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Spring Cleaning for Your Pet
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season during which the gallbladder and liver are most active. The liver is associated with the eyes, paws, nails, hooves, tendons and ligaments. It also controls the smooth flow of qi (energy) throughout the body. Stress, whether from drugs, emotional causes or environmental toxins, leads to stagnant liver qi. This may be evidenced by red eyes, irritability, aggression, ligament or tendon damage, and weak, brittle nails — signs that your pet's liver needs tender loving care.

No worries, however. Together, Dr. DuBose and you can nourish your pet's liver and restore the balance of qi to help it work efficiently.
  • Pay attention to diet. Many chain store foods and treats are loaded with chemical additives, as well as artificial colors and flavors. Worse, they often contain indigestible ingredients and poor quality proteins and fillers that tax your pet's digestion. Stay away from processed food and treats when possible. Read the labels.
  • Cook homemade foods. Chinese medicine teaches that the liver and gallbladder love the color green, so adding finely chopped or cooked, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli and dandelion greens to your pet’s diet is a major plus. Beef, beef liver, chicken liver, eggs, carrots, beets, brown rice, apples, and fish oil are also healthy choices. As strange as it might sound, apple cider vinegar works well, too. Commonly reported benefits include skin and coat improvements, less itching and scratching, better mobility in older dogs and an improvement in overall health. Millet, wheat, rye and oatmeal also help the liver function more efficiently.
  • Get Moving. The liver tends to stagnate over the winter when pets generally eat more and exercise less. To help the flow of qi, it’s important that your pet exercises regularly, eats healthy and stays hydrated.
  • Practice regular grooming. Routinely brushing your pet's fur helps the skin "breathe" and removes dust and debris that may contain traces of toxic residue. After all, there’s no escaping exposure to toxins. They are found in household cleaners, mold and mildew, motor oil and in the environment. The fewer toxins pets ingest while grooming themselves, the better.
  • Support the kidneys. Make sure your pet drinks plenty of fresh water. Toxins excreted through the kidneys become highly concentrated in chronically dehydrated pets and can damage the kidneys' filtration system. Crystals and stones also may form and cause blockages or irritate the urinary tract. If your pet doesn't drink much water, add more liquids with meals by feeding broth or canned food to provide extra moisture. For pets with urinary tract issues, consider acupuncture. Adding to the diet corn silk and cranberry also supports kidney health by reducing the risk of urinary tract infections.
  • Pamper your pet with a massage. At its most basic level, massage is nothing more than rubbing with focus and intent. To move lymph, which helps the liver flush toxins, gently massage from the extremities toward the heart.
  • Keep it clean. Regular dusting and vacuuming greatly reduces the toxic matter that pets ingest, and washing their bowls daily reduces germs. Shampoo your pet regularly, too, which washes away allergens, chemicals and other foreign molecules that might be riding inside its fur.
doggie detox
  • Our pets are exposed to countless toxins in their everyday lives, indoors and outdoors, in their food and water, and through the use of chemical pest preventives.
  • If your pet’s body becomes overloaded with toxins, it can interfere with immune system function, which opens the door for serious disease as cell damage occurs and organ function is compromised.
  • There are many ways you can support your pet’s detoxification systems, such as improving food, water and indoor air quality, and making exercise a priority.
  • Many natural detoxifying agents support and promote healthy functioning of your pet's liver, gallbladder and kidneys.
Don’t Get Ticked: Make Your Yard a Flea- and Tick-Free Zone
#1 Clear yard debris. Fleas and ticks love tall grass and shady areas. Rake and dispose of leaves, mow the lawn and pull weeds.

READ: Pet Safe Weed Killers »
RELATED: Kill Weeds With Vinegar and Dish Detergent »

#2 Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth — DE — around the yard. It’s an off-white talc-like powder made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. Fleas and ticks have exoskeletons that can be pierced once exposed to diatomaceous earth. When that happens, the insects can’t retain water and they eventually dehydrate and die. But food-grade DE (approved for oral use) doesn't harm mammals. Read labels carefully to make certain that your purchase is safe for animals. The package must read "FOR ORAL USE." The topical form is toxic. If you’re not sure or the label doesn’t specify, call the number listed for the manufacturer. 

#3: Buy nematodes, tiny roundworms that eat ticks and fleas. You can find them in garden supply stores to spray or spread over the lawn. Pretty soon, you should notice that fleas and ticks have disappeared. Nematodes are not parasitic to mammals and don’t harm humans, pets or plants. They do, however, insert themselves into an insect’s body and send out a toxin that kills fleas and ticks within a short time. Because nematodes reproduce in the yard where they have been released, their effects will last for several months. 

#4: Spread cedar chips around your yard. Fleas and ticks don’t like the way they smell. Granted, the scent won’t kill them, but it will keep pesky critters at bay.

#5: Plant rosemary. It keeps away the unfriendly four — fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and black flies. But folks like you can just enjoy the aroma.

#6 Let the ladybugs eat them. Buy ladybugs at your local gardening shop, if they’re not in your yard already. A mature ladybug eats on average 50 insects every single day and prefers soft-bodied bugs, including fleas.

