NEWS

The Truth about Titre Tests

Friday, November 1st, 2019

I and my colleagues in integrative practice have been recommending antibody titre testing for over a decade or more and whilst I am very pleased that more veterinarians are becoming aware of this tool to reduce unnecessary vaccinations it appears that it will be a while yet before the penny drops completely.

In a nutshell, antibody titre testing is a simple and inexpensive blood test that is conducted after vaccination to determine that the vaccine has worked.

If a vaccine has worked then the animal is not going to become more protected by vaccinating more for the same disease. That is how the immune system works. It provides memory and defence against that to which it has already been exposed. In a similar way, a dog that has recovered from a serious disease such as distemper, hepatitis or more likely parvovirus will not require vaccinating for that disease. Not all diseases produce measurable levels of antibody in the blood but a level of immune readiness is nevertheless still present in healthy individuals that have been exposed or vaccinated.

A core vaccine will produce antibodies to the viruses for which it is designed to protect. In this case and in dogs in Australia that is Canine Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus (C3), deemed core diseases as they are most serious.

Kennel Cough is not a core disease, is not fatal and does not have a test available.

The blood test will show that antibodies have been manufactured and these are generally lifelong for these three conditions. Evidence from twenty years testing hundreds of dogs in Australia has demonstrated that duration of immunity is usually lifelong and considered to be such by those of us who have been researching this subject.

It is important to mention here that immunity will only be conferred to dogs through vaccination when they are old enough to produce antibodies without interference from maternal protection. A single C3 vaccination at or after 10-12 weeks of age is generally sufficient in my opinion.

Here are two paragraphs from a recent blog from a veterinary clinic in Melbourne that is trying to provide information to the dog owning public on the one hand but still clearly defensive and a little uninformed on the other.

 

“Over-vaccination is the idea that too many vaccines can cause illness. The point of titre tests is therefore to be able to see if a dog or cat really needs a vaccine. Some of the time they don’t, but without a test you’re essentially playing Russian Roulette.”

 

This is still tantamount to scare mongering when the truth is that most of the time they do not need another vaccination rather than the reverse. Over vaccination does cause disease and does lead to health issues in the same way that an excess of anything stressful can throw an animals immune system out of balance. This statement should really be amended to state that the Russian Roulette is more likely being played with the frequent and unnecessary vaccinations rather that not doing titre tests. A dog or cat vaccinated at the correct age for core diseases is highly likely to develop long term immunity based on recent studies.

The other statement that jumps out is an attempt to justify why it has taken veterinarians so long to allow conversation about this practice or to even consider employing titre testing instead of repeated vaccination. This is also largely inaccurate.

 

“While titre testing has been available for some time, the cost and complexity of performing these tests made it difficult for vets to recommend this option to dog owners. Samples had to be sent to the lab and were shipped out to the USA or UK and took several weeks to get results– until now!”

 

Titre tests have indeed been available for well over a decade but most vets have been deaf either to the need or to the availability of quality, inexpensive tests available here in Australia both as an inhouse test kit from Biogal and a full laboratory service in Perth. Two or three years ago I  wrote a letter to every single veterinarian in my city, over seventy letters many of them hand delivered. It comprised an invitation to them to be involved in a world first. A project where we, as a veterinary community, could conduct research into this emerging discussion and discover first hand the truth about the necessity or otherwise of repeated vaccination. I received a grand total of zero replies and was bewildered given that it was a unique opportunity to be involved in forming an evidence base that we are so often criticised for not being able to provide. I am still amazed that rather than wanting to know the truth about a procedure that is conducted multiple times a day in every single veterinary clinic they would rather continue the practice with no evidence base whatsoever to determine the necessity.

Whilst I am still bewildered and a little frustrated by veterinarians reluctance to engage on topics like this that are crucial to animal health I am pleased to see information like this being provided to dog owners through clinic newsletters. It would be nice to see a little more accuracy since there is excellent information available through the proper channels with little need to create fear.

It is also pertinent to remind readers that vaccine manufacturers themselves advise that it is contraindicated to vaccinate any animal that is not in good health. As a young veterinarian, my colleagues and I would understand this to mean that if the animal did not have a fever at the time of presentation it was probably safe to vaccinate it but in fact any animal with any other health condition at all cannot be deemed to be truly healthy. Skin allergies, infections, tumours, dental disease, heart or organ conditions, arthritis, would all be reasons to not re-vaccinate an animal. Certainly if there has been any adverse reaction to previous vaccinations I would consider it a serious mistake to repeat the procedure.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association advocates for the vaccination of more animals less often.

It does not get simpler than that.

38204
Simplicity
Is
An unparalleled wisdom.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 39, Agni Press, 2004

For further information see

Vaccination Alternatives

What about Vaccination?

Titre tests for Cats

Practising Well

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Training, experience, continuing professional development and time will all contribute to our personal ability to provide better veterinary advice and services to the public.

Added to this is an area that is attracting more attention in all professional employment fields and that is the one of character development. This cannot so much be taught as it can be developed from our own personal values and individual attributes.

 

Apart from academic scores, character development is increasingly becoming a major selection criterion for admission to tertiary courses as well as successful job applications in a wider world.

 

This shift is taking the focus away from how clever you are to how well you apply your skills and knowledge based upon what kind of person you would like to become.

In the health and welfare sectors of society particularly and arguably all sectors of society ideally, these attributes of compassion, fairness, respect, integrity and genuine care are highly valued. Interestingly however is that these traits are not ones that can be well learned through book studies or with an over focus on academia alone.

 

In my current practice of homeopathy I also find that the colleagues I have more difficulty with are the ones who are unable to bridge the gulf between their overdeveloped minds and their good hearts. Contempt, disrespect, animosity and ridicule are not qualities of a good heart. I wonder why anybody would want to be like that.

