Who’s Got the Reins?

Your Pet’s Healthcare: A Hopeless Runaway?

When that massive chestnut horse stretched out his neck, grabbed the bit and ran full out over the hill with me, I knew I’d been bested. His added buck when we were back on level ground only added to my angry defeated state.

No one but you knows your animal as deeply as you do.

When something is wrong, you know it. You don’t need a blood test to tell you she’s off.

And no one but you is as deeply committed to keeping her healthy.

So, do you give the reins of your pet healthcare away to experts in white coats?

And fume and feel defeated when things go wrong?

Ever notice how many dogs are dealing with The Itch these days? That often starts about a month after a vaccine was given…

Stay with me, as the way to take back control is simpler than you might think. Here’s one proven way to step up your prevention game, and from an early age:

Puppy Immunization Without Vaccination

Are You Carried by Forces Beyond Your Control?

I was recently lying face down on my network chiropractor’s table while she worked on me during a Clear Day, when I and a dozen others had a chance to go deeper and get four entrainments in one day.

Going into the day, I shared my challenges and hopes. I was stuck, feeling like I had a chance to have more influence, help more pet owners help their pets, and make a much bigger impact in the world as a result.

I was stuck because I feared that step into a bigger world of influence. Am I worthy? Do I deserve it? Do I have what it takes?

As the good doctor worked diligently on me, she must have felt that stuck-ness holding her work back, because she bent down and whispered to me,

So, think of a time when you were challenged before and you met that challenge and got through it just fine. Let me know when you’ve got one and I’ll go on.

I immediately flashed to a time when I was probably 13, and on the first horse that was “mine” to care for at summer camp for two weeks.

He was a big chestnut gelding and all of us “ranchers” had ridden our horses just over a hill from the corral to learn to jump. We were mostly greenhorns, and this was our third day with our horses. That bright summer’s day seemed filled with possibility.

One by one, after a bit of coaching and a demonstration from the wranglers, we were taking a run at a low pole jump, each on our assigned horse. It was thrilling to see my friends clear it and I couldn’t wait till it was my turn.

Finally it came. I headed Rodo for the jump, urging him on with my heels, and he deigned to give me a stodgy trot, not the canter I needed. But far worse, just as we approached that low pole between the two uprights, Rodo stuck his head straight out, took the bit fully into his control, turned sharply to the right and charged determinedly straight back up the hill for the corral!

Try as I might, red in the face and arms straining on his reins, I could not turn this runaway blockhead! Rodo had taken charge, ignored my wishes, and took me where he wanted to go!

I was both humiliated and frustrated. It wasn’t supposed to go like this! I was supposed to be calling the shots, I had reins to steer, a full Western saddle to sit soundly in, and I was bounced and trounced and nearly bucked off before we came to a sweaty fuming standstill.

The outcome was a bitter disappointment instead of the thrilling victory this new rider yearned for.

Shift, Engage, GO!

Next up, a reining lesson from an empathetic wrangler who rode up to help me. That put me back in charge, even with Rodo, who I then learned was the most bull-headed horse in the herd!

It seems now like that was actually a turning point in my young adult life, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I became more confident as my abilities grew with my new found knowledge, in control of forces that seemed greater than I and, over the next few years, I shifted from boyhood to manhood with that confidence as a firm base.

With that whole mental exercise played out over a minute’s time, Dr. Mary’s very next contact brought the desired shift: I felt a wave of full breath and an ease coming into my spine and my outlook for the future ahead.

All because of a shift in mindset!

Where the mind goes, energy flows, to paraphrase Tony Robbins.

Caring Mindfully

Pet health care choices are best made when you are engaged and mindful. Making wise choices for the innocent, trusting animals in your pack makes a huge difference. They take what you feed them, what drugs you give them, and go through those procedures you okay for them.

When you are fully engaged in Sadie’s health care choices, her innate intelligence gets full rein, allowing her to do what she knows best: to stay healthy and balanced in all ways.

