The Truth About “Natural” Dog Food


The pet food industry discovered long ago that consumers are instantly attracted… like flies to honey… to any product labeled “natural”.  They know that just adding the word “natural” to a product’s name can significantly boost sales.

And that makes unwary shoppers easy targets for profit-hungry dog food companies.

OK, then… so what’s the real meaning of the words “natural dog food“?

Welcome to an Industry Where Confusion Rules

Unfortunately, within the dog food industry itself, there’s very little agreement on exactly what the phrase “natural dog food” really means…

Some say it means “whole”… like whole grains… or whole chickens.  Others think it means food that’s raw… or unprocessed.

Certainly, you’d think government agencies would know the answer to that question… right?  What do they say about natural dog food?

Well, in two words… not much.

The truth is… there are no federal regulations concerning the use of the word “natural” when marketing dog food.

So, as a result, natural can mean just about anything a dog food company wants it to mean.

Well… almost.

A Better Way to Think of Natural Dog Food

What if you were to use the word “natural” to simply describe dog food that doesn’t contain anything chemically processed… or artificial?

Thankfully, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), has adopted this idea of “nothing artificial” as its recommended standard for “natural” pet food1 .

Now, you’ve got something you can actually use to help you screen for better quality dog food.

OK, here’s what you need to know…

Basically, there are three kinds of artificial ingredients…

  • Artificial flavoring
  • Artificial coloring
  • Artificial preservatives

The first type, artificial flavoring, is rarely used to make dog food.  So, flavoring isn’t really an issue.

The second type, artificial color, is of absolutely no interest to a dog.  Do you really think a dog cares that his food is dark red… or forest green?

No… of course not.

Artificial colors are only added to a dog food for one sinister reason… to scam us humans into believing our dogs will be stupid enough to see the colored shapes as real pieces of meat… or fresh garden vegetables.

Hey, don’t fall for that trick.  Avoid buying multicolored kibble like the one you see in the photo.

And always remember… colors and shapes are never put there to satisfy your dog.  They’re added to deceive you… to mislead you into thinking you’re buying a higher quality product.

By now, I hope you’re beginning to see why you must be especially vigilant when considering the purchase of “natural” dog food.

We’ve talked about why so many companies use the word “natural” to market their products.  And we’ve covered two of the three kinds of artificial additives… flavorings and colorings.

Now… discover the dangerous world of dog food preservatives.

  1. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 129
  • Amie Colbert

    nice post

  • daisy1999

    Thank you to both you and Sandy in regards to this product.  Looks to be similar to the oils I know others use.  The price looks decent.  I will have to check the health food store and see what mixing my own batches would cost.  As a disclaimer, so as to not have this used against me in the future, just because I like this product doesnt mean I believe or even remotely agree with Dr. Mercola on some things 😉

  • Shawna

    Daisy1999 ~~  Dr. Karen Becker DVM has a recently posted article on fleas including nematodes that may be useful to you…  They are apparently not right for every environment..

    “Nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that eat flea larvae. Many people have had success using them in their gardens and yards to keep the flea population under control.

    Under the right conditions, nematodes work quite well. They can be applied with a lawn sprayer and have been known to reduce the flea population by 80 percent in 24 hours. More research is needed, but it seems nematodes are most effective in moist, sandy soil away from direct sunlight. The worms don’t survive in the hot sun. (Fortunately, neither do fleas.) Nematodes can be purchased at some pet stores, nurseries and online.”

  • daisy1999

    Thank you.  Especially regarding the nematodes for the yard.  I have been done a lot of researching on that as I don’t know ANYONE that uses it so I am happy to finally know someone that does.  There are those that have heard of it and just haven’t tried it, but the ones that haven’t look at me like I have 2 heads.  I am def.  concerned about the yard as there are stray cats in the neighborhood.  We have had a crazy warm winter and a predicted worse than usual flea/tick season.  So, I am worried.  I can’t even begin to tell you about the fleas when I moved here.  When you walked in or were in the yard they were all over you.  So, problem being I demanded the landlord take care of it as I WAS NOT moving myself and son, and certainly not my dogs here.  So, she had to spend a small fortune as she couldn’t get rid of them.  Exterminators had to use “the strongest stuff available” in house and yard.  So then I wouldnt move in either for 2 months.  So, the last thing I want is to mess up and let them get fleas because I’m afraid she would toss us out after the fit I made.  I’m trying to compare the things I am finding with what people are saying then seeing what will be most cost effective that should work as I def. don’t have money right now.  Regarding the DE, I have read up on it.  On the fence.  While I am a believer in trying to minimize chemicals, I also have my own reasonings as to why sometimes you just can’t avoid your heartworm preventative.  We have a very high incidence.  I’ve fostered dogs through the treatment.  Horrifying to say the least!  I did find some really nice research that bases it upon where you live.  It was done by a holistic vet.  It was based on where you lived, the incidence of infection, and I think when infection was highest.  And then gave a guide as to how often to use the preventatives and have your pet tested.  That way you don’t have to treat year round and can reduce exposure to the med and catch and infection in the early stages with more frquent testing.  It was along those lines.  I would have to pull it back up for exacts but there were other type articles.  I might consider this type of approach combined with the DE powder.  Ok, sorry I am so totally longwinded. 

