Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Herbs for the nervous horse

Many riders and trainers have resorted to the use of chemical sedatives and tranquilizers to calm their horses, but not only are these products often illegal to use in competitive situations, they can damage the horse’s overall health and well-being.
Judiciously used herbs are a far better alternative for treating the nervous horse, as they often effect a permanent change in temperament, and many are ‘legal’ for competition.
Herbs nourish, strengthen and rebalance the nervous system so that once an anxious horse calms down he no longer reacts to things around him. The actions of sedatives and tranquilizers on the horse’s nervous system are completely different, as they simply block nervous system responses for as long as the drug remains in the horse’s system. This is why they are a ‘one-time fix’ instead of an overall cure.
In a nervous horse, a tranquilizer will dull his reactions and make him physically unable to jump around. The right herb will mean the nervous horse will no longer want to jump around.
In dealing with nervous disorders, there are no ‘magic’ quick fixes. In treating a horse that has a nervous temperament, it’s very important to look at the horse’s whole history – both health and past experiences – such as training, traumas, etc. This gives us the information to combine herbs and other treatments – such as homeopathy, nutrition, and perhaps even a change in training regime or routine – to bring the horse’s whole metabolism back into balance.
Treating the whole horse rather than a specific nervous disorder is important because there is a very close relationship between how a nervous system reacts and responds, and how the horse’s whole metabolism functions.

For example, an imbalance or nervous system disorder can affect the horse’s digestive efficiency, thyroid balance, liver function, spleen function, respiratory efficiency, blood quality, and immunity to infection. These aspects of the horse’s metabolism must all be brought into balance in order for a treatment of serious nervous system problems to be truly effective and long lasting. This is where the advice of a professional herbalist is invaluable in prescribing a comprehensive treatment for each individual case.

