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Ask the Veterinarian/CRF in 8 year old lab


Dr. Chambreau,
My 8-year-old lab Laney went in for routine blood work the other day and we discovered she is having some kidney problems.  She is also epileptic and when homeopathic measures were unsuccessful I reluctantly resorted to Phenobarbital to control the seizures - her liver values and Phenobarb levels came back perfectly normal.  The doctor said that some other things on the chemistry indicated at least a 25% loss of kidney function, however. When her doctor performed a UA to get a better idea of what was going on with her kidneys, she discovered a severe bladder infection that we're now treating - I am HOPING against hope that when the infection is gone, her kidney numbers will be better. However, I have started trying to do some research in preparation for a kidney disease/CRF diagnosis. She is currently eating Acana Pacifica, takes Phenobarbital (97 mg/day) and Cosequin (every other day for hip dysplasia/arthritis).  I don't have a holistic veterinarian locally anymore, so I would love your input on how I could best prolong her health if in fact her kidneys are in trouble. I'm assuming a switch to a "real food" diet would be best but am not sure where to find practical, nutritionally complete recipes that are tailored to a CRF dog? I was also hoping you had suggestions on some supplements - the main ones I've read about so far are Epakitin, Azodyl, and Renal Essentials. I've also started pouring her water from my PUR filtered pitcher in hopes that will help a little.
Thanks for any help!
Ashley & Laney

Good for you for using holistic approaches. there is never one best approach for any animal or person. There are specific ways, each step of the way, to know if you are curing, palliating or suppressing. My book, the Healthy Animal's Journal, and Don Hamilton's book, Homeopathic Care of cats and dogs, discuss how to track symptoms to see what is happening. Paying attention to the early warning signs also helps. (see below)

since there are always more modalities to try (and homeopathic vets can work by phone), you have done great to keep trying, but just because your local holistic vet moved does not mean you cannot consult with ones by phone. As with conventional, there are one who mesh well with you and ones who do not, so keep looking. (See working with holistic vet below)

I would also suggest learning how to ask yes/no questions with a pendulum, dowsing, applied kinesiology, etc. then you can test each supplement daily. There are many great supplement companies (Standard Process uses whole foods, Vetriscience is very reliable, Genesis and RX vits are formulated by vets, animal essentials owner is amazing, just to name a few). the way to choose is 1. Find a phone consulting vet you trust; 2. use muscle testing; 3. Start with one or two for a month and record any subtle changes, then try another, etc.  To know what is helping the most, pay attention to her attitude, energy level and joy of life.  If those are good you are moving in the right direction.

I would try homeopathy again because that can help the nervous system, the kidneys and the joint issue.

It is easy to feed fresh food and I strongly recommend it from day 1 of having a dog or cat. My web site under favorite books tab has a number of good books - look for Becker, Taylor, Brown among others for easy fresh feeding. Pitcairn, Rasmussen, have diets in their books. Read that section of my web site. Consult with me or other holistic vets (you did not say what state you live in) if you are not sure how to do it. I have also heard a lot of benefit from feeding Answers Goat Milk. do not worry about tailoring to CRF. Protein restriction is only necessary if the BUN is over 300 and the creatinine is over 8 if you are feeding fresh diet.

From the folks that brought us Jstsayno2vaccs is a new site for raw feeding - excellent -  Here is what they say, “Lastly, we saw a need for a beginner's raw feeding group. Many of the raw feeding groups have grown very large and often new people are lost in the shuffle. In addition, some raw feeding groups are specialized to one type of feeding only. We believe that feeding raw is the first step in whole health and have tried to create an environment of learning and support where there are no dumb questions and everyone gets individual attention. With that in mind Kathleen recently instituted a mentoring program where mentor's sign up to help individuals, and new folks can opt into the program and receive private help in their journey. It has been a huge success. We encourage anyone interested in learning about raw feeding to take a look:

I do not personally know all the rest, so use your common sense as you read.
And if you are really stuck on a specific issue l

There is also a list of lists where other raw feeding lists can be found.  Many are breed specific, location specific or subject specific.


Holistic medicine takes the perspective of treating the whole animal. Even if there is a current problem, for example diarrhea or itching, a good holistic veterinarian will ask questions about what problems there have been in the past, what changes in the household or the environment may have triggered the current complaint and if there is anything that makes the current complaints better or worse. They will also evaluate the overall energy level of the animal. Their goal is to make the animal healthier for life, not just to get rid of the current symptom. They will educate you and explain what they see when physically examining your animal.

Some of the modalities that integrative veterinarians may use in addition to conventional include acupuncture, herbs, flower essences, homeopathy, chiropractic, network chiropractic, nutrition, glandulars, Reiki, Tellington touch, healing touch, long distance healing modalities. Some of these have certification programs with a year or more of courses, exams and evaluation of clinical ability. Others are either self-taught or not regulated. Some individuals are wonderful with your animal -- others great at explaining to you what is happening with your animals. A few are good in both areas. Few veterinarians are perfect, and we all have bad days. Your animal should at least be comfortable with your choice and you should be able to get your questions and concerns addressed.

Once you have done the internet work suggested above, how do you select one to start with and then how do you know if you are getting good service and what can you do to help them help your animals?

