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Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine

by Melissa Eisenschenk, DVM, DACVD, Veterinary Dermatologist

It is always a good idea to get a second opinion when it really matters.  Just like for humans, there are medical specialists for dogs and cats too.  Specialists are board-certified veterinarians with years of advanced training in specific areas like Dermatology, Anesthesia, or Neurology that know the best cutting edge treatments for pets with special medical conditions.  Does your dog or cat have a medical condition like recurrent ear infections, itchiness, or epilepsy that you would love a veterinary specialist’s opinion on, but you live too far away or don’t want to drive to the city to visit a specialty clinic?

If you would like the best and safest anesthetic to be used when your older pet desperately needs a dental cleaning, there are specialists that can help!  Your family veterinarian can pay a fee to send blood work, biopsies, photos, or videos of your pet to a specialist and get answers about the best and safest treatments rapidly.   In addition, your primary vet can send updates to the specialist over time so medications can be tweaked based on how the patient is doing.   If you would like a second opinion for your pet, but traveling to a referral veterinary clinic is not an option, ask your veterinarian about Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine.

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A Veterinary Dermatologist examines a sample to see what bacteria are causing a recurrent ear infection

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About the Author:

Melissa Eisenschenk Veterinary DermatologistDr. Melissa Eisenschenk is a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.  She completed her Bachelor of Science with minors in Animal Science and Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls and attended veterinary school at the University of Minnesota.  After vet school, she was in private practice for 4 years in Rochester and Minneapolis, and then returned in 2006 to the University of Minnesota for a dermatology residency (3 year program) and Master’s degree. She passed dermatology board exams in 2009.  Dr. Eisenschenk worked out of the Oakdale Animal Emergency and Referral Center as a Veterinary Dermatologist for 3.5 years before starting Pet Dermatology Clinic.  She has a bunch of city chickens, a husband, and 2 daughters, Mae and Bea. 

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An introduction to iridology

Iridology is a great supplemental natural modality that can be used with dogs, cats, people, horses, and so on to help analyze various organs and systems in the body to see which are potentially weak and which potentially strong. You can then use this information to lend additional support to those systems that may need a bit of extra help. Because iridology is an analytical tool, it is best when used in conjunction with another natural modalities, such as essential oils, homeopathy, chiropractic, and so on. It is not intended to be a stand-alone tool.

Iridology as we know it today was first developed by Dr. Ignatz von Peczely and Reverend Nils Liljequist in the late 1800s. The two men worked independently, but came up with charts and “iris maps” that were actually quite similar. According to the book Visions of Health, iridology is the “art and science of analyzing the color and structure of the iris of the eye to gain valuable health information.”  Originally, it was developed for people, but more recently Dr. Mercedes Colburn mapped the equine, feline, and canine irises. Her maps allow pet owners and veterinarians alike to glean valuable information from studying a particular animal’s irises.

The iris—the colored portion of the eye—of every single eye is different. No two animals have the same iris, and even in the same animal, the left and right iris can be very different. These differences are all used by iridologists to gain an understanding of the body’s systems and how well they are functioning. For example, if the fibers in the iris are tight, or close together, the body is generally strong and therefore more resistant to disease (in other words, it has a strong terrain). Loose fibers, or ones that aren’t close together, generally indicate a body that is weaker and more susceptible to disease. But iridologists can go deeper than that. Using the iris maps, they can gain insight into which organs and systems may be weaker or out of balance. Describing the entire iris map is beyond the scope of this article, but we will touch on the highlights of what the irises indicate. If you are interested in learning more or seeing what iridology can reveal about your pet, go to Dr. Colburn’s website, www.throughtheeyeinternational.com, or set up an appointment with a qualified animal iridologist.

Psora and drug deposits

Often, iridologists observe colored spots of varying densities in the iris. These spots can be either psora or drug deposits. Psora are heavy, dark patches that typically indicate inherited chemicals. Drug or other chemical deposits show up in the iris as bright yellow, red, or orange spots. Usually, they are smaller than the psora and are scattered around the iris.

