Complementary Medicine – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – My Journey

< A version of this article was published in the October 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy in class*
Don and Muppy in class*

I am often asked by clients how and why I became interested in holistic pet care. It was not a sudden revelation for me but has been a journey of many steps.

Holistic is a term that is thrown around a great deal, and often people attribute its meaning to be natural, healthy, or “good for you.” Merriam-Webster defines “holistic as – “relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts. relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>.” Holistic simply means that we consider the whole individual organism and the environment where it lives. Complicated, but also pretty basic.

Gus, our first Cairn Terrier, was the catalyst for our first steps on this holistic

Don and Gus in WI
Don and Gus in WI

journey. Before he was a year old, he was suffering from chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) which his veterinarian felt was related to an unidentified nutritional imbalance. That led to our striving to continually learn about pet nutrition to find a food that would cure Gus’ condition. It was a long journey that involved many different foods, fed singly and in combination, and even homemade diets formulated from recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Gus’ UTIs finally stopped when we switched to a dog food made by Wysong which we fed in conjunction with specific supplements for his condition. We learned more about pet food and a holistic approach to wellness from Dr. Wysong, which eventually led us to start to explore raw diets for pets.

tikken-was-fed-raw-most-of-her-life-800x800Paula and I attended our first seminar on raw diets for pets in 1998, started feeding raw to our dogs for at least one meal per day in 2000, and were selling raw diets at Green Acres by 2001. We continue to learn more about nutrition every year and have been feeding 100% raw for several years. We credit a raw diet to our Golden, Tikken, living for 16 years.

Appropriate nutrition is part of a holistic lifestyle, but it is not everything. Gus started having seizures, and when conventional medicine had done all it could to control the seizures, Paula started looking at other alternative treatments. She had read about homeopathy in  Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, attended a seminar, and soon Gus’ was being treated homeopathically for epilepsy. About a year later Paula enrolled us both in a four-day seminar on veterinary homeopathy being taught by Dr. Charles Loops. It would be fair to say that I went along kicking and screaming.

Before moving to Maine to purchase Green Acres, I had a seventeen-year career in the medical device industry in a variety of managerial positions. I was trained in and believed in traditional, modern medicine. It had been my livelihood. Since homeopathy challenged some very fundamental scientific principles, I felt it was “quackery” on a grand scale. Less than three hours into the seminar I was convinced that there was something to homeopathy, and it was far from quackery. However, what convinced me most was how homeopathy cured my Golden Retriever when traditional medicine could not1.

As our journey continued, we would learn about the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, herbs, chiropractic care, and essential oils. In 2002 I started formal training with the Bach Foundation, learning how to use the Bach Flower Remedies to treat emotional and behavioral issues with pets. In 2003 I completed my studies in England, becoming the first Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner in the America’s. Holistic practices continue to be my approach to wellness for myself, my pets, and even dog training.2  To learn more about my experiences, check out my podcast Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/08/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey

If you would like to learn more about holistic wellness options for your pet, I invite you to join me at the Holistic Wellness Day for Pets on Saturday, October 29th at The Green Gem Healing Oasis in Bangor. FMI – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/event/3/the-green-gem-healing-oasis.html

 

1 Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy, http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

2 A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 1, Downeast Dog News-January 2015, A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 2, Downeast Dog News-February 2015 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedieshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

 

PODCAST – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journeyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/08/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey/

PODCAST – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/29/podcast-pet-health-and-wellness-don-and-kates-journey-with-complementary-medicine/

 

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©8OCT16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

24sep16-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey-400x400This is the first in a series of shows on Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets. Kate and Don start by defining the term “holistic” and then discussing how it applies to dog training and simply living with a dog. They then discuss how and why they started to take a holistic approach to pet care, beginning with experiences with their pets and nutrition. The importance of exercise and mental enrichment are also addressed. Then they discuss their experiences with the following forms of complementary medicine; homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and chiropractic. Lastly they mention the Holistic Wellness Day for Pets which will take place at The Green Gem Healing Oasis on Saturday, October 29th. This event will involve ten different seminars and several vendors of holistic products and services for pets. For more information go to the Green Acres Kennel Shop website at www.greenacreskennel.com/event

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedieshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

 

PODCAST – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/29/podcast-pet-health-and-wellness-don-and-kates-journey-with-complementary-medicine/

PODCAST – Bach Flower Remedies for Pets with Don Hanson, BFRAP – part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2011-02-26-Bach_Flower_Remedies_for_Pets_part1.mp3

PODCAST – Bach Flower Remedies for Pets with Don Hanson, BFRAP – part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2011-03-05-Bach_Flower_Remedies_for_Pets_part2.mp3

 

©24SEP16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Homeopathy and Holistic Health Care for Pets – Dr. Christina Chambreau

<Click to listen to podcast>

30JUL16-Homeopathy-Holistic_Health_Care _Christina_Chambreau 400x400Don and Kate interview Dr. Christina Chambreau from Sparks, Maryland. Dr. Chambreau has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1980 and started using homeopathy in 1983, and with Dr. Richard Pitcairn, and Dr. Jana Rygas, was one of the founders of the Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy in 1995.

We ask Dr. Chambreau how she came to study homeopathy and add it to her practice, as well as other complementary veterinary medical modalities such as Reiki. Dr. Chambreau also discusses the importance of keeping a wellness journal for our pet. Lastly we discuss a seminar that Dr. Chambreau will offer in Maine called “The Introduction to Homeopathy.”

This seminar will be at Healing Spirit Farm, in Buckfield, ME on September 24th and 25, from 9 AM to 5 PM each day. You can learn more about the seminar at http://www.healingspiritfarm.com/ and more about Dr. Chambreau at http://christinachambreau.com/

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show, and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

<Click to listen to podcast>

©30JUL16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

PODCAST – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine

Don and Kate discuss how they came to use complementary medicine with their pets and themselves. They discuss nutrition, raw diets, as well as homeopathy, acupuncture, Bach flower remedies and chiropractic care for animals. From the 29AUG15 episode of The Woof Meow Show. Click to listen.

Other Articles You Might Find of Interest:

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedieshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Bach Flower Remedies – Bach Rescue Remedy®

Our pets, like us, can suffer from stress, anxiety and trauma. Unfortunately, just like with people, these experiences can be debilitating. Whether it is from separation, being attacked, visits to the veterinarian or groomer, loud noises, loss of a companion, or shock and physical injury, there is nothing more heartbreaking then seeing an emotionally distraught pet and feeling helpless to relieve their anguish. With Bach Rescue Remedy®, you no longer need to feel helpless.

Rescue RemedyRescue Remedy® is one of 38 flower remedies developed by Dr. Edward Bach in England in the 1930’s. Dr. Bach was a renowned British physician who felt a negative state of mind was at the core of many illnesses. His holistic approach to treating disease involved treating the body, mind and spirit. Treatment with flower remedies is especially appropriate for addressing stress related emotional imbalances. While the Bach Flower Remedies were originally developed for people, Dr. Bach also found them to be very helpful with animals.

Rescue Remedy® is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The individual remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). This combination can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or even terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing: it is safe, gentle, and non-toxic.

Rescue Remedy® is not a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavior problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid dog, it will not make them into a gregarious, “gotta love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

I have known Rescue Remedy® to be effective with pets suffering from fear aggression, separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms and general anxiety. It also seemed effective in helping our Cairn Terrier recover more quickly after he had a seizure. Many veterinarians will routinely use Rescue Remedy® with pets before examination and surgery. Used topically or in its cream formula, Rescue Remedy® can also help alleviate hot spots and promote the healing of wounds. I cannot guarantee it will work for your dog or cat, but suggest that it is worth a try.

