Have Fun and Be Safe on Thanksgiving


By Green Dog Pet Supply

So of course tomorrow, watch out for your pets when your house is full of people:

  • Make sure if they’re overwhelmed they get moved to a quieter place in the house with a nice raw bone or bully stick or stuffed Kong to work on.
  • Make sure they’re wearing their ID tags in case they sneak out the door as people come and go.
  • Make sure no one slips them too much turkey, especially skin and gravy, as Pancreatitis can set in quickly with too many rich fats. Of course, cooked turkey bones are extremely dangerous for dogs – cooking any poultry bones changes them from edible to sharp and splintery.
  • Be careful of the wrappings, strings and foil etc that were involved with turkey cooking, as they seem yummy too. Protect this sort of garbage from your pets.
  • Raisins, grapes, rising bread dough, onions and chocolate often play roles tomorrow in the big meal, and they are all toxic to dogs.
  • Raw turkey necks, however, are a great treat for dogs (unless their Thanksgiving day is filled with too many other treats – maybe save that for a quieter day if they haven’t had one before), and the raw liver and heart are worth cutting up and giving little pieces to both the kitties and the dogs.
  • Keep your emergency vet # in an easy to find place in case your pet eats something they shouldn’t
  • Have a wonderful holiday!

Good News About the Latest Canine Vaccination Guidelines


By Dr. Becker

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force has updated their vaccination guidelines for 2011.

According to AAHAnet.org:

Developed in a manner consistent with best vaccination practices, the 2011 Guidelines include expert opinions supported by scientific study, published and unpublished documents, and encompass all canine vaccines currently licensed in the U.S. and Canada. The task force that developed the guidelines included experts in immunology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, law, and clinical practice.

I’m encouraged by, if not blissful about the new guidelines.

The absolute highlight is that all core vaccines with the exception of the 1-year rabies are now recommended at 3-year or greater intervals.

Even more exciting is the task force has acknowledged that in the case of the non-rabies core vaccines, immunity lasts at least 5 years for distemper and parvo, and at least 7 years for adenovirus.

Hopefully these new guidelines will help more dog owners understand the long-lasting effect of those puppy shots! And hopefully, more dog owners will now request titers rather than automatically revaccinating their canine companions for distemper, parvo and adenovirus.

Summary of New AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines for 2011

Please note: My vaccine recommendations and those of Dr. Ronald Schultz, follow this summary.


Canine Distemper (CDV)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Parvo (CPV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 7 years.

Rabies 1-year

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For all dogs: annually as required by law

Rabies 3-year

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For all dogs: within 1 year of initial dose regardless of age at time of initial dose, then every 3 years thereafter as required by law


Measles Vaccine (MV)

This vaccine is supposed to provide temporary immunization of young puppies against distemper by ‘cross-protecting’ them against the disease in the event there are still maternally derived antibodies present. It is always given in combination with other vaccines — distemper plus measles, or a 4-way combination of distemper plus measles plus adenovirus plus parainfluenza.

It is only recommended for healthy dogs between 6 and 12 weeks of age.

Canine Parainfluenza (CPiV)

There are two delivery systems for this vaccine — intranasal and parenteral (injected).

This is a flu vaccine. The intranasal form prevents clinical signs of illness, infection and shedding. The injected form prevents clinical illness, but not infection or shedding. It is used for dogs that aggressively resist intranasal delivery.

The parenteral vaccine is always given in combination with certain core vaccines; the intranasal form is always given in combination with the bordetella vaccine alone, or with bordetella plus adenovirus.

It is always given in a single dose. Revaccination recommendations, depending on the form of the vaccine (intranasal or parenteral), are per the combined core vaccine schedule, annually, or more frequently for ‘high risk’ animals.

Bordetella (Bb) Vaccine

The bordetella vaccine can also be delivered intranasally or by injection.

Parenteral administration requires two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart. For the initial vaccination, it is recommended the second dose be given at least a week before the dog is boarded, attends a dog show, etc. Revaccination is recommended annually

The intranasal vaccine is single dose, with revaccination recommended annually or more often for ‘high risk’ dogs. Some dogs experience side effects for 3 to 10 days after vaccination, including coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) — Intranasal

The intranasal form of the adenovirus vaccine is a non-core vaccine.

