Spring Checkup - Natural Preventative Care
with Allison Shalla of homeoPAWthic, Wellness Advocate

Since now is the time many pet parents are preparing for things like routine vaccinations/boosters, flea, tick & heartworm preventatives, I wanted to share this information packet that I provide to all my wellness clients. I hope you will find some helpful information here to assist you in putting together a natural preventative care plan.

Safer Vaccinations 

I highly recommend using the minimal vaccine protocol developed by Dr. Jean Dodds. It is quite widely accepted by open-minded vets (some are still stuck on yearly routine vaccines which is unnecessary and harmful). Titer testing is done in-house in many vet clinics now - if yours doesn't offer it, I can help you find clinics that do. Especially as pets age, or in pets with health issues, it is imperative to do as much as possible to keep their immune system healthy and avoid unnecessary vaccinations and chemicals (flea & tick medications etc). 

It is equally important to ensure they are vaccinated for the core vaccinations, but research shows that after dogs have received their full set of puppy vaccines (followed by 3-year rabies vaccine 1 year after initial vaccination), they do not need any further boosters for AT LEAST another 3 years. Titer tests measure the level of immunity present in the body, so you can be sure they are still protected. Once the antibodies reach a low level, you can then booster at that time as needed. 

Note that Rabies titers are NOT accepted as legal proof of vaccination in Ontario and in order to comply with by-law, Rabies should follow the regular 3-year vaccination schedule. I have attached Dr. Jean Dodds’ Minimal Vaccine Schedule. Unfortunately, not all vets take the time to explain this and provide this option. I have created a video that you can watch here

Flea & Tick Prevention 

Regarding flea & tick meds, particularly Bravecto. In 2018, the FDA released this warning to pet owners about the neurological side effects being reported with many common flea & tick preventatives including Bravecto, Simparica, Nexgard, Revolution and more. There is a class-action lawsuit happening right now against Merck re: Bravecto. Since 2018, 2100 dogs have died with connections to Bravecto and another 8500+ have reported adverse effects related to using it. Of all the "Big 5" flea & tick meds warned about in this FDA warning, Bravecto has the worst reputation and seemingly worst side effects. There is a whole facebook page dedicated to pet parents who believe the drug killed their dog and my own dog is living proof of this risk. In 2014 she had a terrible reaction to Nexgard which took us 2 years to recover from. 

Just this week, an article was posted in USA Today reporting pet deaths & other adverse reactions from using the Seresto collar - which has been a popular "alternative" to the chemical preventatives mentioned above. This article outlines how Seresto collars work - by releasing small amounts of pesticide onto the animal for months at a time. This product has been touted as a "safer alternative", when in fact, an EPA spokesperson made this statement: "No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk".

Safe alternatives: 

It is also important to note that even when using these chemicals, Lyme can still be contracted. There are several natural products that can be used alone, or in combination, to effectively repel ticks without the risks of creating seizures or other side effects. You can find more here. I recommend the use of EM Collars for both fleas & ticks. Myself and many others have great success using these collars alone, but some in high-risk areas with very active lifestyles feel they need to use them in conjunction with other natural products such as a pet-safe spray (this one is also excellent for repelling mosquitos and blackflies which EM Collars do not work against – see more below re: mosquitos & heartworm), and also an herbal supplement called Earth M.D. Flea & Tick Prevention (Outdoor Shield). 

Heartworm Prevention 

*Note - pictured in the header photo is Posie - our first ever heartworm foster dog who we successfully treated with a natural heartworm protocol! She is a happy, healthy dog today living her happily furever after :)

Re: Heartworms prevention meds. You must understand how to assess your dog’s risk level based all the factors that allows Heartworm disease to develop. Visit this link to learn how to assess your dogs’ risk factors based on climate and lifestyle and which months to give a preventative. Here are the main factors: 

  • A mosquito must bite a dog infected with Heartworm Disease (with a positive Microfilariae count) 
  • That mosquito must then bite another dog to infect it with the disease 
  • In order for the HW cycle to develop, the temperature must remain over 57 degrees Fahrenheit* throughout this period. In general, it takes a few weeks. The process goes faster in warmer weather. 

*see updated information below, there is now evidence that it requires the temperature to consistently remain over 80F or 27C for a minimum of 2 weeks. I am including both ranges to be on the safe side. 

  • When a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, the L3 is not deposited directly into the dog’s bloodstream. Instead, it is deposited in a tiny drop of mosquito “spit” adjacent to the mosquito bite. For transmission to occur there must be adequate humidity to prevent evaporation of this fluid droplet before the L3’s can swim through the mosquito bite and into the new host. 
  • In the newly infected dog, it takes about 6 to 7 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult heartworms. 
  • Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. 
  • Mosquitoes blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease. 

If you have assessed your risk and feel a monthly preventative is required, I recommend giving a single heartworm preventative like Interceptor (NOT Interceptor PLUS), as opposed to the combination preventatives for flea/tick/heartworm. Give a single preventative ONLY as needed based on your geographic risk level. Watch the temperature and give when you feel there is a risk. When following this plan, it is best to have your dogs tested for Heartworm (an inexpensive simple blood test) TWICE a year, instead of the standard once a year. This means that should your dog contract Heartworm, it will be caught early and can be easily treated using this natural protocol. I have helped hundreds of dogs coming from tropical countries be cured of Heartworm using this protocol. 

This protocol is the one I use, and based on where we live in Ottawa, ON Canada, I have not had to give a monthly preventative in 5 years based on the climate and our risk level. Our Holistic Veterinarian has approved this protocol for us. 

Here is some NEW information from Dr. Judy Morgan - it is an excellent read on the true risk of Heartworm. It really explains the climate requirements well: https://drjudymorgan.com/blogs/blog/heartworm-disease-transmission-prevention-diagnosis-treatment?fbclid=IwAR3ej_Hyu-7lRWeImK2LAZzobXb9dPu95aYx--zEfpAjRigoLk_vrYWYRLs 

It was previously thought that it was 21 degrees celsius for 10 days required for the heartworm lifecycle to complete, but her information states: L1 and L2 larvae require temperatures above 80 F (27 C) for a minimum of two weeks to reach L3, the infective stage. (This is new, as the old temperature stated was 57F.) 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

Allison Shalla of homeoPAWthic

Wellness Advocate
Dogly loves Allison because of her passion for using food to keep our dogs well and handling issues like ticks naturally.

Allison guides you

Allergies - Basic Nutrition - Fleas & Ticks - Vaccines Safety - Holistic Care - Natural Wellness

Allison is certified

Certified Canine Nutritionist - Diploma in Canine Studies