Blind Mole Rats and a Key to Fighting Cancer


Could This Tiny Blind Mole Rat Hold the Key to Fighting Cancer?.

blind mole rat and fighting cancerBy Dr. Becker

What small mammal lives underground, excavates with his teeth, has eyes completely covered with skin, and lives for over 20 years? The answer? Why, the blind mole rat of course.

And now scientists have sequenced the genome of this unassuming little fellow because, like his slightly less adorable distant relative the naked mole rat, the blind mole rat is also resistant to cancer. The genome study appears in the June 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications.1

According to the researchers, the results of genome sequencing have revealed information about the mole rat’s lack of eyesight, as well as its high tolerance for low oxygen (hypoxia). They also believe they’ve discovered important secrets about the little creature’s special cancer-fighting powers.

How Blind Mole Rats Defeat Cancer

Lead study author Eviatar Nevo of the University of Haifa in Israel has been studying blind mole rats for a half-century, and has never encountered any evidence of spontaneous tumor development in the little mammals. Even when directly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, the mole rats remain remarkably resistant.

In most animals, cells that detect the presence of cancer shut themselves down in a phenomenon known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death. But when a blind mole rat’s cells identify a problem, the immune system mounts an attack on the tumor instead and causes necrosis (death). According to the results of genome sequencing, the genes involved in the moles’ impressive immune system response have been selected through evolution to be expanded or replicated.

The researchers speculate that the mole rat’s unusual immune response is because one of the key facilitators of apoptosis, a protein called p53, is altered in the rodents as part of their adaptation to a low oxygen environment.

In the underground world that blind mole rats inhabit, oxygen is scarce — a situation that would send the p53 protein of other animals into overdrive. That’s because low oxygen environments cause programmed cell death in other species. Obviously, if this were also the case with blind mole rats, there would be no more blind mole rats. So they have evolved with a relatively weak p53 response, but a turbocharged immune system necrotic defense that “cancer doesn’t know how to deal with,” according to study co-author Dr. Denis Larkin of the Royal Veterinary College in London, in an interview with BBC News.

The blind mole rat genome study was conducted by a large team of scientists from all over the world. According to Dr. Larkin, their research puts the rodent in a whole new category for future research. “When you have the whole genome… you can more efficiently use the species as a model – for cancer resistance, or adaptation to hypoxia, or other medical challenges,” he told the BBC.

Facts About the Blind Mole Rat

Blind mole rats are furry, with cylindrical bodies, short limbs, and surprisingly small feet and claws, given that they are burrowers. Their eyes are tiny and hidden beneath skin, their ears appear as slight folds, and their minute tails are not externally visible. Sensory whiskers sprout from a flat nose and extend backward.

The mole rats weigh from 3.5 ounces to a little over a pound and range in length from 5 to 14 inches. Their fur is soft and thick, and may be pale to reddish brown or gray. The front of the head is usually lighter in color than the back, and there may be white or yellow stripes that run along the sides of the head or down the middle from nose to forehead.

These little creatures are territorial and solitary. They dig burrows with their incisors, push the loose dirt under their tummies with their front feet, and kick it behind them with their hind feet. When a nice sized pile of soil has collected behind him, the mole rat turns around and uses his nose to pack some of the dirt against the burrow wall. Then he finishes by using his head to push any leftover debris back through the tunnel and up onto the surface.

Blind mole rat burrows can be anywhere from 4 to 10 inches below ground, and they use them to search for food. Their diet consists primarily of roots, tubers, and bulbs, to which they add seeds and green plant parts from occasional nighttime trips to the surface to forage.

The tunnels contain vertical passageways that lead to deeper “hallways” off which the mole rats build separate rooms for food storage, nesting, and elimination. During wet seasons, females construct large mounds that contain chambers for mating and child-rearing. Gestation takes about a month, and there can be from one to five babies in a litter.

Despite their somewhat similar appearance, interestingly, the blind mole rat (Spalax galili) is not closely related to the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber). According to the results of the genome sequencing study, the two mole rats set off on different evolutionary paths some 70 million years ago, and have adapted completely separately to life underground.

Believe it or not, the blind mole rat is actually more closely related to the common house mouse than the naked mole rat!