It’s recommended for dogs at risk for respiratory infection caused by the adenovirus, and it may not provide immunity against canine hepatitis. It should not be considered a replacement for the injectable form of the vaccine.

This vaccine is available only in combination with the intranasal bordetella and parainfluenza vaccines.

Canine Influenza

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 6 weeks. Annual revaccination is recommended.

Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age. Revaccination is recommended annually and/or at the beginning of tick season as determined regionally.

Notes: Recommended only for use in dogs with known risk of exposure, living in or visiting regions where exposure risk is high or where Lyme disease is endemic. Tick control products are required in addition to the vaccine.

Leptospira interrogans

This refers to the 4-way killed whole cell or subunit bacterin. The 2-way killed bacterin form of this vaccine is not recommended.

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age.  Revaccination is recommended annually, but only for dogs with reasonable risk of exposure.

Notes: Vaccination should be based on known geographic occurrence/prevalence and exposure risk of the individual dog.

Canine Oral Melanoma

This vaccine is only available for treatment of dogs with malignant melanoma. It is not intended for the prevention of oral melanoma.

Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback rattlesnake vaccine) (toxoid)

Field efficacy and experimental challenge data in dogs are not available at this time. (Vaccine efficacy and dose recommendations are based on toxin neutralization studies conducted in mice.)

Canine Coronavirus (CCov)

This vaccine is not recommended. Neither the modified live nor the killed CCov vaccine has proved effective against combination coronavirus/parvo disease. Only the parvo vaccine is protective against dual viruses.

What Dr. Ron Schultz Recommends

For those of you not familiar with Dr. Schultz, I recommend you watch my 4-part video series with him. You can find links to all 4 videos and articles here.

Dr. Schultz is one of the preeminent experts in the field of veterinary vaccines. If you read the full AAHA vaccination guidelines report, you’ll see his work referenced throughout.

Dr. Schultz recommends not starting a puppy or kitten core vaccination program before 6 to 8 weeks of age, with revaccinations no more frequent than every 4 weeks. So for example, if you start the program at 8 weeks, you would give another dose of the core vaccines at 12 weeks, and the third dose at 16 weeks.

Dr. Schultz’s core vaccine protocol for his own family’s pets differs in that he actually runs antibody titers on the mother to know exactly when the best time is to effectively immunize the puppy or kitten for the 3 core viruses. Then he titers the little ones 2 or more weeks after the vaccine, and as long as the response is adequate, he doesn’t in most cases revaccinate for the rest of the pet’s life.

When it comes to rabies vaccines, Dr. Schultz gives the first vaccine after 4 months of age, revaccinates in a year, and then again in 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. In other words, he follows the law for 3-year rabies vaccines, even though he doesn’t believe a vaccination every 3 years is necessary for immunization.

Currently Dr. Schultz is in year 4 of a 7-year study of the rabies vaccine. You can read more about the study at the Rabies Challenge Fund. His goal is to be able to recommend that after an animal is vaccinated at from 12 to 24 weeks for rabies, there’s no need for re-vaccination every 3 years.

Hopefully we’ll see the results of his 7-year study reflected in a future revision of the AAHA’s canine vaccination guidelines, as well as in state and local laws.

My Vaccination Protocol

My protocol at Natural Pet is a first round of the 3 cores before 12 weeks of age, usually around 9 to 10 weeks. Then I boost between 15 and 16 weeks. Then I titer 2 weeks after the second round to see if the animal has been immunized and not just vaccinated.

My rabies protocol mirrors Dr. Schultz’s, except I prefer to wait until 6 months of age before giving rabies vaccine.

As for the non-core vaccines, I don’t recommend any of them. Visit the following pages for a discussion of:

Note several non-core vaccines are only available in combination with other vaccines, some of which are core. I recommend you check with your vet to ensure none of the non-core vaccines are being piggy-backed on core vaccines your pet receives. Most traditional vets do not carry single vaccines, so ask to see the vaccine vial before assuming your pet is only receiving one agent at a time.

