Vaccines and Titers

July 23, 2016 on 9:07 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Animals properly immunized against the clinically important viral diseases have sterilizing immunity that not only prevents clinical disease but also prevents infection, and only the presence of antibody can prevent infection.

An animal with a positive antibody titer blood test against these viruses has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer but instead may develop a hypersensitivity/allergy to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum, adjuvants.) This could result in an acute allergic reaction (that can be fatal) or long-term side effects (immune blood problems, arthritis, cancer, etc.) In my practice, it’s no coincidence that many of my patients who come for my help for various disorders (seizures, allergies, cancers, etc.) have received numerous (unnecessary) vaccines and often received vaccines shortly before their diagnosis.  One should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected.

Here are some of the myths Dr. Dodds exposed in her recent article in a leading veterinary medical journal.

MYTH

  • There is little to no risk of vaccinating animals that are already immune.

TRUTH

  • Vaccines contain material designed to challenge the immune system of the pet, and so can cause adverse reactions. They should not be given needlessly and should be tailored to the pet’s individual needs and based upon titer testing.

MYTH

  • Half-dose vaccines cannot adequately immunize small toy dogs.

TRUTH

  • Some experts advocate the whole amount, as it provides the minimum immunizing dose. Our recent research giving half-dose of distemper and parvovirus booster to adult toy dogs elicited sustained protective immunity.

MYTH

  • Pets with diseases such as cancer or autoimmune diseases, or adverse vaccine reactions/hypersensitivity can safely receive booster vaccinations.

TRUTH

  • MLV products should be avoided as the vaccine virus may cause disease.
  • Vaccination with killed, inactivated products may aggravate immune-mediated disease or be ineffective.

MYTH

  • Vaccines can be given less than two weeks apart if a different vaccine is being given.

TRUTH

  • The safest and most effective interval to immunize is three to four weeks apart.

MYTH

  • Puppy and kitten vaccine series should start early and continue until 16 weeks of age.

TRUTH

  • The last dose of vaccine given at 14 to 16 weeks old in dogs and 12 to 14 weeks in cats should immunize them, but use titer testing to be sure the pets are adequately immunized.

MYTH

  • Vaccinated animals will not be immunized for several weeks after vaccination.

TRUTH

  • This is dependent on the animal, the vaccine and the disease.
  • Fastest immunity is provided by canine distemper vaccines, within 24 hours. Immunity to canine parvovirus and feline panleukopenia virus takes three to five days.
Titer testing is simple, safe, effective, and inexpensive. Please don’t routinely vaccinate your pets as they don’t need it. Use titer testing to determine if/when your pet may benefit from (rather than suffer from) needless vaccinations!

Functional Medicine

July 21, 2016 on 6:34 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

At Paws & Claws Holistic Animal Hospital, our focus and specialty is on functional medicine. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and doctor in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole pet, not just an isolated set of symptoms.

Why Do We Need Functional Medicine?

  • There is a sharp increase in the number of pets who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, allergies, arthritis, and other serious immune problems.
  • The system of medicine practiced by most veterinarians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, and doctors apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
  • Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper  methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins (too many vaccines, drugs, and chemicals.)
  • Most veterinarians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and naturopathic remedies to both treat AND prevent these illnesses in their patients.

How is Functional Medicine Different?

Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease, and includes:

  • Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease (many pets “look healthy” but testing shows underlying issues that must be addressed or illness will occur.)
  • An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal and external factors that affect total functioning.
  • Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what is sometimes considered “holistic” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, and detoxification programs.

We are happy to be the only hospital in North Texas to offer our patients functional medicine, and are committed to health using the least invasive and least toxic therapies!

Safer Holistic Anesthesia for Dental (and Other) Procedures

February 17, 2016 on 1:48 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Dental Disease and Anesthesia

Most pets have periodontal disease that must be addressed. This involves cleaning the teeth, and a proper dental cleaning must be done under sedation/anesthesia in order to thoroughly treat the periodontal pockets that accompany dental disease.

A holistic approach to anesthesia is a safe alternative to traditional anesthetics. The holistic approach allows minimal amounts of sedation/anesthesia to be used, minimizing risk to the patient, even older dogs and cats, and ensuring a quick and complete recovery. (We typically do dental cleanings and tumor removals using this approach on dogs and cats 15 years of age and older without any harm to the pet!)

We’ve had great success using this holistic anesthetic approach, so much so that we get patients from around the area (and even from out of state) in order to minimize the risk of sedation and anesthesia. By using this approach we’ve been able to help even high risk patients have necessary surgery for cleaning the teeth and removing tumors.