(click the link at the top to read more from Dr. Becker)


Massage Therapy Helps Remove Disease from Your Pet’s Body


Massage Therapy Helps Remove Disease from Your Pet’s Body.

pet massageBy Dr. Becker

Today, I’m delighted to be interviewing Jonathan Rudinger as a part of my ongoing Highlighting the Healer series. Jonathan is a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist. He has been instrumental in the development of the field of canine massage, and is recognized as an authority on the subject. Jonathan has appeared on several major radio, television and cable networks, and is the founder and president of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork/Association of Canine Water Therapy.

Like Many Healers, Jonathan’s Love of Animals Began in Childhood

I asked Jonathan, who has a very diversified and interesting background, how he branched out from his work as an RN into the field of massage therapy. He explained that his desire to take care of animals dates back to his childhood, but in college his interests were more directed toward the arts. His first degree was in fine arts from Ohio State University, and after graduation he went on to own art galleries in Chicago for about 15 years.

During that time, he started riding horses, and one day, one of his horses was injured. In dealing with the injury, Jonathan began working with a veterinarian at the stable where he kept his horse, and it dawned on him that he could use his hands to help animals heal. That was back in 1982, and he has pursued his passion for helping animals heal ever since.

When he worked with his horse, he saw tremendous improvement in the way the animal behaved, moved, and healed. Eventually, other horse owners at the same stable began asking him to work with their animals. His reputation continued to spread, and ultimately he was traveling to 10 different stables in the Chicagoland area to work with people’s horses.

Eventually, Jonathan’s brother married a woman who happened to be a massage therapist. She gave Jonathan a massage, and he was amazed at what she was able to accomplish just using her hands. Even though he had been working with horses, he hadn’t yet realized just how powerfully healing massage could be. That revelation led him back to school for massage, and also for nursing. He combined the techniques and principles of massage with those of nursing and Western medicine.

While in nursing school, Jonathan learned about healing touch, which is kind of a type of reiki, and incorporated that as well. So he was working with energy, Western medicine concepts, and also massage therapy, and he began combining treatment modalities in his work with horses. Then on July 11, 1997 (he remembers the exact day), Jonathan was doing an equine massage demonstration for NBC-TV. Within a couple of minutes of being massaged, the horse fell asleep.

The NBC interviewer then looked around and said, “There’s a dog. Jonathan works on dogs, too. They get stiff backs. “Let’s see what he can do.” Jonathan figured, “Okay, I can do this,” so he reached over and pulled the big Golden Retriever’s head into his hands. The dog’s eyes rolled back and suddenly, Jonathan felt the fascia (connective tissue) and energy flowing within the dog’s body.

At that moment, Jonathan received an epiphany. He suddenly realized he could take all that he had learned – healing touch, reiki, Western medicine, massage therapy, his background with horses – and apply it to dogs. On that day, his life changed, and since then, Jonathan has written several books, produced DVDs, and become the spokesman for the animal massage profession.

How Jonathan’s School, the PetMassage™ Training and Research Institute Came to Be

I asked Jonathan to tell us about his school, the PetMassage™ Training and Research Institute and how it evolved. He answered that after the NBC interview, he asked the people involved if they could meet with him the following week to shoot a short video. He told them there were some things he needed to teach people. They agreed, and helped Jonathan create a video that was similar to a half-hour TV show. He took the VHS tape (a predecessor of today’s DVD), had copies made, bought cases and inserts for the tapes, and put them all together. He started going to dog shows with his tapes, and within six months he was invited to the Westminster Dog Show for the first time. So he began working with the dogs at Westminster, and he continued to attend other shows and promote his services and video.

Eventually, Jonathan realized he needed to do a second video for older dogs. After that video was completed, someone suggested that he write a book to go with it. Jonathan had never written a book before, and in fact, he says he didn’t even like to read! So he found a mentor who sat down with him and instructed him to “just make an outline and fill in the spaces.” From that sprung his first book, which he said was quite short and in huge font type, with lots of pictures!

