Archive for November, 2011

Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants and More: How Do I Choose?

One of the most frequent questions I hear in my small animal integrative medicine practice is “Which supplements should I give my animal friends?”  There are so many pet foods, supplements etc. on the market it can be quite challenging for the nutritionally aware animal caretaker to know which ones they need and which ones to choose.  As the pet nutraceutical, supplement and food industry continues to boom, more and more companies are producing supplements and foods of questionable quality.  It is challenging even for veterinarians keep abreast of all the different companies and to know which ones are best.  Being a pioneer in this field for over thirty years, I have seen many supplements come and go.  It is not uncommon for a client to bring in a basket full of supplements that they have purchased either from other veterinarians, the internet or a pet food store.  They would pour them out on my exam table and ask me to review them for me.  Sometimes they will have even forgotten why they purchased them.  Sometimes they were out of date.  Sometimes they would not even list the ingredients!  As much as I love the natural health movement, I must admit, I have become somewhat disillusioned over the years as to how it has been usurped by profiteers, scam marketers, questionable companies and all the challenges of the marketplace. Amidst the onslaught of new companies and products, in order to assist my readers and clients,  I am in the midst of reviewing the latest products available.  Fortunately there are some out there that are of superior quality.  I will review these with you over the next few months.

A few general comments are in order now though.  The classic statement, “buyer beware” is appropriate for the field of pet foods and supplements as well.  If a product just makes claims on the labels and does not even list the ingredients, consider that one to go into the proverbial trash basket.  Know your manufacturer.  Quality is essential. It is not uncommon for a product to simply be labeled natural, healthy, or with a common title such as probiotic or arthritis supplement and have poor quality ingredients in them that somehow vaguely fit under those labels.   It is sad to say that even some veterinarians who have not received any additional training in nutritional supplements are not aware of all the challenges in choosing appropriate ones.  I must humbly admit that before I became more educated, I fell into that category as well.  It is beneficial for animal lovers to become more educated as to the quality of the products they feed their animal friends.  It is funny to hear sometimes when clients will begin to read labels for their animals supplements, they chuckle and often say “wow, I did not even know what to look for for my own supplements”.   It is a continual learning process.  I too continue to learn as I discuss supplements with colleagues, human nutritional supplement experts and review the cutting edge articles on nutrition.  We are living in a more and more polluted, toxic world and good nutrition and supplements are becoming more essential to maintain our health and prevent disease.  As Hippocrates said “Let your food be your medicine”.  I may spend more on quality organic supplements and some may question that benefit, but I believe judicious awareness and choice of appropriate quality natural nutrition and supplements is some of the best preventive medicine available.  It is so much wiser than treating disease.  The old cliche “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more true today than ever before.

The entire field of nutrigenomics is becoming more widespread in veterinary health care as well as human health care.  Essentially, this is evaluating and recommending nutrition based on one’s genetic predispositions.  For instance, if you have a breed of dog that is prone to arthritis, it may not be unreasonable for you to begin nutritional preventive supplements earlier in their life, hopefully to prevent future progression of degenerative joint disease.  This is just one simple example.

Over the next few months I will share my thoughts on specific approaches to integrative health care and which supplements I find to be beneficial. In the meantime, do your homework, and do the best you can to keep your animal friends and you as healthy and happy as possible!

Gratitude for All Kindred Spirits!

Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is always an excellent reminder for all we are blessed with.  I find myself today so grateful for all my kindred spirits that I share this adventurous journey of life with including family, friends and all our animal companions that we share life with.  I find myself grateful to all the wildlife families that we share our lives with as well.  There seems to be this respectful flow of animals that share all the dropped sunflower seeds from my birdfeeder.  They seem to show up at certain times during the day and during the week. Joy fills my heart as I see my chickadee family chirp with glee as I fill the feeder and they huddle inches away on the branches waiting till I complete the task. The nuthatches sing their songs, the junko’s and all the other songbirds patiently await their treats.  Then the quail family shows up to eat whatever has fallen to the ground, the deer that are born underneath my deck then meander through, one generation after the other.  In the evening the raccoons explore to see if there is anything left.  The hummingbirds search the flowers for their delicious nectar.  Yes, I am grateful for all the families that I share my life with, two-legged, four-legged and winged.  In the midst of all the global challenges, I am thankful that I am able to share my life with all these beautiful beings.