Podcast: Greening your cat and dog care, with the owner of Green Dog Pet Supply

Picture 1

Christine was interviewed yesterday on a blog called DandelionDish about how to green your pet – the topics included:

– What do we look for in a product and how do we define green when it comes to pet products?
– What should you generally be looking for in a food and what do you absolutely not want to see on a label?
– What is the greenest way to feed your pets?
– Discussion of more sustainable cat litters vs. clay
– What do we look for in things like beds and toys?
– Are green products necessarily more expensive?
– What are ways that people can save money and still live sustainably?

Here’s the link to the podcast

Fantastic Videos to Help You Pick the Best Foods for Your Pets

These are two videos I wish I had made myself, as we have these discussions with people on a daily basis. I also wish Dr. Becker was here in Portland – I’d give anything to be able to refer customers to her veterinary practice, and to have her out to the store for lectures, etc. The good news is that she has a great website/e-mail newsletter that addresses so many important health issues for pets. I highly encourage you to sign up for her free e-mail newsletter, and to peruse the archived articles on her website.

Here are two short videos filmed at our friends’ store, “Bad Dog Frida” – a great independent pet supply store in Madison, WI.
This one tells you about the best types of foods to feed your pets:

and this one outlines the types of foods you should avoid and how to recognize them:

Time to ditch the old couch for our pets’ sake?


By Green Dog Pet Supply

I just stumbled upon an interesting article about flame retardants in furniture having agreater cumulative effect in the bodies of our pets than in people. Apparently many of these chemicals were phased out in 2004 in the U.S., but of course many of us own furniture manufactured before that time. It’s very important to try to minimize chemical exposure for our pets and our children- those little bodies are even more susceptible to toxins than we are.  Here’s the link. http://news.discovery.com/animals/ditch-your-old-couch-for-your-dogs-sake-110427.html

Training a Cat

otisblueeyesThere’s a lot of cat stuff on our minds these days as we’ve recently adopted a 10 year old Himalayan cat.
So many people think that cats don’t need anything – we hear this all the time. They seem to understand that dogs need interaction, exercise and mental stimulation, but cats, (especially indoor cats) need these things as well. One thing we hear a lot from the people who think their cats don’t need anything is how horrible their cats’ behavior is and how destructive these cats are to their home!
We needed to teach Otis a lot of new things when we brought him in, as we were turning him from an indoor/outdoor cat to an entirely indoor cat, so making sure he was good at a litter box and scratching posts and keeping him stimulated enough to make up for his outdoor time was all important. I thought it might be fun to share a few videos with you.
Cats can certainly be trained through positive reinforcement techniques to follow commands. He’s got a pretty good recall and he sits like a champ on command. I also needed him to get the heck out from under my feet in the kitchen – I decided to use the threshold of the kitchen as a visual marker; something easy for him to understand. Get over the threshold and stay there and the treats you seek will come to you:

It’s been working well. First I lured him with a treat into the spot, while I said the command, then I started saying “get in your spot” and then luring and rewarding him, and then I would say the command and pause before luring him. It took longer than it would have taken a dog, but he eventually had that “Aha moment” and did it himself. Now, he needs to stay in the spot for longer and longer periods to get treats.


He had a history of being brushed and liking it in the past (you have to brush a Himalayan!) but when he came to us he didn’t tolerate it much. Mostly he wanted to play and bite the brush, and forget about brushing anything but his cheeks and back. So, we started with what he would tolerate, and just when he was doing a nice job, we’d stop and get a treat. Of course over time he’d tolerate a bit more and a bit more. I’d try to reward it when he did a slightly better job than usual, and if I pushed it too long and he got cranky/silly about it, I just stopped and left.
Each time he rolled over on his back (even when he wasn’t being brushed) I’d use the word “belly” while I talked to him, and if he let me touch and later rub the belly (without snapping the bear trap shut – our name for the attack we’d often get if we touched it) I’d give him a treat. We’ve gotten pretty far and I was impressed when he started making the connection for giving up the belly when I asked for it:

Any pet can learn to tolerate and eventually enjoy things they don’t like using this same process. Nail trims, handling body parts they don’t like touched, and being brushed are just three practical examples. You have to start with something they do tolerate or even enjoy, even if that means that you have to start with something that hardly looks like the behavior you want to achieve. Building up slowly is the key – even the tiniest progress is worth rewarding, and never ever forcing something they’re uncomfortable with.  Here’s another post about this process. It’s worth working on! If you ever want to talk to me (Christine) in more detail about your specific challenge, please do come in and I’ll try to help you with some tips