  • Shawna

    Side note, the dog in my avatar has had her initial set of puppy shots for distemper, parvo and adeno (before she came to me) and that is it..  She has never been revaccinated for anything nor has she been titered as the titer results would not influence my decision to not vaccinate.  And yes, she has not received even one rabies vac.  She has a for life rabies exemption due to being born with kidney disease.

    I live in the city but live along a creek and have lots of wild animals (turkey buzzards, deer as well as the normal skunks, racoons etc).  I also have fostered for the last six years.

  • Shawna

    I think if you had read some of Toxed’s other posts you would have found that she is not one to say do not vaccinate for rabies or anything else.  You just picked up on the wrong post at the wrong time…  Since Kevin (from what I can tell) wasn’t really addressing vacs I’m assuming he would have asked questions if the article brought up any… 

  • Shawna

    Hi Melissa 🙂

    Please read my post to Daisy1999 regarding info quoted from Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock..

    I would also say that I can’t believe that Dodds or Schultz would risk their reputation by linking themselves to unproven speculation or client only reports…  Just doesn’t seem a prudent thing to do for a well respected scientist in the top of his field and a well respected vet…

  • Shawna

    Hi Daisy1999 ~~ Sorry for the delay in my response..  Rescue stuff yesterday and traveling today…

    I must admit I am a bit tired and not sure I am fully comprehending everything so forgive me if I misinterpreted etc.. 

    Are you suggesting that Catherine O’Driscoll is misinforming people about “brain infammation” as a result of vaccinations?  I will agree, she bounces around some and the article was a bit hard for me to follow in my somewhat brain dead state 🙂

    If yes, I would like to point out some information from human Neurosurgeon (brain surgeon for those reading that are not familiar) Dr. Russell Blaylock says about vaccinations and the brain…  There is so much of this article that I want to quote but to keep this post to a minimum length I tried to control myself 🙂

    “Vaccination and Brain Inflammation
    A great number of studies have shown that when you vaccinate an animal, the body’s inflammatory cytokines not only increase dramatically, but so do the brain’s inflammatory chemicals. The brain has its own immune system that is intimately connected to the body’s immune system. The main immune cell in the brain is called a microglia. Normally, these brain cells are lying throughout the brain in a resting state (called ramified). Once activated, they can move around, traveling between brain cells like amoeba (called amoeboid microglia).

    In the resting state, they release chemicals that support the growth and protection of brain cells and their connections (dendrites and synapses). But when activated, they secrete a number of very harmful chemicals, including inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, complement, free radicals, lipid peroxidation products, and two excitotoxins — glutamate and quinolinic acid…..

    What researchers knew was that during this period of activation, people generally feel bad and that what they experience closely resembles depression — a condition called “sickness behavior”. Most of us have experience this when suffering from a viral illness — such things as restlessness, irritability, a need to get away from people, trouble sleeping, fatigue and difficulty thinking…..

    There is also another immune phenomenon that plays a major role in vaccine-related brain injury. Researchers discovered that when you vaccinate an animal, the brain microglia immune cells turn on partially (called priming), that is, they are in a state of high readiness. If the immune system is activated again soon after (days, weeks to months), these microglia explode into action secreting levels of their destructive chemicals far higher than normal. This overreaction can be very destructive and make you feel very depressed.

    Studies have shown that there are two phases to this “sickness behavior”; one in which we have the flu-like symptoms and a later onset of depression-like symptoms that can last awhile. They have also shown that all of these symptoms are due to high levels of inflammatory cytokines in the brain, which come from activated microglia.

    Studies have shown that these adjuvants, from a single vaccine, can cause immune overactivation for as long as two years. This means that the brain microglia remain active as well, continuously pouring out destructive chemicals. In fact, one study found that a single injection of an immune activating substance could cause brain immune overactivation for over a year. This is very destructive.”

    I do agree that when addressing vaccines we need to address the laws regarind rabies but Toxed wasn’t really addressing the issue of vaccines on an in depth level..  I often get chastized for not being concise enough..  It is for this reason that I tend to be wordy..  If you don’t address every angle someone is going to call you out.  When you do address every issue (you can think of) some won’t read simply because of the length..  Lose/lose in some cases…

  • Cheryl & Pepper

    This is Cheryl & Pepper-I usually post on the BB canned grain free thread but just reading this i couldn’t help replying. My mini schnauzer 8 1/2 y.o. had EXACTLY the same reaction on the K9AdvantixII-shaking acting spooked-it scared me to death-brought her to the ER it was so bad. I live in the south bug capitol of the world, I bought the Mercola Spray-I can’t risk going through that experience again. I don’t know if that would help with Lyme but something has to be better than the toxic poison. Didn’t mean to butt in the conversation-at least i know other people experienced this also. My vet suggested i try Frontline,guess it’s just as bad as the k9.
    Good luck,
    Cheryl & Pepper

  • I’ve just used the Mercola flea & tick spray. So far so good. And I use Antidote nematodes in the yard. DE powder I put in their food sometimes as a wormer, not in the yard or bedding (yet).

    DE powder

  • daisy1999

    I stand corrected.  You are right.  The CDC had guidelines, but it is the state that makes the rules.  Also, in some cases with the 10 day quarantine owners can keep the pet on their property.  So, where there are variations in the ramifications, we agree that we wouldnt want to be subjected to them.  I know at one time PA had the highest rabies rate.  I believe we still do, but don’t quote me on it.  When I was a little girl, I was beyond thrilled, as I had been asking for a pet racoon forever, when one in broad daylight came walking right up to me.  I picked it up and took it to show my dad, who almost had a heart attack I believe.  I was traumatized for life when he shot it.  Yes, it was rabid!  So, yes vaccines are a problem, things like Frontline can be a problem, but so are Lymes and Rabies.  Its not a win/win situation.