That book is out of print now, but since then Jonathan has written eight more, and he’s currently working on a book for dog guardians who want to work with their pets at home. Another book, the Art and Essence of Canine Massage, gives a general overview of the subject and Jonathan uses it as a textbook in his workshops, which are attended by people from all over the world – from 10 different countries and every state in the U.S.

Jonathan has also written a children’s book called Dogs Kids PetMassage that has just been endorsed by the Girl Scouts of America as a way for girls to earn a skills merit patch. He wrote a book titled Transitions, which is about delivering end-of-life care to pets using massage techniques and mudra, or hand positions, to enhance the flow of energy. Jonathan says he and his team have found it to be very helpful for owners of dying pets. It helps them begin the grieving process and reach a level of peace with what is happening to their beloved companion.

Jonathan also authored a marketing book to help people create an animal massage business of their own, as well as a book titled Energy Work with Dogs, which is more advanced and addresses the use of chakras, pendulums, energy and the meridians. As Jonathan points out, since all dogs are made up of energy, if we can get the energy flowing and bring a state of balance to the body, health is optimized. He and his team work with many holistic and conventional veterinarians, because his healing techniques integrate well with both approaches.

Jonathan’s Massage Students Are About 95 Percent Female, and Many Are in Search of Meaningful Second Careers

I asked Jonathan about the types of people who attend his workshops. Are they pet owners looking to help their own dogs, people interested in a second career in animal massage, or is it a blend? He responded that it’s a blend. Most of his students are female and many are looking for second careers. They look back over their work lives so far and realize they’ve spent 20 or 30 years doing something they don’t really love, or in some cases, they’ve been downsized. Now they’re looking to do something in a second career that perhaps made them happy as children, which is often spending time with and taking care of dogs, cats, birds, rats, guinea pigs, or some other pet or animal.

Jonathan and his team offer a workshop – a type of vocational training that can fast-track those students into their new chosen career. They immerse themselves in an entire week of hands-on training with Jonathan, and then follow up with several distance-learning courses to round out their education. After they complete their foundational training, they can get started developing their new career.

Only about five percent of Jonathan’s students are male. He teaches kids right out of high school, recent college graduates, people in their 30s, lots of folks in their 50s and 60s, and even a delightful lady from Las Vegas in her 80s who took a WaterWork class on how to do massage therapy in warm water. She has a small heated pool in a solarium in her home and she works with small dogs for extra income. It keeps her active and she just loves it!

Many People Don’t Realize the Tremendous Potential of Massage to Enhance Health. It’s So Much More Than a Way to Reduce Stress and Muscle Tension

I personally know the benefits of massage, and I not only offer it to my patients, I also get massages regularly myself because of the tremendous health benefits they provide. Those benefits are far-reaching, which is something many people don’t realize. Everyone knows massage is relaxing and helps reduce stress, tension, and tight muscles. But there are other huge health implications, including lymphatic drainage, improvements in range of motion – all kinds of things. I asked Jonathan to give a brief overview of some of the benefits he has seen in his years as a massage therapist.

He answered that when he is asked about the benefits of massage for dogs, he talks about increasing circulation – blood circulation and lymphatic circulation – which provides tremendous support to the immune system. It’s also useful for weight loss because it can help energize dogs and get them moving.

Massage is also wonderful for oxygen exchange. Lots of the animals Jonathan works with are indoor pets. And of course all dogs live close to the ground. So these pets are breathing all the toxins in the environment that filter down to the ground level, including house dust, pesticides – all kinds of debris. Massage can encourage these animals to breathe more deeply. And a massage therapist can also encourage coughing with percussive moves that loosen phlegm and debris in the lungs, which makes room for more fresh air.

Jonathan says massage also helps dogs feel more confident. For example, with sporting dogs, massage is great for conditioning. It helps prepare them mentally, physically, and energetically for competition. Some of these dogs get massages all winter, then when they start competing in the spring – for example, in luring or flyball — they’re able to run circles around the competition because they’re already in shape. Jonathan adds that swimming is also a wonderful addition to a massage routine.

I asked Jonathan about the benefits of massage for pain management in dogs. He replied that if, for example, he has a dog that comes in with arthritis, he works to increase the natural fluids within the dog’s body. He works to improve lymph and blood circulation, and hormone and energy flow through all the meridians in the body. This can have huge benefits for an animal’s overall well-being.