The approach involves a proper pre-sedation evaluation, and choosing the right anesthetic based upon this evaluation. Tiny doses of sedatives/anesthetics are used, just enough to allow the pet to lightly sleep while the teeth are properly and thoroughly cleaned. With this approach, the pet is barely asleep, minimizing the risks so often seen with more traditional anesthesia (depressed heart and lung function, lowered body temperature, etc.) Once the procedure is finished the pet can go home fully awake (without the hangover effect so commonly seen with traditional anesthesia) and acting totally normal.


There is no reason your pet, even an older pet, shouldn’t have proper medical care just because of a fear of anesthesia. Look into a more gentle, natural approach to anesthesia and surgery and your pet will not only survive but even thrive and awake healthier!

Dog Flu

February 8, 2016 on 6:52 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Yes it’s flu season, which means we’re getting many calls about the dog flu. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so here are a few quick facts to keep your dog healthy this flu season.

1.First, as is true with the human flu vaccine, the vaccine DOES NOT prevent the flu….the goal of vaccination is to minimize the chance of the flu causing illness, but the vaccine does not prevent infection. Ideally vaccination would minimize the severity of the illness, but as we see every year this is based, in people, upon correctly guessing which is the most prevalent strain. Last year many people were vaccinated even though the guess as to which strain was going to be a problem was wrong, making the vaccine ineffective. No data is available to determine this problem in dogs.

2.Unless your pet is at high risk for getting the flu (ie, show dogs,) it’s unlikely your pet will ever come in contact with the flu virus.

3.Still there is no way to know if the flu virus might have an opportunity to infect your dog. Therefore, boosting/maximizing your pet’s immune system is the best way to prevent diseases including the flu.

4.Maximum vitamin D level (blood levels of around 100 in dogs and greater than 50 in people) is the best, easiest, safest, least expensive way to boos your immune system and your dog’s immune system. Vitamin D is given based upon recent blood testing, your pet’s weight, and your pet’s health status.

If your pet has not had a vitamin D test within the past 6 months, call us to schedule this so your pet can get started on the correct dose of vitamin D. It’s the best thing you can do to minimize the flu causing a problem this year (and maximum vitamin D levels reduces the risk of your pet developing cancer and other infectious and immune diseases.)

Cancer Guidelines from Dr. Shawn

February 6, 2016 on 10:16 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

As you know, we are really aggressive when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer. We have developed a number of unique therapies to boost your pet’s immune system and fight the cancer, and often we can do this without using chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Our protocols are so successful that we even get referrals from area oncologists whose patients want our help!

One such therapy is our autosanguis detoxification therapy, a unique blood therapy involving various herbal and homeopathic remedies. This detoxification is designed as a gentle cleansing for all of our patients with any chronic illness, but especially those patients with cancer. At the time blood is drawn every 3 months for testing and monitoring, a tiny amount is mixed with the remedies and injected back into the pet’s body with some diluted even more and given to the pet orally at home, along with the pet’s other cancer supplements. This is one of our therapies that help our cancer patients live, on average, 6-12 months longer than expected (most pets with cancer treated only with chemotherapy or radiation tend to live shorter lives as the immune system is not supported and the cancer spreads quicker.)

We’re often asked whether or not a lump should be removed from the pet. We painlessly aspirate all lumps using a tiny needle and syringe. If the lump is a fatty tumor or cyst, removal may not be needed as many of these will not grow (if the lump is in a location where the pet could be uncomfortable, or if the owner has insurance and cost is not an issue, we will remove it.) For those cases where the lump is or may be cancerous, it is removed and a piece sent to the lab for diagnosis and prognosis, allowing us to fine tune our treatment to give the pet the best chance at cure and longevity.

Speaking of cancer, we have completed 2 years’ worth of blood testing pets to allow early diagnosis of cancer and other immune disorders. To date, over 90% of our canine patients show abnormalities on this testing. Some of these pets were diagnosed with cancer or other serious problems BEFORE acting ill, showing the benefit of this testing. Those not diagnosed with a serious problem had their blood abnormalities corrected to prevent serious problems later in life. If you have not had this testing done (the test measures your pet’s CRP, TK, and Vitamin D levels,) please call us to schedule this important testing.

Top Reasons Pets See Vets

January 16, 2016 on 1:29 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

According to several studies done by pet insurance companies, the most common reasons pets see their doctors, other than for vaccines (which we know most pets don’t need,) are…

Skin problems
GI problems
Urinary Problems
Behavior Issues
Cancer
Epilepsy
Arthritis

Fortunately, all of these things are easily identified early, BEFORE your pet becomes ill, with a simple examination and a few basic lab tests. Any problems discovered during these tests are easily treated, usually without harmful drugs and chemicals, simply by using a few natural therapies.

