We’ll be hosting photographer, Theresa N. White at our store on Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4 — bring your dogs, cats, kids… the whole family for holiday fun! The sitting fee is $25 and 20% goes to benefit Caring For Creatures pet rescue in Palmyra, Virginia! Photos will be available online so you can quickly order your own prints, postcards and gifts from your digital files. Theresa will have a big variety of holiday, winter and traditional backdrops, accessories, props on hand and her creative eye will help make your photographic memories a cherished gift. To reserve your sitting appointment, please call the store. Don’t wait, spaces are limited and will fill quickly.

overweight dog

Natural Treatment for Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

It’s not unusual for aging canines to develop the endocrine condition known as Cushing’s disease.  Formally known as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s disease generally results from a benign tumor on the pituitary gland. This gland “rules” the endocrine system and produces various hormones, and the growth causes it to overproduce adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH. In about 20 percent of cases, a tumor on one or both of your pet’s adrenal glands induces excess cortisol production. Cortisol is a natural steroid, but excess amounts leave your dog’s body vulnerable to all sorts of maladies.

Standard treatment for Cushing’s disease involves powerful medications which can cause serious side effects. Some of these drugs are contraindicated in dogs suffering from kidney and liver disease and other afflictions common in senior dogs. Find a reputable holistic veterinarian to see if a natural treatment regimen may benefit your dog with Cushing’s disease. Natural treatments are more helpful to dogs diagnosed in the early stages of hyperadrenocorticism.


Suspect Cushing’s disease if your older dog develops any of the following symptoms:

  • increased thirst and urination
  • constant hunger
  • hair thinning and loss
  • muscle weakness
  • frequent panting
  • darkening skin
  • recurring infections
  • lethargy
  • insomnia.

Since these symptoms mimic those of other diseases, it is crucial that you have your dog tested. A simple blood test reveals excess cortisol in your dog’s system. An ultrasound shows whether there is a tumor on the adrenal glands. Approximately half of such tumors are benign – but that means there’s a 50 percent chance of malignancy. For some dogs, surgical removal of the tumor is an option.



Changing your dog’s diet may ease many of the Cushing’s symptoms. Your vet may recommend a raw diet or suggest home-cooked meals. If your dog is not currently consuming grain-free food, it’s time to make the switch. Avoid dry foods and feed your pet as little processed food as possible – that includes treats.



The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has many uses, and regular treatments can help regulate hormones and relieve symptoms. Tiny needles inserted into the corresponding acupuncture point are no longer the only game in town. Veterinarians can now use lasers on these points with the same effect as needles. Nervous dogs or those that tend to squirm a lot at the veterinary clinic may do better with lasers than needles.


Herbal Remedies

Certain herbs help control Cushing’s symptoms. Dandelion helps restore normal functioning to canine adrenal glands. Another common herb, ginkgo biloba, slows down the adrenal glands’ release of cortisol. Astragalus boosts the immune system, while burdock helps eliminate toxins from the body. Various Chinese herbs, such as Si Miao San, are useful for treating dogs with particular symptoms. These include overweight canines experiencing constant panting.



Your vet can recommend supplements to help your dog fight Cushing’s disease. Common supplements that help reduce the inflammation occurring with Cushing’s disease include:

  • fish oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • glucosamine
  • turmeric.

Melatonin may help your insomniac dog regain a regular sleep schedule.


Specific Regimen

Natural remedies may help your dog in his battle against Cushing’s disease, but don’t start making dietary changes and giving your pet herbs and supplements on your own. Your dog needs a specific treatment protocol that only an experienced holistic veterinarian can develop. Your vet must see your dog regularly for blood testing and an overall evaluation.

Keep in mind that natural treatments may work for a while on your dog, but you might eventually have to go the conventional treatment route. Your vet will let you know when it is time. If your dog does require conventional medication – such as Trilosten – he may require a smaller dosage if he continues to receive dietary and herbal therapy and acupuncture treatment.



Join us for The Animal Connection’s 15th Anniversary Celebration! Saturday, October 29th from 9 – 4 pm

We’d like to thank the Charlottesville pet community for your many years of loyal support. So join us for a day of fun and special surprises!  We’ll have FREE TREATS, GOODY BAGS and REFRESHMENTS for all our friends. REGISTER TO WIN $100 GIFT CARD. Visit with our SPECIAL GUESTS from 1 – 4 pm…. Pet Portrait Illustrator, Jennet Inglis… Pet Photographer, Theresa White… Animal Communicator and Author, Rosalyn Berne. And a very special presentation by Mary Birkholz, founder of Caring for Creatures about how to adopt a rescue pet into your family. You’ll also be able to visit with friendly CFC pets who are looking for good homes. Please don’t miss this special celebration!

Dog Fest & Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest is Sunday, October 30 from 1 – 4 pm at the Darden Towe Off-Lead Dog Park & Picnic Area

Meet local pet businesses – visit with area pet lovers – or take home a rescue pet! Costume Contest begins at 2pm. with prizes for dogs, kids, theme and rescue groups. Free treats, goodie bags, raffle baskets, pet photos. Refreshments available. Sponsored by Animal Connection, Rovers Recess, Pampered Pets, Autumn Trails Veterinary Center, Canine Adventures and Old Dominion Animal Hospital (plus 20 more pet friendly vendors) Note: all dogs must be on a leash and good with other dogs. If weather related decisions are necessary, please check our Facebook page for updates.