Rescue Remedy® is available in 10ml and 20ml stock bottles for people or pets. Any of those products may be used with pets as can the 20ml spray bottle. Rescue cream can be used for external application. Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets

IMPORTANT!

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy®. Physical injuries which cause pain are often a reason for sudden aggression and other changes in behavior.

Do NOT try to treat your pet yourself if they are displaying any form of aggression, destructive behavior or any behavior that can cause significant damage to others, themselves, or property. These issues need to be addressed with your veterinarian and a qualified pet behavior consultant. Green Acres would be happy to assist you in finding someone qualified to help you.

 How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

It is important to understand that Bach Flower Remedies are not a substitute for medical or veterinary treatment.

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in water. A little goes a long way, because you do not need to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. When you purchase a stock bottle, also buy an empty 30ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka as a preservative.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water, not tap water.
  3. Put 4 drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

If treating for an acute condition or emergency:

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a car accident, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly which rapidly affects your pet.

Place four (4) drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your finger and then touch your pet’s gums or tongue. Do not put the glass dropper anywhere near your pet’s mouth. Alternatively put 4 drops on a treat or small piece of bread and feed your pet. Lastly, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas. If you cannot get near enough to your pet to administer Rescue Remedy® in this fashion, you may use the treatment bottle solution in a mister bottle, and spray the area around your pet. Rescue Remedy® is also available in a spray bottle for this purpose.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional 4 drops.

 If treating for a chronic condition:

Rescue Remedy is typically used for acute, emergency situations. Most pets with a chronic condition should be seen for a behavior consultation so that a specific mixture of the 38 Bach flower remedies can be determined for their unique behavioral/emotional issues.

A chronic condition might be separation issues, fear of strangers, fear of children, grieving for a lost companion, or adjusting to a new home.

For chronic situations, you will typically administer 4 drops of Rescue Remedy, a minimum of four times per day. In addition, you may put 10 drops of the prepared mixture, per gallon of water, in your pet’s water dish each time you fill it.

Continue to treat the pet in this manner until you see improvement.

Dosage is the same for all size pets as well as for people. You cannot overdose on a Bach flower remedy, but dosing more than necessary just wastes the remedy.

 

If treating an external area or hot spot:

Place drops of the mixture directly on the area to be treated; it will be quickly absorbed. You may also wish to consider using Rescue Remedy® spray or Rescue™ Cream. Rescue™ Cream also contains the essence Crab Apple which is for cleansing.

Continue to treat the pet in this manner until you see improvement.

 

Personal Success Stories with Rescue Remedy®

Pets I have seen helped with Rescue Remedy® include a dog in class that was afraid of other dogs and a dog exhibiting separation anxiety. The dog in our classes was so stressed around other dogs that all it wanted to do was bark while hiding behind its guardian. A dog that is experiencing that much stress is unable to learn. This dog was also disruptive to the other dogs in class. We gave the dog 4 drops of Rescue Remedy® on a biscuit, and within a couple of minutes the dog visibly calmed down and was able to remain in class. The guardian continued to give the dog Rescue Remedy® before every class and in other stressful situations and it did fine.

The second dog was exhibiting minor destructive behavior whenever its guardians left it alone at home. They were looking for a quick solution, so I suggested they try giving the dog Rescue Remedy directly and also including it in the dog’s water bowl. Within two days the dog was able to remain at home alone with no problems. The guardians weaned the dog off the Rescue Remedy® over a two week period and today it stays home alone with no problems and with no Rescue Remedy®.

I always reach for Rescue Remedy when I am experiencing a tension headache – the kind that starts at the base of the neck and works its way to the back of my head. My headache usually clears after I have taken 4 to 8 drops of Rescue Remedy. Applying Rescue Remedy Gel to the base of my neck also helps.

Rescue Remedy cream is great for helping minor cuts and abrasions to heal faster. I have several friends who use it as a facial cream and find that it has dramatically helped their acne.

Not all results are as dramatic as those described above and Rescue Remedy® might not be the best Bach flower remedy for your pet’s particular emotional issue. More chronic problems need to be treated over longer periods of time and some pets may require one of the other 38 flower remedies or some other combination of those same remedies. Many issues will also require a behavior modification program in conjunction with the use of flower remedies.

 

What if Rescue Remedy® does not help my pet?

It is important to understand that Rescue Remedy® is just one of 38 Bach Flower Remedies. It may not be the appropriate remedy for your pet’s problem. Sometimes when Rescue Remedy® works, it can reveal other issues. If you have behavioral problems with your pet, you may want to consider making an appointment with Green Acres’ Director of Behavior Counseling and Training, Don Hanson, for a behavioral evaluation of your pet. Don is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner. He can work with you in developing a behavior modification program and help to select the most appropriate Bach flower remedies for your pet’s issues.

 

Other Information on Bach Flower Remedies

If you would like to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies and their use in treatment of pets, you may wish to read the following:

An Overview of the Bach Flower Essences – Don Hanson – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/?p=115

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals – Stefan Ball & Judy Howard

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals – Helen Graham and Gregory Vlamis

Treating Animal Illnesses & Emotional States with Flower Essence Remedies – Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D. and Tricia Lewis

Emotional Healing for Horses & Ponies– Stefan Ball, Heather Simpson & Judy Howard

Emotional Healing for Cat– Stefan Ball & Judy Howard

 

Suggested books on the Bach Flower Remedies and their use with people are:

The 38 Bach Flower Essences—Nelson Bach

The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies—Edward Bach

(available for download at: – http://bit.ly/ozN5U6)

The Bach Flower Remedies Step by Step—Judy Howard

Principals of Bach Flower Remedies– Stefan Ball

The Bach Remedies Workbook—Stefan Ball

Practical Uses and Applications of the Bach Flower Emotional Remedies– Jessica Bear, Ph.D., N.D.

Bach Flower Therapy – Theory and Practice—Mechthild Scheffer

Bach Flower Remedies for Women—Judy Howard

Bach Flower Remedies for Men—Stefan Ball

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

(This article was first published in the March/April 2006 issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. Copyright 2006 The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, www.apdt.com, 1-800-PET-DOGS, information@apdt.com, and was included in the book The Dog Trainer’s Resource 2, edited by Mychelle Blake, and published by Dogwise Publishing in 2008. The article was updated 0n 24JUN15 to include new web addresses, to change the term “Bach Flower Essences” to “Bach Flower Remedies,” to provide updated information on our consultation services, and to add additional references.)

BFFP_Cafe_PressLike many people, I was initially very skeptical of complementary and alternative medicine and treatments such as Bach Flower Remedies. Having an engineering/science background, I found it difficult to deal with the concept that complementary medicine could not always be explained by science. It wasn’t until one day when I had one of those “a-ha!” moments that I discovered they might be a subject worthy of further study. My moment began with a client who had a dog with mild separation anxiety. Our discussion revealed 1) the dog was mildly destructive when left home alone; 2) the clients were concerned about the dogs emotional state but not what was being destroyed; 3) they were uncomfortable with the idea of using any drugs such as Clomicalm but were open to natural remedies; and 4) in my opinion the couple was unlikely to have the time or motivation to follow my standard behavior modification protocol. They were very busy and the problem was just not severe enough to cause them to take action.