Weakened constitutions

The presence of lesions, either lacunae (closed lesions), crypts (small, closed, very dark lesions), or “open” (lesions that are open on one side and closed on the other), indicate inherited or acquired weaknesses in the body. Based on their location, the iridologist can determine which areas of the body are weaker and therefore need to be strengthened.

Toxic, slow-moving bowels

When a bowel is full of toxins and moving sluggishly, the iris shows lines called radii solaris. These long, dark lines branch out (seemingly from the pupil) like bicycle spokes. The darker and denser the “spoke,” the more intense the toxic condition. Generally speaking, the presence of radii solaris indicate a need to detoxify the bowls and body. They may also indicate parasitic infection.

Excessive nerve tension

Nerve rings, which are formed by the iris fibers buckling and appear as concentric circles or partial arcs in the iris, indicate excessive nerve tension. They can indicate that the individual is under stress, which can present as indigestion, muscle tenseness, headache, etc. If the nerve rings are heavy, it suggests that the subject needs to relax and reduce stress.

Skin issues

When there is a darkened rim at the periphery of the iris (called a scurf rim), it indicates that the skin is underactive and isn’t eliminating properly. This further suggests that toxins and waste materials may be accumulating faster than the skin can eliminate them. The scurf rim can vary greatly—it may be thin, thick, dark, or light, but in all cases, it means that toxins are not being eliminated fast enough. In this case, a reduction in the toxins coming in may be of great benefit.

Slow lymph system

A slow, sluggish, and underperforming lymph system appears in the iris as small, cloud-like spots. Generally, the spots are found towards the outside of the iris, but they can move closer to the interior in some instances. These spots, which are called lymphatic rosary, look like a string of pearls or the beads of a rosary, which is where they got their name. The fact that the spots are white indicates inflammation. If the spots are yellow or light brown, it indicates that the condition has existed for a while. When you see this, it may indicate that there is not a proper amount of exercise (remember, the lymph is moved through exercise).

Chemical imbalances

When there is a chemical imbalance in the body, a solid white ring circling the iris at the periphery appears. This is known as a sodium ring, and it is a deposit in the corneal tissues.

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all the other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

Kristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

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Easy Wellness Assessment You Can Do Yourself

By Kristin Clark, Founder and President, Canine Health Promotion

As good pet parents, we continually do everything we can to make sure our beloved pets are happy and thriving. However, how do we really know whether our animals are healthy? Sadly, it’s become true that people often think their dogs and cats are in a state of health when really they aren’t. However, because the signs that their bodies are not operating at an optimal level—indicators like skin allergies; a dry or dull coat; bad breath; tooth decay; smelly, soft, and excessive poop; and obesity; to name just a few—are so common, we don’t even blink anymore when our pets experience them. Further, when our pets are young, they may seem to be healthy, but there is a breaking point (which is different for each animal) that they experience where their bodies can no longer handle the toxins that are being flooded into their systems, and they present with disease, illness, and/or chronic pain. In this post, we explore this topic by going over some of the ways you can do a wellness assessment on your dog or cat, to ensure that they are in optimal health. This is a helpful exercise to get in the habit of doing on a regular basis, and to do no matter how you feed your pets or whether you choose to apply traditional preventives (such as flea and tick treatments or heartworm medication) or not. My point is that every single animal should exhibit wellness in all of the following areas, and if they don’t, you need to adjust something to help them rebalance and come back to a state where they can thrive.

Remember, our animals are not machines. Their bodies are continually working to maintain homeostasis, or balance. That balance is affected by every single thing that goes into their bodies—the food they eat, the pesticides on the grass they run through, the preventives that they receive—as well as things like their quality of sleep, the amount of exercise they get, their owner’s mood, and so on. What this means is that you must continually attend to the clues your dog or cat is giving you to determine whether they are thriving or if something needs to be tweaked. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task, either. Once you are in the habit of regularly looking at them, noticing their energy level, and paying attention to what they feel like when you pet them, you will find that you are doing these mini “Wellness assessments” every day. In fact, it will become so second nature that you won’t even notice you’re doing it, but you will notice if something is a bit “off” and you need to help your dog or cat rebalance.

