This is an article I wrote for my group - “Natural Health Care For Dogs”
Thanks to Dr. Kim Bloomer - Veterinary Naturopath
for her support and encouragement to share my experiences.
Natural Rearing Vs. Survival Of The Fittest
By: Mary Langevin
During the years of raising my own dogs naturally and being an outspoken advocate against - the use of needless vaccines, the feeding of processed kibble dog foods and the use of chemicals and pesticides in the battle against worms, fleas and heartworm - the one reoccurring argument I hear offered as proof of the dangers of rearing a dog naturally is - “Wolves in the wild die of disease all the time!”
Yes, of course they do. Not only can they die from injuries, there have been reports of wolves found with heartworm and a litter of wolf pups dying from the parvovirus. However, offering this reasoning behind the idea that natural rearing for your own dog is unsafe and dangerous, is a very flawed theory indeed. The type of natural care that we can provide for our dogs every day of their lives can not be compared to the natural life that wolves live in the wild.
Life in nature is difficult at best; it really is “survival of the fittest”.
Everything in a wolf’s life depends on the food it can locate, kill and consume. Throughout the world’s history of evolution the survival of every species has relied on their ability to find nourishment. Deprived of proper nutrition no living creature can survive let alone thrive. Take away sustenance and any living organism will die, either from direct starvation or the diseases/germs/viruses that are free to assault a body when the starved and weakened immune system can no longer protect it.
Germs – bacteria and viruses do not cause disease. Disease is the result of the terrain, an unhealthy and toxic body, which gives the virus or “microzymas” a chance to take hold. These microzymas or “little bodies” are present everywhere. Depending upon the condition of the host, they can assume different forms, good or bad. Bad bacteria and viruses are the form assumed by the microzymas when there is already a condition of poor health. When a body’s cells are unhealthy and a weakened state of the immune system exists, the microzymas become a pathological bacteria or virus resulting in that particular infection or disease. In a healthy body these same microzymas form healthy cells. The environment is everything!
So what brings the body to a state of optimum health? It is very simple and it works the same for all living creatures – “You are what you eat”. And in today’s polluted world that also includes toxins. The quality of the diet of any wolf or dog is the difference between life and death; the difference between “minimally surviving” or “optimally thriving”.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
~ Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine
No truer words have ever been spoken.
Proper nutrition is nature’s ultimate protection against disease. Protection does not come in the form of “scientifically” formulated kibble dog foods, vaccines, heartworm pesticides, topical flea treatments and wormers. These forms of “protection” are unnatural and have many adverse side-effects often resulting in chronic disease and sometimes death. A healthy immune system, which is fueled by the food that nature intended for it – in the case of your carnivore dog, a raw meat and bone diet - is well equipped to deal with these outside
threats. It is the same concept as a plant - when grown in nutritionally deficient soil, the plant itself is deficient. It then has a problem with pests and fungi. Our plants and crops are then sprayed with pesticides and fungicides, instead of enriching the soils that they are grown in to restore nature's balance. This becomes a constant battle that only accelerates as the years progress.
The wolf and dog’s body works the same - when they are fed deficient and/or toxic foods, they in turn are deficient and toxic. For wolves it is a matter of the quantity of food required not being available to them. In the case of our dogs it is a matter of the wrong type of food - processed kibble - causing this deficiency and adding toxins to their system. In both instances of inadequate nutrition, the body is then open to invasion from pests, bacteria and viruses.
When provided with sufficient amounts of a nutritious species appropriate diet, your dog’s body is a remarkable creation. Your dog was born to be healthy! You have the ability to make and keep your dog healthy without the use of toxic manufactured products. When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. You can replicate this perfect form of living through natural rearing - giving your dog all the benefits of nature without the burden of everyday survival.
Wolves do not have this luxury. They are not guaranteed a nutritious meal everyday. The pregnant and lactating dam is especially vulnerable to malnutrition. She requires 3 – 4 times the regular amount of food in order to supply proper nutrition to her pups, both in utero and in the den while nursing. If she is lacking, then her litter of pups will be lacking and vulnerable to worms and disease. There can be a high mortality rate among wolf pups if their dam is not getting sufficient nutrition.
For both adults and pups, prolonged periods of malnutrition can lead to an impaired immune system, ill health and ultimately disease. And when there is no human to offer care, death can follow. However, in times of plentiful food sources the wolf population will thrive, they are strong and healthy, able to deal with viruses, worms and bacteria that come their way. Nature has worked this way since the beginning of time.
There was much concern among wolf conservationists when the parvovirus was first recognized in 1978 and spread worldwide among canines during the next two years. What would happen to the population of the newly reintroduced wolf packs?
There have been no definite studies done on the impact of the parvovirus on the wolf in the wild. However, for the purpose of this article, one study which was conducted during a 5 year period from 1985 – 1990, provides a great deal of information. Blood serum samples were collected from captured wolves and analyzed for four of the main viruses effecting canines – Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis and Lyme disease. 18 adult wolves from 8 different wolf packs extending from Northwestern Montana, USA to Southeastern B.C, Can, were tested for the titer antibody levels of each of the afore mentioned viruses. These wolves represented approximately ¼ of the total population of an estimated 72 wolves combined in these packs.
