Canine Influenza: Don’t Support the Immune System!

By Paula Vandervoort, Certified Small Animal Naturopath candidate at the American Council of Animal Naturopathy

I’ve been thinking a lot about what people are saying about the canine influenza issue. Many people are struggling with whether to vaccinate for it or not. As they research the news and social media, and talk to their vets and breeders, they may be getting conflicting guidance. People are polarized in two camps – you either vaccinate or you keep your dogs in your van, run like the wind to the show ring and run back, wiping everything with Clorox wipes hoping that you haven’t encountered this nasty pathogen. Maybe you listen for dogs coughing and judge anyone whose dog makes the slightest “uh” sound from their throat, thinking they might be Ground Zero for your area. Fear abounds, and that is not good for anyone.

Of course, immunity is at the center of these discussions. Do you try to artificially produce antibodies to a specific pathogen by injecting a vaccine or do you “give something else” to make an immune system strong? Here’s my advice guys. DON’T DO EITHER OF THESE THINGS. Bet you didn’t expect to hear that!

Immune system strength is absolutely at the center of this issue. However, the vaccines are cultured from a dog’s “sick slime” (stuff from their nose and mouth), cultivated on material from another species (such as chickens or cows) and combined with a heavy metal to make them work. When you choose to inject that vaccine, the person administering it is injecting one of the most potent neurotoxins on the periodic table into your furry friend, and that is extremely difficult if not impossible to fix. You cannot undo a heavy metal poisoning injected directly into a body without extreme expense and heartache down the road.

So, what’s the alternative? Do you stay away from dog shows, parks, boarding facilities, daycares, and vet’s offices? Do you give copious amounts of Echinacea, Bovine Colostrum and Astragalus? Do you rub essential oils from head to tail? Do you wipe them down with Clorox wipes? I suggest none of the above.

I hang out with some of the top naturopaths around, and I can tell you that not one of them is concerned about this flu thing. It’s not even really on our radar other than to observe the discussions that fly around us. This is why we aren’t concerned:

PATHOGENS ARE EVERYWHERE. Pathogens are part of the circle of life and always will be. Some are more virulent than others. This one is virulent (meaning it moves easily amongst hosts), but very low in potential mortality. Those who die are being documented as having another comorbid health issue that made them vulnerable to secondary infection. They were generally unhealthy dogs already, and the pathogen just pushed their immune systems past their ability to mount a good defense. What this means is that immune systems must be strong in the first place. Vaccination is not the key to a good immune system, nor is hiding from the pathogen. You will never escape pathogens in life because they are all around us.

Dr. Jeannie Thomason states that: “Healthy animals (animals with strong/balanced immune systems) are normally able to withstand exposure to viruses and microbes. Just as the world is filled microbes and viruses; so animals have been masterfully designed with innate defenses to resist them (natural immunity) and fight back. The main reason so many pets are not able to defend themselves against viruses or microbes, is that their immune systems have been weakened or compromised in some way.”

I read a comment by Dr. Cynda Crawford in the Veterinary Practice News yesterday that said: “Because there’s no immunity to the virus, which is novel in the U.S., most dogs exposed get the virus.” What this means to us as pet owners is that the dog population needs to develop lifelong natural immunity to this specific pathogen. The only way to do this is to actually get exposed to it. So, in my opinion, getting exposed is a good thing. When a body encounters a new pathogen and its immune system isn’t busy dealing with a lot of other issues, it does its job and makes antibodies that can produce lifelong immunity. The bonus is that this lifelong immunity is more adaptable to the mutagens of that pathogen that will develop as it attempts to survive in the future. That’s a WIN WIN for dogs in general, and for your dog.

Why am I saying “Don’t Support The Immune System?” Because the best thing you can do is to create a strong immune system in the first place. And the best way to do that right now in this moment of fear is to take the leap to feeding a species-specific carnivore diet to your dog. Your dog is a carnivore. Nobody disputes that at this point, right? All dogs who are eating kibble are consuming 40-60% carbohydrates, denatured proteins, and nutrients that are barely bio-available. Those dogs have immune systems that are diverted to combating the inflammation that comes from eating foods they can’t digest properly. Their immune systems have a sign out that says “go the other way – this highway is closed!” So they can’t handle pathogens the way that an idle immune system can.

When you support an immune system dealing with carbohydrates and poor diet, it can sputter down the highway but it will never be at its peak performance without the nutrition required by the carnivore that is your dog.

Consider this canine influenza to be our wake up call to the beauty of natural immunity operating at peak performance. Learning how to do this is pretty simple and there are many ways to do so. Learn how easy it is to feed a raw diet. Learn about natural rearing. Come to our classes. Consult an animal naturopath. Join the growing community of natural rearing pet owners and breeders who are discovering how amazing it is to live with an immune system performing to its potential!