By Margaret Meier Jones, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley
With improved nutrition, health styles, and better management of “traditional” veterinary diseases, the average lifetime of our beloved pets is increasing in years. This means more wonderful memories with our pets, but it also means an increase in geriatric conditions such as heart and kidney disease. Traditional management of these conditions typically involves a prescription diet, fluid therapy, and medications, leaving pet owners wondering if there isn’t something more that can be done. Alternative therapies, such Chinese medicine and nutritional supplementation, might just be the answer!
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the kidneys are not working as well as they once were to remove the waste products of metabolism circulating in the blood. According to Pet Health Network, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will be diagnosed with CKD. Unfortunately, much of the kidney function (estimates of 65 to 75 percent) has been lost by the time there are changes to “normal” kidney blood values. Some signs of CKD include increased thirst, increased frequency and volume of urination, weight loss, poor appetite, and decreased energy. As the condition advances you may notice your pet’s breath may become acrid as toxins build up in the blood stream. Blood and urine tests are used to diagnose kidney disease, and you should see your veterinarian to have them performed on your pet if you’re noticing any of these symptoms. If your doctor confirms your suspicions of CKD to be true, that’s when alternative therapies really should be considered to augment traditional treatments.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the most yin organ of the body, whereas the heart is the most yang. Together, they are considered the oil lamp of life with the kidneys storing the oil needed to sustain the flame provided by the heart. And, just like any oil lantern, if you run out of oil, the flame flickers and goes out. Chinese herbs, acupuncture point prescriptions, and Food Energetics work in synergy to add more oil, so to speak, to the kidneys, keeping the flame of life going strong.
Food Energetics is the inherent energy in the food, and one of the most powerful resources at our fingertips for helping our pets’ bodies work better. Food truly is medicine, and the Chinese have designated everything we eat to be either Cold, Cooling, Neutral, Warming, or Hot. Processed prescription diets for CKD have science to prove they help, but they really are just the beginning. The more processed any food is, the more its original nutritional make-up is changed. Processing adds heat to food in Chinese terms, and too much heat in our diet can cause dis-ease.
Whole food supplementation, from companies such as Standard Process, help replace micronutrients lost in processing. I strongly recommend either Canine or Feline Renal Support whenever I diagnose CKD in my patients. Other nutricuticals, including products like Epikitin and Azodyl, can help bind the toxins normally excreted by the kidneys, aiding in their elimination by alternative routes such as the GI tract. Homeopathic remedies may also provide additional options to ensure that each day with your beloved pet is the best it can be!