News from Optimum Choices, LLC
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Denver Dumb Friends League Furry Scurry
Saturday, May 7, 8:30-Noon
Margaret Auld-Louie of Optimum Choices will be offering 10 minute mini canine massage sessions for $5 at the annual Furry Scurry in Washington Park, Denver. Russell Louie will be demonstrating the benefits of our holistic whole food product for pets, BioPreparation. We will be joined by Cindy Lloyd of Natural Pet, LLC, who offers anesthesia-free teeth cleaning services at area vet offices. For more information, see www.ddfl.org.
Are vaccinations beneficial or dangerous for our pets? This is a controversial topic. On the one hand, we're told that our dogs and cats should get yearly shots or we're not taking proper care of them. Most veterinarians send out yearly reminders to bring our pets in for their annual vaccinations. So we feel we're taking good care of our pets by doing this. But did you know that there is no scientifically proven reason to give pets annual vaccinations? Instead, it is done because of "historical precedent" or, in other words, "that's the way it's always been done". Since we are not vets at Optimum Choices, we would not presume to give you advice on how often or what to vaccinate your pets for. Instead, we will report on what veterinarians are saying about this topic and encourage you to do further research and make up your own mind on this issue.
Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, a leading holistic veterinarian, states "I think that vaccines, justly credited as the tamers of disease epidemics, are nevertheless the leading killers of dogs and cats in America today." Dr. Goldstein, a columnist for Animal Wellness Magazine, is the author of The Nature of Animal Healing, where he devotes a whole chapter to the problems caused by vaccines. He has been in practice since the 1970's, specializing in holistic treatment of cancer, though he deals with all diseases. He feels that over vaccination, along with poor diet, environmental toxins, and drugs contribute to the epidemic of cancer and other degenerative diseases that our pets are experiencing now. Most holistic vets are in agreement that while certain core vaccines are important for puppies and kittens, giving yearly vaccines throughout an animal's life causes more harm than good and is unnecessary. Other than the rabies vaccine, which is mandated by law, most holistic vets will not recommend annual booster vaccines after an animal has had their initial shots when young.
Even conventional vets are starting to change their recommendations, as studies come out from veterinary schools showing that vaccines' effectiveness can last for many years. The premier vaccine researcher in the country is Dr. Ronald Schultz, DVM, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He states "Annual revaccination provides no benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions. The percentage of vaccinated animals (those vaccinated only as puppies) protected from clinical disease after challenge with canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus in the study was greater than 95%" (in "Current & Future Canine & Feline Vaccination Programs," Vet Med 3: No. 3, 233-254, 1998). Also, he has stated "when there is no interference from maternal immunity, immunized puppies are protected for life, just as children are". Dr. Schultz has more than 45 years of experience in the field of immunology and has been a driving force behind many of the recent changes in vaccine recommendations made by the American Animal Hospital Association and other organizations. The new recommendations are for vaccinations every 3 years, though vaccine expert Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM acknowledges that they are much more modest than they need to be (every 3 years is unnecessarily frequent). She states that "we don't want to appear too radical here". Unfortunately, your vet may not be up on the latest recommendations and still recommend yearly vaccines, so if you are concerned about over vaccination of your pet, you may need to educate your vet or if they won't listen to you, change vets.
Dr. Goldstein also states that annual booster vaccines are unnecessary and redundant. But, he argues, redundancy is not the problem. He states that "giving too many vaccines makes pets sick". His concern with vaccines is not just the immediate bad reactions that some animals have to vaccines but the long-term effects on an animal's overall health. His concern is that the way vaccines are delivered to the body is unnatural, since few diseases enter the body by injection. "Where is there a dog or cat in nature who's exposed to seven or eight diseases at the same time by injection?" he asks. "The immune system isn't designed to withstand that onslaught". Intranasal (in the nose) vaccines can cause their own problems, such as sinusitis and nasal cancer. Homeopathic doctors and veterinarians, such as Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, have a term for the chronic problems caused by vaccination--they call it vaccinosis. They feel that vaccines, while preventing an immediate acute illness, may lead to a long-term chronic form of the disease that accounts for up to 80% of the illnesses that vets treat. Dr. Goldstein has seen so many cases in his practice of animals getting sick soon after annual vaccines that he no longer feels it is "coincidence" but that there must be a correlation between the two. In my own experience, I remember a colleague's dog getting a skin problem after vaccination for Giardia, which the vet stated must be "coincidence".
Dr. Goldstein suspects vaccines of causing many different problems in animals, far more than most vets recognize yet. He speculates that in cats the distemper vaccine has led to the increased incidence of hyperthyroidism. Holistic cat expert Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM points out that the feline distemper vaccine is grown in feline kidney cells and recent research shows that kittens develop autoantibodies to their own kidney tissue after being vaccinated for distemper. Almost all older cats these days develop chronic renal failure (CRF) and many die of it. Could we be causing this, at least in part, with annual distemper vaccines? I personally lost two cats to this at age 17, after several years with CRF, and they had both been vaccinated annually for much of their lives. My remaining cat, who is now 17, did not have regular annual vaccines and does not suffer from CRF yet.
