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I would like to present a book review done by Dr. Alan Miller, ND on the book “Food Pets Die For” by Ann N. Martin.
Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food
While living in Canada, Ms. Martin's two dogs became ill after eating a dry commercial dog food. She had the food analyzed by two independent labs, as well as a Ministry of Agriculture lab. The independent labs determined there was a toxic level of zinc in the dog food. After nine months of waiting for the government lab to finish its testing, the results indicated there were no toxic mineral levels. She took the pet food manufacturer to court to recover the costs of her veterinary bills and the testing, and subsequently lost the case. This began her seven-year investigation of the pet food industry.
Ms. Martin claims her investigation uncovered shocking, unknown practices of the pet food industry, including the use of diseased livestock, road kill, and euthanized pets in pet food. These are very strong allegations; however, the author says many communities contract with companies to dispose of road kill and euthanized pets. Pet owners assume their animal will be incinerated/cremated, but sometimes the contract companies sell the animals to a rendering plant, which sends the rendered material on to a pet food manufacturing plant. This is an aesthetic issue, as well as a safety issue, according to the author. Sodium pentobarbital, used widely in euthanasia, is not degraded during rendering, leaving drug residue in the meat. Ms. Martin also suggests levels of other drugs in pet foods, including antibiotics and hormones, as well as molds and fungi, may be high enough to cause harm to pets.
The parts of beef, sheep, fish, and other animals commonly used in pet food are, according to the author, often "unfit for human consumption," including spinal cords, cartilage, bone, lungs, brains, hooves, hair, intestines, fish heads and viscera.
Of the states in the U.S. which responded when contacted by the author, none had laws on the books specifically prohibiting the use of companion pets in pet food. These findings led her to investigate who regulates this industry and she found, although there are government agencies in the U.S. and Canada which govern how pet food is labeled, there is no governmental body which oversees and enforces exactly what is allowed to be used in pet foods.
The bottom line: Ms. Martin suggests pet owners not buy into the pet food industry's claims that pets can receive 100 percent of their necessary nutritional needs by ingesting pre-packaged commercial food. She advocates eschewing commercial foods and opting for a wholesome homemade diet which incorporates the protein, carbohydrates, and fats pets need. She provides recipes and other helpful hints for maintaining optimally healthy pets, and lists sources of necessary vitamins and minerals.
Ann Martin's book, Foods Pets Die For, provides information rarely seen anywhere else. It is a shocking, sometimes disgusting look into the pet food industry, and should open the reader's eyes regarding the sources of the "nutrition" most Americans trust as their pets' sole food source.
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Some major veterinary colleges such as Colorado State University, along with a growing number of veterinarians in private practice, now question if the risks of yearly vaccinations might outweigh the risks of animals contracting some of these diseases. Titer testing, described below, gives a pet owner a good indication how often an animal companion should be vaccinated. Even the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) cautions against excessive vaccinations. In August 1999, the AAHA released its opinion paper regarding vaccinations. The AAHA President, Michael Paul, DVM, wrote, "The intent of the opinion paper is to encourage veterinarians to consider vaccination procedures as medical decisions and not automatic actions prompted by a calendar."(4)
Although some veterinary colleges and veterinarians are stating publicly that pets are immune to these diseases for one, two, three years, and even longer after the initial vaccinations, it is still common practice in the United States and Canada for veterinarians to recommend yearly vaccinations. The necessity of frequent vaccinations is now being called into question.
Jean Dodds, DVM, a veterinarian in private practice in Santa Monica, California and one of the foremost experts in pet vaccinations, believes that vaccinations with single or combination modified live virus are increasingly recognized contributors to immune-mediated blood diseases, bone marrow failure, and organ dysfunction. Dr. Dodds also lists leukemia, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, diabetes and lymphoma as diseases that can be triggered by vaccines. "Combining viral antigens, especially those of modified live virus (MLV) type, which multiply in the host, elicits a stronger antigenic challenge to the animal," explains Dr. Dodds in an article on the immune system. "This is often viewed as desirable because a more potent immunogen presumably mounts a more effective and sustained immune response. However, it can also overwhelm the immuno compromised or even a healthy host that is continually bombarded with other environmental stimuli and has a genetic predisposition that promotes adverse response to viral challenge." (5)
In October 2000, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published a study that was undertaken by Dodds and Lisa Twark, DVM. The purpose of the study was to assess whether serum canine parvovirus (CPV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) antibody titers, (titer tests are discussed later in this chapter) could determine revaccination protocols in healthy dogs. For this study, 1,441 dogs were used ranging in age from six weeks to seventeen years.
