Doctor, My Dog Is Scratching Himself Raw

By: Dr. Amy Hayek & Dr. Bill Ormston,




Does this sound familiar?  Veterinarians and their staff hear this comment all too often, especially in the spring and fall of the year. Dogs that are scratching raw spots, or that have excess dander and oil during these times are actually more sensitive all year round.

During the spring and fall, a dog’s hair and skin undergo change to grow more hair (fall) or to lose the undercoat (spring).  Dogs that are “indoor dogs” will go through this cycle a bit differently from outdoor dogs because of their exposure to the elements.  But these changes in skin and hair cells are the reason that some dogs (that are more sensitive to things in the environment) show even more signs of problems during these two seasons.

What’s making my dog scratch so much?

The methods the veterinarian may use to ease this scratching will vary depending on the reason for the insatiable itch.  Itching can be caused by something as simple as a dirty or dry skin; as gross as fleas, ticks and mites; or as difficult to pinpoint as allergies.  This constant scratching makes your pet very uncomfortable as well as making it heartbreaking for you to watch.

From a chiropractic standpoint, addressing the cause of the itch means addressing changes in the nervous system that result in itching.  All changes to the skin are regulated by nerves and reflect the health of its nervous system. An animal’s coat and skin reflect its general health.  Healthy pets have fewer skin and coat problems than pets with health issues where the skin gets attacked from both the inside and the outside.  An animal’s skin is the first line of defense against attack from the outside as well as an organ of excretion, like the liver and kidney.  Through it waste products are excreted, which can be clogged and cause symptoms like cysts, pus, rashes and black heads.

Is it an allergy?

Many of the dogs in the United States suffer from some form of allergy.  This is the result of the immune system reacting normally to a common substance that it ordinarily would ignore, such as pollens, molds, house dust, insect bites, foods, and chemicals.  The offending substances are known as allergens.  Inhaling, ingesting, or physical contact with the allergen may cause an allergic reaction.  The scratching that results from an allergic reaction is more intense than normal and can result in rashes, hair loss and secondary bacterial infections.  An altered metabolism, nutritional problem, or vaccinosis may also trigger allergic reactions.

There are at least 80 different named canine diseases that cause changes in the skin.  The skin undergoes a continual growth process called cornification, in which new skin cells are produced to replace old skin.  The whole process of cornification normally takes 21 days.  The nutrients that form those cells were the ones consumed up to 30 days ago.  For this reason, it may take up to 2 months, depending on how bad conditions are, without masking symptoms to determine if the changes you are making have solved your pet’s skin problems.

Healing Doesn’t Happen Overnight

As holistic veterinarians we understand that each of these 80 different conditions can be treated differently.  However, we also know that they all have one thing in common -  your pet’s cells are not functioning properly.  Why they are not functioning properly is not so important as understanding that the mechanism of healing is similar, no matter which of the 80 conditions caused the cells to malfunction.  One thing you must understand is that while masking symptoms might appear to solve the immediate problem, healing requires time for the dog’s system to make new skin cells, make new nerve connections, and to excrete waste products produced by the allergic reaction.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  We must not confuse “relief” with healing.

Three Things Required For Healing

Cells require 3 things for healing:

  • Appropriate and adequate nutrition must be delivered to the cell
  • There must be appropriate neurological control of the cell by the central nervous system
  • Waste products must be removed from the cell.

Appropriate and adequate nutrition

This is best supplied with raw whole foods, not highly processed foods.  Switching to a balanced raw food diet will be enough to help many pets with skin problems, even though it might take up to 60 days to see complete resolution of symptoms.

Be sure to read next week’s ezine for the second part of this article and learn more cures for itching and scratching.

ggggAmy Hayek graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in 1986 and an MA in 1987. Following a career in university teaching, she returned to veterinary school at Colorado State University and graduated in 1998. In 2000, she finished her certificate in veterinary acupuncture with the Chi Institute. Currently she practices near Charleston, South Carolina where she owns a veterinary clinic and uses multiple modalities to heal large and small animals. Dr. Hayek uses applied kinesiology, herbal therapies, nutritional toxicology & restructuring, dentistry and hoof balance to treat the performance horses and dogs in her practice.



ggggBill Ormston received a BS in animal science in 1982 and a veterinary degree in 1988, both from Iowa State University. Since graduation Dr. Ormston has worked in or owned mixed animal practices. In 1998 he attended Options For Animals and became certified in animal chiropractic care by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Assoc. In 2004 he completed his degree in Veterinary Homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy. His current practice is in the area surrounding the Dallas metroplex where he uses only complementary therapies to treat both large and small animals.

