Category Archives: health

Flu Fear Fans Vaccination Flames

JUNE 18, 2017 BY

Three pups wrestling on grass
Whoo hooo! Hey, any of you guys have a cough?

Panic Time? Not if You’re Smart.

The canine influenza virus (CIV to the lab folks, or dog flu to most of us) has made another come back. Dog flu was all the rage in Chicago in 2015, and I posted about the likely “genus epidemicus” (remedies to cure and/or prevent this illness) back then, and I’m sure it still applies today.

What’s changed that it’s going around again?

Very little, from the sounds of it. It’s cropped up at some dog shows and a
recent post on the AVMA site reveals it’s moved back into several states this
time around.

In May 2017, canine H3N2 influenza was diagnosed in dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois. This was the same strain of H3N2 involved in the 2015 outbreak in Chicago.1

I was a bit surprised to hear of the resurgence, as I expected there’d be a
wide spread immunity by now, two years after the initial run.

Also surprising to me is the apparent hysteria to get dogs vaccinated, likely
fueled by the media, who are milking the “contagion factor” all they can.

What’s in it for them? More eyeballs on their station/website, more ad sales.

Here’s a sample from a blog reader who commented on one of my earlier dog flu
posts:

This is definitely the HOT topic right now in my dog circle. We do agility and
it’s all the fear right now. Starting in Georgia and Florida and now in Texas

Many are ordering the vaccine. Many fears about these strains going around if caught can cause permanent lung damage and cost thousands of dollars to treat your dog. The stories are scary. I am having faith in Homeopathy.

Seriously?? “Permanent lung damage?” From the flu?

Sounds like unfounded hysteria to me, until I hear post mortem results that prove otherwise.

Reality Check

Let’s get the facts of this flu in hand, and have a plan in place that’s risk free, for both prevention and treatment, if your dog should get this flu.

There are two measures for every epidemic, whether human or animal.  They are:

  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

Very different measures.

The first, morbidity, just means how many are sickened by a given infectious disease.  It’s akin to contagion.  How easy is this virus to catch?  That’s morbidity.

The second, mortality, like it sounds, means how high is the death rate in the population that does catch the bug?

Just like the 2015 dog flu outbreak, this same virus is quite contagious, but not much of a threat to reasonably healthy dogs:

The H3N2 virus exhibits extremely high mobility and low mortality, and an
estimated 3 to 5 percent of dogs infected die.

Dr. Hawkes lost one of his black Russian terriers—though he’s quick to point
out that this particular dog had additional medical issues.

“It was pretty scary to see my 10 big dogs taken down in a matter of days,”
Hawkes said.2

“Additional medical issues?”

In other words, this was not a healthy dog.

Typical of most infectious diseases (and even parasites from fleas to heartworms), it preys mostly on those weakened, less healthy individuals in any given population.

Although most dogs recover without incident, deaths due to H3N2 have been reported.3

Oh, and no scientist anywhere is citing “permanent lung damage.”

Species Jumping

Oh, those pesky flu viruses, they seem to like to spread their influence beyond the borders of species lines.

The first we knew of dog flu was in 2004, when H3N8 apparently jumped from horses to greyhounds in Florida.

And our latest dog flu variant, H3N2, has infected some cats.

Following the initial diagnosis in Chicago, additional cases of canine H3N2
influenza were reported in a number of states. In early 2016, a group of
shelter cats in Indiana were diagnosed with H3N2 canine influenza. It is
believed the virus was transmitted to them from infected dogs.4

No humans have caught this flu in either variant to date.

How to Think Through the Vaccine Hype

With the help of main stream media and shock jocks on local TV news shows,
there’s been a rush to get dogs vaccinated against dog flu.

Let me help you see why that’s not in your best interests.

First, we look at efficacy, or how well it protects. Much like flu in humans, there’s more conjecture about efficacy than there is hard data to suggest we can rely on it protecting the vaccinated.

Vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza. A bivalent
vaccine offering protection against both strains is also available. Currently,
there are no canine influenza vaccines approved for use in cats. Vaccination
can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza. Vaccination may not all together prevent an infection, but it may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness.

The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended
for every dog.5

“May not altogether prevent an infection?”

“…may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness?”

Yes, and I may be a genius billionaire with yachts in five oceans and a fleet of private jets who could have retired 20 years ago.