Coming back to my original topic, I recall my boss many years ago suggesting that my chosen direction in life and my way of practice ran the risk of attracting a ‘holier than thou’ mentality. That made me think and it prompted me to consider ways to avoid falling into that trap. It also revealed a depth of character that most of the vets I know possess, a reflective countenance and an awareness that some things ought to be valued above knowledge.

Medicine is an art as much as it is a science and to practise to our optimum will require developing both sides of our brains as well as expanding our hearts.

 

Knowledge is imperative for providing sound and accurate advice and for developing experience in the professional practice of medicine but it is not solely responsible for determining how we best practise our healing art.

Personally, as can be supported by many of my observant clients and their pets, my daily practice of meditation and my spiritual retreats renew my ability to practice veterinary medicine well and deepen my understanding of how to help animals in the best possible way.

Meditation, the highest form of listening, brings clarity, insight and peace into the situations we face against disease and the challenges of living together. In a world that does not yet value meditation above more persuasive activities and diversions it can be hard to maintain our enthusiasm for our profession or sometimes even for our day to day existence. Combined with the limitations of the conventional medical tool boxes and ways of thinking that we currently have available to address these issues I would not have the ability to provide a quality integrative veterinary service if I did not regularly meditate.

 

It is our heart that speaks to the animals and it is their hearts that communicate with us through the limited capacity their minds have to project pictures into our own minds. The heart is a much larger, wider, unlimited and unbounded space in which to operate and if our mind, with all of its abilities, can be brought into this space and learn to comfortably function there, then our capacities are significantly increased.

 

Needless to say, without my homeopathic dispensary and the insights into how to best use these medicines, very few of my patients would enjoy the quality of life they have at present.

 

Practising veterinary medicine well therefore requires much, much more than a university degree alone.

35499

The mind’s frustration
Eventually gives way
To the heart’s poise.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 36, Agni Press, 2004

42234

I always prefer
The heart’s purity
To the mind’s brilliance.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 43, Agni Press, 2005

46792

The mind’s ego
Is helpless
Before our heart’s smiles.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 47, Agni Press, 2007

 

 

Oils well that Ends well

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Holistic vets have been asked about CBD (Cannabidiol) oil for pets for many years and it is only recently that much good information has become available about this product.

A Dog Owner’s Guide to CBD

A Cat Owner’s Guide to CBD

CBD Oil for Pets

Most of us in the profession have been careful about endorsing the use of a product in animals that has, until recently not been well researched and albeit widely misunderstood or confused with the medical marijuana debate.

We need to understand what we are purchasing and why the various products are so different from each other and since most of us are not trained in botany or herbal lore, the issue can be quite confusing.

The confusion is lessened when you get the right information.

The CBD Awareness Project,  has obviously done their homework and it is an excellent source of information about all of these differences.

CBD, hemp and marijuana are three distinctly different chemical compounds.

It is good to see that there has been some investigation into the physiology of the pets to determine their sensitivities and susceptibilities to both cannabidiol CBD oil and THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol). It is not advisable to give pets THC and potentially quite dangerous so make sure the CBD you purchase is safe for your animals and does not contain THC.

 

It is only with trials and time that reliable information becomes available about the benefits and side effects of any medicine.

 

Whilst hemp and hemp oil and products have been marketed for many years as sustainable and healthy options, the medicinal and nutritional effects on animals have experienced more delay in discovery and development owing to a number of factors, largely financial. Aiso with all natural health products on the market for people and animals, there is variance in the purity and effectiveness of products that are largely unregulated. Label claims and ingredient lists require close scrutiny and as with all latest trends there may well be some unscrupulous players in the market for unsuspecting buyers.

It helps to know what you are buying and why.

Hemp and CBD

Cannabis sativa is Hemp (inexpensive and nutritious seed oil high in omega 3)

Hemp oil is NOT CBD oil and is very low in cannabidiol.

Hemp fibre (stalks) is used for clothing and building materials.

Hemp seeds and leaves have different properties from each other.

CBD oil is from hemp leaves (expensive) and is also low in harmful THC.

Marijuana

Cannabis indica is Marijuana and has high amount of THC (%30)

Marijuana is not truly hemp but is called hash or hashish.

CBD oil is not generally extracted from marijuana plants

THC is more harmful to health with heating

Medical (cold pressed) marijuana is used in human medicine.

Medical marijuana is regarded as not safe for animals as they have much lower tolerance to any THC that may still be present.

 

I am reminded of a funny but disturbing incident that occurred when I was a new vet. In those days we used to be ‘on call’ 24 hours a day before the excellent 24 hour emergency specialist services were well established, so I would often get extremely early morning phonecalls. At 2am a girl phoned to get advice about what to do about her dog that had eaten a ‘cookie’ out of her handbag. I was supposed to know what this meant but asked what flavour it was as part of determining whether this was really an emergency and wondered why on earth she would have cookies in her handbag at 2am. Well after a couple of awkward moments we established it was a ‘hash’ cookie.

I knew what to do with chocolate and sugar but was wholly unprepared for this enquiry as it was a first.

Being the early morning and determining that the dog was not dying, I hoped rather than knew for certain that he would recover and told them to monitor him (whatever that means) and call back if concerned and really hoped that they did not. At 4am I got another call from them to say that the dog got wobbly and lethargic and had vomited so they gave it some ‘Speed’ and that it now seemed back to normal. I suppose ‘normal’ is relative in this context and I pursued this case no further.

Once my real day began I did wonder if it had all been a crazy dream.

Suffice to say that our beloved dogs do suffer at our hands in many ways but that is partly their lot for having chosen us with whom to co-evolve. Most of us are very grateful they did.

For those people looking for good advice about using essential oils for dogs for a range of conditions, you could have a look at this article that has kindly been provided by fluent woof.