I wanted to help these people and their dog, but was uncertain how to proceed. Based upon their comments it was obvious that my normal treatment plan, Clomicalm from their veterinarian and a behavior modification protocol, was not going to be acceptable. I asked if they had heard of Bach Rescue Remedy®. I explained that I had limited knowledge of flower remedies, but that I had been looking for a natural, anti-anxiety treatment for one of our dogs, and had done a little research on this product and had heard of many people who had great success using Rescue Remedy®. I provided them with dosage guidelines, and sent them to the local health food store to buy a bottle (since this was before we sold the Bach Flower Remedies at our store). Approximately one week later my clients called and told me that after giving the dog Rescue Remedy® for a week, all separation problems had resolved! The clients indicated that they had made no changes in their routine, were not treating the dog with anything other than the Rescue Remedy® and had done no behavior modification. They reported that there dog was no longer showing any signs of stress when left alone and all destructive behavior had ceased. While this is only anecdotal evidence, it was enough to convince me that I needed to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies.

Most of the information I will be presenting in this article is based upon anecdotal evidence. Because it is not based upon statistical research and the scientific method, anecdotal evidence is often dismissed by the scientific community, yet the following is a prime example of the role and importance that it plays. As early as the 1700’s, sailors were fed limes as a way of preventing scurvy. This practice was based strictly on anecdotal evidence. It wasn’t until 1932 and the discovery of vitamin C that the scientific method was able to prove why limes and other citrus fruits helped prevent and cure scurvy. Fortunately, no one stopped sailors from eating limes because scientists had not completed a study demonstrating that eating limes cures scurvy. Anecdotal evidence is often the first step in the discovery of new methods and ways of thinking.

Bach Flower Remedies fall into the realm of complementary and alternative medicine along with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and others. You will not find vast numbers of studies scientifically and statistically proving these modalities work, yet much of the world’s population, including many scientifically trained physicians and veterinarians, use these modalities with great success on a daily basis. While my engineering background initially caused me to be very close-minded about complementary medicine, I have seen first-hand, with myself, pets, friends, family and clients, how complementary modalities do heal.

A few studies have been published on the use of Bach Flower Remedies with people. These studies concluded that they were effective in treating clinically depressed patients1, safe and effective when used with children for a variety of disorders2, and effective at reducing stress3,4.

What Are the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies are all natural, very dilute solutions made from spring water, an alcohol preservative, and the parts of specific flowers. They are used to help balance the emotions and bring about a state of equilibrium in living organisms, and have been successfully used with people, animals, and even plants. Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), have been issued with National Drug Code (NDC) numbers by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are sold as over-the-counter homeopathic products in the United States.

Although the Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the HPUS and are prepared at a 5X homeopathic dilution (0.00001 gram of active substance per milliliter of tincture) they are not considered homeopathic medicine. While they are prepared from plant material, they do not fall in the same category as herbal medicine. The fact that we refer to them as “essences” suggests to some that they are aromatherapy—the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health—which they are not. Flower remedies fill their own unique niche in the arsenal of complementary medicine. Like homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture and Reiki, the Bach Flower Remedies work at an energetic level in the body. This class of complementary therapies is usually called vibrational medicine. In his book, A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber, a physician, describes vibrational medicine and the Bach Flower Remedies thusly:

Vibrational medicine is based upon modern scientific insights into the energetic nature of the atoms and molecules making up our bodies, combined with ancient mystical observations of the body’s unique life-energy systems that are critical but less well understood aspects of human functioning. Bach believed that his flower remedies would not only neutralize negative emotionaland mentalenergy patterns but also infuse positive vibrations associated with specific virtues into an individual such as the virtues of love, peace, steadfastness, gentleness, strength, understanding, tolerance, wisdom, forgiveness, courage or joy.”

The Chinese call this energy Qi, homeopaths call it vital force, and Dr. Bach called it “positive vibrations.” While we cannot currently use scientific instruments to measure any of these forms of energy, many believe in their healing ability. There are many entrenched in the world of orthodox, traditional medicine who would say it is unwise to use a method of healing when we do not completely understand how it works. This is why there has been resistance to complementary medicine by many modern scientists. Yet, our knowledge of many medicines accepted by the traditionalists is equally sketchy. Aspirin, found in most household medicine cabinets, has been commercially available since 1899, yet scientists only began to understand how aspirin worked in the 1970’s. Buspirone (Buspar) is a commonly prescribed drug for certain anxiety disorders. In 2006 when I originally wrote this article, The National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus database (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html) contained the following citations for Buspirone:

“Buspirone is used to treat certain anxiety disorders or to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

“It is not known exactly how Buspirone works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

[NOTE: The Internet changes and the web address above no longer works. However, thanks to the WayBack Machine, a project to archive the internet, you can still view this citation at: https://web.archive.org/web/20060613050327/http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html.]

Considering that Bach Flower Remedies can also be used to treat anxiety and do not have the side effects of Buspirone, I believe consideration of the Bach Flower Remedies would be a smart choice.

There are a total of 38 different Bach Flower Remedies, 37 made from specific flowers and one made from the water of a spring believed to have healing properties. Each remedy is used to treat a specific emotion or state of mind such as fear, anger, apathy, etc. These are all emotions that most people can readily identify in themselves and in other people, and with training can also identify in animals. These emotional states and their corresponding remedy are all described in The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies by Edward Bach, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH. Dr. Bach’s goal was to create a system of medicine that was simple enough that people who become familiar with the remedies through his publications could identify their negative emotional state, select the corresponding remedy and thus treat themselves.

The Bach Flower Remedies may be used individually or in combination. Rescue Remedy® is the only combination remedy prepared and sold ready-made; it contains five remedies and is typically only used for emergencies or extremely stressful situations when the subject is in a state of mental or physical shock, terror, or panic. It should not be used as a replacement for veterinary care, but it is often used as a complement to traditional treatments. I know of many people who use Rescue Remedy® to calm themselves before trips to the dentist and who also use it with their pets before trips to the veterinarian. I always carry a bottle in my briefcase and car, so it is available in case of an emergency or accident.

The Bach Flower Remedies are very safe. The only contra-indication is hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients. Since the botanical component is so dilute, a reaction is very unlikely. Grape alcohol is used as a preservative, so the essences may be unsuitable for those sensitive to alcohol.

Bach Flower Remedies are not used to treat physical disease, but rather the emotional state of the patient. They can be used to help resolve fear and anxiety, anger, grief, and many other emotions. Common sense and numerous research studies5 have shown how stress can have a negative impact on the immune system. Anything that we do to reduce or relieve stress, including use of Bach Flower Remedies, has the potential to positively affect our immune system and thus aid in maintaining physical health.

History of the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies were discovered by Dr. Edward Bach, a Welsh physician practicing medicine in the early 1900’s. Trained in conventional allopathic medicine, Dr. Bach observed that his patients’ recovery seemed to have as much to do with their emotional health as it did with any physical condition. Those in a positive emotional state recovered quicker.

Dr. Bach’s area of expertise was bacteriology, but as he became more intrigued with the emotions of his patients, he started to study the work of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathic medicine emphasizes treating the “whole” patient including their emotions and mental state, rather than focusing exclusively on physical symptoms. As a result of his research, Dr. Bach developed seven nosodes to treat intestinal disease. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy made from a pathological specimen. The Bach nosodes are made from bacteria found in the bowels. As Dr. Bach began to use the nosodes with his patients (which are still in use today) he observed that he could select the appropriate curative nosode for his patients based solely on their emotional state6.