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Why Home-Prepared Meals Can Be Difficult And Dangerous

By: Dr. Bill Ormston

Many people never discuss their dog or cat’s diet with their veterinarians.
Homemade, cooked diets are the diets that veterinarians worry may be
nutritionally deficient hence the ones they complain about. When dogs show up
in a veterinary clinic with a nutritional deficiency or imbalance it is generally
because of a home-cooked diet that is severely lacking in one or several
nutrients, or one that has been over-supplemented. When first starting on a
home cooked diet, dogs initially do better. Cooked homemade diets are
definitely better than kibble, but they are not as good as a balanced raw food

Cooked food is deficient in proteins, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. The very
act of cooking destroys or alters most or all of them (see potato clock pictures below) and this decreases the bioavailability
of these valuable chemicals. The structure of proteins is altered to the point
they are less digestible, more abrasive on the intestines, and may even create
allergies in the animals that eat them. Cooked fats are altered to the point
where they can become toxic. Cooking also changes the correct balance of
short and long chain fatty acids that are essential to an animal’s good health.
Actually, carcinogenic compounds are found in cooked meats and the fats that
get cooked along with it. 1

Raw potato (left) runs the clock. Cooked potato (right) lacks the energy

The carbohydrates in any cooked dog food or kibble are quickly turned into
sugars. This rapidly increases the level of blood sugar, which causes the
release of insulin. The rise in insulin forces the cells to take up as much sugar
as possible and then lay the remaining sugar down in the form of fat. 2 The fat
burning and muscle building pathways are suppressed as insulin is released, and
the immune system is also suppressed. This is what happens EVERY DAY and
EVERY TIME our pets eat their kibbled food or cooked food with its grains.

Vitamins and minerals can be added back into cooked food, but finding the
appropriate balance is incredibly difficult. Synthetic vitamins and minerals do
not always exhibit the same chirality (three dimensional structure) that the
natural forms had, which means their efficiency is substantially decreased. This
is compensated for by over supplementation, which then results in the
inhibition of other necessary vitamins and minerals. For example, excess
inorganic calcium reduces the availability of iron, copper, iodine, and zinc. 3 When the adrenal glands are
stimulated, sodium concentrations go up causing magnesium levels to go
down. This causes Calcium to go down and Potassium to go up. Copper and
Zinc go down. Manganese goes up and the body’s reserves are depleted.
The body becomes weak and further results in adrenal exhaustion.

Raw food, however, has the perfect balance of vitamins and minerals if fed
as a part of a prey-model diet (i.e. a whole rabbit). 4 A good raw food diet such as the BARF diet also
has unaltered proteins and nutrients, and the bioavailability of these nutrients
is very high.

1Journal of Nutrition, 2004 vol. 134:776-784.

2Campbell, M.K. and S.O. Farrell. 2003. Biochemistry. 4th edition. pg 489-512

3Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. pg 88

4Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. Chapter 4

ggggBill Ormston received a BS in animal science in 1982 and a veterinary degree in 1988, both from Iowa State University. Since graduation Dr. Ormston has worked in or owned mixed animal practices. In 1998 he attended Options For Animals and became certified in animal chiropractic care by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Assoc. In 2004 he completed his degree in Veterinary Homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy. His current practice is in the area surrounding the Dallas metroplex where he uses only complementary therapies to treat both large and small animals.

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By: Robert Mueller

Grains for dog food transported
and stored by the truck-load.

Unfortunately, I was not surprised last week when I heard of the numerous dog deaths and problems and potential lawsuits related to a well-known dry dog food.  It is always only a matter of time before these things occur due to the nature of the product itself. 

The dry dog food industry tries hard to convince the public that their products are safe and adequately formulated, yet as we have seen recently, there are always potential dangers with grain based, dry kibble diets.  My main concern relates to the quality of the ingredients that are used in the manufacture of most dry foods and how the kibbles are produced.

Many of the ingredients are genetically modified, and as such present an alteration of a naturally produced product. One of the ingredients most used in dry kibble products is genetically modified corn. The concerns regarding this ingredient are many, and the potential dangers resulting from the storage of corn, soy, wheat, and all the other grain based ingredients, opens the door for aflatoxins which are mold derived mycotoxins.

Sure there are different grades of retail pet food products just as there are different grades of any product we buy.  Some are grain free, or are touted as specific health generating products that will reduce obesity or arthritis.  There are also veterinary products that work to reduce symptoms of specific diseases. The problem is that they are all produced the same way. They are extruded using a high application of heat. The heat is what changes the physical structure of the proteins, reducing the nutritional value, and rendering the product to a state that cannot be utilized well by the body.  Nothing is better than when product is utilized in its original form – the way Mother Nature intended.  Once it is compromised, it is less effective as a nutritional food.

However, the application of heat is just one part of the equation. Once the product has been thoroughly “cooked” additional ingredients are needed to make the diet more palatable and tasty. Since most grain- based ingredients are bland by nature, they must be further enhanced with flavoring agents and fat sprays so that the dog will be enticed to eat the food.  It is mind boggling that they can still label these products “natural” as we often see noted on the outside of the bag!  Finally they add preservatives to the mix, which extend the shelf life of the product for months in pet stores, warehouses, and even in your homes. The chemicals they use to gain this advantage are not a healthy choice for your pet. 

A valuable lesson for any consumer of dry dog foods, is to gather a list of all the potential harmful ingredients that are commonly posted on dry dog food labels. One such ingredient that I have a potential dislike for is called bone meal. It is a good topic for another article, but suffice it to say that this item is made in rendering facilities and it contains ingredients that will sour your attitude for feeding a dry kibble to your dog. It is a great source of Calcium but when you find what they used to make it I am certain you will never want to feed it again!