  • daisy1999

    She had a fever and shaking.  My dog with Lymes did fine on the antibiotics thank goodness.  She actually came up completely negative on her last titer.  I’m currently in a struggle with Frontline.  Since one had the vomiting and shaking with last dose.  The dawn dish soap bath did work in stopping it.  On top of everything, the silly beagle who couldn’t get along with anyone for the past 2 yrs, now has taken to being everyone’s best friend.  She finally stopped trying to be boss and now gives everyone a head to toe bath everyday.  Well, now I can’t put it on anyway.  The vet says “well just separate her for 48-72 hrs”.  Oh yeah.  The dog with the separation anxiety from h**l-every month.  So we have a huge lyme prob.  Practically all the puppymill dogs I have gotten have had it.  We used to run an outpt infusion center off our floor at the hospital and the amount of Lymes patients just got worse and worse.  And, after losing my house this year when I moved into my rental, it was the most disgusting flea infestation ever.  And I have NEVER had a case of fleas except with those that came with them.  So, I am looking into the natural stuff and hoping for the best.

  • melissa


    that actually varies by state. In NY, if your UNVACCINATED pet bites someone(or is bitten by a wild animal or animal with unknown vaccine history, the animal is on a 6mth quarantine) a VACCINATED dog gets the 10 day quarantine. Yes, the ramifications of not vaccinating can be great.

  • daisy1999

    And, I forgot to furthermore point out.  Why I did make the comment about rabies indeed being the law.  While I agree about the titers, nothing was even presented to him about the option.  It was just like, don’t vaccinate your dog.  Which is also not prudent but a choice in some vaccines.  But with rabies it is not.  And, if someone is led to believe they should never vaccinate again because of the potential consequences without knowing the consequences of the law that is not prudent information.  It should be told when presenting this info, not only the importance of making sure you get a titer to make sure your dog has protection against the diseases that can be fatal, but what can happen if you don’t keep up to date on rabies.  Without a titer, you are not guaranteed your pet has immunity putting not only your pet but others at danger.  If your pet bites someone, it will be quarantine for 10 days at your cost to make sure it isnt sick.  And, this can be extremely emotionally taxing for the person that was bitten, especially the parent of a bitten child.  But, worse is if your pet is bitten by a suspected rabid animal.  6months in quaratine at your expense.  In most cases it is recommended the pet be destroyed immediately, but I believe you have to be given this option if you can afford it.  I would just like to see people be given all the information.

  • melissa


    Sounds like the wheaten’s response to the vaccine. Within 24 hrs, he got stiff, sore, and everytime he tried to move he would scream in pain . After that , no one got the vaccine here. We have quite the problem with deer ticks here, and every one is treated with Frontline. In 12 yrs, we have had one come up positive, and due to his reaction to antibiotics, he could not be treated orally. His immune system was able to fight off the infection and he has since tested negative.

  • melissa


    I think attempting to label behavior problems as a direct result of vaccines is something that can not be accurately done. It seems to me, that it would be dependent too heavily on owner interpretation. Sure, I could see some dogs getting sore from the vaccine, and perhaps then snarling/growling or biting if someone attempted to mess with them directly after. In that case the cause and effect would be obvious-but transient.

    Attempting to say that the dog became aggressive solely due to the vaccine(aggressive that lasted and was problematic) is a much harder thing to rate, and something I would take with a grain of salt. I would guess that the correlation between aggressive and vaccine came from owners reporting that their dog had behavioral issues post vaccination-however, how many of those dogs had issues prior to vaccination that simply started to escalate as the dog aged that the owners failed to recognize or simply choose to ignore thinking the puppy behavior was cute?

  • daisy1999

    Yes, what you have said here is exactly what I was trying to point out.  I don’t disagree with overvaccinating.  If you would read would I said, I even stated that I am a supporter of this and told Kevin so.  But, kindly read why the article that was given to him as supporting this was such a poor choice.  I clearly pointed it out.  If you read it and still think, well geez that makes sense.  So, be it.  But, in trying to tell someone this.  If they don’t know about overvaccinating and then first just decide to read this article and actually really look into it.  They are liable to just say, well what a load of crap and then not further give the idea a chance as being a credible subject.

  • Shawna

    Wow, I totally missed this ongoing conversation til just now…  Sorry I didn’t have your back Toxed…

    Dr. Ronald Schultz Pathobiologist and leading expert on animal vaccination in the US and one of three on the World board (blanking on the name but I can find it if you would like). 

    This quote comes from the Rabies Challenge Fund — which Dr. Schultz is one of three members.

    “Immunologically, the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions such as polyneuropathy resulting in muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, incoordination, and weakness, auto-immune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are all linked to the rabies vaccine. It is medically unsound for this vaccine to be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity, yet scientific research strongly indicates that the 3 year booster interval required by state laws may be unnecessary. French challenge study results published in 1992 showed that dogs were immune to rabies 5 years after vaccination and Dr. Ronald Schultz’s serological studies proved that dogs have antibody titer counts at levels known to confer immunity to rabies 7 years after vaccination.”

    Please note “aggression” as an adverse reaction of the rabies vaccine.

