Jin - connective tissue tendon, ligaments, myofascia
Jin is controlled by the Liver so tendon and ligament injury and disease are related to Liver disharmony. The Liver Blood and the Liver Yin keep the tendons and ligaments strong and flexible. Deficiency of Liver Blood and/or Liver Yin leads to weak tendons and ligaments that are prone to injury. Over work, stress, unbalanced shoeing can cause mechanical damage to the tendons resulting in pain aka Qi Stagnation.
The Liver is the organ of the Wood Element. We have discussed Wood horses in previous blog posts. The Wood horse is athletic and strong. They want to win and because of that attitude, we sometime push Wood horses beyond their physical capabilities leading to tendon damage. Spring is the season associated with the Wood. Spring is the time we start training after a winter of rest and is the season of muddy deep footing. An unfit horse plus deep, slippery footing are factors that can lead to tendon injury.
Diagnosis of tendon damage in Eastern and Western medicine is the same. There will be lameness, swelling, heat and tenderness in the area of tendon injury which is Qi and Blood Stagnation. Underlying conditions are Liver Yin and/or Liver Blood Deficiency as discussed above.
Minor tendon injuries can sometimes be spotted on the DAPPE (Diagnostic Acupuncture Point Palpation Examination). We will see sensitive points at the shoulder and upper neck between C2 and C3. If these points are sensitive, along with sensitivity of the tendon locally to palpation, an ultrasound should be done to detect minor tendon damage. If present, treatment, rest and physical therapy should be started immediately.
TCVM treatment principles include relieving the Qi and Blood Stagnation and then tonifying the Liver Blood and Yin.
Our acupuncture treatment would be focused on local points near the injury along with points to support the Liver Blood and Yin. You may be wondering why your veterinarian is putting in so many needles in your horse’s hind leg when he has a front tendon injury. Many of our points for tendons are on the Gallbladder (Wood element) and Liver meridians which begin in the hind leg. Our main points for tonifying Blood and Yin are also close to the hock and stifle.
Herbal therapy includes a topical formula, Relief Salve to increase blood flow to the area to reduce pain and edema along with an oral herbal formula, Tendon and Ligament formula, that treats pain and supports the Yin and Blood.
The two main herbs in Relief Salve are Ru Xiang and Mo Yao aka Frankincense and Myrrh. These two tree resins have been used for centuries both topically to reduce pain, swelling and increase circulation to reduce bruising ie “move Blood”. They can also be used orally for diseases of stagnation like arthritis and cycling issues in mares. Ru Xiang Frankincense is aka as Boswellia and is many modern arthritis formulations to reduce pain.
Relief salve also contains Zang Nao aka Camphor and Chuan Jiao aka Sichuan pepper. These are both aromatic and contain alkaloids that are quickly absorbed into the skin and cause numbness. Although Sichuan pepper is in the citrus family and is not actually a pepper, it’s alkaloid, hydroxy alpha sanshool, is very similar in structure to capsaicin found in chili peppers so should not be used for horses competing under FEI/USEF drug rules. That being said, if you are treating a tendon injury, your horse should not be competing, they should be resting and given time to heal.
Bu Gan Qiang Jin San ( Tonify Liver Strengthen Tendons Powder aka Tendon and Ligament formula) is an oral herbal treatment that relieves pain and supports the Liver Yin and Liver Blood. Its main herb is Gou Qi Zi aka Goji berries which tonifies the Liver Yin and the Jing.
Wu Jia Pi aka Siberian Ginseng or Eleutherococcus strengthens tendons and ligaments. It is considered an “adaptogen” which is a buzzword in natural health today meaning it helps the body resist stress. Current research indicates Wu Jia Pi may act on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to moderate the fight or flight instinct which can be very helpful to a Wood horse on stall rest and exercise restriction.
Sang Zhi aka Mulberry twig is used as a transporter for the herbal formula to the limbs. Current research indicates compounds in Sang Zhi have Cox-2 inhibition activities similar to NSAIDs like previcox/equiox.
Jing is the Qi you are born with. We only have a certain amount so it must be conserved. Horses that have developmental issues or are sick as young horses have a Jing deficiency. Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD) is a Jing deficiency disease. These horses have a genetic defect in the cells that produce collagen to repair tendon damage. Overtime, the tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity leading to pain and slowly increasing pastern angle.
