We live in a time of amazing medical advances, with a wealth of health information available literally at our fingertips. We are living in a world in which toxics have been introduced at an alarming rate since the end of World War II. There is no burden of proof placed on the chemical industry to show that these chemicals are safe. The levels of toxins in our environment, our food and consequently, our organs, are increasing each year.

The toll of chronic heavy metal and chemical buildup in our bodies cannot be understated. While all body systems are compromised, the most dangerous consequences are seen in the immune, endocrine and nervous systems. And once these master systems are impaired, maintaining functional health becomes a constant and often impossible struggle.

Some of the proven consequences of body toxicity include almost all degenerative diseases; cancer, premature aging and compromised immune systems. But even prior to "major problems" of this nature, everyday life becomes complicated by heavy metal induced "mental fog", mood swings, depression, cravings, slowed recovery, weakness and weight gain. Until recently these "low-grade" issues have been either brushed off or treated with pharmaceuticals. Traditional treatment success has been limited and as more research and data emerge, many mainstream practitioners are concluding that organ toxicity is the major player in this unhappy cycle.

Sources of Toxics
The process of accumulating poisons starts in utero as toxins cross the placental barrier. Then mammalian milk, whether from human to infant or pug mom to pup, continues to channel these substances into young bodies.

Food and Water
We need no reminder of the recent pet food recall catastrophe to insure that we are diligent about our animals' food. Even organically grown ingredients cannot be protected from polluted air and rain. A study done by Gloria Dodd, DVM found heavy metals in even high quality canned pet food and unacceptably high levels of aluminum in many pet foods (www.planet-pets.com/drgloria).

In 42 states, some 260 contaminants were detected in public water supplies, 140 of which were unregulated chemicals! Bottled water is a potential solution, except that 25-30% of it comes from municipal tap systems (Environmental Working Group, national assessment of tap water quality, www.ewg.org) Additionally, the plastics from the bottles can leach, contributing endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A and phthalates.

Air - indoors and outdoors
Billions of tons of chemicals are put into the air every year including pesticides, dioxins, fumes from industrial processing and vehicles, and mercury from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and traveling the jet stream from Asia and other countries. Amazingly, with as much as we spew into our outdoor air, our indoor air is 10 times more polluted according to the EPA, contaminated with off-gassing flame-retardants, formaldehyde, paints, and household building materials. Household dust, which your pet breathes and licks, contain these and more.

Pesticides in fly sprays are extremely toxic while grooming products contain sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, triclosan and preservatives that go directly on skin and into a pet's internal systems, or are ingested as they clean themselves. Vaccines may also be a source of heavy metals and other carcinogens such as formaldehyde and aluminum. Phthalates are used to soften plastic, and can be found in feed buckets, pet dishes, animal toys, and in the linings of canned foods destined for both human and animal consumption.

Effects of Toxics
Toxics affect the body in four general ways: by disrupting the production of ATP (classic poisons such as arsenate), by disrupting organs and membranes (free radicals), by disrupting cell function and signaling (pesticides with chlorinated hydrocarbons or organophosphates; endocrine disruptors; heavy metals), and by disrupting gene expression (cancer).

Neurological, immune, and metabolic problems
Heavy metals are known to be preferentially bound to receptors that are meant to receive minerals such as zinc, calcium or magnesium so thereby can interfere with immune function, muscle contraction, energy production and repair of bone. Arsenic and chromium bind to DNA.
- Neurological and immune dysfunction results - what does that look like? Thyroid, adrenal (Cushing’s and Addison’s), cell lines dividing out of control (the "C Word"), metabolic problems such as diabetes, obesity (linked to the former).

The kidneys are particularly vulnerable to heavy metals as they sequester divalent metals to prevent damage to vital enzymes. When the kidneys get overloaded, the pores in the organ get bigger and salts can no longer be regulated, resulting in kidney failure. Kidney failure is one of the major chronic diseases seen in pets and has a high fatality rate.

Endocrine system
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the action of natural hormones. Our hormones are responsible for cell communication, metabolic function, homeostasis such as calcium and salt balance, adrenaline release, and the regulation of testosterone and estrogen. An organ (thyroid, ovaries, thymus, etc) secretes the hormone molecule, which drifts along the blood stream until a receptor binds them. Molecules that look similar can "mimic" hormones, blocking the intended activity, and can disrupt the entire signaling system. Unfortunately, even molecules that do not have structures similar to hormones can also interfere with endocrine signals, making it extraordinarily difficult to tell which compounds may interfere.

Free Radicals
Because metals easily gain and lose electrons, they can act to trigger the formation of free radicals. UV light will also generate free radicals from oxygen, chlorine, and other molecules in air or exposed cells. Molecules need pairs of electrons to be stable and, if missing one from the pair they are considered a "free radical" and will 'steal' an electron from a neighboring molecule in order to re-stabilize themselves. The molecule that was robbed now becomes a free radical and a chain reaction of free radical formation can occur; if this chain reaction cannot be stopped by the anti-oxidants in the body, oxidative stress results.

