Pet Wellness Tips

To Stop Shedding

Try paper towels. To prevent a dog from shedding all over the house, dampen a sheet of paper towel and run it over his fur. The paper towel collects the loose hair.

Vermont Soap Pet Shampoo

USDA Certified Organic. A safe and nontoxic alternative to detergent and chemical cleaners for our furry friends. This wonderful product is perfect for sensitive pets.

Tick Check

Wisconsin and Minnesota are red zones for Lyme disease.

There are also three other diseases caused by ticks: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and RMSF. The wood tick does not carry any of these; however they are now finding out that mosquitoes, fleas, and some spiders (I got Lyme from a spider bite) now carry Lyme disease. Deer ticks are out year-round. They are very slow during December and January, and their main feeding time is May through July. The nymph and female ticks are the ones that carry the diseases. The males do not feed on animals; they just crawl around waiting for a female. Their life cycle is two years and they feed for two to four days. The tick has to be feeding on the animal for 24 hours before it can transfer the disease. The nymphs are baby ticks and are the size of a pin head; they look like a spot of dirt. The females are a little larger and have a red back. The size of a male is between those of the nymph and the female and it is black.

To help prevent Lyme disease and the three other diseases that deer ticks (otherwise know as beer ticks and black legged ticks) carry, there are a few things that can be done.

Start by sprinkling garlic granules in the yard. Your dogs and kids can play in it without any ill effects, and mosquitoes, ticks, and other creeping things do not like it.

You can also put cedar shavings around the bushes, kennels, and in the garden.  I sprinkle the chips in my flower pots, around the house bushes, and wherever else. The dogs love to lay in it.

Use a natural tick repellant made from essential oils and herbs.

It’s Functional Neurology!

by Dr. Margaret L. Meier (Radle) DVM, CVSMT

Veterinrary Spinal Manipulative Therapy (VSMT)? Is that like chiropractic for Animals? Will it hurt my animal? Do you use hammers, mallets, or other scary devices? How come I didn’t know this was available? These are questions I face every day in my veterinary practice. As readers of Second Opinion, we are all familiar with chiropractic care for ourselves and our beloved family members. However, what many of us don’t realize is that this care is also available for our beloved animal companions.

Animal chiropractic traces its history back to Dr. Sharon Willoughby Blake and the late 1980s. Dr. Willoughby held dual degrees as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Dr. Willoughby began to teach fellow licensed veterinarians and chiropractors the science and skills necessary to treat animals with veterinary chiropractic. The American and International Veterinary Chiropractic Associations were organized to help ensure that certified doctors are able to demonstrate both a clinical and practical knowledge base via a boards examination after they complete the 270-plus-hour post-graduate training from one of the approved educational facilities. “Earning certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association represents a significant professional achievement. AVCA certification makes an important statement about professional competence that is recognized by the profession, the public, and some regulatory bodies. (” Visit for more information regarding the education and certification process and to find a certified animal chiropractor near you.

What Is Animal Chiropractic?

According to the website, a “chiropractic adjustment is defined as short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.” Animal chiropractors evaluate their patient’s neurological status, stance, gait, and range of motion in the vertebral and extremity joints as well as the cranial sutures. Along with their chiropractic examination, doctors determine the best treatment options for your pet based on the entire picture they obtain from you and your pet on the day of the treatment.

Why Animal Chiropractic and What Are the Indications for Chiropractic Care in My Animal?

There are probably almost as many reasons to seek chiropractic care for your pet as there are various pet breeds and species. Horses, cats, and dogs are the most common animals to receive chiropractic care, but I have also worked on birds, guinea pigs, and ferrets too! Some of the indications are neck, back, leg, and tail pain; muscle spasms, nerve problems, and injuries from slips, falls, and accidents. Your animal may also benefit from chiropractic care if it is having difficulty chewing or recently underwent a surgical procedure such as a dental prophylaxis or spay. Animal chiropractic can help with chronic internal medicine disorders that are not resolving as expected; and/or geriatric conditions such as arthritis and/or incontinence. And, of course, animal chiropractic can help keep your competitive athletic animal performing at its best through regular maintenance of joint and spinal health.

What Can I Expect after an Adjustment?

Following an adjustment, many animals will show immediate improvement. There can be a 24 to 48 hour period of tiredness, and occasionally medication to relieve muscle spasms and/or reduce inflammation may be prescribed. Some animals require a few sessions to resolve acute pain, and with chronic health problems, several sessions may be required to maintain and re-establish normal function of the joints and nervous system. Often, the veterinary chiropractor will also prescribe post-adjustment exercises and/or recommend a follow-up visit with a veterinary massage therapist. To obtain the best outcome possible it is critical that you share all the information with the veterinary chiropractor about your pet’s care from all health care providers, including diet, supplements, and any medications your animal may currently be taking.