While Dr. Bach was very satisfied with the positive effects of homeopathy, he was concerned that many of the typical homeopathic remedies were made from toxic substances (bacteria, Belladonna, Mercury, Arsenic, etc.). He was convinced that if he were to devote his efforts to searching among the wonders of the natural world, he would find non-toxic medicines that would have a similar effect. In 1930 Dr. Bach left an extremely lucrative private practice in London and started on his quest to find what would become known as the Bach Flower Remedies. During the next six years he would discover and successfully use the same 38 essences that we use today.

My Journey with the Bach Flower Remedies®

After my “a-ha!” experience I enrolled in the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation’s practitioner training program. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/index.php) The foundation offers two training tracks; one for those who wish to use the remedies with people and one for those who wish to use them with animals. You must complete the first two levels of the human track before applying for the animal program. My level one and two human classes each involved two days of study in Boston, MA. These classes provided an in-depth review of each of the 38 essences and their use. The level two class also included case studies and an overview of counseling techniques.

I completed my animal training at the Natural Animal Centre in the United Kingdom, the only place where the animal courses were offered at the time. This training involved a two -day, three-day, and four-day class and readings to complete at home in between sessions. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/animal.htm) The classes covered the remedies as well as animal behavior and emotions, and counseling techniques. While we focused on canine, feline, and equine behavior we also studied turtles, rabbits, pigs, and other species. At the conclusion of the classes there is both an oral and written exam. Upon passing the exam, I had to successfully complete a series of case studies and a field study, before qualifying as a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). I have taken additional continuing education on the use of the Bach Flower Remedies both in the UK and the US.

Since completing my qualifications in December of 2003, I have been using the remedies with almost all of my behavioral clients. I have found them especially useful in treating many of the fears and phobias seen in pets. If a client’s veterinarian has recommended a prescription drug, I advise the client to continue to use that drug in conjunction with the Bach Flower Remedies. One of the nice things about the remedies is that they can be used with other treatments, including homeopathy, without interference.

The Consultation Process

The most current information on our behavior consultation services can be found at: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-consultations.

The Bach Foundation Code of Practice requires that I have a veterinary referral before recommending specific remedies and that I actually observe the animal’s behavior. When working with clients that are unable to bring their pet to my office in Maine, I review video of the pet’s behavior and work with the client, their local veterinarian, and a training or behavior specialist.

At the conclusion of the consultation I provide the client with a behavior modification protocol as well as a combination of remedies for their pet’s specific emotional profile. I usually use both behavior modification and Bach Flower Remedies because it has been my experience that the use of the remedies can shorten the amount of time for a given behavior modification protocol. One of the biggest problems with behavior modification is getting the pet’s guardian to comply with the protocol. If the remedies shorten the amount of time required it’s a win-win for the guardian and the pet. In these cases I cannot prove the remedies helped resolve the issue; however, I have also treated some cases only with remedies and have seen dramatic results.

I continue to have “a-ha!” moments with the remedies. For example, In 2005 I was treating a dog with severe resource guarding issues, some of the worst I have ever seen. Seven days after treatment with the remedies, and prior to beginning any behavior modification, the client sent me an e-mail noting “profound changes” in the dog’s behavior. I had them continue with the remedies and behavior modification due to the severity of previous incidents, but the dog has never again exhibited any guarding behavior and has become more engaged with her guardians. The behavior modification protocol we used involved safely identifying the items that were considered valued resources, managing the environment to prevent uncontrolled access to those items, and gradual desensitization to the loss of those items. While there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that the Bach Flower Remedies caused this dramatic change in this dog’s behavior, if I look at the dog’s behavior, the remedies selected, and the short time in which the change occurred, I believe it makes a very strong anecdotal case for the use of Bach Flower Remedies.

I do not have a set of standard combinations of remedies used for specific problems (e.g. separation anxiety, resource guarding, show dog formula, etc.) as each pet must be evaluated as an individual. Two dogs, each with separation anxiety, may be treated with entirely different combinations of remedies. I remain in contact with the client and meet with them as the situation requires. At times I treat both pet and guardian, as often the pet is feeding off the guardian’s emotions. In almost all cases, the problem is treated as a chronic problem rather than an acute issue or passing mood. For chronic behavior problems, remedies should be administered at least four times per day7, 8.

The Bach Flower Remedies are not the proverbial “magic bullet.” While the two cases I have summarized showed dramatic improvement within a week, treatment typically takes longer. Depending on the issue being treated, the length of time the problem has existed, and the clients compliance, issues may start to resolve in anywhere from two weeks to a year. I have found the remedies typically help to accelerate the behavior modification process and therefore help improve client compliance. If clients start to see results, they are more likely to continue with the behavior modification protocol and the administration of recommended remedies.

Tips on Using Rescue Remedy®

Bach Rescue Remedy®, the most well-known of the Bach Flower Remedies, is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). It is usually only used for acute or emergency situations, but can be used for treating chronic conditions, when appropriate. It can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect, and is safe, gentle, and non-toxic. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing.

Rescue Remedy® is not, however, a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavioral problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid animal, it will not make them into a gregarious, “I love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy® or any of the other Bach Flower Remedies

How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in spring water. A little goes a long way, because it is not necessary to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. If you wish, when you purchase a stock bottle, you may also buy an empty 30 ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka to act as a preservative. If you chose not to use a preservative, you must refrigerate the treatment bottle.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water (do not use not tap water). Dr. Bach specified spring water because he felt it was natural, unlike tap water which can be loaded with chemicals.
  3. Put four drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

Treating for an Acute Condition or Emergency

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly and rapidly affects your pet’s emotional state.

Place four drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your pet’s gums or tongue or on a treat or small piece of bread. Alternatively, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional four drops.

 References

1Masi, MP. (2003) BFE treatment of chronic major depressive disorder, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 9 No. 6.

2Campanini, M. (1997) Italian medical study of 115 patients, La Medicine Biologica; Anno XV, n.2, Aprile-Guigno.

3 Cram, J. (2001). Two double-blind scientific studies of flower essences and stress. Flower Essence Society, www.flowersociety.org.

4 Walach, H. & Rilling, C. (2001). Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover. Journal of Anxiety Disorders UK. 15(4) July-August.

5Segerstrom, SC & Miller, GE (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 4.

6Howard, J. & Ramsell, J. (1990) The Original Writings of Edward Bach. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

7Bach E. (1933) The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

8Product Information and Usage Guidance Sheet, Nelson Bach USA Ltd., Wilmington, MA. http://www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us/our-brands/bachoriginalflowerremedies/about-the-remedies/faqs.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pets with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncture Mobile Holistic Veterinary Therapies

<Updated 22APR17>

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from March 28th, 2015 Kate and Don talk with Dr. Munzer about traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and how it can be an excellent complementary therapy for pain management, skin issues, seizure disorders and many other issues.