Titers were found for 3 of the viruses, the results were as follows –
65% of the wolves showed titers to Parvo;
29% to Distemper
36% to Hepatitis
0% to Lyme disease.
Even though only a few adults from each pack were captured and tested, the small sample sizes were considered adequate for evaluation, as pack members are always in close physical contact and viruses can spread easily throughout the pack. I’ll concentrate on the results of the parvovirus titers, as they represented the highest percentage of wolves affected and the virus is the most common among canines. The titer results show that parvo has indeed spread to wild wolf packs; they have come into contact with the virus and survived without the use of vaccines or unnatural interventions.
It would be difficult to ascertain if any of the wolves showed any actual signs of the virus. The Merck Veterinary Dictionary, which is a vet’s bible, states regarding the Parvovirus - “Infected dogs are often asymptomatic. (Showing no signs) Clinical disease may be triggered by stress (eg, boarding), and clinical signs may be exacerbated by concurrent infection with opportunistic enteric pathogens (eg, Salmonella, C perfringens , E coli , Campylobacter , coronavirus, and various parasites)”
It’s fairly safe to assume that either the wolves showed no signs at all or the symptoms were mild, as there would be no intervention from humans to nurse them through any resulting sickness. There were also no reported deaths among the adult wolves, during this period, as these family packs are closely monitored and a missing wolf or two would be duly noted.
If the parvovirus affected the mortality rate of the pups it is still unclear. During this 5 year period, 2 older wolf pups from a litter of 5 disappeared in Oct of 1986; what happened to them is unknown. In 1989 the decomposed carcasses of two, 2 week old pups were found in a den, but no determination was made as to the cause of death. The fact that this litter was very small and comprised of only these two pups should be an indication of the physical state of the dam during the period leading up to breeding as nutrition directly impacts the ability to reproduce. During both these years the titer levels of adult wolves in these 2 packs were
high, but no consideration was ever given to the supply of food sources available during these years and the strength of the immune systems in these packs.
We know that the availability of a food source for any specie is what drives life and reproduction. In 2004, the vole population in northern Ontario crashed, leaving the Great Grey Owls with little food over the winter. Having the ability to relocate quickly, an estimated 100 owls migrated to our area of Simcoe County, in Central Ontario, where they feasted on voles and supplemented 20% of their diet with rabbit. They departed in the late winter/early spring of 2005. People of the area and birdwatchers from all over marveled at seeing the great birds. Their visit left a lasting impression on the area, but in a much different way than to be expected.
The owls’ visit had impacted the population of voles and rabbits in this area, which are a main food source for the fox populations. After a spring and summer of inadequate food, the great majority of fox in Simcoe County had developed mange. Mange is directly related to a weakened immune system, in this case most definitely caused by malnutrition.
Both the study on titer levels in the wild wolf and the situation that took place with the change in the food chain in our area are valuable indicators that a strong and healthy immune system which is supported by a healthy diet can deal with viruses and pests the way that nature intended it to be. Merck’s information on the parvovirus also clearly shows that it takes an already impaired immune system to become susceptible to the disease.
Your dog can also naturally deal with worms, heartworm, fleas, bacteria and viruses in the same manner. Fed a prey model, raw meat and bone diet, your dog can thrive and remain healthy without the use of artificial “preventatives”. These measures are in violation of the natural law and cause much damage over time.
Dogs are not meant to suffer from chronic skin and ear infections at 2 years old; endure seizures at 4 years old; die of renal failure at 7 years old; or to be considered “old” at 8 years; nor consumed by cancers at the age of 9.
They are meant to be vibrant, healthy and full of energy and life well into their teens. You can achieve this long life for your dog. When we give our dogs’ bodies the opportunity to care for themselves through natural rearing your dog will reap the rewards – a long and healthy life.
Copyright ©2009. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author. This article is for educational purposes only. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.
This page is dedicated to NATTIE!!
Catahoula extraordinaire :o)
Nattie is owned by Cynthi and Kicker Bacon
Here is her story.
Nattie was born March, 17, 1993. She was fed the cheapest kibble from Costco for her first 7 years of life. Between the ages of 5 - 7 she started to develop fatty lipomas. Then Nattie’s life changed forever when she was 7 years old and diagnosed with stage 2 mast cell tumors. The vet shook her head and told Cynthi and Kicker that chemo and radiation was her only chance and even with that, she might only have 6 months to live. They went home, cried for a week, decided NOT to do chemo or radiation and started to research on the internet . Cynthi called many holistic vets and decided that going raw would be a great place to start, something she could control and be responsible for. Cynthi also thought that if Nattie did only have a few months of precious life left that she wanted to spoil her.
By this time Nattie was 8 years old. She sprouted a few more tumors which were removed but she was doing wonderfully! Cynthi also stopped ALL VACCINES.
Nattie is now 16 1/2 years old! She is almost blind and losing her hearing, but she can still jump up on the bed and loves to get her share of attention from everyone when guests are over. Cynthi does not limit what Nattie wants to do; she barks, runs, plays and eats like a puppy. She is watched carefully around the horses as she will wander under their bellies and could be kicked. For her 16th birthday Nattie was treated with some filet mignon and a jeep ride around her ranch.
Every day Nattie gets kisses and is told how much she is loved.
Her life is a celebration!!!