Ask the veterinarian you are interested in:
1. Ask what modalities are used?
2. What is their training?
3. Is their goal overall health or to merely treat the current complaint? This may be the most important question.
4. What organizations they belong to & how recently have they gone to conferences or taught?  (Just because they belong to AHVMA, or AVH, does not mean they are trained or capable in those modalities.)
As she treats your animal, a good holistic veterinarian will usually:
1. Ask about the history, overall energy, what might have caused the current problem, the environment and what makes the symptoms better or worse.
2. Their physical exam will be gentle, complete and they will show you (you may need to ask) what they mean by “gingivitis, big lymph nodes, heart murmur”, etc.
3. They will be willing to answer your questions and explain why they are recommending a particular treatment.  
4. If they recommend conventional treatments (antibiotics, prednisone, etc.) they will explain to you why they choose this over holistic, and give you a chance to request the more holistic treatment.
5. They will not do anything (vaccinate, treat) without asking you first.
6. They will recommend fewer or no vaccinations and a raw meat or at least more holistic diet.
7. They will schedule follow up appointments until your animal is really healthy.
(See symptoms of chronic disease)
What you can do to help your holistic veterinarian
1. Keep a dated journal of any problems, even little ones. Please change your hold music/messages. While on hold I get tired of hearing the lovely lady's voice repeating over and over and over every 30 seconds that she appreciates our business and someone will be back with me soon. Please change your hold music/messages. While on hold I get tired of hearing the lovely lady's voice repeating over and over and over every 30 seconds that she appreciates our business and someone will be back with me soon.
2. Write down any treatments given.
3. Call if symptoms worsen, or they are less energetic and less happy, or you have concerns.

Most health problems are the result of an underlying energy imbalance, made worse from poor diet and vaccination.  They are rarely acute diseases (except injuries). Therefore, you may find that the problem does not clear up as you expect or it recurs. If so, you are dealing with an underlying predisposition to illness, and these clues to underlying ill health will help you select a remedy and monitor the results.  As we cure animals of "disease", we find that certain other "NORMAL" things go away, too.  Do not be satisfied until most of the following symptoms are gone.  In young, apparently healthy animals, these apparently "normal" problems may be the only indications to start treatment. This is only the beginning of a list - as more animals are cured we will find new levels of health. Tracking these is easy when you use the Healthy Animal's Journal by Dr. Christina Chambreau (
SKIN: doggy smell; attracts fleas a lot; dry, oily, lack-luster coat;
excessive shedding; not grooming,    ear problems - waxy, oily, itchy, recurrent mites; eye discharge, tearing, or matter in corner of eyes; raised third eyelid; spots appearing on iris; "freckles" appearing on face; whiskers falling out; fragile, thickened, distorted claws that are painful or sensitive to trim.
BEHAVIOR: Fears(of loud noises, thunder, wind, people, animals, life); too timid; too rough or aggressive (even at play); too hard to train; barks too much and too long; suspicious nature; biting    when petted too long; hysteria when restrained; clumsy; indolent; licking or sucking things or people too much; not using litter box or not covering stool.
DIGESTIVE: Bad breath; tarter accumulation; loss of teeth; poor appetite; craving weird things(rubber    bands, plastic, dirt, cat litter, paper, dogs eating dog or cat stools, rocks, sticks...); sensitivity to milk;    thirst - a super healthy cat on non dry food will drink at most once a week; red gum line; vomiting often, even hairballs more than a few times a year; mucous on stools; tendency to diarrhea with least    change of diet; obesity;  anal gland problems; recurrent parasites.
STIFFNESS when getting up, early hip dysplasia; tires easily in hot or cold weather; can no longer jump up on counters, or go up or down steps.
TEMPERATURE: Low grade fevers - Normal for healthy cats and dogs is
AGE & REPRODUCTION: Should live a long life (Shepards 17 years, Danes 12, cats 24). should be able    conceive easily, deliver normally, and not pass on "genetic breed" problems.  

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Dr. Christina Chambreau


I can give you the holistic approach to any problem, mostly for dogs and cats and some farm animals and horses. Depending on the condition and the type of animal, I will be able to give very specific treatment suggestions such as what flower essences, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, diet changes, lifestyle changes or herbs that may be helpful - not drugs. I can also suggest where you can go for further education or to find a specialist in a specific holistic field. I can help you understand why your animal is ill and what improvements can be expected. I do not check messages more than every one to two days, so PLEASE DO NOT ask about EMERGENCIES - call your local veterinarian. I cannot diagnose your animal. I cannot prescribe specific treatments. I am no longer very current with conventional treatments, so cannot answer questions on those. I am not an expert on birds or small critters. I am not an expert in breeding, birthing or babies.


I graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and began using homeopathy in my practice after a client introduced me to it. By 1988 I was using exclusively holistic treatments. I began lecturing in 1987 and have spoken at veterinary conferences, health food stores, people's homes, churches, veterinary college conferences - anywhere people want to learn more about keeping their animals healthy.

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (I helped found this one) American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association National Center for Homeopathy American Veterinary Medical Association

I have written in many magazines, journals and newspapers. A few include Bark Magazine; Journal of the AHVMA; Baltimore Dog Magazine; Whole Dog Journal; Tiger Tribe; Wolf Clan. I have also been frequently interviewed on radio and TV. I am Associate Editor for the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal, so often have articles there.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Certified Veterinary Homeopath (CVH)

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