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Canine Health


This Vet student's letter proves how little veterinarians are taught about damaging your pet's immune system by pushing profitable but risky prescription medications.



The Canine Immune System

Barbara J. Andrews, Managing Editor, AKC Master Breeder


A Vet student launched a vehement attack on my column about the vaccination debate, thereby proving how little they are taught about canine health and the immune system.


The soon-to-be-released vet student raised some interesting points although I doubt they are what she intended.  Apart from being “appalled and very disturbed”, she felt “the entire article is utter nonsense, with no facts to back up any of BJ’s 'old fashioned common sense.'”


Because I fear that she speaks for a growing number of "practicing" veterinarians who may never become good at animal health care, I decided to elaborate on some things she pompously derides. 


Should she go into private practice, she might note what time of year her waiting room fills with itching, scratching, sparsely coated pets that self-mutilate.  "Old fashioned common sense" suggests the seasonal increase in dermatitis coincides with spring cleaning chemicals, fertilizing and yard spraying, and starting dogs back on heartworm prevention.


Just this week a veterinarian described unethical changes in many veterinary practices since the introduction of pet insurance.  He said it enables vets to push formerly unaffordable, medically unnecessary treatments and stresses that anesthesia is hard on the patient.


THERE'S A BETTER WAY TO CLEAN TEETH AND AVOID ANESTHESIA RISKHe gave as an example "subjecting a dog to anesthesia in order to clean teeth instead of recommending raw beef bones appropriate to the dog's size or advising the owner to regularly brush a toy dog's teeth."


Why do drug companies say that the older a dog is, the more its immune system is wearing out and therefore, it should be vaccinated more frequently than younger dogs??!!!?  To the veterinary college student I say that is exactly the kind of deadly policy that appalls and disturbs” knowledgeable dog owners!


Back to my comment about host and parasite.  The mischaracterized “flea allergy” is in fact a warning that the pet’s immune system is under attack. When people inhale irritants, they sneeze.  Dogs sneeze too but they are much more likely to itch when exposed to allergens.  So why does the list of high-profit drugs and chemicals pushed to prevent or treat "flea allergies" grow longer each year?


Dermatitis can signify a wide range of environmental antagonists, anything from food additives to chemicals absorbed through the pads or foot-licking, which by the way, can also signify a classic reaction to heartworm "meds." Incredibly, the most common treatment is to further depress the dog’s immune system with cortisone injections, chemical flea baths, and if not already on it, heartworm prevention. Steroid shots may bring temporary relief but any veterinarian (or doctor) who only treats symptoms instead of identifying and preventing further exposure to the causative agent should be sued.  Many have been.


Using topical treatments instead of bombarding the entire dog with a prescription for front office profitability, a good vet could boost the dog’s immune system with those dratted “alternative” methods and supplements.  Y’know, the ones that work but can’t be patented and are therefore of “no value” to drug companies. Vitamins E, C and zinc, plus fish oil supplements will help restore a healthy epidermis and bring itch relief.  Yes, dogs do respond to therapeutic use of vitamin C and no, they no longer synthesize their own "C" due to the modern diet.


The vet student states “heartworm is 100% preventable with the use of safe, effective monthly tablets” and goes on to blame owners for trying to “de-worm their dogs at home using large animal products.”  Such parroted statements are a frightening example of how robotic medication dispensers (ignorant vets) are so harmful to dogs.  Unscrupulous veterinarians don't hesitate to prescribe whole-body (systemic) poisons which are often more dangerous than home or herbal wormers.  See links below for in-depth, novice-friendly information on intestinal parasites and wormers.


To promote a treatment which can be worse than the disease is unforgivable. The professionals in whose hands we trustingly place our best friends have a moral obligation to expand their education with a big dash of common sense.  Apparently vet school textbooks omit the reams of published information on potential side-effects of some medications.  For example, Dr. Jean Dodds, prominent national veterinary lecturer, advises that some antibiotics and heart worm prevention can adversely affect thyroid function (whoops, that can mean dermatitis) and can cause reproductive problems.  Vets need to know the risks and efficacy instead of simply prescribing a highly profitable product based on the manufacturer’s sales and promotional materials.


Another example.  I wanted to know about mosquitoes since they are the delivery boys for heartworm disease. So I bit the bullet and did that research-stuff.  Having done so, I weighed the odds of an infected mosquito flying it’s maximum three hundred yard range in order to feast on my house-dogs when a.) there are no loose dogs in my country club neighborhood, and b.) my dogs are sold to people in upper class neighborhoods where there is no medically-deprived dog population.  I have never, ever given heartworm preventative and never, in half a century of breeding dogs, had a dog with heartworm.  The odds are with me even though I live in the south.


If you live next to the city dump, I advise you to use heartworm prevention.


Taking the veterinarian's side, they protect the average pet owned by the average person who has no time or desire to research complex ways of caring for it.  Additionally, most pets are surgically sterilized so there’s no concern about medication interfering with the reproductive ability.  Veterinarians should however be keenly aware that "sex hormones" protect a dog's immune system and that they, the vet, are supposed to protect health not impede it for owner convenience.


Therefore the best thing I can say about heartworm "medication" and the growing practice of over-vaccination is that the protocol motivates owners to bring their dogs in to the vet regularly.  It provides the conscientious veterinarian an opportunity to catch any developing problems that the owner may have overlooked.  And for what it’s worth, a heartworm-positive diagnosis is not uncommon in dogs that were maintained on monthly heartworm medications.  If your dog is outside or you are in an area of stray dogs, test your dogs regularly.  Vets will love me for saying that but a twice-a-year blood draw is cheaper than monthly prescriptions and a lot easier on your pet.


I’m sure some readers react to my columns just as the vet student did.  I make no apology.  As a professional journalist, I have a responsibility to be factual, verify the source, and weigh information based on personal knowledge not hyperbole.


Many of ShowSight Magazine's readers and advertisers are also physicians, veterinarians, and dog food companies.  They are deeply committed to healthy dogs so when writing for that magazine, I need not footnote or reference every statement.  Furthermore, egotistical though it may be, I am my own reference and hundreds of you are my source!  Decades of clinical experience and proven success in maintaining optimum canine health surely counts for as much as a neophyte research scientist working in a lab where the only animals he touches are in stainless steel cages.


He/she receives sizable grants from companies whose primary motivation is to develop profitable new products.  I work for the dogs.  Shucks, I thought everyone knew that!


Let's get real.  I don’t recommend herbs to stop a bleeding artery.  My dogs go to the vet.  I go to the doctor.  Significantly, my sources differ from those of the angry vet student.  I have many friends in the medical arts.  They have impressive degrees in veterinary and traditional medical science, homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, and herbology.  Our readers also share with me a lifetime of practical success and healthy dogs.


These are real world credentials that I hope the confused vet student comes to understand.


If you missed what initiated the vet student's outrage, go to Profit Protocols Exposed.

Related Article Front Office Profit Affected By Changing Vaccine Protocols, by Cummings & Guenther, CVPM, DVM.

Reprinted courtesy ShowSight Magazine, Doll-McGinnis Publications EST 1998 © 19991312159162-11





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