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Our Newsletter


Keeping Your Best Friend Healthy  

Ariana Finkelstein, DVM  

What is all the fuss about eating a healthy diet and exercising? It is always on the news for people to get out and get fit. It is also important that our four-legged and feathered friends do it too. We need to avoid having “couch potato” and “perch potato” pets.

A natural life style with a good diet and exercise always helps. Regular visits to the veterinarian for diet consultation and routine health care are also big keys. Many diseases seen every day by the veterinarian are completely preventable, for example: parvovirus, distemper virus, heartworm disease, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and even rabies. None of these needs to be life threatening but yet they are! I see them on a regular basis -- all because people choose not to see their veterinarian for routine health care.


Dogs need to eat a high quality dog food. Puppies need a high quality puppy food. Usually, these come in the form of a kibble, but some may prefer wet foods. Dogs and puppies tend to stay healthy when fed commercial diets, which are all complete diets. The calcium/phosphorous ratio are ideal for maintaining proper bone growth and function, and the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate is appropriate for the age-based diet. When feeding large amounts of treats or table food, the appropriate nutritional ratio changes, leading to a higher risk of disease or a compromised immune function. Keep this in mind when offering your pampered pooch a few extra treats. The above information for dogs and puppies is also applicable for cats’ and kittens’ diets.  


Both dogs and cats start a series of vaccinations when they are 6 weeks old and receive specific boosters until 16 weeks of age. This schedule allows for full protection and minimal cross reactivity with the maternal antibodies.


At their first veterinary visit, a fecal test for parasites should be performed on all animals (birds, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehogs, and of course, the dog and the cat). Prophylactic deworming should be considered according to guidelines of CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council, http://www.capcvet.org/recommendations/index.html).

Other Preventive Steps

Heartworm prevention should begin at the first veterinary visit for dogs, cats and ferrets. Flea and/or tick prevention should be discussed for all furred animals and incorporated into their wellness program.

Spaying and neutering should also be discussed during the first few veterinary visits if these procedures have not already been performed. Did you know unspayed female dogs and cats have a 50% greater chance of having mammary gland tumors (breast cancer)? Of those more than half are malignant (the kind that spreads to other parts of the body). Did you know that the risk decreases to almost 0 when they are spayed prior to their first heat cycle?

The “boys” can benefit medically from being neutered as well. Neutering helps lower the testosterone production and in turn decreases their chances of getting benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), prostatic enlargement, prostatitis and prostatic abscesses. It also reduces the possibility of getting perianal adenomas, adenocarcinomas (cancer around the anus) and other problems.

Birds may also have reproductive disorders. Feeding a proper diet helps prevent nutritional emergencies in birds, ranging from metabolic bone disease including weakness and folding fractures,* egg binding, seizures, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), gout, renal compromise and many others. Birds should be fed a good quality formulated diet (preferably organic) with very small amounts of supplemental organic vegetables, fruit, nuts, egg, wheat and minimal (if any) seeds. Several formulated diets are available commercially.

The main diet recommendation for many parrots.

Several organic supplements are also available to help keep your pet’s skin and coat shiny and its immune system healthy. Fatty acids (Omegas 3 and 6, red palm fruit oil), aloe and other natural ingredients are keys to effective supplements. Talk to your veterinarian today and ask if nutritional supplementation is appropriate to help make sure your pet family member stays happy and healthy. 

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Flame, my sun conure, taking Sunshine Factor from a small syringe.
Sargent, my Rottweiler, taking Sunshine Factor from a spoon. 

I am a big advocate of preventive medicine and healthy pets. Unfortunately, as an emergency clinician, I see a lot of problems that ultimately could have been prevented with pet wellness care 

Until next time…please spay and neuter your pet and keep them healthy and indoors!

Ariana Finkelstein, DVM
Healthy Choice Pet Products

P.S. Feel free to contact me personally if you have any general questions.

* A discussion of metabolic bone disease may be found at http://voices.mysanantonio.com/emergencyvets. *