The Benefits of Coconut Oil

People everywhere are discovering the wonders that coconut oil can create. From hair and skincare to digestive and immune health, coconut oil’s popularity is continuing to grow. You may be wondering – if coconut oil is good for me, is it just as good for my pet? Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker explains the benefits coconut oil can have for your animal.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs

Coconut oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may have positive effects on your pet’s cognitive function. This oil is also a rich source of lauric acid, which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties as well.

Dogster provides a list of reasons why coconut oil benefits your dogs, which include:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health, whether you add it to her diet, shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor and doggy breath.
  5. It helps prevent yeast infections, particularly candida.
  6. Dogs suffering from kennel cough may recover faster with coconut oil.
  7. It improves nutrient absorption and digestion (but may case loose stools, so moderation is crucial).
  8. It can help reduce your dog’s risk of diabetes by regulating your pet’s insulin levels. It may also moderate thyroid function and keep infections and heart disease at bay.
  9. Coconut oil promotes motility in arthritic dogs and those with joint issues.
  10. It can benefit brain health and may be helpful for senior dogs whose minds are starting to become “cloudy.”

Dr. Karen Becker recommends feeding one-quarter teaspoon for of 100% organic, cold-pressed, human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for dogs (and cats). This can be added at meal time. It can also be applied topically for animals with flaky and itchy skin.

Celebrate National Holistic Pet Day

National Holistic Pet Day (August 30) comes once a year, but pet owners should take measures to prioritize the health of their pets from a holistic perspective on a year-round basis. Dr. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ shares his perspective on some holistic ways to promote your pet’s best quality of life.

Prevent Obesity by Employing Caloric Restriction and Daily Exercise

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reports that 98 million pets (54% of dogs and cats) living in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity has a variety of potentially irreversible health consequences, but the condition is preventable with a holistic wellness strategy.

When pets maintain a healthy weight on a lifelong basis, health conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders can be avoided or minimized. Dogs consuming calorie-restricted diets have been proven to live two years longer than those lacking calorie restriction, and are less prone to developing conditions related to inflammation, like arthritis.

During a pet’s annual wellness exam, owners should become aware of their pet’s Body Condition Score and have their veterinarian determine an appropriate weight-loss or maintenance plan. Exercise burns calories, provides behavioral stimulation, and satisfies a pet’s need for interaction. As a result, weight loss or maintenance benefits both pets and people.

Feed Whole Foods Over Processed Pet Diets and Treats

Nature creates food for people and animals in a format that maintains the structural integrity of the nutrients. Humans process nature’s ingredients to create diets for dogs and cats that can be conveniently dispensed from a bag or can.

Most pet foods and treats are made with feed-grade ingredients that have been unfit for human consumption and are permitted to have a higher level of toxins, such as mold-produced mycotoxins. Only small amounts of mycotoxins need to be ingested to damage the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, and immune system, and are even cancer-causing.

A variety of chronic ailments correlate with the regular consumption of grain and protein ‘meals and by-products,’ artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and other ingredients found in many commercially available pet foods and treats.

Human-grade, whole-food, commercially available or home-prepared diets having undergone minimal refinement should replace processed diets as often as possible. A quality diet is the best health insurance you can buy for your pet.

Reduce Your Pet’s Need to Consume Medications with Potentially Serious Side Effects

Many medications are prescribed to treat infection, reduce inflammation, minimize pain, and kill cancer cells. As we strive to cure, the potential exists for side effects to occur, so it’s crucial to reduce your pets’ reliance on prescription medications.

When a holistic approach to whole body health is taken, many ailments can improve or resolve. For example, pain from arthritis, trauma, surgery or cancer can be managed by taking a multimodal approach:

  • Environmental modification (making your home, yard, and car ‘pet-safe’)
  • Healthy weight management (dietary modification, exercise, calorie restriction)
  • Supplements such as omegas, joint support, antioxidants, and probiotics
  • Physical rehabilitation (massage, stretching, acupuncture, laser treatment)

When whole body health is maintained, medication requirements can be minimized regardless of a pet’s age or history of illness.

