Saturday, December 5, 2009


Sensible Guidelines

Whether or not to vaccinate is an individual decision, and deciding what to do can be a difficult choice. While some veterinarians and owners refuse to vaccinate altogether, many others take a middle ground approach. They inoculate against only the most life-threatening conditions, give one vaccination at a time, and detoxify the animal afterwards. Here, in more detail, are what we think are sensible guidelines to follow:
You may want to vaccinate only for the most important communicable diseases. Because of the dangers associated with vaccines, many holistic veterinarians encourage pet owners to take a long look at the risks and benefits of each vaccine, and to choose only the ones most needed. When two or more are necessary, space shots two to three weeks apart or rotate vaccines so that the animal is not getting several every year. Three vaccines that most holistic veterinarians recommend for dogs and cats are those for rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.

The rabies vaccine is high-risk for vaccinosis in a percentage of dogs and cats - but it's necessary as it is required by law for all dogs and cats in most localities. To minimize side effects, the rabies vaccine should be given by itself, signally, and homeopathic antidotes - discussed later, under 'Vaccinosis' - should be given at the same time.

Distemper is a fatal disease that strikes both dogs and cats that can be easily controlled with a vaccination which has been around since the 1950s. This vaccination does not seem to be a threat to animals and does more good than it has ever done harm.

Parvovirus is another lethal canine disease. Since a vaccine was developed in the late 70s, the incidence of parvovirus in domestic dogs has also been lowered.

The Holistic View

Our position on vaccines is not anti-vaccines, but rather pro vaccine-safety. That means, we strongly believe that we should only inject substances into our pet's body, and especially into the bodies of puppies, kittens and the unborn, that have been rigorously studied and proven safe both short-term and long-term.

In the opinion of many holistic vets, the, canine and feline rabies (mandatory by law), canine and feline distemper, and canine parvovirus are the only vaccines that should indisputably be given to all pets.

With regard to other vaccinations, each case needs to be considered individually.

Feline leukemia is a disease against which cats are routinely vaccinated, and yet the vaccine is not all that effective. Not only that, but there are problems. Feline leukemia is one of the vaccinations to which cats may have serious adverse reactions, including injection-site fibrosarcoma tumors, which must be surgically removed, sometimes along with the limb they are associated with. In light of this, the owner of an indoor-only cat, who is not likely to come into contact with any other cats, may feel confident in not giving the feline leukemia vaccine to their pet (only 1 percent of indoor-only cats manifest the disease -- 30 percent of outdoor cats develop an acute form of the disease). By the way, if your cat tests positive for feline leukemia be sure to test again in three weeks to be extra certain that the first result was not a false positive reading.

It is a good idea to avoid vaccines of lesser importance, especially when there are other, less drastic ways to treat the condition. For the average, healthy pet, the corona virus is nothing more than a short lived case of off color diarrhea that goes away on its own in a few days if the animal is kept quiet and warm. A less healthy pet might succumb to this infection, even here the usefulness of the corona vaccine has not been established.

Boarding kennels will only take animals that are inoculated annually with the bordetella vaccine. A problem with the procedure is that kennels will take animals the day of or after they've been vaccinated, long before immunity to the disease has had a chance to develop. In fact, after a single vaccination of bordetella, you need to wait two to three weeks and then follow with a booster before getting any sort of immunity at all. I myself have known of two dogs who were inoculated nasally who died right after the procedure due to an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Bordetella (kennel cough) to me, is like a human being getting a cold. You get over it. If your animal has had the inoculation once and its immunity is proven via blood titer, haver you veterinarian write the kennel a note so stating, along with a copy of the results of the titer for proof. As an extra precaution, supply your pet with extra vitamin C and echinacea during its stay.

There is quite a bit of concern about animals, especially those in the Northeastern states, contracting Lyme disease. While this fear might be somewhat overplayed (only 5 percent of dogs that are bitten by ticks contract the disease), you will still need to take preventive measures; however, vaccinations are not the hoped-for-solution. In fact, both shore and long term effects of the Lyme vaccine are proving to be as devastating as the disease itself, or even more so. Soon after the inoculation pain, the animal may have local reactions such as swelling, pain, and even an allergic reaction leading to breathing difficulties. Later on deeper difficulties may develop. These include immune suppression and autoimmune reactions in any number of body systems. Thus, your dog or cat may develop seizures, arthritis, dermatitis, or thyroiditis. Repeating the Lyme vaccine annually could prove devastating with the development of kidney or liver disease, or even cancer. It would be a better idea to have your animal's Lyme titer checked yearly.