We would treat these cases like a tendon injury to relieve the Stagnation and tonify the Liver Yin and Blood deficiency and then we would treat Jing deficiency along with therapeutic trimming & shoeing.
The Jing can be supported with Food Therapy. Foods that tonify the Jing are goji berries 25 g (¼ cup) per day and Spirulina 20 g (2 TBs) per day . The Liver Yin and Blood can be supported with some of our horse’s favorite foods, apples and carrots.
So it’s not all bad news when your horse has a tendon injury. He will get some time off, you can work on your clicker training and recovery involves lots of apples and carrots.
Want to hear more about Tendon injury ? Listen in to our latest episode of Horses in the Morning : Driving. The TCVM segment starts at 29:20.
The time has come that our beloved logo needs some fresh inspiration. We wanted to express our dedication to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, the Five Elements and Dr. Wendy’s mixed Asian-American heritage.
We chose a Chinese chop (aka seal) with a unicorn along with the Chinese characters for Animal Doctor. As a nod to Dr.Wendy’s font loving father, we chose 2 cool fonts we knew he would love.
Why the Unicorn ? Who doesn’t love Unicorns ? but we chose it for the symbolism of the Chinese unicorn, the Qilin.
The Qilin symbolizes the fire element and is a chimera with gem-like scales on a horse shaped body, with a horned dragon like head, a lion’s tail and long hooved legs. They are heavenly creatures and have healing powers.
The Qilin is the ancestor of all terrestrial mammals and along with the dragon, tortoise and phoenix resided in the garden of the Yellow Emperor. It is gentle and benevolent. It is said to walk just above the ground so as not to harm a blade of grass or any living creature however they can be powerful in the presence of evil doers to protect the innocent.
Like the western unicorn, they can sense someone with a kind spirit and their horn can neutralize toxins.
The Qilin symbolizes long life, joy, wisdom, fertility and successful children. Many Chinese families will have a Qilin statue in their house to bring good fortune and it should face towards the door to ward off negative energy.
The Qilin are thought to assist souls on the journey between heaven and earth. Like the symbolism of the stork, they bring babies down from heaven and they can act as guardian angels to help guide the spirit to heaven after death. A Qilin was said to be seen just before the birth and death of Confucius.
We hope in our practice of TCVM, that we can bring long life, happiness and success to our patients and their families.
Anhidrosis is a common problem in sport horses training and competing in hot humid conditions. Horses reduce their body temperature during exercise mostly by sweating. As sweat evaporates from the body surface, the body heat is reduced. They can also dissipate heat by respiration. Cool air enters the lungs and cools the blood flowing to the muscles and hot air is exhaled. During hot and humid conditions, the rate of evaporation of sweat is reduced and breathing in hot, humid air does little to cool the blood. The horse's coat is also a great insulator and can act like a wet suit keeping a layer of heat next to the skin if the sweat is slow to evaporate or is not scraped off.
Sometimes it is difficult to know if your horse is sweating enough. Some early signs may be reluctance to work, panting, sweating only under tack or a sticky dry coat. Some horses sweat more than normal in the months before they stop sweating. Horses with concurrent lung disease like heaves are at a greater risk of heat stroke because they have limited ability to cool themselves by respiration.
The sweat glands are highly innervated and are stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). The mechanism of anhidrosis in horses has not been determined but In chronic cases, the sweat glands are atrophied, suggesting multiple bouts of heat stroke may lead to more severe symptoms over time.
In people, some causes have included congenital, metabolic and autoimmune diseases, skin damage and drug induced causes.
In TCVM, the Heart controls the sweat glands and the Lung controls the exterior of the body and the Wei Qi (immune system). The balance between Yin and Yang control the body temperature. The Yin is like the air conditioner while the Yang is like the furnace. Summer Heat is one of the 6 pathogens in TCVM and can damage the Heart and Lung Yin so we view anhidrosis as a Heart and Lung Yin deficiency.
Treatment principles in TCVM include acupuncture, herbal and food therapy in addition to environmental modification like monitoring body temperature during exercise, working in cooler weather, taking frequent breaks in the shade, and cooling with water and scraping to help speed evaporation. During pasture and stall time, horses should always have access to shade, fans, salt, electrolytes and cool fresh water.
The NOAA heat index chart can help you determine when it is unsafe to work your horse if he is prone to anhidrosis. In south Florida, we are in the extreme caution zone for most of the summer. Due to our high humidity, even in the early morning or late evening. You may have to be vigilant about cooling before, during and after your horse's work out or you may choose to give them some time off during the summer.