Ahem.

Then, we always need to look at safety, as you well know if you’ve read anything on this site or many others concerned about vaccines and our current epidemic of vaccine injury in kids and animals.

Vaccines in general, and I’m sure this one is no exception, lack both efficacy and safety. Read that link on safety above for the inside scoop on the animal side of that.

And look around at the startling rise in autism and death from peanut allergy, both of which paralleled closely the rocketing rate of childhood vaccine “requirements.”

Add to that my recent post about the latest study the skeptics didn’t want you to see, comparing vaccinated vs non-vaccinated children, and you should have any concerns about vaccine safety verified in a hurry.

Conventional Treatment? You Can Do Better, Trust Me.

You know the old saw,

If your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail?”

Well, that hammer in Dr. WhiteCoat’s hands is antibiotics. Given freely, given way too often, and causing all sorts of gut and immune system damage.

And, last I checked, antibiotics still aren’t effective against viruses, right?

And CIV stands for what, again?

Canine influenza virus.

So, how’s that treatment working out, out there in nail land?

The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The
most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. 6

“Persists…despite treatment?”

And side effects are ruined gut flora, where 80% of your dog’s immune system resides?

How loudly can you shout NO!?

A Free Report to Put Your Mind at Ease

I recognized that my earlier post on the 2015 dog flu prevention and treatment remedies was a bit difficult to sort out. I was pretty excited when I wrote it, as we’d had real, verifiable cures of dogs with dog flu from two homeopathic remedies.

To that end, I collated what you need to know to use homeopathy to do two worthy things in this particular epidemic:

  1. Effectively and cheaply and safely prevent dog flu.
  2. Treat it effectively, cheaply and safely, if your dog was unlucky enough to contract dog flu.

Click on this button and you’ll have my Dog Flu report in short order:

Let’s keep track of this so we stay on top of the best remedy choices to prevent and/or treat it.

  1. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  2. Canine Influenza Virus 2017: Beyond Two Show Dogs, Canine Influenza Virus 2017: Beyond Two Show Dogs, http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/Canine-Influenza-Virus-Beyond-Two-Show-Dogs/?en_click=1&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=feature
  3. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  4. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  5. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
  6. Canine Influenza, Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx

Source: https://vitalanimal.com/dog-flu-vaccine-epidemic/

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the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute

By Dr. Becker

Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, interviews Dr. Donna Raditic, an integrative veterinarian and board-certified veterinary nutritionist, about the limitations of conventional training in animal nutrition.  VIDEO

Today I’m talking with Dr. Donna Raditic. Dr. Raditic is an integrative veterinarian and also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN), and a co-founder of our not-for-profit organization CANWI (Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute).

As many of you know, nutrition is my passion.  However, I’ve never pursued board certification from the ACVN because my beliefs are so different from the conventional veterinary viewpoint on animal nutrition.

In fact, I’ve felt judged and disrespected by many of my peers for my belief that whole fresh foods are the best nutrition for pets.

Dr. Raditic was the first board-certified nutritionist who said to me, “There’s a place for your beliefs about whole food nutrition.”  She was respectful and welcomed my ideas, thoughts and questions.  She was very supportive, which I greatly appreciated, and we became fast friends.

Why Is There No Independent Research on the Best Nutrition for Pets?

Dr. Raditic and I are both frustrated with the lack of independent research being conducted in the area of veterinary nutrition.  There’s a lack of funding for this type of research, and sadly, there’s also a lack of interest.  I asked Dr. Raditic to talk about her own frustrations coming from the world of academia.

“One of the reasons I became a boarded nutritionist was, I was like you,” she responded.

“I was in general practice doing integrative medicine and people would ask me questions about nutrition. I decided I had to learn everything I needed to learn. I pursued a course of study in nutrition and became a diplomate of the ACVN.

Another deciding factor for becoming boarded was when a pet owner told Dr. Raditic that her veterinary education was paid for by a pet food company!  “That upset me,” she says, “because I felt like, ‘No, that’s not true.  I have independent thoughts.  I can think for myself.'”

Is the Pet Food Industry Interested in the Health of Our Animal Companions?

As an integrative veterinarian, Dr. Raditic understands the impact of nutrition on health. No matter the type of medicine we practice, nutrition is the foundation.  Becoming a diplomate of the ACVN, which takes the traditional view of nutrition, ultimately felt very limiting to her.

