Our pets health starts, like ours, with a healthy gut. A few years ago a statement as obvious as this would have been considered “wacky” and a little bit out there on the fringe. Today it is common sense!
Our raw food is in tune with the dogs digestive system. Most of the time, for most dogs and cats, a raw food diet will be sufficient for all their nutritional and gut health needs but what happens when something interferes with their gut health. This interference may manifest itself as itching, food allergies, digestive problems, ear infections or any common health condition that comes from an inflammatory disorder. There are many causes, from over vaccination (discussed in my previous blog post here) to poor diet (e.g. kibble high in carbohydrates). Regardless of the cause the resultant symptoms are upsetting for our pets and for us as they can be hard to cure by conventional treatments. Our own search for solutions for ourselves and our customers has taken us towards homeopathic and holistic treatments with exciting results!
From time to time I am asked the question, do you give your dogs supplements? The honest answer has always been no because I have never felt the need to but I am slowly changing my thinking on this.
Today we are inundated with advertising from various sources about the need to supplement our pets diets and while I believe strongly that a balanced, species appropriate diet is all that most of our pets need most of the time, sometimes, we need to intervene.
Only last week one of my dogs who gave birth to 13 live puppies retained puppy number 14, It had been dead for quite some time and it caused an alarming infection in my bitch. She needed to go onto antibiotics, a life saving intervention, but I was concerned about how the antibiotics would upset her microbiome, a very valid concern if you appreciate how important this is when it comes to optimal health. I immediately started Mystique on Adored Beasts probiotic, Fido's Flora. This is the only probiotic created for dogs as most people do not realise that human probiotics are destroyed by the dogs GI tract.
Over the years I have been approached by people who are in a desperate situation with their dogs.
Their dogs suffer with the most unbearable itch, sore, infected ears, hair loss and hot spots. The term “leaky gut” is increasingly used to describe the possible causes of this collection of ailments and points towards the solution. They come to me because they think raw feeding will cure this condition but it is a little more complicated than that for these pets. Raw food maybe the major part of the solution but they may require additional support through supplements.
Of course an adjustment in diet is essential to promote healing but these dogs are almost always over vaccinated, have received too many chemicals and have been on a highly processed diet. They have also been prescribed a cycle of antibiotics and steroids which are great at suppressing symptoms but get nowhere close to diagnosing the problem because what we really need to understand, is why are our pets suffering with these symptoms? They did not evolve, very successfully, over thousands of years to be seemingly allergic to chicken? or grass pollen?? or house dust?? or whatever.
I first started recommending the Leaky Gut Protocol several years ago to desperate pet owners with amazing results. So much so, that at the time, I approached Adored Beast to see if I could be a reseller of their products but at the time they were working on licensing for the USA.
Very recently, I approached them again and I am delighted to say we are now able to offer their full range of products. I urge you to listen to Julie Anne's story on this Podcast, such a remarkable woman and I feel honoured to be allowed to offer her solutions to the epidemic our pets face.
I also want to include the testimony of another incredible woman, Kristie Burnett who is the owner of two English Pointers. She flatters me incredibly and I am quite sure I was not as helpful as she supposes in her testimony but I know I was instrumental in her finding a healthier alternative treatment for her dogs ailments.
Here is her story in her own words!
“Raw food recipes from Rosemary and Mark at Kaskazini Kitchen and Adored Beast products completely healed my dog Cooper. Cooper is a 3 year old German Shorthair Pointer who suffered terribly from red spots, itchy skin and eyes. He was thirsty all of the time and at less than a year old he developed interdigital cysts and was limping and in pain. Unfortunately I trusted a local vet who over vaccinated him, gave him way too many antibiotics and steroids. Thankfully I put my foot down when the vet wanted to give Cooper Apoquel and this is exactly how I met Rosemary. After a phone consultation with Rosemary she immediately suggested Adored Beast Leaky Gut Protocol and explained how we needed to get Cooper’s gut on track so his immune system can work properly. Rosemary took the time to educate me about The Leaky Gut protocol, she answered all of my questions, concerns and fears about trying yet again something new with Cooper. But I loved everything Rosemary said and mostly just her passion for wanting to educate owners so their dogs can truly live and thrive healthy lives. So, I placed an Adored Beast order in addition to transitioning Cooper from kibble to Rosemary’s raw food recipes. Within two days of feeding Rosemary’s recipes I immediately noticed Cooper drinking less water, his coat softened and within a week it began to shine. After just a week on raw food, Cooper just seemed lighter on his feet with a spark in his eye. When it was time to begin Adored Beasts Healthy Gut Protocol Rosemary walked me through each step and the protocol proved to help Cooper.