In the end all’s well that ends well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Animal Medicine

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

 

Natural animal medicine means using common sense and nature to restore health to animals rather than relying upon drugs or synthetic foods.

What needs to be cured, what is curative in medicines and how to apply them are the three fundamental pillars of natural medicine and can be understood best from a homeopathic perspective.  Integrative Veterinarians in Australia and elsewhere have a detailed understanding of this approach to health.

The problem as I see it, is that we do not realise that we are not necessarily getting cleverer just because we are discovering more and using more technology. In fact, in the matter of medicine we are seemingly and alarmingly becoming more stupid every day that we accept our shopping malls and food halls being taken over by discount chemist warehouses and pharmacy chains.

Food and Mother Nature are being sacked en masse in a world that does not appreciate that we are totally dependent upon them for our survival.

Large animal and production vets are better prepared to treat animal disease, as they have not lost sight so much of the true causes. Also because large animals are considered less to be members of our human family they have somewhat escaped the marketing trends and sales pitches for ‘better pain or reflux relief’ that are now dominating our human existence.

 

It is a painful and gut wrenching reality that rather than spending money on good food and rest that we rush to buy a pill for ourselves or our pets these days at the first signs of discomfort or something we don’t understand.

 

Most diseases are caused by poor management, husbandry, nutrition or by accident. The large majority of these causes are not adequately rectified by pharmaceutical or chemical intervention, irrespective of any new advancements or ‘better’, ‘safer’, products on offer.

Iatrogenic disease (caused by us, vets and owners ), is probably the commonest and idiopathic (unknown cause) disease can often also be shown to be iatrogenic.

 

Infectious diseases are now the very rarest forms of disease in small animals and humans in developed countries. No amount of vaccination and chemical assault will abate the wave of health problems being created by our own lifestyle choices in western societies and our abject failure to recognise this epidemic problem.

All veterinarians are trained to recognise and treat disease in animals but the majority of us in small animal practice are not seeing any of the above causes and consequently looking in the wrong place most of the time for practical and effective treatment options. There seems to be a complacency and surrender to the idea that we cant do anything about the way we are moving but this is simply not true. The best cures for most diseases plaguing our world are to be found in our gardens, green verges and diminishing wild places and forests coupled with the knowledge of how to prepare and administer them. Instead, we suffer the disgraceful self congratulation of influential members of our medical education system  as they close down schools of natural health. Fortunately there are animal owners, farmers and veterinarians who value natural health sufficiently to push back against those with this agenda and continue to use and prescribe effective, safe and affordable foods, supplements and natural animal medicines.

People who recognise that we get to enjoy the world we create by our choices rather than just blindly being led by those with different motives. The purest motive of medicine as a service has sadly long passed and we need to advocate for reinstating it as soon as possible. Our health and that of our animals does not and should not ever belong to a medical system that seeks to have a monopoly.

 

We need a new mission statement and advertisement for our veterinary profession if we are to survive the wave of scepticism we are bringing upon ourselves by our failure to recognise that we are being manipulated by corporate interests into selling products that are not necessarily aligned with the best interests of our patients.

 

Perhaps our highest priority needs to be advocating for animal welfare and moreover, making this known to be the prime objective of our profession.

Kudos to the Australian Veterinary Association for raising awareness of the need to change our direction, now we just have to see the action attending this decision.

 

Instead I see our professionalism being increasingly eroded by corporate interests that are driving the profession to sell goods and services that are not necessarily aligned with the purest motives of animal welfare. Being far from a perfect world in many areas these days, it is not surprising that veterinary science and medicine would be seen as yet another opportunity to market and capitalise. It is now legal for persons or corporations not trained in veterinary medicine to own and operate vet clinics in Australia. This has to be seen as a serious mistake or at least a warning of trending away from a veterinary welfare objective, however cleverly packaged it may appear.

 

Not wishing to move too far away from the topic of this blog posting, the practice of natural animal health was once the only thing vets used to do

 

It is not new and it is definitely not truly ‘alternative’, it is just best practice.

 

Over time many influences have come to bear upon the profession but not withstanding advancements in knowledge and research into modern medicines, the basic tenet of treating disease has not changed. Feed and treat animals well and kindly and they will get better if their time to die has not yet come. Assist them to heal themselves if they can. Homeostasis is a more powerful healer by far than any pharmaceutical that can ever be produced.

 

No medicine can stop death if it is inevitable but it will be harder to recognise this if the animal is artificially and very expensively preserved in all but it’s very essence of existence.

 

Death is a natural cure when it is part of a natural life.

 

It can even be celebrated by those of us who are grateful for the experience of shared existence and sacred occasions.

 

 

  1. The question of death

 

The frightening question of death
Arises only in those
Who cannot take death
As a return home.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 26, Agni Press, 1982

1058

The body thinks that death
Is a ruthless torturer.
The soul knows that death
Is an Unknown Way-revealer.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 2, Agni Press, 1998

 

65. The Most Effective Medicine

The most effective medicine
Here on earth
Is love unconditional.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, part 32, Agni Press, 2005

 

I can hear …..

Monday, May 27th, 2019

“I can hear you are frustrated”, says the woman on the other end of the phone today.

This blog is prompted by a long awaited reply I received today from the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman regarding the NHMRC report on homeopathy that was released in 2015.

 

Here is a brief summary of the issue in case you missed it:

In 2015 The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, (NHMRC) releases a study that concludes there is no evidence to support that homeopathy is effective. This has global ramifications and fuels further hostility towards homeopathy. It is now referred to as ‘The Australian Report’ and is an embarrassment to many Australians.

 

Many of us know that this outcome is not true and wonder how they could have missed the evidence that exists and was made available to them.

 

An enquiry is undertaken as to why or how this could have happened.

