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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

If you look at a wild canine’s teeth, you’ll see clean, white shiny teeth.

Why? They are eating what nature intended, raw meat, bones, and organs of their prey.

If you look at a domestic canine’s teeth, many times you will find tartar buildup, yellow or brown discoloration, inflamed gums, and maybe even some loose teeth.

Why? They are eating food that has no dental benefits. It is a myth that kibble can help control your dog’s tartar. In reality, it will control tartar just as well as trying to clean your own teeth with granola. Many kibbles also contain ingredients such as sugars, carbohydrates, and starches that cause the kibble to stick to a dog’s teeth. These ingredients are also a food source for opportunistic oral bacteria, which will actually cause further tartar to form. Since these foods do not contain live nutrients and many times contain things like preservatives and dyes, they will disrupt normal flora in the body and can lead to tartar that way as well.

Many people view dental disease as a normal process when there is nothing normal or natural about it. The reason this unnatural process is happening is because dogs are eating food that they are not designed to eat. 

Raw food is the natural diet of your dog and it has a variety of benefits, with the focus of this article being to improve or maintain good dental hygiene.

Raw meaty bones are the best option to control tartar as they provide an abrasive, cleaning action on your dog’s teeth. It’s important to emphasize four areas when providing raw meaty bones to your dog.

  1. The bones must be raw. Cooked bones splinter and can cause harm to your pet.
  2. It is important to always supervise, know your dog and choose a size appropriate raw meaty bone for them. If they tent to gulp, the bone needs to be larger than their mouth or head so that they can gnaw rather than gulp.
  3. If your dog is an intense chomper, it is important to not give them a bone that is very dense as this can cause a tooth fracture. Dense bones are those which are weight-bearing bones of adult cattle, such as a marrow bone.
  4. Remember to handle raw meaty bones the same as you handle your own raw meat. Have your dog work on them in an area that you can sanitize such as a create or outside. Do not allow them to run around your house with a raw bone. Refrigerate or freeze the bone if they have more to work on later.

Raw meat contains live enzymes and probiotics. The enzymes help to keep teeth clean by breaking down bacteria on your dog’s teeth. The probiotics found in a raw diet also maintain normal balance and populations of bacterial flora in the mouth. Both also help to retain pH balance, making it less likely that any harmful bacteria can thrive in your dog’s mouth. Furthermore, it does not stick to a dog’s teeth like a dry food.

Healthy teeth & gums of my raw fed German shepherd

In terms of maintaining healthy teeth and gums, nothing compares to a raw diet. A raw diet is a species appropriate diet for our dogs, meaning it is the easiest diet for them to digest and assimilate nutrients from, as it is in the natural state that a dog’s body recognizes and utilizes. Prevention of dental disease is not feeding a kibble diet and doing regular dental cleanings. Rather, prevention is honoring the natural design of our dogs and feeding and caring for them accordingly. Their body will be better able to maintain health the way it was meant to in the first place.

Pictured are my raw feed dogs: Lolo (border collie), Bella (Italian greyhound), and Onyx (German shepherd)

Dr. Erin O’Connor is an AVCA Animal Chiropractor and ACAN Naturopathic Carnivore Nutrition Consultant. She sees patients out of her clinic, Vitality Chiropractic Center in Aurora, as well as Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva. For further information, visit myvitalitychiropractic.com or email Dr. O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com.

 

Many people think that animal chiropractic is best suited for older dogs. While senior dogs can receive great benefits, in areas such as increasing their mobility and decreasing pain, the very best time to start care is in the developmental stages…puppyhood!

Animal chiropractic can help give puppies the best start towards great health. Think about it. If you’ve had a puppy, they are energetic, clumsy, zooming around, play rowdy, have inevitable slips and falls, are developing coordination and learning body awareness. This is also when they are quickly growing.

Animal chiropractic during this stage in their lives can be beneficial to achieve proper bone and joint development and movement, as well as reaching optimal health early on in life, which can help set the stage for the health they experience throughout their lifetime.

For example, it can lessen the likelihood that a puppy slip or fall will lead to flexibility or mobility issues later in life. In addition, anecdotal evidence has found that puppies who receive chiropractic care are less likely to be diagnosed with dysplasia when compared to litter mates who received no adjustments.

Animal chiropractic for puppies is very gentle and effective to be sure that all of their joints are achieving proper motion as well as position. Most puppies quickly figure out that their animal chiropractic visit is something positive. It makes their body feel good!

A little care goes a long way. Most healthy, normal puppies can achieve great benefit from only 2-3 adjustments before they mature. It is then a good idea to continue chiropractic check-ups every few months to help maintain wellness. Extra active dogs, giant sized breeds, dogs in activities that place extra stress on their joints may need a little more care. If any problems or symptoms arise, frequency of care can be modified accordingly.

