This week’s episode is in response to a plea from a dog owner on Facebook. She was finding the vets around her intent on selling her “drugs” (read: pesticides) and vaccines when she didn’t want either. She called it “literally PUSHING” her to get these unwanted treatments.
While she’s been avoiding them for a few years as her dog has been doing well since a switch to a raw food diet three years ago, she still would like to avail herself of veterinary services from time to time:
— Worm checks
— HW tests
How to get that diagnostic work done without being pressured into unwanted poisons and vaccines she knows are not necessary?
Can you relate to Shanna’s difficult position?
Would you like to have better control over what you consume at a vet’s office without being pushed (or worse, shamed) for your “knowing better” than to partake in dangerous drugs?
I’ve got some answers for Shanna, and share an even more egregious pressuring by a vet whose motto seemed to be “My way or YOU’LL PAY.” When I wrote about this on my blog some years back, the conventional veterinary community shrieked fowl. No matter, as my readership could relate and shared similar stories and appreciation.
Perhaps these examples and answers will help empower you to be a wiser consumer and get only the services and products you choose from my profession.
Links for this episode
How to choose a well-qualified homeopathic vet: Recommended Resources, and scroll down to AVH list with its accompanying video.
The blog post mentioned: Are You a Victim of Veterinary Abuse?
Shanna’s page on Facebook, “Dogs were never meant to live on kibble and drugs”
Want negative heartworm tests yearly without risking the monthly pesticides? Click here to see what’s been working for decades, from Florida to Hawaii.
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If you want a wildly healthy, naturally disease-resistant pet, who turns heads and starts conversations with awestruck onlookers, you're right where you belong. This is the Vital Animal Podcast with your host, homeopathic veterinarian, Dr. Will Falconer.
Will Falconer, DVM 0:36
Welcome, and thanks for taking time out to listen to another episode of the Vital Animal Podcast. I'm Dr. Will Falconer, and I want to open with a couple of concerning quotes I've come across to kind of set the stage for this episode. The first is from Shana in Facebook. She said, "With four out of five vets around me being the worst of the worst drug-pushing types, and I mean literally PUSHING," she says, "like with a script, I was told I was not being responsible when I refused NexGard, and one denied that a Trifexis dose was the reason my dog almost died a day later, I am now afraid to go back. How can I test my dogs for things without a vet? Worms, heartworm, titers, all of it? I still want to know for sure what's going on with them, with tests, not automatic pills and vaccines and chemicals. But when I get in there, they start these speeches and fearmongering tactics. Like, they make me afraid of them." Shana adds, "I'm really at a loss now, as I want to just see how things are going. After changing their diets to raw a few years ago, I've never had them back to the vet, except that NexGard pusher, and my dog was only in there because she hurt her leg jumping. I literally had to protect her from his chemicals. It was just awful. They insisted her limp was caused by Lyme and tried pushing the vaccine on me, after the fact." Hmm. "We tested her, she was fine. I can't see straight. My friends go in there, their dogs are all on drugs, all sick." She said, "I started this Facebook page literally to try and convince them, but it is taking on a life of its own." She's got a page called "Dogs Were Never Meant to Live on Kibble and Drugs." I'll have a link to it in the show notes if you want to visit.
Will Falconer, DVM 2:47
So, some challenges. Maybe you can relate. I've even seen worse than this. And we'll post a link in the show notes to a post that got me in hot water with my conventional medicine colleagues. I titled it, "Are You a Victim of Veterinary Abuse?" I'll share just the opening from that post with you. This one from Mrs. Z. Mrs. Z says, "I really don't like bringing our dog to the veterinarian. Whenever he gets vaccinated, he has a hard time getting up mornings for several months, will growl at us if we touch him to get him up, barks all the time at every truck or motorcycle he feels rumbling the ground before it reaches us and goes by the house, and scratches and licks spots on his legs and paws until they are raw. He goes outside and just stares off into space. If we don't bring him in every single year for shots, she makes us bring him once and then again in two to three weeks. She says he has to build up an immunity, saying we didn't bring him in on time." Now, I really wish I was making this up, but those were her exact words. So, in so many words, her vet is telling Mrs. Z, "If you don't follow my rules on vaccines, you will pay." So, the first one was pushing poisons, hard, the second vaccines, annually.
Will Falconer, DVM 4:24
Let's pause there for just a second. If you don't already know this, there is zero science behind anyone, anywhere suggesting your pet needs to be vaccinated yearly. Immunity to viruses, which is mostly what we vaccinate against, right? Examples like Parvo, distemper, hepatitis, panleukopenia, they're all viruses. That immunity lasts a long time. Years, if not life, say the veterinary immunologists, who, by the way, don't sell vaccines. They study them and their effects, among other things. These guys know that DOI is a long thing, DOI meaning duration of immunity. They know that's a long-lasting phenomenon, regardless of what a label on a vaccine says. Remember that labels only mean the manufacturer of the vaccines studied his test animals for one year, and put his vaccine out on the market with a one-year label. It's good for a year. And they'll often come right out and say, "Repeat yearly." But even common sense will tell you what b.s. this annual vaccine craze is. So, think for a moment. Do you get reminders to come in annually to renew your smallpox immunity? Of course not. Why don't you? Well, your physician knows that when you got that early on in your childhood, that immunity is likely lifelong.