Information comes to light that there has probably been a few procedural errors and implied misconduct or at least an unprecedented level of restriction that has misrepresented the truth and buried most of the high quality evidence that exists.

A complaint or many complaints are made and no satisfactory replies, investigations or corrections are forthcoming for many years.

The appeal reaches the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman

As a ‘secret service’ (an office that conducts its enquiries in secret), with strict procedures of appeal and due process, the result is that the majority of our complaints are probably being dismissed, as is my own. That, in itself, is not frustrating but what is frustrating is that owing to the confidentiality (normally a very good thing) there can be no information issued to complainants such as myself regarding the progress of the investigation and hence no satisfactory resolution in sight despite our combined efforts and compliance with the guidelines and recommendations of the Office.

 

It’s hard sometimes to be a nice person when that relies on living in the heart and we must function in the mind to navigate the ways of the world. It’s a daily conflict that meditation can help enormously to assuage but nevertheless still frustrating when it comes to communicating with the justice system or with government in particular.

At least we have a justice system with democratic governance even if we appear to be too stupid to use them properly.

In fact, more to the point, after speaking for some time to the calling officer it highlights to me that I do not even know what the complaint really is. I mean how can it be better worded or presented in order to pass muster through a seemingly officious and rigorous scrutiny. “I’m not happy and the report is false” doesn’t seem to cut it. She also patiently points out that this is not the function of the Ombudsman and that the Office functions primarily to ensure that due process is adhered to when a complaint to someone else is made. In this case the complaint is really directed towards the NHMRC or in effect the Australian Government.

The office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO) deems any reply to a complaint as a fulfillment of obligation. So if the NHMRC sent an autoreply email that the message/complaint had been received then that absolves them from issuing further response and the Ombudsman may decide that no case exists. No, I’m not frustrated.

 

So I am reflecting on how this could have been handled better and I realise that maybe it was doomed from the outset. The message I am getting from the patient and kind officer from the OCO is that only complaints that rely on your own personal experience can be considered authentic. I understand that but that gets clouded by the fact that my own personal experience is obtaining information from people and organisations I trust to have acted on my behalf and who accord with my own understanding of the matter. I am not a researcher or a lawyer and like most of us, rely on those who are to inform us in matters of importance and in which we are in agreement.

 

My complaint is dismissed primarily on the basis that the information forming the basis of my complaint comes via a third party. Frustrated? No not me.

I can extrapolate that to hear that if any of my clients and disadvantaged patients at any homeopathic clinic lodged a complaint they could be similarly dismissed on the same grounds since they themselves are not the first party. In fact who could be the first party in a case like this if not the public of Australia?

I am left wondering now about that and also about who gets to collect evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy if not the practitioner or the patient? Clearly none of these according to the NHMRC or the OCO. Further frustration here arises from the fact that the evidence provided for the 2015 review was of a significantly higher level than the aforementioned personal case studies and was still dismissed by the ‘expert’ review committee that contained not a single homeopath.

We can see here how democracy can be easily eroded by the very checks and balances established to protect its integrity. Who’s frustrated?

I doubt that any evidence I could furnish would have been any more successful than the original truck load (1800 documents) provided to the NHMRC study committee.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that we have reason to believe that the original committee did in fact discover that sufficient evidence exists to warrant further consideration but that this committee was then fired and a second report was commissioned at further expense to the Australian public.

Consolation arrives in the feeling that even though my own feeble attempt at eliciting a response to this issue has failed that there is in place a co-ordinated effort being made by the Australian Homeopathic Association (hopefully here known as the third party unless there are more) that will hopefully meet with a better outcome. Full details of this can be found here  for those interested.

 

So perhaps there is power in unity after all and the petition that we all signed through the Your Health Your Choice campaign will have some effect and that our individual attempts may be recognised in support of a larger unified push.

 

Whilst true power lies in unity there appears to be little unity in the offices of the Law of the Land, yet it still appears all-powerful. Blunt instruments like the law can obviously inflict quite some damage and may end up being more painful with longer lasting ramifications than the sharp stabs of insight and truth.

 

The damage of this particular mistake extends to our national reputation in a world that widely accepts and acknowledges the evidence of effectiveness, the benefits to patients and the practice of homeopathy as a medicine and is left wondering how we could be so ignorant.

 

It seems that we may never become clever enough to defeat those who have powerful motives to keep us quiet and ineffective but our true power lies in our collective consciousness and that is not governed by anything other than our heart power, which is at the core of our unity.

 

 

45427

Truth cannot
Forever remain
Unheard.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 46, Agni Press, 2006

28284

Truth hides
When argument roars.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 29, Agni Press, 2002

6347. Be absolutely sure

First be absolutely sure
That you know the truth
Before you talk to others
About the truth.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 64, Agni Press, 1983

 

 

Problem Behaviour

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

As veterinarians, we overly focus on physical symptoms when considering managing small animal disease.

Where is behaviour in this dog? We can assume it originates in the brain or mind but it is not a surgical problem and nor should it be considered a medical problem and yet it is one of the most prevalent problems in small animal practice next to skin disease.

 

Behaviour is an invisible aspect of the animal that cannot be examined with a stethoscope, microscope or otoscope. We must use different skills to identify and treat problem behaviour. It is the only area well recognised by most vets as being a non physical problem and is, in itself, a perfect segue into understanding animal health from a holistic or integrative perspective

In fact, behaviour is quite likely to be the first thing that visibly changes in all cases of illness. It is an increasing reason for presentation to veterinary clinics and still the number one reason for euthanasia of dogs in Australia.

 

Companion animal behaviour, for all of the years of domestication, may still also be one of the least understood aspects of small animal health since it is not given the credit due to instinct or nature. Unlike birds, farm animals and wild animals, most of our dogs and cats are desexed, sleep in beds and are fed from bowls in the house. We have come to misrepresent their dogness or catness as they become more like members of a human family and expected to conform to our lifestyles.