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

To Contact Dr. Munzer

All Creatures Acupuncture
Dr. Michael Munzer
77 Main St, Bucksport, ME 04416

(207) 956-0564

http://www.allcreaturesholistic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/allcreaturesholistic/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

A Chiropractic Adjustment and Acupuncture Treatment for Muppyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/07/complementary-medicine-a-chiropractic-adjustment-and-acupuncture-treatment-for-muppy/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Holistic Approaches to Chronic Disease – GI Issues and Cancer with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncturehttp:/www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/03/25/podcast-holistic-approaches-to-chronic-disease-gi-issues-and-cancer-with-dr-michael-munzer-from-all-creatures-acupuncture

Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Veterinary Acupuncture and Chiropractic for Pets with Dr. Michael Munzer – All Creatures Acupuncture – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/09/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-veterinary-acupuncture-and-chiropractic-for-pets-with-dr-michael-munzer-all-creatures-acupuncture/

Meet Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncture Mobile Holistic Veterinary Therapieshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/04/podcast-meet-dr-michael-munzer-from-all-creatures-acupuncture-mobile-holistic-veterinary-therapies/

©28MAR15, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Meet Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncture Mobile Holistic Veterinary Therapies

<Updated 22APR17>

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from April 4th, 2015 Kate and Don talk with Dr. Munzer about how and why he became a veterinarian and his current practice based out of Bucksport.

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

 

To Contact Dr. Munzer

All Creatures Acupuncture
Dr. Michael Munzer
77 Main St, Bucksport, ME 04416

(207) 956-0564

http://www.allcreaturesholistic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/allcreaturesholistic/

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

A Chiropractic Adjustment and Acupuncture Treatment for Muppyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/07/complementary-medicine-a-chiropractic-adjustment-and-acupuncture-treatment-for-muppy/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Holistic Approaches to Chronic Disease – GI Issues and Cancer with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncturehttp:/www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/03/25/podcast-holistic-approaches-to-chronic-disease-gi-issues-and-cancer-with-dr-michael-munzer-from-all-creatures-acupuncture

Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Veterinary Acupuncture and Chiropractic for Pets with Dr. Michael Munzer – All Creatures Acupuncture – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/09/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-veterinary-acupuncture-and-chiropractic-for-pets-with-dr-michael-munzer-all-creatures-acupuncture/

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pets with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncture Mobile Holistic Veterinary Therapieshttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-03-28-Acupuncture_Traditional_Chinese_Medicine_Pets_Dr_Michael_Munzer.mp3

 

©04APR15, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Complementary Medicine – Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression, OCD, & Homeopathy

< updated 22APR18 >

This article is part of a larger article, Trends in Training – The Evolution of a Pet Care Professional, which describes my development as a professional dog trainer and our involvement with holistic veterinary medicine. You can find the entire article at: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/04/19/professional-development-trends-in-training-the-evolution-of-a-pet-care-professional/

Tikken for ad 242x300In April of 2000, our Golden retriever Tikken went to her veterinarian for her annual examination and received a two-year rabies booster. At the time, Maine law required a rabies vaccination every two years even though the vaccine was labeled as effective for three years.

It was in July of 2000, when my sweet, cuddly Golden Retriever suddenly, and without warning or provocation, transformed from Tikken to Cujo, just like Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde. One moment all of our dogs were lying calmly on the floor as my wife Paula watched television. Suddenly Tikken just exploded and within seconds she had ravaged Crystal, our Pekinese, causing the loss of Crystal’s left eye.

While we had seen a few small signs of “irritability” in Tikken over the past couple of months, the apparently unprovoked nature of this attack, and its severity, led us straight to our veterinarian for a thorough check-up, including a complete thyroid panel and behavioral assessment. Her thyroid was abnormal, but not in a manner which suggested the need for medical treatment. However, based on the advice of the veterinarian, we started Tikken on a course of Clomipramine. We also began a strict management protocol with the dogs. Unless we were present Tikken was separated from all but one of our older dogs, Shed. Tikken and Shed had bonded closely when Tikken was a puppy, she was always very respectful of Shed, and they were similar in size.

We noticed increasingly anxious behaviors by Tikken. Now she became overly excited at mealtime, and became enraptured by any shadows or moving lights. These behaviors became so obsessive that I could not even distract her with fresh meat when she got caught up in a shadow or flickering light.

Seeing no improvement in Tikken’s behavior, our veterinarian recommended a consultation with Dr. Dodman at the behavioral clinic at Tufts University. They recommended we put Tikken on a higher dose of Clomipramine, establish and maintain a dominance hierarchy, manage her environment, and institute a Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) program. We were already managing and doing NILIF and I had concerns about the validity of the hierarchical approach, so we were really hoping for the Clomipramine to work. What we ended up with was a dog that was so doped up that she seldom moved. She still became excited at mealtime and got caught up with shadows and light. She just moved slower. To us she seemed to have lost her will to do anything but lie around.

We were very concerned about Tikken’s quality of life, and with no changes after

Tikken under the duvet
Tikken under the duvet

six months of the higher dose of Clomipramine, we contacted Dr. Patricia McConnell, a behaviorist we had previously worked with when we were in Wisconsin, for another opinion. After reviewing Tikken’s history, Trish advised us that she had not had much success with dogs exhibiting Tikken’s issues using behavior modification, drugs or a combination of both. She did however indicate she had heard of some successes when treating with homeopathy. We immediately made an appointment with our homeopathic veterinarian, Dr. Judy Herman at the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta.

Dr. Herman diagnosed Tikken with rabies miasm. A miasm is when the body/mind/emotions of an individual manifest signs of the disease without actually having the disease. Tikken was given a homeopathic remedy at the conclusion of the consultation and within eight weeks she was weaned off Clomipramine entirely. We were soon seeing dramatic improvements in her symptoms. Tikken was treated two other times with the same homeopathic remedy over the next few months. We still managed the dogs closely, but Tikken eventually became reintegrated with the rest of the pets in the household. Homeopathy gave us our sweet, cuddly Golden back.

Working the Kong 400x671Since Dr. Herman felt that Tikken’s issues were the result of a reaction to her rabies vaccine we evaluated our vaccination protocols with all of the dogs. We have been doing titer tests in lieu of vaccinations since that time, with the exception of the rabies vaccine. Tikken did receive two subsequent rabies vaccines under the guidance of Dr. Herman, followed by treatment homeopathically. When she developed a second immune mediated disorder (pigmentary uveitis) in 2004, we decided to stop any further rabies vaccines, and she now has a medical exemption which still allows her to be licensed.

Paula and I both started to read more about vaccines and become further educated about alternatives. We made the decision to allow our clients to also do titer tests in lieu of vaccines, as long as the tests were done under the direction of a veterinarian.

Paula and I felt so strongly about the vaccine issue that in April of 2002 I wrote

Tikken and Batman at window
Tikken and Batman at window

Rethinking Annual Vaccinations for the Green Acres newsletter. In this article I disclosed that as early as 1992 veterinary textbooks were questioning annual vaccinations (Current Veterinary Therapy, volume XI, pp202-206: “A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunological requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years in the life of the animal.”Dr. Ronald Schultz, Veterinary Immunologist. In this article, I suggested that minimally clients talk with their veterinarian and ask if titer tests were an option. Needless to say, several veterinarians in our service area were not too happy with me, but I still believe I did the right thing. I felt somewhat vindicated a year later when the American Animal Hospital Association published their new vaccination guidelines which started a move away from annual vaccination.

UPDATED – March 2013

We were very fortunate that Tikken overcame her rabies miasm and remained with us until she crossed the crossed the Rainbow Bridge on February 7th, 2013 at the age of 16 years and 27 days. It was several months after her treatment with homeopathy before we fully reintegrated Tikken with the rest of our pets; however, she lived the remainder of her life in complete harmony with them and even became buddies with Batman, a rescued cat that joined our family. Tikken did require ongoing treatment for her pigmentary uveitis and eventually also required treatment for hypothyroidism for the rest of her life. We are convinced that homeopathy, tittering instead of regular vaccination, and a raw diet contributed to Tikken’s long life.