His interdigital cysts showed up still but, in a way, popped up to say hello and then quickly left. I recall Rosemary telling me that Cooper’s immune system was starting to act like a healthy strong system. Trauma arises and his immunity kicks in and promotes healing. Exactly what should happen! Cooper will be 4 in June and hasn’t had a cyst or a red spot in two years. His skin is smooth and shiny and his eyes are bright. He has seasonal allergies which do not pose too much discomfort because we boost Cooper’s strength with Adored Beast’s pre and probiotics and of course his daily recipes from Kaskazini Kitchen! We are thrilled to know that we can order exceptional food and Adored Beast supplements from Rosemary.”
We are planning to stock the whole range of Adored Beast products. More information can be found in the new section of our website devoted to these products (coming soon). Should you want to know more about when and how to use them please do contact me.
I take Rabies very seriously as a threat to my dogs and to people. I think we can all agree rabies is a deadly disease and we all need to be protected from it. Rabies is a virus and it is usually transmitted from a bite. In the United States the animals most likely to be carrying this virus are skunks, foxes, raccoons and coyotes. I come across these animals regularly on my daily walks and so do my dogs and I know that the safest way to protect me and my dogs is to vaccinate them.
There is growing evidence and awareness that over vaccination in dogs is a leading cause of tumors, skin conditions and a range of auto immune diseases. According to the Rabies Challenge Fund
"Immunologically, the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions such as polyneuropathy resulting in muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, incoordination, and weakness, auto-immune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are all linked to the rabies vaccine."
Common sense tells us that we should only give it as often as it is necessary to maintain the animals immunity and the question we need to be asking ourselves is how many vaccines does it take to ensure immunity? Does it really need to be every three years for the lifetime of our pets? Science tells us no but the law mandates we vaccinate every three years.
Slowly but (hopefully) surely there is some good news emerging. Delaware is the first state to pass a law that will accept a blood titer in lieu of a valid rabies certificate. Titers detect antibodies to a particular disease. In essence, if you have antibodies present then you have immunity – most likely from the continuing presence of antibodies from the original vaccination. We have to hope that, in the not too distant future, all States will adopt this common sense approach that follows science and our current understanding of how immunisation works.
The Rabies Challenge Fund Results
The Rabies Challenge Fund was established to determine duration of immunity. (Much more information is available here)
The results of the rabies challenge fund have been made available to the public in its entirety (the full report is here). It clearly shows the three yearly vaccine rule is not necessary.
The goal of the fund was to extend mandated rabies booster intervals to 5 or 7 years and help reduce the risk of vaccine-associated adverse events. It concluded:
"The Rabies Challenge Fund trials have confirmed that rabies vaccine may induce a duration of immunity well beyond 3 years in dogs. These data serve as a foundation meriting further studies to: i) license a rabies vaccine with a vaccination interval of 5 to 6 years, which would enable States to incorporate extended booster intervals into their rabies laws/regulations; ii) develop and license a recombinant, non-adjuvanted rabies booster vaccine for dogs; and iii) establish a protective serum rabies titer standard for dogs. In addition, these data support the dual goals of better and safer rabies vaccination of pet dogs as well as improved public health security."
It is very difficult to navigate through the desire to be safe and protect our pets from harmful effects of over vaccination, but there are steps we can take to mitigate harm. Adverse reactions to the vaccine can take weeks or months to manifest themselves in our pets but we are not entirely powerless to intervene.
My homeopathic vet Dr Michelle Yasson recommends Lyssinum 200c, 2 hours post rabies vaccine. It is also called Lyssin. Cost, around $10 and is available on Amazon. I follow this guidance for all of my dogs when they have had their rabies vaccination to mitigate the adverse effects.
For those who may want to titer, the most cost effective way to do so is to visit the website of Dr Robb and follow the instructions re sending a blood serum sample to Kansas State Veterinary diagnostic Laboratory.
If we are concerned by current laws regarding this vaccine and I think we all are, we have a responsibility to lobby our elected officials to bring about change. The “Rabies Challenge Fund” trials are scientific evidence that three yearly vaccines are not necessary.
This is a long post. I have spent many hours attempting to distill my views (and their reasons) on the relationship between vaccinations and allergies which drives both the way I now raise my dogs and puppies and helps to inform the ingredients we put in our raw food.
I hesitate to use the term over-vaccination (though this is what it is) because these days it is easy to be wrongly labeled as an anti-vaxxer which I most definitely am not! I am, however, concerned primarily with maintaining the good health of my dogs and I have learned to treat with caution vets demands for regular vaccinations, the combining of several vaccines together and vaccines for different diseases which seem inappropriate and unnecessary (e.g. Lyme disease and Leptospirosis). In short my philosophy with vaccinations as with our food is to only put something in my dogs body which provides a real and proven benefit.
A little history
15 years ago, not long after moving to the USA from Scotland, I had the absolute privilege of attending a seminar at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown NY that featured Dr Shultz, one of America's leading veterinary immunologists. Listening to this man that day confirmed everything I had always understood about vaccines. From my biology classes in school, to the lectures I listened to during my nurse training decades ago, I had learned that the process was in essence that we introduce a foreign pathogen, the immune system mounts a response and we are protected, most probably for life, against that pathogen, whatever it may be.