As with all disease it helps to understand what normal looks like. In domestic animals normal is somewhat deranged to begin with and some of what owners consider problematic is actually normal for the animal. Regurgitation, urine spraying, vocalizing, hunting, barking, digging are amongst a list of normal animal behaviours considered to be problems in home environments if they are not understood or managed.

 

Helping clients to manage or understand their animal’s problem behaviour therefore requires us to know how the environment impacts upon the normal instincts or motivations of the animals and how we can help them to adapt to changes and different expectations. Holistic vets are more likely to properly recognize the importance of emotional or mental issues that may be surfacing in these animals and to have non pharmaceutical treatments for these factors.

 

Since studying integrative medicine I have an increased awareness of the needs of dogs and cats in human households and also how these animals may see themselves and their role in the family.

Fortunately over the past two decades in particular animal behaviour interest groups, amongst others, have been producing and distributing valuable reminders and insights into many of the activities that cats and dogs need to engage in, in order to remain satisfied and behave well in human households.

Much of this information has filtered through to animal owners via vet blogs and websites and much of the understanding of dog and cat behaviour is being better disseminated and discussed.

 

One of the most overlooked and undervalued aspects of animal behaviour is their attempt to communicate with us. It is possible for animals to clearly let us know what they need if we are experienced listeners. Much of the problem behaviour is part of a more demonstrative attempt to communicate.

 

I believe that all vets are seeing more and more cases of problem behaviour in dogs and cats simply as a result of their failure to adapt to our stressful human lifestyles. We all use the term ‘stress’ and know that in some magical way it causes disease but very few vets have skills and tools to fully appreciate the enormity of benefit this element alone can contribute to cure when it is properly understood.

One of the simple and most profound ‘tricks’ I can share briefly with you here is the recognition and manipulation of the two arms of the nervous system.

Other holistic vets talk about this too and we all have little techniques to tweak it to advantage.

The sympathetic nervous system is primarily a ‘fight and flight’ system whereas the parasympathetic nervous system is more of a ‘rest and digest’ system.

In my experience, the vast majority of animals presenting to me for problem behaviour are in sympathetic overdrive for one reason or another and find it very difficult to regulate themselves. This is part of the ‘stress’ we all speak about. If we can augment the parasympathetic arm in them they will immediately feel and behave better and then we need to be able to help them maintain this balance. We do this initially with a range of physical therapy techniques that many of us have discovered, perfected and taught.

 

Personally, I maintain this benefit primarily with homeopathic medicines and species appropriate diets. I also find the benefits from my physical therapies can be remembered at a cellular level and built upon over time to keep animals calmer. I employ Bowen and Orthobionomy as well as meditation and Homeopathy.

I have some lovely examples of bringing animals along to comfort from places of fear and over reactivity. Training is of paramount importance in dogs and very often not properly taught. There are also major compounding issues in animals with the rise in anxiety in humans and animals alike and I attribute this largely to a failure to address the importance of gut health in acknowledgement of the gut brain axis. This is a whole other topic.

 

It is possible that the mind is becoming more developed in our domesticated dogs and cats given that anxiety is a function largely of the mind. As humans we have an awareness of a higher purpose that animals have not yet developed.

 

Perhaps the evolution of the mind in these species is causing them to be anxious since they have no understanding of how to manage their mind other than when engaged in work, which is also largely instinctual for the working breeds.

39923

My mind
Always lives
In the world
Of worries and anxieties.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 40, Agni Press, 2004

 

It is more likely however that the anxiety in animals is caused by sensitivity to vibration and disturbances in the atmosphere as we experience major disruptions to the balance of nature as a function of modern living. They will also be anxious on our behalf since their whole reason for being is to please and protect us and they mirror us as well. They are far more sensitive to these vibrations than humans as we have mostly learned to ignore them or moreover rise above them. It seems that we can do little about this ‘progress’ other than to continue to keep our nervous systems well nourished and adaptable through optimum nutrition and in our case also by practicing regular meditation.

 

Sri Chinmoy provides explanations for these things from a spiritual perspective.

Question: In what manner must we fight the animal qualities we have inside us?

Sri Chinmoy: You have mentioned that we are still half animal. People who are not praying or meditating are half animal. We feel that we are not in the animal kingdom, that we do not destroy anything. But all the time we are destroying. In the animal kingdom, perhaps two, or ten or twelve animals will fight together. But when humans fight, at that time thousands are there. When there is a world war, countless human beings are killed.

So, human beings still have animal qualities in abundant measure. What should we do? When we pray and meditate, these animal qualities are illumined. When they are illumined, then they are totally transformed. It is like physical strength. With this hand I can strike somebody. And again with this hand I can work; I can do something constructive. Before, with animal strength, I used to strike somebody. Now I am using strength to do something good for the earth.

Sri Chinmoy, Ego and self-complacency, Agni Press, 1977

 

 

24018

If we do not care for others,
In spite of their objectionable behaviour,
We will not be able to reach
Our Destination.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 25, Agni Press, 2002

Question: Once I saw a dog biting a young boy. Is there any particular reason for that to happen?

Sri Chinmoy: It could be either that the dog was by nature undivine and hostile, or that, on the spur of the moment, a destructive, evil spirit entered into the dog. Again, it may have been for another reason altogether. From the highest spiritual point of view, although it was just a little boy, the soul may have lost some faith in the mind, in the heart or in the body of that particular boy. In general, when you lose faith in your spiritual life or lose faith in your Master or lose faith in God, then a dog may bite you. A dog’s very nature is faithfulness and devotedness. The dog wants to show you that you have lost faith in your spiritual life, in your Master or in God. In the case of spiritual people, this can happen and it does happen. The soul identifies itself with the body, vital, mind and heart to give more faith to the entire being, but if the body, vital, mind and heart lose faith, a dog may bite.