I would like to share with you today one of my favorite blogs, tinybuddha.com, .  Lori Deschene, alias, Tiny Buddha has quite the following for a young seeker and has just written a wonderful book based on her blog.  I have been meaning to share her wise blog with my readers as I think many of you will be able to relate to many of the insights she shares.  So, as a gift of gratitude to all my readers, I offer you her Thanksgiving blog on 50 ways to show your gratitude to all beings.  I just simply add showing gratitude to all our animal friends as well.  What ways do you show gratitude to your animal friends?

Wishing you all a Joyous Thanksgiving!

Blessings from a kindred spirit,

Allen Schoen, DVM

Duality vs. Oneness With All Beings

Heart Connections

Occupy Love

 

I came across this video, Occupy Love, occupylove.org  that has assisted me in appreciating a much more expansive view of all the unfolding events around the occupy movement.  This is not meant to be a political blog or anything of the sort.   The video actually addresses one of the goals of this blogsite,  ”How to create a more compassionate, heart based society”.   I have heard many of the polarized perspectives on what is happening and found myself asking questions such as “what is the bigger picture?” and what really are the “best questions” to be explored if we are searching to create a more compassionate society for the benefit of all beings.

I personally do not believe that polarization of “us vs. them” in any shape or form is not necessarily beneficial for anyone.  It is a form of duality that pits one against another, stating one side wins the other side loses.  Perhaps my idealistic naive side of myself is showing up too much today, yet it seems that we can truly make situations a win/win for all parties involved, if that is indeed the primary intention.  What might be beneficial to accomplish this though, is to see if we are indeed asking the right questions.  The concept of “occupy love”  is a much more inclusive, positive perspective that encompasses all beings, including all our animal friends.  If we “occupy love” or “be love”, we come from a different part of our brain.  We actually stimulate the release of different neurotransmitters and neurohormones.  We feel different, see differently, think differently and thereby wire our brains differently.  We actually see with new eyes so to speak.  We actually give our brains and our hearts a “love” tune-up so to speak.  This is also what happens when we share our lives with our animal companions. It is like a virtual “love” tune-up to our hearts and minds.

So dear kindred spirits, I share this brief youtube video in hopes of stimulating positive neurotransmitters and neurohormones and offering you a day filled with more loving, compassionate thoughts and feelings for all beings.  Perhaps we can go forth in our day with more compassion for others who we may not necessarily see eye to eye with, but respect them realizing we are all looking for the same thing, to be loved.  What does it feel like inside you to “occupy love”?

 

Lyme Disease in Horses and Dogs: Part 1

Tick

Tick

It seems like the incidence of Lyme Disease (Borrelliosis) (LD) and other tick born infections continues to rise and are flourishing this autumn.  I hear from clients about how their horses, dogs as well as themselves are just getting covered in ticks more than ever this season.  Tick born diseases have been increasing in the northeast and throughout North America for more than two decades.  In 1992, I published on one hundred horses that I diagnosed with Equine Lyme Disease based on my acupuncture physical evaluation.  I correlated my clinical findings with the horses laboratory diagnostic tests, response to antibiotic treatment as well as their behavioral history.  It seemed that  there was about  an 82% correlation of my physical examination with response to antibiotics and the laboratory tests.  I have diagnosed hundreds of horses and dogs with Lyme disease since then in the past two decades.  If left untreated it can cause severe debilitating disease and even death.  If not treated appropriately and quickly, it is not uncommon to see it reoccur and become a chronic disease with potentially devastating consequences.

Lyme Disease can be ubiquitous and quite challenging to diagnose.  It has commonly been termed “the great imitator” since it can mimic so many other common conditions.  Whenever I lecture on LD, I state that it is both overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed.  In  the past, it had only been considered part of a differential diagnosis if classic signs such as an acute onset of swollen joints and a fever were evident.  Clinically, I have found that it is not uncommon that the first signs may actually manifest as various sudden behavioral aberrations due to an immune mediated myofascial inflammatory reaction to the spirochaete.  In horses,  some of the first signs that my clients and I notice are a sudden reticence to being touched, groomed, being saddled up or ridden.  The horses may occasionally become aggressive to people when being touched or handled in anyway.     At this point, results from diagnostic blood tests may be negative since it is too early to develop a blood titer.  Unfortunately, too many veterinarians still base their diagnosis solely on the blood tests (Elisa and Western Blot blood tests) despite the reminders by the laboratories that they are not definitively diagnostic.  There is rarely one specific sign that is definitely diagnostic for just Lyme disease.  I use a checklist of criteria to decide if I think Lyme disease may be the cause of the animals signs. (more…)