Chicken Necks for Cats and Dogs

Otis came to us at 10 years old with quite a bit of plaque on his teeth (pretty normal for a cat that only eats kibble) and during his dental cleaning, the vet noticed that he has a few abnormalities in the design of his mouth that  could cause trouble if not kept clean (pretty normal for a Himalayan). So, I’ve been working on acclimating him to having toothpaste rubbed on his gums with the hope of brushing them someday, etc. Another strategy we’ve employed is that we’ve started giving him chicken neck treats and have found it so interesting to watch him process them, as he chews and chews them on both sides of his mouth. Truthfully, I had recommended them to my customers, but before we had Otis, we have never had a cat that I could give them to – our last was in her 20s before we thought about giving her necks and she wouldn’t have done well with them at that point. I thought it would be interesting to people to see how they process them, so I took this video.  It also seems so stimulating for his mind – it takes him a while to figure out how he’s going to pick them up (I edited out a lot of that at the beginning of the video) and you can see him really thinking and giving it great effort, and he seems so satisfied all night on the nights we’ve been giving them. In fact, we’ve linked it to a game to make it all more exciting for him: There’s a great toy called “Da Bird”, whose feathers spin as they fly through the air, really simulating a bird in flight very realistically. When he makes an especially spectacular catch, he runs with it in his mouth to the kitchen and we give him his 1″ piece of neck, so it’s like he’s hunting, catching, and eating a bird. We adopted Otis because he had proven he could not remain safe outdoors (hit and badly injured by a car once and stolen at least once and luckily recovered). We wanted him to be safe and to protect the wildlife he was hunting during his 10 years as an indoor/outdoor cat, and we knew that turning him into an indoor cat meant that we would have to meet his physical and emotional needs to remain content indoors. As an indoor cat, this activity is very very exciting and satisfying for him, it’s supercharged the game making him exercise more strenuously, and no songbirds were harmed! We started with a piece of neck once a week, and have moved to about 3x a week. We believe that though he will continue to need regular dental cleanings, these yummy meat tooth scrubbers have helped his mouth stay cleaner. To create his treats, I buy half dozen whole chicken necks at a time, remove the skins, rinse them briefly and cut them into 1″ pieces with kitchen shears. I put the whole batch on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually, and dump them into a freezer bag. On the nights we’re going to give one, we thaw it in a bowl of cool water – it takes very little time. Chicken gizzards also make a great cat chew/treat when cut into smaller pieces, though it takes less time for him to chew them than the necks.

Dog eating turkey neckFor dogs, you can choose from chicken necks for puppies or small dogs, duck necks (medium sized) or turkey necks for larger dogs. These can easily replace a meal for dogs. If your dog has never had one, perhaps hold it for them at first so they get the idea that it’s for chewing (I suppose I should say to be careful of your fingers, also made of meat and bone).  The benefits are great – so delicious and interesting to chew, and they really use their back teeth for crunching them up, making for a good toothbrush. We met a holistic vet recently who told us that he recommends feeding 3 raw poultry parts per week for dogs, in place of commercial joint supplements, due to the high levels of natural glucosamine and chondroitin and other joint supporting nutrients in the collagen and connective tissues of bone in a highly bio-available state. Another nice benefit for dogs with anal gland issues – several chicken necks a week can make nice hard stools that help to express the anal glands more effectively.

That photo above links to a great video that shows how valuable poultry necks are for cleaning dogs’ teeth. (Photo and video from reelrawdog.com

Feel weird about giving them? We did too a bit at first, but as long as chicken is raw, it can be fed to pets – never ever ever EVER cook poultry bones (or other kind of bone) and give them to pets – cooking makes the bones brittle and very dangerous. Raw poultry necks have smaller more pliable bones and lots of collagen. Our holistic vet thinks raw chicken necks are great! Think of all the hundreds of thousands of feral cats out there eating whole mice and birds – crunch crunch crunch! (Their presence is a real disaster for wildlife as a result – please see this link!)  However, for those that question whether cats can and do eat larger prey, and whether the tiny bones in a chicken neck could be unsafe for a cat to eat, here’s a video of a cat chewing the head off of a fairly large ground squirrel (of course this also illustrates what a risk cats are to wildlife. Not for the squeamish, but the point here is to show what their physical ability is to process meat and bone):

