Doggie Detox?

No, this is not about sending Patches off to rehab ­ this is about an essential body function that all creatures carry out on a continuous basis. And it’s one that is accentuated in the spring season: detoxification.

Traditional Chinese Medicine theory says that spring is the season dominated by the Liver, the organ responsible for new growth and for directing toxins out of the body. If you think about it, it does make sense that the longer, warmer days of spring trigger the body to increase its activity, as well as rid itself of unnecessary “stuff” that has accumulated over the winter ­ a “spring cleaning” of sorts.

It’s no coincidence that the edible plants available in nature during this season, for humans and animals alike, are much higher in chlorophyll and antioxidants than at other times of the year. These nutrients support the body’s need to ramp up the detoxification process, and to prepare for the increased activity of the summer months. So you and I may eat more baby greens in our salads, deer graze on new lush pastures, and bears out of hibernation nibble on new green sprigs.

Many naturopaths and herbalists believe that supporting the body’s natural emphasis on detox processes during this time of the year helps to maintain health in a multitude of ways. One theory is that an excessive buildup of waste products from normal metabolism and toxins from our environment can lead to chronic inflammation, allergies, hormonal imbalances and immune system suppression. Just about every disease condition of humans or animals ­ including arthritis and even cancer ­ would have one of these as an underlying cause. In my practice, I’ve had good success using detox protocols during springtime to prevent annual summer skin conditions, such as hot spots in dogs.

So what can we do for our animals to take advantage of this special time of year? One very simple thing to do is fasting. When a body digests food, it goes into a state of absorption and assimilation. But in a state of fasting, the process is reversed, and toxin elimination is enhanced. Don’t worry, this does not mean withholding your pet’s food for days at a time, just skipping a meal here and there. Exercise is also very important. Getting the heart rate up helps to get more blood into the tissues, which aids in flushing out toxins.

Another way is to include some fresh nutrient­dense veggies in your animal’s diet. Puree fresh greens and herbs such as parsley, cilantro and even dandelion greens in a food processor and mix them into your dog or cat’s food. Adding some ground meat improves

the palatability. Be sure to pick only tender new growth, and start with very small amounts ­ a tablespoon or less for a 20­pound dog.

And lastly, there are many herbs that can be used to support and enhance the detox process. A product made byAnimal Apawthecary called “Spring Tonic” (www.animalessentials.com/#products:620 is a glycerine (no alcohol) tincture great for dogs and cats, and contains nettles, burdock, eyebright and licorice. Dried herb powders or teas can be easily mixed into feed for your goats, horses or chickens. Dr. Ihor Basko, a holistic vet in Hawaii recommends for horses a “Spring Cleaning Tea” composed of dandelion, parsley, juniper, sassafras, bearberry and red clover. Luckily, there are numerous safe and effective options for detox herbs.

For more information, contact Animalkind Veterinary Clinic at www.animalkindvet.com541­702­2288;drj@animalkindvet.com; 310 East California St., Jacksonville