  • daisy1999

    That’s interesting, as everyone used to get the Lymes vaccine as we are in a Lymes mecca.  So, that could have been her culprit.  I just give her benedryl before anything now and never a problem again.  I only have one currently that gets Lymes.  A beagle that came to me with a case a severe she could barely walk or stand for you to touch her.  And , I know its controversial as to whether its even called for in an already infected, but I’d rather hope for the best.

  • daisy1999

    On the contrary, I am read in this subject.  After having one of my rescues have a reaction, I did learn how to not overvaccinate.  Because I do know what I’m talking about is why I found that article to be so completely silly.  There are plenty out there that would have been appropriate.

  • melissa

     Hmmm.. I just pulled up a bunch of labels online and do not see this. I will have to look further into it as I have never heard such a thing linking the health status to Federal law. If this is the case, very interesting, and I would think it would be easier for owners to get exemptions if warranted.

  • melissa


    butting in here, lol. Its a fact that some dogs will have issues with vaccines, and these can be long term issues. However, I do not believe its as common as some would like us to believe, nor do I think its as rare as others would like us to believe. I will say in all the dogs I have owned, rescued and rehabbed, we have only had ONE vaccine reaction-a wheaten to lyme disease and at that point we stopped vaccinating for it. I vaccinate, but I do not OVER vaccinate-and its up to the individual owner to determine what that fine line is. There is 2 sides to every ‘story” and for the record, no one should ever take one persons opinion on the internet as the gold standard of begin all, end all.  The best I can say is that each and every owner needs to weight out the pros and cons and then decide-its you and your pet that will have to live with the results-good, bad or indifferent-not the anonymous screen names.

  • Toxed2loss

    The manufacturer states “for use in healthy animals” in accordance with Feredal law.

  • melissa


    Re your comment about “violation of federal law’. I have not, to date, ever seen such a statement on any rabies vaccines products. Most simply state “For the vaccination of healthy dogs, cats etc etc” “Sold to veterinarians only” is another common disclaimer. The only “Federal law” violation that I have ever seen listed on a vaccine package, is a multiple dose one, and that typically states ” in the absence of a client/patient relationship, federal law prohibits the repackaging, redistribution, or reselling of individual contents of this package” To the best of my knowledge, the Federal government does not get involved with stating the health status of an animal vaccinated-the manufacturer does by stating “for healthy animals”. If you have a federal law to cite re this, I would be most interested in reading it.

  • daisy1999

    And, for the record iatrogenic disease is defined as “an inadvertant adverse effect or complication resulting from medical treatment or advice, including that of psychologists, therapists, pharmacists, nurses, physicians and dentists.  Iatrogenesis is not restricted to conventional medicine.  It can also result from complementary and ALTERNATIVE medicine treatments.”
    And, Iatrogenic Disease IS NOT a leading cause of death.  That article states it is the 3rd which is entirely false.  Its COPD per all the money making liars.

  • Toxed2loss

    Yes, I’ve titered my dog. However, you are justna bit out of context… Or maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Kevin asked why wouldn’t his vet be aware of problems with topical flea treatments. I gave him those links to show that a lot of things can go wrong with allopathic veterinary medicine. Those were some examples…

    Obviously for you, vaccinosis is a hot button. I’m not sure if you’re accusing me, or Ms. O’Driscoll…? However, the fact is, by law, you can get an exemption in many states, if your dog’s health is compromised. In fact, it is a VIOLATION of Federal law to vaccinate an animal that is not healthy. It says so right on the vial!

    As for your saying that the article I chose was a “complete joke” I’d have to say it is obvious that you aren’t very well read in this area. If you had more background information, you could have followed it easily. By the way, I’ve read those studies and Ms. O’Driscoll didn’t write anything that wasn’t substantiated. But, here are a few of the many substantiating articles, that bear out the condition known as “vaccinosis,” and a little bit about why it happens. It is a very well documented problem.

    “When a perfectly healthy individual is given viruses that cause illness, the animal is going to manifest illness-related symptoms.  This healthy individual is asked to maintain a low-level stimulation of a state of distemper, a low level state of parvo, a low level state of rabies, and so on.  As long as you are in a low level state of illness you are not in a high level state of health.  Therefore, the vaccines provide protection by keeping the body in a diseased state of health.  Often the animal will not manifest the illness it is vaccinated for, at least not in its acute form, but it will manifest in other conditions.  Usually these conditions are inherited weaknesses. 
    Chronic symptoms look very much like the acute illnesses but they are often not life-threatening unless allowed to continue for years and years.

    For distemper we often see:

           Watery fluid dripping from the nose
           Conjunctivitis, eye discharge, entropion
           Chronic gastritis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, appetite disorders
           Recurrent diarrhea
           Sensitivity to food with resultant diarrhea
           Epilepsy, rear leg paralysis, spondylitis
           Lip fold dermatitis
           Excessive licking of feet, eruptions between the toes, allergies
           Kennel cough, chronic bronchitis
           Chronic skin eruptions, especially lower half of body
           Failure to thrive, abnormally thin

    For rabies we often see:

