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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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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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