Jonathan says that when he’s working with one of his patients, he puts his hands over the dog’s body looking for areas of stagnation, and works to get energy flowing again. He uses his knowledge of chakras and their relationship to the limbic and neurologic systems. It’s all about working with energy flow, and that’s also what he teaches his students through his workshops, books and videos. He says, “Every aspect of my life is all about increasing energy flow.”

Energy is also why he became an artist and owned art galleries – he wanted to enhance people’s lives through the use of color energy. These days, he’s enhancing the lives of dogs and their humans by improving the flow of energy in dogs’ bodies.

Massage Can Also Address Canine Behavior Issues

Another benefit of massage that many people don’t realize is that it can calm nervous energy. There are physiologic energy blocks, for example, masses, tumors, reduced range of motion, or muscle tension. And there are also emotional energy blocks in the form of tension or stress. I think that especially in the case of cats, they often suffer from emotional tension, frustration, anxiety, fear or anger rather than, for example, a raging case of arthritis. I asked Jonathan to talk about some of the emotional benefits of animal massage.

He first explained that he hasn’t worked with a lot of cats, because only cats are experts on cats, and they haven’t shared their power with him… yet! He went on to explain that his approach with dogs is to look at the stomach meridian, which flows down around the mouth, and down both sides of the midline of the body, and underneath on the ventral side of the body. It ends up around the anus, beneath the animal’s tail. The stomach meridian is associated with the emotional brain or the limbic system. If Jonathan is treating an animal that is very fearful or raging, has diarrhea, cramping, constipation or some other disturbance of the GI tract, he’ll work along the stomach meridian.

In his experience treating dogs who are fear-biters, food- or dog-aggressive, or who have separation anxiety, he first works with the stomach meridian around the mouth, the belly and the tail, and then takes the dog for a walk. He wants the dog to get a sense of his leadership style and he also invites the dog into a space of safety. As the dog walks with him in safety, he can walk near other dogs or bowls of food, and the dog will cower less and hide less. With time, these dogs pick up on Jonathan’s energy as a healer, and they become more confident in themselves, which in turn can correct a number of undesirable behaviors.

Jonathan’s Advice for People Who Are Interested in Learning Animal Massage

I asked Jonathan how people can learn more about the techniques he uses and teaches in his workshops, books and videos. He replied that he and his instructors start every workshop with a four-hour dog handling session, and there’s a DVD that goes with the training. If someone wants to purchase the DVD and self-study at home, that’s fine. He also has a home-study test that follows up the DVD. If someone feels they would benefit from testing, they can use that test. And of course they can also attend a hands-on workshop.

Jonathan and his team teach animal handling skills, because they realized that some people attending their workshops were learning massage techniques, but the dogs were still leading them around by the nose. They needed to learn leadership skills – the concept of being in charge, but gently, without force. It’s really a whole other skill set, different from learning massage techniques.

Jonathan has programs available for pet parents interested in gaining some basic hands-on massage skills, and programs for people who want to become licensed animal massage practitioners. I asked him if people need to travel to Ohio to take his workshops, or if they can do it all remotely – or is it a combination? He replied that it’s a combination. He doesn’t think a person can learn massage entirely from a book or DVD. It’s a hands-on skill that requires immediate feedback to master. There are a number of things that a canine massage therapist needs to do in the area of body mechanics in order to become successful at energy work and massage. He says his basic textbook and the DVD are a good place to start, but when people follow those up by attending a workshop, the hands-on experience helps them better understand all the concepts in the book and video.

In the workshops, people learn through practice sessions. As Jonathan says, “Whatever they do to their dogs, they do to me first.” He gives them a lot of feedback in the form of gentle guidance. He knows that when they leave to become professional massage practitioners themselves, they will be representing his techniques, so he really wants them to learn correctly. And his training also involves safe dog handling skills to mitigate dog aggression. Students are taught to pay attention to their physical responses and to become self-aware. Animals depend on us to be comfortable in our own skin.