Friday, 12 September 2014

40 Ways to Make Your Dog Happy

Have you ever watched your dog sleep? His paws twitch, his tail wags and he lets out little barks. Perhaps he's dreaming of a romp through a meadow or a game of fetch with his best friend. Ever wish you could make him this happy while he was awake? You can. Here are 40 ways to brighten his day - and maybe his whole life.
1. Groom often. Regular brushing doesn't just make your pooch look pretty; it also helps prevent skin disease and can strengthen the bond between you.
2. Feed him like a king. A high-quality food promotes your dog's health and well-being.
3. Banish fleas! These pesky insects can make your dog miserable, plus they can cause allergies and transmit tapeworms. Ask your vet for treatment recommendations.
4. Play each day. Dogs don't understand when you say, "I had a rough day at work and I just want to lie on the couch." Take the time to play; you might be surprised how much better you’ll both feel.
5. Help him age gracefully. Just like you wouldn't feed dog food to a cat, don't let your puppy eat adult food or your senior dog eat puppy food.
6. Keep his water fresh. Would you like to drink water that's been sitting in a bowl for days? Neither does he! Plenty of fresh water is vital to your dog's good health, so keep his water dish full and change it daily.
7. Take a trip. Whether it's a drive out to the country or a quick jaunt to the park down the road, your dog will love the change of scenery.
8. Don't play doctor. Unless you're a vet, don't try to treat your dog's ailments yourself. Medicines meant for humans can have adverse effects on dogs. Your vet can provide appropriate remedies and advise you on keeping a canine first-aid kit handy. It may save your dog's life.
9. Dog-proof your home. Take a dog's view and look for possible dangers your house poses to your pooch. Do you see a dangling electrical cord? An inviting, open cupboard full of cleaning supplies? Sharp tools in plain view? Put away anything that could injure a curious canine.
10. Update your phone list. When you save important numbers in your phone, be sure to include your vet's number, along with the after-hours number in case of an emergency.
11. Walk, walk, walk. The two of you will bond during this time. Plus, walking is good exercise for both of you.
12. Spay or neuter. Neutered pets often lead longer, healthier lives. And it’s good to know that you’re doing your part to prevent pet overpopulation.
13. Keep him slim. A slim, trim dog is a happy dog, so say no to table scraps and yes to exercise. If he needs to lose weight, try feeding IAMS Weight Control Formula. It helps burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.
14. Clip those nails. When his nails get too long, your dog could be in discomfort. Ask your vet to teach you the tricks of trimming.
15. Check those toys. Take a look at the toys your dog treasures. Are they safe and durable? Keep a special eye out for small parts that could be easily swallowed or sharp edges that could injure him.
16. Let him sniff. Dogs love to sniff; it helps them discover new facts about their world. Take your dog to a park, an open field, or your favorite walking trail and let him sniff all the new scents.
17. Fetch! Head out to the garden to toss around a rubber ball or teach your dog to catch a Frisbee.
18. Try to understand his language. Your dog can't tell you how he's feeling, so you need to learn to read his body language. Low-hanging tail? This can mean fear or anxiety. Wagging tail? Happiness, of course! If you keep your eyes peeled, pretty soon you'll be a pooch-language pro.
19. Keep his ears clean to avoid ear problems due to common mites and infections. To clean his ears, fill his ear canal with ear cleaner, massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds, then wipe out the loose debris and excess fluid. Talk to him gently while you're doing this and give him a treat afterward.
20. Make cuddle time. There's nothing quite like curling up with a good dog. Spend some special time holding and hugging your pooch. Let him know how cherished he is.
21. Keep him safe. Millions of dogs get lost each year - make sure your dog isn't one of them. Determine the best identification option for your dog, whether it's a collar tag, a microchip or a tattoo. Make sure you abide by local laws. In the UK all dogs must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner.
22. Give him new chews. Chewing reduces stress and helps decrease barking. Provide your dog safe chew toys to satisfy his instincts.
23. Hit the water. Just about any breed of dog can learn to love water, and some dogs are naturals when paddling around.
24. Play "Find the Treat." Tell your dog to sit and stay, Show him a treat, then put it behind a door or chair or under a towel. Tell him to "find the treat," and praise him when he does.
25. Scrap the scraps. Eating too much human food can cause several problems in dogs, including obesity, intestinal problems, choking and hyperactivity.
26. Snap his picture. Many dogs love to ham it up for the camera. The bonus? You'll have tons of adorable photos to show everyone you know.
27. Chat. Dogs seem to think they're human, so why not treat them like they are? Sit down with your dog for a heart-to-heart. He'll cock his head and listen intently.
28. Beat the heat. During the hot summer months, only exercise your dog in the cooler hours - generally morning and evening. If he's outside during the day, provide a shady area or maybe even a wading pool.
29. Don't dodge doctors. Even if your dog's not a fan of going to the vet, remember that regular checkups are vital to his health.
30. Brush. Taking good care of your dog's teeth can prevent gum disease, tooth loss and bad breath. And the real benefit? Daily dental care can lengthen his life.
31. Bath time. Your dog needs baths, even if he doesn't think so. Make the process as enjoyable as possible by being gentle. Remember to use a dog shampoo formulated to meet dogs' special skin needs.
32. Skip the sweets. You know that old warning about chocolate being poisonous to dogs? It's true. Keep your dog safe by keeping him away from chocolate and sweets..
33. Teach him a new trick. Give your dog a lesson on how to roll over or play dead. He'll be proud to show off his tricky techniques to anyone willing to watch.
34. Be gentle. Don't ever hit, threaten, frighten or force-train your dog. Though he may make a few mistakes (who doesn't?), he is relying on your love to teach him the differences of right and wrong.
35. Bring the blankie. Whether you're taking your dog along on a trip or leaving him with a friend or at a kennel, be sure to bring his favorite blanket. The familiar scent and feel of it will comfort him as he cuddles up and dreams of home.
36. Do a dance. Play a lively song on the stereo and dance with your dog.
37. Be best friends. Treat your dog right and you'll be showered with loyalty, love and friendship - not to mention all those happy, sloppy, one-of-a-kind dog kisses that make your day.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Massage and Muscle Therapy

Massage for your horse is beneficial for many reasons. In days of old, it was a tool used by grooms to help maintain their horses’ health. 

Your horses’ muscles make up 60% of his body weight,and are responsible for movement and healthy functioning of the body.

Problems with muscles do not always make themselves evident directly. Your horse may have a change of behaviour, develop an annoying habit, resist a command or become uneven and display general signs of soreness.

Massage can be used to prevent injury as well as to assist the body repair muscle fibres that have been damaged. Often muscles will the first indication there is something wrong. A muscle contains many fibres and as it contracts and relaxes, if not operating at an optimum, some of these muscle fibres become "stuck" and form a spasm. As the spasm enlarges it causes pressure, and it is the pressure that is a major contributor to the cause of discomfort and pain.

If such a spasm is not removed it will eventually lead to a tear in the muscle or damage to other connective tissue. Unfortunately they do not work themselves out on their own, and quite often the body sets up other areas of resistance so it feels balanced, always trying to maintain homeostasis. If the body can’t fix a problem, it will set up a compensatory effect somewhere else.

The longer a muscle spasm is left unattended, the harder it is to remove. A muscle spasm that has been in the body a week is relatively easy to remove, one that has been there for months or years will take more than one treatment and may need to be maintained if a permanent weakness has been allowed to develop.