Of equal concern, is the abundance of carbohydrates in most dry kibbles.  With a 40 to 50% level of carbohydrates in kibble you are feeding junk food to your pet every day. A dog has no nutritional need for this level of carbohydrates, which is one of the key reasons that 40% of our nations pets are now obese.

Another added concern with dry foods is the use of ingredients that have residues of pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals that are not destroyed by heat. This is a potential time bomb and one that dry food manufacturers are going to have to address.

For example, in the most recent lawsuits, there have been allegations that propylene glycol (one of the ingredients in most kibbles) is a known automotive antifreeze component and animal toxin.  The manufacturer countered by saying this is an FDA approved food additive for humans and dogs and is different than ethylene glycol, which is the toxic active ingredient in antifreeze. 

However, note that this ingredient is NOT ALLOWED in cat foods.

Juli Putnam, a spokeswoman for the FDA said in an interview to NBC News that FDA regulations do not allow the use of this ingredient in cat foods “because it has been shown to cause abnormalities in their red blood cells.”  But…”the FDA is not aware of any research that demonstrates the same effect on dogs”. 1

Please think about this!

Remember, when your pet eats the same food every day of the year he or she is continuously exposed to these damaging ingredients and toxins. It is little wonder that the vet clinics today are over-run with allergies, and degenerative conditions to deal with. Having been a producer and advocate of healthy, natural raw meat diets for over 40 years, I have consistently seen that it takes about 5 to 6 years of kibble feeding history to eventually present the problematic results of kibble. That is when most people come to us here at BARF World for help.  A conversion to a more sensible and appropriate, natural raw meat diet creates an amazing turn-a-round. The success happens because source of the problem, the dry kibble diet has been eliminated coupled with the magic of our raw meat formulations!

If you are currently feeding kibble or know people who are, I urge you not to be fooled by clever packaging and claims of healthy and natural diets. Read the ingredients and take responsibility for your pet’s life. They are counting on you.


ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF Diet® patties, nuggets and supplements – the first
company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF®) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,
click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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An Introduction to Animal Chiropractic Treatments

Who Says You Can’t Treat An Old Dog New Tricks!

By: Robert Mueller

Small adjustments to the vertebrae can make a huge
difference inyour pet’s mobility.

Small adjustments to the vertebrae can make a huge difference in
your pet’s mobility.

For the last hundred years, humankind has been helped by chiropractic therapy, despite discrimination by the American Medical Association. This applies to services provided for humans as well as to our beloved members of the animal kingdom. And it’s really just because many physicians and veterinarians have no direct experience with this type of treatment.

A few months ago I was invited to attend the chiropractic veterinary association conference in Phoenix, AZ by Dr. William Ormston. I have to confess that the high level of experience and education required to gain certification as a chiropractic veterinarian pleasantly surprised me. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

I was only at the conference for a short time before I witnessed several cases that were helped and cured by the gentle adjustments given to the animals. The body is a complex chemistry of nerves, muscles, and bones that have to work in harmony to provide adequate quality of life. Chiropractic treatments are another method of treating the whole being – and yes a chiropractor can work effectively to restore health function to an animal.

When an animal’s vertebrae are out of alignment, it keeps the spinal cord from sending certain nerve impulses to the rest of the body. It was interesting for me to learn about a specific vertebra, called the atlas vertebra, located in the upper part of the neck, beneath the brain stem. It is called the “giver of life”. The nerves that go through the small hole in this vertebra, can easily become restricted when an accident or impact occur. As a result the animal’s immune system is compromised leading to disease and unprotected illness.

Here’s what the atlas vertebra looks like:

Most vital signals pass through this small opening- any obstruction could have serious consequences.
Courtesy of

Most vital signals pass through this small opening- any obstruction could have serious consequences.
Courtesy of

The basic principle of chiropractic care, whether for animals or people, is to work with the peripheral nerves at the root level., which is where the nerves exit between the vertebrae. A misalignment, or subluxation between two vertebrae puts pressure on the nerve root, thus interfering with its function. This is called a “pinched nerve” and is usually associated with pain.

If you notice that your dog or cat is persistently chewing at a spot, perhaps on his chest or back, he may be trying to tell you something about his physical state. An animal has a limited means of communication and it pays to heed his message. Here is the link to Dr. Ormston’s site where you may want to look into animal chiropractic benefits and if treatment is recommended for your pet:

So the next time you observe the symptoms of pain personally or in your animal, I recommend that you investigate a holistic approach first rather than just opting immediately for conventional treatment. A certified chiropractic veterinarian is well trained with at least 100 hours of animal chiropractic training – and this certification also requires continuing education classes.

Of course feeding ourselves as well as our pets a proper and wholesome, nutritious diet is another part of the perfect health puzzle that cannot be overlooked! The BARF Diet is a biologically appropriate diet that is formulated specifically to fulfill all your pet’s health requirements.
ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s
Best Kept Pet Food Secret”
, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF Diet® patties, nuggets and
supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF®) diet
conveniently available to animals everywhere.
To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,
click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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