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Routinely Worming Our Dogs
By Dr Jeannie Thomason

I just want to caution everyone that unless you have seen an infestation of worm eggs or larvae on a slide done from a fecal float and your dogs are presenting with symptoms of a worm infestation, please - do NOT just routinely worm you dogs. Believe it or not, routine worming is being found to cause auto-immune deficiencies and diseasses in our pets!

Don't you find it interesting how the veterinary/pharmaceutical industry set our puppies up to be prime candidates for auto-immune disease from day one? Think about it -

* Breeders are encouraged to vaccinate their bitches (female dogs) prior to breeding and to of course worm them as well.

* They are then told that they should re-worm them while they are in whelp (pregnant)

* Then, told to worm the puppies at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age, and then at 6 months, and twice a year (sometimes more) after that

* We are told that puppies should have a full series of vaccinations two weeks apart and then must be re-vaccinated at year old and then at least every three years after that or they could contract a virus and DIE!

If this theory of over worming our pets is correct and studies are beginning to prove it is - there is a direct relationship between de-worming our pets and auto-immune disease, this means that dogs which are not truly naturally reared or cared for are the prime targets for auto-immune disease.

Think about this: as in the commercial pet food industry, it is pharmaceutical companies and veterinarians that stand to prosper here. Firstly they sell and heavily promote worming products (vaccinations, toxic flea, tick and heartworm products, etc. Then, should a puppy or dog come down with an auto immune disease, they then get to sell a much more expensive and life long treatment strategy, while all the while keeping you coming back and supporting them financially. Of course, they continue to encourage routine worming and feeding of processed pet foods (and the use of other toxic chemicals) to all pets.

Keeping Our Pets Sick

If we look at the raw diet scenario, that provides a clear example of how the veterinary world works. Bear with me for a bit here while I explain - the pet food company sales reps have taken over the research regarding canine nutrition using an omnivore/human approach in just about every universities, invariably through direct and indirect sponsorship, scholarships, and by actually writing the textbooks (let's not talk about conflict of interest here).

The veterinary students are taught how wonderful these products are, and are steered away from appreciating natural diets. As veterinarians, they then go on to practice invariably recommending commercial dog diets which invariably lead to a plethora of health ailments. The veterinarians then get paid a lot of money to treat these illnesses and conditions.

Foundation for Health

I share a theory (that is beginning to prove out) with a few other natural rearing breeders and natural pet health professionals that constant de-worming of our dogs may be effecting their immune systems and be a contributing factor in auto-immune diseases which are on the rise in our companion dogs (and cats).

I believe that if you have raised your dog on a species appropriate raw diet, have had them only minimally vaccinated (or better yet, not at all), and done away with exposure to toxic flea treatments, drugs and household chemicals , then your dog should have a good foundation upon which to build its overall health. A healthy animal can easily manage parasites - externally(fleas, ticks, mites, etc.) as well as internally, i.e. intestinal worms. In fact, I believe that we really need to change our mindset about parasites in general.

I am not alone in my beliefs that when our pets become ill or contract an over-load of intestinal worms, yeast, heartworm or even fleas that we should be treating the dog (or cat or other pet) and the illness or what is even causing the illness. The objective of treating a dog with let's say - heartworm, should NOT be to get rid of the heartworm at any cost. After all, we are not treating the heartworm, we are treating the dog... It makes a lot more sense to measure the treatment by looking at the dog's quality of life. Okay, he is positive for heartworm. The fact is, heartworms have been around forever and dogs and heartworms have been coexisting for all eternity. It's actually a relatively recent phenomenon that dogs are dying from heartworms. Heartworms are not, by any means, the death penalty they are made out to be. The dogs that die from heartworms are the dogs that are being vaccinated, fed processed pet food and are being treated with suppressive drugs for every little thing that comes along.

You see, allopathic medicine is based on fear - fear of disease, fear of pathogens, fear of death. It's fear-based medicine. Allopathic/fear based medicine has been the approach that's been used to get people to use heartworm preventives, routinely worm their dogs for intestinal parasites, etc. . It is not to say that heartworms or intestinal worms or what have you don't exist, obviously, they do. The very same fear-based approach is used as the main basis of vaccinations and for a lot of things.

Disease, illness and symptoms come from within. A relatively healthy animal will not be susceptible to those things. So the ultimate answer is not to prevent heartworm (or round worms or parvo or whatever), by some artificial means, but rather to work on improving and maintaining good health. To the degree that you can improve your dog's level of health, disease of any kind becomes less threatening."

So why not think of that worm or two as being a fairly good thing because now "my dog's immune system is being stimulated for an appropriate response. This is actually helping my dog's immune system to develop better and stronger."

Mind you, I am not talking about an "infestation" of worms here. if your dog's immune system is or has been compromised recently due to being ill, being vaccinated or given antibiotics or medications and you have also found that she/he is loaded with internal parasites from viewing a fecal float then it is likely that they are literally sucking the life out of him/her and by all means worm with an herbal wormer, homeopathic remedy, essential oils or DE to kill the worms before they kill the dog.

Building a Healthy Immune System
I would like to have us look at building a strong, healthy immune system in our dogs. The immune system is what protects our dogs, (cats, horses and of course ourselves) from everything from viruses and germs to cancer cells. A weak immune system plays a key role in causing disease. Antibiotics are given to fight infection and kill the bacteria taking over the system, but they don't affect whatever weakened the immune system in the first place. We need to focus a little less on the things that cause diseases and a lot more on those that affect the body's natural defenses.

Since it is believed that about 70% of the immune system is in the digestive system, it's extremely important that we keep our dog's digestive system healthy and feed a species appropriate, raw diet!