Paula, Tikken, Don & Batman - 2012
Paula, Tikken, Don & Batman – 2012

Recommended Resources

Meet the dogs with OCD by Shayla Love – An article and podcast from June of 2017 discussing ongoing research of OCD. – https://mosaicscience.com/meet-dogs-OCD-canine-compulsive-disorder-people/

©2018, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Vaccinations–Interviews with Dr. Ron Schultz

Vaccines are incredibly important in preventing infectious diseases in both animals and people. However, they can also cause life threatening adverse reactions. This interview discussed the importance of vaccines and how to use them in the safest manner possible.

In Memory of Tikken 300x300I first learned of Dr. Ron Schultz sometime between the spring of 2000 and the spring of 2002. Paula and I had started reading everything we could about vaccinations, especially adverse reactions due to over vaccination, because our Golden Retriever Tikken had started exhibiting some severe behavioral changes in the spring of 2000. Her aggression towards other dogs and subsequent obsessive-compulsive shadow and light chasing began shortly after her third Rabies vaccination. Her first Rabies vaccination was in 1997 when she was a puppy. Her second occurred when she was one year old in 1998 and the third occurred in 2000. At the time Maine law required revaccination for Rabies every two years, even though the Rabies vaccine was labeled as offering immunity for three years.

We were not initially aware that Tikken’s behavioral changes were a result of a vaccine reaction.  We consulted with our local veterinarian who provided treatment and then the veterinary behavior clinic at Tufts University when we saw no improvement. When there was still no improvement we consulted with an applied animal behaviorist in Wisconsin who suggested we explore a homeopathic treatment for Tikken’s disease. In the spring of 2001 Tikken was examined by Dr. Judy Herman of the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta, ME and diagnosed as having had a reaction to the Rabies vaccine. She was subsequently treated and cured for a Rabies miasm by Dr. Herman.

As a result of Tikken’s illness, Paula and I started educating ourselves about vaccines and I came upon the following quote, by Dr. Schultz, from a veterinary text book.

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years in the life of the animal. – Veterinary immunologist Ronald Schultz and Tom Phillips make the following statement in Current Veterinary Therapy, volume XI, pp202-206, 1992.

It was apparent that experts in the field felt that the annual vaccination of our pets was not necessary. Knowing the types of reactions that vaccinations could cause, we continued to learn everything we could about vaccines. We also started to share that information with our clients at Green Acres Kennel Shop when I wrote the article Rethinking Annual Vaccinations for our April 2002 newsletter, Paw Prints.

On February 7th, 2013 Tikken crossed the rainbow bridge at 16 years of age. While she had mostly recovered from the behavioral issues resulting from her adverse reaction to the Rabies vaccine, she was never the same confident, anxiety free dog that she was pre-reaction. Her veterinarians have advised us that the two immune mediated diseases (hypothyroid disease and golden retriever uveitis syndrome) she later developed were also probably related to the Rabies vacation and her genetics. The vaccine triggered an abnormal immune response which affected these other organ systems.

Upon Tikken’s passing Paula and I were looking for an appropriate way to remember her and decided to commit to educating others by sharing Tikken’s story and to do a fundraiser for The Rabies Challenge Fund (http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rabies-Challenge-Fund/119106981159?fref=ts). This interview and the four resulting Woof Meow Shows with Dr. Schultz are part of that educational effort.

The following are notes, not a transcript, from an interview with Dr. Ron Schultz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Schultz is considered to be one of the foremost experts on immunology and vaccinations for pets. The interview occurred on Friday, May 3rd 2013 and was broadcast as four separate editions of The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine WVOM, 103.9FM & WVQM 101.3FM on four subsequent weekends.

  • June 22nd and 23rd – Vaccinations- Why they are important, Core Vaccines & Vaccination Schedules <click to listen>
  • June 29th and 30th  –  Vaccinations, Titer Testing, Non-Core Vaccines and Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex <click to listen>
  • July 6th and 7th –  Vaccinations- Non-Core Vaccines for Cats and Adverse Reactions to Vaccines <click to listen>
  • July 13th and 14th  – Vaccinations – The Rabies Challenge Fund. <click to listen>

The last show has actually aired twice. These four shows have been our most popular podcasts to-date with over 2800 downloads as of October 14th, 2013. All four shows are also available for download at the Apple iTunes store and at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

Thanks to the generosity of 53 clients, friends and colleagues we were able to raise a total of $1240 with our fundraiser for The Rabies Challenge Fund from September 1st through October 5th. As promised we matched that generosity dollar for dollar and have sent a check to the Rabies Challenge Fund for $2,535 as a memoriam for our Golden Retriever, Tikken.

Thank you to all of you that contributed; Ann Murray, Anonymous, Barbara Cyr, Becky Brimley, Belinda Doliber, Brent & Michele Slater, Carol Higgins Taylor and Juanita Taylor, Carolyn Clark, Chris & Jane Flieller, Cindy Black, Coastside Bioresources, Colleen Pelar, Cynthia Bentley, Cynthia Farrell, Dee Hoult (Applause Your Paws), Doreen & Ken Dybevik, Gary  & Deb Mickalowski, Ginger & David Ward-Green, Heidi Riggs, Helen Musselwhite, Jan & David Pilotte, Jen Shryock (Family Paws), Jill Marple, John Hamer & Anne Marie Storey, Dr. Judith Herman, Julie Perkins, Juliette Humiston, Kathy Klein, Ken & Peggy Grant, Laura Van Dyne, Linda Mosely, Links Online Marketing, LLC (Kristy & Ken Kimball), Maina Fernald, Margaret Hall, Maria Staples, Marjorie Speck, Michael Puls, Michelle Sirois, Nanette Belenger, Patrick Lyons, Ralph Carr, Rhonda & Rick Hutchins, Richard & Cristanna Cook, Rick and Jill Marston, Sandra Payne, Sarah Baldwin, Sherry Pfister, Susan Scammon, Susan Witt, Teoti Anderson and Vanessa Field.

The Shows

Vaccinations (22JUN13-23JUN13)
Why they are important, Core Vaccines & Vaccination Schedules

Core Vaccines

Vaccines are important because they can prevent some very serious vaccine preventable diseases that can make animals very sick and can even kill. Since the veterinary profession started to reexamine vaccines in the 2000’s, they have come up with the term “core vaccines” to identify the vaccinations that all animals should have. These vaccines are so effective that they will prevent the disease in all appropriately vaccinated animals.

According to Dr. Schultz, dogs should receive the following core vaccines Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2), Canine Adenovirus-1 (Infectious Canine Hepatitis [ICH])/Canine Adenovirus-2 and Rabies Virus (RV). The latter is not only important for the dog, but because it is usually fatal and can be transmitted to humans, it is considered a public health issue.

Dr. Schultz recommends that cats receive the following core vaccines; Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia) Virus (formerly known as feline distemper distemper)FPV, Feline Calicivirus (respiratory) (FCV), Feline Herpes Type 1 Virus (FHV-1), and Rabies Virus (RV).

Vaccine Schedules

Since the late 1990’s there has been a big change in the recommendations for how often our pets should be vaccinated. For years vaccinations were given annually as part of a pet’s annual wellness exam. This changed with the eventual recognition that pets were being over vaccinated, which in turn in some cases was causing pets to become very ill or to even die.