A major difference between conventional and holistic medicine is that conventional doctors CAN’T treat a pet until a disease is present. Unfortunately, the presence of disease indicates a problem has been present and undiagnosed for a period of time and then finally clinical signs appear. This means that when a pet shows signs of illness the disease is no longer in its early stages but in its later stages. At this point it’s usually not possible to reverse the disease, although natural therapies are still helpful in arresting the disease and slowing down its progression.

As an example, a pet with elevated kidney enzymes but not yet sick can’t be helped by a conventional doctor because there are no drugs to treat this pet. Holistic medicine can do much to help restore this pet to health and in most cases prevent kidney failure. When we recognize subtle abnormalities we treat your pet immediately rather than wait for the problem to progress and then treat the pet when it’s really sick. This early intervention approach is just one of the many reasons our patients tend to live 3-5 years longer than pets only treated with conventional therapies.

New Year’s Resolutions

January 14, 2016 on 12:40 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

Each year I put together a list of ideas for my clients to consider for their pets. I’m happy to share it with you.

In 2016 I propose…..

To decrease the amount of vaccines and medications I give to my pets. Blood titer testing will eliminate vaccines for most pets, and choosing more natural therapies can decrease the amount of medications my pet needs.

To know my dog’s CRP, TK, and Vitamin D levels. Increased CRP/TK and decreased vitamin D can indicate undiagnosed cancer or other immune disorders and predispose my pet to developing a serious disease. A simple, inexpensive blood profile can tell me my pet’s numbers and allow me to help my pet before illness occurs.

To treat illness when first seen rather than wait a few days and watch my pet worsen. Early diagnosis and treatment is less expensive than treating a more serious problem and may save my pet’s life.

To treat skin and ear infections seriously and promptly. Many pets are being diagnosed with serious and potentially life-threatening MRSA infections, which can be transmitted to other pets and to people. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is a must!

To seriously consider purchasing pet insurance. Pet insurance covers any illness or injury and can reimburse the cost of care up to 90%. Having pet insurance means it will be easier to allow expensive testing and treatment and can save my pet’s life.

Top Reasons Pets See Vets…And How Holistic Care Helps Them

November 30, 2015 on 1:30 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off
According to several studies done by pet insurance companies, the most common reasons pets see their doctors, in addition to vaccines (which we know they don’t need,) are…

Skin problems
GI problems
Urinary Problems
Behavior Issues
Cancer
Epilepsy
Arthritis

Fortunately, all of these things are easily identified early, BEFORE your pet becomes ill, with a simple examination and a few basic lab tests. Any problems discovered during these tests are easily treated, usually without harmful drugs and chemicals, simply by using a few natural therapies.

A major difference between conventional and holistic medicine is that conventional doctors CAN’T treat a pet until a disease is present. Unfortunately, the presence of disease indicates a problem has been present and undiagnosed for a period of time and then finally clinical signs appear. This means that when a pet shows signs of illness the disease is no longer in its early stages but in its later stages. At this point it’s usually not possible to reverse the disease, although natural therapies are still helpful in arresting the disease and slowing down its progression.

As an example, a pet with elevated kidney enzymes but not yet sick can’t be helped by a conventional doctor because there are no drugs to treat this pet. Holistic medicine can do much to help restore this pet to health and in most cases prevent kidney failure. When we recognize subtle abnormalities we treat your pet immediately rather than wait for the problem to progress and then treat the pet when it’s really sick. This early intervention approach is just one of the many reasons our patients tend to live 3-5 years longer than pets only treated with conventional therapies.

Dr. Shawn’s Specialty

November 14, 2015 on 3:08 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

I’m often asked…”Dr. Shawn, what is your specialty? What makes your hospital different?”

Legally I can’t call my self a specialist (even though my clients and many of my colleagues consider what I do a specialty) since there is no board-certification program for holistic, naturopathic, and functional medicine.

However, I can answer that question. Our “specialty” involves 2 things:

We are the only hospital in North Texas offering Functional Medicine for all pets (dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals.)

Functional medicine focuses on the function of the patient’s cells, using and individualized approach to promote health and return sick patients to healthy as quickly as possible. The practices of functional medicine are useful both for healthy patients (to improve their health) as well as for those suffering from illness, especially chronic illness, to return them to health.

Functional medicine uses diet, supplements, herbs, and homeopathics to improve the health of cells in order to facilitate healing. By reviewing a history of the pet’s lifestyle, prior diseases, and diet, we carefully fine-tune our recommendations rather than recommending the same health plan or treatment regimen for every patient.

Second, we offer help when other doctors can no longer help your pet. While we prefer to see pets when they are healthy (and keep them that way,) or see your pet at the beginning stages of illness, we know that not everyone finds up at these stages. Many of our patients are considered “hopeless” by conventional doctors, who often refer these pets to us for a “last hope at treatment.”

