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Newsletter - May 2010

The News At Home

We are expecting! Baby robins, that is. There’s a nest with three glorious blue eggs in a small tree beside our front door. Mama robin rotates the eggs, lies flat over them when it gets windy, and sits patiently on them for hours. Daddy robin is usually nearby standing guard. With all the commotion around here, he probably needs valium by now. Our front porch has a massive crack in it that has to be fixed. The contractor was expected to start work in about two weeks. My guess is that we’ll have brand new baby robins at that time, or they’ll be hatching any minute.

People working on concrete right there would horrify the bird and I’m sure she’d abandon her babies. So, the porch is being delayed until the youngsters are out of the nest, safe and sound. My concern regards roaming cats in the area as well. This female robin picked a fairly good spot for her nest, but she may not be aware of the danger one cat in particular might be. She’s feral, beautiful, and loved to hang out with her new kitten on our front lawn last year. Here’s hoping that the robin and her babies remain safe. In the meantime, we’re having a lovely time peeking at the nest and watching the eggs grow.

What’s New at

Donating 10% of All Book Sales Toward Rabies Challenge Fund

We support and applaud the work going into the Rabies Challenge Fund. Headed by Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Ron Schultz, and Kris Christine, this is a grass roots effort to finally stop some of the insanity regarding the yearly rabies vaccine. Scientific proof that the vaccine benefits last years longer than the law suggests now can impact the health of our own dogs and those of future generations. The importance of this project cannot be overstated! The responsibility of funding this study to its fruition is up to each and every one of us. If we choose to do nothing, nothing will get done. This month, we’ll be donating 10% of all book sales toward the efforts of this study, and thank you in advance for your support.

“This is one of the most important projects in veterinary medicine. It will benefit all dogs by providing evidence that protection from rabies vaccination lasts at least 5 years, thereby avoiding unnecessary revaccination with its attendant risk of debilitating adverse reactions.” - Rabies Challenge Fund Co-Trustee Dr. Jean Dodds

“U.S. rabies immunization laws are not based on long-term duration of immunity studies. The RCF finances concurrent 5 and 7 year studies according to FDA vaccine licensing standards. The results will provide the scientific data base which state laws should reflect in order to avoid unnecessary over vaccination while maintaining immunity to rabies in the canine community.” - Rabies Challenge Fund Co-Trustee Kris Christine

“Because it is almost always fatal, Rabies is the most important zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from dogs and cats to human beings. The most effective way to prevent this zoonotic disease is by vaccinating dogs and cats. Showing that a vaccine for rabies can provide 5 or preferably 7 years of immunity would have great significance not only in controlling rabies but more importantly in reducing the adverse vaccine reactions that can occur in dogs and cats after vaccination.” - Rabies Challenge Fund Researcher Dr. Ron Schultz

Fact of The Month

Digestive Enzymes Can Help Older Dogs

Although supplemental digestive enzymes seem to do little to help younger animals with a robust gastrointestinal tract, older dogs can often benefit. As with people, the aging process can affect a number of body functions. For example, the dosage of some medications are sometimes modified because absorption can differ, body fat increases and muscle mass decreases. Even when the dog weighs the same and seems to be built well, these changes are inevitable. If the ability to digest foods properly becomes a big issue, you’re likely to notice it. Sloppy stool or constipation, more gas, perhaps some weight loss (always see a veterinarian to ensure weight loss is not due to more serious issues) would be evident. However, an older dog that shows no symptoms may nevertheless have a bit of an absorption problem simply due to the aging process.

I’ve seen some mysteries resolve when supplemental digestive enzymes were fed. For example, gassy dogs can become less so, a thinner coat can become more profuse, energy levels can increase, and some of these older dogs simply seem to look brighter. The fact is that we are what we eat is only partially true. More accurately, we are what we absorb. So, the older dog that experiences lessened absorption may very well slow down for this reason alone. In fact, some of the supplements people give older dogs in an effort to help mobility, skin condition and more can be helped along when absorption is improved.

Here’s one example: Blazer is an eleven year old Border Collie who began to slow down about three years ago. At the same time, one eye started to produce a discharge. The veterinarian could find no health problems. Blazer was being fed a balanced commercial diet supplemented with plenty of fresh foods, a joint supportive supplement, wild salmon oil and vitamin E daily. It wasn’t until digestive enzymes were added to his diet that things turned around. In about one month, his eye was clear and energy level improved. I would go so far as to say it’s a coincidence if not for the fact that I’ve seen this reaction too many times over the years to be able to shrug it off that easily. There is little doubt in my mind that some (not all) older dogs make good use of digestive enzymes.

The digestive enzymes I use for these dogs are plant based. That is, the protease (the enzyme needed to break down protein) is derived from a plant source, as are the other enzymes in the product. Regular digestive enzymes are stronger, but I haven’t found any benefit to them if the dog doesn’t truly have a gastrointestinal disorder. The protease in regular digestive enzymes is derived from an animal source, and highly sensitive dogs can experience negative reactions if they happen to be allergic to that source. You can find both types of Digestive Enzymes on my site. Other brands may be fine, of course. Read labels carefully and ask hard questions before making your purchase. For example, how long does it take for the capsule to disintegrate? Has the product been tested for mold and yeast counts? How did it fare? Can you see the certificate of analysis from an independent lab? Be sure the product is free of artificial preservatives, color, milk, soy, corn, wheat and yeast. Sometimes, the very thing that is meant to help digestion can cause a problem if purity isn’t considered. Supplements should be the highest quality possible if we hope to see good results.


“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” - Edward Hoagland



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