Due to popular request, we’re extending our hours! Beginning September 6th, our new hours will be: WEEKDAYS from 10 am  – 6 pm. SATURDAY from 9 am – 4 pm and introducing SUNDAY AFTERNOONS from 1 – 4 pm! We hope this new schedule will give everyone the shopping opportunity they’re looking for. But, as always, if you have special needs that don’t fit the schedule, please contact us and we’ll try to help. We’re going to do some special events on Sunday afternoons this fall, so stay tuned to our Facebook page and this web site for all the scoop.


Your pet’s “seasonal inner clock” starts changing when the days get shorter, not necessarily when the temperature changes. Already now, they are “blowing coat”  — shedding the old coat  to get ready for winter coat growth. These variable temperature months can be tough for pets, so make sure they get some extra care!  Now’s the time to book your fall grooming appointment, which includes our special de-shedding treatment, smoothing those rough paws and elbows and making sure those nails are properly trimmed and ground for more time indoors. Fleas and ticks will still be a problem until the first frost, so check their skin frequently. Fall is also the time to make some changes in your pet’s diet and begin choosing “transitional proteins” before the cooler weather begins. September 21 marks a big food energy shift, so come see us and let us help you make adjustments to the meats and vegetables your pet should be eating.


Summer’s great for pets – extra play time, fun vacations, lots of attention from the kids. But when school starts, a different family schedule can cause some anxiety, restlessness and neediness.  Even the sense of responsibility a dog has for looking after kids can cause behavior changes, especially if the he’s not sure why his “best friend” has left him at home. To make this adjustment easier, try out your new pet schedule before your kids go back to school. Plan play activities, walks and meals at the time your kids might be either going to or coming home from school. If you’re planning dog day care during the week, take them a few times now to get them oriented. Plan fun activities for the evenings and weekends that include your dogs. Remember, when your kids go away to school, it affects your animals too. We have many products that will help your pets deal with with separation anxiety and sadness from missing the kids.

Vet holding homeopathic globules for a little maltese dog

How Homeopathy Can Help Older Dogs

There’s only one thing wrong with dogs. They don’t live long enough. It’s hard to see your best friend struggle with the physical and mental debilities that accompany aging. Veterinarians have powerful medications available for treating ailments common in senior canines. These drugs often have just as powerful side effects.  

The basic principle of homeopathy is “like cures like” and treatments consist of  natural, diluted substances given in minute doses. These substances work with the body’s natural healing powers and sort of “jump start” them. Skeptics claim it does not work, but even they admit it does no harm.

Natural remedies, such as homeopathy, may offer an effective and safe substitute for certain conditions. While you can purchase homeopathic remedies over-the-counter or online, for best results consult a veterinary homeopathic practitioner. You’ll receive learned advice on dosage, potency, and frequency of use, as well as the most effective therapies. They will also instruct you on the proper way to give your dog the diluted remedies – there’s great specificity in the way pellets must go into the mouth, for example.



If arthritis is limiting your dog’s mobility – and his quality of life – Arnica montana can help put a spring back in his step. Arguably the best-known homeopathic remedy, arnica helps relieve sore joints and muscles. While it is available in pellet form for therapy, it also comes in cream and gel versions for topical application to the joints. You would give your dog the pellet form several times a day to alleviate the chronic condition, and administer the gel or cream if the joint seems particularly sore. Arnica is never applied topically to open wounds.

Rhus tox is another good choice for arthritic dogs. If your dog has difficulty rising from a prone position, Rhus Toxicodendron is the go-to remedy.


Periodontal Disease

Older dogs frequently suffer from gum disease. While it’s important to follow your vet’s recommendations for treating periodontal disease, homeopathy treatments can lessen the pain associated with chronic gum issues. Hypericum perforatum  – St. John’s Wort – especially benefits any type of nerve injuries, such as that from loose teeth affected by periodontal disease.


Urinary Incontinence

As dogs age, their bladder sphincter muscles weaken, causing incontinence. It’s especially common in spayed females. Since incontinence can indicate various issues, including infections and bladder stones, always have your vet examine your pet. If the diagnosis is weak sphincter, homeopathic remedies may stop the leaking. Homeopathic remedies that may alleviate urinary incontinence include:

  • Bryonia – a good choice for dogs who leak urine when moving.
  • Cantharis – this remedy is better known as Spanish fly, a purported aphrodisiac that can make users seriously ill rather than amorous. In diluted homeopathic form, however, cantharis supports bladder function and helps quell the urge to constantly pee.
  • Causticum – especially helpful for aging dogs with weak bladders.
  • Pulsatilla – another remedy for bladder weakness, which also aids dogs suffering from separation anxiety.


Cognitive Dysfunction

Besides physical issues, many older dogs experience cognitive decline. A dog with cognitive dysfunction may appear disoriented, become restless at night, start eliminating inappropriately and exhibit other behavioral and personality changes. Remedies that may lessen symptoms include:

  • Arsenic – this poison is safe in homeopathic doses and it useful for restless dogs who pace at night.
  • Conium – improves the dog’s ability to focus.
  • Rhus tox – aids the anxiety common in dogs with cognitive problems.


Along with herbal and other natural remedies, homeopathic therapies can give your senior dog a new lease on life. He’s comfortable, more active and better resembles the dog of a few years earlier. You can’t give your best pal a greater gift.


If you’re looking for natural or herbal remedies for your pup, checkout our online shop today!




Can you believe we’ve been helping pets become healthier for 15 years? Well, tails will be wagging all over  C’ville for our 15th Anniversary Celebration! It all begins October 23 with a special store event every day and ending with our popular Dog Fest  & Halloween Costume Contest on October 30 at Darden Towe Park. We’ll have special seminars, guests, specials and lots of fun for dog and cat owners. Watch our Facebook page and this web page for more information, but make plans to attend our week of fun for all.