If your dog has ever been vaccinated, given antibiotics or fed a processed pet food it is important that you supplement them with probiotics. Probiotics are the body's first line of defense against the all the potentially harmful microorganisms that your pet or yourself inhale or ingest. Probiotics are another term for these friendly bacteria that live and work in the gastrointestinal tract every day throughout our pet's life. Think of them as a mighty bacterial army that defends the body against dangerous invaders. Having sufficient numbers of these friendly bacteria in residence can help prevent a wide range of health problems including a heavy infestation of intestinal worms.

Let your dog be a dog

Have you ever heard of the "Hygiene Hypothesis"? The basic gist of this is that some of us are living in a world that is too clean. Children who live in a super clean house, using anti-bacterial everything, with no animals, and no dust bunnies bouncing around have been shown to be much more likely to develop allergies, asthma, and auto immune disorders. Like children, our pets need to have the chance to get dirty in order to build a stronger immune system. The immune system needs to be stimulated in order to work properly.

Recently, a strain of bacterium has been found in soil that is proving to be "beneficial" to health. Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood,decreases anxiety and found to improve cognitive function, boost the immune system and possibly even treat cancer and other diseases. Which means that contact with soil is beneficial!

Our pets are no longer able to spend time sun bathing, exercising and digging in the dirt. As house pets and with the majority of owners working 6 days a week the animals are confined inside with no fresh air, no way to exercise, and if they have access to sunshine at all it is being filtered through a window. Find a way to get your dog outside and playing, walking, running, doing agility or obedience work every day at least once a day if at all possible. You will be amazed at how much happier they are how much better behaved.

Studies linking a lack of parasites and auto immune diseases

Several studies have been conducted on internal parasites and I believe you will find the results surprising.

Below I have listed a few studies and the URL's to read them online. While most of these deal with humans and some mice, the surprising thing is that many of these studies are introducing the same or similar parasites/worms to cure disease, that we have been totally cleaning out of our animals by routinely worming them!!

Quoted from : http://www.endotext.org/diabetes/diabetes5/diabetes5.htm

With increasing public health, a "hygiene" hypothesis has been advanced, particularly directed at asthma and type 1 diabetes(60). It is hypothesized that as the environment becomes "cleaner" the normal development of the immune system is disrupted (e.g. regulatory T cell development is subnormal) resulting in increases of both presumed Th2 (asthma) and Th1 (Type 1 diabetes) mediated diseases. For instance, one review discusses decreasing pinworm infection as a potential factor.

Quoted from : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12032638&dopt=Abstract

Helminths inhibit the development of atopic disease via induction of regulatory T cells and secretion of Il-10, and pinworms inhibit diabetes development in the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse. The most successful human helminth of the western world is the pinworm. Their decline in response to improved living conditions might explain a number of features of the epidemiology of childhood atopy and diabetes.

From New York Times
By Andy Newman

For most of the Western history, the average child walked around with a bellyful of parasitic worms: pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms. Then modern civilization came along,put shoes on the children's feet, installed sewers and stopped using human waste as fertilizer, and the worms almost disappeared.

But there may be a downside to all this hygiene. Children in industrialized countries, which are relatively worm free, have a greater tendency than those in other countries to grow into adults with autoimmune disorders, in which the body makes antibodies that can cause disease such as: rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease.

Maybe this is a coincidence, but, then again, maybe not. Recently, researchers at the University of Iowa gave a drink containing the eggs of helminths, a parasitic worm, to six people suffering from acute, chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Five went into remission, and the sixth improved substantially. None got sick from the worms; and all of them relapsed after the worms left their system.

"Every one of those patients is begging to be re-treated," said the lead researcher, Dr. Joel Weinstock.

Research on Potential Helminthic Therapy of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Joel Weinstock M.D., David Elliott, M.D., Robert Summers, M.D., Khurram Qadir, M.D.

Experiments conducted by Dr. David Elliott, et. al. at the University of Iowa using mice with experimental inflammatory bowel disease showed that helminthic worms protected the animals from this disease.

Digestive disease specialists at the University of Iowa are now organizing additional clinical trials to gain additional data and knowledge about this potential treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Helminths are not being used as a routine clinical treatment for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The encouraging results of the initial research must be tested and substantiated by further research. Therefore, we are only using this agent under a strictly controlled research protocol.

Developed countries have a larger by 50 times the amount of diabetes in children and gut related diseases in adults, yet the most undeveloped ones such as China and Africa have the smallest per capita of the same diseases. Can it be related to "hygiene" hypothesis? It makes sense! Another study took 50 adults that were not responding to traditional diabetes medications to control it, after induction of pinworms, more than 1/2 had normal blood sugar levels....... lets not toss out the meds and start drinking pinworms, but follow up research is certainly warranted.

So...... should we routinely worm our dogs or not? Obviously if the animal's health is compromised, and a heavy load of eggs are seen upon a fecal float; there is no doubt we should worm them to lessen the load however, I hope you will now think long and hard on treating an animal that shows nothing on a fecal float or smear and there are no symptoms present. And hopefully you will re-think routine worming all together. We only now are starting to learn about host or symbiotic relationships in animals and we know even less about the symbiotic relationship with parasites in our carnivorous companions. I am a believer that If something is not broken, then let's think hard about NOT fixing it.

This little article is something that you can take to your veterinarian and discuss if you like. But be forewarned, that very few are willing to listen even when you have documentation with you. I highly recommend you continue to do your own research. Empower yourself , educate yourself and be proactive in the natural, optimal health of your animal companions.

Copyright 2003 -2012 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

Important Disclaimer:
I have provided these articles/information as a source of reference and education. I cannot be held responsible for misadventure from the information, misuse of the products featured or any therapeutic method mentioned within this website. If there is any doubt regarding any information or products mentioned, then please acquire a consultation or seek out a truly qualified, holistic veterinarian.