Infections can be bacterial or viral, and they are often treated the same way.  Antibiotics, however, have no effect on viral infections, unless there is a secondary bacterial infection.

Bacteria are living, microscopic, single-celled organisms. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Anti   means “against” and biotikos   means “fit for life.”  Antibiotics prevent microorganisms from carrying on all their essential life functions, thereby causing their death.virus

A virus is something different altogether. A virus is not really alive. A virus is basically a fragment of DNA in a protective coat. The virus comes in contact with a cell, attaches itself to the cell wall and injects its DNA, and perhaps a few enzymes, into the cell. The DNA uses the machinery inside the living cell to reproduce new virus particles. Eventually the hijacked cell dies and bursts,  freeing the new virus particles. Or the viral particles bud off of the cell so it remains alive. In either case, the cell is a factory for the virus.

The best way to  prevent viral infections from “going viral” is to keep your pet healthy with a strong immune system. See the section on Infections for more information. A well-balanced, natural, raw diet and a healthy lifestyle are the best safeguards.

Conventional  veterinary medicine is big on pushing vaccinations. Over-vaccinating has become  a top cause of immune-related disorders. The only two vaccinations that leading  holistic veterinarians stand behind are those for distemper (panleukopenia in  cats) and parvo. Generally, these can be given once, and your pet should be covered for life, pcathugging dogarticularly if they have a healthy lifestyle and are raised on a well-balanced, natural, raw diet. The viruses for feline rhinotracheitis  and calicivirus are not recommended, nor is the vaccination for feline leukemia, which can have dire aftereffects (see that section, below). See the following sections for more information on each viral disease.

Rabies  vaccinations are a tricky subject because so many laws are out of control in  their demands for repeated vaccinations against rabies. Talk to a good holistic  veterinarian. Most will do titrations which prove an animal’s immunity, and  this may suffice in lieu of a repeated vaccination in many circumstances.

Below, we will  describe some of the more common pet viruses.

Distemper, Chorea, Panleukopenia, and Feline Infectious  Enteritis

These three viruses are grouped together because they are related. Canine distemper is what is commonly known simply as distemper. Chorea results when distemper affects  the spinal cord, and panleukopenia is cat distemper or feline infectious enteritis.


In dogs,  distemper is as widespread as the common cold is among humans. Both are  airborne viruses which will infect susceptible hosts. These viruses may also be  contracted from infected surfaces. With people, you have probably noticed how  some get colds and flus repeatedly, whereas others seem to never get sick. The same is true for pets. Trying to keep your dog from being exposed to the virus  is not the answer.

ProfitAs described in  the Infections section, a strong immune system is able to  fend off viral entry into the cells of the body, and, if a virus does  penetrate, a strong immune system will fight off the invasion before mass  replication can occur and wreak havoc. A natural diet and healthy lifestyle is the best way to keep your pet’s resistance strong.

There is a six to  nine day incubation period with distemper. During this time, you may not notice  anything unusual. Then the animal’s temperature will spike, causing fever and  lethargy. After that, it may seem as if your dog is fine, because the symptoms  abate for three to eight days. Then more severe symptoms strike. These may  include loss of appetite, listlessness, and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose. At this stage, distemper may be mistaken for a cold.

Within a few  days, the eye and nasal discharge becomes thick, yellow, and sticky. The dog  develops a pronounced dry cough. Blisters may appear on the abdomen, groin, or on the inside of the hind legs. Vomiting and diarrhea are frequent and may cause severe dehydration.

tiredboxerIn very bad  cases, the dog’s brain may be attacked, causing encephalitis. This is characterized by brief attacks of slobbering,  head shaking, and chewing movements of the jaws. Epileptic-like seizures may  occur, in which the dog runs in circles, falls over, and kicks all four feet  wildly. After the convulsive episode, the dog appears to be confused, shies  away from his owner, wanders about aimlessly, and appears to be blind. Canine  encephalitis is also known as hard pad or brain distemper because one of  the final symptoms is a leathery thickening of the foot pads.

The distemper virus tends to attack brain cells and cells that line the surfaces of the body,  including the skin, the conjunctiva, the mucous membranes of the respiratory  tract, and the gastrointestinal tract. The disease takes a variety of forms.  Secondary infections and complications are common, partly attributable to the  immunosuppressive effects of the virus. pills2This is why antibiotics are  conventionally given when an animal is brought in with distemper. Some holistic  veterinarians, however, believe that the use of antibiotcs increases the  likelihood that the disease will progress to the brain, at which point it is  often fatal.