When feeding necks and other bones regularly to your pets, try to source organically fed/grass fed meats and bones to cut down on environmental contaminates. Try and buy them fresh from the best place you can (meat meant for humans to eat in supermarkets likely has a higher bacterial count than one sourced directly from a local farm (as supermarket meats are being sold with the understanding that it’s meant to be cooked), or those from an Independent pet supply store, processed for the purpose of pets eating them raw. This is more of a concern for the safety of the humans handling them than for the pets. If these options aren’t possible, here are some good instructions on disinfecting raw bones if it makes you feel more comfortable.



Dog Eating a Turkey Neck

I stumbled on this video on YouTube that shows nicely how well a turkey neck can help to clean a dog’s teeth. I also think it’s a good idea to hold them like this to make sure the dog’s getting the teeth cleaning value (just watch your fingers as they will feel the same to a dog’s mouth!). Stop on by and pick up a pack of turkey necks today!

PS: it’s always a good idea to make your dogs earn their treats – this guys does a good job of that

The Completely Healthy Pet Food Your Vet Probably Vilifies

Today I’d like to discuss the reason why dogs and cats can, and should, eat raw meat.

This is one of the most frequent conversations I have with startled visitors to my home who say, ‘My gosh! You feed your pets raw meat?’ … as well as clients at my Natural Pet animal clinic who already feed or would like to feed their pets raw, but are getting an argument from their own veterinarians about raw food diets for dogs and cats.

The whole debate about raw food doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Dogs and cats have consumed living, raw meats for thousands of years.

To this day barn cats catch and kill mice, and no one calls poison control. Farmers also don’t call poison control when their dog finds a litter of baby bunnies and pops them in their mouth like little Tootsie Rolls. In these cases, no one thinks to induce vomiting or say, ‘Oh my gosh! My pet just ate raw meat!’

The truth is both cats and dogs are designed specifically to consume raw meat. Their bodies are adapted to process raw, living foods.

Fast Food is Bad for Pets, Too

The first bags of commercial pet food entered the market about a hundred years ago. From a historical perspective, processed dog and cat food is a relatively new phenomenon.

However, your pet’s GI tract has not evolved in those hundred years to make good use of an entirely kibble-based diet — and it never will.

Fortunately, the bodies of dogs and cats are amazingly resilient and therefore capable of handling foods that aren’t biologically appropriate, like most dry pet foods. Unfortunately, this adaptability has led to a situation of ‘dietary abuse’ among the veterinary community.

Commercial pet foods — especially dry bagged foods — are so convenient the majority of vets recommend them to all their patients. Processed dog and cat food is convenient, inexpensive, and there’s no preparation or cleanup required. You stash the bag in the pantry, scoop out a portion at meal time, drop it into your pet’s food dish and you’re done.

Because commercial pet food has been so successfully marketed (dog and cat food products are a multimillion dollar industry, after all), and because pets’ bodies are resilient and can survive, if not thrive on the stuff, we have been lulled into a sense of complacency about the food we feed our precious four-legged companions.

Most veterinary students don’t learn about species-appropriate pet diets in vet school. The only food discussed is processed, commercial pet formulas.

The concept of feeding a living food diet is foreign to many vets. If a client mentions he feeds raw, the vet will ask, ‘Why don’t you just feed your cat regular cat food, for crying out loud? Why do you need to make food? Why do you need to feed living foods?’

It doesn’t take much research to uncover the fact that dogs and cats are designed by nature to eat living foods — unprocessed, raw, nourishing foods. Feeding a commercial formula is a bit like deciding your child can be healthy on an exclusive diet of meal replacement bars. No real food, just meal replacement bars.

A meal replacement bar is fine now and then, but no sane parent would ever consider raising a child on just those alone. Yet that’s what we’re doing when we feed our pets nothing but commercial, processed foods.

Living foods in your pet’s diet are necessary for successful overall immune and organ function.

Eliminating Parasites

It seems the biggest problem most people have with a raw meat diet revolves around parasites.

Parasites — roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms — are passed up the food chain and wind up in the guts of animals.

We don’t feed guts to our pets! If you buy a commercially available raw food diet, you will not find guts in the formula because guts contain parasites.