Jonathan Discusses Two of His Most Memorable Cases

I wanted to know from Jonathan about one or two special cases he has treated that were life-changing for the animal, because I know in my own practice, I’ve seen many. Jonathan replied that as recently as last week one of his patients, an old Golden Retriever, limped into his office. The dog’s coat was shaggy and rough looking. His tail was down. He was dragging his paws.

The dog’s owner told Jonathan he needed some advice. He was trying to decide if it was time to make “that” decision. The old dog had been in for several sessions, and he still seemed listless. Jonathan told the owner that he wanted to work with the dog for a bit before offering any advice. So he went to work, and within about 10 minutes, the Golden’s eyes had brightened, her tail was up, and she seemed to experience a sudden jolt of vitality. They lowered the dog from the table to the floor, and she started almost prancing around the room, exploring, sniffing, and just generally showing interest in her surroundings. It was a 180-degree dynamic shift from the dog who had limped in not a half-hour earlier. That dog looked like she was at death’s door. But this dog suddenly had a renewed life force about her. The Golden passed about a week after that final session with Jonathan, but those few extra days gave her family a chance to spend quality time with her, and she was able to participate.

Jonathan explains that what he did with the Golden didn’t involve poking, prodding, twisting, or skin rolling. Instead, he held the dog and allowed her to just become conscious of her body and her potential. He breathed with the dog and held her at various acupressure points and meridians. It was a very gentle, quiet, and slow approach. In about 20-minutes total, the dog told Jonathan she was done. Both he and the dog’s owner were in tears – it was just a beautiful experience. Often, the benefits of massage and energy work with dogs extend to other family members, as in this case. If the dog experiences a shift in health, it can be a teaching opportunity for the family because they can shift as well. They can learn to become more self-aware.

Another client Jonathan remembers was a young man who was a freshman in high school. He was very concerned about his dog, who was older than he was. Jonathan could tell that when it was the dog’s time to go, the young man was going to be devastated. So he committed that he would bring the boy and his dog in regularly, and he would show the boy what he was doing. He said to him, “I want you to feel this. I want you to come and take some of the responsibility for the well-being of your dog.”

During one treatment, Jonathan felt a great deal of heat generating from one of the dog’s hips. He put his hand on the hip, but he didn’t apply pressure, because as he explained, sometimes massage is about receiving rather than giving. So he placed his hand on the spot where the heat was being generated, and he visualized that he was absorbing the heat and channeling it down to his feet, grounding it. Then he brought the young man over and had him put his hand on his dog’s hip, but he told him that instead of pushing, he wanted him to pull. The boy didn’t understand, but Jonathan was able to teach him how to pull and channel energy. And the kid ended up with a big, goofy grin on his face. That was definitely a life-changing experience for him.

The young man’s mother, a physician, was also thrilled because her son was learning that there are things you can do with energy besides pushing. You can “push” and make things happen, and you can also “pull” and allow things to happen.

Jonathan Pursues His Passion for Helping Animals in a Variety of Creative Ways

I think Jonathan’s work is so emotionally enriching and rewarding. It’s almost wrong to call it his career – it’s more like his life’s passion. As he puts it, he and his team are developing “novel ways to become vectors of healthfulness and happiness.” They are working with the veterinary community and recently had a conversation with Dr. Marty Becker about ways to make veterinary practices what he calls “anxiety-free or fear-free destinations.” Imagine veterinary clinics becoming places animals actually want to visit! That would be pretty amazing. Many of Jonathan’s patients are so excited to arrive at his clinic that they try to jump out of the car window in the parking lot! That’s what he would like to see at veterinary practices as well.

I totally agree, and it would be great to help especially traditional veterinarians begin to grasp some of the things they can accomplish with just their body energy and their hands that can make pets feel substantially more relaxed in stressful situations like vet visits. These are simple, small changes that can, over time, create and enhance the bond between DVMs and their patients. Jonathan is helping to facilitate some of these changes with pet parents and in both the veterinary and human massage professions.

As Jonathan went on to explain, he has actually gone beyond that with the Girl Scout program, an after-school program, and a camp program. He and his team want to teach children, as he did with the young man discussed earlier, to work energetically with animals, while at the same time teaching them basic safe handling skills. These are things they don’t learn in school or even at home in many cases.