Herbal therapy in combination with acupuncture has shown great promise in helping non-sweaters. Our recommendation is to start treatment in the late spring and continue through the summer until the heat index consistently falls below 90. This could include acupuncture once per month plus herbal and food therapy daily.
New Xiang Ru San is Dr. Xie's Herbal Formula made specifically for horses with anhidrosis. It contains a blend of Bian Dou (hyacinth bean), Xiang Ru (mosla), Hou Po (magnolia bark), Lian Qiao (forsythia) and Jin Yin Hua (honeysuckle flower).
Food therapy includes cooling foods to tonify the Heart Yin and pungent foods that tonify the Lung and increase sweating. A variety of foods from this list can be added to the horse's diet as treats or mixed into the feed. You can also check out our recipe for "green tea" ice pops on the feeding seasonally blog post.
Dark Malt based beer (Guiness)
Listen in to the new Driving Radio Show on Horses in the Morning for more TCVM info ! This month our Tremont training tip from Keady Cadwell is how to teach your horse to drive safely in a group, Katie Whaley recaps the Lexington Carriage Classic at the Kentucky Horse Park and Abbie Trexler has some great news about the new ADS vest rule. Plus in the TCVM update, Dr. Wendy talks about non-sweating and managing your horse through the summer heat.
Heart worm preventative can be started at 8 weeks.
Puppies under 6 months, do not need a heart worm test before starting preventative.
Puppies over 6 months require a heart worm test before starting preventative. Dogs require an annual heart worm test to renew your prescription.
Iverhart plus or Heartgard plus which are oral chews given every month for heart worm preventative and to kill intestinal parasites.
Flea Prevention can be started at 8 weeks.
Nexgard is an oral chew given every month for fleas and ticks
Bravecto is available for puppies over 6 months of age and is an oral chew given every 3 months for fleas and ticks
Combined Heart worm preventative plus Flea protection
Trifexis is an oral tablet that is given every month for heart worm prevention and kills intestinal parasites and fleas.
Revolution is a topical liquid applied once per month for heart worm prevention and flea control.
Parvo/Distemper Booster Vaccination
Kennel Cough Intranasal Vaccination
Parvo/Distemper Booster Vaccination
Rabies vaccination with county license
Parvo/Distemper Booster Vaccination
Booster Vaccinations are recommended every 3 years
Titer testing is available for Parvo/Distemper however rabies vaccination is required by law and titer test results are not accepted.
We use a thimerosol free vaccine.
Optional Vaccinations dependent on lifestyle
If your dog leads an active lifestyle and goes to the dog park, lunch with friends and Sarasota dog meet ups, we recommend intranasal kennel cough boosters annually.
If your dog likes to play in the woods, go swimming and kayaking in the rivers and bays, we recommend leptospirosis vaccination annually.
If you are boarding your pup, please check with the kennel to determine what vaccines they require at least a month before your stay.
These recommendations are in accordance with the current AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force guidelines. For more information on vaccines, visit the American Animal Hospital Association website.
Cat Wellness Recommendations
The first Driving Episode of HITM with Dr. Wendy and Glenn. The training tip with Keady Cadwell of Tremont Farm covers setting goals and standing still, we learn about the Florida Whips, learning to navigate and Abbey from the American Driving Society. Plus, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Update reviews seasonal food therapy for horses. Listen in…
HORSES IN THE MORNING Episode 1948
Spring - Wood Element
Spring is the time of birth and growth. Foals are born, seeds germinate, sprouts begin to push through the ground and the days become longer. Spring is the time of Yang activity with Qi ascending and expanding. Fresh greens, herbs and fast growing plants are in abundance and are good choices during spring time to move Qi upward and outward to support the Wood element.
The Wood’s Zang organ is the Liver which stores the Blood and governs Qi flow. After a long, cold winter with Qi sinking to the interior, the direction of Qi must transition to moving upward and outward. If this transition is not smooth, the Liver can become Stagnant. Sour foods such as citrus, rose hips and apple cider vinegar can clear Liver Qi Stagnation. Sweet and pungent flavors can help develop a “spring within”, with sweet foods such as honey and carrots to tonify Qi and pungent foods, like peppermint and mustard greens to move Qi upwards.
Infused waters are a great way to introduce whole foods to the horse and are easy to prepare for the owner. The Mu Ma Spa water can be a refreshing treat for a Wood horse in the spring.