           Restless nature, suspicion of others, aggression to animals and people
           Changes in behavior:  aloofness, unaffectionate, desire to roam, OR clingy, separation anxiety, ‘velcro dog’
           Restraining can lead to violent behavior and self-injury
           Self-mutilation, tail chewing
           Voice changes, hoarseness, excessive barking
           Chronic poor appetite, very finicky
           Paralysis of throat or tongue, sloppy eaters, drooling
           Dry eye, loss of sight, cataract
           Eating wood, stones, earth, stool
           Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
           Seizures, epilepsy, twitching
           Increased sexual desire, sexual aggression
           Irregular pulse, heart failure
           Reverse sneezing

    Some of the illnesses you are familiar with include any auto-immune disease such as lupus, red cell aplasia, auto-immune hemolytic anemia cardiomyopathies; neoplasias such as fibrosarcomas, mast cell tumors, thyroid tumors, etc.; inflammatory bowel disease, eczematous ears, any dermatological condition, warts, lipomas, poor hair coats, stomatitis, periodontal disease, thyroid disease, and the list goes on and on. 
    Now you could be wondering why I am so bold to ‘blame’ all these and more on vaccines.  The reason is simple:  I have an empirical, call it experimental lab where I visit daily and watch the animals, year after year.  In the short years of my career I have seen the incredible increase in all these illnesses, some we never even learned in vet school.  In fact, my vet school is now primarily an oncology treatment center!  This was not the case a short 20 years ago.  I have also spoken with many vets who have practiced longer than I and their response is the same.  They did not see the level of chronic illness, nor the resistant and concretized type of illnesses that we see today. ” by: Dee Blanco who is a holistic veterinarian practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


    « Vaccinations | Main | Adverse Reactions »

    Changing Vaccine Procotols – by W Jean Dodds, DVM

    The challenge to produce effective and safe vaccines for the prevalent infectious diseases of humans and animals has become increasingly difficult. In veterinary medicine, evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis) is compelling. While some of these problems have been traced to contaminated or poorly attenuated batches of vaccine that revert to virulence, others apparently reflect the host’s genetic predisposition to react adversely upon receiving the single (monovalent) or multiple antigen “combo” (polyvalent) products given routinely to animals. Animals of certain susceptible breeds or families appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse reactions to vaccines. 

    The onset of adverse reactions to conventional vaccinations (or other inciting drugs, chemicals, or infectious agents) can be an immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reaction, or can occur acutely (24-48 hours afterwards), or later on (10-45 days) in a delayed type immune response often caused by immune-complex formation. Typical signs of adverse immune reactions include fever, stiffness, sore joints and abdominal tenderness, susceptibility to infections, central and peripheral nervous system disorders or inflammation, collapse with autoagglutinated red blood cells and jaundice, or generalized pinpoint hemorrhages or bruises. Liver enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may accompany bone marrow suppression. Furthermore, recent vaccination of genetically susceptible breeds has been associated with transient seizures in puppies and adult dogs, as well as a variety of autoimmune diseases including those affecting the blood, endocrine organs, joints, skin and mucosa, central nervous system, eyes, muscles, liver, kidneys, and bowel. It is postulated that an underlying genetic predisposition to these conditions places other littermates and close relatives at increased risk. Vaccination of pet and research dogs with polyvalent vaccines containing rabies virus or rabies vaccine alone was recently shown to induce production of antithyroglobulin autoantibodies, a provocative and important finding with implications for the subsequent development of hypothyroidism (Scott-Moncrieff et al, 2002). 

    Vaccination also can overwhelm the immunocompromised or even healthy host that is repeatedly challenged with other environmental stimuli and is genetically predisposed to react adversely upon viral exposure. The recently weaned young puppy or kitten entering a new environment is at greater risk here, as its relatively immature immune system can be temporarily or more permanently harmed. Consequences in later life may be the increased susceptibility to chronic debilitating diseases.

    As combination vaccines contain antigens other than those of the clinically important infectious disease agents, some may be unnecessary; and their use may increase the risk of adverse reactions. With the exception of a recently introduced mutivalent Leptospira spp. vaccine, the other leptospirosis vaccines afford little protection against the clinically important fields strains of leptospirosis, and the antibodies they elicit typically last only a few months. Other vaccines, such as for Lyme disease, may not be needed, because the disease is limited to certain geographical areas. Annual revaccination for rabies is required by some states even though there are USDA licensed rabies vaccine with a 3-year duration. Thus, the overall risk-benefit ratio of using certain vaccines or multiple antigen vaccines given simultaneously and repeatedly should be reexamined. It must be recognized, however, that we have the luxury of asking such questions today only because the risk of disease has been effectively reduced by the widespread use of vaccination programs.

    Given this troublesome situation, what are the experts saying about these issues? In 1995, a landmark review commentary focused the attention of the veterinary profession on the advisability of current vaccine practices. Are we overvaccinating companion animals, and if so, what is the appropriate periodicity of booster vaccines ? Discussion of this provocative topic has generally lead to other questions about the duration of immunity conferred by the currently licensed vaccine components. 

    In response to questions posed in the first part of this article, veterinary vaccinologists have recommended new protocols for dogs and cats. These include: 1) giving the puppy or kitten vaccine series followed by a booster at one year of age; 2) administering further boosters in a combination vaccine every three years or as split components alternating every other year until; 3) the pet reaches geriatric age, at which time booster vaccination is likely to be unnecessary and may be unadvisable for those with aging or immunologic disorders. In the intervening years between booster vaccinations, and in the case of geriatric pets, circulating humoral immunity can be evaluated by measuring serum vaccine antibody titers as an indication of the presence of immune memory. Titers do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and/or exposure to the disease, although the magnitude of immunity produced just by vaccination is usually lower (see Tables).

