Shifting the Burden of Proof: The Precautionary Principle

Things Are Not Always as They Seem

When Sparky’s lips started swelling on the left side of his face, his concerned owners thought he was probably stung by an insect. Who wouldn’t? Dogs will be dogs… Both lips were getting bright red and puffy. He was taken to their veterinarian, and Dr. WhiteCoat gave the most favored combination of drugs in any conventional practice:

Antibiotics and steroids.

Kill all bacteria! Stop all inflammation!


Sparky’s lips got “better.”

But then they swelled again.

More drugs, he was better. The drugs stopped, and Sparky got worse again. Damn. This can’t go on, we’re getting nowhere.

Finally, a biopsy revealed something no one had guessed: this was cancer.

Whoa. What’s going on here??

Come into My Lab-OR-atory, Bwahahaha haaa!

Sparky, like many of his cohorts in the animal kingdom who are owned by humans, had been part of a vast science experiment that has been going on for generations. Finally, at 13 years of age, the consequences were coming home to roost, and they were serious.

Life threatening, in fact.

Homeopaths have associated runaway tissue growth with vaccinations since Jenner’s day, when cowpox was being injected into people in the hope of preventing smallpox. We see it today most clearly in the cat, where it’s actually named Feline Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma, or VAS.

No scientist questions this: it is caused by the vaccines. End of story. It’s malignant and the cat dies from it.

This vast science experiment has been the overuse of vaccinations in animals for the last three decades, and Sparky is now a victim of this greed driven practice. Veterinary immunologists have made it clear for over 30 years that repeatedly vaccinating animals is both unnecessary and doesn’t work.

We are seeing animals coming down with chronic, “old animal diseases” at a younger age than ever before, as this experiment continues year on year. Examples I’ve seen in over 40 years of practice include arthritis, hypothyroidism, and even cancer.

Human health is seeing a similar decline, as children are now being seen in larger numbers with usually adult diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint pain. Their experiment is only somewhat different from the animal version, in that societal advertising and standards of nutrition have slid precipitously closer to junk food being the most affordable and desirable food on the planet.

Well, maybe kids and dogs are not so different. Sparky was being fed Science Diet, aka “expensive junk food” (do some label detective work if you have any doubts about that).

Our Hero Enters, Stage Left

Enter a knight in shining armor: the precautionary principle. In simple terms, we’ve used this principle for years, in the form of “be careful out there,” and “look before you leap.”

In medicine, it’s “First, Do No Harm.

It was elegantly stated in a world wide conference that took place in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin in January of 1998.

In summary, the precautionary principle is this:

“When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

Just slip “or animal health” in there, and you’ve got a very sound principle to follow in your pursuit of achieving your vital animal, the one who avoids getting sick even in her latter years and shines with lustrous health and balanced energy till her time on the planet is up.

An elegant statement of one of the tenets of this principle is made by writer Peter Montague:

The burden of proof of harmlessness of a new technology, process, activity, or chemical lies with the proponents, not with the general public.

Vaccinators: Belly Up to the Precautionary Principal Bar

Are you ready for this conversation?

So, Dr. WhiteCoat, you want to continue these vaccinations in my animal beyond 6-12 months of age? You want to do this annually? Prove to me there’s efficacy and safety in that, and I’ll put my animal on the table. No proof, you just cap that needle, give him his physical exam, and we’ll be on our way.

What an empowering stance! Why should you, as an animal owner, bear the burden of disproving a health recommendation?

Your vet, doctor, neighborhood chemical manufacturing company, and nuclear waste dumper needs to be the one to prove that the activity benefits and does not harm your dog, cat, neighborhood, or planet.

Easy Words of Precaution

If you feel too shy to take Dr. WhiteCoat to task on this, here’s a simple phrase you can use, and one I’d practice regularly before going in for any veterinary visit:

  • “I’m going to think about this, but not act on it today. I’ll get back to you if I decide I want this done.”

This will always be an acceptable exit strategy for any routine procedure, in a non-life threatening situation like an annual exam.

If you’re braver, you might add,

  • “Please outline for me the risks vs benefits of this procedure, and why you feel it’s in my animal’s best interests.”

Don’t Wait: Prevent the Damage That Conventional “Prevention” Can Cause!

Sparky is under my homeopathic care now, and is getting high doses of transfer factor. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we can “wake up his reactionary forces” to fight this cancer.

Over on Facebook (UPDATE: I’m no longer there), a reader saw the effects of a vaccination causing runaway allergic itching:

I must thank you for another fact I learned through this. My English Setter has awful allergies and does take allergy shots and has been doing great. All of a sudden her allergies went crazy and I was trying to pinpoint what happened, now I know, she had her yearly shots. I discovered this while reading your material and I have my answer.

I replied, “What was the timing between vaccinations and crazy allergies? I often see it in 3-4 weeks…”

Linda’s reply,

She had shots end of April, by end of May, I was seeing the signs of problems and has not gotten better only worse. I have been frantic trying to figure out what had happened… The yearly shots are the only thing that has happened. I kept thinking, she was fine when I took her for her checkup.

Have you had a similar experience? Share it in the comments, so we can all learn from it.