So, what should you start training yourself to look for and notice? Remember that you know your pet better than anyone else, and pay attention to your intuition if something just doesn’t seem right. Beyond that, though, there are some good indicators to be able to tell if your pet is thriving. These are especially useful if you are new to thinking this way, and maybe have a pet that has some of the common issues we frequently see crop up in our companion animals. If that’s the case, you may be so used to these issues that your brain doesn’t notice them anymore, so when you start looking at your pet to really assess their wellness, step back a bit and practice looking at them objectively.

Coat

A dog or cat that is thriving should have a shiny, soft coat. When you pet them, you shouldn’t come away with an excess of oily residue on your hands.

While they will still shed according to the dictates of their species and breed, the shedding is usually reduced. The skin will be supple and in good condition, and it will be free from hot spots, allergies, and excessive itchiness.

Eyes

When a dog or cat is in optimal health, its eyes are clear and bright. No matter what breed your dog or cat is, and whether they are a purebred or a mix of many breeds, their eyes should not be weepy or runny.

Parasites

A dog or cat with a strong, balanced immune system doesn’t suffer from flea and tick infestations, even when you don’t use conventional flea and tick preventives (such as Frontline). While they may pick up a flea or tick every once in a while, particularly in areas where those insects abound, it never gets out of balance.

Body Condition/Weight

A dog or cat that is at the peak of health is lean and muscular. When you look down at them from above, you should be able to see a narrowing in their waist. When you touch them, you should be able to easily feel their ribs. Additionally, they don’t have excess fat on their chest or back.

Oral Health

A healthy, vital dog or cat’s teeth are sparkling white and clean, and they don’t have bad breath. The gums are not excessively red or inflamed, and there isn’t a buildup of plaque or tartar.

Odor

A dog or cat that is balanced and thriving doesn’t have a strong odor—in fact, they don’t have much, if any, smell at all!

Stool and Anal Glands

A thriving dog or cat has small, dense, compact stools, and they move their bowels less frequently than an animal that isn’t thriving. Because they have to strain a bit to defecate, their anal glands are kept clean, clear, and in good working order—without frequent trips to the vet or groomer to have their anal glands cleared.

Behavior

Dogs and cats that are truly healthy are neither lethargic nor hyperactive, but instead have an appropriate amount of energy for their species, breed, age, and individual character.

Mental Ability

Healthy, thriving dogs and cats have incredible mental capabilities. Their brains can function at their optimal level, right along with their bodies and their spirits, which means they are extraordinarily perceptive and able to focus.

Endurance

When dogs and cats are properly supported, they have lots of endurance within the parameters of their individual and breed characteristics. This is especially nice for performance animals, such as dogs that are used for agility, showing, and hunting.

Aging

Dogs and cats that are flourishing do so even when they’re what society terms “senior”—9, 10, 11, or 12 for dogs (and in fact, well beyond those ages), and 14, 15, or 16 (or more!) for cats! They still have energy, are mentally sharp, and exhibit all the other qualities of a thriving animal.

Take some time to really assess your pet each day, until it becomes habit. Remember, you know them best, and there are lots of ways to check to make sure that they are thriving. These are some of the biggest ones, and once your pet is thriving, you will notice big changes in all of these areas, no matter what age, breed, species, or gender they are.

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Kristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

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Why Learn Pet First Aid and CPR?

By Cara Armour, Product Manager Pro Pet Hero

You can search the Internet for pretty much everything now, heck you can even watch YouTube videos on how to fix a car or in fact perform CPR on your pet. While these options exist, they are not long-term learning platforms where you watch a vet teach you the techniques, practice what is being taught and then get tested on your retention.

While online learning has been proven by the US Department of Education to be a more effective way to learn, it’s only as good as the actual material, mode of presentation and instructor. YouTube videos are fine and dandy but is that information correct?