    Except where vaccination is required by law, all animals, but especially those dogs or close relatives that previously experienced an adverse reaction to vaccination can have serum antibody titers measured annually instead of revaccination. If adequate titers are found, the animal should not need revaccination until some future date. Rechecking antibody titers can be performed annually, thereafter, or can be offered as an alternative to pet owners who prefer not to follow the conventional practice of annual boosters. Reliable serologic vaccine titering is available from several university and commercial laboratories and the cost is reasonable (Twark and Dodds, 2000; Lappin et al, 2002; Paul et al, 2003; Moore and Glickman, 2004).

    * Veterinary Medicine, February, 2002. 
    Dodds WJ. More bumps on the vaccine road. Adv Vet Med 41:715-732, 1999.
    Dodds WJ. Vaccination protocols for dogs predisposed to vaccine reactions. J Am An Hosp Assoc 38: 1-4, 2001.
    Hogenesch H, Azcona-Olivera J, Scott-Moncreiff C, et al. Vaccine-induced autoimmunity in the dog. Adv Vet Med 41: 733-744, 1999.
    Hustead DR, Carpenter T, Sawyer DC, et al. Vaccination issues of concern to practitioners. J Am Vet Med Assoc 214: 1000-1002, 1999.
    Kyle AHM, Squires RA, Davies PR. Serologic status and response to vaccination against canine distemper (CDV) and canine parvovirus (CPV) of dogs vaccinated at different intervals. J Sm An Pract, June 2002.
    Lappin MR, Andrews J, Simpson D, et al. Use of serologic tests to predict resistance to feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, and feline parvovirus infection in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 220: 38-42, 2002.
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    Posted on September 18, 2006 1:16 AM | Permalink

    Vaccine adjuvants: Current state and future trends NIKOLAI PETROVSKY1 and JULIO CÉSAR AGUILAR2 1 Autoimmunity Research Unit, ANU Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2061, Australia and Vaccines Division, Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Ave. 31 e/158 y 190, Cubanacán, Apdo 6162, Ciudad, Habana, Cuba 2 Summary The problem with pure recombinant or synthetic antigens used in modern day vaccines is that they are generally far less immunogenic than older style live or killed whole organism vaccines. This has created a major need for improved and more powerful adjuvants for use in these vaccines. With few exceptions, alum remains the sole adjuvant approved for human use in the majority of countries worldwide. Although alum is able to induce a good antibody (Th2) response, it has little capacity to stimulate cellular (Th1) immune responses which are so important for protection against many pathogens. In addition, alum has the potential to cause severe local and systemic side-effects including sterile abscesses, eosinophilia and myofascitis, although fortunately most of the more serious side-effects are relatively rare. There is also community concern regarding the possible role of aluminium in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Consequently, there is a major unmet need for safer and more effective adjuvants suitable for human use. In particular, there is demand for safe and non-toxic adjuvants able to stimulate cellular (Th1) immunity. Other needs in light of new vaccine technologies are adjuvants suitable for use with mucosally-delivered vaccines, DNA vaccines, cancer and autoimmunity vaccines. Each of these areas are highly specialized with their own unique needs in respect of suitable adjuvant technology. This paper reviews the state of the art in the adjuvant field, explores future directions of adjuvant development and finally examines some of the impediments and barriers to development and registration of new human adjuvants.

    Vaccination Reactions: How to Handle an Anaphylactic Reaction due to a Vaccine
    Posted on: March 7, 2011
    Vaccine reactions! They are such a scary event. In fact, vaccination induced reactions creates anxiety not only for the pet owner, but the patient and veterinarian too.
    This page displays one example of a dog with a vaccine reaction to a rabies vaccine, manufactured by a reputable and professional veterinary pharmaceutical company and administered subcutaneously as recommended. Twelve months prior to the rabies vaccine given in this example, the dog (a three-year-old Dachshund) was vaccinated with a multivalent vaccine containing Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Corona and Parvo virus antigens. A mild reaction occurred to that vaccine administration. It is unknown to which fraction of that vaccine the dog reacted.
    Prior to this incident, the owners were fully informed about potential vaccine reactions and what to do if another one occurred. They requested a rabies vaccine only (they decided against giving further multivalent vaccinations) in order to conform to local ordinances and to ensure against possible infection from rabies due to the abundant wildlife present in the dog’s environment. The vaccine was administered after a discussion of potential good and undesirable effects of a vaccine.
    Two hours after the Rabies vaccine was administered the dog was readmitted for itching and head-shaking, and the presence of “hives” on the dog’s face and head. These eruptions on the skin, called a urticarial reaction, are rounded swollen raised areas of skin tissue that have responded locally to the administration of a substance to which the dog is allergic. 
    Hives are caused when the body releases histamine from a cell called a mast cell. The histamine then causes leaking of fluid into the surrounding body tissues from the small blood vessels and stimulates the nearby nerve endings producing the itching sensation. The dog was breathing normally but was uncomfortable. Fortunately the vast majority of vaccine reactions in the dog are similar to this case where the targeted tissue is the skin. 
    Though rare, the tracheal, laryngeal and bronchial tissues can swell, causing a constricted, spastic airway and breathing difficulties — all of which can have life-threatening consequences.

    Rabies Challenge Fund

    Why Challenge Current Rabies Vaccine Policy?