For example, most dog-bite prevention programs teach kids to stay away from strange dogs, or “stand like a tree” if a dog approaches. Jonathan would like to add to that knowledge base by also helping children relate to both animals and people in positive ways. As he puts it, “Let’s teach them some other skills about embracing another entity.” Help them learn to enjoy that presence and work to enhance connectedness.

Jonathan says that he knows of parents who have sat down with their kids to watch his DVDs or read his books, and some of these parents had a bad experience with dogs when they were young. They realize after watching the videos or reading that the dog who bit them in the face years ago was probably just playing as dogs do, and their face looked a lot like a dog’s face. So some of the parents reach a good resolution to a childhood trauma. They learn to forgive dogs and also themselves for holding a grudge against all dogs. Some of these folks go on to adopt shelter dogs. So there are just a lot of ways that massage can help – ways that would never occur to most people.

Last year, Jonathan’s program was picked up by RAIVE, Registry for Alternative and Integrative Veterinary Education, as a continuing education course for registered veterinary technicians. He and his team are very excited to be able to offer their training to vet techs and vet assistants, and he would like to see it integrated into every vet clinic in the country.

Bottom line – there’s tremendous potential for animal massage for anyone who wants to learn how to do it.

Thank you, Jonathan Rudinger!

I want to offer my sincere thanks to Jonathan for joining me today. This has been such an enlightening and inspiring conversation! I so appreciate his sharing so much valuable information and personal stories with us, and I look forward to checking in with him in the future to see what new things he’s working on.

If you’d like to learn more about Jonathan and all the wonderful things he has to offer, you can visit his website at He’s also on Facebook and Twitter. You can send an email to, and you can also call him at 1-800-779-1001. So there are lots of ways to learn about massage, and to contact him for more information. He has created an open environment that he hopes will be helpful to everyone. As he puts it, “We want you to learn how to get massage, help your dogs, help other people’s dogs, and help yourself!”

(click on the link at the top to read more from Dr. Becker)

Natural, Human Grade, Organic Dog Food


Natural, Human Grade, Organic Dog Food: Really? | The Bark.

Natural, Human Grade, Organic Dog Food: Really?
An Organic Primer

Stores are selling more and more dog foods labeled “natural,” “human grade” and “organic,” and the industry considers them to be the hot new trend. But what can these words mean?

Because the government has never bothered to define “natural” for human foods, this word essentially means anything the manufacturer says it does. For pet foods, however, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has an official definition:

Natural: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing processes.

Got that? You can render or extrude a pet food to mush, but it’s “natural” if you haven’t added anything synthetic—unless you had to. AAFCO also says that “natural” must not mislead; if it appears on the label, every ingredient in the product must meet the definition. But even AAFCO knows this is impossible. Pet food companies typically buy vitamins, minerals and other additives from factories overseas, where, as we learned in last year’s pet food recalls, quality controls are sometimes nonexistent.

We do not see too many claims about human-grade ingredients on package labels, mainly because AAFCO does not have an official definition of the term. Without an approved AAFCO definition, an ingredient or term is not supposed to be used on pet food labels. AAFCO says “human-grade” is false and misleading, and constitutes misbranding, unless every ingredient in the product—and every processing method—meets FDA and USDA requirements for producing, processing and transporting foods suitable for consumption by humans, and every producer of the ingredients is licensed to perform those tasks. Few pet food companies can meet these criteria.

But AAFCO’s unease does not stop pet food makers from using the term, particularly because larger legal concepts appear to be on their side. In 2007, a case against The Honest Kitchen led the Ohio courts to rule that the company had a constitutional right to truthful commercial free speech, and could use “human-grade” on its labels. The Honest Kitchen advertises on its website that it is “the only pet food manufacturer in the United States to have proven to the Federal FDA that every ingredient it uses in its products are suitable for human consumption.”

Only a few other companies make human-grade claims on their food labels, but many use the term freely in their in-store materials and website advertising. For example, Newman’s Own Organics presents this information in a question-and-answer format: “Q: Does Newman’s Own Organics use human grade materials? Why isn’t that written on the bag? A: Newman’s Own Organics organic pet food uses human grade and fit for human consumption ingredients such as natural chicken and organic grains. The AAFCO Board … actually prohibits the printing of ‘Human Grade’ on pet food packaging.”