Inevitably, the animals I know who outlive their “norms” or “beat their diagnosis” are the ones whose owners have stepped up their caregiving game.

Not content to turn it all over to Dr. WhiteCoat, they’d rather study their options, learn from others who’ve taken a more engaged path, and invest in understanding how prevention can be healthier and safer.

A Continuum of Mindfulness

The lowest end of this continuum is mindlessness, fear based decision making, and this is most likely to result in harm to your animal.

It’s what Big Pharma and many vets depend on. Scary jars of hearts floating in formalin with long spaghetti-like worms hanging out of the pathologist’s incision top the charts of scare tactics.

The hope is that you’ll not ask questions about the origin of that heart (likely a down and out street dog from Mexico) and react as follows:

Whoa! Don’t want heartworms! What do you have to prevent that?

(A healthier drug free option is here)

Flea images that make them appear huge, ugly, and downright dangerous gets buy-in to the latest, greatest flea poison, damn the warnings and possible side effects.

Blood suckers that make my dog itchy and miserable? No way! Give me your best product that’ll keep those scary things the heck off my dog!

(You have non-toxic options here)

Professionally branded bags of food with ingredients that are unpronounceable, unrecognizable, and too many to count sets up a different fear: you couldn’t possibly hope to make Sadie’s food at home! You’d screw it up and make her sick. You have no professional training in nutrition and ration balancing and this baby was made by Science, by experts!

Oh, hell yeah! Gimme 40 lbs!

(Worth considering WHO you’re feeding and finding options that speak to the call from within…)

Distemper and parvo could kill my dog? And everybody in your practice gets these vaccines that prevent that, and you’ll send me a reminder every year when they’re due next?

I’d be foolish to NOT get these. You say “Due,” I’ll be here!

(Wait. Who says they’re due??)

There’s not much thought going into those choices, the “fix” for all your fears is right there in the waiting room or in your vet’s syringe.

And the people selling it seem nice enough, seem to genuinely care, so you buy in to the poisons, the junk food, and worst of all the repeated vaccinations throughout your pet’s life.

How to Give Up

There are many ways to give away the reins. All revolve around how you think:

  • “Everyone’s doing this…”
  • “All my friends do it this way, so who am I to question this kind of prevention?”
  • “My vet’s way smarter than I am…”
  • “I couldn’t hope to get enough knowledge from self study to match four years of vet school…”
  • “They wouldn’t sell vaccines that aren’t safe…”
  • “These bags of kibble are made under carefully controlled conditions with wholesome ingredients. Look at the pictures of steaks and fresh veggies on that label!”
  • “I’m not qualified to decide on pet health care…”
  • “Sadie’s DUE for her next round of shots.”

To the extent that you believe these things, you’re likelihood of damaging your beloved pet increases, year over year.

The world is changing, both in human and animal health, and the picture isn’t a pretty one.

The Reality of Pet Health Today

The truth is, animal health is in a sad state for many more animals today than ever before in our history.

Compared to a mere forty years ago, when I was in vet school, the norm for animal sicknesses today is chronic disease. Those are the illnesses that linger, don’t resolve on their own, and that slowly but surely bring suffering to your animal and of course to you.

The suffering often comes with great expense, as conventional medicine tries unsuccessfully to cure these long smoldering conditions.

More expensive, more powerful drugs are pushed, all attended by more serious side effects, many worse than the original itch or ear troubles.

Crazy Itchy

The commonest chronic diseases are “The Itch” and “Ears From Hell.” You’ve likely seen one or both if you’ve been around dogs a while.

The Itch is just that: from constant low level licking to furious scratching and biting, these dogs (and cats, to a lesser extent) are miserable and can damage themselves to the point of mutilation, they itch so badly.

Ears From Hell is a variation, where the focus is a red hot, swollen, stinky, oozing ear. There’s often pain from all the inflammation but they itch inside simultaneously, so the affected dog tries to scratch her itchy ears but cries while doing so. You can often smell the stench from these ears from the other room.

