. Unfortunately it is indiscriminate, and also blocks the healthy parts of the immune system, which fight disease, and are responsible for tissue repair after injury. As a result, use of cortisone in the short term can be beneficial in reducing signs of allergy, but in the long term, it suppresses immunity and delays wound healing. It also weakens muscles and ligaments, causes excessive thirst and appetite, and can result in diabetes.
My German Shepherd is ten years old and has suddenly gone in her back legs. I was told this is arthritis?
Being a GSD and occurring so suddenly, I would be more suspicious of a lower back problem..ie disc prolapse, spondylosis, myelopathy..I would certainly seek another opinion and X rays of lower back and hips. Arthritis can flare up and down with changes in weather, but it does not “appear” so suddenly without some earlier signs of stiffness..so you are correct to be suspicious of the diagnosis.
Moist Dermatitis is caused by a specific bacteria that secretes a sticky cell wall material, which is why the lesions are always wet (hence the name), and spread easily. I do not know the exact name of the bacteria; it is probably a mixture of bugs (bacteria and fungi).
It is always best to recommend vet attention, as they need early aggressive treatment, clip/shave all the fur away, which can be quite painful, and often needs sedation, then drying agents (eg Wound Spray), topical ointments and usually antibiotics. By itself, the dermal ointment will struggle to control it.
It can spread very quickly, and become an ugly mess. As I mentioned, it is always around the face/ears, and mainly in large breed dogs (Rotties, labradorss, golden retrievers). It is not a hot spot, which is primarily caused by the dog chewing at itself!
Omega Blend Oil is quite safe to feed to pups, but use the lower “maintenance dose”, rather than the therapeutic dose. Prevention is certainly better than cure. You can also just use plain Flax Seed oil for young dogs that are not showing active problems.
If we assume your dog has limited pancreatic function, then I would make sure the dog was on pancreatic enzyme supplements with each meal (eg Enzyplex powder). As mentioned in the notes on pancreatitis, the OB oil should be well tolerated, as it does not require much digestive output, but use the lower “maintenance” dose.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which is the gland in the gut that produces digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase and protease) which help digest food. They are released into the gut via a duct, and are activated to work by contact with digestive juices in the gut. If the pancreas is overworked for a long period of time (ie too much fat in the diet, too much cooked food long term), it can suddenly over react, and begin releasing active enzyme within the gland itself..and begin auto-digesting the pancreas = pancreatitis.
The condition is usually sudden in onset after a large fatty meal, and causes acute abdominal pain, and vomiting. It is an older dog problem, and can be fatal, and requires veterinary hospitalisation and IV fluids. Long term, these dogs are prone to relapses, and are placed on a restricted diet..which is low in fats. It is a common misunderstanding that all fats require pancreatic enzymes to be digested…actually, only long chain complex animal fats require this level of digestion.
The Omega 3 fats are easily assimilated into the body, and do not cause over stimulation of the pancreas. Many diets suggested for dogs with pancreatitis have little or no fat, and are severely deficient in the essential Omega 3 and 6 fats, which in turn can lead to more inflammation of the pancreas. It is quite safe to use Flax Seed oil or OB oil in these dogs, but I would suggest starting them on the maintenance dose, rather than the initial higher dose.
Chronic ear problems are really a chronic skin problem. The ear canal being an extension of the skin, which is highly glandular. Chronic and recurrent ear infection is often a pre-cursor to full blown skin allergies, and in conjunction with allergies…and should be treated as such on the internal level, not just as an ear problem. Regular ear cleaning is important, and it can take months to get bad ears under control, but I always combine it with a healthy diet (kangaroo meat, Premium Choice, Complete Mix)..ie Omega oil and Skin and Coat powder if the diet is average. You must advise the Owner that patience and persistence is the key to success and often you need daily cleaning for 6-8 weeks!
Crystals in the urine is a dietary problem. Dogs and cats being carnivorous, should have acidic urine (pH 4-6). If a dogs diet, for whatever reason (usually too much carbohydrate and poor quality proteins) causes the dog to develop alkaline urine (pH 8-10), then the solutes in the urine (which is quite concentrated) can crystallise, and form microscopic crystals that irritate the bladder wall, and cause bleeding, and ultimately infection = cystitis.
Left unchecked, they can continue to grow, and become bladder stones. The answer to the problem is to acidify the urine, and dissolve the crystals / stop them forming. This can be achieved in many ways. There are numerous commercial diets available but I prefer a diet based on fresh meat, which will naturally acidify the urine. Vitamin C will also do this, at a dose of 500mg per 5kg daily. Cranberry juice or tablets will also do this, and it has a natural antibacterial effect in the bladder. There are also many veterinary tablets eg Acidurin, Deltameth …
Panic attacks can be helped by using a few drops of Rescue remedy orally (a Bach Flower remedy), available from most pharmacies and health food shops. You will buy it as a concentrate, and it can be diluted into a bottle using a few drops (6) of neat RR, into 70% brandy and 30% rainwater (not tap water). It can be applied topically, or as a spray, for very nervy dogs. It is perfectly safe. Dogs that are always nervous can be treated with magnesium and vitamin B6. There is also a newly released dog pheromone spray/atomiser that can be quite effective called D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone).
Signs of a suppressed immune system are classically the dull dry coat, with strong smell, poor energy levels, bad breath, sloppy faeces, recurrent illnesses and infections (esp ear infections), snotty nose, brittle nails, cracked toe pads, anal gland infections, weepy eyes…
With regard to boosting the immune system… daily vitamin C (approx 1000mg daily), Omega blend oil (for the Omega 3 fatty acids, and the shark liver oil…both immune boosters), vitamin E, Chinese mushrooms (reishi and shitake), olive leaf extract, colostrum tablets…. there are many more, but suggesting a total raw food diet would be the best advice (refer to the VAN web page – Feeding dogs) and added Health Booster and Skin and Coat powder.
That super pungent smell must be bacteria called Pseudomonas… smells like rotting fruit. Omega Blend will be stimulating the immune system, and helping local immunity in the skin lining of the ear canal. Another tip that can help is to add a few drops of vinegar to the ear each day and massage in – dropping the PH (acidifying) can kill the bacteria.
Dog’s ear canals are very different to humans. Human ear canal is very short (25mm), and is horizontal. The dogs ear canal is more like 50-75 mm deep, and the first ¾ is vertical, with the last ¼ horizontal (like a back to front “L”)..hence it is very likely to trap water, especially if the dogs ear flaps are upright, like a German Shepherd.
This is not so uncommon. When a dog is bathed, no matter how good the shampoo product used, you will stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil to coat the hair. If the dog is Omega 3 deficient, this oil can have a strong unpleasant odour…so, the Omega Blend oil will help to correct this, remember it will take about 3 weeks. I would also advise using a chemical / soap free shampoo (eg VAN natural shampoo) and to wash your dog less often.
Unfortunately there is not much that helps kidney function, once gone, it is gone for good. You can relieve the load on the kidney (and the production of toxic blood metabolites) using diet..eg the prescription k/d diets your vet may suggest. You aim to create a diet lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates, and this will mean there are less nitrogen wastes for the kidney to remove. It is vital that your dog or cat is on a diet that is high in moisture – so a “wet” food rather than a dry food (a meat based diet is about 70% moisture). You can create a good renal support diet using Complete Mix – see the website for details.