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  1. carmen n powell on November 13, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    my dog is like the picture above….it comes and goes….it first started with a tick bite and i don’t know what triggers it I read your articles often and have changed his diet recently to a mostly raw (honest kitchen chicken) and I often prepare his own meals. He gets a probiotic daily and I’ve purchased some gel to help with the plaque that has built up on his teeth (I haven’t been so good about attending to his dental needs until this last year) he’s 5 now and will be 6 in January. I don’t know if it’s allergies (he bites at his paws a lot – no loss of hair, bleeding except at his lip) or cancer. I’m scared. Can you please provide me with the information about a product to help with his immune system.

  2. Jannee Taylor on June 12, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Hi Dr. Falconer,
    I have been following your blog and advice for the last year. Thank you for all the info as i am new to the Holistic approach to animals. I have 2 two year old GSD’s that have had allergy issues since day 2 of them coming home. I think they had way too many vaccines as pups but I was of the assumption then that more is better ? The vet insisted that because their initial vaccines were given by the breeder that they were probably not effective so she wanted to give them another round. I said Oh! absolutely ! Better safe than sorry ! Such a fool was I !
    My breeder had them on raw food and in exploring that, I stumbled onto the natural path.
    The problem now is that they still have allergy issues nearly constant. Bright pink skin and ears. I have them on Trans Factor and because of another response from you to another of your followers… I stopped changing their food daily and have them on a 10 day rotation of protein and that has helped but not completely solved their issues. I have been giving them some daily Coconut oil and that also is helping, they seem to itch less but are still deep pink in color. White coat suggested steroids but I said as a last resort. I have recently heard Quercetin (spelling)? will help pets with allergies but need to make sure that is safe for them. (can’t believe everything you read). Thoughts please ?

  3. Kathy on July 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I have used a product called “Flea Free” for four years with excellent results. It has been manufactured here in Fl by a family for many years.
    It is a liquid. You add it to their water, which I do, or to their food. My dog does not hesitate to drink her water. The ingredients are not only healthy for your pet but also prevent mosquitoes, fleas and ticks from being attracted to your animal.

  4. ann on July 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    In reading Sparky’s cancer story I’m wondering if most pet owners are aware of the extreme toxicity of all of the flea/tick remedies that are known to cause cancer, etc. etc. in animals and are also very toxic to their owners being that the chemicals pass from the pet’s body to their owner’s skin, getting absorbed into human’s bodies and causing the same illnesses, unbeknownst to them! Babies/small children are the most affected of course – putting fingers from pets to mouths, etc. also. There is now a totally NON-TOXIC scalar energy flea/tick tag for dogs and cats which is totally effective if the owner carefully follows the directions which forms an invisible barrier around the dog to prevent parasites. My dog, Sassie, has been parasite-free for 15 months now and I live in the woods and she’s around other dogs frequently. Thanks!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks for this, Ann. I’m going to look deeper at these, and I hope soon. If others can be flea free like Sassy with something this simple, it may be a great answer to a chronic parasite we’d all like to be free of!

      • Coni on September 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        For the last 17 years the dogs in my life have been fed on a raw diet (Wendy Volhard) which includes garlic. I have never had a dog with fleas or ticks.

  5. Carolina Mazzulla on July 26, 2013 at 12:20 am

    First off, I’d like to thank you, on behalf of my pups, for the awesome and life changing information you make available. I literally can’t wait to read your blog posts and savor the life lessons. I have made the switch to raw, though I do use sojos veg to supplement the meat until I figure out a list of fruit and veg’s to buy. Anywhoo, I would like your feedback on raw beef bones. My dogs love them, but one just broke a tooth. Is it true that lamb bones are softer yet still tough enough to clean teeth? Also, what would you recommend regarding the broken tooth? The tooth is in the back, at the top.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 26, 2013 at 6:02 am

      Hi Carolina,
      I’m so glad the blog has been useful to you and your pups!
      Beef bones are one of the harder bones, partly because the cow has lived longer than the younger animals like lambs, and have stouter bones than the birds (who need to conserve weight to fly!).
      In my experience, the majority of healthy dogs are fine chewing beef bones, but some less than fully healthy-toothed ones will break a tooth on them. That’s a shame, and the tooth may need to be pulled at some point. It’s now open to deterioration, as the protective enamel has been broken away.
      At this point, I’d watch it weekly, and see how your individual dog does with chewing. If the gums around the tooth become red and inflamed, or chewing becomes difficult, you’ll need to get some dentistry to remove the remains.
      I’ve also read some reports of antlers causing tooth fractures, and they’ve always struck me as pretty safe, though they are hard and dry compared to a fresh raw bone. Similarly, the dry, dehydrated bones sold in pet shops, usually beef, would be much harder than a good raw bone from the butcher.
      The best long term approach is to work with a veterinary homeopath to increase the overall health of your dogs, and this one in particular, now that you know there is some tooth weakness. That can be a sign of inherited or acquired chronic disease, and there’s nothing like homeopathy to route chronic disease.

      • Carolina Mazzulla on July 30, 2013 at 10:06 am

        Thank you for your response! I’m in the process of finding a veterinary homeopath and have one or two I’m researching. Keep the knowledge coming! 🙂

  6. Wanda on July 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

    What is a good food for my tiny dogs ? I am cooking their food at the moment but it’s all very confusing as to quality of pet food .

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 26, 2013 at 5:50 am

      Hi Wanda,
      This page will give you some great ideas. The size of the dog doesn’t matter: you are feeding a wolf!
      Best of luck and thanks for stopping by.

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