Again, it is also possible that, by nature, the dog was bad, or that some destructive, hostile forces attacked the dog and it became a victim to these forces. Sometimes when a dog gets a very, very unfamiliar feeling, it may try to attack. We cannot say specifically which reason is applicable unless we see the dog and concentrate on it. Otherwise, there may be ten possible reasons why the poor innocent boy was bitten.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 17, Agni Press, 1999

 

Tick of Approval

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Fortunately I do not live or practice in an area of Australia that is prone to paralysis tick infestation as this is one less competitor to battle for good health in my animal patients.

I am often asked however about this subject given that many of my clients like to travel and the east coast of our beautiful country is a favorite destination for visitors as well as being prime paralysis tick territory.

The unfortunate reality when it comes down to preventing tick infestation on our pets is that all chemical products available are, by definition, poisons.

All available over the counter products kill ticks because they are nerve poisons. The safety margins of these products for mammalian systems varies and all products registered in Australia through Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) have passed safety standards for registration.

As a person who does not use chemicals if I can avoid them, I am interested to know about management of these parasites and many others from a more natural basis. Whilst the majority of pet owners will purchase and use one of the myriad recommended products from pet shops, vets or online, there is a group of people who, like myself, prefer to avoid the use of chemicals  in our environments and family.

The paralysis tick has three life stages and these are usually found on native animals like bandicoots, kangaroos and possums that are able to develop resistance to tick induced disease. The seed or immature ticks also climb up grass stems and bush foliage and can be picked up by any passing warm blood meal source before dropping off again for the next lifecycle stage. The most important and infective stage is adult female ticks and these will cause paralysis as they feed over days to weeks on the host.

My first and most memorable experience of this parasite was quite devastating. A client had picked up the tick on his backpack whilst hiking through bushland hundreds of kilometers away and carried it unknowingly home to a definitive host. Given that we did not live in tick country the ensuing and fatal disease the family dog developed was not recognised until a fully engorged paralysis tick dropped off from their beloved dog’s body at post mortem examination about two horrible weeks later.

 

You don’t forget these lessons.

 

There are many excellent articles written on many vet blogs about this parasite and the disease and prevention options so I will not go into further detail about that here. People reading my blog are looking for alternatives to chemical prophylaxis and want to avoid using the available poisons on the market.

The only reliable option regardless of whether you use chemicals or not, since nothing will guarantee protection, is to examine your pet thoroughly every day that you are inside a tick risk zone.

 

With paralysis tick it is essential to physically examine your pet every day from toes to tip of nose and tail, ears, vulva, prepuce and all crevices in between as these opportunists will seek haven anywhere they can attach and be hidden. No control measure beats looking for ticks every day.

 

 

So look, look, look and look again and you will avoid 99% of the problem since these parasites take about 3-4 days to engorge and cause physical symptoms in dogs. Do not stop looking just because you find a tick either because if there is one there may very well be many and not always in the same place.

Undiscovered ticks cause disease starting with coughing, weakness and malaise progressing to full loss of function over a week or two. Paralysis of respiratory muscles can bring an end to life if not caught in time. Treatment involves hospitalisation, homeopathy, supportive care and anti toxin once clinical signs appear.

Here is a picture of an engorged tick and it will often be greenish, blue in color like a broad bean kernel and similar in size although this one is darker. You will only see them like this once your dog or cat is already showing signs of intoxication unless they have developed resistance. Fortunately animals living in tick areas do develop a degree of resistance to tick toxin over time, which helps enormously to reduce morbidity. Any embedded object must be considered to be suspicious and I highly recommend getting a specialised tick twister or simple device for tick removal and learning to use it properly, getting well underneath the implanted mouthparts without squeezing the tick body. These tick twisters are readily available at outlets in tick areas.

 

The only chemical product I would consider using as a preventative is Dermcare Permoxin spray concentrate that is made up and used in a spray bottle with water as required. This is not safe for cats but can be used daily on dogs if ticks are being found. This is a synthetic pyrethroid and mimics the pyrethrums found in chrysanthemums. It is still unsafe to use in cats so be careful if you have cats in the household. You also have to completely wet the dog with this product for maximum benefit.

 

There are many natural repellents that are described by many people and a lot of these plants and oils will indeed help. With paralysis tick however the cost of these not working and an overreliance on them can have dire consequences.

 

Ticks have 8 legs, they are arachnids like spiders and all living things have a role to play in the cosmic Lila even if we do not recognise or appreciate this. It is also true that we have long gone past tipping point for our impact upon the natural ecological balance on Earth and we do need to be mindful of the hazards we have propagated and are at risk of encountering as a result of our interferences. These will be evident both by intractable imbalances in insect, pest or predator populations as well as environmental chemical contamination.

Sadly for our pets, paralysis tick is one such organism that we are at war with most of the year along the east coast of Australia.

In line with all advice I give to my clients, keep your animals vibrantly healthy with species appropriate raw meaty bones and vege slurries so that they have optimum natural defences and collect information about the adversaries you may need to face so that you are properly prepared.

 

25273

Life is nothing
But perpetual preparation.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 26, Agni Press, 2002

1230

Always be prepared
To fight against
Your stark ignorance-enemies.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 13, Agni Press, 1999

35762

Do not be afraid
Of unexpected calamities —
Just be fully prepared.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 36, Agni Press, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrative Veterinary Medicine

Friday, December 7th, 2018

It is the imperative of integrative veterinarians to provide the best advice from all avenues of husbandry, medicine and surgery available to treat animal disease. This is the definition of integrative veterinary medicine.

It can be very difficult to have an open and unbiased opinion about all of these options.