Dos and Don'ts of Vaccinating

Before vaccinating, always consider the health of your animal. Is pet lively and vigorous, or does it have symptoms of an immune system that is already compromised? If your pet is fighting cancer, for example, or experiencing a flare-up of a chronic skin problem, it's best not to further disrupt its immune system with a vaccine. Although vaccine labels clearly state, "for healthy animals only," some veterinarians will vaccinate sick animals regardless of the warning unless an informed owner insists the animal not be vaccinated at the time.

If the animal is undergoing another medical procedure, such as neutering, your vet may think this is an opportune time to vaccinate, but you should never allow it. Multiple procedures, anesthetics, and medications will place further stress on the immune system and at the same time may lessen the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Never vaccinate an animal that is younger than 6 weeks old. Preferably, shots should begin at between 9 and 16 weeks. Very young animals acquire a natural immunity through the antibodies in their mother's colostrum, the first milk feedings. This protection may last as long as 14 to 16 weeks. When vaccines are given too early, maternal antibodies may interfere with the immune response.

Vaccination Schedule


9 weeks - distemper, modified-live vaccine (killed not available)
12 weeks - parvovirus, killed vaccine
15 weeks - repeat nine-week immunization
18 weeks - repeat parvovirus, killed vaccine
21 weeks - rabies, killed vaccine (three-year, if possible)

9 weeks - feline distemper/rhinotracheitis/ calicivirus vaccine (combination only)
12 weeks - repeat nine-week immunization
15 weeks - rabies, killed vaccine (three-year, if possible)

Vaccines should be given singly. (Especially true of the rabies vaccine.) Avoid combination vaccines, which may be convenient to use but are detrimental to the health of your pet. Ask your veterinarian to order individual vaccines (although for some vaccines, this is not possible) and to give just one shot per visit. Additional vaccines should be spaced at least one week apart, or preferably two or three weeks apart. Also, used killed vaccines, when these are available. Modified-live vaccines are banned in Scandinavia because their abilities to replicate and mutate make them far more dangerous.


Detoxification after an inoculation is essential. To offset possible negative side effects from vaccines, many holistic veterinarians give their patients the homeopathic remedy Thuja, which is considered the most important antidote for preventing or reversing vaccine-induced illnesses. Realize, however, that Thuja, like vaccines, is not a panacea, and that the best approach is to vaccinate as little as possible.

Thuja can be bought online or in health food stores that carry homeopathic remedies. Use a 30C potency for any size or any age animal.

One homeopathic pellet is crushed and placed on the tongue once daily, an hour before or after a feeding for seven days after a vaccination to help eliminate compromising effects on the immune system.

Things That May Help

Request that your veterinarian use 25 gauge needles when administering vaccines to your cat. Small hypodermic needles are less likely to carry irritating hair and debris under the skin.

Request that your veterinarian massage the area where the vaccine was administered. Massage spreads out the antigen (vaccine) lessening inflammation.

Veterinarians that see many cases of VAS sometimes begin giving their vaccinations in a lower rear leg. Although the plan is somewhat gruesome they realize that a tumor occurring on the leg would allow the leg to be lost but the cat to be saved.

Be sure your veterinarian keeps accurate records of the brand of vaccine used and the site where it was given. Although this may not help your pet, it will help us to determine which brands of vaccine may be causing problems. To identify the vaccine used, it is now recommend that the feline panleukopenia-calicivirus-chlamydia-rhinotracheitis vaccination be given on the right shoulder. Rabies vaccination should be given on the right rear leg as far down the leg as possible. Feline leukemia vaccination should be given on the same spot on the left rear leg.

For more information on using natural remedies for pets visit our website at:

Antifreeze Poisoning

The Humane society of the United States estimates that tens of thousands of companion animals and wildlife fall prey to ethylene glycol (EG) poisonings and death every year and claim it to be one of the most dangerous household hazards in America.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 2,372 accidental poisonings related to Ethylene Glycol (EG) antifreeze in 1987. 765 of these were children under six years of age. In 2003, The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that nearly 1,400 children were admitted to emergency rooms due to antifreeze poisoning.

Yearly around 10,000 dogs, cats and children fall victim to accidental poisoning by automobile antifreeze. It doesn't take much either. A few licks or a few ounces is all that has to be consumed to be fatal to a dog, cat or kid.

Antifreeze poisoning occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the animal typically appears groggy, lethargic, uncoordinated and disorientated. Symptoms usually appear about 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.

The second phase, which can last up to three days, is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death.

