Has this happened to you?
You get to the vet’s office with your new puppy or kitten. You want to do right by your animal, so, you do your best to learn how to keep your pet healthy and happy. Your vet recommends several products for flea and tick "prevention," heartworm "prevention," followed with several vaccinations.
Now you’re wondering, “Is all this stuff really necessary?!”
Do I have to get all this stuff my vet recommended if I want to keep my pet healthy and happy?
The short answer is “No.”
And, the long answer is “No, definitely no, if you want to raise a happy, healthy pet.”
And, more accurately: “No, if you choose to raise your animal the natural way, you can opt out of all that stuff your vet recommends – almost. “
Hard to believe?
I know this sounds heretical. Certainly, conventional vets would completely disagree with me, but, after 38+ years of veterinary practice, I know raising your animal in a more natural way is a completely reachable goal.
If you’re raising your animal au naturale, (fresh food, little to rare vaccines, no drugs or pesticides, uncontaminated water and environment/toys/bedding, ample socialization, regular exercise, etc.), you can opt out of everything considered “preventative” from commercial medicine.
That does NOT mean you should do nothing! It’s not just turning down yearly vaccinations, flea/tick/heartworm pesticides, early spaying/neutering, and processed foods. I consider these must-do’s in addition to actively supporting the body to prevent and clear illness, parasites, viruses and bacteria. The body knows how to do this via the immune system. Putting chemicals into the body does not make it healthier or really prevent anything. Instead, they do poison, pollute and stress the body.
Does my pet really need this flea and tick or heartworm "preventative?"
Flea, tick or heartworm pesticides are commonly recommended by vets even in areas where there are little to no fleas, ticks or mosquitos.
The ongoing use of these so-called preventative pesticides have created a huge resistance. Ask anyone who lives in California about the flea and tick issues and how it’s progressed over the years. To make matters worse, once these toxicants are put on your animal, they end up on you, your kids, and anyone else petting your animal. And remember – these are toxic pesticides must be metabolized by the body (liver and kidney) and are a stressor to the body.
If you feel you need to treat your pet for fleas and ticks, I do recommend holistic alternative remedies in my shop.
Heartworm pesticides are also given liberally to many pets even in areas without heartworm exposure; then, they're recommended for use year-round, even in the winter. Once again these are pesticides and come with risks for every animal, human and the environment.
When an animal has a full complement of immune function, fed fresh, life-giving food in a non-toxic environment, their immune system is ready and available to fend off the mosquitos’ attack. An animal overloaded with chemicals from vaccines, food, toys, bedding, water (and everywhere else) is not able to rally the immune “troops” to naturally kill the heartworm in the skin. But, naturally raised animals can and do every day!
Again, it can’t be said enough that it takes some effort, commitment and some additional cash to support your animal in a natural life style which, in turn, supports their immune system so it can function optimally.
My vet recommended early spaying and neutering – will this help keep my pet healthy and happy?
Critical hormonal development occurs in young, growing animals. Early spaying and neutering is recommended by your vet as a convenience to you and as more propaganda to inhibit cancer. As a recommendation for the health and happiness of your pet, you really should wait until your dog is at least two years old. For cats, waiting for even as long as six months can help ensure lasting health.
If you wait to spay or neuter your pet, you allow adequate time for your animal to reach puberty and grow healthy bones. Among the many issues connected to early spaying and neutering, we increase the chances of our animals experiencing immune dysfunction, poor brain development, obesity, ligament and bone diseases, cardiac issues, certain cancers, and adverse reactions to vaccines.
Speaking of vaccinations, what shots does my pet really need?
Unfortunately, this issue is too big to squeeze into this blog. The short answer is your core vaccinations last longer than one year. Core vaccinations refer to those which protect against infectious diseases such as parvo, distemper, hepatitis and panleukopenia.
The only vaccine required by law is rabies. The rest are completely optional. If your pet had a combo vaccine as a kitten or puppy given at around 15-16 weeks, they need nothing else for the rest of their lives. Waiting until their mama’s antibodies are worn off (somewhere around 14-16 weeks) before administering these core vaccinations insures the vaccines will stimulate an antibody reaction, which will last a lifetime. We call this the "one and done" method.