It is also important to remember that VSMT is not a replacement for regular preventative wellness care for your animal companion. At Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley we work with you (and your routine veterinarian) to provide the best traditional and holistic veterinary care possible for your animal companion.

Dr. Margaret Meier (Radle) graduated in 1996 from the University of Wisconsin School of veterinary medicine and received her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy in 2005 from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. She was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2007 and the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2012. Dr. Margaret currently resides on her family’s centurion farm with her daughter, Emilia, and their menagerie of four-legged companions. She can be reached at her practice Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley in Mondovi, Wisconsin.

Pets Are Good “Medicine” for Seniors

Did you know that, come this March 2013, anyone age sixty and over can adopt a dog or cat FREE from the Eau Claire County Humane Association (ECCHA)? If you are in that age bracket, here are ten reasons why adopting a pet might be a good idea.

Senior pet owners have better physical health. This includes:

• Lower blood pressure
• Lower resting heart rate
• Lower cholesterol
• Increased activity/improved strength and mobility (walking the dog, playing with the cat)
• More limber arthritic hands from brushing and petting

Some cats or dogs have been known to notice and alert others when their owner is having a seizure or when the owner’s blood glucose drops dangerously low.

Senior pet owners have better mental health. This includes:

• Less loneliness and depression, keeps one’s mind off problems
• An increased interest in life
• Higher level of self-sufficiency
• A constant, non-judgmental, affectionate companionship
• Opportunities and ways to connect with others socially centered around your pet

Pets can contribute to a person’s emotional stability in times of crisis—from personal health problems to the death of a loved one.

If you’d like to bring home a new and healthy-to-you pet, visit the ECCHA today.

Adopters age sixty and over receive free adoption from Eau Claire County Humane Association thanks to Nestle Purina’s Pets for People TM fund. Nestle Purina currently works with more than 160 humane societies across the United States to provide senior citizens free pet adoption. ECCHA provides a temporary home to over 2,200 animals each year. With such a variety, there is sure to be an age, breed, color, size, or species (even rabbits and guinea pigs are available!) that is just right for you.

Green Living for Dogs and Cats

by Melissa Kullman, Master Groomer, Puckabee’s Eco-Friendly Grooming

Many of us have started thinking of ways to make our lives greener and healthier. We cut down on the processed foods that we eat, use products that are chemical free, refuse those products that are tested on animals, and recycle every chance we get. Many of us forget that we need to make healthier, greener choices for our pets too. Our dogs and cats are subjected to many more toxins in their everyday life than you may think.

One of the most important changes you can make for your dog or cat is to remove all chemicals you may use in and around your home. Our pets are exposed to more household chemicals simply because they’re lower to the ground and they’re licking everything. In our homes, they’re breathing in higher doses of toxic floor cleaners, fabric freshening sprays, and carpet cleaners. They’re sleeping on the floors, sniffing everything, eating off of our floors, and nosing through our garbage cans. Not only are they breathing in and rolling around in chemicals, but their feet are in constant contact with them too. Think of how much time your pet spends licking his/her feet and coat, and you’ll understand how important is to remove those toxins that they ingest daily. We also need to eliminate the chemicals that we’re using on the outside of our homes.  In our backyards and gardens our dogs (especially) are rolling through lawn fertilizers, licking up pesticides and sniffing herbicides. This spring and summer, look for organic and chemical-free substitutes to keep your lawn lush and garden growing.

We can also eliminate unhealthy additives and chemicals in our pets’ food! We need to keep a close eye on what’s in our pets’ food just as we do our own. Many dog and cat food companies add fillers like corn and wheat, synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propylene glycol), artificial colors and flavors, animal byproducts, and sugars. All of these artificial ingredients lead to so many health problems, including development of allergies, poor digestion, dry skin and coat, hot spots, and increased ear infections, to name a few. Before choosing a food for your pet, read the entire ingredients list and do your research.

Let’s not forget about your dog’s treats! There are as many additives in your dog’s treats as in their foods. Try giving your dog vegetables as a treat. You may be surprised what they actually like. Carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, peas, and bananas are a good place to start (no grapes or raisins). Not only will you be giving your pet a treat filled with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, but you’ll be giving them a snack low in fat. Try making your own dog treats. Check out “this” recipe for Sweet Potato Chips (you may find that you love them too).

If your schedule does not allow DIY dog treats, check out local dog bakery Woof Naturals (available at Puckabee’s and Just Local Food Cooperative). Woof Natural dog treats are available in a variety of flavors and are free of corn and wheat, and they contain organic ingredients.

