At times, I get a little tired of repeating the following adage: “Healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites.”
Every day, I get the following questions from our readers…
“What should I give my dog to avoid heartworm?”
“What can I give my dog so he doesn’t get worms?”
“What do you do to prevent fleas in your dogs?”
Every day, my answer to all of the above is, you guessed it,
“Healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites.”
Before we go into the specifics of why that might be true, I’m going to share a story with you. But first, a little introduction to my dogs might be in order.
I show Labrador Retrievers and right now I have five of them – well, four and a half because Bitey is pretty small! I’ve been breeding Labradors for about fifteen years now but I don’t breed all that often because my puppies must be raised the way I would raise them here. That means they eat only fresh, whole foods, they aren’t vaccinated for anything not required by law (and remember, there are always exemptions), they are not subjected to chemicals and toxins (and by that I mean heartworm meds, dewormers, flea and tick meds, drugs and chemicals in and around the home), and they are not taken to conventional vets unless absolutely necessary (homeopathy rules in this house)!
You may think that by not giving my puppies dewormers in the last fifteen years that I’ve got a real mess on my hands. Well, I don’t. In fact, I’ve never had a puppy with a positive fecal. We are worm free and loving it here at Fallriver! We are also flea free. In 15 years, I have never had one flea on one of my dogs (and I live in the country and the dogs and I are in the woods, the fields and the beach every day).
Now my friends who raise their dogs the conventional way (by that I mean lots of vaccines, lots of chemicals and a processed food diet), don’t enjoy the same luxury. When they come to visit me, their dogs leave wriggly worm infested poops behind. I just pick it up and don’t worry about it. Worms don’t present a problem for my dogs because, and say it with me, “Healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites.”
Let me share a little true story with you that will prove my point. You’ll get a kick out of this.
Two years ago, I travelled to a dog show with a friend of mine who raises her Labradors conventionally. We made the nearly ten hour drive in my van and stayed at the show for two days. While we were there, we exercised the dogs in a nice sand ring that was used for horses and it was a great way to let them off leash for some play time while at the show. We won some ribbons, chatted with friends, and piled back in my van to drive the ten hours home. Nothing out of the ordinary.
About three days later however, my friend called me up with a warning. She said that she noticed that the three dogs she brought to the show were covered in fleas. They were crawling up her son’s legs and she had to put them all on Frontline – and she recommended that I do the same. I thanked her and hung up.
So, I decided I should take a look at my own dogs too – although I didn’t notice anybody scratching. I laid them on their backs to see their tummies and didn’t see anything. I’d like to say that I was more diligent than that, but I’ve learned that I can be pretty complacent with these things. Because you see, there weren’t any fleas on my dogs. Well, I couldn’t see any fleas anyway. They might have had one or two, but if they did, they didn’t seem to notice.
I’d like to say that I then vacuumed out my van and diligently looked for fleas there. But meh, I took the dogs for a walk instead. That seemed like more fun than cleaning the van. And it turns out it wasn’t necessary because my dogs remained flea-free in the days and weeks after that.
So let’s summarize these events, for those following along at home.
- Six dogs go to dog show in one van (sounds like the beginning of a great joke)
- Three dogs are vaccinated, routinely given drugs and chemicals and fed a processed diet. Three dogs are not.
- Care to guess which three dogs came home with fleas and which three didn’t?
Come on, I know you’re thinking it too. Isn’t it crazy to give our dogs vaccines full of aluminum and mercury, feed him neurotoxins that kill the bugs in and on him (and ridiculously believe they can kill bugs but not be harmful for our dogs), and processed food in a bag (just like all fast foods come in a bag)…and say “there, I’ve made my dog healthy!”
Stop the insanity!
If instead, we had a little faith in the immune system and worked to create health through a good, nutritious diet and by refraining from toxins and drugs, isn’t it just common sense that our dogs would be better able to handle a couple of fleas?
Ever see a rotten squirrel carcass at the side of the road? Dead is about as unhealthy as a squirrel could be. And on that dead little carcass, you’ll see an orgy of pests if you look close enough (don’t let your neighbors see you do this though…I’ve learned they don’t like that). Now compare that dead squirrel to healthy dogs. No pests. Nothing. Zip, zero, zilch.
So if your dog has enough fleas (or ticks or heartworms or intestinal worms) that it’s noticeable to him or you, can you honestly say he’s healthy? I wouldn’t. I would say he’s somewhere in between healthy dog and dead squirrel…and that’s probably not a good place to be.
Maybe we need to adjust our definition of healthy. You have to believe that health is much more than just the absence of disease if natural health care is going to be as nice to your dogs as it is to mine.
But once you understand what health really is, then the next time you see this tired old adage, it might make more sense to you. And then you can say it along with me:
“Healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites!”