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Newsletter - November 2012

 First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones made it through safely. Toronto was hit as well, but not as hard as expected, nor as horrifically as eastern U.S.A. As I write this, I received word from a special friend on Long Island, and despite that he's surrounded by devastation, it's such a relief to know he made it through this.. It's hard to know if not hearing anything is due to loss of power, or worse, and I'm sure that those of you waiting to hear from loved ones are on pins and needles as well. You have our thoughts and prayers.

It would be insensitive of me to talk about Tori under the circumstances, but since many of have asked, let me just say that her liver is happier and we've taken to calling her our Timex dog because she just keeps on ticking.

Help Your Arthritic Dog

Arthritis can be painful at any time of year, but especially when the weather turns colder and damper. We know that both you and your dog can make good use of the following items that we've put on sale exactly for the purpose of helping.

Optimal Nutrition (makes a nice Christmas gift for your vet, too): save $3 per book (reg. price $24.99; now $21.99)

Help For Your Arthritic Dog booklet: save $1 (reg price $7.95; now $6.95)

Joint Support Package: already discounted by $5.98 as compared to buying the supplements individually - save an extra $2 during this month (reg price $53.99, now $51.99)

Health and Integrity of The Gut

Entire books have been written about the digestive tract - how it functions when healthy or diseased, how food is digested, etc. We could talk about any of the many processes of digestion, but there's a link to the immune system as well, and that's my focus for this newsletter. The truth is that this could be 10 pages at minimum, but I'll keep it as brief as possible.

It's important to understand that all of us, including dogs, have beneficial flora in our digestive tracts. Think lactobacteria, for example. There's also opportunistic flora (think clostridia, for instance) residing in the gut, and plenty of them. In a healthy dog, this opportunistic flora is kept in check by the beneficial bacteria. Lastly, there are microbes that are swallowed via food, eating dirt, grass, etc. It's the good-guy bacteria that protects the gut and keeps things under control. Gut epithelium (thin tissue that for the purpose of this discussion, forms the lining of the alimentary tract) gets at least half (some estimate it to be about 60%) of its energy from bacterial activity. So, when gut flora is damaged, lack of nourishment occurs and can damage the digestive wall. How? We need to look a bit closer at the gut lining in order to answer that.

Villi are finger-like structures. Cells called enterocytes are also called absorptive cells because that's exactly what they do - absorb water and nutrients. These cells coat the villi. If you spread your fingers, you'll see the valley or crypts between them, so imagine that your fingers are villi and the crypt is where enterocytes are born. As the grow, they travel towards the top of the finger/villi and are doing their jobs very well, but then they're shed when they reach the top. So, a constant supply of enterocytes is produced and this is how the epithelium of intestines is renewed and kept healthy. Experiments on the sterilized gut of animals shows that when beneficial bacteria is removed, cell renewal goes haywire. Degenerated villi translates to an inability to digest food and absorb nutrients properly which leads to nutritional deficiencies.

The immune system needs proper nutrition and it can't function well if the very things that are supposed to keep the bacterial population in check ends up going haywire. When there's a deficiency of certain cells (lymphocytes to protect mucus membranes by destroying bacteria, fungi, etc., macrophages to swallow the debris left my cells that gather round invading foreign and dangerous substances), gut flora goes far beyond what may seem obvious. It's connected, and indeed the foundation of a healthy immune system.

I could go, but you might have had enough at this point. If you're interested in a learning module about this subject, please let me know. Assuming there's enough interest, I can put it into a booklet or offer a one-time presentation down the road, but I'm not sure about the cost associated with the latter, or how you feel about that. Let's stay in touch.

Personally Speaking

Learn more on my blog:

Lentil Meatballs (a recipe for you, not your dog)

Four-Legged Compost Bins

Cognitive Impairment (about people, not dogs)

Is Pet Insurance Worthwhile?


"Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man" ~ Schopenhauer



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