    Rabies vaccination is required by law in nearly all areas. Even though protection from rabies is documented to last at least three years, current law in some states or areas still requires that boosters be given annually or biannually rather than the standard policy of every three years. However, vaccination against rabies virus is occasionally associated with debilitating adverse effects. According to the CDC domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid. Scientific data indicate that vaccinating dogs against rabies every three years, as most states require, is unnecessary.
    Studies have shown the duration of protective immunity as measured by serum antibody titers against rabies virus to persist for seven years post-vaccination. By validating the ‘true’ life of rabies virus immunity and moving to five and hopefully seven years, we will decrease the risk of adverse reactions in our animals and minimize their repeated exposure to foreign substances. Killed vaccines like those for rabies virus can trigger both immediate and delayed adverse vaccine reactions (termed “vaccinosis”). While there may be immediate hypersensitivity reactions, other acute events tend to occur 24-72 hours afterwards, or up to 45 days later in the case of delayed reactions.
    Reactions that have been documented include:
    Behavior changes such as aggression and separation anxiety
    Obsessive behavior,self-mutilation, tail chewing
    Pica – eating wood, stones, earth, stool
    Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
    Seizures, epilepsy
    Fibrosarcomas at injection site
    Autoimmune diseases such as those affecting bone marrow and blood cells, joints, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system
    Muscular weakness and or atrophy
    Chronic digestive problems

    Rabies Exemptions and Waivers
    Rabies Vaccination is required by law. In some instances, it is possible to secure a written waiver for exemption from rabies booster vaccination. A letter justifying the medical reason for such exemption needs to be obtained from your primary care veterinarian. When seeking a waiver, a rabies serum antibody titer should be performed. Adequate serum rabies titers are at least 1:5 by the RFFIT method. Waiver requests are not generally accepted based on serum antibody titers alone, but may be granted on a case-by-case basis with justification. Waivers are not granted as a matter of personal preference, and localities often do not permit waivers and exemptions regardless of the justification.”

  • daisy1999

    Kevin AND TOXED-
    Now in regards to vaccines-you can have a titer done on your dog for some vaccines and if they are shown to have immunity, you do not have to keep on vaccinating.  But, remember by law you do need to keep your dog up to date on rabies shots.  Kevin-this i a lady that thinks that even if you live in an area where rabies is prevalent, its ok to not do it.  The article that was chosen to provide evidence on why not to vaccinate was a complete joke.  For one, the content ran all over the place from one subject to the next with most of the content having NOTHING to do with the subject and making comparisons/links between things that were nothing but utter nonsense.  For instance, “As Harris Coulter convincingly demonstrated in his book “Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality” the unwanted consequences of human vaccination include sudden  unprovoked violence in children.  No wonder the British Government  has seen the need to introduce the Dangerous Dogs Act”.  WHAT?   That act was breed specific, identifying 4 breeds they deemed to be dangerous.  Furthermore, this article uses citations from the 1970’s and 1980’s as evidence.  You people say you totally discount all studies by “modern medicine”.  Its all some form of conspiracy theory.  But yet you will use info from the Merck Manual and Perdue University and then totally misconstrue it and interpret it as you want.  A study by Purdue pointing out the fact that millions of dogs are abandoned and euthanized each year with behavior accounting for 50-70% of cases is referred to.  It then goes on to manage to link this to vaccines.  Give me a break!  If you are going to post an article about why millions of dogs are euthanized in our country every year-PLEASE post some real info.  As someone that has rescued and fostered nothing but dogs that would otherwise be euthanized, this is very offensive.  I’m pretty sure none of them got the way they were from vaccines!  So, using something like this for your “toxic cause” really irks me.  And, the next time you post a “supporting article”, make sure it isn’t completely ludacris!

  • daisy1999

    It sounds more like seasonal type allergies.  If you have been using Frontline all along, it shouldnt come and go.  Plus, most of the reported dermatologic reactions from this involve quite severe reactions.  Blisters, rashes, skin infections at site, along with itching.  That being said, I don’t like this med and have stopped using it.  The last time I did, my one dog had shaking and vomiting.  I do think the safety is questionable.  I am currently trying to decide on natural alternatives.  There’s lots of info on the web. regarding this.  The honey might help, I haven’t tried it.  I use fish oil, which does really help.  Although, I have read good things about the coconut oil and am considering switching-they have stinky breath!  Also, look into organic apple cider vinegar-can’t use regular.  Works great for skin issues and many other things.  Can use it topically and orally.

  • Toxed2loss

    Hello Bob K,
    Are you surprised? You are as cynical as I am, and you know darn well that there are people who will distort every good thing and pervert it to make a profit. Greed and avarice. Now who are you going to believe, the profiteers or those who are trained to reduce the toxic chemicals used….?

    Just because someone labels themselves as something, doesn’t mean they actually are. Actions speak louder than words… Learn to discern.

  • Bob K

    Toxed – Your definition of IPM is very different than the way I hear it defined.   The way I have heard it defined by a few pest management companies is.  We treat the point of the problem, surrounding areas inside and outside as well as point of entry using the best tools for the specific targeted are of treatment to provide an “Integrated Pest Management” solution.

    In other words, we kill the vermin on the spot we see them, we find the places of entry and both plug and place poision around it.  We feed the vermin poison, We spray poison, We inject poison into the ground, We bait with poison to kill them,  We bait so they do not reproduce. 