Veterinarians say that antifreeze is the number one cause of poisoning in pets; within a few hours of ingestion, byproducts of ethylene glycol produce crystals that cause severe and life-threatening liver and kidney damage as the body tries to remove them.

Cats are particularly sensitive, with as little as one teaspoon being fatal, and it barley takes an ounce to kill a 15 pound dog.

If you suspect your animal may have ingested antifreeze get your pet to an emergency veterinary facility immediately - Minutes can make a difference between life or and excruciating death!

The real tragedy is that this lethal substance can inexpensively and easily be made harmless at the time of manufacturing by adding a bittering agent called Denatonium Benzoate. Denatonium benzoate, is the worlds most bitter substance and is a harmless compound that, even in extremely small quantities, makes ingestion impossible. It is harmless to people, animals, plants and the environment. And at the addition of 30 parts per million it will make antifreeze totally unpalatable. We're not talking big bucks here either, one (1) teaspoon per 50 gallons of antifreeze at a cost of pennies per gallon - It comes to about 3 or 4 cents!

Way back in May of 2005 U.S. Senator George Allen and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively, requiring antifreeze to contain a bittering agent to render the substance unpalatable to pets and children. We wonder why, legislators and manufacturers still haven't pushed this one through?

Here's the good news, there's something we can all do to help right away. The first step is to begin by taking a look under your hood. What color is the liquid in the plastic coolant reservoir... Is it green? Is it red? If so your car's cooling system is more than likely filled with antifreeze containing the lethal chemical Ethylene Glycol. Technically at any moment, all it would take would be a minor traffic accident or a leaky hose, gasket, radiator or water pump to release a toxic spill into the environment or even just a drip onto your driveway that has an inviting aroma, a sweet flavor that will entice animals and children to taste or drink the highly poisonous substance. Most of which do not recover from its deadly effects.

HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO: replace the poison in your car with an essentially non-toxic product that works just as well and lasts much longer. Look for engine coolant products formulated with propylene glycol (PG). As compared to ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (EG) is less toxic and safer for children, pets, and wildlife in the environment. Propylene glycol is used at specified levels in the formulation of many consumer products including cosmetics, pet food, and certain over-the-counter medications.

The non-toxic version works just as well in your car too. A recent General Motors service bulletin states, "It is our conclusion that propylene glycol engine coolants will perform adequately under most vehicle operating conditions" and that "... propylene glycol engine coolant may be used in GM vehicles and will not affect the warranty coverage."

We found the safer (containing propylene glycol) antifreeze coolant available at most automotive stores such as: Kragen, ACE, Schucks, Checker auto parts and NAPA.

Take Immediate Action

# 1. CALL - If you suspect antifreeze poisoning call an emergency veterinary clinic, your veterinarian or if you can't reach someone immediately call the ASPCA 24 hour poison hot line at (888) 426-4435. The animal must be treated within 3-4 hours of ingestion, before irreversible kidney damage is done. # 2. INDUCE VOMITING - PURGE THE POISON. In cases of antifreeze poisoning, getting your pet to vomit is the most important thing that you can do. To induce vomiting, give hydrogen peroxide at 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight. If your pet doesn't vomit in 10 minutes, repeat again. NEVER do more than 2 treatments of peroxide. You can also try salt: dilute 1 teaspoon of salt in a tablespoon of water per every 10lbs of body weight. NOTE: DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING if something caustic has been consumed (such as drain cleaner or bleach). # 3. RACE TO VET - DELAY ABSORPTION. Activated charcoal is readily available at most pharmacies. It delays absorption of any toxin by binding to the toxic compound in the stomach. The easiest way is to give charcoal is in capsule form.

The veterinarian will give your dog 4-methylpyrazole or your cat ethanol to keep the antifreeze from breaking down into toxins.

Supportive Remedies

After professional veterinary care many holistic veterinarians recommend enzyme supplements, probiotics, and essential fatty acids, as well as taurine, which the kidneys contain and which plays an important role in your pet's kidney health.

Herbal formulas and nutritional supplements may help maximize kidney function, including those containing diuretics like carrot, dandelion, and sesame seed; antioxidants like blueberries and lactoferrin; anti-inflammatories like turmeric, wheat grass, and barley grass; desiccated sea plankton with electrolytes to help kidneys function better; and chlorella which could speed healing of damaged kidney tissue. Homeopathic remedies to consider: If used early enough, Lycopodium 200c may help to limit the damage to the liver and the kidneys. If after giving Lycopodium there is kidney damage, think about Apocynum 200c.

For guidance and complete dosing instructions, we recommend using "Pet Remedy Charts" for the species specific modalities.