Vaccinate Judiciously and Pursue Antibody Titers

Health consequences can be associated with vaccine administration, and more so when a vaccine is administered unnecessarily. Even a single vaccination can cause a Vaccine-Associated Adverse Event (VAAE), including:

  • hypersensitivity (‘allergic’ reactions)
  • worsening of inflammatory conditions (skin, digestive tract, etc.)
  • emergence of immune system diseases (immune-mediated disease, cancer, etc.)
  • organ system failure
  • seizure activity
  • death

Dr. Mahaney recommends that owners take a judicious approach to the administration of canine and feline vaccination so our pets incur less risk for VAAEs, including:

  • Only vaccinate when an animal is healthy and exhibiting no detectable signs of illness on physical exam or diagnostic testing
  • Administer vaccines individually, in case of a VAAE
  • Perform blood tests called antibody titers to determine if a pet’s current level of immunity produced by previous vaccinations. When antibody levels are sufficient, your pet will likely be able to fend off future infections.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “revaccination of patients with sufficient immunity does not necessarily add to their disease protection and may increase the potential risk of post-vaccination adverse events.” More resources on antibody titer testing can be found at Dr. Becker’s website and Protect The Pets.

Our animal companions’ health isn’t guaranteed for life. Therefore, owners should take a holistic approach from the beginning to promote longer, healthier lives.

8 Tips to Lengthen the Life of Your Pet

You want to improve your dog or cat’s health, but it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many factors to be considered to help your companion live a longer life. Taking a holistic approach by looking at all aspects of his care and lifestyle is a good starting point. This checklist of eight tips will help enhance his health and lengthen his life (and maybe yours too)! You want your furry friend to be with you as long as possible. Incorporate these suggestions from into his care to help ensure his health and longevity.

1. NURTURE WITH NUTRITIONbarkery purrfect bistro

As conscientious consumers, we review ingredient lists on our own food.
We need to do the same for our animals. Look for labels that state whole meat ingredients like chicken, beef or lamb – not poultry by-products, etc. Choose superior brands of pet food from the Barkery, like Lotus or Purrfect Bistro, which promise healthier ingredients. You can even talk with our well-trained staff members for more information on the best kind of food for you pet.


I like to think of vitamins and minerals as a form of supplemental health insurance for animals, providing the nutrients needed to maintain health. A quality, daily supplement is the most valuable contribution you can make to your dog or cat’s longevity.

To be truly effective, vitamins and minerals need to be balanced, complete and able to be absorbed by the body. For example, powdered dry bone meal, often used in pet supplements, can’t be absorbed, so there’s no nutritional value. Read and compare labels carefully. Choose vitamins that state the milligrams or International Units on the label, and that contain high quality ingredients.


A new puppy or kitten may be stressed – particularly if he just came from a shelter or rescue. Take him for vaccinations when his systems are strong and balanced. Never vaccinate an animal compromised by an infection or illness. Previously vaccinated dogs and cats can get blood tests that register titers or immune memory in lieu of certain vaccines. Research has shown that after their one-year boosters, many dogs and cats are protected for five to seven years or longer, depending on the vaccine.


Italian researchers have found that eating as little as one cup of raw vegetables daily can add two years to your life. Today, scientific research is proving what Hippocrates said hundreds of years ago: “Let food be thy medicine.”

Phtytochemicals, contained in what are now aptly dubbed superfoods, have well-documented health benefits. The beautiful colors of many fruits and vegetables are doing a lot more than just looking pretty. Dark vibrant green kale leaves are rich in compounds with long names like glucosinolates and sulforaphanes. These help cells “clean up after the party” and clear carcinogenic substances more quickly.


Adding a bit of green to your companion’s diet can do as much good for the planet as it can for him. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer. Cats often like cooked asparagus and cantaloupe, while our easier-to-please canine friends love everything from a piece of apple to a broccoli stem.

Create a dog and cat-friendly outdoor environment by using natural fertilizers and pest control. In 2004, the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine linked bladder cancer in Scottish terriers to exposure to lawn chemicals. Rain creates a mist of these chemicals that lingers at the body height of dogs and cats – and many of these animals enjoy chewing occasional blades of grass.

6. EXTRA EXERCISEbarkery leashes

Regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for all of us – humans, dogs and cats. If it’s not safe for your cat to go outside, make sure he has a scratching post and a selection of toys. Setting aside some time to play with her every day is a great way to give her the exercise she needs, and will improve your own quality of life.

All dogs need exercise – even notorious couch-potato breeds. Taking your dog for a long brisk walk is the perfect excuse for you to get some exercise too! The Brookside Barkery has everything you’ll need for a nice walk! We have a wide selection of collars, leashes, and even coats for the colder months!