If you prepare a homemade raw diet for your dog or cat, you don’t include guts. Do not feed the stomach and small and large intestines. Those are the parts of the prey we get rid of, because those are the parts that harbor parasites.

Muscle meat — the part of the prey used to prepare raw food diets — is sterile except in rare instances when parasites escape the GI tract (guts) and travel there.

Certain parasites, like toxoplasmosis, that get into muscle meat can make your pet sick, which is why you should freeze raw meats for three days before feeding them to your dog or cat.

By freezing meats three days before serving (a lot like how sushi is handled), and by removing the guts of prey species, you can successfully avoid exposing your raw fed pet to parasites.

Salmonella and Your Pet

The second most frequently asked question I get about raw meat diets is, ‘What about salmonella?’

The most important thing to understand about salmonella or any other potentially pathogenic bacteria is that contamination absolutely does occur. It’s a fact of life.

Salmonella is the reason for most recalls of dry pet foods (and human foods as well). When a salmonella outbreak occurs, there has been contamination in the food chain.

The word Salmonella is used to describe over 1,800 serovars (species) of gram-negative bacteria. This bacteria lives in many species of mammals. The most common bacteria riding around in your dog or cat is Salmonella typhimurium.

I want to quote from an article titled Campylobacter and Salmonella-Associated Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats: When Do I Treat? It was written by Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), DACVN, Davis, CA, for the Veterinary Information Network (VIN):

“The clinical significance of bacteria such as clostridium and salmonella causing diarrhea or illness in dogs and cats is clouded by the existence of many of these organisms as normal constituents of the indigenous intestinal flora. The primary enteropathogenic bacteria most commonly incriminating in canine and feline diarrhea is Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, and Salmonella.

Veterinarians are faced with a quandary when attempting to diagnose small animals with suspected bacterial-associated diarrhea because the isolation rates of these pathogenic bacteria are similar in diarrheic and non-diarrheic animals, and because the incidence of bacterial-associated diarrhea is extremely variable.  Salmonella species are commonly isolated from both healthy and hospitalized dogs and cats.”

What this is saying, in a nutshell, is dogs and cats naturally have some Salmonella in their GI tracts much of the time — it’s not some unknown foreign invader but rather one their bodies are familiar with.

If you’re familiar with reptiles, the situations are similar. Reptiles are known to naturally harbor Salmonella in their GI tracts.

In an article written by Rhea V. Morgan DVM, DACVIM, DACVO for the VIN, the doctor asserts the following about illness resulting from salmonella:

“Factors that increase the likelihood of clinical disease from Salmonella include the age of the animal, poor nutrition, the presence of cancer or neoplasia, and other concurrent diseases and stress, as well as the administration of antibiotics, chemotherapy or glucocorticoids [which are steroids].”

The bottom line is potentially harmful bacteria reside in your pet’s GI tract whether you feed raw foods or the processed stuff. In other words, your pet is already ‘contaminated’ with Salmonella.

Dogs and cats are built to handle bacterial loads from food that would cause significant illness in you or me. Your pet’s body is well equipped to deal with heavy doses of familiar and strange bacteria because nature built him to catch, kill and immediately consume his prey.

Your dog’s or cat’s stomach is highly acidic, with a pH range of 1-2.5. Nothing much can survive that acidic environment — it exists to keep your pet safe from potentially contaminated raw meat and other consumables.

In addition to the acid, dogs and cats also naturally produce a tremendous amount of bile. Bile is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. So if something potentially harmful isn’t entirely neutralized by stomach acid, the bile is a secondary defense. And your pet’s powerful pancreatic enzymes also help break down and digest food.

Keeping Your Pet’s GI Tract in Good Shape

To help your pet’s digestive system remain strong and resilient enough to handle a heavy bacterial load and to support overall immune function, there are several things you can do.

  • Number one, minimize stress by feeding a species-appropriate diet, the kind your dog or cat is meant to eat. It’s important to feed vegetarian food to vegetarian animals, and meat-based food to your carnivorous dog or cat.
  • Minimize the drugs your pet takes, such as antibiotics. Reseed the gut during and after antibiotic therapy with a probiotic. It’s also a good idea to maintain your dog or cat on a daily probiotic to balance the ratio of good to bad bacteria (gut flora).
  • A good-quality digestive enzyme will help promote your dog’s or cat’s body to get the most out of the food you feed.