Dr Schultz is the only veterinarian (that I am aware of) to have conducted studies to show duration of immunity. The trials received funding for seven years and he was able to show that vaccinated dogs maintained immunity for at least seven years and, he believed, most probably for a lifetime. This is what we expect from our own childhood vaccinations, that they will last a lifetime.
The last part of the seminar was a question-and-answer session and Dr Schultz was asked what protocol he followed for his own dogs. His response was “I vaccinate as a puppy and that is it"
I have never forgotten his answer, and this is what I do with my own dogs.
All holistic veterinarians agree that the best age to administer a once only vaccine for the core diseases such as Parvo and Distemper is between 12-14 weeks of age. We have always known that when that first vaccine is delivered, the puppies’ passive immunity, inherited from their mother, starts to diminish quickly because of the way in which the vaccine works. It seems crazy that we breeders do this at an incredibly stressful time for our puppies anyway, they are leaving the nest, the comfort of their siblings and of course their mother.
In the past, If I was keeping a puppy from one of my litters, I held off on the first vaccine and administered it myself when the puppy turned 12 weeks old.
Listening to Dr Will Falconers Podcast recently, which I highly recommend, persuaded me that I have to change my practice as a breeder and do this for all of my puppies moving forward. Here is a link to his Podcast.
Vaccines and Allergies
I am not quite sure how we have arrived at the point we find ourselves in today, where we are encouraged to vaccinate regularly (some vets recommending yearly vaccinations for the lifetime of our pet) as there is no scientific evidence anywhere to suggest this is necessary. We do not do this to ourselves, so why should we do this to our pets?
Fast forward 14 years and we have a wealth of information at our fingertips with access to the voices of a growing number of veterinarians who realise the harm we are inflicting on our animals by over vaccination and the application of harmful chemicals that masquerade as medications.
As a breeder, there is nothing more upsetting to me than receiving a ‘phone call from one of my puppy owners telling me their puppy/young dog has allergies, itching, or ear infections, the most common reason for going to the vets in America today. My heart goes out to them and their dogs. The first question I ask is what has your puppy received with regard to vaccines, topical applications and ingestables in the last few months. It is always the same. Too many unnecessary vaccines, monthly chemicals to control fleas and ticks and, sometimes, something to swallow that kills everything inside and out. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the link here.
Owning a raw pet food business and breeding my Rhodesian Ridgebacks for as long as I have (nearly 20 years) has made me acutely aware of how serious and how widespread these conditions have become. When I was a little girl, our local vet was open a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours early evening. The vet spent his daytime hours visiting larger animals and farm animals. Our dogs were healthy!! I have no memory of yearly vaccines and fearful anecdotes of the dangers of heartworm etc. We didn't feed our dogs kibble either and the term "complete and fully balanced" was unheard of.
To me there is a direct causal link between the new approaches to vaccinations, the claims made of the necessity of so called balanced kibble based foods and the proliferation of cancers, allergies and other “new” illnesses sweeping our pets.
So, the question is, what do we need to do to raise a healthy, vibrant, long lived pet?
1) Do your own research.
Educate yourself. Do not allow your dog or cat to be over vaccinated.
Find out what the efficacy of the more obscure vaccines are. The Lyme vaccine, for example, has a poor efficacy rate, It is why we do not have one for humans, so why give it to our dogs? Find out if Lyme is a serious condition for our dogs?. There is emerging evidence it is not and that is certainly my experience with our dogs.
I own dogs who, when they have their blood taken before a procedure such as spay, show antibody titer. I clap my hands as I understand my dogs have been exposed and their immune systems have mounted a defence. Yay, isn't that we want?
2) Feed a natural, species appropriate diet. Do not get hung up on terms such as "complete and fully balanced” especially when applied to kibble. Understand that balance is achieved over time. We do not chant this mantra when we feed ourselves and our children, so why should we do this for our pets and our local Coyotes are not thinking "complete and fully balanced" when they hunt in very close proximity to us most nights.
Knowing that variety and the right amount of organ, bone and muscle meat is the key to success. Take a look at the ingredient list on a bag of kibble and ask yourself if it is species appropriate? All that corn? pulp? meal? Understand nearly all recalls and deaths in our dogs come from processed food, not fresh food.
3) Nurture the young immune system. Please do not inundate it with harm. Do this and you are setting your pet up for life. It is what we do with all of our animals and we reap the rewards.
Our cat Athena will be 15 in a couple of months and she is amazing. She has never been to the vets.
She was adopted from our local shelter as a kitten and has not received a single vaccine since.
These days she stays indoors but for many years, during the warmer months, she lived outside and would appear at the door at night to be fed.
4) Understand the difference between thriving and existing. This is so important.
For those of you who live in Connecticut, you are so fortunate to have Dr Robb close by. Please take a look at this link and read the articles.
Next time I will take on the one vaccine that gives me nightmares and that is the Rabies vaccine.