Related: Natural Flea Control for Cats »
Video: How to Make the Ultimate Itchy Dog Spray »
BACKYARD DIY: Your Birdbath Needs Cleaning, Too
No one wants to drink dirty, polluted water, including birds. But clean water is more than just a matter of taste. Yucky water can spread disease to backyard birds, and encourage gnat and mosquito populations that can infect humans and pets.
Keeping a clean bath isn’t difficult, but the task will be much easier if you follow these instructions:
  • When refilling the birdbath, empty stagnant water entirely. Don't take a shortcut by adding fresh water to the mix.
  • Rinse the bath daily to remove sticky debris and feces.
  • Scrub the bath weekly with a cleaning solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Vinegar works fine, too. 
  • Position the bath away from feeders so spilled seed won’t land in the water.
  • Choose a shady spot for the bath to slow water evaporation.
  • Position the bath so it doesn’t get clogged by grass clippings, falling leaves and other debris. 
Watch: How to Clean Your Birdbath »
Your pets need sunscreen. Sure, their dense hair protects them fairly well, but there’s no guarantee that they’re fully shielded from the sun’s blistering rays. Pay close attention to exposed areas that are the most susceptible.
  • The ear tips and noses of white or light-colored dogs and cats.
  • Pale-colored pets, especially those with thinning hair (due to allergies or thyroid disease). But all dogs, regardless of color, are susceptible to sunburn.
  • The bridge of the nose just beyond the smushy, wet tip.
Avoid products with zinc oxide, which can cause anemia, even when ingested in small portions. Products safe for human babies are zinc-oxide free, and many vets recommend using those on your pet, although there’s really no way of knowing if they truly work. Fortunately, the FDA has approved Epi-Pet’s Sunscreen (only for horses and dogs, though). Doggles makes a 15 SPF spray, and Nutri-Vet carries a 15 SPF lotion and spray. Body Glove also makes a rashguard shirt that has received complimentary customer reviews.
CHOW TALK: Frosty Watermelon Pupcicles
Borrowed from
Makes 30 treats

  • 2 cups of seedless watermelon (pureed)
  • 1 cup of coconut water or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (optional)
  1. Scoop out watermelon and the seeds. Add fruit to blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Add coconut water or coconut milk and honey to pureed watermelon. Blend well.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. If you’re using silicone molds, place them on something flat that can easily be moved to the freezer. A cutting board or piece of cardboard works great. Freeze overnight.
  4. Place trays on the counter to loosen treats before serving. 
Just a little vet FYI: Watermelon is a valuable source of vitamins A and B6, electrolytes such as potassium, and water (1 slice = 92% water).

These are all essential nutrients for you and your dog. Watermelon also is high in lycopene, an antioxidant that researchers believe may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases and help protect the skin from harmful UV rays — potential benefits for both you and your canine companion.

However, experts do warn that too much of a good thing can lead to problems. Watermelon is high in fiber and may cause digestive upsets, especially if your dog overindulges. So add watermelon to your pet's diet a little at a time. 
Many of you are keenly aware that mosquitoes can spread diseases in humans. Zika virus has received significant attention — although there's still much to learn, including its effect on pets, if any. Still, they aren't completely immune to mosquito-borne diseases. Heartworm, a very serious condition, is a major concern.

Heartworm disease is as scary as it sounds. It is severe, potentially fatal and caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart and lungs. Heartworms are a type of roundworm, and dogs of any age or breed are susceptible to infection.

Mosquitoes spread heartworms rather innocently. It happens when they bite an infected dog and ingest its blood. The immature heartworms, called microfilaria, grow into larvae inside the mosquito. When the mosquito bites another dog or cat, the larvae is deposited on the pet’s skin and migrates through tissue under the skin. Eventually, the larvea enter the blood vessels, where they quickly travel to the lung. In 6 months or so, the infected larvae grow into mature heartworms and begin procreating. Adult heartworms can live 5 to 7 years in a dog and damage the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys.

But don’t let the threat of heartworms prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors with your pet. Use monthly heartworm preventives year round, paint your thumb green and grow safe, natural mosquito repellents. Dr. DuBose’s top choices include:
  • Lemon balm: Mosquitoes hate its yummy lemon scent, but humans adore it. It's great in salads and sauces, adds a nice flavor to tea and has a long history of medicinal uses, from treating sleep disorders to calming stress.
  • Basil: It's another double-whammy herb that seasons wonderfully and wards off mosquitoes. It's also one of the easiest herbs to keep alive, so even the worst gardeners can build confidence by planting it. 
  • Sage: This versatile herb smells great, tastes great and makes a great mosquito repellent. You can also toss it onto the grill or over a flame to create a mosquito-repellent smoke.
  • Rosemary: Yet another great smelling herb that can be planted, eaten and tossed on grill.
To find out what plants are safe for your pet, visit the ASPCA Animal Control Page.
 WHAT'S NEW: Chiropractic Services
Chiropractic adjustments are gentle and painless, and often reduce chronic health problems that traditional medicines can’t always treat. Benefits include better flexibility and agility, endurance and less dependence on medication. If you think your pet might benefit from this service, our veterinary chiropractor, Dr. Stephanie Simonson, makes monthly site visits. We’d be happy to make a referral and schedule an appointment.
Benadryl for dogs
Giving your dog Benadryl can help relieve a number of symptoms, but always check with your veterinarian before administering it. Remember: Benadryl is the brand name and not the name of the drug that produces the effects. Make sure the formulation you choose contains diphenhydramine as the only active ingredient before giving it to your pet. The main ingredients are usually displayed clearly on the front and back of the box. Dr. DuBose recommends giving a dose every 8 to 12 hours.


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