In his book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural  Health for Dogs and Cats
Dr. Richard Pitcairn writes:

Though early in my career I treated  many distemper cases with the orthodox approach of antibiotics, fluids, and  other drugs, I did not see it do much good. Indeed, sometimes it seems to  increase the likelihood of encephalitis, a severe inflammation of the brain (or  smaller areas of the spinal cord) that often arises after apparent improvement  or recovery. At this point dogs are usually put to sleep because medical  treatment is almost always ineffective. I am convinced that the use of drugs  increases the likelihood of encephalitis, while natural methods make it less  probable. I have witnessed many successful recoveries in distemper cases  treated with homeopathy and nutritional therapy.

vetThe famed  herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy had decades of success treating distemper  with her natural methods. Her book, The  Complete Herbal Handbook for Dogs and Cats   includes many reports from  breeders who used her distemper cure. We definitely believe in the merit of her  work, but we also urge you not to try to treat this viral disease by yourself. If  you suspect your dog has distemper, see a holistic veterinarian as soon as  possible.

Meanwhile, read  the section on infections for general advice on fighting infections and on boosting your pet’s immune  system. Treatment almost always ought to begin with a fast. Dr. Pitcairn and other veterinarians with  skill in this area say that withholding solid food while the dog is in the  fever stage is crucial to preventing brain and spinal cord complications. See  the section on fasting for more  information. Vitamin C is important  and is one of the best weapons against viruses. Zinc helps, as do the other infection fighters listed in the Infections section.

Make sure you  have fresh, pure water constantly available, and try to reduce the stress in your pet’s environment.
A safe, dark, quiet place to recover is helpful when an  animal is ill.

Distemperinum 30C   is a homeopathic treatment used in the early  stages of contraction. Please see a homeopathic veterinarian, however, instead  of treating this illness on your own. There are other homeopathic treatments,  as well.

See the Eyewashes section for various washes and wipes you can  use to help alleviate the discomfort of eye discharge.


If the distemper virus gets to the spinal cord, your pet’s nervous system may be damaged and  certain muscle groups may encounter twitching. This is extremely serious. Once  the virus has replicated destructively in the brain or spinal cord, most pets  are considered terminal. There have been cases of recovery, though, so it may  be worth giving alternative therapies a try if your pet is in this stage of  disease. You can look on the internet or ask local holistic veterinarians for  referrals to professionals who have experience treating chorea or brain  distemper. Just be aware that, unfortunately, the odds are not in your pet’s  favor. The distemper virus is deadly.

Dr.  Pitcairn states, “If you really want to play it safe, keep your new puppy  isolated from contact with other dogs and just vaccinate once.” He recommends  the distemper vaccination at twenty two weeks of age. If you’re not comfortable  with the single shot schedule, his second suggestion is to vaccinate once at  sixteen weeks and then again at twenty-four weeks. The only other vaccine he  advocates is parvo.


Vijai18Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

The feline  immunodeficiency virus is similar in structure to the human acquired  immunodeficiency syndrome virus, which is why FIV is sometimes called Feline  AIDS. These are both retroviruses which depress the immune system. Feline  immunodeficiency virus was discovered in 1986, and is believed to be transferred only through bite wounds.

FIV-infected cats  are found worldwide, but the prevalence of infection varies greatly. In the United States, about two percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Rates rise significantly in cats that are sick or at high risk of infection. Roughly  fifteen percent of sick cats brought into veterinary offices test positive for the virus. In Japan, the rate is about forty-five percent. Free-roaming,  aggressive, intact male cats are the most frequently infected because they are more apt to get in fights and be bitten. Cats who live in environments where fights are unlikely, and who are raised on a well-balanced and nutritious raw  diet are less likely to contract this disease.

Conventional veterinary medicine generally calls for frequent vaccinations, but holistic  veterinarians believe this is not good. Annual revaccinations, they say, weaken  the immune system and make a cat more susceptible.

If the feline immunodeficiency virus is not resisted by the immune system, the disease is  very serious. As with human AIDS, the symptoms are wide-ranging. Because this virus suppresses the immune system, any little infection can become deadly.

In Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, Dr. Richard Pitcairn gives advice on how to  prevent this disease. He advocates the same natural diet we do in our Diet section, and a healthy lifestyle. This means reduced stress, reduced toxins in the environment, exercise, and limited vaccinations.  Over-medicating and over-vaccinating our pets have weakened their immune systems and left them susceptible to many diseases which, unfortunately, we  often consider inevitable when they are not.

Pitcairn goes on to say that if you bring a new cat into your home, isolate the new cat from any  other cats in the house for at least three weeks. During this time have a test done for FIV. He stresses the fact that if your cat tests positive for FIV, it  is NOT a good idea to vaccinate. This runs against conventional medicine.   Dr. Pitcairn has extensive training and education in immunology. This, along with  his clinical experience, has convinced him that immunizing an already infected cat veterinarianandcatonly further disturbs and weakens their already compromised immune systems.