If a muscle soreness continues to reoccur, sometimes it may indicate a problem with an underlying organ and you need your Veterinarian to assess your horse, or in the case of performance horses with heavy workloads you may need to discuss hoof issues with your farrier.
Unfortunately our horses are prone to muscle injury. A slip on a trail ride, a new or poor fitting saddle, an old racing injury that has left a weakness, added stress when moving up to more advanced movements in dressage are just a few.

Massage has a role in any horse’s routine.
It will improve the body circulation so as it can promote the healing of injuries. For the athletic horse it is another dimension of training that will enhance muscle tone and increase the range of motion.

Massage will ease out muscle spasms and relieve tension. Often a horse labeled as "stubborn’ or "pig-headed" is just in pain. He is not saying "I won’t", he is trying to tell you "I can’t".
After a session of intense work, such as a competition or race, massage will help your horse recover quickly. It aids the body to eliminate the wastes and toxins that can leave both you and your horse aching after an event.

With "old" injuries you may have inherited when you have purchased a horse, massage can be used to breakdown scar tissue and adhesions.

Once your horse has achieved preferred muscle health it is easy to maintain by including massage within your grooming regime.

A horse with healthy muscles is less likely to sustain an injury and if he is unlucky enough to fall prey to an injury he will recover more quickly.

Healthy Happy Horses, Naturally.happyhorses@hartingdale.com.auPO Box 670 Randwick, NSW, Australia. 2031.www.happyhorses.com.au

Monday, 25 August 2014

Could Your Personality Be Reflected in Your Pooch?

The breed of dog a person chooses may mirror his or her own personality and outlook, a new study suggests.

The online survey of 1,000 dog owners by researchers at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, found certain personality traits, such as extroversion, agreeableness andemotional stability, are linked to specific breeds.

The research is to be presented Friday at the British Psychological Society annual meeting in London.

"This study indicates that we might be able to make predictions about someone's personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own," study author Lance Workman said in a society news release. "It seems likely that personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds."

Researchers divided the breeds owned into seven groups:
·         Gundogs, such as golden retrievers
·         Hound dogs, such as greyhounds
·         Pastoral, such as German shepherds
·         Terriers, such as Staffordshire bulls
·         Toys, such as Chihuahuas
·         Utility, such as bulldogs
·         Working, such as Dobermans

Owners of pastoral and utility dogs were more extroverted, while those who chose gundogs and toy dogs were more agreeable. The study also found those who owned utility, toy and gundogs were more conscientious, while owners of hound dogs were more emotionally stable. Toy dog owners were more open to new experiences.

"The differences in personality factors found between owners of different breeds might arguably be related to the lifestyle of the owner," Workman said. "For example, more extroverted individuals might be better suited to the pastoral breeds such as German shepherd or border collie, whereas those who are particularly emotionally stable might be suited to ownership of hound dogs such as a beagle or greyhound."

The findings and conclusions of studies presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Horse-Sense with Magnetics

by Linda Greenlaw

There are many people out there who do not believe magnetic therapy works at all, that it is "snake oil medicine". From my own personal experience, I know it does work, and very well at that. And with no side effects.

I am a former equestrian from New England. I have shown Pony Hunters, Junior Hunters, Green Hunters and Hunter Seat Equitation, winning many Championships in all these divisions. At one time, I was also a "working student" at a couple of New England stables, which afforded me the opportunity to experience many ways of dealing with many different problems.

It was not until I had serious, disabling injuries (not from riding) that I looked into the treatments for pain available to humans and animals. I discovered that some of the drugs given to horses for pain, used to be given to humans, until the medical community started seeing a lot of birth defects.

I have found through my own discussions with hundreds of farriers, vets, trainers, M.D.'s and Ph.D's, that a simple, common-sense approach to magnetic therapy on horses, is necessary. Many horse-people want to use magnetics on their horses. Their problem has been with the many different claims made about magnetics, and knowing how to properly apply the therapy. Or, some people have heard about magnetics, and want to know more about this therapy; and why is it slightly different for horses, as compared to humans.

My personal quest for knowledge about magnetics started when I become partially disabled. I went through a "song and a dance" with my doctor and her long list of anti-inflammatories (or NSAID's). I happen to have an encyclopedia about prescription drugs; and I would look up everything she gave me. Wouldn't you know it, these NSAID's were the same things horses get; just in a different dose according to body weight. Now I know how the horses feel. I had been treated like a horse, by my doctor!