Providing your favorite pooch or feline with a balanced, biologically sound diet, a healthy lifestyle, digestive enzymes and probiotics, will nourish your pet, support healthy immunologic function, and bring overall vibrancy to her body.

This is in direct contrast to feeding a commercial formula of highly processed rendered byproducts, chemicals and grains — the typical mainstream pet food sold today. The sooner you transition your dog or cat to the kind of diet she was designed to eat, the sooner she will be on her way to vibrant good health.

Over Vaccination could be wrecking your cat’s health

This is an excellent article from Dr. Karen Becker on the dangers of over-vaccination in cats. It’s very relevant for dog owners as well. I’ve copied in in full below. There are excellent recommendations towards the end of the article.

In a vaccine-related study of almost 32,000 cats, 73 developed inflammatory reactions after being vaccinated, and two developed vaccine site-associated sarcomas.

Study results also showed that:

* Polyvalent vaccines (vaccines for multiple pathogens contained in a single immunization) caused more reactions that monovalent vaccines (single-pathogen vaccines).
* Adjuvanted vaccines (vaccines with additives to boost immune response) cause more reactions than vaccines without adjuvants.

According to W. Mark Cousins, DVM, DABVP, a cookie-cutter approach to vaccinating cats should be avoided:

“Recognize that each patient has a unique level of risk of exposure to pathogens and that risk levels, even for the same patient, can vary with time. Thus, varying types and levels of protection are needed. Avoid using the same vaccination protocol for all cats. Evaluate each patient as an individual at each visit, and vaccinate accordingly.’

Because this type of tumor can recur very quickly if not handled properly, Dr. Cousins recommends all suspected vaccine site-associated sarcomas be managed as follows:

* Step One: A fine-needle aspiration and cytologic examination should be performed to check for malignancy.
* Step Two: Biopsy should follow step one if markedly abnormal cells suggesting malignancy are discovered.
* Step Three: If biopsy confirms vaccine site-associated sarcoma, obtain surgical margins or refer to a specialist for complete removal of the tumor.

Dr. Cousins also advocates use of the ‘3-2-1′ rule, which is to perform a wedge biopsy on any vaccination-site lump that meets at least one of the following criteria:

* Present in any form three months after vaccination
* Greater than or equal to 2 cm across at presentation
* Present for one month after vaccination and is fast-growing.


* dvm360 December 1, 2010
* dvm360 October 1, 2009

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

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A sarcoma is a type of cancer caused by changes in connective tissue cells. Feline vaccine-associated sarcoma (VAS) is a malignant tumor that is primarily associated with two vaccines:

* Rabies vaccine
* Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine

According to a 2005 article published in JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association), while VAS is most commonly linked to these two vaccines, other vaccines and injectables like lufenuron have also been implicated in the development of tumors. Lufenuron is the active ingredient in some flea and other pest control products.

A Bit of History

The veterinary community has long been aware of the problem of vaccination-related sarcomas in cats.

In 1991, three years after Pennsylvania mandated rabies vaccinations for cats, experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine discovered a connection between a troubling increase in sarcomas and feline vaccinations.

Not long after this discovery, the University of California at Davis made a connection between FeLV (feline leukemia) vaccines and sarcomas.

The majority of the first diagnosed vaccine-related sarcomas grew in the interscapular region (between the shoulder blades) of affected kitties. This is the area of a cat’s body where all vaccines were typically injected prior to the mid-1990s.

In order to isolate which vaccines were causing the sarcomas, in 1996 the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force issued recommendations to veterinarians to move specific vaccines to pre-assigned sites on the body.

For example, rabies vaccines were to be given in the right rear leg and FeLV vaccines in the left rear leg. The shots were to be placed distally on the legs, meaning as far away from the body as possible, so amputation of the lower portion of the leg could be offered as a cancer treatment option.

After the 1996 vaccination site recommendations were implemented, interscapular (neck region) sarcomas decreased over the next 10 years. However, sarcomas increased in the thoracic and pelvic limbs and the abdomen, especially on the right side.