The interval between the last vaccination and the antibody measurement using a titer test was from one to two years for the majority of dogs, 60 percent, and two to seven years for 30.3 percent, and one year for 9.6 percent of the dogs used in the study. The conclusion arrived at by Drs. Twark and Dodds: “The high prevalence of adequate antibody responses (CPV 95.1%; CDV 97.6%) in this large population of dogs suggests that annual revaccination against CPV and CDV may not be necessary. (6)<
All packages of vaccinations carry warnings that they should be injected only in healthy animals. In the case of cats, vaccine manufacturers advise against vaccinating pregnant or nursing cats. However, many pets are not healthy when vaccinated although they might not have outward signs of health problems. Charles Loops, DVM, a holistic veterinarian from Pittsboro, North Carolina, notes that "chemically killed viruses or bacteria are injected directly into the blood stream, which is an unnatural route of infection." (7) This causes the animal’s antibodies to attempt to fight off the offending virus molecules and render them harmless. If the animal’s immune system is too weakened, he or she cannot fight off these viruses and can develop a reaction to the vaccine. Even small amounts of a virus that is introduced through a vaccination may be too much for sick animals to fight off. They then may fall ill from the very disease to which they have been vaccinated.
If you have concerns about vaccinating your pet, Michael Lemmon, DVM, suggests the following: "First, don't vaccinate your dog or cat when he is showing any signs of illness. If your pet is already ill, his immune system may not be able to produce antibodies the vaccination is supposed to stimulate; and he stands a chance of being overwhelmed by the small amount of virus in the vaccine, and succumbing to the illness he’s being vaccinated against." (8)
Some veterinarians believe that vaccines are outright damaging to our pets. Dr. Loops writes in an article, "Veterinarians and animal guardians have to come to realize that they are not protecting animals from disease by annual vaccinations, but in fact, are destroying the health and immune system of these same animals they love and care for." (9) In the same article, Christina Chambreau, DVM, Founder and Chairperson of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, expresses similar views: "Routine vaccinations are probably the worst thing that we do for our animals. They cause all types of illnesses but not directly to where we would relate them definitely to be caused by the vaccine."(10)
Cats and Vaccinations
In the early 1990s the vaccination of cats was beginning to draw concern from cat owners as well as from veterinarians who noted that cats were developing tumors within weeks and months of being vaccinated.
DVM Magazine ran an interesting article on the possible connection between vaccinations and feline sarcomas. "In 1998, Mattie J. Hendrick, DVM, a pathologist with the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, began to notice something odd," writes Lynn Brakeman, senior editor of DVM Magazine "out of the thousands of biopsies she was analyzing each week, a surprising number of cats (and cats only) were showing the same kind of inflammatory lesion at vaccine sites. By 1990, she and her colleagues had diagnosed a surprising number of fibrosarcomas in the dorsal portion of the neck and interscapular regions of cats." (11) But the question still remained as to what was causing the sarcomas to develop in cats receiving these vaccinations and how many cats were actually succumbing to fibrosarcomas?
In November 1996 a ten-member task force assembled to address the issue of sarcoma formation at injection sites of the commonly used feline vaccines. The task force included members of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Assocation (AVMA), and Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS). The AVMA states: “The objectives of the task force were to define the true scope and incidence of the problem, determine the casual and prognostic factors of the syndrome, and develop an interim plan to educate and inform veterinarians and the public.” (12) Veterinarians were to be updated on research findings and on new vaccines that were licensed.