Will Falconer, DVM 6:07
So, let's explore some strategies to help you and your animals out of this scenario. We don't want you to either be bullied or worse, abused, and a lot of this also carries disrespect, obvious disrespect for whatever you've learned to date. So, the first and most obvious strategy is fire that vet who's acting against your best interests in keeping your animal healthy. These are the ones that seem more intent on putting profit ahead of health, in other words, as both of these examples clearly are. And a question, why would you want to part with your hard-earned money by supporting people like this? To the extent that you fire them, tell them why, if you've got the ovaries to do that, and share your story with others. You can help ensure they don't pull in more victims, either clients or their animals.
Will Falconer, DVM 7:10
So, you minimally need to hire a sympathetic vet instead. What does that mean? A sympathetic vet means someone who can be on the same page with you and you can get your needs met through them. That usually means a holistic vet or a homeopathic vet. What's the difference? I'll explain briefly. Holistic just refers to people who usually do something of an alternative nature, of a natural nature, in their practice. It can mean almost anything, from acupuncture to homeopathy to herbals to essential oils to manipulation of the spine, etc., etc. But unfortunately, it can also be a label that includes, "Yeah, we do these couple of things, but we also vaccinate regularly whenever we get the chance," or, "We give poisons for fleas," like these drugs that we mentioned. And a homeopathic vet is a very specific type of holistic veterinarian. Meaning they practice homeopathy, which is an art and science spanning back to 200 years, from Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. So, they use homeopathic medicines as their chief medicine and may advise you on other holistic things like natural diet and avoiding vaccines and that sort of thing. But homeopathy is their chief medicine.
Will Falconer, DVM 8:43
So, how to know if someone is sympathetic? Well, you've got to ask specific questions. For instance, "Will you allow me to decide if I want poisons to kill fleas and heartworms and other worms, etc., without pushing them?" That would be a good question to ask, right? Another would be, "My animals are happily immune for a long time." Maybe they were previously vaccinated, or maybe they were naturally helped to immunity with nosodes in their early life, natural exposure and/or Canine Immune Complete or similar immune-boosting products. And you could say, "I'm choosing not to vaccinate further. Are you on board with my desire to avoid further unnecessary vaccines?" Point-blank questions, right? You want to know these things before you hire somebody and find out later that they're not really on the same page as you.
Will Falconer, DVM 9:45
So, what if none of these sympathetic sorts of veterinarians live near you? One strategy is you can hire your primary veterinarian as a homeopathic one who does phone consulting. Why phone consulting? Because the odds are you won't have a homeopathic vet, a really qualified, fully-trained homeopathic vet, in your neighborhood, let alone maybe even in your city or state. So, I counsel you on how to find a qualified homeopathic vet on my resources page. I'll have a link to that in the show notes. Make myself a note to make sure I do. And homoeopathy, it turns out, works very well by telephone consulting, because we are concerned with these things called symptoms. Talk a little bit more about that later. But we can get that information directly from you by talking to you and asking pointed questions. So, if you tell us, "My dog's got diarrhea," we'll ask you three or four more questions about that diarrhea, like its odor and its consistency and its color; is there blood in it, is there mucus in it, etc., etc. Those are all symptoms. Now, maybe a holistic vet can work long-distance as well, but it depends on the modalities that they choose. So, obviously, an acupuncturist isn't going to be able to help you over the phone. Maybe they could advise you with some acupressure points, but that's not going to go very, very far, I don't think. And an herbalist could probably work with you by phone and send you the herbs that he or she would direct you to give your dog or your cat. But homeopathy really lends itself to it. So, that's a good primary vet to have on board. And then, you find a secondary vet, who's your local vet, who when asked politely offers to help you as needed. When you need a physical exam, you need some blood drawn, or god forbid you've got an emergency, though there are oftentimes in cities of any size emergency clinics that should offer that service.
Will Falconer, DVM 12:02
So, this is what I did with a lot of my clients when I was busy with a lot of client work. I was the primary physician, a homeopathy that I prescribed was the main medicine that we were using to help cure these animals of their chronic illnesses. And, as best we could, we'd use a local vet when needed, which was rare. But we'd get somebody on board, and when asked politely, the conversation would go something like this. The owner would call the vet, maybe a vet she'd used in the past, maybe somebody new, and she'd say, "You know, my primary veterinarian is a homeopathic one, and that's by choice. That's what I most want to use for my medicine to treat my animal when needed. But I'm calling on you to see if you would be willing to work with me if emergencies come up, or if we need blood work, or if I need to get some trained hands-on to do a physical exam or maybe some imaging like ultrasound or X-ray. Would you be willing to work with me like that?" Eight or nine times out of ten, a local vet who's honest will be happy to do that. Say, "Sure, whatever you need, we'll provide that for you." So, that's the first best option, I think, is have your primary vet a homeopathic at a distance if need be, if you don't have somebody nearby, and secondarily, have a local vet who can do these things for you that need hands-on.
