I'm not against holistic or natural medicine but there's a reason for many of the traditional standards of care in veterinary medicine. We recently had a very natural and holistic minded new client at our clinic who presented with a new mixed breed puppy with no known vaccination history. She consented to the Rabies vaccination because of the local laws but declined the routine puppy DHPP-C vaccination because she declared she would keep her puppy healthy with natural foods (which I'm thinking was not dog food or a balanced homemade diet). We explained the dangers of parvo etc. but you can't force someone to vaccinate their puppy-it's her dog after all. She also declined dewormer despite the fact that the stool sample was positive for roundworms and we explained the dangers not only to her puppy but to her four young children. She appreciated our input but was confident her natural dewormer she used at home would be fine (she also used in on her kids). Two weeks later she returned for her second puppy visit and rabies vaccine (since she was too young at the first visit) and the other doctor at our practice again explained about parvo vaccines and deworming (still positive for roundworms) and again she declined the vaccine and the dewormer.
A few weeks later the same puppy presented with some, but not all of the symptoms of Parvo. She had eaten several green tomatoes a few days ago and I encouraged her to have the parvo test run because I wanted to hospitalize the dog right away if it was parvo. If it was just gastritis she should respond pretty well to symptomatic treatment. The owner declined the test as she had read on the internet and was pretty sure the dog did not have Parvo and she could not afford to hospitalize her. She then declined some of the medications I had prescribed as she had a home remedy to try. The next day the puppy was worse and she came back for the meds but still declined to hospitalize the dog which we were more and more sure had parvo as she deteriorated rapidly. The puppy died at home shortly after that with the owner feeling like she had "done everything she could do."
Clearly not all vaccines need to be given to all pets every year, immunity for many diseases is long lasting and many pets are not at risk for certain things. But there was a reason for these vaccines to be created in the first place. Many of the diseases they protect against are deadly and there are many animals at risk at some time in their life for those disease. Thousands of puppies died from parvo-that's why the vaccine was created. Many puppies continue to do so today if they are not protected. The virus is everywhere in the environment and is hard to eradicate. Not vaccinating your puppy is risky and foolish and can lead to expensive vet bills, suffering of the puppy, and possible heartache. I don't vaccinate my 14 year old dog for parvo or my house cat for leukemia or my horses for rabies. The risk is not there. But parvo will kill puppies, they are at risk, there is a reason for the vaccines. Sometimes it seems that the vaccine has worked too well and people have forgotten what parvo is like because it's not as common and they don't see it. They take this to mean that the vaccine is not needed anymore and will do more harm than good in their puppy. But ask anyone whose puppy contracted the disease and I think they will disagree. And roundworms and hookworms can have devastating effects if transmitted to children. It's unbelievable to me that parents will knowingly not deworm their dog or puppy or fail to keep them on a monthly preventative. Even if they don't care about the dog shouldn't they want to protect their kids from diseases that can cause blindness, skin diseases and more? So just remember-there's a reason your veterinarian recommends things, and it's not to make money, and it's not because that's what they were taught it school, or it's the law, or there's a new product on the market. It's just because it's good for your pet.
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