Learning how to save your pet’s life and knowing how to react when something is wrong is crucial to anyone that spends their life with pets. This includes pet owners and pet care professionals such as dog walkers, pet sitters, trainers, groomers, dog daycare operators and even vet techs. Did you know that vet techs – the nurses of the veterinary field are never taught cat or dog CPR in their training to become a certified veterinary technician? Crazy right?

You Care Enough to Know How to Save Them

pet-cpr

You’re reading this post so you are already intrigued about knowing what to do. It is pretty easy to just dash off to the ER vet, or even your regular vet. I can get an appointment for my dog or cat much faster and easier then I can for myself at my own doctor’s office. That is wonderful but sometimes the added stress and cost of being able to do that isn’t always the best for you or your pet – certainly not your wallet.

The Cost of Veterinary Care

pet-insuranceEven with pet insurance the cost of veterinary care is no joke. Depending on your insurance coverage (if you have it), you may still have to pay a good portion of the bill. Pet insurance does not work the same as human coverage – you pay up front, submit the claim, then wait for reimbursement; with monthly premiums this can all add up.

Please do not get me wrong, you are going to the vet for many issues, this is not to dissuade anyone from going and in fact the course teaches you about knowing when to go and what information to have to help the vet help your pet. Knowing when to go or even more importantly, what you can do before you head to the vet can be crucial for your pet’s survival.

The Big Picture of a Pet First Aid and CPR Certification Course

The title of the course doesn’t even begin to sum up the vast skills and knowledge that you will learn. Beyond the sheer volume of over 40 topics you will also learn what to do, what to look out for, and how to act.

If you are going to take the time to learn how to keep your pet safe or recognize issues before they become more serious – most importantly, get their heart beating again when it stops – then you will want to make certain you are learning the life-saving information from a qualified person.

Who Teaches Me How to Save My Pet in an Emergency?

Credentials are extremely important; I wouldn’t want to take a cooking class from someone that has never cooked, so why take a class about pet CPR from someone that has never used it to save lives? ProPetHero is an online cat and dog first aid and CPR certification course taught by a board certified ER vet, Dr. Bobbi Conner DVM, DACVECC.  She also happens to be a professor of veterinary medicine and critical care; so she’s saved a few hundred lives in her life and she teaches up-and-coming vets how to do the same.

cat-dog-first-aidIt’s important to have the right tools in your toolbox; or in this case first aid kit. I hope you never have to use them but in my 30 + years of sharing my life with pets and working with them, I’ve used the skills and knowledge more than I would have liked.

So for less than a night out and less than most wellness exams you can learn from an ER vet on how to help your pet. There are no animal EMT’s so your pet depends on you. Even if you just learn when to recognize when something is not right because you paid attention to when it was – you are on your way to making your pet’s life better.

A typical vet visit is 20 minutes, don’t you wish you had more time to learn from them, now you do and for a lot less than the time it would take! So set aside a little time, the course is under 2 hrs but you can take it in bite-sized chunks. It always remembers where you left off so you can take it at your own pace and place that is most convenient for you. After you complete the learning you’ll have the confidence to act in an emergency and take the best care of your pet. You have 2 years access to review the videos to keep the information fresh in your mind and have the correct information at your fingertips.

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Author Bio

cara-armour
Cara Armour

In 2003, Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., a professional pet care business based in the greater Boston, MA area that has expanded to grooming and operating a holistic pet supply store. Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year, the industry’s highest honor awarded by Pet Sitters International and collected many other accolades over the years.

Since 2003, Cara has been trained by the American Red Cross as well as several veterinarians in Pet First Aid and CPR. In 2011 she completed an instructor training course and became a certified pet 1st Aid and CPR instructor. When she found the training online by an ER veterinarian, she decided to join the ProPetHero team, the pet first aid and CPR division of ProTrainings. She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc, a health conscious breeder of Boxers, as well as an active member of several kennel clubs. She has been a mentor to many in the pet industry as well as those in the small business world.

Cara spends her free time traveling to agility, lure coursing and conformation trials. When not at a trial or finding a good home for a Boxer through the rescue, she’s training with her pups or playing in her garden.