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The Myth of Natural

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Other Herbal Products and Their Possible Side Effects in Pets

1. Tea Tree Oil, also known as Melaleuca. This can cause vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, paralysis, aspiration pneumonia, and death when applied topically or ingested.
2. Guarana has more caffeine than coffee beans and can contain other active substances that can cause vomiting, hyperactivity, increased water consumption and urination, fast heart rate, tremors, seizures, and death.
3. Echinacea is a popular herbal supplement also known as purple coneflower, comb flower, and scurvy root. It has a wider margin of safety but has been reported to cause vomiting and drooling.

4. St. John's Wort is well known to cause photosensitization (skin ulcers after exposure to sunlight) in livestock and horses. In dogs it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures.

5. Garlic can interfere with blood clotting and thyroid function, and lower blood sugar, cause vomiting, diarrhea, and changes to red blood cells.

6. Onions can cause weakness, increased heart and respiratory rates, and changes to red blood cells causing anemia, especially in cats.

Pet owners occasionally tell veterinarians they are reluctant to use prescription medicine, spot-on flea products, heartworm preventatives, etc, because they would rather use something that is "natural." They are afraid of chemicals, and would rather use something that is organic or natural. But what is natural? By definition, natural products are those that come from nature. But not all items that come from nature are safe or harmless. Arsenic and cyanide are natural. Arsenic is mined from the earth along with other metals. Cyanide is found in a number of plants. Cocaine and heroin come from nature, but they are certainly not good for you.

In contrast, many of our prescription medicines originated from plants. It has been estimated that anywhere from 25% to 70% of our medicines contain at least some compounds obtained from plants. Aspirin, quinine, syrup of Ipecac, morphine, and theophylline (a prescription medicine used as a bronchodilator for respiratory diseases) all come from plants. The potent and life saving cancer drugs, vincristine and vinblastine, were derived from plants. Taxol, which was derived from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, is a chemotherapy drug that has saved many breast, ovarian, and lung cancer patients.

Many people assume that herbal medicines are safe because they come from plants and are over-the-counter. Unfortunately, this is not true, in fact, some can cause life threatening reactions. An example is ma huang, which contains ephedra and has been used as a weight loss product in people. In people it can cause a rapid heart rate, dilated eyes, tremors, seizures, and increased blood pressure. Symptoms in dogs are the same; death can occur from cardiovascular collapse. People who are afraid of chemicals should realize that everything in life is a chemical. Water is a chemical: H-2-O. Our own bodies are a collection of a large number of chemicals. Herbal or "natural" products are chemicals. From this we can deduce that the "natural versus chemical" argument is not valid. Everything in nature is a chemical. What is behind the desire to use natural products and the fear of chemicals? It is the wish to use the SAFEST product.

Now we know that herbal and natural products are not necessarily safe. In fact, their industry got Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act in 1994 which states that supplement manufacturers are NOT required to prove efficacy or safety, and there is no requirement for quality control.
What is the safest product? Medical professionals would argue it is a product that has been scientifically studied. All prescription drugs go through rigorous testing before they are approved. This testing is to both prove that it does the job and that it is safe. There are non-prescription drugs that have been tested and proved effective. An example is glucosamine which has helped many people and dogs with arthritis.
Now when you see a product labeled " natural" you will know it is just a marketing strategy. The question to ask is "What kind of research studies have been done?"

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Clinic Hours

Day
Monday8:00am5:30pm
Tuesday8:00am5:30pm
Wednesday8:00am5:30pm
Thursday8:00am5:30pm
Friday8:00am5:30pm
Saturday8:00am12:00pm
SundayClosedClosed
Day
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8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am Closed
5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 12:00pm Closed


 

After Hours Emergency & Urgent Care

Northside Animal Clinic is an affiliate of the Jackson Pet Emergency Clinic.

JPEC is located at 2815 N. Highland Ave., Ste E. We have a veterinarian and personnel on duty 7 days a week who are trained and equipped to handle any urgent care your pet has. Usually an emergency team consists of at least one veterinarian and several technicians working together to save a pet's life.

Emergencies can be things such as snail bait poisoning, hit by car, and chocolate ingestion. If you ever feel that your pet needs emergency treatment do not hesitate to call or come in immediately. If possible it is best to call before coming in so that a team member can advise you on your particular emergency. JPEC is open all holidays, weekends, and after regular business hours. The phone number is: 731-660-4343.

Testimonial

Dr. Kenneth Edwards and his Team at Northside Animal Clinic have been our veterinary care group for at least 12 years. The longevity of the relationship is due solely to the extraordinarily capable and conscientious care our pets have received.

Mona and Ivy Scarborough
Jackson, TN