Free radicals are actually necessary in normal physiology, and are required in normal enzyme reactions and in the work of the signaling molecule NO (nitric oxide). However, an excess of or abnormal free radical molecules results in irreparable damage.

Free radical damage can affect lipids (cell walls and tissues), proteins, and DNA. Probably the most common free radical damage we see is to tissues. This damage occurs when the lipids (fat molecules) that make up cell membranes are disrupted by this electron stealing chain reaction. Eventually, these lipids break down into aldehydes which then travel to other tissues and cause further damage. Normally, an environmental chemical would have to pass through a series of lipid barriers to get to the nucleus of the cell. As cell membranes lose their ability to move good stuff in and keep bad stuff out, the cell is unable to function properly, resulting in a variety of problems, depending on where those cells are located: skin, heart, organs, etc.

Proteins and DNA may not experience the oxidative chain reaction; instead, free radicals bind permanently to them, causing a bulky bump in the DNA chain that causes the DNA to be copied incorrectly during cell replication and causing proteins to fall apart. In the case of DNA damage, this may be passed on to the next generation. Due to the short lifespan of our pets, generational effects due to chemical exposures may be seen sooner than in humans.

Helping our Pets and Horses Detoxify
Combating toxins and the damage they create in the body can be accomplished by
a) Removing the toxins and
b) Replacing and boosting network anti-oxidants.

Removing toxics
One very effective and safe modality for removing heavy metals and toxins from the body is through the use of ingested zeolites. Zeolites are minerals formed when volcanic ash hits seawater. Tiny honeycomb-shaped cages are formed in a mineral matrix that has a very strong negative charge. Since heavy metals and many toxins have a positive charge, they are attracted to the little cages, trapped and passively removed so as not to create a greater burden on the kidneys or other organs of elimination. Other methods include acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal and nutritional modalities.

Replacing anti-oxidants
Network anti-oxidants are effective in scavenging free radical molecules and repairing tissues. They can also protect the body from the stress of infection, inflammation and aging; aging is basically oxidation of tissues and consequent degeneration. In this way, anti-oxidants are an integral part of detoxification in themselves.

Key network anti-oxidants include: CoEnzymeQ10, Alpha Lipoic acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Glutathione. There are many others as well and many are found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, green tea, etc. A supplement that provides valuable anti-oxidants as well as supporting the body's endogenous production of these substances is ideal.

The body is designed to heal, the mechanisms are in place. Removing the roadblocks to health and encouraging natural healing mechanisms is the most basic foundation we can lay for our pets long and happy lives.

VivoAnimals is extremely proud to introduce our special formulas that address these issues specifically. These are important products as they deal with detoxification of the body which is something people are becoming increasingly aware of in this time of overwhelming environmental toxicity.

These products are not meant to compete with other vitamin/mineral mixes; they are designed to give as a top dress to remove heavy metals and environmental toxins from the body. The two products veterinarians highly recommend are the straight up detox product VivoZeolite, and a 2 in 1 product that has a mineral detox base and a blend of anti-oxidants, blood flow enhancers and immune modulating ingredients. This latter product, called VivoZeoComplete, is creating phenomenal results in our field studies.

This is a product veterinarians can recommend with confidence for laminitis (chronic and acute), insulin resistance/EMS, arthritis, sports injuries, and general aging concerns. I am also recommending it for periodontal disease in horses as the ingredients are well suited to such inflammatory conditions.

Dr. Zamzow is a consultant for VivoNaturals' veterinary division, VivoAnimals. VivoAnimals provides innovative, cutting edge natural health solutions for the animal companions in our lives. www.AnimalDetox.com

Author's Bio: 

For 15 years, Dr. Erin Zamzow has worked to improve the lives of animals through holistic education, diagnosis and treatment. In 1986, she enrolled in pre-veterinary studies at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, where her impressive performance earned her admission into one of the most prestigious veterinary schools in the country, Washington State University. During her tenure there, she distinguished herself as an advocate for compassionate and responsible animal medicine. Her strong voice and clear vision were instrumental in the creation of WSU’s Alternative Surgery track. Since its inception, this successful program has strengthened the surgical training program while preventing the unnecessary death of hundreds of animals.

Upon graduation in 1990, Dr. Zamzow joined the staff of the Animal Medical Center in Redmond, Washington. Two years later a desire to branch out into mixed animal practice in a more rural setting led her back to Ellensburg. Life as a small town vet supplied invaluable experience in emergency and surgical medicine. In 1996 Dr. Zamzow delved deeper into what seemed to be a frequently misdiagnosed and grossly neglected arena of veterinary science and entered the emerging field of Equine Dentistry.

For the last 10 years, Dr. Zamzow has traveled extensively throughout Washington and California restoring optimum health and performance in her equine patients and educating communities about the importance of proper equine nutrition and dental care. With progressive, responsible science the hallmark of her practice, Dr. Zamzow continues to challenge established traditions when they no longer serve the best interests of the patient. Currently, she is working with organizations at local, state, and national levels to address growing concerns regarding toxins in the environment and the health risks they pose to humans and animals alike.