Michael Goldberg, DVM, CHom
Dear Dr Goldberg:I am looking for an educational program on holistic pet car.
Dear Dr Goldberg:I am looking for an educational program on holistic pet care. Are there any that you can recommend?
The British Institute of Homeopathy offers correspondence courses to veterinarians as well as non-veterinarians wishing to study homeopathy for animals. However, I am a firm believer that classroom education is better than correspondence, as it allows interaction and interpersonal experience sharing. There are a number of veterinarians I know that have had a good education in homeopathy through this means though. Also, it is obviously more convenient if you do not have the time for classroom study.
Another avenue may be with Dr Christina Chambreau who has given differing courses in holistic health care for pets in the United States. She can be located through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association at (410-569-0795).
Dear Dr Goldberg:
I have two 16-week-old German shepherd dogs and my vet tells me they should be spayed before their first heat. My breeder recommends that I wait until they have had at least a single heat. What do you recommend?
B, British Columbia
The research on this topic shows that if female dogs are spayed before their first heat then the chances of mammary cancer later in life are reduced. The operation is also usually simpler and less taxing on the dog. If they are spayed between their first and second heats, the chances of having mammary cancer later in life go up slightly. If they are spayed after their second heat then the chances are the same that they will get this type of cancer as if they are never spayed. From this point of view, you may understand why your veterinarian has recommended they be spayed before the first heat.
A number of people who advocate spaying after the first heat say that the dog has had a chance to mature and grow and thus will be a more emotionally and physically well rounded dog. I have personally noticed that dogs who have been allowed to have a litter before the spay can sometimes come out of their shell and gain more confidence. There are also studies that have been done on dogs altered at seven weeks with no appreciable detriment in their later years. It is a confusing subject but should be based on your own thoughts regarding these issues.
Dear Dr Goldberg:
I am having a difficult time deciding on pet ownership due to the possibility of parasites being contagious to humans from pets. Can you comment on this?
There are a number of parasites which are zoonotic (passed from pets to humans). The instances are quite rare, although anyone with a pet should be aware of this possibility. The most common way of transmission is through contaminated soil (fecal matter in the garden or sand around the house). There are a number of good sources where information can be acquired on this subject. I usually default to common sense such as washing your hands well and monitoring the children’s habits in the garden.
As for treating your pets for parasites, there are a number of good herbal remedies that have been used for parasitic infection, from black walnut to wormwood and pennyroyal. Conventional dewormers (in my experience) have been useful and offer very little toxicity to the host.
The Web site cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/roundwrm/roundwrm.htm has more information about pet parasites.
Address letters to The Pet Vet, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5J 5B9.