Both are due to allergies, to various things normal dogs have lived with forever: fleas, grasses, trees, foods.

For well over a decade, they have been the #1 reason dogs go to vets. We’ve got hard data showing this.

Man-made, New Diseases

Then, there are the unheard of diseases just a few decades ago when I began practice, now present and becoming increasingly common.

Hyperthyroidism in cats is one glaring example. Cats who run super hot, eat like there’s no tomorrow, and lose weight as they race around, driven restlessly: we literally never learned about it in vet school.

Diabetes was rare and odd. It’s now common in dogs and cats, like it is in people.

Even behavior issues seems to be moving up the charts: Edgy, aggressive behavior; ADD, hyperactivity; unwarranted fears.

Here are the top chronic diseases, according to pet health insurance data:

  • Skin disease (allergies, pyoderma)
  • Ear inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lameness, cruciate ligament injury
  • Hyperthyroidism (in cats)
  • Kidney failure (cats)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (cats, but growing in dogs now as well)

Take the Reins, Set Your Pet’s Best Course

If you want to do the best for your animals, I urge you to be more involved in your pet health care decisions.

No one, vets included, have your pet’s best interests in mind like you do. You live with them day and night, and living with them AND a chronic disease is a life of misery (and needless expense).

Bottom line: If you want an animal who radiates health and brings joy to all in her world, you can best get there by taking a firm hold on those reins. Make wise, informed choices that steer her along a natural path, with Mother Nature by your side.

Your animal raising decisions ought to be based on sound natural principles, not profits.

Puppy Immunization Without Vaccination

Let us know in the comments if you’re either planning to take the reins on your pet health care or if you’ve already done so. Your determination in either scenario may just give permission for the next reader to follow your lead.

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  1. Jill Burns on June 2, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    What do you do when your Vet says that Rabies vaccine is the law and if I don’t vax every 3 yrs he can’t continue to see my dogs? Why aren’t titers acceptable proof of immunity??

  2. Sherri Lynn Reed on May 19, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I know it has been a few days, but I finally have a chance to comment back to you.
    My TCM vet is a woman (Kansas City metro area) & I absolutely recommend her to every one I can. (At the same time, I also point them to you! What a ‘dynamic duo’!)
    She has many patients that travel from out-of-state to see her. Years ago, she helped my Yorkie to reverse the bone spurs he had developed in his neck from running up & down the stairs, jumping on & off the furniture & from a poor diet. Once she began treating him & I changed his diet, the bone spurs eventually dissolved! We LOVE the ‘Natural Path’!

  3. Sherri on May 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I was recently at my vets office for a rare visit with a dog who had badly broken a toenail to an extent beyond my skills to treat. They began to badger me about her vaccines, she’s 9 and hasn’t had a vaccine since she was 4-1/2. She’s over vaccinated in my opinion and won’t ever get any more. But in the heat of the moment I admit to feeling very bullied and almost giving in to a rabies vaccine. But in that very moment I paused and looked down at my dog and she turned and looked directly into my eyes and held the stare. That was all I needed. She couldn’t advocate or speak for herself. She only has ME to do that for her. It was all I needed to regain my strength on her behalf. It hurts my heart when I remember the dogs of my past and how I blindly followed my vets advice on everything. I trusted them and it just hurts me because I can look back now and point to so many things that were just wrong and how it negatively impacted my dogs health. It makes me furious. But I’ve learned so much in the last several years, thanks in large part to you Dr. Will, and now, going forward, my dogs live a different life and we stay out of the vets office except for the rare oddball emergency. I have learned to say no and mean it. I’ll just never forget that look from my dog at just the right moment.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 13, 2019 at 5:46 am

      Oh! A last minute catch to prevent “prevention’s” problems that could have robbed your 9 year old’s health from her. I got chills hearing your story, Sherri, and I’m so proud of you for moving on that unbroken gaze.

      For everyone reading, please know that senior animals don’t typically die of infectious diseases (parvo, distemper, etc. — all the things you may be admonished to re-vaccinate for). Evidence from immunology is strong that they are holding adequate immunity from both their vaccines and their natural exposure to germs from earlier in their lives.