In 1998 the task force made its initial vaccine site recommendations. “In short, the task force recommends that vaccines containing rabies antigens be given as distally as possible in the right rear limb, vaccines containing feline leukemia virus antigen (unless containing rabies antigen as well) be given as distally as possible in the left rear limb, and vaccines containing any other antigens except rabies or feline leukemia virus be given on the right shoulder.”(13)
Cats often develop small lumps at vaccination sites but these bumps usually disappear within one or two weeks. Theresa A. Fuess, PhD, an Information Specialist at the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, wrote a paper on the cancer risks in cats published by the University of Illinois. “The shortest time for cancer to develop is three months, but it can take as long as three and a half years,” explained Dr. Fuess. “If your cat develops a lump that persists more than a month and a half it should be evaluated by a specialists right away. Removal of a lump at six weeks is minor surgery; at three months it is major surgery.” (14)
A friend of mine who has owned Siamese cats for many years and who has had them vaccinated annually, was horrified to find that one of her cats had developed a lump at the site of the injection for FeLV within a few weeks of the vaccination. She did not delay in getting her cat to the vet where the lump was removed before it had a chance to spread. If your cat does develop a lump at the site of the injection, don’t delay in seeing your vet. Surgical removal with wide margins is crucial since this type of tumor can spread quickly.
In a presentation to the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1998, Guillermo Couto, DVM and Dennis W. Macy, DVM, MS presented data to the American Veterinary Medical Association on the number of cats who maybe affected with the vaccine-related sarcomas. In their paper, “Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force,” the veterinarians state, “The prevalence of soft tissue sarcomas after vaccination varies between 1 and 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 cats. If this prevalence is to be applied to the 1991 cat population of the United States, a total of 22,000 vaccine-induced tumors developed in 1991.” (15)
Another theory that has developed in the last few years is the use of vaccines containing aluminum-based adjuvants. An adjuvant is a substance that is used to facilitate immune stimulation with a killed virus. This material holds the virus in the area of the vaccination for a couple of weeks so it can be released slowly, allowing immune stimulation to take place over a period of time.
According to Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DABVP (Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners,) “Recently, fibrosarcomas have been removed from areas of the body typically used for vaccination and, to the surprise of the veterinary profession, particles of aluminum-based vaccine ingredients (called ‘adjuvants’) were discovered within the tumor.” (16)
Aluminum-based adjuvants have been known to induce vaccine site inflammation but the role they might play in causing fibrosarcomas is still unknown.
Chapter Seven: Over-Vaccination and Disease References:
1. Rabies Prevention in Washington State: A Guide for Practitioners. “The Epidemiology of Rabies,” bulletin, 1997.
2. Pet Vaccination Education. “Diseases Your Pet Should Be Protected Against,” Vet Care Vaccination Services, Inc. Huntington Beach, California, website: www.mobilepetcare.com/diseasedog.htm.
4. Michael Paul, DVM, “AAHA releases Opinion Paper on Vaccine Issues,” DVM Magazine, November 1999.
5. Jean Dodds, DVM, Lisa Twark, DVM, “Clinical Use of Serum Parvovirus and Distemper Virus Antibody Titers for Determining Revaccination Strategies in Healthy Dogs” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 217: 2000, pp. 1021-1024.
7. Charles Loops, DVM, “The Dangers of Vaccinations, and the Advantages of Nosodes In Disease Prevention,” July 3, 2000, website:
8. Pat Lazarus, Keep Your Pet Healthy the Natural Way, New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1983 citing Dr. Michael Lemmon, DVM, p. 120.
9. Health World On Line. “‘Vaccination in Animals,” excerpted from Wolf Clan Magazine, April/May 1995, website: www.healthy.net/library/articles/ivn/animals.htm.
10. Ibid. Christina Chambreau, Wolf Clan Magazine.
11. Lynne Brakeman, Senior Editor, DVM Breaking News. “Extra: Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcomas. Coalition Organizes Research into Feline Sarcomas,” DVM Newsmagazine, August 1997.
12. American Veterinary Medical Association, “Feline Sarcoma Task Force Meets,” website, 1997. www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/feb97/s020197f.html
13. American Veterinary Medical Assocation, “Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force,” website, 1998. www.avma.org/vafstf/sitercmnd.asp
14.Theresa A. Fuess, PhD, Information Specialist, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine. “Study Will Pinpoint Cancer Risk In Cat Vaccines,” Pet Column for the Week of August 18, 1997.
15. C. Guillermo Couto, DVM, Dennis W. Macy, DVM, MS, “Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force,” American Veterinary Medical Association, presentation, 1998.
16. Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DABVP, “Vaccine FAQ's and General Information,” The Pet Care Forum, paper, 2000.
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