  • Toxed2loss

    O.k. Kevin,
    I’m back. Here’s just a few resources I could quickly get my hands on. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking it won’t happen to you, or your pet. The first two are from Dr. Becker, DVM, the second is from another DVM, I like…

    I include this one because insecticides ARE endocrine system disrupting chemicals…

    And here’s a story of another vet prescribing (toxic) Meds like he was taught, and its killing the patient… In humans, iatrogenic disease and death are the leading cause in the US, for people… No one measures it in dogs…

    And how about vaccines…

  • Toxed2loss

    IPM means “Integrated Pest Management.” My daughter is an PhD IPM Entomologist. IPM uses least toxic practices. Most allopathic vets don’t treat conditions until they are chronic. They can only pass on to you what they’ve learned. Chemical companies control curriculum in veterinary colleges. The schools teach pesticide application. Naturapathic, integrative and Holistic veterinarians have taken advanced study in proactive & preventative treatment and are more aware of these issues. Sometimes, if your regular vet is a great guy and open to learning new things, you can present him with the research, and he’ll get on board. Mine does. Sometimes, it turns out the vets real interest is in making money by selling you product that keeps your dog coming back… That’s sad, but no different than people medicine. I weed those kinds of practitioners out. You can run a search engine on, “frontline adverse reactions” or scroll through some of the older posts on the Brother’s threads. I think that’s where we discussed it. I’ll go look through some of my notes and see what I kept… Be back in a bit…

  • Kevin

    IPM, sorry I do not know what you mean.  FrontLine Plus is what I am using. But you would think the vet would of thought of it if that was causing the trouble.

  • Toxed2loss

    Kevin, flea treatments from the vet are pesticides. Pesticides are poisons. The spot on products are contributing to all kinds of terrible adverse reactions. It starts with symptoms like you’re describing. The good news, you don’t need toxic pest control. If you are willing, I’ll repost an IPM my daughter and I worked out. 🙂

  • Kevin

    Thanks for the information from all of you. My dog just started this last year when she was 3 now she is 4.  The vet said usually at 5 they peak and gets better as time goes on. Also the vet said usually they have redness under their paws and ears, and droopy eyes, but she has none of those signs.
    Just scratching and nawing.

    I buy the flee treatment from the vet.

  • I thought my dog had outdoor allergies.  He always chewed his feet and would rub his face. He’s too short bodied to bite himself in the back legs or back. It seemed better in the winter so I thought he was just allergic to seasonal grass/plants/pollen but he would still chew in the winter.  He was on Benadryl.  For a whole year he still chewed his feet and rubbed his face until I changed his diet to a grain free/potato free food. We even went to the vet and he did not have an ear infection at the time. It took a couple months after the food change for him to completely stop.  It’s been over a year now with no feet chewing/face rubbing.

  • Toxed2loss


    You can buy raw honey at health food stores or from local beekeepers. It is honey that has not been paturized,just strained. It tends to have bee bits… Like egs, pieces of wing, etc. One beekeeper/dog owner said you could give a 60 lb. dog up to a teas. A day. There’s no science behind that , just her opinion.

    You said the itching was not from household chemicals, is this because you use only non-toxics?

    What about yard chemicals and flea treatments?

  • Kevin

    My dog has allergies when the weather is nice.  She scraches alot and nibbles this time on her upper back leg so much so she had a bare spot.  The vet gave her a steroid shot. It does help but not totally.  They think it could be allergies but don’t want to blame everything on allergies, so the vet is thinking of other things that could make her scratch so much.  I took her in last Fall with this problem and now Spring.  Winter was fine for her.  And it is not from flees.  No flees on the dog. Does anyone else have a similar situation with their dog.  Not from household chemicals either. 

  • Kevin

    What is raw honey? And where can you get it?  Thanks

  • Coconut oil is also good for dogs. I lightly scramble eggs in organic coconut oil for the dogs or if you have one that doesn’t take pills well, putting it in a glob of oil works well. It’s solid (like shortening) at room temp. I would give my pug dogs a teaspoon. I also sprinkle coconut chips in their food sometimes.

  • Shawna

    Processed honey just adds sugar without much benefit.  However RAW honey can be beneficial for many reasons.  It can actually be applied to wounds (that can’t be licked) as it is antibacterial and causes blood vessels to grow to the wound (aka induces angiogenesis) which speeds healing and helps prevent scar tissue. 

    Small amounts of local honey can help some dogs and humans get over environmental allergies by introducing the allergen in very small amounts.  It also has several nutrients.  Also helps sooth a soar throat and kill bacteria present.

    Even raw honey is a source of sugar however so only small amounts and only then if raw.

  • Kevin

    Is honey good for a dog? If so how much? What are the benefits?

  • Hi Erin… actually, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets most of the standards in the pet food industry.

    Here’s their official definition of the word “natural”…

    “A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

    Yikes! Talk about confusing! I’ve read this statement several times and I have to admit… I’m baffled. So, I’ve assumed it to mean “nothing artificial”. Hopefully, I haven’t oversimplified this definition.

  • erin

    I’m not sure I understand about using the word “natural”.
    Are you saying that dog food companies can throw anything they want to into the dog food, just not artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, or artificial preservatives?

  • David

    Hmm i dont used to buy dog food i feed my dogs with chiken legs and wings i just put them on the freezer and cook them on water even , mainly because “dog food” is expensive … even dry food and my dogs dont like it really btw my dogs are 12yo and 6yo small type