A yearly health check helps detect problems before they become serious. Older animals should get yearly blood panels to monitor their health. Those that live in tick-infested regions of the country need yearly blood tests so any tick-borne diseases can be treated promptly, avoiding long term complications.

8. QUALITY TIMEbarkery toys

Dogs and cats are social animals. Social animals don’t want to be alone – they want company and interesting interactions. Relationships are an important part of health. Strong bonds with others means protection from loneliness and depression. It works both ways. Healthier animals are happier, and happier animals are healthier. Just as important is that both humans and animals benefit from quality time spent together. Try getting a new toy for your pet to help with interaction. The Barkery carries so many great choices, you could even bring your pup in to pick one out!

Protect your Pet from Household Toxins

We talked last week about how harmful Halloween Candy can be to your pets and what to do if your pet get a hold of it. Did you know there are other household items that are toxic to your pet? This article from goes into detail about everyday items that are harmful to your four legged friend.

Although we may be extra-cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.

Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed. Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.

“Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”

While the toxicity of many food items may surprise you, the assumption that rat poison will only eliminate rats is a misconception. Rat poison can be lethal to both cats and dogs when ingested. If you have pets in your home, it is best to opt for another pest control method.

One of the most common and dangerous household items that is poisonous to pets is antifreeze. “Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to animals,” Barr said. “Toxicity can be treated, but only if treatment is instituted quickly.”

Using plants as décor can often liven up the backyard and even the inside of your home. However, there are many plants that cause health problems if eaten by your pets. Sago palms, for instance, can cause severe liver damage and even death if eaten.

“Lilies also have a strange effect when eaten in cats,” said Barr. “It causes kidney failure that is particularly difficult to treat.”

If your pet does ingests any harmful foods or household items, it is best to play it safe and contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center; they can help you determine if your pet needs to be seen by a doctor and if they consumed a toxic dose. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital ER is always available to advise on toxic ingestions.

“Always be aware of the dangers of the things your pets have access to.  If they are unsupervised, a safe assumption is that they might eat anything they are in contact with,” said Barr. “Have a discriminatory eye, and try to avoid having those items in your home.”

There is no harm in being extra cautious when dealing with possible toxicities around the house. Be sure to keep these particular items out of your pet’s reach at all times and to call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately if they do come into contact with them.

Make sure to keep your pantry stocked with pet friendly food options to keep your fur babies happy! The Barkery has a wide variety of food and treats for your furry friend!

Acupuncture for your Pet

Does your pet have joint disease? Is he not getting around as well as he used to? Not sure what to do for your little guy? According to this article from acupuncture might just be the thing to make him feel a lot better!

It can effectively reduce pain, improve mobility and better his quality of life.

If you’re interested in alternative therapies, then you probably know something about acupuncture. It uses thin metallic needles to stimulate certain anatomical points on the body. Although considered a relatively “new” modality in Western medicine, acupuncture is one of the oldest of medical treatments, originating in China over 2,000 years ago.

Acupuncture is one of the five key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with food therapy, Tui-na, herbal medicine and Qi-gong. TCM is based on the belief that an essential life force called Qi (pronounced “chee”) fl ows through the body along meridians. These meridians act as channels that irrigate and nourish the body’s organs and tissues. Any obstruction in these channels acts like a dam that blocks the vital energy flow, creating pain and disease. In TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of opposing and connected forces – yin and yang. Among the major assumptions in TCM is that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state, and that disease is due to an imbalance of yin and yang.

More than 2,000 acupuncture points connect to the body’s meridians. They occur in areas where there is a high density of nerve endings, inflammatory cells and small blood vessels. Stimulating these points with acupuncture can promote the flow of Qi, alleviate pain, and restore balance in the body. This stimulation results in several physical effects: it releases endorphins (the body’s pain relievers), reduces inflammation, and deactivates trigger points (tender, reactive areas within muscles). Acupuncture can also help balance and regulate the immune, gastrointestinal, hormone and reproductive systems.


Joint disease is common in dogs and cats. Arthritis, cruciate ligament rupture and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) are some of the joint conditions that can be treated successfully with acupuncture.

Arthritis and acupuncture
Arthritis is inflammation of one of more joints. The main symptoms are pain and stiffness. The animal may have difficulty getting up, be reluctant to play or jump in the car or on furniture, be unable to walk long distances or stand for long periods. He may also limp on the affected limb or lick excessively at the painful joint. The most common types of arthritis in dogs and cats
are osteoarthritis and immune-mediated arthritis.

1. Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common joint problem affecting older dogs and cats. It’s caused by chronic inflammation due to the deterioration of joint cartilage. OA can be a primary disease, caused by “wear and tear” on the joints with aging, or secondary to underlying disease. Secondary causes of OA include congenital abnormality of the hip or elbow (dysplasia), trauma, dislocation of the knee or shoulder, and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) in which an abnormal flap of cartilage forms within the joint. Regardless of the cause, OA results in pain, stiffness, decreased mobility and a reduced quality of life.

In humans, there is increasing evidence that acupuncture can play a role in the treatment of chronic OA. One study conducted by the National Institutes of Health concluded that combining acupuncture with conventional drug therapy can relieve pain and improve movement in people with arthritis of the knee better than drug therapy alone. A systematic review concluded that the use of acupuncture to manage OA symptoms in people is associated with significant pain reduction, improved mobility and better quality of life.

Acupuncture can also be helpful in the management of OA in dog and cats, by decreasing pain, increasing mobility, and potentially reducing the amount of conventional drug therapy that might be required for pain control.

2. Immune-mediated arthritis occurs when the body’s own immune cells invade the joint, causing inflammation. Conventional therapy requires high doses of immune-suppressive medications such as steroids, which can cause unpleasant side effects. Acupuncture can help manage pain and balance the immune system, reducing the dose of conventional medications the patient is taking, and in some cases, allowing them to be discontinued altogether. Studies in humans show that acupuncture is capable of reducing the inflammatory markers associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Several studies have demonstrated a reduction in pain as well as a decrease in morning stiffness with the use of acupuncture for RA.

Cruciate ligament rupture and acupuncture
This problem is common in dogs, and less so in cats. Conventional therapy often consists of surgical stabilization of the knee, and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Acupuncture is helpful in the treatment of cruciate ligament disease in both dogs and cats. In cats and small to medium-sized dogs, it can promote healing and return the leg to full function within three to four months – without surgery. Larger dogs may not have these results with acupuncture alone; however, acupuncture used post-surgically in these dogs can help reduce post-operative pain and facilitate a quicker return to function.

Intervertebral disc disease and acupuncture
IVDD is a degeneration of the fibrocarilagenous “cushions” that sit between the vertebral bones of the spine. These degenerated discs can bulge or even rupture into the spinal canal, causing pain or paralysis.

Multiple studies demonstrate the benefits of acupuncture in dogs with IVDD. One showed that it took dogs less time to recover their ambulation and experience relief from back pain when treated with electroacupuncture (EAP) as opposed to conventional drug therapy. The relapse rate was also significantly lower in dogs receiving EAP. Another study suggests that EAP was more effective than decompressive surgery for recovering ambulation and improving neurologic deficits in dogs suffering from long-standing thoracolumbar IVDD.


The number of acupuncture treatments your dog or cat will need depends on the nature and severity of his disease and the associated pain, as well as his response. The more long-standing and severe the problem, the longer it will take for balance to be restored and improvements in pain and movement to be noted.

For most chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, treatments are recommended once weekly for four to six weeks; after that, the intervals between treatments are gradually increased.

Animals with IVDD in which paralysis has occurred are treated two to three times weekly until ambulation returns, then at less frequent intervals until full function is noted. These animals will often benefit from regular maintenance therapy every three to four months to prevent relapse.

For osteoarthritis, particularly in the geriatric animal, chronic maintenance therapy, generally once a month, is needed to maintain comfort. For more acute joint disease, such as IVDD, trauma or cruciate rupture, treatments may be discontinued once function has been restored.

Acupuncture points are selected to treat the TCM pattern observed in the animal, but commonly involve tonifying or strengthening the kidneys (for the bones); liver (for the tendons and ligaments); and spleen systems (for the muscles). Local points at the site of injury or pain (hip, knee, elbow, neck, back, etc) will also be treated. For immune-mediated diseases, points to strengthen the immune system and relieve heat will be selected.

Most animals will receive ten to 20 needles per treatment.

In summary, acupuncture is a useful adjunct in the management of joint disease in dogs and cats. It can help with pain control, improve mobility, reduce the need for conventional pain medications and enhance overall quality of life. And most animals appear to enjoy the treatments.


Everyone needs a little TLC when you’re not feeling well and your pets are no different. Stop by the Barkery today and pick up a new toy or treat for your little guy to help him feel better.