Summer - Fire Element
Summer with its long days and abundant growth of plants and fruits is also a Yang season. Rising external temperature and high humidity can damage the Yin. Anhidrosis is a common problem with competition horses in the Southeast US. The inability to sweat causes episodes of heat stroke and further damages the Heart and Lung Yin.
Cool and bitter foods such as alfalfa and celery can tonify the Yin and keep the body cool. Adding some pungent foods like mint and fennel can help open the exterior and encourage sweating. A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as treats can help replenish minerals lost in sweat. Frozen green tea ice blocks with lemon, mint and cucumber can be added to water buckets to give horses a refreshing drink on hot days.
Mika Ingerman from Team Snazzy Goat joins us to give us an update about her Cashmere pair Harry and David, Fiona Delfino recaps Nature Coast CDE at Black Prong Equestrian Center. Plus, Dr. Wendy talks about Food Therapy for Cold. This episode is brought to you by Purina Mills. Listen in.....
The TCVM segment starts at 32:24
We all know about Yin and Yang in TCVM. Yin is the cold and Yang is the hot and we need to stay in balance to be healthy. In TCVM we also talk about disease in terms of the 6 pathogens(Wind,Cold,Summer Heat,Damp,Dryness and Fire). These pathogens attack the body and disrupt the Yin and Yang balance and block the flow of Qi and Blood. When Qi and Blood are Stagnant, we feel pain and are susceptible to disease.
Qi is the body's energy and the Blood (in TCVM terms) are the body's fluids, (white and red blood cells, lymph, stomach and intestinal fluid, intercellular fluids and other body fluids.) We can think of Qi as metabolic energy and the Blood as the immune system and circulatory system. Cold causes blood vessels to contract and slows metabolism. For example, when you have an acute injury, you ice the area to reduce the swelling and relieve pain by dulling the pain receptors in the skin.
Cold is obviously associated with Winter. Cold can combine with other pathogenic factors such as Wind, Dryness and Damp to invade the body and attack the body's warming element - Yang. When the Yang is damaged, the body has to work harder to keep warm which can consume the Qi (including the Wei Qi - immune defenses) making the animal vulnerable to disease.
In horses, Cold conditions can manifest as cold extremities, arthritic pain and joint stiffness, muscle pain and stiffness, lethargy, respiratory disease and impaction colic.
What can we do to help our horses with Cold ?
Horses tend to drink less water if it is Cold. Horses with dental issues, especially geriatric horses can experience tooth pain with extremely cold water and will drink less. Warming the water either with a tank heater, bucket warmers or adding a few kettles of hot water to their tank can help them drink more. Adding their favorite electrolyte can help too. If they like cinnamon flavor, adding a stick of cinnamon and a few slices of ginger (both warming foods) can make the water more appealing too.
The basic theory of Food therapy is to eat seasonally and to use food as medicine to balance the Yin and Yang. For Cold conditions, this would involve decreasing Cool food in the diet and increasing Warming foods.
Before changing anything in your horse's diet, consult with your veterinarian to avoid exacerbating any metabolic conditions.
So what are Cooling foods for horses ? Some common ones that may be in your horses diet now are :
Some neutral foods for horses include :
For Turmeric info listen to my interview with Dr. Doug English of Turmeric Life
For Bulk spices - Nuts.com
Black Sunflower seeds Tractor Supply
Episode 305 : Treating & Preventing Thrush in Horses
Coach Jenn and Dr. Wendy explain how to treat and prevent thrush in your horses the holistic way. These methods may also be used for foot rot in cows, goats, sheep, llama and potbellied piggies.
TCVM segment starts at 42:48
Treating and Preventing Thrush
Does your horse have stinky feet ?
Of course he does. Its the nature of horses. Sometimes we can't avoid a few months of muddy wet conditions. In Florida, it is a constant battle against moisture vs skin and hooves.
When you pick your horse's feet, you remove the dirt from the lateral and central grooves of the frog. A black smelly discharge can indicate thrush. A bacterial infection with Fusobacterium necrophorum is the most common cause but it can be a mixed infection with other bacterial and fungi. Horses can be lame and sensitive to palpation of the sole and heels if the infection travels deep into the foot. Thrush can invade the central sulcus and work its way up between the heel bulbs. In the photo above, this horse has a deep thrush infection in his central sulcus that extends to the hairline.
