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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Picture 1Happy Thanksgiving! Thought I’d chime in with a few reminders for keeping pets safe on Thanksgiving.

– Try to make time in the morning to exercise the dog, so they’re not too wound up when people start to arrive.

-Though some table scraps are OK (and sometimes inevitable if there’s a large group of people – someone’s going to drop something!), try to keep the amount small – many T-giving foods like turkey skin and gravy are very high in fat, and some animals could be prone to an attack of pancreatitis if they indulge too much.

– Watch out for turkey bones – though a raw turkey neck can be a fine treat for a dog, when poultry bones are cooked, they become brittle and dangerous.

– remember that onions, raisins and chocolate are all ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

– Watch out for novel plants and flowers that people bring as gifts during the holiday season – some can be very very toxic, like Lilies.

– Watch out for things like saran wrap and tin foil that are covered in food – dogs may ingest them

– If your animals are freaked out by chaos, it might be friendly to let them relax in a quiet room, away from the noise.

– Make sure your animals are wearing their ID tags, as people coming in and out may inadvertently let them out.

– Give the dogs something to keep them busy – a Kong stuffed with something moist and then frozen gives them something to work on (Merrick’s Thanksgiving Day canned food or canned pumpkin or plain yogurt would be fun treats!). Whatever your dog enjoys chewing on, have it handy for when you need to distract them.

– Keep your local emergency pet hospital’s number handy in case of accidents.

– Crazy things do happen – check out this X-ray photo of a St Bernard puppy that swallowed a whole carving knife – you can even see the long handle in this photo. Wow! Watch your pets to make sure they stay safe over the holidays – I’ll bet that knife tasted like turkey. Knife

Hilarious! Cat loves to be thrown onto the bed

This is really so darned cute – that cat is loving the feeling of being thrown over to the bed – he’s so excited – you can just see him saying “Again!” and running back to the guy to do it again. The cutest part for me is how clearly he’s being asked to be picked up again. Cats are funny.

Dog Parkour (Barkour?)

Holy Cow – you know that crazy thing called Parkour where guys jump from building to building, taking crazy athletic risks in an urban obstacle course type activity? Check out this cutie pie dog in the Ukraine that does exactly that. I can’t help envisioning an ACL surgery at some point, but you have to admire the athletic ability and bravery of this dog as he navigates his crazy urban agility courses.

Update on the rescue of 48 dogs

Many of you that shop in our store have been following the story of 48 dogs that were seized near the Gorge from a “breeder” who was not giving them food or water. In a perfect example of why you should never buy a dog off the internet, this woman had a beautiful website showing glossy well muscled dogs, living in a family setting. In reality, a mixture of 48 dobermans, rottweilers and shepherds were living in a terribly neglected state, some living in such confinement that they couldn’t stand up or walk properly. They were emaciated and dying. There were injured lactating females with no puppies…
Our friend and longtime Green Dog customer, Bobbi,  has her own small dog rescue (recently becoming a nonprofit org), as well as being involved with Dogs of the Gorge, a small nonprofit that helps to support the efforts of the tiny shelter in Goldendale Wa. When these dogs were seized, they went to the Goldendale shelter, which comfortably houses about 15 dogs. With 48 more, in desperate shape, their situation was dire.

These animals could legally be fostered, but could not be adopted, or even transferred to other shelters as the seizure was involuntary and the court case had not yet been decided against her. We did the best we could to rally donations at our register and through Facebook and by trying to get the word out to other rescue groups that foster situations were badly needed (one of these organizations made a generous donation of $$ to have them all spayed and neutered). We donated more than 600 lbs of food and 20lbs biscuits, as well as a variety of donated items from our great customers who dug out old stainless steel bowls, beds, shampoo, etc to help out, and a few that donated bags of food.  I believe we raised over $1000 at the register (thank you to everyone that chucked your change in there – it really added up, combined with a very generous $500 donation from one of our regular customers!). Meanwhile, the owner had hired a lawyer to try and get the dogs back (!) and we eagerly awaited the decision. The good news is, the case was decided against her, so the dogs can now be adopted out.