Dr. Raditic felt there was much more she needed to know.  She also learned through her association with the ACVN that:

“There’s a tremendous amount of money being put in by the pet food industry to support the training of diplomates, as well as for research. But it’s going to have some bias. It has to. They’re developing diets. They’re a business.”

We all understand the motivation of businesses, but as Dr. Raditic asks, “Who is really invested in our pets?”

Dr. Raditic and I share a common goal: we’re invested in learning everything we can about optimum nutrition for pets.  And we want to know how we can use nutrition to keep our patients healthy and prevent disease.

“Someone asked me recently to write an article on what age dogs and cats live to,” says Dr. Raditic. “I said to him, ‘I don’t want to write about that, because that hasn’t change in several decades. What we need to know is what’s keeping them from living longer.'”

I absolutely agree, and underlying everything we do to keep our animal companions healthy is the way in which we nourish them.

Can We Help Pets Live Longer, Healthier Lives? We Think We Can

Dr. Raditic and I also agree that researching a particular type or brand of food shouldn’t be the goal.  Toward that end, Dr. Raditic and I have started a non-profit organization called CANWI, which is shorthand for the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute. Can we?

We definitely think we can,” says Dr. Raditic. “It’s probably going to be grassroots, because it’s going to need financing from people who care and are passionate like you and I.

What it represents is our desire to get true information, unbiased information. Studies that we can support. Nutrition studies that can help us understand how to better feed our patients.”

We want to answer questions like, “How can I help a dog live beyond age 13?” and “How can we prevent disease?”  For example, we know certain breeds are predisposed to develop certain disorders.  Is there a way to manipulate their diets to prevent those genes from turning on?

The Goal of CANWI

Dr. Raditic and I are believers.  We think we can.  But we need funding for research.  We also want to develop nutrition-based training programs so we can bring more people along with us — people who are open-minded and can appreciate the long journey ahead of us.

I’m very excited to be involved with CANWI because I know there are many things we need to research in the realm of whole food nutrition and what animals require in order to unlock the healing potential in their bodies.

We’re hoping to find funding for groundbreaking research that will help both pet guardians and veterinarians make better choices.  We’ll also have the opportunity to pass along what we’re learning in the form of biased, open and objective training for interested veterinarians.

Much of the nutrition information veterinarians receive comes through the pet food industry, and is therefore inherently biased.  Our goal is to gain a broader understanding of how nutrients affect the body.

Is there a way to feed pets that promotes an appropriate immune response so they can live longer and healthier lives?  We want to train veterinarians to think in new ways, not just the same way.

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These Must-Have Tests Could Save Your Pet’s Life

By Dr. Becker
YouTube video here

Although your veterinarian can learn a great deal by performing a hands-on physical examination of your pet, there are some very important aspects of his or her health that can only be evaluated with diagnostic tests.

Some people think if their pet looks healthy and there’s no change in behavior or appetite, then blood tests and other diagnostics are unnecessary.  But this isn’t true for pets any more than it is for people.

Almost all metabolic and organ issues that plague pets start with biochemical changes that can be picked up in blood tests weeks to years before an animal becomes sick enough to exhibit symptoms.  If you wait until your pet is showing signs of disease, it may be too late to reverse the illness or cure it.

Reactive Versus Proactive Pet Care

Many problems brewing beneath the surface don’t produce symptoms until the disease is full-blown and, heaven forbid, even fatal.  Waiting for symptoms to appear is a reactive approach.

Many of us in the holistic veterinary community have clients who think they’re taking a holistic approach to their pet’s health when they’re actually being reactive.

For example, they wait until their dog is coughing to ask for a heartworm test, or until their cat is drinking tons of water and urinating constantly before they ask for a kidney function test.

Allowing pets to get sick before identifying significant health issues isn’t a holistic approach.  The paradigm shift holistic vets are trying to encourage is a move away from reactive medicine toward proactive medicine.  Proactive veterinarians focus on identifying lifestyle obstacles before disease occurs.

Proactive Pet Care Saves Lives

If we’re capable of identifying disease early and stopping it from occurring, why wouldn’t we?  Taking a proactive approach gives us the opportunity to address minor biochemical changes early on, and prevent them from becoming major health issues.

