Fast Food Medicine? RUN the Other Way!

Fast foods are arguably undoing modern society. They are so easy, so available, so cheap, and so well marketed that everyone in the first world and a fair amount in the third world has consumed them at some point.

I’m old enough to remember when McDonald’s was relatively new on the scene,
and having their french fries became a “thing” that my parents and I shared as a treat from time to time.

As I became old enough to stay home on my own, they were also the source of weekly meals as my aging parents wanted to have a weekly “date night” out at a restaurant. I was thrilled.

Before McDonald’s, it was boring fish sticks and puffy baked potato creations called Tater Tots, invented the year after I was born. What’s not to like about a Big Mac, fries, and a milk shake for dinner?

The dark underbelly is that fast foods are also addictive, nutritionally bankrupt, and damaging to your health. As Morgan Spurlock pointed out in his (now free) film, Super Size Me, obesity is second only to smoking as a major cause of preventable death in America.

So, what does this have to do with animal health? Presumably you’re not feeding fast food to your beloved animals.

No, I’m talking today about “convenience medicine” and the short sightedness that’s often Dr. WhiteCoat’s modus operandi.

Let’s Shoot ‘Em Up in Their Tails!

Landing in my inbox last week was word that veterinary researchers at U. Florida have studied vaccinating cats in the tail.

Why inject vaccines in the tail?

So that when the cancer that follows the vaccination shows up, the surgeons have an easier time amputating the tail tip instead of the usual limb, which wasn’t acceptable to many cat owners.

Whoa! (cue sound of needle screeching over vinyl record, abruptly stopping the music)

Short sightedness like this never ceases to amaze me.

Did anyone think that maybe there was something fundamentally wrong with injecting vaccines into cats in the first place, if thousands of them were developing malignant tumors afterwards?

Or was that fact just missed in the name of “we’ve got to vaccinate for the good of the cat population?”

Two vaccines have been incriminated in the cases of VAS (vaccine associated sarcoma), a usually fatal cancer:

  • rabies
  • feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

It’s thought to be related to the adjuvants used to make the vaccines trigger more immune reaction in the animal, but that’s besides the point.

Fast Medicine: Too Many Unnecessary Vaccinations

How many unnecessary rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations are given to the average cat?

For rabies, in indoor cats, it’s every one. Where are these guys going to get a rabid bite from?

For the outdoor hunters, it is every rabies vaccination after the initial two, if that initial couple are given at or over 4 months of age. “Once (twice with rabies, as it’s a killed virus vaccine) and done” is the rule here, the odds being extremely high that lifetime immunity results from the early vaccination.

Who says so? Veterinary immunologists, like Ron Schultz, Ph.D.

For feline leukemia, every single vaccine is unnecessary. Why? FeLV is a chronic disease, and vaccines by definition don’t prevent chronic disease. And FeLV is very much an opportunist virus, attacking and setting up housekeeping in only 10% of those exposed.

You can imagine these are the weaker, poorly nourished animals, likely eating an unnatural kibble diet.

But likely none of this is considered by those who would vaccinate every cat with everything available at regular intervals throughout life, right?

And we’re back to “fast food medicine” and injecting the body part most easy to amputate when the consequence comes around.

Ouch. Bad medicine.

Fast Food Surgeon’s Motto: To Cut is to Cure!

It reminds me of a procedure advocated many years ago for dogs who repeatedly licked and inflamed the space between their toes. Interdigital cysts and redness and bothersome itch had an answer offered by the surgeons: “We’ll simply cut that area out and sew the toes together! That’ll make the problem go away!”

I read about this way back when I was new to holistic vet medicine and it immediately reinforced my choice of career paths. I can only hope the procedure didn’t gain much traction and has been abandoned as archaic and misdirected.

Prevention That Makes More Sense

How about addressing health at a deeper level to prevent these problems in the first place?

First and foremost has to be a close examination of vaccination protocols.

When we look for it, we see allergies (like itchy feet, skin and ears) as a very common sequelae to vaccines, often occurring within a month of vaccination.

And how often throughout life is Dr. WhiteCoat recommending this procedure?

Against all current immunological understanding, many still recommend annual vaccination!

And those who would seem a bit more “enlightened” still repeat vaccines every three years.

Based on good studies showing immunity wanes at three years?

Not even close. Lifetime immunity is likely to early vaccines.

Says who?