While we can never make guarantees, we have helped (and yes, even cured and saved) many of these “hopeless” cases. We have many success stories of pets for whom conventional medicine offered no help, but by offering integrative care these pets lived many months or even years beyond their expected prognosis. We love helping these pets, knowing that many patients are saved when we work with them to effect a successful treatment or cure.

A Day in the Life of a Holistic Vet

November 3, 2015 on 2:21 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

I’m often asked just what it is that a holistic veterinarian does. In other words, how is our day different from those of our conventional colleagues? In this article, I’ll share a typical workday in the busy life of a holistic veterinarian.

Unlike conventional doctors, holistic veterinarians have 2 categories of clients. The first are those clients, usually regulars of the practice, who come in for wellness care. These pets typically are seen annually for a checkup, which includes blood titer testing to replace unnecessary vaccines, as well as other lab tests (blood profile to monitor organ function and to allow early screening for cancer and other inflammatory conditions, a fecal analysis to screen for intestinal parasites, a blood test for screening for heartworm infection, and a urinalysis to screen for disorders of the urogenital system, liver, and pancreas.) This is done every 6 months for pets 5 years of age and older (titer testing is done annually regardless of the pet’s age.) In addition to this wellness care, designed to allow early disease diagnosis and treatment, these regular patients are seen for other things such as dental cleanings and removal of tumors and cysts. In general, these regular patients tend to stay very healthy due to the holistic approach to health favored by the doctor and the pet parents; rarely do these pets develop severe problems that require aggressive treatment.

The other category of patient seen by holistic doctors are those whose owners are seeking a more natural approach to disease prevention/wellness or who suffer from (typically) chronic illnesses. These illnesses can include cancers, immune disorders, allergies, seizures, arthritis, disk problems, and diseases of the internal organs. Typically these owners prefer a safer, more natural approach to treatment rather than chronic use of conventional medications. Often these pets have not been helped by conventional doctors, or have been turned away since their cases are diagnosed as “hopeless” by conventional medicine (I share many of these stories in my book, Unexpected Miracles:Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets)

While we love keeping our regular patients healthy and free of horrible diseases, the real challenge and satisfaction comes through helping these “helpless, hopeless” cases.

Here is an example of a typical day I recently experienced that is similar to those experienced by my colleagues in the holistic field.

Wednesday February 11….

First appointment-Regular patient coming in for biannual visit (all pets 5 and over are seen twice yearly to assess health and allow for early disease detection and treatment.) Visit involves examination, discussing any concerns with pet owner, and running lab tests (blood, urine, feces) for diagnostic evaluation. Refill supplements to maintain health.

Second appointment-Regular patient returning for laser/acupuncture treatment for arthritis.

Third appointment-Regular patient dropped off for dental cleaning using holistic anesthesia and removal/biopsy of small skin tumors. Performed both procedures, took dental radiographs, and drew blood for early detection of cancer.

3 pets dropped off for continued fluid therapy and detoxification for liver and kidney disease.

1 pet dropped off for cardiac ultrasound to evaluate heart murmur/disease.

Lunch Break-Reviewed charts for hospitalized pets; updated service codes; reviewed progress of hospitalized cases. Spent time responding to client emails. Wrote article (this one!) for Animal Wellness. Wrote columns for practice newsletter. Worked on consulting job for supplement manufacturer. Prepared lecture notes for upcoming lecture to local dog club.

Afternoon First Appointment-Did phone appointment/consultation with pet owner in California who does not have local holistic veterinarian. Spoke with her about her pet’s cancer diagnosis and recommended therapy. Shipped various herbal remedies to help pet battle cancer.


Second appointment-New patient with skin disease. Reviewed medical records and examined pet. Due to the chronic nature and severity of the condition and lack of a proper diagnosis drew blood and collected urine and feces for evaluation. Scheduled skin biopsy and culture for the next day.

Released hospitalized pets to owners with discharge instructions.

Went home for a nice walk with my beautiful wife after a typically long and tough day saving lives naturally!

Note-You might be surprised that a holistic doctor sees far fewer patients (usually only half as many) as a conventional doctor. This is because we spend more time on each case rather than trying to “cram” as many appointments into our day as possible. By spending more time we can offer a more personalized approach to pet care, can accurately assess each case, and are less likely to misdiagnose a serious problem.

Of course, some holistic veterinarians (including yours truly) also stay busy doing other things. We write books (and articles!) to educate pet owners and other veterinarians. We speak at veterinary meetings, sharing our passion for this wonderful world of natural healing. Some of us have our own line of natural products that we use in practice and sell to the public, trying to make sure our patients and pets around the world have access to the best supplements to keep them healthy. The life of a holistic practitioner is indeed a very busy one but it is never boring. Each day presents its own unique challenges, as we do our best to help all pets, but especially those not helped by conventional medicine.

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