We can prevent organ failure if we know the body is leaning in that direction.  We can prevent irreversible degeneration that robs pets of good health and long lives.  But we have to know it’s occurring in order to address it, and we won’t know if we don’t check.

I’ve heard countless times from clients that, “My dog was fine until he suddenly got congestive heart failure,” or “My cat was fine until I took her to the vet yesterday and she was diagnosed with kidney failure.”  The truth is those conditions didn’t develop overnight.  They occurred slowly, over time.

The dog with congestive heart failure and the kitty with kidney failure have been brewing those conditions for quite a while.  But because the pet parents and veterinarian weren’t regularly monitoring the health of those pets, serious organ degeneration occurred right under their noses.

Even if your vet isn’t proactive, you can be.  Ask him or her to measure your pet’s vital organ function with the appropriate diagnostic tests.  You’re entitled to a copy of the results, which you can review and keep track of from one year to the next, taking note of any changes that occur.

If you have no choice but to visit a reactive versus a proactive veterinarian, you’ll need to act as your pet’s advocate.  Don’t ever be afraid to speak up on behalf of your animal companion.

Keep in mind that most abnormal test results were once normal.  It’s how quickly we catch the change from normal to abnormal that can mean the difference between fixing a problem early, or potentially losing a pet to a disease we could have identified early on.

“I wish I would have known,” is something no proactive vet ever wants to say or hear.  Put another way, “I wish I would have known,” means, “I wish I would have checked.”

We have the ability to check — to monitor your pet’s health — and that’s what I’m encouraging you to do.  This is especially true for senior pets and pets with chronic health challenges.

Fecal Exam and Urinalysis

If your dog goes on lots of outdoor adventures, I recommend once or twice yearly fecal exams to check for signs of intestinal disease and parasites.  Indoor house cats who have no exposure to potentially infectious poop from other animals are off the hook for fecal exams.

A yearly urinalysis (or more frequently if your pet is older or prone to infections or other problems involving the urinary tract) is used to assess the overall health of your pet’s urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, and to check for other health indicators, such as glucose regulation and liver function.

A complete urinalysis measures the function of the nephrons in the kidneys and gives information about your pet’s metabolic and fluid status.  The test is also used to evaluate substances in the urine that might indicate an underlying disease process.

Blood Tests

Blood tests help your veterinarian proactively monitor your pet’s internal organ health, and also help to determine causes of illnesses accurately, safely and quickly.  Blood tests also allow your veterinarian to monitor the progress of medical treatments.

However, while these tests indicate where your pet’s body may be having a problem, they don’t tell us how or why the problem is occurring.  It’s also important to know that currently there are no blood tests that definitively detect cancer, and not every organ has a specific serum marker for cancer.

Complete blood count (CBC).  The CBC is the most common blood test performed on pets and people.  A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability and the ability of your pet’s immune system to respond.

The CBC is essential for pets with fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite.  Also, in the event that your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders and other unseen abnormalities.  The results of a complete blood count include:

HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration

Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) measure the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.

WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body’s immune cells, including lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils. Increases or decreases indicate disease or infection.

Platelets measure cells that form blood clots.

Retics (reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells.  High levels indicate regenerative anemia; low levels indicate non-regenerative anemia.

Blood chemistry profile.  Blood chemistries are common blood serum tests that evaluate your pet’s organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more.

They are very important in evaluating the health of older pets, pets undergoing anesthesia, pets with vomiting and diarrhea, pets that have had toxin exposure, pets on long-term medications and pets with endocrine or internal organ disease.  Blood serum measures include:

ALB (albumin) is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage and intestinal, liver and kidney disease.
ALP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease, active bone growth in young pets or arthritis or bone degeneration in older pets.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but does not indicate the cause.
A bile acids test is a paired serum sample taken before and after meals, which measures how well the liver is able to recycle bile acids.
Amylase is a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates, and lipase (LIP) is a digestive enzyme for fats. Elevations may indicate pancreatitis or other pancreatic dysfunction. The definitive test for pancreatitis is the PLI (pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity) test.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart or skeletal muscle damage.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver or heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock or dehydration.
Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.
CHOL (cholesterol) is used to supplement a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease and diabetes mellitus. Fortunately, since pets aren’t plagued with arteriosclerosis like humans are, even a significant elevation in cholesterol doesn’t result in blocked arteries, stroke or heart attack.
CL (chloride) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate disease. If your pet has both sodium and chloride abnormalities, you should ask your veterinarian to check for adrenal disease.
CREA (creatinine) is a sensitive marker of kidney function and perfusion. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN. BUN and creatinine go hand in hand. There’s also a third test called the symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) test that can also identify early kidney disease.
GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and decreases with chronic infections and a weakened immune system.
GLU (glucose) is blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus or persistent hyperglycemia as the result of a carbohydrate-based diet. Low levels (below 40) can cause collapse, seizures or coma.
K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, urethral obstruction or inappropriate doses of certain drugs. High levels can cause heart problems.
Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and bleeding disorders.
TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems, gall bladder stasis and certain types of anemia.
TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys and infectious disease.
T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism, commonly diagnosed in cats. A complete thyroid panel is necessary to accurately assess thyroid health.

Tests for Tick-Borne Disease

If you live in an area where ticks are abundant, I recommend asking your veterinarian for an annual or even twice-a-year SNAP-4Dx test or an Accuplex test to check for tick-borne diseases, including heartworm, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.  Regardless of what you do to manage fleas and ticks on your pets, research shows mosquitoes can transmit tick-borne diseases, and none of us can completely prevent mosquito bites.

Especially in the midwest and the east coast of the U.S., it’s a good idea early in the year and at the end of tick season to check for tick-borne illnesses, which thankfully are fairly easy to treat and cure when they are identified before they create chronic disease.

Titer Testing and Vaccinations

I also recommend titer testing in lieu of automatic re-vaccination for all diseases other than rabies, which of course is required by law.  Titer tests are simple blood tests you can ask your veterinarian to do that provide information about your pet’s current immunity to the diseases he’s been vaccinated against in the past.

Immunologist Dr. Ron Schultz states that any positive titer result — any number above zero — means your pet’s immune system is capable of mounting an effective response and no vaccine is needed.

Some of my clients say, “Hey, I think it’s just cheaper to vaccinate.  My dog has only had one vaccine.  What’s the harm in doing it?”  My response is it’s much safer to titer test, even in pets who’ve only had one vaccination, because chances are they’re protected for life and don’t need additional vaccines.

If the titer is low, I will give the vaccine at no charge.  I give a single parvo or distemper vaccine if a dog’s titer is low.  I don’t give combination vaccines.  In 19 years, I’ve never given a free vaccine because none of my patients have titered low after their puppy shots. So this is something to keep in mind when it comes to re-vaccinating your pet.

Additional Recommendations

Three other tests to consider are a fasting insulin test, a vitamin D test and a dysbiosis test.

Fasting insulin test.  In humans, one of the best predictors of longevity is the fasting insulin level.  Very few veterinarians measure this, but I think it’s an underutilized test that can evaluate a patient’s metabolic health and fat-burning adaptedness.  Michigan State Diagnostic Lab runs this test for $18.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things you can do to evaluate your pet’s ability to manage metabolic diseases, including cancer.

Vitamin D test.  Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic, and we’re beginning to learn that deficiency in pets may rival that of humans.  Dogs and cats can’t make vitamin D from sunlight so they must get it from their diet.

Unfortunately, the synthetic vitamin D used in many commercial pet foods can be difficult for dogs and cats to absorb and unless impeccably balanced, many homemade diets are deficient in vitamin D.  Vitamin D testing is an add-on to routine bloodwork, but you can ask your veterinarian to include it.

Dysbiosis test.  We know that 70 percent of the immune system is located in your dog’s or cat’s gut, and many pets suffer from gut-related disorders that create malabsorption, maldigestion and ultimately, a weakened and dysfunctional immune system.

Identifying and addressing a leaky or dysbiotic gut is critically important in re-establishing good health, especially in debilitated, chronically ill and aging pets.  The Texas A&M Gastrointestinal Laboratory has just released a test to measure the level of dysbiosis in the canine gut.

The takeaway today is that monitoring a pet’s internal environment is actually quite empowering, because we’re able to address minor changes before disease occurs, and in many cases we can prevent degeneration, which is always our goal as proactive pet parents and veterinarians.

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Are We Over-Vaccinating Our Pets?