When it comes to health, it is best to start making good choices to support the body early. It is also much easier to be proactive in health to prevent problems from happening in the first place.

So, the next time you think, “my dog is young,” and “they don’t have any problems yet,” just remember that all dogs, regardless of their age, can benefit from periodic animal chiropractic check-ups. This is especially true of breeds that are known for certain health issues of the spine and other joints such as dachshunds, shih tzus, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds, as well as fast growing breeds such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards.

Consider animal chiropractic as a complement to your puppy’s regular veterinary care to achieve a higher level of health.

Dr. Erin O’Connor is an AVCA Animal Chiropractor and ACAN Naturopathic Carnivore Nutrition Consultant. She sees patients out of her clinic, Vitality Chiropractic Center in Aurora, as well as Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva. For further information, visit myvitalitychiropractic.com or email Dr. O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com.

 

Keeping your pet at their ideal weight is so important to their health. If your pet is overweight, I strongly urge you to take the steps to start helping them lose the excess pounds.

To see if your do is a their ideal weight, there are 3 areas to check:

(1) Ribs

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs as if there is a thin blanket over them. You can feel them, but they are not noticeably visible when standing. If you feel a layer of “squish” over this area or can’t feel the ribs at all, your dog is overweight.

(2) Abdominal Tuck

You should notice an upward slope of your dog’s belly from the end of their rib cage to their thighs. If there is barely to no slope here, your dog is overweight.

(3) Waist

From a bird’s eye view, looking down at your dog, you should notice an inward tapering of a waist, just before their rear end. If you can’t make out a waist, or you are noticing more of a sausage shape here, your dog is overweight.

The above 3 areas to check ideal weight are there in EVERY dog.

Extra weight adds extra stress on the joints as well as the rest of the body. It can make them prone to so many different health conditions as well as make it more difficult to recover from injuries. If your pet is overweight, it’s time to start taking the steps to slim them down.

To help your pet lose the extra weight, there are two main areas to look at:

(1) Food

Your dog’s diet is the most influential factor to their weight. Start by cutting back their food, or better yet, look to providing your pet with a better quality food. Keep track of everything that goes into your dog’s mouth everyday. If your dog gets a treat in the day, be sure you account for this at meal time. If you feed a food like kibble or canned food, try going to a less processed food such as a freeze, or best you can feed raw.

Notice the 3 areas to check: ribs, abdominal tuck, and waist spell “raw?” They were put in that order at no mistake! Raw food provides your dog with nutrition in the form their body was designed to recognize and utilize. It will make weight loos much easier, and it will benefit every other aspect of their health as well.

Sometimes if a dog has been on a kibble or canned food for a long period of time they are lacking the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in their gut micro-biome. Supplementing probiotics and enzymes, or feeding foods like raw green tripe to  replenish and balance their gut can help with weight loss as well.

(2) Exercise

Be sure your dog is getting an ample amount of exercise in their day. Many dogs are lacking the amount of exercise they should get. There are so many ways to help your pet get active, whether a walk, a run, swimming, hiking, playing with other dogs, playing with you, and much more. There are so many things you can do to get your pet moving.  You can get creative here.

There are many interactive toys available to help get your pet physically and mentally stimulated on days you may be extra busy, such as treat balls to roll around the house. “Wait, treats?!” Again, be sure you account for any treats at meal time and be sure they are minimally processed treats such as freeze dried or dehydrated treats, limited ingredients such as a single protein source, so that they do not hinder your weight loss goals.

You can also check out dog training facilities and try out some dog sports like agility, flyball, canine freestyle, disc dog, or dock diving to get your dog moving and having fun. If your dog is older or has joint issues, you can look into a lower impact activity like nose work or barn hunt (some jumping).

If your pet is already at their ideal weight, thank you so much for looking out for your pet’s health and wellness. If you realize your pet is overweight after reading this article, start your plan and make it your number one priority to get your pet to a healthy weight.

Dr. Erin O’Connor is an AVCA Animal Chiropractor and ACAN Naturopathic Carnivore Nutrition Consultant. She sees patients out of her clinic, Vitality Chiropractic Center in Aurora, as well as Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva. For further information, visit myvitalitychiropractic.com or email Dr. O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com.

 

 

Dr.ErinGuestBlogIf your dog is currently experiencing or recovering from an injury, rest can be invaluable to their recovery. While it can be difficult with high energy breeds or young dogs, restricting intense activities can help.