Dr. Schultz indicates that dogs should not receive any vaccinations before they are six weeks of age. This is because a puppy/kitten gets some immunity through antibodies in their mother’s milk. Those antibodies help protect the puppy/kitten from disease but also will interfere with vaccinations. This is why puppies and kittens receive multiple vaccinations. Although the antibodies in the milk interfere with vaccinations, under no circumstances should you prevent the puppy/kitten from getting these antibodies.

Recommended vaccination schedule: Start at 8-10 weeks, give a second dose 3 to 4 weeks later and then a final dose an additional 3 to 4 weeks later, making sure it is at 14 to 16 weeks of age. By then the mother’s antibodies will not interfere with the vaccinations.

After these initial puppy/kitten vaccinations, Dr. Schultz recommends doing a titer test or revaccination when the puppy/kitten is a year of age and then revaccinating or re-titering no more frequently than every 3 years.

Some breeds (Rottweiler’s and Doberman’s) do not develop an immune response as easily, especially to the canine parvo vaccine. However, studies have demonstrated that if that last dose is at 14-16 weeks of age at least 98% of puppies will get immunized, regardless of breed.

What Determines How Long A Vaccine is Effective?

It’s the specific vaccine and the disease it was designed to prevent that determines how long it will confer immunity. All of the core vaccines, except Rabies, are modified live vaccines. This means that they actually must infect the animal in order to have an immunization effect and therefore must contain an attenuated version of the actual virus. The immunity that is conferred by this type of vaccine, just like the core vaccines for children (measles, mumps rubella), provide long term immunity because they are live, replicating viruses, much like the immunity one would get if one were actually infected with and recovered from those diseases. Immunity conferred by these vaccines is typically many years to a lifetime. If you get measles or are vaccinated for measles as a child you will not get it again anytime in your life, even if you are exposed. That is the same with distemper, parvo, and the other core animal vaccines. That’s why back in the 1970’s Dr. Schultz and others started questioning the need for annual revaccinations of our pets. In other words, for the core vaccines that include a modified live virus, once a pet has had their puppy series and their revaccination at one year of age, they should be immune for life and should NOT require further vaccination. This is why instead of revaccinating annually Dr. Schultz recommends that we only consider revaccination every three or more years. His personal preference is to do titer testing every three years. A disadvantage of titers is they can be more expensive than revaccinating, but it is much safer to do a titer because while the adverse reactions to vaccines are fairly small they still can occur. Plus it’s just not good medical practice to give a vaccine that’s not needed.

Rabies Vaccinations

Titers can be done for Rabies but due to legal and public health requirements, revaccination for Rabies is still required every three years. Those legal requirements don’t necessarily follow science or good vaccination practice, but they are the law of the land.

All states in the US now have a three year Rabies vaccination law. The initial Rabies vaccination should not occur before 12 weeks of age. The second vaccination should occur a year later and any subsequent revaccination for Rabies should not occur more often than every three years. If you travel internationally with your dog, other laws may apply. I had a friend who moved out of the USA and had to have her dog vaccinated for Rabies three times in a few months in order to be admitted to the country where she moved. The dog later developed hyperthyroid disease which is a possible vaccine reaction.

 

Vaccinations (29JUN13-30JUN13)
Titer Testing, Non-Core Vaccines and Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex

Titer Testing

Antibody titer testing is a good alternative to revaccinating every three years and should be considered when you bring your pet in for an annual wellness exam. An annual wellness exam is a very important part of any pet’s ongoing veterinary care. Additionally, some of the non-core vaccines must be given on an annual basis because they are only effective for a year.

Dr. Schultz recommends titers for Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2). Titers are generally not needed for Canine Adenovirus-1 (Infectious Canine Hepatitis [ICH])/Canine Adenovirus-2) if you get positive results for distemper and parvo. Titers don’t need to be done more often than every three years.

Unfortunately there is confusion in the veterinary community as to how to use and interpret a titer test. A common misunderstanding about titering is that it is only a snapshot that indicates an animal’s immunity at a specific moment in time and that it does not indicate if your pet will still be immune in three months. Dr. Schultz indicates that is not the case at all. With regard to Distemper, Parvo and Adeno, a positive titer indicates immunity for life unless the animal contracts a severe disease that suppresses their immune system.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

Non-core vaccines are not necessary for many animals and are only recommended when an animal as at risk of contracting the disease due to lifestyle and or where they live.

Dr. Schultz believes the most important non-core vaccine for the dog is the one for kennel cough or more correctly called Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). This is a complex disease that involves a number of bacteria and viruses which can cause this disease. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most prevalent of the bacteria that contribute to this disease. A variety of viruses can also contribute to this disease (Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Influenza virus, and several others). A variety of vaccines exist to reduce the severity of kennel cough.

“You cannot prevent kennel cough like you can prevent Distemper. You can prevent Parvo. You can prevent Adeno, ( infectious canine hepatitis). What we do is when we give the kennel cough vaccine we’re hoping to reduce the severity of the disease and we can’t as I say prevent it, as it is so complex.” – Dr. Ron Schultz

Other non-core vaccines for the dog that are important are Leptospirosis (caused by four different serovars/strains). The other disease that is regional for which there is a vaccine is Lyme disease.

These non-core vaccines, unlike the core vaccines, only provide short-term immunity and must be given annually.

Why don’t these vaccines confer long term immunity? It has to do with the immunity of the animal. There are some diseases, with humans too, where once we get the disease we develop a lifelong immunity. An example with this with humans would be measles. But with humans and animals there are also many diseases which we can get over and over again like Lyme disease and the common cold.

Some of the human vaccines that only give short term immunity would be tetanus. Part of the reason dogs require more frequent vaccinations than humans is that they don’t live as long.

Kennel Cough/CIRDC

Most boarding facilities, daycares and training classes require the canine cough vaccine, even though it’s not a core vaccine. Over the past 15 years the vaccines that are used for this complex group of diseases have changed, as well as the protocols for their administration. What in your opinion really works best?

First we need to remember that canine cough/CIRDC is not vaccine preventable. The vaccines only reduce the severity of the disease. Part of that is because we don’t even have vaccines for some of the organisms that cause CIRDC. However, even where we do have vaccines, they are often only 60% to 70% effective. That’s why a dog can be vaccinated and still get CIRDC.

For Bordetella, the most important bacterial component of canine cough, we now have an injectable vaccine which is made from a dead organism, an intranasal vaccine which is a modified live vaccine, and an oral vaccine which is made from a modified live organism. The two live vaccines are more effective than the dead vaccine. Dr. Schultz recommends revaccination on an annual basis and prefers the intranasal vaccine. It not only includes Bordetella but also canine Parainfluenza. Since the normal path of infection for these diseases is via the respiratory system, Dr. Schultz feels the intranasal approach is the best way to administer this vaccine.

Both Bordetella and canine Parainfluenza can also be administered by injection, but Dr. Schultz indicates that neither work as well as the vaccine administered intra-nasally. Some dogs will develop a cough after being given the intranasal vaccine but it is not an infection but is actually an allergic reaction to the Bordetella component of the vaccine. These dogs have not developed canine cough but because they have a hyper sensitivity to the vaccine they are coughing.

