The Doctor Is In

The doctor is in

Dr. Jason Rowan

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My dog is feeling the weather and her age. Is there anything I can add to her food to help her arthritis?


Absolutely! Osteoarthritis can really affect a pet’s mobility in the winter months. Nutritional supplements and natural remedies are some of the most effective tools we have to treat a dog (or cat’s) arthritis.

Every aging canine should be getting a health dose of high quality fish oil, with enough EPA. All fish oils aren’t created equal: make sure your fish oil doesn’t smell like fish. If it does, it has gone rancid and actually contributes to inflammation. Instead, your quality fish oil should smell like ocean, and should be kept in the fridge to keep it fresh.

Glucosamine and other glycosaminoglycans provide building blocks for joint fluid and cartilage. One of the best sources is green-lipped mussel, straight from the ocean, which you can buy in powdered form. Glucosaminoglycans are complementary to

fish oil and and herbal medicines.

Herbal remedies can also be extremely effective to ease the symptoms of arthritis. Our hospital’s mobility tincture includes ashwaganda and devil’s claw to reduce stress and quells inflammation, ginger to stimulate circulation, and St. John’s Wort to minimize pain and give a pick-me-up to depressed dogs. Herbal powders and tinctures are simply added to the dog’s food, can have excellent results, and are also complementary to the others sea-sourced supplements.

Vaccines are a hot topic, and I’m interested how you weigh in. Do I need to vaccinate my dog and cats?


Vaccines can play an important role in protecting your pet; however, routine vaccination is often unnecessary. Puppy and kitten vaccine series are important, as they give your pet initial exposure to diseases. But as your pets become adults, it’s best to test their immunity level to see if they need a vaccine boost, instead of just boosting a vaccination without knowing if they need it or not. I recommend that every adult dog and cat receives a titre test before deciding to administer vaccine boosters. This approach prevents over-vaccination and unnecessarily stimulating your dog or cat’s immune system. Titre (pronounced tight-er) testing is a medical alternative to routine vaccinations. A titre test is a blood test performed in a laboratory that measures the immunity levels to individual diseases. At our hospital, we can do titre tests for rabies, as well as for the canine parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus, and feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Most boarding and daycare facilities in Kelowna accept titre tests as proof of immunity in lieu of vaccine certificates.

Our family has a new puppy. What kind of toys do you recommend?


Congratulations on your new family member. As you get to know him, you will find if he is a stuffie or ball kind of guy. The size of the dog doesn’t matter: our 180 lb wolfhound is gentle with stuffed animals but I know several chihuahuas that can make short work of soft toys.

As a general guideline, choose toys that are bigger than his mouth, so he doesn’t get them stuck or swallow them. This might mean you size up his toys as he grows. Depending on how aggressively he chews, you may be able to give him soft fabric toys, or may have to stick to leather or fabric reinforced with upholstery thread. Resist the urge to let him chew his toys apart, as he could digest the pieces. Instead, try hardy rubber or tiger-tested toys for maximum fun and minimal danger. Lastly, avoid playing hard games of tug with your puppy until he gets older, as those baby teeth are quite fragile and break easier than you might think.

Sometimes my Boston terrier gets an upset tummy. Do you have any home remedies you recommend?


Have an upset stomachs is no fun, for the pet or the person cleaning up after them. When your dog gets diarrhea, constipation or other intestinal issues, you should them a very bland, low fat, fibrous and easily digestible food. Some people try hamburger, which only makes the issue worse since it is full of fat. Instead, try canned pumpkin. I don’t mean pumpkin pie mix, but the 100% squash variety without any spices. Pumpkin is, as our animal chiropractor Dr. Pam Carlson says, “the great equalizer.” It helps restore normal bowel function. If your dog is vomiting, sometimes a 12-24 hour fast away from food can give their stomachs the break that it needs.

Of course, both vomiting, diarrhea and constipation can indicate more serious conditions. If your dog can’t keep water down, they are painful or lethargic, or the bowel upset last more than a day, it’s best to see your veterinarian.

I was visiting my sister and was surprised to see her brushing her little dog’s teeth. Is this overkill, or does brushing really help?


Your sister isn’t crazy. Well, at least not about brushing her dog’s teeth! Ideally, all pet owner’s should brush their dog’s teeth, as it really helps prevent tartar building up and ruining their mouth. Remember, healthy teeth aren’t only for a dog to eat with; they use teeth to pick up things, groom themselves and even play. Teeth brushing is especially important for small dogs, because they are often prone to dental issues. It’s easier to start a dog as a puppy, but a tasty chicken or seafood flavoured toothpaste does wonders even for a reluctant retriever. In between brushes, you can also give your dog soft chews so they can naturally fight off tartar. Avoid super hard chews like hooves and antlers: they are a recipe for cracked molars. You’ll also want to avoid rawhide that comes apart in strips and can be swallowed by your dog. Choose instead dried meat treats like trachea or pizzel sticks for big dogs, or dried chicken gizzards for small dogs. Treats like these let them practice their chewing and clean their teeth at the same time.

I’ve heard that dogs need their ears cleaned regularly, but I don’t know what I should use, or how often.


Ear cleaning is part of a regular grooming routine for most dogs, but how often depends on a few factors. If your dog swims regularly, then an ear cleaning and drying after a soak in the lake is good idea. Some breeds are also prone to yeast infections (think droopy-eared breeds like basset hounds and cocker spaniels) and a weekly cleaning can help knock back the build-up of yeast in their ear canals. Otherwise, most other dogs only need an ear cleaning about once a month.

When choosing a preventative ear cleaner, you want to look for an astringent, antiseptic herbal wash designed for that purpose. Use gauze or cotton balls to soak up and clean out the visible outside ear. As your grandmother says, never put anything inside your ear smaller than your elbow. So don’t use cotton swabs or tissues, which could hurt the ear or leave bits behind.

If your dog’s ears start to smell bad or have brown goo inside of them, or your dog is continually shaking their head, please take those ears, and the dog, to the vet.

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Dr. Jason Rowan has a passion for integrative veterinary medicine, combining the best of conventional medicine and holistic approaches. His neighbourhood clinic, Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital, offers herbal medicine, nutritional therapy and chiropractic care as well as surgery, conventional care and dentistry. Dr. Jason’s adjacent Pounce & Hound Fine Pet Goods shop supports holistic pet health with balanced raw food, nutritional supplements and quality pet gear.