Nerd alert : Latin translation of Fusobacterium necrophorum is the "spindly bacterium of death".
In Chinese medicine, we view infection as Heat. This is chronic infection and is black and smelly so we also view it as Damp so we classify thrush as Damp Heat of the hoof.
F.necrophorum and other thrush causing organisms tend to be anaerobes, meaning they don't like oxygen. Fungi likes to grow in moist, dark conditions.
So knowing all that, our treatment strategy will involve debriding, cleaning and balancing the hoof, reducing exposure to wet muddy conditions, and using a topical treatment to clear the Damp Heat.
A regular schedule with your farrier and good hoof hygiene is the first step. An unbalanced hoof and/or sheared heels can contribute to deep sulci and make a horse more prone to thrush infection. In cattle, small ruminants and potbellied pigs, we see a similar condition called foot rot between the toes if they don't have regular foot trims. Your farrier will balance the foot and expose any pockets. This will allow you better access to clean the hoof with a stiff brush and an antiseptic solution such as dilute iodine(weak tea color). If there are deep pockets between the heel bulbs and in the lateral sulci, Hydrogen Peroxide can help by introducing oxygen and the bubbling effect can help mechanically remove bacteria and debris.
There are thousands of thrush treatments and they all have varying levels of effectiveness and toxicity. We have an herbal formula that is safe and effective that we make here at 5 Elements for Animals called Thrush Thrasher ! Thank you Dr. Kyle for that great name.
Thrush Thrasher liquid contains an herbal formula to clear Damp Heat along with Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil to help increase the antibacterial and anti-fungal action.
and now we also have Hoof Honey Salve for Thrush which has the same active ingredients in Thrush Thrasher liquid but in a thick beeswax base that can be packed in between heels and in deep pockets of thrush. Its water repelling action helps block out moisture to allow the tissues to heal.
The herbal formula in Thrush Thrasher is based on Dr. Xie's Golden Yellow Salve and contains the following :
Bai Zhi - Angelica - In Chinese herbology, we use 3 different species of Angelica roots, Bai Zhi (A. Dahurica), Du Huo (A. Pubenscens and A.Laxiflora) and Dang Gui (A. Sinensis) and each have a different action. Bai Zhi is warm and pungent so its actions can expel Wind, drain Damp, open the orifices(vessels,sweat glands, nasal passages), reduce swelling and drain pus. It is used orally for headaches, flu and infections and topically for ulcers and wounds. The extract of Bai Zhi has shown to have antibacterial effects and increases wound healing by stimulating keratinocytes (the cells that make up the outer layer of skin).
Cang Zhu - Atractylodes Refers to 3 species, (A.lancea, chinensis, japonica). In TCVM, we also use another species of Atractylodes, Bai Zhu (A. macrocephela). They have similar actions of draining Damp, but Cang Zhu has a stronger astringent action due to its higher concentration of volatile oils to help dry out the infected tissues, while Bai Zhu has more Qi Tonifying actions. The oils of Cang Zhu root when cut appear red giving it it's common name of red atractylodes. Many of these compounds are also found in Hou Po - Magnolia bark.
Chen Pi - Tangerine peel What makes the peel of citrus fruits smell so good ? Essentials oils like Limonene and pinene. These essential oils are used routinely in cleaners because they smell great and act as a solvent remove oils and are less hazardous alternative to turpentine. Tangerine peel also contains flavonoids, which are plant pigments. Flavonoids have many functions in plants, like producing colorful flowers to attract pollinators, fixing nitrogen, acting as chemical messengers between cells like our neurotransmitters and are secreted by plant roots to combat fungal infections. Tangerine peel is warm, pungent and bitter and is a strong mover of Qi and can Dry Damp.
Da Huang - Rheum Chinese rhubarb (Rheum palmatum, Rheum tanguticum) has been used as a medicinal plant since 3000 BCE for diarrhea, constipation and infections. It has a strong astringent and antibacterial action due to its high levels of tannins, flavanoids and anthraquinones. Used topically, it can clear Damp-Heat and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Gan Cao - Glycyrrhiza (G.uralensis, G.inflata Chinese Licorice and G.glabra English Licorice) Is sweet and can Tonify the Qi. It is used in many Chinese herbal formulas to harmonize ie. act as a catalyst for the other herbs and to distribute the herbal energy to all 12 meridians. It is used topically for abscesses and boils. One of the chemical compounds in Gan Cao is mannitol, used in conventional medicine for its osmotic effect. Recent studies on mannitol suggest it decreases antibiotic resistance in many species of bacteria commonly found in skin infections like MRSA and Pseudomonas.