 

Vaccinations (6JUL13-7JUL13)

Non-Core Vaccines for Cats and Adverse Reactions to Vaccines

 

In cats there are very few non-core vaccines that are recommended. While Feline Leukemia has previously been recommended annually this has changed to every 2 to 3 years since the publication of the new guidelines. It is now only considered a core vaccine for all kittens because if we get a major part of the population of kittens vaccinated we could reduce or even eliminate Feline Leukemia virus as a cause of disease in the cat. It would require two doses given between 8 and 10 weeks of age and between 12 to 14 weeks of age. Dr. Schultz would recommend a third vaccine again at one year and then no further vaccines for FeLV. They have actually eradicated Feline Leukemia in Switzerland using this type of vaccine program with kittens.

The Feline Immune Deficiency Virus vaccine is not recommended by Dr. Schultz. There is also a Feline Infectious Peritonitis vaccine that is available and most feline practitioners do not recommend this vaccine.

Non-Adjuvanted One Year Rabies Vaccine for Cats

A non-adjuvanted Rabies vaccine that requires annual revaccinations is also available for cats. In addition to the ingredients used to stimulate the immune response many vaccines contain an adjuvant, which is an additional ingredient designed to further stimulate the immune system. Unfortunately, this adjuvant is often the vaccine component which causes an adverse reaction, hence the development of this non-adjuvanted vaccine. This will probably become a three year vaccine in the near future.

Adverse Reactions Caused By Vaccines

Injection site sarcomas, the development of a malignant tumor at a vaccine injection site was one of the reasons vaccines started to be looked at more critically. This was discovered in the mid 1980’s when these lethal tumors started showing up in cats.

Vaccines do have the potential to cause harm, but for years the prevailing attitude was if a vaccine doesn’t help, it least it won’t hurt. Obviously this was not the case and people started to reexamine if their pets should be vaccinated so frequently, much less at all.

In general vaccines are very safe. Less serious adverse reactions can include causing a change in pigmentation at the injection site. The injection site sarcoma was very much a species issue related specifically to the cat. Injection site tumors in the dog are very rare. All of these adverse reactions are determined by the genetics of the animal, not only the vaccine. When breeders observe these vaccination reactions in litters, they need to make sure that those animals producing these litters are not bred again. Doing so only perpetuates the genetics and increases the odds of an adverse reaction.

Autoimmune diseases are genetically controlled but can be triggered by vaccinations. Immune mediated hypersensitivities like anaphylaxis have both a genetic and a vaccine component. Adverse reactions do not always occur the first time a vaccine is administered but can occur after subsequent vaccinations when the animal becomes hypersensitive.

Certain vaccines are more likely to trigger this type of hypersensitivity.  The Leptospirosis vaccine and the injectable Bordetella vaccine have caused hypersensitivity reactions. It’s often not the antigens in the vaccine, the substances that are meant to help the animal, that cause the reactions. Reactions are often caused by other ingredients in the vaccine like Bovine Serum Albumen, adjuvants, etc. By vaccinating only with the vaccines that are absolutely necessary and as infrequently as possible, we can minimize the risk of adverse reactions.

There are many adverse reactions that can occur from a vaccination. Dr. Schultz has a list over a page long of potential vaccine reactions. Even behavioral changes can be the result of an adverse reaction because the immune system is closely integrated with both the nervous and endocrine system. This is why behavior can be affected by a vaccine.

The only reactions that are considered to be caused by a vaccine are those that happen immediately, within 15 minutes to an hour after vaccination. There are other reactions that can happen days, weeks and even months later.

 

Vaccinations (13JUL13-14JUL13)

The Rabies Challenge Fund

Tikken’s Story

Don and Tikken-1with text 600x903Our Golden Retriever Tikken had started exhibiting some severe behavioral changes in the spring of 2000. Her aggression towards other dogs and subsequent obsessive-compulsive shadow and light chasing began shortly after her third Rabies vaccination. Her first Rabies vaccination was in 1997 when she was a puppy. Her second occurred when she was one year old in 1998 and the third occurred in 2000. At the time Maine law required revaccination for Rabies every two years, even though the Rabies vaccine was labeled as offering immunity for three years.

We were not initially aware that Tikken’s behavioral changes were a result of a vaccine reaction.  We consulted with our local veterinarian who provided treatment and then the veterinary behavior clinic at Tufts University when we saw no improvement. When there was still no improvement we consulted with an applied animal behaviorist in Wisconsin who suggested we explore a homeopathic treatment for Tikken’s disease. In the spring of 2001 Tikken was examined by Dr. Judy Herman of the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta, ME and diagnosed as having had a reaction to the Rabies vaccine. She was subsequently treated and cured for a Rabies miasm by Dr. Herman.

For more about Tikken, the Rabies vaccination and here treatment: <click here>.

The Rabies Challenge Fund

This is a project conceived by Kris Christine whose Labrador Retriever, Meadow, had an adverse reaction to a Rabies vaccine. Meadow developed a mast cell sarcoma at the injection site of the Rabies vaccination. Kris actually recruited Dr. Ron Schultz and another veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, also very involved in vaccine work, to start a study to answer the question how long is the duration of immunity from today’s Rabies vaccine used with dogs? Current vaccines are labeled by the USDA as one year or three year vaccines. In some of these cases the vaccines are actually identical.

Because Rabies is a disease that can affect humans in addition to animals it is regulated more strictly than other vaccines. The duration of immunity is actually determined by challenging previously immunized animals with exposure to the disease to see if they survive. No additional challenge tests have been done beyond three years. A goal of the Rabies Challenge Fund is to complete this study at the 5 year and 7 year points.

The Rabies vaccine given today is a killed or non-infectious vaccine. Typically the duration of immunity for vaccines of this type is much shorter than the duration of immunity for modified live vaccines. For example a distemper killed vaccine provides immunity for about a year while a distemper vaccine made with modified live virus has a duration of immunity equal to the lifetime of the animal.

Up until the mid-1980’s, the Rabies vaccine was made with a modified live virus and that vaccine likely would result in lifetime immunity. However, because a few cats that received that vaccine actually developed a Rabies infection after vaccination the USDA no longer allows this vaccine to be used in the US. It is unclear why these cats developed Rabies from the vaccine. It is quite possible that their immune systems were already compromised due to an infection of Feline Leukemia virus.

The goal of the study being conducted by the Rabies Challenge Fund is to determine if the current killed vaccine will offer immunity up to five and seven years.

A new advance in Rabies vaccines is the development of vaccines made with recombinant technology. A feline version of this Rabies vaccine already exists. It behaves like a live vaccine but it cannot actually infect an animal with Rabies. This technology has also been used with the Distemper vaccine for the dog. That vaccine gives as long a duration of immunity as a modified live virus vaccine, up to nine years, which is considered a lifetime. Since there is no live virus in the vaccine it is also safer. It is also safer because recombinant vaccines, unlike killed virus vaccines, do not require the addition of adjuvants to help increase the immune response. It is believed that the hypersensitivity reactions to vaccines may be in part caused by these adjuvants.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is funded entirely by animal owners, not vaccine companies or any other company. The University of Wisconsin has been very generous in reducing the costs of the study since it is being funded by animal owners. Donations have come from individuals, dog clubs and others. The study is not over and fundraising is ongoing. If you are interested in helping fund this project you can find more information at (http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/).

The Rabies Challenge Fund is not only doing research but has also done some very effective lobbying to change the laws in all 50 states so that dogs only need to be revaccinated for Rabies every three years. Prior to that effort, there were many states that required the Rabies vaccine annually.

 

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