Did you know that, unlike most other veterinary drugs, the dosages for vaccines are not based on the size of the animal?  It’s scary but true.  A 5-pound cat, for instance, may receive the same dosage of a rabies vaccine as a 150-pound Great Dane.  Instead of body weight, these vaccines are based on the minimum immunizing dose.

Over-vaccinating animals can not only make them sick, but can cause potentially fatal autoimmune reactions.

“Over-stimulation of the immune system can be problematic,” veterinarian Deborah Wolf told KOMO. “There are (also) potentials for — especially in cats — injection site cancers. We want to protect them without over-stimulating the immune system, and running them down and creating new problems.”

Rabies vaccination laws for animals vary by state.  Most states do not allow veterinarians to give partial doses of the rabies vaccine based on a pet’s size or health.  Until 2011, rabies booster vaccinations were usually given annually to pets.  But that year the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) updated its guidelines to recommend that core vaccines be given to pets only every three years.

WHY ARE SOME VETERINARIANS OVER-VACCINATING PETS?

Why do some veterinarians continue to put the health of pets at risk by unnecessarily vaccinating them every year?

“A lot of people do what they told,” Dr. Dale Porcher, of Shores Animal Clinic in West Palm Beach, Fla., told CBS12.  “I think a lot of people have not stood back and questioned why are we doing this.”

Rabies and other vaccinations also happen to be a major source of steady profit not only for veterinary practices but for the Big Pharma companies, like Pfizer, that manufacture them.  Last year (2016), pet owners in the U.S. spent $5.81 billion on vaccinations, CBS12 reports.

Yet some veterinarians who don’t want to over-vaccinate their patients are being punished for taking measures not to do so.

Dr. John Robb, who practices in Connecticut, was put on probation Feb. 1 by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine for reducing the dosage in rabies vaccinations for small dogs. From now until 2042, he cannot vaccinate any animals for rabies.

“You’re telling me that if there’s a law that would force me to kill my patient, I would have to do it?” he told News 12 Connecticut.  “You know what the state board said?  ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You are crazy.’”

Is it safe to give smaller pets lower dosages of vaccines?  Dr. Lisa Boyer, who practices in Loomis, Calif., doesn’t think so.

“Immunologists say vaccines are not dose-dependent, that you need enough antigens to stimulate the immune system,” she said.  “It’s not a weight-versus-dose question.  My 7-year-old [child] and I get the same vaccine.”

VIDEO below: “Vets Are Now Challenging the Government”

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdoctor.karen.becker%2Fvideos%2F1408834765858068%2F&show_text=0&width=400

CONNECTICUT MAY BE THE FIRST STATE TO PREVENT VACCINE OVERDOSING

To help prevent pets from getting sick from being over-vaccinated — and to prevent veterinarians like Dr. Robb from getting punished for trying to keep pets healthy — Connecticut state representatives Pam Staneski and Fred Camillo introduced the bill H.B. 5659 in January, 2017.

The new law would allow vets to adjust vaccine dosages and skip rabies booster shots in the best interest and health of an animal.  The bill recommends a titer test — a simple blood test — that can determine if a pet is adequately immunized.

If H.B. 5659 manages to get passed, Connecticut will become the first state to allow animals to be tested for rabies antibodies instead of being automatically vaccinated every few years.

DON’T LET YOUR PET BE OVER-VACCINATED

It’s important to ask your veterinarian about the vaccinations your pet is receiving.

If your vet recommends annual vaccinations even though your pet has no health or other issues that would require them, you might want to let your vet know about the latest AAHA vaccination guidelines – or perhaps find another vet.

As Dr. Porcher told CBS12, your veterinarian’s primary concern should be “your pet’s health and not their profit margin.”

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Alert: US Dog Food Recalled After Discovered To Contain Fatal Dose Of Euthanasia Drug Pentobarbital

Alert: US dog food recalled after discovered to contain fatal dose of euthanasia drug

Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food has recently issues a recall on some of their products after traces of pentobarbital were found in their food.

Pentobarbital is a sedative normally used to euthanize horses, cats, and dogs.

Evanger’s Hunk of Beef Dog Food is currently the only product suspected of contamination.  The manufacturer is subsequently voluntarily recalling all Hunk of Beef items bearing lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB, and have an expiration date of June 2020.  The FDA reports that the second half of the bar-code should read, “20109,” and it can be located on the back of the product label.