Since after 1996 the right rear limbs of vaccinated cats became the most common location of injection-site sarcomas, it was reasonably assumed the rabies vaccine was the most cancer-causing immunization.

The importance of injecting distally (far down on the leg) became apparent with a rise in lateral abdominal sarcomas after 1996. If a cat is in a crouched position, injecting a vaccine into what is assumed to be the pelvic limb can result in a lateral abdominal injection instead, because the skin shifts when the kitty is in a standing position.

How Prevalent Are Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas?

Estimates are between 1 and 10 out of every 10,000 vaccinated cats will develop VAS.

In terms of risk, this isn’t a huge number. But if you share your life with one or more beloved kitties, it’s a risk I’m sure you’d rather not take.

And when it comes to vaccinations, the possibility of an injection-site sarcoma is not the only concern.

According to ABCNews.com:

“Many veterinarians believe the practice of annual vaccinations is an unnecessary evil, responsible for such diseases as allergy, seizures, anemia, even cancer. They say vaccinations make our animals vulnerable to some of the top diseases plaguing our pets, and that rather than building up immunity we are overwhelming their immune systems.”

Many of us in the holistic/integrative veterinary community believe what vaccines do inside your pet’s body is change the form of a disease from acute to chronic.

For example, the symptoms of the feline virus panleukopenia are GI-related and include intense and rapid onset of vomiting and diarrhea. Canine parvovirus has similar symptoms. Pets are routinely vaccinated for both these diseases, and the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic autoimmune disease of the intestines, has been rapidly increasing in both cats and dogs.

Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

There is also a suspected connection between rabies vaccinations and an increase over the past few decades in the number of fearful and aggressive companion animals.

There is also concern among many veterinary professionals that vaccination is a risk factor for serious autoimmune diseases such as the potentially fatal canine disorders known as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and autoimmune thrombocytopenia.

So Should I Refuse Vaccinations for My Cat?

According to the 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report, the goal of vaccination is to:

* Vaccinate the greatest number of cats in the population at risk.
* Vaccinate each cat no more frequently than necessary.
* Vaccinate each cat only against infectious agents to which it has a realistic risk of exposure, infection and subsequent development of disease.
* Vaccinate a cat only when the potential benefits of the procedure outweigh the potential risks.
* Vaccinate appropriately to protect public health.

My guidelines:

* When it comes to vaccinations, I urge you to seek out a holistic or integrative vet to care for your cat. Non-traditional veterinarians are generally more willing to proceed very cautiously in the realm of re-vaccinations.
* Ask for a vaccine titer test. This test will measure your cat’s immunological protection against diseases for which he was vaccinated during his first year of life (his ‘kitten shots’). You can’t add immunity to an already immune pet, so don’t keep vaccinating.
* If your pet needs a booster of a certain vaccine or a vaccine he’s never received, make sure the following criteria applies for each vaccine your pet is subjected to:
o It is for a serious disease (this eliminates many on the list immediately).
o Your cat has the opportunity to be exposed to the disease (indoor cats have little to no exposure).
o The vaccine is considered both effective and safe.
* If your cat does need a vaccine, ask your holistic vet to provide a homeopathic detox remedy called Thuja, which will help neutralize the effects of all vaccines other than the rabies vaccine.
* Rabies vaccines are required by law. There are two varieties of the same vaccine — the one-year type and the three-year type. Insist on the three-year rabies vaccine, and ask your holistic vet about the homeopathic rabies vaccine detoxifier called Lyssin. If your pet is a kitten, ask to have the rabies vaccine given after four months of age, preferably closer to six months, to reduce the potential for a reaction.
* If your cat lives entirely indoors, I highly recommend she not be vaccinated again after a full set of kitten shots in her first year of life. Her indoor-only lifestyle virtually eliminates her risk of exposure to infectious diseases. It is my belief over-vaccination is one of the primary reasons the general health of housecats is deteriorating. Keep unvaccinated indoor cats from interacting with any other cats and your pet’s risk is virtually none.
* Do not vaccinate your cat if he has had a serious vaccine reaction.
* Avoid veterinary practices promoting annual or more frequent re-vaccinations Try not to patronize any boarding facility, groomer, training facility or other animal care service that requires you to vaccinate your precious kitty more than necessary. Well-educated people in the pet community will accept titer test results in lieu of proof of vaccination.