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Thinking Beyond the Bowl: Glandular Therapy for Canine Health and Healing

Fido has a hot spot. Fluffy has a thyroid issue. Looks like it’s time to go see the doctor. Don’t be surprised if, along with medication, your veterinarian prescribes nutritional supplementation that includes Glandular Therapy (GT). Here’s why.

The concept of eating organs and glands for good health is by no means a new one. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years. There are writings dating back to 1600 BC that describe the consumption of liver for treating night blindness in humans. The current use of thyroid hormone supplements in hypothyroid patients and even porcine insulin in diabetics have their roots in historical practice.

According to Dr. Tom Cameron, DVM, “GT is based on the theory of homostimulation, that ‘like supports like.’ For example, an animal eating a piece of liver is taking in nutrients that closely resemble his own liver, providing the body with similar building blocks and fuel for repair.” Practitioners can think of it like this: a damaged liver needs a specific and complete combination of amino acids and other materials to rebuild functional liver cells. In GT, the most complete source of materials for liver repair would be healthy liver cells.

What about brain damage? A closer look at brain tissue reveals a rich source of fats (phospholipids, Omega-3, and other fatty acids) vital to the repair and maintenance of brain tissue. Bovine trachea and cartilage contain glycosaminoglycans (like hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate), important compounds for joint health. As mentioned before, like heals like. This concept has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is evidenced in the principles of homeopathy and more recently in the science of oral tolerance.)

Let’s take a look at canine and feline ancestors in the wild. They are predators, hunting for food and surviving by eating other animals. When these animals catch their prey the parts consumed first are always the organs and glands (such as liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, and pancreas) because they instinctively know that these are the richest sources of nutrients. The scavengers are often left with the less nutrient-dense muscle meat.

Can animals get the organ and gland nutrients they need from pet food alone? Generally not. Even though there are some organ meats used in pet food (they make up a portion of the meatmeal), it is not in sufficient quantity. The majority of the meat in most pet foods is muscle tissue.

Additional factors that make commercial pet food a poor nutrient source include:

  • The high cooking temperature of commercial pet foods, which destroys nutrient content
  • The presence of grains and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which can trigger a number of problems


Lack of variety in the diet

Even feeding fresh, organic, home-cooked, or raw has its limitations, due to the poor nutrient content of the topsoil crops are grown in, High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) of formulated raw food, etc. (Refer to the September 2013 issue of the Bay Woof for more information on the current state of commercial pet foods.)

So, where can you get good glands to feed to your pet? Going to the meat counter at your local butcher shop is one option, though if your life is as hectic as mine, finding the time to source good glandulars is challenging, to say the least. The good news is that there are reputable whole food supplement companies that highlight glandulars in their product formulations and recognize the essential role of glandular therapy in health.

My confidence that glandular therapy and whole food nutrition can make a difference in an animal’s health comes from years of witnessing success stories like that of Boomer, a 10-year-old poodle who had chronically elevated liver enzymes, a sign of poor liver health. This had been going on for years despite attempts to lower these values with Denmarin, a liver support nutraceutical for dogs and cats. Boomer’s veterinarian became particularly concerned when his ALT rose to over 1000 (normal range is 10-118) and his ALK PHOS rose to 883 (normal range is 10-200).

At that point, Boomer’s guardian decided to take him to a holistic-minded vet who put him on Livaplex and Catalyn, two products from a whole food supplement company called Standard Process. Both are loaded with glandulars (liver, kidney, prostate, adrenal, and spleen). With this support, Boomer’s numbers came down.  The next panel of blood work was done 35 days later and showed marked improvement. His ALT was at 141 and his ALK PHOS at 171.

Will every animal respond the way Boomer did? Perhaps not, but his response is not surprising to me. In my years of working in veterinary practices I’ve seen everything from skin issues and arthritis to autoimmune diseases and cancer improve with glandular supplements. I’ve even seen animals that were close to being euthanized because of their deteriorated health turn around with the correct nutritional therapy.

My conclusion is that every case has a nutritional component. Having seen hundreds of pets just like Boomer, I’ve learned that when the diet is supported with glandular-containing food supplements (in tablet or powder form), healing is possible. This is what inspires me to spread the word that it’s important to think outside the bowl and that, fundamentally, foods heal!

Joni Kamlet is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant (CCRA) through The Canine Rehabilitation Institute. Joni has 18 years of experience with nutritional and herbal therapy for both animals and humans. Her experience spans the fields of acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition, homeopathy, complementary medicine, and laser therapy. Joni has a special affinity for canine and feline rehabilitation.

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