Horse Bulldog Connection Transcends Us vs. Them

Horse and Bulldog

In the midst of all the challenges facing the world these days, animals continue to be excellent models for us on how we can transcend the “us vs. them” mentality.  In this smile stimulating video on huffpost,  the police horse and the bulldog are connecting at a deeper level.  Perhaps if humans consciously chose to be less adversarial and realize we are all in this together, then we  could choose to see what we share in common and how through this commonality, we can come to terms of agreement based on what is best for all beings.  I know this sounds quite simplistic, but sometimes, if do not ask the correct basic questions, we will never come up with the best answers.  Can we choose to be like this horse and dog and from that common ground, work on developing a society that really focuses on what is best for all beings involved?

 

Opportunities to Wake Up with Our Kindred Spirits

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Dalai Lama

A friend sent me this profound quote by the Dalai Lama that stimulated me to ponder about all the opportunities we have to wake up with our kindred spirits, because of them or for them.  The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man”.  He continued and shared “Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Wow!  There is so much truth in this statement.  In times like these, these comments can be opportunities to wake up.  I think back to how often I have been anxious about the future, thereby not enjoying the present. I think back to how hard I worked, 60, 80, 100 hour weeks helping animals when conventional medicine was not working.  It  felt right to be there as much as I could for the animals, trying to be as much benefit as possible  to all beings.  Yet, somehow I excluded myself from “all beings” and did not take care of myself as well as I could have. When one is younger,  we can tend to  feel like we are immortal, yet, when death approaches, we are confronted with a new reality and some ponder about how they never really lived. What does “really living” look like?  As I return from a sabbatical from my veterinary practice and teaching and re-create this new chapter,  I am grateful for the quiet time that I took in nature, just sitting and being  with the ocean, mountains, wind, sun, rain, deer, eagles, otters, seals, hummingbirds, and all other beings.  I am grateful for the time I spent in meditation, contemplative time as well as nurturing more intimate communication with friends and family.  It has given me a renewed appreciation of life and how I can be of further benefit to all beings, including myself this time.  The more we are in the present moment, the more we can deepen our connection with all our kindred spirits.  The more we deepen the intimacy of that connection,  the more we can enjoy sharing our lives with our animal companions.  When we wake up together to sharing the present moment with our animal friends, the more joy and peace permeates our lives. What are your thoughts and feelings regarding this comment by the Dalai Lama?  Do his thoughts remind you of anyone you know? How can we change these patterns so we can live more in the present moment?  How can this bring us to a greater appreciation of living harmoniously with all beings?