      And don’t ever ignore your important role to advocate for every animal in your care. It may take courage in the face of badgering, but it’s so very worth rising to that challenge.

  4. Sherri Lynn Reed on May 12, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Dearest Dr Will — Love the way you expressed your experience! And thank you sooooo much for all the info you share, as well as providing a place for like-minded pet parents to learn & to share.

    I believe my male Great Dane lived as long as he did (10.5 yrs) due to chiropractic care, acupuncture, better food, natural supplements, intact and no vaccines (other than some puppy shots, as he was not mine yet). I was privileged to have a wonderful vet who practiced TCM and had been caring for my other pups for several years before I ever adopted my Dane.

    He was born with a cervical deformity (aka ‘wobblers’) that worsens with age and many Danes with it are ‘put down’ as early as 3-4 yrs of age. I believe that the care I gave him, starting at about 4 months of age when I adopted him, allowed him to live far longer than most do with the condition. He out-lived many of his litter mates (there were 12!)

    I was on a ‘natural path’ before ever I was privileged to ‘meet’ you, so the minute I ‘met’ you, I knew you were of ‘my tribe’! Stay true to your path / carry on in love!

    PS: Love all your pics!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 13, 2019 at 5:40 am

      Wow, Sherri Lynn, great work you did with that Dane. Lovely to hear he passed 10 (and came from a litter of 12). As you rightly point out, every piece of his care and your understanding likely helped him ignore a condition that many lose their lives to. Your vet deserves a shout out for supporting your path so well for generations of animals. Be sure everyone in your area knows where to find him/her.

  5. marcia lorenz on May 10, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    I have been following Dr Will for about 2 years now. My dogs are fed totally raw with Organic veges and fruit, plus more. Since they both came from shelters, they received the required puppy shots including rabies. I intend to never vaccinate my dogs again. I took Dr. Will’s courses on Rabies and Heartworm and now felt very well educated and ready to face the vet. I called 6 vet clinics and they all refused to do a heartworm test without doing a wellness check which included making sure that the rabies was up to date. I was very angry and had no choice but to submit to the rabies. I did use Adored Beast Anti Vaccinosis and Fido’s Flora (probiotics) to help counteract any damages.

    Dr. Will said to have the dogs tested for heartworm. Now the trouble is that the test also screens for lyme and other tick borne diseases. Great…now my dogs tested positive for lyme exposure. The vet recommended a $160 blood test to check the level of antibody present…or just treat with Doxicycline for 30 days. Dr Will has given me the confidence I need to say NO to all of it. My dogs are healthy VITAL pack dogs and their immune system will keep them that way. Oh… vet also suggested the Lyme vaccine. Yeah right…if they have antibody present, why would I want to give them vaccine !?!

    Can the Rabies nosodes be used in place of the vaccine and be legal? How do I test for heartworm and get around having to get the Rabies vaccine ?….Besides moving to Canada.

    I hope that somehow this can all be changed. It just makes me want to cry.

    Thank you so much…Dr Will. !!!!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 11, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Brava, Marcia! I’m so glad you saw through the smoke screen of a positive Lyme titer. The answer to getting a simple blood test (like HW or any other) is to find a sympathetic holistic vet who understands duration of immunity. You may want to get a titer for rabies, but that doesn’t hold any legal “water” nor does a nosode. You just need a vet who thinks along these lines.

      And take inspiration from one of my earliest clients, Sara, who goes to a very conventional vet clinic every year with her wildly healthy Akita pack for just one thing: a HW test for each. They’ve learned not to ask about rabies being current because Sara has told them that’s not why she’s there. They do what she wants, she thanks them, and says, “See you next year!”