Hou Po - Magnolia(Magnolia officinalis) The sweet smell of magnolias in bloom alert you to its high concentration of essential oils. Magnolol and Honokiol are the 2 major phenolic compound isolated from magnolia bark and have been studied extensively for their antibiotic and anti inflammatory effects to treat acne in humans. Eudesmol which has antifungal properties is present in smaller quantities in Hou Po and is also found in red atractylodes.
Huang Bai - Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) - Bark of the Amur cork tree contains compounds with antibacterial activity and has antioxidant activity comparable to Vit E. It also acts an an insect repellant which is alway useful in wound care for animals ! Herbal "SWAT"
Huang Lian - Coptis (Coptis chinesis,deltoidea,teeta) - Is the root of the Chinese goldthread plant. It is our first choice to treat Damp Heat as it is Bitter and Cold. Berberine is one of the alkaloids shown to have antibacterial activity and the isolated compound is being studied as a possible treatment for MRSA infections. Berberine is also found in Turmeric, goldenseal, California poppy and Amur cork tree.
Jiang Huang - Curcuma- Yes turmeric ! I have discussed the antibacterial and antifungal activities of turmeric with Dr. Doug English of Turmeric Life. Listen here.
Tian Hua Fen - Trichosanthes (T.kirilowii) is the root of the Chinese cucumber aka snake gourd. It helps to reduce Heat and swelling and helps wound healing.
Congee aka Chinese rice pudding is a staple in Chinese Food Therapy. Congee is most commonly made with rice but can be made with other grains like millet and corn as well. Congee made with bone broth is easy to digest and provides lots of nutrients for your sick puppy. When the congee is done, you can add other foods to add additional beneficial nutrients like Sardines or eggs for protein and omega-3s, Goji berries for antioxidants, mushrooms for immune support, green leafy veggies to support the liver, ect.
The basic theory of congee is a small amount of rice with 6 times as much water cooking low and slow with occasional stirring until a thick soup forms.
1 cup of rice ( I like med grain )
6 cups of Bone Broth ( water or any stock is fine)
Dr. Ying's bone broth recipe
1 teaspoon of soysauce
a few slices of fresh ginger
Optional Garnishes :
Cooked turkey or beef
hard boiled egg
cooked green leafy veggies such as kale or bok choy
seaweed Kelp/Kombu or wakeme
1. Rinse rice in a strainer under cool water
2. Combine rice, broth, salt and ginger in a large heavy bottomed pot
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, partially cover with lid allowing most of the steam to escape and simmer for 1.5 hours stirring occasionally until a yummy brothy porridge forms.
5. If the congee becomes too thick during cooking, add more water or broth.
Add in some optional garnishes to make it even more nutritious.
I had a great chat about Canine Flu with my dear friend and fellow dog lover, Mary Lou Davidson of Sarasota Dog. Click on the link to listen to the interview.
Still have questions ? Here are some FAQs about Canine influenza.
By Mary Lou Davidson and Dr. Wendy
So we've heard about the canine flu up north and even in Northern Florida - do we really need to worry about it here?
Yes. As with human flu it spreads through the air and virtually all dogs can become infected. Not all will get sick but they can shed virus to other dogs. In our dog friendly world, more of our pups are lucky enough to go out and about but being a doggie social butterfly has risks.
Who/what kind of dogs are most at risk?
The H3N2 strain of canine influenza is an emerging disease so our dog population does not have immunity to it. This means any dog of any age or breed can become infected if they are exposed. Because the flu is spread though aerosolized nasal secretions, dogs with an active social life where they come in contact with many other dogs(go to the dog park, groomers, daycare, ect) are most at risk.
How it spread?
The flu virus spreads through nose to nose contact and through the air. It can travel up to 20 feet. Fomites like water bowls, toys, and even people can spread disease. Just think about the preventative measures you take during flu season like avoiding coughing people, crowds and washing your hands. The flu virus can live on some surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours so good hygiene is an important way to combat the spread of canine flu.
Who is the most susceptible? (older and very young dogs)
All dogs are can become infected and up to 80 % of dogs will develop signs like a high fever, cough, nasal discharge. They may be very tired and lose their appetite. The 20 % that do not show clinical signs can still shed the virus and spread infection. About 8 % of dogs develop 2 nd pneumonia even with treatment. If they are lethargic and have difficulty breathing, they will require medical attention.