Canine Pilgrimage Workshop

Canine Pilgrimage

Dog pilgrimage walk on the beach

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
From Daily Chore to Inspiring Spiritual Practice: Dog-Walking as Pilgrimage
Have you ever whined that once again the dog needs a walk?
Have you ever shivered with the unsavoury thought that you had to take the dog out in the cold and rain?
If you are like me, the answer to those questions is an unbridled “Yes! Arghhh!”
So it got me thinkin’ . . . . what if I started to ‘go on pilgrimage’ with my dear dog Paz? What would happen? How would that change my daily walks with him?
Would I enjoy it more? Would HE enjoy it more?  It has been an interesting experiment for me. So, what has happened for me so far . . . .
Now. I seem to be more in now. I don’t stop to smell all those dog-yummy smells, mind you, but I do notice the roses, the trees, my inner self and enjoy Paz’s whims more.
Perspective. The real trick to life is not avoiding or not having problems – it’s perspective. I find, when I’m out, on pilgrimage, I leave my routine, I leave my stuck places and get some perspective on what is happening back at the ranch. (OK, no horses here, but you know . . . !) Then I relax and can be more creative. I find that this can happen in even just a very few minutes in the most seemingly mundane of circumstances – if I’m wearing my pilgrimage hat.
Connection. As I relax I can connect more. With my dog, my self, and other living beings around me of all types! And that is just helpful all ’round.
That dang dog waiting at the door wagging his tail is really an astonishing opportunity!
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I am so excited to announce that my friend and colleague Dr. Allen Schoen is going to be co-facilitating this Dog-Walking as Pilgrimage walkshop with me. For decades he has been pioneering holistic, integrative veterinary medicine and human animal bond, practicing, writing and teaching worldwide. His latest work can be seen herewww.kindredspiritsproject.com where, as he says, his vision is: ”to assist animal lovers throughout the world to gather together and unite in order to nurture, transform, concentrate and focus the unconditional love that they share with their animal companions into compassionate action to help improve the quality of life, happiness and health of all beings.” Important work!
Pilgrimage is not something I’ve done, it is something I inhabit. It has taken me to many parts of the world and deeper into myself. I have noticed that when we frame a walk, a trip, a journey of any kind, as a pilgrimage, we shift from being a seer of sites to being a seer from our own hearts and souls. We CAN just walk out our front doors and be on pilgrimage whenever we have that urge to walk! Check it out in more detail atwww.nicolemoen.ca.
So I’ll be talkin’ about walkin’ and Allen will be gettin’ you tuned into bonding with your furry bud! REGISTER ATinfo@nicolemoen.ca
Join us for this unique walkshop and notice what happens for you . . . .
DETAILS:

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011

Time: 10 am to 1 pm – please arrive by 9:45 am to give yourself time to settle in

Fee: Pay-what-you-can from $75 to $125 per person

Dogs: We will have 2 dogs to accompany us – Paz and Shanti. They are best friends! See photos below.

Location: Start and finish at A-110 Medana St., James Bay, Victoria, BC

Bring: Clothing to suit the weather

REGISTER ATinfo@nicolemoen.caplease send me the names and email addresses of everyone wanting to come!

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BOOKS:

If it calls you, and you don’t already own it, you may be interested in purchasing Allen’s book:
Kindred Spirits How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change the Way We Live
Check it out at the bookstores or buy it on-line here: http://drschoen.com/books_L1.html First book on the list.
Bring it with you. I’m sure Allen would be happy to sign it at the workshop!
And I’m thrilled to tell you that I have an eBook available that can help you to start to find your inner walker. It’s called:
10 Minute Pilgrimage How to Be a Pilgrim in Your Own Hometown
You can purchase it here: www.nicolemoen.ca – second box down on your right.
Paz and Shanti enjoying the beach with one of their people.   Shanti about to pounce on the unsuspecting Paz . . .
Wild abandon to the joy of the chase, of running, of being in their bodies . . . .
REGISTER ATinfo@nicolemoen.ca for From Daily Chore to Inspiring Spiritual Practice: Dog-Walking as Pilgrimage

Walk On!
Nicole
MOEN Pilgrimage
Hit the Ground Walking!
Slow and Sustainable Fall 2011 Launch
Watch for details at:
Victoria, BC, Canada

“I have arrived – I am home – My destination is in each step.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Veterinarians Beyond Borders Help Himalayan Earthquake Victims

Veterinarians Beyond Borders

Veterinarians Beyond Borders

It is always great to hear from my dear friend and colleage, Dr.Catherine Schuetze, one of the key veterinarians in Veterinarians Beyond Borders of Asia.  In the midst of climatic and environmental shifts throughout the world, after the devastating earthquake in the  eastern Himalaya’s, Dr. Schuetze and her team switched roles from spaying, neutering and vaccinating dogs and cats to treating injured animals.  The epicenter, in Gangtok was right near where they happened to be working.  You can read the rest of the story in the vets beyond borders recent newsletter.

In addition, they are doing tremendous work in harsh environments controlling rampant stray dog and cat populations and helping find homes for them.  They offer programs for volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians and others.  Check them out online at www.vetsbeyondborders.org.

Often times, one can get overwhelmed by all the seemingly catastrophic news throughout the world. Yet, little by little, animal by animal, we can make a difference and assist in creating a more compassionate, happier, healthier world.  Dr. Schuetz is an excellent example of that.

We can all make a difference in our own way where we live.  There are many animals that can use a touching, loving hand.  More to come……