One of the greatest impediments to the advancement of homeopathy for example is the misconception that no evidence exists for the effectiveness of this medicine. Despite a growing body of gold standard evidence for the biological effects of homeopathic medicines in humans, animals and even on plants, many  physicians not only refuse to recognize this but actively despise the fact. I conclude that this is largely because it challenges them beyond their capacity to change their thinking.

This is not the subject of this post but rather an example of how we must struggle against our own inherent and learned prejudices in order to be a better health provider to the animal population.

My personal example of prejudice that I strive to overcome is the use of chemical and pharmaceutical interventions in animal health.  It is difficult for me sometimes to see and admit the benefits that these products provide in an integrated health program and I am looking for reasons for why I often feel this way.

The most likely reason is that these approaches are often directly against what I consider to be best practice. This also raises the crucial point of difference between allopathy (conventional medicine) and homeopathy and the understanding of disease and cure.

Put simply; conventional (allopathic) medicine (drugs) is used in the hope that the animal makes itself well in the meantime and thus becomes cured. These medicines have little to nothing to do with the disease in question but rather act on the parts of the body that are still healthy in a variety of mechanisms designed to suppress the disease symptoms. In contrast: homeopathic medicine recognizes the bodies attempt to cure itself and sees the symptoms as attempts to cure. Homeopathy then assists this attempt to cure the diseased parts rather than putting pressure on the healthy system. This explains why side effects occur with drugs but not with homeopathy. Drugs affect healthy organs whereas homeopathy treats diseased tissues, restoring health by employing the healthy parts to assist the process.

 

I endorse the use of drugs in some cases. They can be life saving interventions at times. It is just that we have become overly reliant on them when there are healthier options available in many cases. Admittedly these better options are not readily available to all practitioners so we do the best we can with what we have available. My goal is to have more natural options available to the animal health industry and better education about nutrition and homeostasis.

 

Cancer is all too prevalent in animals and this is another area that can only be best served by an integrative approach with nutritional and organ support for systems under extreme duress. More and more the newer cancer drugs are also following examples set by homeopathy with both the choices of drugs (palladium most recently) plus the rise in the trend to low dose (metronomic) chemotherapy protocols. There will be a meeting point in this area in the not too distant future, which will herald a breakthrough in understanding. Other areas that will discover validity in homeopathy will be nanomedicine and nanomolecular adaptive networking along with quantum medicine all of which albeit, are still in infancy for mainstream medical practice.

 

So back to my personal quandary and the point of this blog.

Why do I find myself so disillusioned about the practice of medicine in a modern world?

Here are some suggestions.

I feel frustrated by the complexity we have created by our interference in the natural world.

Just because it is new it does not mean it is better.

I am disappointed that there are so few clever thinking and inquisitive practitioners looking for answers in nature.

I believe that simplifying our life will enable us to have space to be healthier.

It seems too easy to be caught up in expectations of others as to how we should be living and staying connected with each other.

Along with advantages this may bring, there are untold costs to our health.

I believe that there is too much interference at a vibrational (noise, frequencies, waves) and chemical level in our environment, which directly affects physiological function of all water based living things. This is becoming more alarming with newer towers and higher (5G) outputs about to be introduced.

I am less trusting of corporate agendas and whilst we all still need money to drive our economy I do not endorse selling products that are potentially harmful and not necessary; medicine for health not for profit.

I do not feel comfortable with the amount of packaging and waste that comes from pharmaceutical sales and petfoods. We are facing crisis tipping point for global contamination with plastic and we can all do better.

Whilst it is essential that most of us live now in modern cities it does not necessarily follow that we must accept the limited conditions this imposes.

We can be looking for more ways to grow and replenish soil, grow local foods and medicines and build healthy community  through very simple sustainable, ecofriendly enterprises that will ultimately benefit us all.

 

Most of all I seriously challenge the premise that disease is not curable.

When did we give up on curing disease and how have we come to accept that we live in a constant state of ill health? I did not study veterinary medicine to watch animals die or live with permanent disease.

 

Coming back to the most basic training we receive as veterinarians,

“If you don’t look then you wont see” and

it is alright to say “I don’t know”.

 

I admire all my colleagues who can keep the blinkers off and I will keep trying to be one of them but I confess that this is difficult when we are battling our own imperfections and limitations in practice and understanding.

 

  1. Don’t be a fool

Don’t be a fool
And assume
That you already know
What you need to know.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 20, Agni Press, 1981

23546

The power of the mind
Limits us.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 24, Agni Press, 2002

24887

No imperfection
Can forever last.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 25, Agni Press, 2002

 

Titre tests and vaccinations in cats

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

As more people are becoming aware of the options available to maximize cat health I am getting more enquiries about vaccinations and titre testing for cats.

Cats are not small dogs but the principles of managing their health are very similar. Feed them species appropriate diets, minimize chemical burdens and vaccinate minimally.

The most important cat disease in Australia for which we vaccinate is Feline Panleucopaenia (Feline Enteritis, FE) and is most similar to Parvovirus in dogs.

This is the disease that you hear about most often in the media with the traditional alarm.

It is a serious disease and all cats should be vaccinated against it at the right age as it usually affects young or stray cats.

Kittens that have come from good homes will have maternally derived antibodies that last up to about 10- 12 weeks of age and should then have a vaccination for FE which has been shown to confer a long duration of protection (3 years to lifelong).

The minimum frequency to vaccinate for this disease is 3 years according to the most recent World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines and since it is a disease that mostly, if not exclusively, attacks cats under 12 months of age the need to revaccinate at all is arguable. It would be advisable to vaccinate breeding queens prior to mating to confer protection to the kittens.