Allowing your dog to continue doing intense activities like fetch and frisbee can dramatically slow down their healing time.  When a dog is highly driven by these two things, they will do all that they can to get the ball or frisbee. This means contorting their body out of natural postures, face planting, stumbling, and sliding.  They have one goal and that is to get the ball or frisbee in their mouths as quick as they can.6-21705-top-10-family-friendly-dogs6c-1350065750

Another activity to avoid while your dog is recovering from an injury is tugging. This is especially important for neck injuries. When your dog tugs, they are pulling and jerking with their neck.  If you or another dog pulls against that, it can setup the stage for re-injury or make current symptoms worse.

Other activities you may need to restrict, especially if you have a small dog, is jumping on and off of furniture and stairs. Jumping up is more problematic for a rear limb or back injury, as your dog will be pushing off from the rear.  Jumping down is more worrisome for a neck or front limb injury, as they will be landing on their front legs and the force from their landing will travel up the legs and into the upper back and neck.

If your dog participates in sports like agility, flyball, dock diving, etc. it is wise to also take time off from these activities while your dog heals.

More than likely, your dog will be able to get back to their usual activities, however, restricting these activities while your dog is healing is important.

dog-chasing-ball

Once your dog looks back to their normal self, wait a little bit longer; simply to ensure that everything has healed and stabilized. Many times when dogs start to feel better, they want to do all of their favorite activities again when they are not fully ready.

When they are fully healed, ease back into their normal activities. Whether it’s been a couple weeks or a couple months, going back to a 3 mile walk, their usual jump height in agility, or playing for hours at the park, for example, will cause problems.  Start small and if they do OK, you can gradually increase the intensity or length of the activity.  Many dog owners get really excited once their dog is feeling better, but for your dog’s benefit, you want to take it slow getting them back to their usual activities.

It may take some effort on your part, but it is worth it that your dog rest and then eases back into their activities so that they can fully recover.

If you’re not sure where to start prior to that in the beginning to help heal an injury, I may be able to help with the animal chiropractic.  It’s a great treatment method to restore musculoskeletal and nervous system health.

If you have any questions about Animal Chiropractic, you can contact Dr. Erin O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com or visit myvatilitychiropractic.com

 

Dr.ErinGuestBlogAnimal chiropractic is a safe, gentle approach to your dog’s health care.  It has many benefits, which include reducing pain, alleviating stress, improving mobility, boosting energy, and restoring spinal function.  It can be a great way to enhance your dog’s health.

While chiropractic care may help a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, allergies, pain, abnormal posture, seizures, and neurological conditions; prevention is the key.  An adjustment every few months (more often if your dog is high energy or participates in dog sports) can go a long way. If a spinal problem is detected in a dog or cat early, health issues can be better avoided later in life.  Yet sometimes dog owners don’t realize something like animal chiropractic exists until there is a problem or until their dog is up in age.

Does age prevent a dog in receiving chiropractic care? No! While it is best to start early, it is never too late to start!  The oldest small breed dog I have adjusted was 21 years old, who began care at 19. The oldest large breed dog I’ve adjusted was 18 1/2 years old, who began care at 16. Most importantly, these dogs were able to maintain a quality life at those ages, with the help of chiropractic care.10546971_10152704228448514_6011887158903531704_o

Chiropractic is especially important for senior dogs to help retain normal joint mobility and allow them to continue enjoying activities that they love. When joints function abnormally, it results in abnormal wear and tear, leading to degenerative arthritis. Many people think that it is normal for dogs to significantly slow down as they age, lay on the bed all day, or avoid the stairs…it’s not! They are trying to tell us that something hurts.

For senior dogs where arthritis is already present, chiropractic adjustments allow for more motion in the joint and also pain and inflammation reduction. The degenerative changes to the bone cannot be reversed with adjustments, but the stiffness and discomfort can usually be reduced.

Chiropractic is a wonderful treatment option for our senior dogs.  Most also enjoy their adjustments as they figure out that it makes them feel better!  The most common changes senior dog owners report is increased energy and activity levels.  In some cases, their dog starts doing activities they used to do when they were younger again as well.

Integrated along with the care of your vet, animal chiropractic can provide added comfort, increased mobility, and extended quality of life in your senior dog.

If you would like to begin chiropractic care for your dog, it is recommended to see a doctor who is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.  By doing so, you are assured of the services of a skilled and dedicated professional who will provide the very best care.  A directory is available at AVCAdoctors.com.

If you have any questions about Animal Chiropractic, you can contact Dr. Erin O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com or visit her website at myvitalitychiropractic.com

 

Dr.ErinGuestBlog

One of the most common questions I get asked as an animal chiropractor is “what are the causes of problems in my dog’s spine?”

To answer the questions, we can look at the 3 T’s as causes to problems in a dog’s spine…thoughts, trauma, and/or toxins.  These are the 3 types of stressors that make it difficult for your pet’s body to adapt properly to maintain good health.