All vaccinations come with mind-boggling consequences. The toxicants present in all vaccines (for humans and animals alike) come with a laundry list of frightening risks to our health, but rarely are you ever informed about these risks. This all too frequent medical procedure is approached with a carefree attitude that you would never, never have regarding any other serious procedures.
If my vet recommended a specific pet food, does my pet really need to eat this special formula to be healthy and happy?
If your vet is recommending processed foods to your animal, beware.
Those hardened pellets in professional looking bags or those stinky lumps of meat from a can are all highly processed foods. Think about how you would feel eating out of a box daily. Your animal needs fresh food to receive living nutrients just like you!
I have a course dedicated entirely to how to feed your animals a fresh diet as well as several blogs on the background information of why it’s important to feed fresh. As I’ve said in the past, “you can either pay the grocer or the doctor.” Investing in your animal’s nutrition will actually erase the need to buy any processed foods your vet may have recommended.
Here are the things every pet should have:
What your pet does need to be happy and healthy is a yearly, thorough physical evaluation from a veterinarian.
I’m NOT talking about the cursory checkup with just a quick heart rate, lung, and mouth check. What every pet should have is a thorough evaluation of the joints, teeth, eyes, ears, coat, mobility, strength and palpation of the abdomen feeling for any abnormalities.
In addition to the things every dog or cat should have, what YOU need is for your vet to sit down with you and go over any concerns they have found and discuss all the options.
If you have other options outside of toxic medicines or surgeries to treat certain illnesses, you should be able to speak to your vet without judgement about these alternatives. Your vet should give you informed consent when performing any procedure at all – including vaccines. You should be able to read the vaccine inserts to look at ingredients and discuss the actual need for them.
What your vet offers in the way of true prevention to keep your pets healthy are diagnostic tests to help monitor your pets’ wellness as they age.
A thorough annual physical exam would include a stool analysis and urinalysis. These simple tests can tell a lot about your animals’ health. Feces is easy to gather, but, must be fresh to use for testing. The urinalysis can be done as a screen at the vet’s office with urine you collected just before your appointment. First morning urine is best, but, it must be very fresh.
As your pet ages towards 8-10 years old, routine, yearly blood work up can help monitor changes in the liver, kidneys, blood cells and thyroid, to name a few. The tests for organ function are call Chemistry Panels which have short and longer versions to provide a different depth of detail about our pet’s health.
I suggest these longer versions of Chemistry Panels for older animals, often called the Geriatric Chemistry Panel. Some of these include a cursory screening test for thyroid, which only gives a small indication of the health of the thyroid. A more thorough, complete thyroid evaluation must be sent off to a larger lab and requires more time to return the testing, but, can give much more information about the thyroid itself along with the pituitary/hypothalamus and the adrenals – which play an important part in thyroid health.
A complete blood count or CBC shows the state of health of the red and white blood cells. This detects anemia, infection, allergies, and parasites to name a few. The Chemistry Panel and the CBC are usually done together. They are well worth the money you spend. This is no different than your own yearly checkup with your doctor as you age for detecting gross changes in blood values.
From these tests and physical exams, you’ll have a great deal of information about how to proceed with giving your pet a healthy and happy life!
As an example, if your vet finds your pet has x-ray changes displaying arthritis and recommends a pain medication that could cause liver issues, consider a very high-quality fish oil and a turmeric combination for anti-inflammatory benefit. These natural supplements provide invaluable support without side effects. Make sure to source organic, sustainable, and pure ingredients.
Your vet is a highly trained individual in the specifics of diagnostics, surgery, radiology and the like; however, most vets are not trained in natural rearing and natural preventative techniques.
When it comes to choosing super high-quality nutraceuticals, fresh food diets, vaccine education, information on resistance to parasites, and using natural medicines, your vet may have little information.
Preventative vet care can include the use of homeopathy, acupuncture or acupressure, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, physical therapy (laser, underwater treadmill), herbology, flower essences, and many more. In fact, there are so many natural modalities available now, you have a virtual smorgasbord of choices for your animal.
So, if the question is “How can I raise my pet naturally?” search for a holistic vet who is trained in natural medicine with a focus on prevention and wellness as opposed to illness and disease.
Still, keep in mind, your regular vet is certainly a good person with whom you can continue your relationship to help you diagnose and, especially for acute ailments, provide supportive care.
It really takes a team to keep ourselves and our entire family healthy. Finding the right vet who supports your choices and works with you will always pay off in great health for your animal.