The most common cat disease however is what is termed ‘cat flu’ but is not influenza at all. Like influenza however, the respiratory diseases that are linked to this syndrome are known to be changeable and unpredictable both in the manifestation of symptoms and the protection that infection or vaccination confers. Cat flu is actually two viruses against which we vaccinate. (Feline Herpes virus 1 known as Rhinotracheitis and Feline Calicivirus FRFC). As a modified live vaccine it gives the best protection but also runs the risk of producing the disease.

It is generally recognised that immunity to the feline respiratory disease syndrome (cat flu) is not necessarily protective and may do nothing more than alleviate the severity of symptoms.

Cats that have been infected with these viruses can become chronic carriers and can exhibit permanent symptoms of watery eyes or recurrent symptoms when stressed. These cats will not be protected by vaccination and will be infective to other cats that are susceptible so there are many frustrations in managing viral respiratory diseases in cats. Mostly for this reason alone I choose to treat these cats with homeopathy combined with raw diets as it alleviates the symptoms of disease and keeps  cats resilient to infection.

Recommendations for the frequency of vaccination for this syndrome which is contained in F3 or F4 vaccines is very variable from 6 to 12 to 36 months.

WSAVA guidelines recommend F3 as a core vaccination of minimum duration 3 years. Cats can also become chronic carriers of these viruses and the disease will emerge at times of stress irrespective of vaccination status.

I won’t discuss vaccinating for Feline Leukaemia and Feline Aids viruses here as it is a whole different subject except to say that I usually do not recommend giving these vaccines (F4 or F5).

Antibody titre testing is a blood test that is used to determine the presence of antibody to disease. Whilst this a simple test to perform it is less simple to interpret the results in terms of protection status. For example, in dog diseases (Distemper, Hepatits and Parvovirus, DHP, C3) the levels of antibody correlate well with levels of protection whereas in cats the levels of antibody do not necessarily indicate protection to the respiratory diseases. Feline enteritis antibody (the most important disease) does correlate to protection.

Fortunately there is a good alternative to repeated vaccination for cat flu in the form of homeopathic nosode that will protect in the face of challenge. Unlike vaccination, the nosode does not produce antibody to disease but can be used safely and effectively both for cats that are exhibiting symptoms of cat flu and for those in the face of challenge as protection from full blown disease.

This is my preferred treatment method and needs to be recognised as a safe alternative to repeated vaccination for cats at risk.

Given that WSAVA guidelines recommend 3 yearly vaccinations for cats the requirement to vaccinate every year should be changed in Australian boarding cattery guidelines to bring them into accord with current evidence base.

Given also that Feline Enteritis (parvo) is a disease for which vaccination probably confers lifelong protection it is most likely not necessary to repeatedly vaccinate for this in cats older than a year of age.

Paws to Heal will use Cat Flu Nosode for cats at risk (boarding or stress) and also as a treatment for cats with respiratory disease. In the rare cases of Feline Enteritis that can occur in young cats the Feline Enteritis nosode has also been used to successfully treat the disease in strong kittens that were vaccinated too early to obtain acquired immunity.

Under WSAVA guidelines, three yearly titre testing and certificates should also be sufficient alternatives to yearly vaccinations combined with the added assurance that nosodes provide when required. Most veterinarians will be unable to supply nosodes and will recommend vaccination and each case must then be assessed on a risk/benefit basis.

Individualised vaccination programs are becoming more recognised, so if you do not have access to a homeopathic or integrative practitioner then please ask your vet for an individual assessment of your cat’s requirements.

Cat bite abscess, Emergency?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Firstly an emergency is anything that you cannot manage or understand on your own so if you have a sick animal that you are worried about then you need assistance if you are not in a position to assess this for yourself.

 

Any case of trauma or accident where there is injury and shock is always an emergency even if the extent of damage is not obvious.

 

Cat bite abscesses are usually not emergencies even though they seem to appear out of nowhere and can make cats cranky. They often look like sudden injuries but are actually old wounds that have suddenly become problematic.

 

The initial bite wound that causes these swellings of pus to appear are usually inflicted a week or more beforehand so in fact the real point of most benefit to avoiding abscess formation is to address these puncture wounds promptly.

 

If you notice them.

 

Most times you may not notice your cat being a bit sore or withdrawn for a few hours after a scrap. Then they can behave normally for a week or two while there is a whole other plot going on under the skin. Some cats can seem unwell during this period but most go unnoticed.

 

Peak abscess season is breeding season . In Australia this is May/June and Nov/Dec as it is linked to changing day length and the affect on the brain.

 

Of course there are cats that will fight all year round regardless of gender or whether they are desexed or not.

Experienced cat owners who have cats that have adversarial feline neighbours or are prone to fighting will be very well equipped to deal with these problems or will recognise them sooner. It can be quite a shock to many people to find large swellings or holes in their cats.

 

The conventional treatment involves antibiotic and pain management when the wounds are first noticed and surgical drainage if abscesses are well advanced.

 

The homeopathic treatment approach uses medicines for puncture wounds, pain and infection and if there is already an abscess will assist drainage and healing.

The basic tenet in both approaches is to establish and maintain drainage.

There is an ancient adage involving “laudation of the pus” whereby once pus appears the animal is getting better as it belies a good immune response.

 

If the abscess is old or extensive then the cat’s immune system may not be strong and if left unattended these can result in tissue necrosis and areas of skin and underlying tissues being exposed or lost. This can also appear quite alarming for cat owners and will require veterinary advice. Cats are amazing healers nevertheless.

 

Usually once drainage is established and maintained then the cat recovers surprisingly well. For the uninitiated however beware of the horrendous smell in the early stages of abscess drainage as abscess are caused by bacteria getting into places they ought not to be. You may also need to restrict cat access to soft furnishings for a week or two if there is a draining abscess although cats themselves are remarkable housekeepers and keep themselves very clean.