That brings us to organics. For human foods, “organic” has a precise meaning defined by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). To be certified as organic, plant ingredients in pet foods must be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. Animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors, and not treated with antibiotics or hormones. Producers must be inspected to make sure they adhere to these standards. (Note: They do, but whether the standards are good enough is a separate question.)

In 2002, the NOP did not include pet foods in the organic rules because it could not figure out how to do so. In 2005, it appointed a pet food task force to handle the figuring. A year later, this group quite sensibly recommended that organic standards for humans be applied to pet foods. But, the NOP cautioned, “these requirements will present challenges for pet food manufacturers, especially sourcing non-genetically engineered ingredients.” No kidding. More than 90 percent of soybeans and half the corn grown in United States now come from genetically modified varieties.

(click the link at the top to read the full article)


What is Holistic / Integrative Medicine for Pets?


What is Holistic / Integrative Medicine?.

What is Holistic / Integrative Medicine?

Junia and Zeus

Simply stated, Holistic Medicine focuses on the whole patient–mind, body, spirit, and environment–to diagnose and treat medical imbalances. Because the body’s endocrine (glandular) system is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, emotional and environmental factors can be crucial in the successful healing outcome.

Diagnosis is based on actual physical parameters (Tongue, pulse, and acupoint analysis) which gives an accurate assessment of that individual patient’s body’s functioning at that very moment, and can be easily reassessed at each subsequent acupuncture session. We will know immediately if the patient is responding well to treatment and protocol can be adjusted as needed.

Conventional Medicine is based on a different paradigm which involves diagnosis and treatment based on a set standards for the disease or syndrome, not the individual patient. The treatment is the same for all patients no matter what their physical and emotional circumstances may be. The diagnosis is usually based on the results of diagnostic tests ( blood chemistry, x-ray, MRI, etc.) with relatively little interaction between doctor and patient.

Integrative Medicine combines the best of both natural (holistic) healing (my specialty) and the advanced conventional medical technology available via conventional medicine to diagnose and treat the patient’s condition. While I prefer natural treatments because of the specificity of diagnosis and treatment, we will avail ourselves of conventional medicine when appropriate. I will work in tandem with your regular veterinarian or can recommend a conventional vet in your area.

“No More Woof” Can Translate Your Dog’s Brain Signals Into Words


“No More Woof” Can Translate Your Dog’s Brain Signals Into Words.

By Dr. Becker

Most of us who share our lives with dogs have on occasion yearned to know what our canine companions are thinking. This is especially true when we know something’s wrong and are helpless to figure out what it is. If your dog has ever suddenly cried out in pain, you know what I’m talking about.

And there are probably other less stressful situations in which you would love to know what your pet is thinking. For example, when he parks himself next to you for no obvious reason, pleading with his eyes for who-knows-what. Or when he stands still like a statue, head down, staring intently at a bit of fluff on the floor. Or when she starts barking maniacally at a rock in the backyard. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s behind those amusing but decidedly weird canine behaviors?

Well, we could be in luck. It seems a group of Scandinavian scientists are working on a headset for dogs that could enable our canine friends to converse with us… sort of.

The ‘No More Woof’ Claims to Translate EEG Signals from a Dog’s Brain Into Human Language

The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (NSID) is developing a device called “No More Woof” that will hopefully allow dogs to tell their humans when they’re hungry or need to go out. According to the website:

“No More Woof is a small gadget that uses the latest technology in micro computing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spell them out in human language using a loudspeaker.”

Simply put, No More Woof translates EEG signals from a dog’s brain into human language through a speaker.

This is possible, according to the designers, because the brain of every mammal emits specific electrical signals, or neural patterns, that define certain mental states, including the state of being tired, hungry, needing to urinate, and curiosity about an unfamiliar being or object in the immediate environment. Dogs don’t actually form the thought “I’m tired” as humans do, but because their brains are less complex than ours, their neural patterns are more distinct for certain types of feelings like anger, curiosity, or tiredness.