kinds of drugs and its side effects

Tepary beans: A desert boon for diabetics (dogs too)

The magical tepary beans

I am waiting on hold for my vet and hear a loop message, over and over: “Is your cat or dog obese? Ask us about the signs of diabetes.”

This makes me crazy. Unlike cats, dogs don’t get diabetes because they’re fat.

The Obesity-Canine Diabetes Myth

Almost all* canine diabetes is akin to Type 1 — sometimes called “juvenile”– diabetes in humans, the type that is hereditary and can’t be prevented or reversed through diet.

Being obese is not healthy for any animal. Eating high fat foods can put pressure on the pancreas of dogs that are predisposed towards pancreatitis,  which in turn can cause diabetes. But this being a guilt-free zone, I want to make it clear that, if your dog gets diabetes, it’s not your fault. It’s the roll of the genetic dice.

Short rant over.

The diabetic diet

If canine diabetes can’t be reversed, there are some things that can help the insulin that needs to be administered to do its job. While there’s no consensus among veterinary experts about precisely what a doggy diabetic should eat, most agree that the addition of fiber to the diet helps keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Read More »

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Traveling With Pet Insulin & Why I Can’t Go to BlogPaws

Will it help Frankie?

As I reported here earlier, Frankie and I had a successful trip to San Diego, where we flew together for the first time.

The insulin I carried with me apparently didn’t fare quite as well.

We had no problems during the trip, but the week following our return… Well, this requires a bit of background.

Diabetes Control and Insulin

For the three plus years since Frankie found the dose and type of insulin that worked well to control his diabetes, he has only had a single hypoglycemic incident. Moreover,  that was early on, when I didn’t realize that, when you get to the end of the bottle, there’s a strong likelihood that the insulin will have pooled in a higher concentration and therefore be stronger.

I know it’s not uncommon for owners of diabetic dogs to deal with hypoglycemic incidents. I also know that the reason that Vetsulin, the pet-related insulin that I have been using successfully, was taken off the market in the U.S. was that the formulation had become unpredictable, so that the blood sugar control became erratic. I did notice some difference in strength in bottles, but I test Frankie’s urine on a twice-daily basis and adjust the dose accordingly. I know glucose urine testing is imprecise; it can only provides an average of blood sugar levels of the period of time between samples. But it’s always worked for me.

Until I got back from San Diego. Read More »

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First-Aid for Pets — and Empowerment for Caretakers

Coulda, woulda, shoulda — how many of us second guess ourselves, especially when it comes to the health of our pets? It’s bad enough to be confronted with an emergency situation that has an unfortunate outcome. It’s worse to think you could have done something to change it.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 25% more pets would survive injuries if only one first aid technique was applied.

This week’s Animal Cafe interview by Dr. Lorie Huston with Jillian Meyers brings that information home through a moving personal story.

The tragedy that spurred a solution

In 2007, Jillian Meyers took her dachshund, Diego, in for a routine teeth cleaning.  She had a bad feeling about his condition as soon as she saw him — he seemed more lethargic than the anesthesia warranted — but she took the vet tech’s word that everything was okay.

When she got home and her father saw Diego, he confirmed Jillian’s sense that something was wrong.

By the time Jillian got Diego back to the vet’s office, it was too late. The vet worked on him for an hour, but the dachsund didn’t make it.

The creation of Healthy Paws

Looking back now, Jillian realizes that Diego had been in shock. She just didn’t trust herself enough to insist on treatment before she left the vet’s office with him.

But instead of wallowing in her pain after Diego’s death and beating herself up as many — hand raised here — would be likely to do, Jillian decided to try to prevent others from experiencing the same pain as she did. As she puts it, “I don’t want him to have died in vain.”

That’s how the Los Angeles-based Healthy Paws was born.

PetSaver™ Pet CPR, First Aid and Care Certification Classes

Jillian had known about first-aid classes for pet owners. She had just never found the time to attend one. But, she contends, a lot of pet owners are not even aware that such classes exist, even though they are becoming more and more prevalent.

Using a combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations with stuffed animals, Jillian teaches such basic skills as how to muzzle your animal. She explains, “Animals already operate at a higher frequency than we do, they can sense panic. It’s best to practice muzzling when both of you are in a calm situation.”

Other techniques she teaches are:

  • Choking management
  • CPR
  • Assessing vital signs
  • Poison prevention

But it’s not all about emergencies. According to Jillian, “The biggest walkaway skill we teach is the snout- to-tail assessment. We encourage people to do it once a week, to create a baseline with their pet. Then you can see changes and document them.”

The bottom line: The skills learned in these classes are not designed to take the place of veterinary care; they’re designed to help you get your pet to professional treatment safely.

Ok — here’s where I admit that, in spite of knowing about their importance, I haven’t taken a first-aid class. Have you?

Listen to the interview here.


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“America’s Veterinarian” Shares Pet Care Tips

Dr. Marty Becker is a media star who has sold 8 million books and often appears on Good Morning America and the Dr. Oz Show.