Here’s an excellent update from our friend Bobbi:

In follow up to the 48 dog rescue…….. thanks to the outpouring of donations, due in large part to Green Dog’s connections, networking and their devoted customers, the dogs have received the care, food and attention that they so desperately needed.  Many of the dogs were placed in foster homes and most of those foster parents have adopted the dogs into their forever homes.  There are approximately a dozen dogs still available for adoption.

Of the 48, there were two more challenging dogs that I’ve brought into my pack at home, for rehabilitation.  There was a small white female shepherd, who upon arrival could barely walk, due to severe muscle atrophy of her hips/back leg….. I assume from a life spent crated.  She refused all human interaction, running and hiding in fear.  When a lead was placed, she would attempt to escape at all cost, even if it meant choking herself to pull away from the human.   After 24 hrs at my place,  with one of my “therapy” dogs, I discovered that this shepherd is a puppy, likely not more than 12-18mths old.  “Shimmer’s” been with us for 5 wks now, and is fully integrated into the pack.  She is a hilarious goof-ball…… full of play, personality, attention to her human and endearing affection.  She is entirely off lead now and acutely responsive to verbal ques.  While she is beauty from the inside out, gaining weight and pain free, she will need lifelong supplements to preserve her bone and cartilage integrity.  Her spine appears more level and aligned all the time, however there is obvious deficit that is noted when she runs…..the hind legs moving in unison, like a bunny hop.  It doesn’t slow her down nor infringe on her delight of being.

The second dog, a female doberman, between 2 & 3 yrs old, was labelled a “human aggressor” upon arrival and after a couple of weeks at the shelter, she was still considered a high bite risk and potential  liability.   I named her Angel, in an attempt to shed the negative connotations.  This dog struck me as a forgotten one, left behind who had withdrawn into fear and emotionally shut down.  After a couple of sessions with her at the shelter, she was accepting my touch, but with apprehension.   It was as if she’d lost consciousness with how to be in a body …. always statuesque, stiff and catatonic-like, when not cowering in a corner aggressing at human approach.  I transported her to my place for rehab approx 3-4wks ago.  It’s been a gift to gain this girl’s trust and watch her awareness open up and her life unfold.  She’s quite the athlete, hiking and running by my side.  Her internal battle between fear and courage was so tangible, as she’d waffle back and forth, but she made daily strides in her progress.  An unexpected derailment occurred in her rehab with me.  She’d been spayed on Monday, 8/23/10 and by the following Friday she was hemorrhaging to death internally, not from any surgical complication but from Von Willbrandt’s disease.  In simplistic terms, it is a congenital bleeding disorder, akin to hemophillia.  Dobermans have a propensity for this disease and it’s usually discovered when they have surgery (spay) or suffer trauma.  I live in the foothills of Mt Adams, so it became quickly apparent that a local veterinarian having the necessary supplies or surgical team if needed was out of the question at midnight.  I gave her fluids to buy us time, and drove her into Dove Lewis Emergency Hospital in Portland.  They suspected Von Willbrandt’s immediately, though were still not certain that they wouldn’t have to do surgery to find the source of the bleed.  They gave me two estimates:  $3000.00 at the least, and $7000.00 at the most.  They supported any decision, particularly since she’s a dog in rehab, that I’d only brought home a couple weeks earlier.  There was no decision…… she was my responsibility now, had given me her trust over the preceding weeks and up to this point, every human in her life had given up and quit on her in one way or another.  Learning from the veterinarian that beyond this crisis, she could lead a whole and healthy life, I asked them to proceed with transfusions of blood and clotting factor, and was grateful that I got approved for Care Credit as I waited in the hospital’s lobby.  She remained in ICU over the next 2 days and was discharged to me on day 3 with her blood counts holding.   Since this ordeal, Angel has broken through many barriers….. she’s tapped into relaxation and  joy, can’t get close enough to her human, has discovered toys and is learning to play with the pack.  While she still has a challenging  journey ahead in her on-going rehab, she’s been quite the inspiration, with amazing courage, and a sweet innocence.  As I can no longer put off the inevitable and apply for non-profit status for my own formal rescue, it’s name shall be “Angel Eyes Dog Rescue.”

