Top-5-articles-2014

ball-ornament-05 Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back

The duration of immunity for Rabies vaccine, Canine distemper vaccine, Canine Parvovirus vaccine, Feline Panleukopenia vaccine, Feline Rhinotracheitis, feline Calicivirus, have all been demonstrated to be a minimum of 7 years by serology for rabies and challenge studies for all others.

In the Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis, Ithaca, NY, 1999, Dr. Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the forefront of vaccine research and chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences, outlines the DOI for the following vaccines:

Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines:

Distemper- 7 years by challenge/15 years by serology
Parvovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Adenovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 9 years by serology
Canine rabies – 3 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology

Dr. Schultz concludes:  “Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.”  “Are we vaccinating too much?” JAVMA, No. 4, August 15, 1995, pg. 421.

Yet vets continue to vaccinate annually.  Dog owners feel that their vets are doing their dogs a great service by vaccinating every three years instead of annually – why do we allow it when these studies were done over thirty years ago and have been replicated time and again by other researchers?

Ian Tizard states:  “With modified live virus vaccines like canine parvovirus, canine distemper and feline panleukopenia, calicivirus, and rhinotracheitis the virus in the vaccine must replicate to stimulate the immune system. In a patient that has been previously immunized, antibodies from the previous vaccine will block the replication of the new vaccinal virus. Antibody titers are not significantly boosted. Memory cell populations are not expanded. The immune status of the patient is not enhanced.

After the second rabies vaccination, re-administration of rabies vaccine does not enhance the immune status of the patient at one or two year intervals.  We do not know the interval at which re-administration of vaccines will enhance the immunity of a significant percentage of the pet population, but it is certainly not at one or two year intervals. Tizard Ian, Yawei N, Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals, JAVMA, vol 213, No 1, July 1, 1998.

“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.”  says Dr. Schultz.  “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”

He adds:  “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated. Annual vaccination for diseases caused by CDV, CPV2, FPLP and FeLV has not been shown to provide a level of immunity any different from the immunity in an animal vaccinated and immunized at an early age and challenged years later. We have found that annual revaccination with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity provides no demonstrable benefit.”

Why then, have vets not embraced the concept of lifelong immunity in dogs?

“Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession’s resistance to update its protocols. Without the lure of vaccines, clients might be less inclined to make yearly veterinary visits. Vaccines add up to 14 percent of the average practice’s income, AAHA reports, and veterinarians stand to lose big.  I suspect some are ignoring my work,” says Schultz, who claims some distemper vaccines last as long as 15 years. “Tying vaccinations into the annual visit became prominent in the 1980s and a way of practicing in the 1990s. Now veterinarians don’t want to give it up.”

The report of the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003)3 includes the following information for vets:

Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination’; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.

‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information  as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’

Both the AAHA and the AVMA must do more to “step up to the plate” says noted immunologist, Dr. Richard Ford. But the reality is the vets do not have to listen to the AAHA or the AVMA and it appears the state veterinary medical boards are not interested in enforcing vaccine schedules, opting to leave it up to the individual vet.

Dr. Bob Rogers hired a Chicago based law firm and initiated a class action suit for pet owners who were not given informed consent and full disclosure prior to vaccination administration. His article entitled “The Courage to Embrace the Truth”, states “While attending conferences like WSVMA and NAVMC I have asked over 400 DVMs from various parts of the country if they attended the seminars on New Vaccination Protocols. I was told by all but one, “I don’t care what the data says, I am not changing.” One DVM here on VIN even said “I am not changing until the AVMA makes me change.”

It seems that pet owners are against the wall when it comes to vaccination. The obvious conclusion is that pet owners who are concerned about the long term health of their companion animals must take it upon themselves to research vaccines, duration of immunity and vaccine dangers. At the very least, question every vaccine that goes into your animal – but none of the above information indicates you will get an honest or well-informed answer.

Be your dog’s advocate – protect him with knowledge and by taking a stand against unnecessary vaccination. His life may depend on it!


 ball-ornament-04 Three Reasons To Reconsider Spay/Neuter

The topic of spay/neuter is emotionally charged for many pet owners. It’s become the “responsible” thing to do and we commonly hear of the benefits of this surgery but rarely the risks. And when savvy pet owners forgo or delay spay/neuter to mitigate that risk, they’re frequently vilified for contributing to the pet over population problem. But decisions made on emotion aren’t usually the best kinds of decisions we can make. So indulge me while I take an objective and scientific look at what’s causing all the fuss. We’ll start with the most recent reason to reconsider spay/neuter.

In February 2014, a study was completed on over 2500 Vizsla dogs and the results were a blow to those who vehemently defend spay/neuter. But this latest study is just the most recent of a long line of work showing that removing a quarter of the dog’s endocrine system might not be in the dog’s best interest – and maybe not even in the best interests of rescues and shelters. Let’s look at what this research shows as the three most important reasons you should reconsider spay/neuter.

Spay/Neuter and Joint Disease

We’ll get to the Vizsla study that I mentioned later. They didn’t investigate the link between spay/neuter and joint disease, but they didn’t really need to – there was already plenty of research showing the link.

Hip Dysplasia

A study on Golden Retrievers found that male dogs who were neutered before 12 months of age had double the risk of hip dysplasia than their intact counterparts (Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, Oberbauer AM, Messam LLM, et al. (2013) Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers)

Other research shows that dogs sterilized before the age of six months have a 70% increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. The authors of this study (Spain et al, JAVMA 2004), propose that “it is possible that the increase in bone length that results from early-age gonadectomy results in changes in joint conformation, which could lead to a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.”

There’s even more evidence that spay/neuter can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Van Hagen et al (Am J Vet Res, Feb 2005), found that of the sample dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, those that were neutered six months prior to the diagnosis were nearly twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia.

Interestingly, a study by Dannuccia et al (Calcif Tissue Int, 1986), found that removing the ovaries of Beagles caused increased remodeling of the pelvic bone, which also suggests an increased risk of hip dysplasia with spay.

Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cranial cruciate ligament tears have also been linked to spay/neuter in numerous studies.

The Golden Retriever study found that although there were no cases of cruciate tear in the intact dogs, 5% of males neutered before 12 months and 8% of females did suffer tears.

Whitehair et al (JAVMA Oct 1993), found that spayed and neutered dogs of any age were twice as likely to suffer cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Slauterbeck et al also found an increased risk (Clin Orthop Relat Res Dec 2004).

Chris Zinc DVM PhD DACVP explains, “…if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at eight months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament.”

Additionally, sterilization can cause a loss of bone mass (Martin et al, Bone 1987), and obesity (Edney et al, Vet Rec Apr 1986). Both of these factors could lead to an increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament tear and hip dysplasia. Furthermore, spayed/neutered dogs are greater than three times more likely to suffer from patellar luxation (Vidoni et al, Wien Tierartztl Mschr 2005).

But there are even more sinister issues with spay/neuter.

Spay/Neuter and Cancer

Contrary to popular belief, we can’t spay/neuter cancer and, in fact, this surgery largely increases the risk of many common canine cancers.

The Golden Retriever study looked at cancer rates and found that the incidence of lymphosarcoma was three times higher in males neutered before 12 months of age. Interestingly the percentage of hemangiosarcoma in females spayed after 12 months was four times higher than that of intact and even early-spayed females. Additionally, 6% of females spayed after 12 months were affected with mast cell cancer, while there were zero cases among the intact females. These results are similar to other studies.

The more recent Vizsla study found that spayed females had significantly higher rates of hemangiosarcoma (nine times higher) than intact females. They also found that spayed/neutered dogs were 3.5% more likely to suffer mast cell cancer and 4.3 times more likely to suffer lymphoma.  (M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD et al., Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas. JAVMA, Vol 244, No. 3, February 1, 2014)

In fact, the incidence of all cancers in spayed females was 6.5 times higher and in neutered males was 3.6 times higher than intact dogs.

They also found that the younger the dogs were spayed/neutered, the younger they were when diagnosed with cancer.

Waters et al. (Exploring mechanisms of sex differences in longevity: lifetime ovary exposure and exceptional longevity in dogs) found similar results in their study of female Rottweilers. The researchers set out to determine whether retaining the ovaries contributed to longevity. In Rottweilers, the major causes of death are sarcoma and other cancers, which account for 38% and 73% of deaths respectively.

After excluding all cancer deaths, females who kept their ovaries during the first seven years of life were more than nine times more likely to reach exceptional longevity than females with the shortest ovary exposure. Although intact female dogs were more likely than males to achieve exceptional longevity, that advantage was erased with spay.

Spay/Neuter and Behavior

Although spay/neuter had been previously linked to cognitive impairment and even a three fold risk of hypothyroidism, which often creates behavior changes, the Viszla study yielded some particularly interesting insight into this link.

In the study, spayed and neutered dogs were also more likely to develop behavior disorders than intact dogs. This included fear of storms, separation anxiety, fear of noises, timidity, excitability, aggression, hyperactivity and fear biting. Another study found neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable and less trainable than intact dogs. (Parvene Farhoody @ M. Christine Zink, Behavioral and Physical Effects of  Spaying and Neutering Domestic Dogs, May 2010)

This is contrary to the popular belief that neutering reduces aggression and other behavior problems.

There’s Nothing Routine About Spay/Neuter

These findings also present a conundrum for shelters and rescues who advocate spay/neuter. Although reducing the number of dogs in shelters is an important goal, it’s more important to prevent them from ending up at the shelter.  While most people believe that shelters are full because of over population, behavior problems are the most common reason owners give up their dogs. Moreover, is it fair for shelters to burden adoptive families with the increased risk of cancer and joint disease?

There are alternatives to the complete removal of the reproductive organs and this might play a role in reducing the risk of cancer, joint disease and behavior issues. Spay is “instant menopause” and immediately shuts off the supply of protective hormones that are obviously involved in much more than just reproduction. Modified spay/neuter surgeries have less impact on the hormones and endocrine system, so dogs will enjoy more protection, even when sterilized.

Hormones produced by the reproductive organs not only are essential for reproduction, but in the development of homeostasis, body condition, cholesterol levels, energy levels, urinary continence, muscle tone, cognition, behavior and, most importantly, they also play a role in the immune system. The rise in the risk of many cancers in response to the removal of the reproductive organs is evidence of this.

In females, a partial spay, or ovary-sparing spay or tubal ligation are safer options. In males, vasectomy can also be a safer option. There is also a zinc injection that has recently come into favor. Hopefully this research will encourage more shelters to look into these safer and less intrusive options.

Finally, if your goal is to give your dog the best chance at a life free of joint disease, cancer and behavior issues, then keeping your dog intact is certainly an option. If you’re thoughtful and caring enough to get this far in the article, you’re certainly thoughtful enough to manage an intact dog. Simply make certain your intact male isn’t allowed to wander and keep your intact female on leash for a few weeks when she is in estrus.

Removing a significant part of your dog’s endocrine system should be anything but routine. As research continues to show the damning results of spay/neuter, it’s certainly in your dog’s best interests for you to consider these three important reasons to keep your best friend just the way mother nature made him.


 ball-ornament-03 3 Reasons Peanut Butter Isn’t Safe For Dogs (Or People)

If you know this, you know more than most pet owners …

Because most people don’t know that one of the top selling dog treats of all time is really bad for dogs.

Like really bad.

Yet pet store shelves are stacked with peanut butter flavored products. Peanut butter cookies, peanut butter stuffing … and even those of us who choose to bypass commercial foods, have been fooled into thinking that the occasional Kong stuffed with organic, sugar-free peanut butter is an awesome treat for dogs.

So if you’ve been feeding your dog peanut butter as a treat, you might not like to hear what I’m about to say. But I think when I’m done, you might want to move peanut butter to the naughty – and downright dangerous – snack food list.

Here’s why peanut butter is toxic to your dog …

#1. Most Peanut Butter Contains Aflatoxins (Which Cause Cancer)

Don’t know what aflatoxins are? These are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by a fungus called Aspergillus.

And peanuts have them in spades.

Mycotoxins are one of the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances on the planet … and they’ve also been shown to be toxic to the liver. Aflatoxin is known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals … and it would probably do the same in your dog.

And don’t think you can avoid aflatoxins by buying that fancy, fresh store-made peanut butter …

According to Dr. Andrew Weil,

A few years ago, Consumers Union looked into the question of aflatoxins in peanut butter and found that the amounts detectable varied from brand to brand. The lowest amounts were found in the big supermarket brands such as Peter Pan, Jif and Skippy. The highest levels were found in peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores.

But before you break out the Jif, you might first want to read more …

#2. Most Peanut Butter Often Contains Harmful Fats

Trans-fatty acids are one of the most toxic food substances today. Trans fats are the result of a highly toxic process that makes foods more stable, allowing them to sit on shelves for an extremely long time. Hydrogenation is the process of taking a plant oil, adding a nickel catalyst, heating it, and then removing the nickel catalyst.

The result is a highly toxic fat that causes diabetes, heart disease and chronic inflammation.

You’ll know if your dog’s peanut butter contains trans fats if it has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. If it does, then don’t buy it!

And as if trans fats weren’t bad enough, roasting nuts can also cause the fats in peanuts to go rancid. So if you must feed peanut butter, then at the very least, make sure it’s raw and doesn’t contain hydrogenated fats.

But of course, you’ll still have to deal with the aflatoxins …

#3. Most Peanut Butter Contains Sugar

Think of white sugar as food for all of the nasty things we take our dogs to the vet for …

… like yeast (candida), bacteria, parasites – and cancer! The more we eat, the more they feast!

Sugar can also cause diabetes, food allergies, premature aging and low level inflammation. And it feeds cancer cells.

Speaking of inflammation, that’s one more reason why peanut butter isn’t a great snack choice for your dog …

While peanuts are high in good monounsaturated fats, their omega 6 to 3 ratio is terrible! One cup of peanuts contains 35578 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and only 196 mg of omega-3 fats. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids  (PUFAs) can trigger inflammation, so too much is not good.  And the most common inflammatory conditions in dogs include allergies and joint disease.

Sound familiar?

So why not skip the Skippy and give your dog a bone – or dehydrated liver and other more nutritious and delicious snacks?


 ball-ornament-02 Feeding Your Dog Raw Eggs – Good Or Bad?

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about raw feeding and it seems the poor egg is often dragged through the mud as a dangerous food for dogs. Opponents of eggs claim that they are too high in cholesterol, they pose a risk of salmonella and that they cause a biotin deficiency. To that, we say nonsense! Eggs are not only a cheap and safe source of raw food for your dog, they are one of the most complete and nutritious meals you can choose!

Here are the facts you need to know about eggs.

Eggs are a complete food source – Eggs are an important source of nutrition for not only many predators, but for the chick living inside it.  Inside the egg are all the nutrients necessary to grow a new chicken.  Eggs are also one of the most complete sources of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  Eggs are a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Fatty Acids

Egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors – One of the reasons pet owners are warned off eggs is that the whites contain enzyme inhibitors which can interfere with digestion, especially in very young and old animals.  This is true, but it only means that eggs should not be the mainstay of the diet.  It is perfectly safe to feed several eggs a week to the average dog.  If you don’t see evidence of digestive upset when feeding eggs to dogs, then he should have no trouble if eggs are a regular part of his diet.  Cooking the egg white could solve this problem but much of the nutrition would be lost so it is best to feed it raw.

Egg whites cause Biotin deficiency – Egg whites contain avidin, a Biotin (one of the B vitamins) inhibitor.  Biotin is one of the B vitamins and is important for cellular growth, fatty acid metabolism and good skin and coat.  Biotin deficiencies are quite rare and it would take an extraordinary amount of eggs to create a deficiency.  Moreover, egg yolks are very high in biotin, so as long as you feed the entire egg, there are few worries.  There are other sources of biotin in the diet as well.  Liver is a particularly good source.  Once again, cooking the egg white will eliminate the risk but your dog will lose much of the nutritional value.  If feeding your dog eggs on a regular basis, simply make sure he gets the whole egg, not just the white.

Eggs contain salmonella – Dogs are well equipped to handle the bacteria in raw foods.  The health of the hen is also important, so it is best to choose eggs from organic, free-range chickens.  Proper storage and keeping the eggs cool will also go a long way toward keeping the harmful bacteria at a manageable level.

Don’t forget the shells – If eggs are fed with the shell on, they are a nearly complete food source for dogs.  The shells can also be valuable for dogs who have difficulty eating bones.  Simply dry the shells out and grind them in a clean coffee grinder until they are powdered and sprinkle the powder on your dog’s food.  It’s important to remember that many eggs are sprayed with a chemical to make them look shiny, so it is best to get your eggs from a local organic farmer.

Eggs are cheap, easily obtained and an outstanding source of nutrition for your dog.  The overall concensus with raw feeders is that the health benefits of eggs certainly outweigh the risks – and feeding eggs whole, the way nature intended, goes a long ways to counteract harmful imbalances.  Try feeding your dogs a few eggs a week and he will you’ll see better health, inside and out.


ball-ornament-01 The Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Dogs

Although supplements can be a confusing topic for many pet owners, most dog owners have heard of the benefits of feeding fish oils. There are however, a variety of oils that you can also use to your dog’s benefit, each with different actions and benefits.

Coconut oil consists of more than 90% saturated fats, with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The main component (more than 40%) of MCTs is lauric acid, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. Coconut oil also contains about 2% linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and about 6% oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids).

Most of the coconut oil benefits come from the MCTs. For example, the lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their anti-fungal effects.

In addition, MCTs are efficiently metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss. In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic.

According to Dr. Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor, coconut oil gently elevates the metabolism, provides a higher level of energy and vitality, protects you from illness, and speeds healing. As a bonus, coconut oil improves any dog’s skin and coat, improves digestion, and reduces allergic reactions.

Fed regularly to pets, coconut oil may have multiple benefits:

Skin Conditions

  • Clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis,and itchy skin
  • Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
  • Makes coats become sleek and glossy, and deodorizes doggy odor
  • Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida
  • Disinfects cuts and promotes wound healing
  • Applied topically, promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings

Digestion

  • Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis
  • Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs
  • Aids in elimination of hairballs and coughing

Immune System, Metabolic Function, Bone Health

  • Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents that prevent infection and disease
  • Regulates and balance insulin and promotes normal thyroid function
  • Helps prevent or control diabetes
  • Helps reduce weight, increases energy
  • Aids in arthritis or ligament problems

Integrative Veterinarian and Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Karen Becker, says “Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older dogs. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.”

Why not give coconut oil a try and introduce it to your dog?  It offers many benefits for your dog and is a more sustainable and less toxic source of oils than fish.