This naturally made me dubious about the claim on the cover of his new book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual, that he has “hundreds of secrets, surprises and solutions for raising a happy, healthy dog” — secrets, he told Dr. Lorie Huston during an interview on Animal Cafe, “that even veteran veterinarians or people who have owned dogs forever won’t know, tips that will make your pet healthier and happier and save you time and money.”

It’s not that I’m opposed to popular TV or best sellers. I spend a great deal of time with them, but tend to turn to them for entertainment rather than enlightenment.

I’m happy to report that, after listening to the interview, I’ve seen the error of my ways. Dr. Becker, a.k.a. “America’s Vet,” is not only entertaining but extremely informative.

In little more than 20 minutes of listening to him, I learned several things I didn’t know.

Here are just three of them:

It’s a good idea to bathe your dog once or even twice a week during allergy season

The notion that bathing your dog this often can dry his skin is a myth, according to Dr. Becker, who contends that flushing allergy triggers is a good idea. “Think of your dog as a Swiffer,” he says, “picking up stuff off hardwood floors day after day.” He suggests that, if you wash the pollen off their coats, dogs can get through the height of the allergy season without skin problems. Read More »

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Healthy & Economical Dog Treats: Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

Night of the Living Danes? Frank, Tyler and Samji

I recently got an email from a blog follower, Renee Bedford, who wrote: “In past years we used to feed our dogs a combination of  table scraps and commercial dog food without taking note of their nutrient requirements. Thankfully, regular trips to the vet opened our eyes to the dangers of an improper diet and prompted me to look further into healthier alternatives.”

Knowing that treats are “vital to  providing rewards for your pet and to building a deeper connection while assisting in training activities,” Bedford writers, she was happy to discover that pet food manufacturers now create many tasty and nutritional varieties. She was less happy to learn that they were very expensive because of the costs involved in production and marketing.

She therefore wanted to share with my readers some of the quick and easy alternatives from the people-food aisles of the supermarket shelves that provide healthy additions to your dog’s diet.

It wasn’t until I asked her to send a picture of her dogs to illustrate the piece, however, that I realized just how essential it was for Renee’s family to economize on pet food — those are some BIG eaters — and just how effective her regimen must be. My, what shiny coats and great body tone they have!

So… with the caveat that these treats should not comprise more than 15% of a dog’s caloric intake and that you should always check with your vet if your dog has any health issues, Bedford suggests:

  • Crunchy celery, green beans, and yams — either raw or cooked and, in the case of green beans, frozen — and small slices of apple, banana, or pear. Bedford cautions that the following should be avoided: garlic, grapes, onions, and raisins.
  • In lieu of nutritionally-deficient rawhide chews, real chunks of meat, fish and poultry, cooked or raw, thawed or frozen (Note: I often give Frankie small pieces of frozen cooked liver as a treat.)  For puppies who are still teething, a few choice chunks of meat may be placed in a Kong for them to chew on.
  • Whole wheat pasta with meat toppings (but not the kind you get out of a jar with lots of sugar); popcorn without butter or any other toppings.
  • A lick or two from an ice cream cone or a tiny dab of cheese as an extra special treat. Bedford notes: “I often have a problem when the kids share with our puppies, so make sure to keep two separate cones when attempting this treat!”

Anyone want to add any healthy, inexpensive treats to this list?

And does anyone want to caption the photo? There was something about the pose that cracked me up. It was especially eerie when all the dogs had white eyes. I managed to fix the “dog eye” in the front two, but couldn’t retouch those of Frank, the dog in back.

Renee Bedford describes herself as a mom and wife who believes in teaching her children to be self-reliant and prepared, skills that will not only keep them safer, but  make them smarter! She also works for the Christmas Tree Market, selling an array of classic and unique artificial Christmas trees.

Editor’s note: Only Frank,  in the back, and Tyler, front left, are members of the Bedford family. Samji is a close family friend.

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Pet Danger: Common Home & Garden Poisons

Dr. Justine Lee and her rescued pit bull, JP

We just got past one of the prime pet poisoning holidays: Easter. Canine consumption of chocolate eggs raised the number of phone calls to the Pet Poison Help Line a whopping 190%, according to Dr. Justine Lee, the help line’s Director of Veterinary Services.

And then there are the cat-killing Easter lilies. The pollen alone can be deadly if it gets on a cat’s skin.

I thought I knew a lot about common home and garden hazards to pet health, but Dr. Lorie Huston’s interview with Dr. Lee was eye-opening. I never considered, for example, how pills rattling around a bottle could make them particularly appealing to a pet. Why wouldn’t a dog want to eviscerate — and eat the insides of — such a toy?

Conversely, I learned about that the “cocoa” mulch danger was overhyped. Dr. Lee explains that a dog would have to eat a vast quantity of mulch containing theobromine, the common ingredient with chocolate, for it to pose a health threat.

And pre-programming your phone with the number of the Pet Poison Helpline — that would be 800-213-6680 — because, really, who can find a number when your pet is bleeding? Great idea.