These five lots of food are the sole focus of the recall, as they were all produced with the same lot of beef from the same supplier that is specifically used for the Hunk of Beef product.

The FDA reports that while the majority of the potentially contaminated food has been pulled from store shelves, they advise that “if consumers still have cans with the aforementioned lot numbers, he or she should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.”

So far, five dogs have reportedly been affected by consuming this tainted product, and one sadly passed away.  The deceased pup had consumed food bearing the lot number 1816E06HB13.

Talula, the pug who passed away, had eaten the food on New Year’s Eve.  Three other dogs in the same household also experienced negative effects from consuming the pentobarbital-tainted food. Mrs. Mael, the pets’ parent, commented, “I fed them one can and within 15 minutes, they were acting drunk, walking around, they couldn’t … they were falling over.”

Fortunately, Talula’s three “siblings,” Tito, Tank, and Tinkerbell, survived after an emergency trip to the vet.  Talula’s post-mortem examination revealed that pentobarbital was the cause of death.

Evanger’s has reportedly paid for all of the dogs’ medical bills and donated to an animal shelter in Talula’s honor.  The dog food company has also paid for the medical bills of two other dogs.

In a statement, Evanger’s said, “We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers.”

The company, which claims to only use USDA-approved beef for their food, also commented that they had thought “something like this seemed impossible.”  Evanger’s has also “terminated” a 40-year relationship with their beef supplier — which also supplies to other pet food companies.

The source of contamination is still not yet known, but the company says that they will continue to investigate.  It is the first recall Evanger’s has had to issue across their 82 years in the pet food industry.  (RELATED: Learn more about toxic food ingredients at Ingredients.news)

Oddly enough, the FDA has already examined the potential side effects pentobarbital may have on pets: the federal agency has even conducted a study on how much of the sedative needs to be present in a dog’s kibble to do harm.

The research, done some 15 years ago now, concluded that the most pentobarbital a dog would likely consume was 4 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight per day — an amount they concluded was “harmless.”  Of course, these findings only pertained to dry kibble; Hunk of Beef is a canned food.

Regardless, the FDA has suspected that pentobarbital was present in dog food for at least the last 15 years — they even noted in their study, “Presently, it is assumed that the pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized, rendered cattle or even horses.”

While the researchers found pentobarbital poisoning to be unlikely, it has become a reality: the amount of phenobarbital in dog food — at least canned dog food — does have the potential to be harmful.

And it certainly makes you wonder:  is pentobarbital in human food, too?

Sources:

BBC.com  Feb 7 2017

NPR.org  Feb 7 2017

FDA.gov  Feb 3 2017

FDA.gov  Feb 28 2002

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Can YOUR Lifestyle Habits Actually Kill Your Pet?

A growing body of evidence continues to point to secondhand smoke as the primary cause of certain kinds of cancers and other health problems in companion animals.

Dogs living with owners who smoke are at particular risk for lung and nasal cancers.

smoking with pet

Cats trapped in smoke-filled environments are at risk for malignant lymphoma, a common feline cancer which in under a year takes the life of three out of every four cats that develop the fatal disease.

“The evidence is striking,” says Steven Hansen of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.

“Most veterinarians believe pretty strongly secondhand smoke presents a strong danger to dogs and cats with pre-existing respiratory problems,” he says.

“And extrapolating, why would you expose a healthy animal?”

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

It’s probably not a huge surprise to learn that just as human health is at risk from second and third-hand smoke, so is the well-being of four-legged family members in smoking households.

Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain deadly toxins, and toxins poison every living thing, including beloved companion animals.

I have personally witnessed the devastation pet parents feel when I inform them their precious pet has developed a cancer that is linked to exposure to cigarette smoke.

As a pet owner, it’s difficult enough to hear that your dog or cat is seriously ill.

But many people who learn it is their own bad habit or that of a family member that caused their pet’s illness, experience tremendous feelings of guilt on top of the anxiety and sadness that comes with caring for a very sick or dying pet.

Smoking-Related Cancer in Dogs

Your dog is aging about seven times faster than you are. Compared to the lifespan of humans, everything in your dog’s lifetime is sped up – including how quickly toxins act on his system and how fast diseases like cancer develop as a result.