THOUGHTS

This is from the negative emotions of your pet.  It can be from circumstances that are scary to them or that cause anxiety, such as boarding, thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. This can also be from not getting enough mental stimulation or affection.  On the severe end of the spectrum, it can be the emotional aspect from abuse.

TRAUMA

dog-playing-tugThis can be a major injury such as falling down stairs, being hit by a car, or coming from an abusive past.  It can also be from small, “micro-traumas” such as tugging on a leash attached to a collar around the neck, not landing quite right after jumping off the couch, catching themselves off balance in the car as you stop or go, and playing an intense game of tug. These can be little things that you may not have considered as a trauma before, but they can add up over time causing a larger problem. Extra weight also causes additional stress on the spine.  One last area of trauma I see in my clinic are performance dogs as they have higher physical demands on their bodies, similar to a human athlete.

TOXINS

This is anything that goes in your dog’s mouth, such as an unhealthy diet, medications, things your dog may eat outside, and also environmental toxins such as lawn treatments, harsh cleaning products, yard defogging, lead in toys, and more.

drerinlolo350dpiYour dog’s body is truly amazing and responds to so many things day to day. For example, if it’s hot outside, your dog will pant as a method to cool down properly. If your dog is running or playing, their heart rate increases to provide their muscles with oxygen.  Your pet’s body should be able to adapt to these everyday stressors, and your pet will adapt just fine to most.

However, if the body becomes overloaded with stressors or if there are stressors that are too large to handle, with some of the examples mentioned above, this can cause loss of normal motion and/or position of the spine and disease patterns can follow. Chiropractic restores normal movement and position of affected joints, allowing proper communication within the nervous system so the body can heal, allowing your dog to function at their optimal level.

For further information on animal chiropractic visit myvitalitychiropractic.com and click “animal chiropractic,” or email Dr. Erin O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com

 

Dr.ErinGuestBlogAnimal chiropractic is a natural and simple way to make a positive difference in your dog’s health and wellness.  It is a gentle, yet highly effective treatment modality that allows the animal to utilize their very own healing capabilities.

An animal chiropractor is a licensed chiropractor or veterinarian who has undergone specialized post-graduate animal chiropractic education and understand the complex biomechanic and neuromusculoskeletal systems animals.  They are certified by either the AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association) or IVCA (International  Veterinary Chiropractic Association). Animal chiropractors focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on health.

Some common conditions seen by an animal chiropractor are limping or other gait abnormalities, neurological conditions such as seizures or paralysis, signs of pain in the spine or a limb, muscle spasms, chronic ear infections, incontinence, allergies, arthritis, and more.

sheltieshow2The only definitive way to know if your dog needs to be adjusted is to have them examined by a certified chiropractor.  However, there are a few “home checks” you can do to see if they would benefit from chiropractic.

  1. Put your dog in a sit position, hold a treat in front of them.  Now bring the treat to their shoulder.  They should go directly nose to shoulder in a simple, easy motion.  If they scoot back, twist sideways, or do anything besides that simple lateral neck movement, they may have a problem in their neck.
  2. Another way you can check your dog is to feel along their spine.  Feel for heat, cool, swelling, or muscle twitching.  You can gently press along their spine and see if it causes them any discomfort anywhere.  If they jump, turn their head, if you feel muscle tension or twitching, or temperature changes, they may have a problem in that area.  The more you do this, the more sensitive you will become to subtle changes.
  3. You can also observe them…if they have difficulty executing certain movements, such as walking, running, going up or down stairs, jumping into the car or on a couch, getting up from laying down, squatting, or sitting, they may have a chiropractic problem that needs to be addressed.  Abnormal posture when standing or sitting, nail dragging, as well as side sitting can also be indications.

While chiropractic care helps a variety of conditions, prevention is the key.  All chiropractors, whether for people or animals, are proactive in health.  Meaning they want to maintain optimal wellness and prevent disease from happening in the first place.

Your pet should be examined periodically to ensure there are no abnormalities in movement and function, this covers areas such as range of motion, gait, posture, and muscle tone to ensure optimal wellness, help prevent disease, and to keep your dog’s health at their full potential.

parkerbIdeally, chiropractic care for dogs should begin at an early age and continue throughout their lifetime, but it’s never too late to start.  An animal chiropractor can evaluate your pups to ensure they are developing properly as well as help your adult dog stay active and healthy.  It can keep working and sporting dogs in top condition as well as keep senior dogs active and pain free.

Animal chiropractic is a great compliment to your dog’s regular veterinary care.  Plus, it’s not limited to only dogs, any animal with a spine can benefit!  A pet under chiropractic care functions and heals much more efficiently, leading to a whole new level of health!

 

For further information on animal chiropractic visit myvitalitychiropractic.com and click “animal chiropractic” or email Dr. Erin O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com