  6. Deanna Bates on May 10, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    I fit the description in your blog post. I trusted my vet to know what was best for my dogs just like I trusted my UCLA endocrinologist. That is until I had to look at the ugly truth that it was all about the money. I asked myself how did my Maltese dog Misty live to be 13 with a heart condition, exposure to fleas from stray cats in our old neighborhood and Velvie didn’t make it to her 10th birthday? Velvie had fleas one time in her whole life and was treated once for fleas. She became sick beginning at 4 with rashes and ear infections. What she had that Misty didn’t have was vaccines for everything. I was traveling a lot with my job and I boarded her with the vet. Misty on the other hand was taken care of by our friend who owned a pet shop.

    I realized that I hurt my dog and hurt myself by trusting the so called “Professionals”. Destiny and Freddie had their puppy shots and were titer tested there after, trying to comply with the law they have had rabies vax every three years. I mostly made organic meats and veggies for them with a small amount of organic kibble. They were never sick. No rashes and no ear infections.

    Quite suddenly or at least it seemed that way to me Desy became very sick and in less than 30 days we lost our baby. I realized even though I tried I failed her . Too bad I only stood up to the vet on steroids and I didn’t say no on the rabies shots.

    Just because her illness didn’t seem apparent didn’t mean it hadn’t been lurking hidden in her body from the naked eye. Her life mattered to me. I decided to table the novel I’ve been writing and to tell her story “The vaccine time bomb lurking in my pet” or something like that.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 11, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Oh, Deanna, I encourage you to write your story! It’s a needed one, as we are now some 50 generations into over vaccinating our pets. That’s made a huge difference in how likely this generation is going to have trouble with yet another unnecessary vaccine. Even “just the rabies,” as you note. I’m so sorry you lost Desy so quickly, but I also see her death inspiring you to a greater calling perhaps, or at least a revelatory book.

  7. Lorrine on May 10, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    I was once blindly following the “norm” because I misplaced my trust into an untrustworthy system. I understand now that we are being fed a lot of garbage as truth and am questioning these “norms”. It’s difficult to see friends follow the norm for their pets despite trying to steer them to a different path by providing factual information that they themselves could go look up as easily as they get on FB, but won’t. It’s difficult to see their pets suffer and suggest alternatives to them and watch them continue with the “norm”.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 11, 2019 at 5:53 am

      I hear you, Lorrine. Best fix I know is to find new friends, as your mind will stay clearer and you’ll be happier hanging with those who’ve seen what you’ve understood and who practice it as well. We are the sum of the 5 or 6 people closest to us, I’m told, so it pays to choose wisely.

      All the best.

  8. Kathleen on May 10, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    I have been trying to do the best for my puppy. Nosodes instead of vaccinations, we were not going to neuter but he was having behavioral issues so we neutered at almost 2 years. He eats whole food, we tried raw food, but slightly cooked is best for him. He started doing this crazy sniffing the air, and then hiding behavior at close to a year. We’ve tried accupuncture, chiropractic, empaths. It might be called stargazing. We cannot find the trigger. Please point me in a direction to find help for this poor baby.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 11, 2019 at 5:49 am

      Hey Kathleen, I’d be interested to know if this came on after rabies vaccination, and if so, how close in time. I see a lot of behavior shifts after that vaccine, and it may not show for a month or a few even. Best fix is hiring a homeopathic vet, one who does all or mostly classical homeopathy in his practice. See my Resources page for the AVH list, choose that parameter and also those who do phone consulting. Odds are, you won’t have one nearby, but phone work can cure this guy. Good luck.

  9. Susie on May 10, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t normally reply to things like this, but I feel so strongly about these subjects. I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU DR FALCONER. What would we do without pioneers like you to blaze the trail? I hope we can all be a grass roots effort to change the culture for the good of our pets and everyone’s pets—I’m told it only takes about 15% to change the market-since everything is driven by money in our country— maybe we can do something together.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 11, 2019 at 5:45 am

      It’s encouraging in that sense, isn’t it Susie, that you don’t need anywhere near a majority for a tipping point. I’ve always felt we are far stronger as a pack, and I’m glad you’re here.

