Monday, June 13, 2011

Who Let the Dog Out?

Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend.
~Corey Ford

A loved one asked me this in a recent email:

I have a question, you have a German Shepherd, right? I thought I saw a dog in one of your pictures. Well, if you do, I wanted to know how often you bathe the dog and with what type of shampoo. I have one, he's a boy and his name is Max. I wasn't wanting a dog but [my husband] brought it home around Valentine's Day. I notice when I wash him he has dry skin, especially where his tail is.

The reason I am posting my answer is because I have been asked such things by many people over the years and a couple of sentences would not be the complete answer, especially since it goes completely against conventional thinking as to how to keep a dog healthy.

First of all, yes, we do have a German Shepherd (GSD). Hanah is our second GSD. She was originally from Czechoslovakia and brought by a breeder/trainer in Ohio. There she was Schultzhund trained to work for the Border Patrol in Texas, but was retired while she was in her prime because she had ulcers and clouding on the cornea of her eyes that they believed would cause blindness. She was sent back to the breeder due to this defect. Her training made her worth thousands of dollars, but the eye problem brought her value down to that of an untrained GDS.

When we were in Ohio to visit family just over two years ago months after we had lost our first GSD, my aunt saw a younger dog that looked so much like him, mostly black with a rough coat, that she asked where the man had acquired him and we stopped at the breeder's on the way home. We were looking for a puppy as we enjoy training, but so much was going on that we decided an adult trained dog might be better when we saw Hanah, another rough coat GSD, at just about the same price.

Now you might be wondering why would we were actually quite excited to get a dog that was going blind with ulcerations, scaring, and cloudiness in her eyes. It is because I spent years studying natural and even some rather strange alternative health treatments. I knew that her eye problems were not genetic as the vet had told the breeder and I knew I had seen similar problems clear up before in humans and animals. I was pretty sure Hanah's problem was a combination of the shots and her diet and maybe other treatments they would use like those for fleas and heartworm, so all she needed was a better diet and some detoxing with homeopathic remedies.

Within a week the ulcerations were improving and about a month later they were completely gone. The general cloudiness also was nearly gone and even the white scarring had diminished noticeably although she has a bit of it left even now. Once she relaxed into her retirement, as she was a bit of a hyper dog, always ready to work, she has been a very good house dog, but she still checks new places and people for drugs and weapons as she was trained to do.

Now as to the second question about bathing: Here is the part you might think is unbelievable, but we have only given her a complete bath twice since we got her over two years ago. The first time was when we brought her home just to remove any treatments that may be on her hair and skin, and another time when she got muddy. We have had four dogs and after we learned about feeding them a truly proper diet and not giving them shots, we very rarely had to bathe them, except for one who began having some skin issues when he was very ill towards the last months of his life. Our dogs do not smell. They do not have skin problems, unless there is another health issue that we have not addressed. Our dogs do not even get fleas usually.

When we bathe a dog, we use a product called Critter Oil made by woman I met when we lived in Florida, who also sold Solid Gold, an all-natural dog food suggested by our holistic vet when we were detoxing Suzibelle, our first dog. Critter Oil is very good treatment to kill off a flea infestation and provide relief of mange and other skin problems. I would also use food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) for a house and yard flea and tick treatment if we had an infestation. You can even put DE on the dog's hair for pests and in the dog's food to kill of parasites in the intestinal tract. I have never had to do this actually, because usually a very healthy dog with a proper diet has a natural immunity to parasites and just a bit a garlic can do wonders as well. We used to take in stool samples regularly, but after five years of no worms at all we decided to save the cost and just not do that anymore.

Now for the question I was not asked, but would logically follow: What do we feed our dog? We have tried a variety of organic dog foods, which we have liked. Much of what we decide to get is based on availability and pricing of course. Right now I have been getting Newman's Own and you can read about what they have in the food and what they do not and why not here. (Whatever you decide about commercial dog food, just adding cold pressed Omega fatty acids as a supplement to the food may be enough to help Max's particular skin problem.)

All carnivores would even do better on the BARF diet, which originally stood for Bones and Raw Food but now is called Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. I would like to give all our meat eaters this diet alone and we have done that during detoxing or due to a temporary digestion problem, however it is a more expensive diet. I often buy natural (no antibiotics or hormones) chicken wings or thighs in bulk to give one raw to Hanah and the inside cat as part of their meals. Now that we have the rabbits, the dog and cats are given hearts and livers and meaty bones from that source as well. I have noticed over the years that outside cats can hunt for their own fresh meat and usually have great looking teeth in comparison to inside cats. One thing that needs to be stressed is that this not a diet of table scraps; the bones must NOT be cooked as these can splinter and cause damage, but raw bones are great for them and natural teeth cleaners. Oh, and I also get raw milk so all our pets have a bit of that each morning too.

If you are interested in detoxing your dog, it is best to use the homeopathic remedy Thuja 30x to detox the shots and any viral infections. Sulfur can be use to detox a variety of other things. I used Sulfur alone to clear up Hanah's eyes. I have also added food grade hydrogen peroxide or colloidal silver to the water for our animals at times when they are fighting an infection or have diarrhea--actually, our rabbits, since we are using them as a food source, get one teaspoon of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of purified water all the time. (I drink it myself from time to time, especially when I am feeling drained or coming down with something.)

Lastly, this is a choice that most people would believe is not being responsible but we do not give our dogs regular shots or treatments as we feel they make pets unhealthy. We pay attention to all our pets and work with improving their health and immunity so they do not need them. There are alternatives. For instance, the rabies nosode, which is an acceptable preventative treatment in other countries but the United States is not one of them. The downside of not having an up-to-date shot record is that we cannot board our pets at a kennel and so they all have to go with us everywhere, stay at a friend's, or we hire a house sitter.

This is a lifestyle choice that complicates things but also makes for very healthy pets. It is more expensive in one way and less in another, but I would rather pay more maintaining a healthier pet than to pay vet bills trying to get my pet healthy from being over treated. Actually, that is our complete philosophy about health for all of us.

I will look up and also post an old article about on how our first dog, Suziebelle, helped us learn about homeopathic remedies and detoxing, which made us believers about natural and alternative health methods.

~ My Lord, You know that I often wonder if we cause more illnesses in trying to prevent illness. Please bless us with knowledge to maintain the health of the animals in our care. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.