Some breeds of dogs exposed to second and third-hand smoke are more prone to develop nasal cancers.

Dogs with long noses, like collies, German shepherds and most varieties of hounds, are more likely to develop tumors in their noses and sinuses than other breeds. Survivability rates for canine nasal cancer are dismal – most pups die within a year.

Symptoms of nasal cancer include sneezing, bloody nasal discharge, and swelling in the nose or sinus area.

Canine lung cancer from cigarette smoke occurs more often in short-nosed dogs like pugs, boxers, Pekinese and other brachycephalic breeds. Their shorter nasal passages allow more carcinogenic smoke particles to reach their lungs.

One study found that dogs living in smoky environments have a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer. Chronic coughing, extreme fatigue and weight loss are some of the warning signs of lung cancer in canines.

Cats Get a Double Whammy from Cigarette Smoke

A Tufts University study concluded that cats living with smokers are twice as likely to get malignant lymphoma as kitties living in smoke-free homes.

Part of the reason for the increased risk is that in addition to inhaling tobacco smoke, cats also ingest the toxins from cigarettes when they groom themselves. Grooming activity moves carcinogens from your kitty’s fur into her mouth and bloodstream.

All pets in a smoking household are at some risk of developing disease, including birds. Birds are very sensitive to inhaled pollutants, and they can also be harmed by tobacco and nicotine residue on items (and people) in their environment.

It’s Not Just About the Smoky Air

There are other ways your dog, cat or other pet can be poisoned by tobacco products, including:

  • By eating any portion of a cigarette or cigar
  • By drinking water that is contaminated by a cigarette butt
  • By ingesting a stop-smoking aid like nicotine gum or a nicotine patch

Nicotine is toxic to pets, and eating a cigarette, chewing tobacco, or even just a portion of a cigar can be fatal.

Signs of nicotine poisoning include drooling, constricted pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures and cardiac abnormalities. If you think your pet has ingested a nicotine product, call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately and/or get him to a vet or emergency clinic right away.

How to Minimize Your Pet’s Exposure to Smoking Products

  1. Don’t smoke inside your home or any place your pet spends a lot of time, and don’t allow others to poison your pet’s environment, either. Remember, it’s not just about contaminants in the air. Smoke particles cling to everything inside a home, so the rug your dog lies on, or the comforter your kitty naps on are coated with cigarette residue if people smoke indoors.
  2. Don’t leave butts for your pet to find, in ashtrays, other receptacles, or on the ground.
  3. Dispose of nicotine gum or patches appropriately.
  4. After smoking, wash your hands before handling your pet. If your dog likes to snuggle in your lap, change to clothes you haven’t smoked in. If your kitty likes to rub his head against yours to claim you as his own, make sure he’s not being exposed to smoke particles clinging to your hair.
  5. And finally, consider quitting. If you haven’t done it for the sake of your own health, maybe concern for the health of your furry best friend will be just the incentive you need to give up your smoking habit once and for all.

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E-cigarettes and Pets

Electronic cigarettes – those battery-powered devices that simulate smoking – are becoming more common in households.  And while some manufacturers are using childproof measures, this frequently doesn’t deter dogs and their urge to chew.

Nicotine toxicity is not a new toxicity, and whether from cigarettes, patches, insecticides or gum, the level of toxicity and signs seen remain the same.

Here are some factors that make e-cigs and the liquid nicotine with them different:

  • Potentially a high nicotine concentration of 1 to 10 percent
  • The product may often be poorly labeled
  • Liquid formation that means absorption more quickly for faster onset of signs, leaving less time for decontamination efforts
  • While carriers may be propylene glycol and glycerin, there have been reports of them containing diethylene glycol, which can cause acidosis and kidney injury
  • Products may be flavored, such as milkshake or chocolate, making them more attractive to pets

Nicotine acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that are present in the autonomic nervous system. It causes an initial stimulation of the autonomic ganglia at lower doses and blocks them at higher doses.

The body systems most commonly involved are the CNS, cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal tract. Initially excitation, tachypnea, salivation, lacrimation, emesis, diarrhea may be seen clinically. Those can be followed by muscle weakness, twitching, depression, tachycardia, shallow, slow respiration, collapse, coma, cyanosis, cardiac arrest, death.

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