I first became acquainted with Dr. Lee through her very funny but informative book, It’s a Dog’s Life…but It’s Your Carpet: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Four-Legged Friend. I didn’t read the feline sequel, It’s a Cat’s World . . . You Just Live in It: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Furry Feline, but I’m sure it’s funny and informative too.

When I heard that one of my favorite pet authors was being interviewed for Animal Cafe, I was very excited. I didn’t think the topic would lend itself to humor but I felt certain that Dr. Lee’s take on it would be straightforward and accessible. I was right.

So listen to the interview, below: Easter may be past, but there are still dangerous bulbs to be planted and fed by scary organic fertilizers.

And then on Wednesday, May 4, at 9PM EST, head over to the Chat Cafe and talk with Dr. Lee.

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Pet Food Confidential: What’s in Your Dog’s Bowl?

Susan Thixton had the bad luck to have a dog who got cancer as a result of ingesting ethoxyquin, a preservative used in the popular national brand she was feeding her.

She had the good luck to have a vet who recognized the dangers of chemicals in the most common pet foods.

And we pet lovers have the good luck to have Susan Thixton, who blogs at Truth About Pet Food and just wrote a new book, Buyer Beware, as a tireless investigator into the ills of the pet food industry.

I’ve use the word “ills” deliberately. If you listen to Mary Haight’s two-part interview with Susan, posted below, it will make you feel sick. And incredulous. And furious. Can the FDA, theoretically a regulatory agency, really get away with…???

Well, listen to the interview (but not during mealtime, unless you want to go on an instant diet). Then come by for a live chat with Susan at on Wednesday, April 27, at 9PM EST — if only to thank her for the work she does to help keep us from inadvertently poisoning our pets.

By the way, in case you were caught wondering after listening to the first part of the interview: Bob Dole is not “late,” as in dead.

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The promised rant against UPS (but not the FDA & Intervet/Schering Plough…yet)

Last week I deferred my desire to rant against various bureaucracies — both governmental and industrial; I’m an equal opportunity ranter — that were keeping Frankie and his diabetes drugs apart in order to provide some background, which I did here.

The Search for Insulin Begins

This brings us to about three weeks ago when I put up a note on Facebook:

Damn. I just found out that Vetsulin/Caninsulin is out of stock in Canada — where I’d been ordering it since emergency supplies in the U.S. were discontinued. I’m devastated at the thought of getting Frankie regulated on another diabetes medication, especially since my vet wasn’t very encouraging about the success he’s had with switching other dogs over.

Karen of suggested that some Canadian pharmacies that don’t ship to the US have might have supplies — and was generous enough to offer to mail them to me. Sure enough, I was able to order three bottles from the pharmacy she referred me to without a problem. Read More »

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Behind the Scenes with a High-Quality Pet Food Purveyor

Anthony Holloway, CEO of

I admit it. I tend to be a stickler about language precision. Yet the title of this post is ambiguous. Reading it, you might wonder whether it is the pet food or the purveyor that is high quality.

My answer would be: Both! Anthony Holloway and his company,, are two class acts.

As Dr. Lorie Huston’s interview with him on Animal Cafe explains, Anthony’s reason for starting an online pet food business was personal: While living in a rural area, he couldn’t find the noncommercial brand he needed to feed one of his dogs, a Yellow lab with terrible food allergies. He soon realized that other people probably had similar difficulties. So Anthony  and his wife, Kate, decided to fill a need by starting an online company that sells high-quality brands.

And there’s more.  The company doesn’t only focus on healthy food, but also explains its criteria for determining what that means. Among other things, k9Cuisine allows you to figure out if your current chow is up to snuff with the extremely useful dog food rating tool.

As for the high quality of Anthony himself…anyone who has had the pleasure of encountering him, whether online or in person, knows that he is an extremely nice and generous guy. By any criteria you might apply.

So listen to the interview here and then come back to the site on Wednesday, April 6, at 9pm EST for a live chat with this high-quality guy who purveys high-quality pet food.


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I Hate UPS, the FDA and Intervet/Schering-Plough (But Love Doggie Stylish)

Did you ever want to start a rant and then realize you have far too many things to explain in order for people to properly understand what you are ranting about? That’s what  just happened to me. After working up a good head of steam and venting in this post title, I suddenly understood that, if I wanted sympathy, I needed to provide some context.

So consider the following a pre-rant.

The Super-Deep Background

Regulating Mr Frankie

Frankie’s diabetes has been under control for about 2 1/2 years now. He was diagnosed in late 2008, and it took about 6 months (which is a little less than average) to get him regulated on Vetsulin, the porcine-based insulin manufactured by Intervet/Schering-Plough. (I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to any pigs who may have sacrificed their lives to produce porcine-based insulin. I don’t know how that works and, honestly, I don’t want to know because it will make me sadder than I am already.)

Frankie tried several different types of insulin at different doses. The Vetsulin worked best. Read More »

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