  10. Jo on May 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I was there and remember your experience on the table and afterwards as you shared those moments with the rest of us. Your blog is a great reminder for me and I’m sure others who are consciously on this path but sometimes feel a bit uncertain and overwhelmed because it gets a little wobbly with rocks and stickers. Thanks for sharing.

  11. reader on May 10, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Yes both my first dog and cats had all the chronic diseases listed on your list at the bottom of your article. I obeyed Dr Whitecoat and did it all, annual vaccines, toxic prescription meds, toxic flea tick pesticides, toxic heartworm pesticides and it was a failure on all counts. I thought I didn’t know anything about pet health. So I obeyed and the vets loved all the money they made off of my ignorance.
    But with all the suffering, worry, and many vet visits and many thousands in vet bills, I knew something was wrong. How can perfectly healthy pets become sicker and sicker from going to the vet?
    This peeked my awareness level even before the internet. It was time to learn, and ask questions everywhere. I gathered info from others, at dog walk events, anyone with pets, dog and cat magazines, etc. Most info was not good back then, and most pet owners were uninformed like me. I started using my common sense making health decisions that seemed would be right. I made some good decisions that did help health wise. I dealt with vet surgeons trying to sell me $6000 tplo surgery for socalled cruciate disease, but was dead set against surgery, it was just so wrong. I ended up getting a custom acl ccl posh dog knee brace to support the knee. The knee healed and no surgery ever. The vet was so angry when I brought my dog in wearing the posh knee brace. Said I disobeyed her orders to buy surgery from the orthopedic surgeon I was referred to. This was the only time my vet ever called me, to try to get me to schedule the tplo surgery. I was clear on the phone, if I want to buy surgery, I am capable of making a phone call myself and hung up. It was all down hill with my vets after I brought my dog in wearing a dog knee brace. I was hated. I showed them how well my dog healed after no longer needing the brace, the vets had no interest in my dogs success of healing without painful unnecessary surgery.

    Next dog, no more vaccines. No puppy vaccines. I used parvo nosodes and distemper nosodes and rabies nosodes as the safe natural alternatives. I read articles in dogsnaturallymagazine, and online I joined VitalAnimal.com and any other real holistic homeopathic or naturopathic enewsletter. My dog eats a natural diet now with natural supplements. No chronic illness at all. No vet bills. I take a few online courses occasionally to learn more. I read online and read books about natural, homeopathic and holistic health for people too, and a lot of that translates to dogs.
    I have learned a wealth of information. I am informed, still lots to learn, my pleasure reading, is usually information reading, always learning more about pet and people health and true history. One does need to learn the true history of health to understand why our health system for people and pets is completely broken. All allopathic care is for great profits, not for health. I have learned why the powerful elite and wealthy investors invest in the vaccine industry for massive profits but never vaccinate themselves, never vaccinate their kids and never vaccinate their pets. The wealthy elite upper classes are informed about true health. While the commoners are brainwashed by tv and mainstream media. Most masses and commoners seem incapable of questioning what they are told by the media, gov, big pharma, big food, medical industry, cancer industry and the education industry. The masses are taught in schools to bow and obey. Obedience means to beat into submission. Never question authority. Be submissive. Never ask questions. Do as you are told. Buy what we tell you to buy. Read what we tell you to read, watch what we tell you to watch. Let the upperclass walk all over the middle and low class commoners, as the upperclass laughs all the way to the bank. And everyone else is struggling to survive, getting sicker and sicker from vaccines, toxic medicines, toxic chemicals in all parts of our lives to cause chronic illness, disease, cancer and an early death.
    I try to spread the info to pet parents when I can and if they are open minded to learning. Some are closed minded and want to continue down the hell path and spend a fortune for chronically ill pets, those I cannot help. I tell all pet lovers to join VitalAnimal.com as the best starting point to start learning about pet health. When you learn better, you do better. I have had great results with natural, homeopathic and holistic, and there is no turning back. Thanks again Dr Falconer for the wealth of info I have learned from you over the years. My pets would not be so healthy without you guiding us to pet health.

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