American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition721 Inverness DriveWest Chester, PA 19380
Information for Veterinarians
Nutrition to promote longevity
Written by Dr. Dottie Laflamme DVM, PhD, DACVN
As both the human and pet population grows older, there is an ever increasing interest in the role nutrition may play in extending healthy life. While many compounds have been suggested to be helpful, the only nutritional intervention shown effective in extending healthy life span is calorie restriction. This has been well documented in rodents, and now has been shown true for dogs as well.
A recently completed 14 year study showed that Labrador retrievers fed 25% less than their siblings lived about 15% longer (Kealy RD, et al, JAVMA 2002;220:1315-1320). Perhaps even more important, the age at which they required medical treatment for osteoarthritis or for any chronic condition was delayed by 3.0 or 2.1 years, respectively. Most compelling about this study was that the "full fed" dogs were not what might generally be considered obese. On average, their body condition score (BCS) was 6.7 (on 9-point scale), compared to an average BCS of 4.6 for the restricted dogs. This showed, for the first time, that even a moderate degree of excess body weight has detrimental health effects.
What can veterinarians do about it? At a minimum, a BCS should be evaluated and recorded for each patient on each visit. Clients should be educated about the implications of excess body weight and advised on proper feeding management. This includes recommending an appropriate food based on the energy needs of the dog and the energy content of the diet, and advising clients to measure food and adjust as needed to obtain and maintain an ideal body condition (BCS 4 to 5 on 9-point scale). For dogs already overweight (most dogs), encourage enrollment in a weight loss program administered through your practice.
Herbal Supplements Fed to Dogs and Cats
Written by Dr. Rebecca Remillard PhD, DVM, DACVN
Until the 20th century, most remedies were botanicals found by trial and error at a great human cost for some remedies were harmful and some even deadly. With advancements in pharmacologic methods of isolation and purification, active ingredients were identified, characterized, quantified and sold as prescription or over the counter drugs. More recently, the use of botanical medications has become increasingly popular (~$5 B/yr industry in U.S.), although the use of herbal medicine by veterinarians has been occurring for the last 30-40 years.
The growing use of herbal remedies in the U.S. has far exceeded the available information on their benefits, adverse effects and drug interactions for we still lack a coherent, easily accessible database (human or animal) on such remedies. FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine is concerned about these products because they lack scientific data showing safety, efficacy or even standard good manufacturing practices. These animal herbal products are believed by many to be sold under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) passed by Congress in 1994 because they contain human dietary ingredients.
Under DSHEA, FDA regulation is not required and hence most of these products do not have pre-market approval. The FDA contends however, that DSHEA does not apply to animals and this position has been upheld in at least one court case. Therefore, the majority of herbal supplements currently on the market and fed to dogs and cats are unapproved drugs or food additives. While these products are technically in violation of the law, they are of low enforcement priority except when there are public or animal health concerns.
There are published case reports of people suffering from lead poisoning, renal failure, CNS disorders, and digitalis toxicity linked directly to their herbal medications and there are those who have exclusively embraced alternative therapies while refusing known effective conventional therapies. Analogous cases are most likely occurring within the field of the veterinary medicine when owners choose to diagnosis and treat their pet's medical condition with or without a veterinarian. Clearly it has been "a buyer beware" market under DSHEA.
Known herb toxicities in dogs and cats
Ma Huang Dogs CNS and CV sympathetic signs
Guarana Dogs caffeine signs
5-HTP (Griffonia) Dogs GI and CNS- serotonin syndrome
Echinacea Dogs GI, lethargy
Valerian Dogs, cats - lethargy
Chamomile Cats GI, lethargy, epistaxis
St. John's Wort Dogs GI, depression
Garlic & onions Dogs, cats Heinz body anemia, GI
Essential oils Dogs, cats CNS, contact dermatitis, liver
Hops Dogs - malignant hyperthermia