Will Falconer, DVM 13:38
But let's also look at Shana's desire to want to know, as she said, what's going on without getting drugs pushed on her. First, you can know an awful lot without blood testing, or imaging, etc. Long before we had fancy diagnostic testing, we knew disease was present by, guess what, tracking of symptoms. And these aren't things you have to learn at vet school. Goodness sake, you know when your animal's not well, and symptoms are just the words to describe how Phoebe is not well. And interestingly, symptoms often show before blood changes do. They're one of the first things that show, in fact. They're often functional disturbances before they're biochemical disturbances. And guess who cares about symptoms? Your homoeopathic vet, a lot. So, I'll have a link in the show notes to a page I call the Animal Caregivers Guide, which will explain some symptoms to you that you might think are normal, like my dog sheds all year round, or my dog, when he gets caught in the rain doesn't smell so good, or my dog's got bad breath. Those are all symptoms. They're not normal. They may be common, but they're not normal.
Will Falconer, DVM 15:07
And I also want to point out that blood tests often don't tell the full story. They can miss things, as not all diseases will show up in routine blood profiles. So, to keep track of these things, the best bet is to start a diary. You can track these things on a daily basis or whenever they show up. And when you get a homeopathic vet hired, you've got a little library to boil down and share with your homeopathic vet. Say, "Here's what I've been seeing over the past six months or a year." Now, for a yearly, say, heartworm test, which I think is a good idea, whether you're taking the meds or using a natural approach like I provide, your secondary local vet is the sympathetic one who can do that for you. So, I've got a past client from years ago, Sarah, who marches her herd of dogs to the conventional veterinarian annually, or probably a little less often now. She gets negative tests over and over again. But she wants to know one thing, "Are my animals' heartworm negative again and again," which they have been, "or are they positive?" And they know Sarah so well that they'll see her coming with her big smile. She's a great big woman and got a lovely disposition. And they know she's there for that one thing. And if by mistake, somebody new gets into the exam room and says, "I see you're overdue on rabies vaccines. Would you like to catch up today?" Sarah will give a big broad smile and say, "No, we're only here for this heartworm test. Thanks very much." And out she goes. Once she's paid her bill, that's all they see of her for another year.
Will Falconer, DVM 17:04
So, that's heartworm testing. And other worms, you know, you can largely forget about them. I remember well in conventional practice, even before I knew about holistic health, 90% of the fecal exams that we would do were negative. And I see this even more now in recommending a high quality, especially raw diet to my patients. Worms just don't have a place to live, they don't have a home, when you're raising a really healthy animal. Like all parasites, they can only live in the weakened animals. This is the approach of getting the terrain healthy, as opposed to fearing the bad guy, the germ or the parasite. So, worms, I wouldn't bother testing at any regular interval. If you're not seeing anything in the stool and you've maybe got a worm test or two that's negative, forget about it for a number of years.
Will Falconer, DVM 18:08
And as to testing titers, which are the antibodies in the blood to various diseases, like diseases your animal was vaccinated for, if you have an uncooperative vet, who either doesn't want to run these tests for you, or maybe one who charges hundreds of dollars to do that, you'll want to listen to Dr. Robb's interview in Episode Four. All you need to get the titer done is blood, and he'll take care of the rest for you. And if you think you need titers annually, whoa there. Episode 16 will help you understand why that's a waste of your time and money. And worse, if you're misinterpreting what a low titer really means, you're likely to vaccinate your seniors. Talk about that in Episode 16 as well. And you're likely to even vaccinate them against puppyhood diseases that they're so unlikely to get, it's laughable. And I can't tell you how many reports of seniors going down the tubes I hear, when they were trotted in for a round of vaccines that they really didn't need.
Will Falconer, DVM 19:24
So, to sum up, situations like these where you feel pressured or, even worse, abused, are very much chances for you to flex your muscles of empowerment. You know something is wrong in those scenarios. And as the saying goes, when you see something, say something. The only way we'll get these people out of these horrible habits, or better yet, out of practice altogether, is to bring your experience to light. Share your stories, minimally, in your community, and maybe just as effective or more on social media, and by all means stop spending dollars on them.
Will Falconer, DVM 20:09
This is Dr. Will Falconer, and if you found value here, please subscribe to the Vital Animal Podcast, and take a moment to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts. Subscribing means you'll never miss an episode, and rating, reviewing means you'll be making it easier for others to find the show and get empowered themselves to do better for those animals, the innocent animals in their care. I wish you all the best, and most of all, I hope you grow in confidence the more you learn about this natural path approach to raising your animals to be shining examples of what vital animals look and act like. Until next time. Bye for now.
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Coming soon: What does a homeopathic consult look like? And feline homeopathic vet Dr. Andrea Tasi will be rejoining us!