Again, veterinary immunologists, who don’t profit from vaccinating but focus on the realities of your animals’ duration of immunity.

Then, there’s feeding that can still be pretty darned convenient and maintain species appropriateness: any number of raw frozen balanced diets are on the market now, and need only be thawed to be fed. [In a hurry? Drop some of that cold or frozen food in a baggie and immerse it in a pan of hot water. Ready in 5.]

Not as convenient as kibble, but you’ve got to ask: how close is kibble to anything a wolf or a bobcat would eat? That’s who you’re feeding, and the answer is pretty obvious: not close at all.

Finally, while it may be convenient to drop squirts of pesticides on your pet’s shoulders to kill fleas, you know in your heart of hearts poisons aren’t good for Spot, Puff, Dick, or Jane.

Or the environment. Look for non-toxic alternatives.

Effective? Yes.

A bit less convenient? A bit, yes, but safe, and that’s well worth the effort if vital animals are your goal.

And speaking of hearts, pesticides for heartworms are a dicey risk as well, with the possibility of autoimmune fatalities in the convenience of the monthly pill.

You can join the hundreds (1000’s?) of folks getting negative tests year over year by using my safe heartworm prevention option here as well.

To raise vital animals, and enjoy all they have to offer for long joyful years together, you’ve got to look beyond the myopia of convenience and “fast food medicine.”

If some safe and effective prevention practice is a bit more work, but it adds life to your beloved companion, isn’t that effort worth it?

I think the bright eyed wags and tails up you’ll see will answer that quite convincingly.

 Photo credit: Bazza

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  1. Denise on March 22, 2018 at 11:18 am

    so much good info, wish my brain could process quicker. I’m all over these pages, been book marking those to go back to.

  2. Barbara Ross on November 5, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I hate the fact that the vets that treated my dog, told me it was imperative that
    he had the rabies shot every year when he was a puppy, and then it changed to three years,, he was a companion who never left my side,,never was with other dogs,,, yet I put his life at risk to other illnesses,,,,,, its sickening, its a money grab

  3. Tricia Wells on December 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Another great topic Dr. Falconer –
    I recently had a convenience medicine conversation with a fellow dog owner that went something like this …
    Him – “Hey don’t you just love the new Triflexis – it takes care of fleas, worms and everything but its super expensive”
    Me – “um no – we don’t use any of that stuff”
    Him – “really? Oh my god aren’t you scared your dogs will get worms and DIE?”
    Me – “no – I’m scared they’ll die from the chemicals in that stuff. Plus who wants to spend $50/month on something that doesn’t prevent anything. Your dog will still GET the worms or fleas or mosquito bites”.
    Him – “Wait – What? I thought that stuff totally stopped them from getting worms and getting bit by anything”.
    Me – “No – its a pesticide. It doesn’t prevent anything. It kills after the fact.”
    Him – ” Oh my God! I want my money back. They told me it was a convenient pill to prevent all kinds of stuff. ”
    Me – “Yeah – good luck getting your money back.”
    I still laugh when I think about it. His indignation. It was CLASSIC. He was sold $600 worth of meds that didn’t do what was promised. His vet was no longer on a pedestal but a salesman that preyed on “convenience”.
    The rest of the conversation was about how there really isn’t a short cut to keeping the dogs healthy. Just like training them, you have to put in the time and do the work but in the long run its healthier and actually less money. Sounds like a lot of things in life.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Brilliant conversation, Tricia! One mind opened at a time…and so spreads the truth.
      Nice work.

  4. Kerstan A. on December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article, as fast food is simply another form of poison that the ‘elite’ dispense to the unaware masses in order to fulfill their own agenda(s) [ in my personal opinion, but hey, this is a topic all on it’s own! ].
    And again, I agree 100% that the ‘one and done’ vaccination method is all that is needed, as I truly believe that it builds the animals’ immunity for a lifetime [ although, no vaccinations at all seems to be the best method, but I’m speaking in personal favor here ].
    On a side note – I’ve always wished that we should have convenient, healthy ‘fast food’ options, and what I mean by that is that all-natural, non-gmo, organic fruits and vegetables could be purchased on a whim – all at the convenience and affordability of a fast food restaurant.
    Wouldn’t that just be grand?
    Of course, not only would this go against the ‘higher ups’ agenda(s), but even if it was possible, high prices would steer the masses elsewhere.
    But a girl can dream, can’t she [ LOL ]?

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