Based on his many years of clinical experience treating cancer, Dr. Goldstein is now convinced that over vaccination is a major factor causing cancer. Clients would call him in a panic because cancer had recurred even though the owner stuck with the new diet and supplements. Upon questioning, Dr. Goldstein would hear responses such as "our local veterinarian told us just two weeks ago how great our dog was doing when we brought him in for his annual vaccines". What is proven in relation to cancer is that some vaccines can cause "vaccine induced fibrosarcomas" or tumors. Vaccines that used to be given between the shoulder blades are now administered in the legs so that if a tumor appears, the leg can be amputated. One vaccine can be put in one leg and one in another. However, after a while, you run out of appendages. Dr. Hofve states "I guess the FIV vaccine will have to be given in the tail, the next most likely appendage to lop off in the event of cancer".
One unfortunate aspect of vaccination is that we may be required to show proof of "current vaccinations" (generally meaning annual) to take our pets anywhere outside our home such as a kennel, hotel, dog park, doggie daycare, dog race, airplane, etc. So even if we work with a holistic vet that doesn't recommend annual vaccinations, that doggie daycare you want to use does require it. Virtually all facilities for dogs require current vaccination for bordetella or kennel cough. According to Dr. Goldstein, the vaccination for it is probably ineffective, may even cause kennel cough and is immunosuppressive. And he states, bordetella "is a mild condition, hardly life-endangering". Unfortunately, I have yet to find a kennel or daycare that does not require vaccination every 6 months for bordetella.
Vaccinations can be particularly stressful for elderly animals. The Cat Care Society in Lakewood, Colorado, which approaches health care for cats fairly conventionally, is now suggesting that people stop vaccinating cats after age 10, since it is probably unnecessary at that point, particularly for indoor cats, and is too stressful. Dr. Goldstein illustrates the problem of vaccinating elderly animals when he tells of a couple that took their elderly 19 year old cat to a kennel for boarding so they could take a much needed vacation. The kennel was inflexible and required "current vaccinations" so they brought their cat up to date on all vaccines with a FRVC+E shot and when they picked up their cat two weeks later, it was nearly dead. He states that vaccinating this elderly cat is "as if a one-hundred-year-old woman had planned a two-week stay at a seaside hotel, only to learn that before she checked in, her doctor would have to vaccinate her for chicken pox, smallpox, polio, and flu--at the same time!". He adds, since the diseases pets are vaccinated for rarely occur in older animals, the vaccines are not even necessary. He explains that in veterinary school a teacher discussed a case of a dog with distemper that was eight and a half years old and this was the only dog the teacher had ever seen over the age of eight with it. Yet, dogs of twelve to sixteen years old are routinely given vaccines for distemper.
What about alternatives to annual vaccination, such as titer testing and nosodes? These areas are just as controversial as vaccines. Titer testing means drawing blood and measuring the antibodies for a specific disease. The problem with it is that it only measures one aspect of immunity so a low titer does not necessarily mean lack of immunity to a disease. However, if you are concerned about your pet's immunity to a disease, it can be a useful tool. The use of nosodes means using homeopathic dilutions of a disease for protection against it. This sounds like a good idea but its effectiveness is not proven and vets who do classical homeopathy feel that it can be suppressive to the immune system, unless the animal already has the disease when given the nosode. Nosodes are non-toxic, since they are an energetic medicine, but their long-term effects on the immune system are unknown.
So, given all these concerns about vaccinations, how do you decide what to do with your pet? We would suggest finding a holistic vet you are comfortable with and consulting with them. Most holistic vets have a protocol of a few "core" vaccines they feel are necessary, rather than the large number of vaccines given these days by conventional vets. They generally will give these core vaccines once or twice as a puppy/kitten, depending on their age, or give them once to an adult animal of unknown vaccination status (such as a shelter animal). To reduce stress on the immune system, they generally give vaccinations singly, rather than the combinations of 3, 5 or even more vaccines given at once by conventional vets. They generally try to wait until 6 months or older to give the rabies vaccine. After that, they may recommend titer testing periodically to check the status of your pet's immunity and may revaccinate if titers are low. Also, they will likely recommend readministration of the rabies vaccine as required by law in your community. The vaccine protocols tend to vary from vet to vet so you need to find a vet you feel comfortable working with and educate yourself about vaccinations. Dr. Goldstein's book The Nature of Animal Healing has an excellent chapter on vaccinations. Also, there is a great deal of information available on the Internet, although you will have to be discerning as to whether the information is accurate. You can even find discussion groups on the Internet (such as on Yahoo Groups) about the problems with vaccinations. Below are a few sites with more information.
Several dog breeders have successfully raised generations of dogs with minimal
or no vaccinations. Here is the website of one such breeder:
Sunday, May 15, 12:00 - 5:00
$55 by May 8 ($66 thereafter)
Journey Books & Gifts
416 Plateau Pky
Golden, CO 80403-1533