What signs would make me think my dog might have Canine Flu?
Think about how you feel with the flu. You are tired, coughing, achy, fever, have a runny nose and shortness of breath(panting). Signs usually appear in 2-3 days after exposure. Most dogs recover within 2 weeks with supportive care and a course of antibiotics that reduces the chance of a secondary bacterial infection. Dog can remain infective up to 4 weeks and the cough can last up to 8 weeks.
Should I consider this an emergency?
Most cases are not an emergency. If you suspect your doggie has the flu, do not go to the clinic. Call your veterinarian and let them know when you first noted signs of coughing, if you have been to a show, day care or dog event within the past week, if your dog was around another dog that was coughing.
Your vet may want to collect a nasal swab to test for flu and other viruses but may visit you by house call or have you enter a separate entrance to the clinic to avoid exposing other dogs. About 10 % of dogs develop pneumonia even with treatment. If they are lethargic and have difficulty breathing, they will require hospitalization.
What's the best treatment?
The best treatment is a course of antibiotics and supportive care so rest, fluids, high quality food. Bone broth bone-soup-for-dogs-and-cats.html(recipe) or bone broth congee congee-recipe.html(recipe) is a very nutritious treat for a sick dog. If your dog is coughing, isolate them and other dogs in your household for 4 weeks to prevent the spread of disease to your puppy’s friends.
A vaccine is now available and requires an initial dose followed by a booster 4 weeks later. Vaccination does not prevent infection but it may reduce the severity and duration of clinical signs. We recommend dogs with an active social life consider flu vaccination. If you currently vaccinate your dog for kennel cough, you may consider the flu vaccine as well. If your dog goes to the groomers, day care or events, try to get your series of vaccinations completed a few weeks before. Yearly vaccination is recommended.
What's the survival rate?
About 10% of cases can become life threatening. Secondary bacterial infection in a dog that already has a compromised immune system or breathing problem can require hospitalization. A small number of deaths due to canine flu have been reported but most dogs recover without incident.
Can cats catch "Canine Flu"?
It can infect cats and they will have a mild cough and usually recover quickly.
There have been no reported fatalities from canine flu in cats.
How about people?
There has been no evidence that Canine flu infects people.
Where can people find more information about the Canine Flu.
For the official source of accurate dog flu info and the most current updates, visit the University of Florida’s CVM website.
Episode 297 Sweet Itch - what is it and how to treat it
Summer is coming and so are the bugs ! Glenn and I discuss the cause of sweet itch, how to break the itch-scratch cycle and ways to control mosquitos, black flies and no see ums around your house and barn.
The TCVM segment starts at 51:19
Sweet Itch: A summer nightmare for horses
Sweet Itch aka Queensland Itch aka Culicoides hypersensitivity is one of the most common skin problem in horses and is also the hardest to treat. It is a horse owner's worst nightmare !
Sweet Itch is an allergy to insect bites. Mosquitos, black flies and no-see-ums have all been implicated as the cause of extreme itching and scratching which can lead to hair loss of at the mane,tail and belly, self trauma, and multiple open wounds with secondary bacterial infections.
The saliva of these little blood suckers contains allergens that cause an intense itching. The horses will try to scratch on anything available to relieve the itch and in doing so can cause deep wounds and hair loss. Once the itching has begun, it is very difficult to control so preparation and prevention is key. The biological process is similar to hot spots in dogs which is caused by an allergy to flea bites. See my blog post about hot spots in dogs.
Why do some animals have allergies to certain things and some do not ? The answer is that allergies are cumulative. You may have a tolerance for pollen and cats and dust if exposed to any one of those things alone, however, if you encounter all 3 at once, your immune system will over react. You will be pushed beyond your allergy tolerance threshold, your body will release inflammatory mediators like histamine and cytokines that cause watery eyes, itchy skin, hives, sneezing, coughing and if severe, may constrict your airway. The same is true in horses. They are exposed to lots of allergens in their daily life, mold, dust, pollen and bugs but when the swarms of biting flies emerge in the summer, they are pushed beyond their allergy threshold.
Recognizing the symptom is key. The photos below show advanced stage disease.
Let’s talk about prevention. Before the fly season begins you can prepare your horse and barn with some diet and lifestyle changes.