Soon after that, I decided to apply "horse sense" to my own medical care and physical therapy program (as I was very disillusioned with my doctors). I have now been off of NSAID's for over three years. I get acupuncture from an R.N.; I go to a chiropractor, and most importantly, I use magnetics, every day. The difference in the quality of my life, is like night and day!

I am the kind of horse lover, who tends to translate from "horses" to "people". You see, horses are people to me! I have found in my research for my own health, that NSAID's can actually make arthritic type pain worse over the long term. For me, the NSAID's knotted my guts so much, it made my back pain worse! Imagine how this must affect horses that are sensitive to colic. That can kill a horse! What also causes me concern, is that the area that knots up on a horse is around where you sit when you ride.

I have also found that in both horses and people, most find faster healing and greater pain relief with magnetics, rather than with the drugs (and without the side effects). Strong, healthy, un-injured individuals with no pain may not notice or feel anything when using magnetics. That is because magnetics only do what is needed to properly align cells. If there is nothing wrong, the magnetics will only serve to pull proper nutrients to the area, as well as to keep the muscles and soft tissue loose. If there is nothing wrong, the magnetics are neutral (when administered in a non-toxic dose).

Horses, of course, are different from people; we humans can dissipate heat much better than horses — in other words, we sweat more efficiently. Also, both horses and humans have red blood cells, with metal in the blood that is pulled by the magnets. Faster blood flow opens the blood vessels, removing toxins from the effected area; while rushing oxygen and nutrients to this area. Faster blood flow is also beneficial for poor circulation conditions.

The stronger the magnetic gauss, the hotter the area will become from the increased blood flow. Therefore, since horses are not able to dissipate heat as well as humans, they need extra care in the timing, placement and gauss strength used. It is well known that the horses' hoof, in particular, needs to be treated with extra caution, because horses cannot tolerate excessive heat or moisture in their hoof; and conditions such as founder, laminitis and thrush can develop.
From my "one-to-one" research, I have found many master farriers who have told me about their experience with magnetics and navicular-type problems. There was concern about both implanting a magnet into a hole in the hoof; and with the non-invasive, external use of magnetics, being too strong (or too hot) for the hoof.

I've come up with a hoof pad that I think is a common sense solution to using magnetic therapy on a horse, especially, around the hoof area. I worked with master farriers, from the very beginning of my magnetic hoof pad idea, to make the best product possible. The farriers who tried my pads on their own horses, told me "it causes the hoof to grow more RESINOUS". At first, I did not understand, why these farriers were excited about this. I found out why. It would be a non-invasive way to correct the dry, cracked hoof problem; sore heels and many more conditions, due to it's support, shock absorption and low gauss magnetics. Thanks to master farrier, John Blombach's kind suggestions, (which I followed "to the letter"); I think my inventions' design makes "horse sense".

One of the best times to use magnetic therapy on horses is before or after riding, or during shipping or handling. When applied on the way to a show, I'm sure your horse would then be calmer (and more relaxed, or comfortable) and thus, give you a better performance. I know I feel more relaxed and comfortable when I use magnetics for my own arthritic pains, than when I must go without them.
There have been many discussions on what type of magnetic fields work best, whether to use bi-polar or uni-polar magnetics.. With bi-polar, you can use either side of the magnet. With uni-polar, you must be sure NOT to put the positive side to the pain point. From my own research, both work very well. As a matter of fact, ANY non-toxic gauss strength of magnetics will help, to varying degrees. (I have provided a chart which details varying gauss strengths to use, and some general "rules of thumb".)

Without testing to prove out this question, and other questions about magnetics, I feel it is wiser to play it safe with magnetic gauss strength. It has been considered safe to not go too high in gauss strength. I have heard of success, with using up to 129 gauss on VERY short treatments. I have also had success on the bursitis in my wrists, using the same strength magnetics I've used in the hoof pads (under 100 gauss).

Here is my list of DO's and DON'T's for magnetic use:
Never use magnetics over an open wound; it will 'weep' and bleed more.
Never exercise a horse with a high gauss magnetic on, damage could result.

Leave your low strength magnetics on, and put the higher strength magnetics on only for a short period of time per application.
Use care in the length of time, and strength of magnetics used.
Consult and work with a professional when using magnetics; whether a farrier, a vet or other equine caretaker.
Two short treatments a day, before and after riding, are usually plenty.
Good to use while shipping, the horse should arrive calmer, and more comfortable.
Good to use while working on your horse on the cross-ties, they should be calmer.