Shampoos and perfumed sprays can also be harmful. Some shampoos contain sulfates, parabens, and artificial perfumes that can cause skin irritations and make pre-existing skin problems worse. If you’re bathing your pet at home make sure you purchase a high quality eco-friendly shampoo. Also, talk to your groomer about the products they’re using. Make sure they’re using products that are plant based, cruelty free, biodegradable and chemical free.

We should also be wary of flea and tick spot on treatments. These chemical based treatments are applied to and absorbed into the skin and contain chemicals such as pyrethroids, tetrachlorvinphos, and permethrin. According to the EPA these chemicals are classified as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.* Try an herbal spray (dogs only) like Simply Herbs  Flea and Tick spray available at Puckabee’s Eco-Friendly Grooming. Consider planting herbs and plants that naturally repel fleas and ticks in your yard.

All these changes make a huge difference in your dogs health. These health benefits include fewer cancers, better digestion, healthier skin and coat, reduced allergies, and most importantly a happy pet.

* For more information about flea and tick spot on treatments, including signs of posioning from these products visit

Herbal Pain Control for Pets

by Linda Vognar

Herbal medicine is an ancient healing practice: Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal formulas were recorded thousands of years ago. Even today 70 percent of the world’s population uses botanical medicine to cure and alleviate disease. So it is not surprising that plant medicines have also been used by animal caregivers for millennium.

If you have a pet with arthritis, hip dysplasia, or one of the many bone or joint problems that cause chronic pain, your animal friend may be faced with limited mobility and poor quality of life. Plant-based medicines, as well as massage therapy, physical therapy, spinal manipulation and acupuncture may be a gentler, more holistic solution than commercial veterinary pharmaceuticals.

The list of plants that can relieve pain is long: most common remedies include devil’s claw, boswellia, ginger, turmeric, corydalis, yucca and meadowsweet. Some of these herbs can probably be found on your spice shelf!

Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a plant used in traditional African medicine to treat arthritis. The tuber of the plant is used in extracts, decoctions and tinctures. Human studies have shown it to be effective for treatment of low-back pain, where it works to suppress the release of inflammatory substances. Devil’s claw is wild-crafted (harvested from the wild) and is a threatened species in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), or Indian frankincense, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Found in India, Boswellia is gaining popularity among Western herbalists. The active form is often prepared as an extract of resin collected from the sap of the Indian olibanum tree. Studies show boswellic acids reduce inflammatory markers and improve motion in 71 percent of dogs with arthritis. When used with ashwagandha, another Ayurvedic herb, it has been demonstrated to be as effective in pain control as commonly used Western arthritis drugs (NSAIDS).

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and its sister herb turmeric (Curcuma longa) are kitchen herbs that are often found in Ayurvedic and Chinese medical formulas for arthritis and abdominal pain. Their effects are heightened when combined with boswellia. Tumeric alone has also been shown to be comparable to commercially marketed anti-inflammatory drugs and with no known side effects.

In folk medicine, where it is thought to reduce muscle spasm, corydalis (Corydalis ambigua) is often used to treat back pain, menstrual pain, arthritis pain and traumatic pain. Corydalis root grows throughout the world and can be used as a dried herb, ingested as an infusion (tea), or applied as a tincture. Chinese formulas commonly use this herb in powdered form for pain control.

Yucca (Yucca filamentosa) found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, is a native remedy for pain. Derived from a desert plant, the stalk, leaves, and root are prepared as poultices or baths for external application. Flowers can be used in salads or boiled and eaten as vegetables. Pods can be roasted or ground into flour for bread making. Yucca is also often dried or made into a tincture to mix into drinks. It has also been added to commercial pet food to produce “odorless” feces!

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is the first plant used for commercial production of salicin, precursor to the common and potent anti-inflammatory aspirin. Meadowsweet is found wild in northern and southern Europe, North America and northern Asia. The flowers, flowering tops and roots can be made into an infusion but should not be given to cats due to their sensitivity to aspirin.

Finally, for best results, all herbal remedies for pets should be used in consultation with trained veterinary herbalists. Herbs are potent medicines, and when you and your veterinarian proactively seek options for pain management, you can improve your animal friend’s quality of life and happiness immeasurably while minimizing or eliminating the side effects of commercial pharmaceuticals.

Linda Vognar, a Chippewa Valley resident, is a veterinarian who specializes in small animal intergrative medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine. A graduate of University of California, Davis and Chi Institute of Chinese Veterinary Medicine, Reddick Florida, she currently sees patients at Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital.  Website: