The New Year is a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. There’s no better time to plan a health strategy for your dog. Your dog, whether he is a $100 rescue or a $5,000 purebred show champion is a valuable investment. You invest your time, your love, your emotions and your finances. If you want to minimize the emotional stress and financial impact of keeping a companion animal, then the first step is to keep him healthy and happy. Here are three resolutions that will help you do just that:
Step One: Vaccinate Less
It’s a well known and scientific fact that the core vaccines (distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus) last for at least seven years and likely for the life of your dog. The minimum duration of immunity for the core vaccines is as follows:
- 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
Dr. Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the forefront of vaccine research and chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences states, “Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.” JAVMA, No. 4, August 15, 1995, pg. 421.
As for the rabies vaccine, there is also strong evidence to show that it too lasts for the life of the dog. While studies are ongoing to prove this fact, Dr Schultz has already shown that the rabies vaccine lasts for at least three years by challenge and 7 years by serology. A 1992 French study demonstrated that, by challenge, vaccinated dogs were immune to rabies five years after innoculation. (Rev. sci.tech. Off. int. Epiz.) 1992, 11 (3), 735-760
Dr 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.” Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals, JAVMA, vol 213, No 1, July 1, 1998.
To summarize, once your dog has been successfully vaccinated (a titer test run three weeks after vaccination will tell you this), there is no need for him to be vaccinated again. As for rabies, always decline the one year vaccine and ask for a three year vaccine (which is ironically the very same vaccine). Make sure that each and every vaccine given to your dog is necessary. Any vaccine has the ability to kill or harm your dog so there had better be a very real and identifiable reason to vaccinate.
Dr Schultz concludes, “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.”
Step Two: Choose Fresh, Whole Foods
Let food be thy medicine. Processed foods are foods that have been compromised by the addition of hormones, additives, preservatives, unnatural genetic material or other chemical or heat treatments that alter or destroy the natural healthy enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Processed foods are made for convenience and long shelf life, and real nutrition gets short-changed in the methods used to create these foods.
Moreover, most processed pet foods contain grains which are often contaminated with mold, which produces dangerous poisons known as mycotoxins. There are hundreds of known mycotoxins. The more common ones known to affect dogs include:
Aflatoxin poisoning can cause severe, life threatening symptoms such as fever, vomiting and jaundice. But the larger threat is the consumption of small amounts of aflatoxin over time. Even in smaller trace amounts, aflatoxin can accumulate within a dog’s liver where the poison can ultimately cause cancer and other chronic disease.
“Once aflatoxin enters a dog’s liver, it remains there forever. There’s no antidote and no known cure.” Says Mike Sagman of The Dog Food Advisor. “That’s why so many experts agree — the maximum amount of aflatoxin that should ever be allowed in any commercial dog food should be zero.”
If you have already forsaken processed pet foods, good for you! But it’s important that you don’t buy meat, pork and poultry from commercial factory farms. Here’s why: the animals raised in these factory farms are confined, abused, fed food which makes them sick (genetically modified soybeans and corn, other dead animals, bakery waste, manure and other sickening things), and many become very ill from this treatment.
They are then injected with bacterial killing drugs, further polluting their flesh. Worse, this reliance on drugs contributes to the development of new and lethal bacteria strains resistant to modern antibiotics.
Choose grass fed, organic meats and chicken instead.
Step Three: Build Good Health
This may seem obvious to some but this third step is really the most important – and the most difficult. It requires a paradigm shift, away from preventing disease and toward building good health.
Dog owners view heartworm pills, dewormers, flea and tick sprays, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals as disease prevention tools. This defies logic. How can chemicals and toxins promote good health?
Health is a lifestyle, it’s not just the treatment of illness.
Conventional medicine focuses on crisis intervention and is less successful in treating chronic illness. In fact, many modern medical techniques were developed during war time for emergency care. However, respected studies show that most illnesses don’t just drop out of the sky and hit dogs over the head. Arthritis, allergies, digestive issues, hypothyroidism, diabetes and cancer are directly related to the lifestyle choices you make for your dog
The dog’s body is a beautifully designed healing system that can meet most problems without outside intervention. Conventional medicines tend to overkill and even suppress the body’s own immune response. They may appear to work well in the short term but the long term consequence is stress to the organs as the body tries to rid itself of the toxic residue from these medicines.
This is most evident in the largest organ of the body: the skin. Allergies, hot spots, gunky ears, lipomas and interdigital cysts are the body’s attempt to excrete toxins acquired from heartworm pills, dewormers, vaccines, processed foods, flea and tick sprays, antibiotics, drugs and the environment. When dog owners treat these skin eruptions with conventional treatments ranging from topical steroids to atopica and prednisone, the skin eruptions may seem to go away but the cause – toxin buildup – hasn’t been addressed at all. In fact, the toxin load has been increased with the new drugs. To add insult to injury, the suppressive drugs stop the body from expelling these toxins through the skin and they will then be driven deeper inside the body, into the liver, kidneys and other organs, creating less obvious but more sinister diseases such as liver disease and cancer.
Holistic medicine supports the body and helps it to heal on it’s own without suppressing symptoms. While there is a place for conventional medicine, it’s best to remember that it is really emergency medicine and should be used to put out fires but certainly not to promote good health.
What Are You Waiting For?
Right now is the time to take a hard look at the toxins your dog is exposed to and what you can do to limit them. Despite advances in veterinary medicine, our dogs are developing chronic disease at an alarming rate and this is directly related to the choices we make for our canine family members. What choices will you make in 2013?