What I want to express to you, by imparting Angel and Shimmer’s stories, is GRATITUDE.  Everyone who gifted these 48 dogs with food, money, treats, supplies, time or energy in any form is a part of their story, and a part of the turning point in each of their lives when humans no longer quit, but care.

Finally! We’ve found the Greenest way to dispose of pet waste!


We are very excited to introduce you to this product. The disposal of pet waste is one of the most difficult issues surrounding pet ownership, in an environmental sense. Up until now, there has been no good way.  Leaving waste on the ground of course isn’t acceptable – not only is it rude and gross, it rinses away with our plentiful rains straight into the street drains which empty ultimately into our rivers and streams.Poop in a landfill releases methane, and “biodegradable” plastic bags release their own methane when they break down anaerobically in the landfill, only adding to the problem. Compostable bags may not release methane, but the poop remains a methane producer.  We thought flushing the poop was a good idea for a while, but we realized that some pathogens, like toxplasmosis, are not killed by the treatment process and can remain in our water supply. (This has been an even bigger problem in California, where sea otters have been having a recent problem with toxoplasmosis, and they suspect the link lies in flushed cat poop). Finally, some have invested in an in-ground waste disposal device that claims to compost the poop, but this method doesn’t hold up on closer inspection – it is very debatable whether the enzymes have a chance to break down the poop quickly enough for it to be free of pathogens by the time it soaks into the soil. The system recommends a large amount of water which flushes the waste into the soil before the enzymes have a chance to work, and the location of the device never changes, guaranteeing that the natural microorganisms in the soil in that location are depleted of their power to help in this process. Pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli and toxoplasmosis can easily contaminate our water in this way.

Enter Bokashicycle! This is a system that uses closed containers and natural enzymes to ferment the waste, killing all pathogens and making it perfectly safe to bury in the soil, making your garden lush! No smell, no flies, and very easy. They also make a kitchen scrap Bokashicycler (we’re using one in the Green Dog kitchen now), and if you’d like it, just let us know and we’ll get it for you. We can also drop ship either of these to anywhere in the country – what a great Christmas present!

From Truth about Pet Food:”EPA document proves euthanized dogs and cats are rendered”

It’s a frustration that there is so little regulation as to what is allowed in pet foods, and so much regulation preventing better manufacturers from stating that the quality of their ingredients is sound. This means that companies using condemned meats are protected from having to reveal the content, source, or grade of their meats, even though the origins of these meats can be linked to very unethical sources and contain many chemical contaminants.

If you or someone you know is feeding a pet food that contains any of these ingredients: “Animal Fat”, “Meat and Bone Meal”, By-products”, or “Animal Digest”, it is likely that they are using 4D meats (animals that are not allowed to be used for human consumption as they are diseased, disabled, dying, or already dead. These meats are often “denatured”, meaning toxic chemicals are added to prevent them from being allowed back into the human food chain, treated with chemical preservatives to combat rancidity, and contain traces of the drugs used to euthanize the animals, like Pentobarbital (these chemicals do not “cook out”). Heres’ an article from The Truth About Pet Food website that further exposes some of the issues that some grocery store quality foods have.

Exciting New Green Technologies Are Afoot

I know this isn’t pet related exactly, but it’s so exciting to see that brilliant ideas like this are being generated. Imagine if we could start building these sorts of roads right away! I know these sorts of things might be a ways off, but consider how much of an impact this plan could have. Real life Jetsons stuff!