LOW STRENGTH Under 100 gauss, magnetic strength
MEDIUM STRENGTH From 100 to 500 gauss, magnetic strength
HIGH STRENGTH From 500 to 800 gauss, magnetic strength
VERY HIGH STRENGTH From 800 to 1290 gauss, magnetic strength
Anything over these strengths could be very toxic and harmful to your horse!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the tissue lining the eyelids and attaching to the eyeball near the cornea. The conjunctiva can become irritated due to allergies induced by pollens, grasses, etc., or from infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. If the white portion of the eyeball (sclera) is also inflamed, this condition is occasionally referred to as 'pink eye.' Conjunctivitis is the most common ailment affecting the eye of the dog.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on the cause. Typically, both allergies and infections cause a severe redness or 'meaty' appearance of the conjunctiva. This is caused by edema or fluid build-up and an increase in the size and number of blood vessels within the tissue. Either allergies or infections cause the eye to discharge or 'weep.'
The consistency of the discharge often helps determine its cause. Usually infections caused by bacteria, fungi, etc., create a thick yellow or greenish eye discharge. The eyelids may actually stick together when held shut. This results from the accumulation of white blood cells or 'pus' excreted into the area in an effort to fight off the infection. This type of discharge is also typical of a condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or 'dry eye,' in which insufficient tears are produced. Allergies, on the other hand, generally cause a clear or watery discharge. Regardless of the cause, a patient with conjunctivitis will often squint and/or keep the third eyelid partially covering the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is often painful, causing a dog to paw at or rub the eye against objects such as your leg or the carpet.

What are the risks?
Normally, conjunctivitis is not life threatening, however, in advanced cases of infection, the organisms can spread and affect other structures of the eye. Vision could become impaired. In addition, infections or foreign bodies may cause corneal ulcers which are extremely serious conditions. Conjunctivitis may also be a symptom of a more serious disease such as canine distemper. As in humans, some infections can be transmitted to other individuals or littermates. Allergies are not contagious and therefore pose no threat to other dogs.

What is the management?
All cases of conjunctivitis should be treated at once. A culture and sensitivity test may be necessary to determine if bacteria are the cause, and if so, what medication should be used for treatment. Scrapings of the conjunctiva can be made and examined to test for various viral infections. Eye drops or ointments are usually the drugs of choice. Eye drops are watery solutions that must be applied every few hours, while ointments last longer and are usually only applied two to three times per day.

If the cause is suspected to be allergy, then various medications are available containing anti-inflammatories, usually hydrocortisones. If the cause is an infection, then bactericidal or fungicidal ointments or solutions may be applied. In severe cases, oral antibiotics are used in addition to the topical preparations. Most cases will respond to treatment, however, it may take one to two weeks to fully recover. In general, treatment is continued for several days after the eye regains its normal appearance.

It is important not to use hydrocortisone-containing agents if a corneal ulcer is present. Hydrocortisone, although great at minimizing eye inflammation, may actually hinder the healing of or worsen an ulcerated cornea.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Five Equine Body Condition Score Resources on TheHorse.com

You've heard the warnings: Obesity—concerning on its own—can lead to a host of other serious health problems in horses. But your horse isn't obese, is he? Nah…he's just a little chunky with a little fat over his tailhead, or maybe just a touch of a cresty neck.
Guess what: That horse is probably overweight, and could be well on his way to obesity. So to help you better understand how to tell whether your horse is overweight, too skinny, or just right, we've compiled five body condition scoring resources available to you for free on TheHorse.com.
And for additional information about helping that overweight horse subsist on fewer calories, see "5 Tips for Feeding Easy Keepers" in the July 2014 issue of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care. And when you purchase the single issue, you’ll not only get the print issue in the mail but also an immediate digital download of the issue you can read today.
Article: Determining Horses' Body Weight and Ideal Condition When it comes to calculating a horse's nutrient requirements, it's important to first determine that animal's body weight and condition. Body weight is measured in kilograms or pounds. Body condition refers to how much or how little fat coverage an animal has, and it can be measured through both subjective visual inspection and objective and quantitative body measurements. Find out what you need to know. Read Now
Video: What's Your Horse's Body Condition Score? Regular body condition scoring helps you keep your horse in good health. Learn how and when to score your horse with Bob Coleman, PhD, PAS, of the University of Kentucky. Watch Now
Special Report: Body Condition Score: Back to Basics A horse’s body condition score can tell a lot about his overall well-being. So, how does your horse weigh in? This free report gives you the information you need so you can judge where your horse falls on the scales. Download Now
Poster: Equine Body Condition Score What defines obese for a horse? For that matter, what determines if a horse is too skinny? Of course, it's simple to point out those horses at either end of the spectrum, but for horses in between there can be gray areas. Get a visual lesson on what to look for to accurately score your horse's body condition. Download Now