1. Reduce contact with Insects
I know easy to say, hard to do. Most biting flies have a feeding pattern. Culicoides and gnats favor dusk and dawn while mosquitos are most active from dusk through early evening. Keeping your horse in the stable with a strong fan with plenty of fly spray may help. Fly sprays are short acting but can provide some relief. Some natural alternatives are Eco-vet and Repel which is made with Oil of Lemon Eucalypus. Gnats and no see ums are not strong fliers and will avoid the turbulence of a fan. When they do go out, fly sheets and face masks are a great help.
To reduce the number of biting flies in your stable area you can reduce the breeding ground areas like stagnant water, long weeds and manure piles. A natural way to reduce emerging larvae is to treat ponds, streams and standing water with BTI aka mosquito dunks. Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies Isralensis, is a naturally occurring bacteria in soil. It produces toxins that only affect the larvae of mosquitos, blackflies and gnats. It is safe for all other animals, insects and plants and approved for pest control for organic farms. Spray BTI in ponds, use dunks in running water or drainage ditches. Make traps with bti in buckets of water with grass clippings or pulled weeds. Mosquitos and gnats will lay eggs there but they will never hatch. Goldfish and mosquito fish may be available from your county free. Dump water troughs every few days and some shell or gravel around the trough will prevent muddy puddles from becoming gnat nurseries.
2. Reduce contact with other allergens
Mold and Dust are part of a horse's daily life. To reduce exposure, do not sweep or blow the barn aisle when horses are inside ! This is one of the worst things you can do to your horse's immune and respiratory system. Feed high quality hay and wet it down or soak it in a net for a few minutes before feeding. Do a full cleaning of the inside of the barn before allergy season.
Inflammatory Foods processed foods and an unbalance ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids tend to contribute to inflammation. Black oil sunflower seeds are high in vit E but have a high level of Omega 6. This ratio can be balanced to the ideal level of 1-4:1 (meaning approx 1-4 parts omega 6 to 1 part omega 3) by adding Chia seeds which are very high in Omega 3s.
3. Increase your horse's allergy threshold
You can increase your horse's allergy threshold by increasing the levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. As mentioned above, chia seeds are a great source of omega 3s and horses love them. Antioxidants can also help increase your horse's allergy threshold. Some foods therapy suggestions for horses are seaweed (kelp or spirulina), gogi berries, spinach, green tea, ginger and of course, Dr. Doug's favorite, turmeric.
4. Avoid Immuno-stimulants
Vaccines stimulate the immune response to protect your horse from disease. Try to vaccinate early in the season before the emergence of biting flies. Killed vaccines and ultra purified vaccines do not cause as strong of an immune response as modified live and recombinant vaccines.
So you have taken all the steps for prevention and your horse still has sweet itch. Now it is time to treat. Treat early in the course of the disease if possible when you first see the signs of hair loss and itching.
The TCVM diagnosis is Wind (Itching) and Damp Heat (red crusty inflamed and infected skin)
Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care can help reduce the itching and rebalance the immune system. To find a veterinarian trained in TCVM near you, search by your zip code at the Chi Institute page www.tcvm.com.
Herbal Therapy includes formulas to Tonify the Blood to stop itching and Clear Heat.
For Topical Treatment we recommend Dr. Ying's Sweet Itch Cream, a soothing blend of coconut oil, Chinese herbs and essential oils to relieve itching, soothe irritated skin, prevent secondary bacterial infection and repel biting insects.
We also have 2 herbal formulas to be given orally for Sweet Itch. The TCVM diagnosis from your veterinarian will help determine which is the right choice for your horse.
Damp Heat Skin Formula or External Wind Formula can help relieve the itching and inflammation in the skin.
Food therapy is a very important part of the treatment. As mentioned above, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants need to be included in the diet. Foods that Tonify Blood and Cooling foods can be beneficial. Apricots and dates Tonify Blood, Barley, cucumber and green tea can Drain Damp and are Cooling.
So as you can see, sweet itch can turn into a mid summer nightmare for you and your horse. Do your best to prepare for the season and change the things you can control. You don't need to do them all. If you live next to a creek or if the barn manager refuses to turn the horses out before they blow the barn, well ok you have to live with it but at least you can add some food therapy treats or some herbs or sneak some BTI into your neighbor's pond to get you one step closer to a happier, healthier summer.
Practices Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Sarasota, Florida