Our advice is to  find a holistic veterinarian with good credentials – someone you can trust. Ask  them about vaccinations. You also need to seek veterinary help if you suspect  your cat has FIV. Do not try to treat this on your own.

Viruses and Retroviruses

A virus basically consists of a protein capsule with a nucleic acid inside. The nucleic acid could either be DNA or RNA. DNA is what we use for genetic material. If the virus uses DNA, the DNA can be directly inserted into the host genome and it will start producing clones.

Retroviruses, however, use RNA, which is like a mirror image copied  from a section of DNA. RNA needs to be translated back to DNA using rRNA, tRNA,  and enzymes. The translated strand is then inserted into the host genome.

The process of translating RNA back into DNA is not very accurate.  Many times errors are made. And since the life cycle of a virus is very short,  millions of copies can be made in a host in a very short amount of time. This speeds up evolution because the errors, or mutations, often become a new and  improved strain. These viruses evolve faster than science can deal with them.  AIDS and influenza are retroviruses. This is why flu shots change every year,  because of the mutations. And often the flu shots don’t work because the virus that invades someone is not the same strain that they were vaccinated against.


Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and Caronavirus

Feline infectious peritonitis is a viral disease caused by certain strains of coronavirus. While  FIP is serious and usually fatal, the coronavirus is not. Most cats infected  with coronavirus lead perfectly normal lives.

Cats infected with coronavirus generally do not show any symptoms during the initial viral  contraction. Some cats may show mild upper respiratory symptoms such as  sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. Other cats may experience a mild  intestinal disease and show symptoms such as diarrhea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThings can go  awry when the immune system kicks in and antiviral antibodies are developed. Five to ten percent of infected cats develop an aberration either by a mutation of  the virus or a deviation of the immune response. This is when the infection  becomes serious. With the assistance of the antibodies that are supposed to  protect the cat, white blood cells are infected with virus, and these cells  then transport the virus throughout the cat’s body. White blood cells are part of the immune system involved in defending the body against infectious disease  and foreign materials. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease. The way clinical FIP uses the immune system to assist its progression is dire and unique.

Once the infection  progresses into clinical FIP, the virus is then referred to as feline  infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). An intense inflammatory reaction occurs in the infected tissues, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain. Symptoms may then  appear to come on suddenly with increasing severity over the course of several  weeks.

There are two  major forms of FIP, an effusive, or “wet” form, and a noneffusive, or  “dry” form. Generally, cats will exhibit the signs of the noneffusive, dry form more slowly than the effusive form. Symptoms generally  include chronic weight loss, depression, anemia, rough hair coat, and a  persistent fever.

The effusive form  of FIP is characterized by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or chest,  hence the term “wet.” Early in the disease, the cat may exhibit similar symptoms to the dry form, including weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and  lethargy. The wet form of the disease often progresses rapidly, and the cat may  quickly appear pot-bellied due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen. When the  fluid accumulation becomes excessive, it may become difficult for the cat to  breathe normally.

FIP can be  difficult to diagnose because each cat can display different symptoms that are  similar to those of many other diseases. Once a cat develops clinical FIP, the  disease is progressive and is almost always fatal.

beefbonesAs with other  infections, prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle. This includes a well-balanced, raw diet, regular exercise and exposure to direct sunlight, and not being inundated with excessive medications and vaccinations  that depress the immune system. The latter, over-vaccinations, is thought by  many experts to be a cause of FIP. In his book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats,  Dr. Richard Pitcairn states, “I have seen many cases occur within a few weeks  of the cat receiving a vaccine against feline leukemia – probably from a  temporary immunosuppressive action of the vaccine (an effect known to occur with several vaccines).” pumpkinsThis is not to say that the vaccine directly causes  the disease, but rather that it suppresses the immune system and gives the  virus the opportunity to develop. Proponents of this theory believe that the cat already has picked up the virus in its benign form. Other professionals think that the two viruses, FIP and feline leukemia, are related, and that one  is a mutant strain of the other. Both postulates are credible.

Once your cat shows  dire symptoms, there is no point to quarantine. The cat is only infectious one to ten days after the initial contraction of the virus, during which time symptoms are not usually apparent. In other words, if your cat is around other cats, they probably already contracted the virus by the time you notice anything is wrong. And the cat is no longer shedding the virus once the  symptoms become evident.

To make matters  worse, FIP is very hard to accurately diagnose. If you believe your cat may  have the virus, see a holistic veterinarian, preferably one who has experience  with viral infections and is trained in immunology. If you take your cat to a  conventional veterinarian, they will give conventional medications which will  further depress the cat’s immune system, which is akin to giving up. While FIP is usually fatal, holistic veterinarians have reported cases where cats have recovered. The cat’s overall health is an important factor. Dr. Pitcairn tells readers that “there is a vaccine for this disease, but research has shown it to be useless or even harmful if the cat already has the virus in its body. Not  recommended.”


Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

Feline leukemia is not the same as people’s leukemia. As with FIV and AIDS, feline leukemia is  caused by a retrovirus (see the definition in the FIV section). The virus can  cause cancer in the white blood cells, which is why this disease is called  leukemia. This disease is unknown in cats in the wild, but has been found in caged felines in zoos and in housecats. It is not highly contagious, and can be spread by way of bites, grooming, and shared water bowls between cats, or from  a mother cat through pregnancy or nursing. Many cats come into contact with the  virus and aren’t affected. In the two to three percent of housecats that do  become infected and symptomatic, those whose immune systems didn’t defeat the  virus, the disease is very serious. FeLV occurs mostly in cats aged one to five  years, and more in neutered cats than non-neutered.

kittySymptoms of Feline Leukemia:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow weight loss which progress to severe wasting
  • Poor coat condition
  • Enlarged  lymph nodes
  • Persistent  fever
  • Pale gums and other mucus membranes
  • Inflammation of the gums and mouth
  • Infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Seizures,  behavior changes, and other neurological disorders
  • A  variety of eye conditions
  • Abortion of kittens or other reproductive failures
  • The development of cancerous tumors

There  are six stages in the development of Feline Leukemia:

  • Stage  One: The virus enters the cat, usually through the pharynx where it infects the mouth tissues.
  • Stage  Two: The virus enters the blood stream and begins to distribute throughout the body.
  • Stage  Three: veinsThe lymphoid system, which produces antibodies to attack infected and cancerous cells, becomes infected, with further distribution throughout the body. Even at this stage, most healthy cats can still defeat the infection.
  • Stage  Four: The bone marrow becomes infected. At this point, the virus will stay with  the cat for the rest of its life, but it may be controllable with proper treatment.
  • Stage  Five: The infection spreads again into the bloodstream, circulating through the  body.
  • Stage  Six: The cat’s body is overwhelmed by infection and many tissues, glands, and organs are infected. The cat is shedding the virus and is contagious to other  cats.

Prevention is the same as it is for any other viral disease. Read the beginning of this section for general information on preventing viral infections, and read the Infections section for more  information. Most importantly, feed a well-balanced, raw diet with plenty of  vitamins and nutrients, orangesparticularly vitamin C. Many studies have showed the beneficial effects of vitamin C in fighting  viruses.

If  you suspect your cat may have the virus, see a holistic veterinarian, preferably one who has experience with viral infections and is trained in immunology. This disease used to be considered incurable, and oftentimes it is … but not always.


Feline Herpes, Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Feline Influenza (Flu), and Feline Coryza

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an upper respiratory or pulmonary infection of cats caused by
feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1). In other words, FVR is the disease, and FHV-1 is the virus. This disease is also known as feline influenza and feline  coryza. FVR is the most common respiratory disease in cats, and is found worldwide  in all feline species, such as lions in Germany. coughingcatAnother common cause of feline  respiratory disease is feline calicivirus.

FVR  replicates in the nasal tissues and tonsils. The virus is shed in saliva and eye and nasal secretions. It can be picked up through direct contact with the  secretions, or through surfaces that have been contaminated. FVR has a two to five day incubation period, and it is shed one to three weeks after infection.

Some cats can be carriers of herpesvirus-1. That is, they don’t show symptoms of  FVR, but they are able to shed the herpesvirus all their lives. The shedding is  brought on by stress and corticosteroids.

Symptoms of FVR include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis (an eye  disease), fever, and loss of appetite. These viral symptoms usually go away  within a week, but secondary bacterial infections can cause further problems.catconjunctivitis

FHV-1  has a predilection for eye tissues, specifically, the corneal epithelium. The  infection can result in corneal tears. Eye infections and inflammation are  common results. FHV-1 can also result in abortion around the sixth week of  pregnancy. This may be due to systemic effects of the infection, though, and  not the virus directly.

As  with all infectious diseases, the young are most susceptible because their  bodies haven’t had time to develop proper immune defenses. Also, sometimes  infection at an early age can permanently damage nasal and sinus tissue, which can predispose these cats to chronic bacterial infections.

If  you suspect your cat has FVR, see a holistic veterinarian. Even holistic veterinarians will probably want to use an antibiotic if the symptoms have progressed to secondary bacterial infections.

oilIf  the disease is caught in the early stages, a fast is appropriate. See the  section on fasting. Give plenty of vitamin C and treat according to the section on infections. Clean the eyes and nose  with a saline solution (see Conjunctivitis in the Eyes  and Vision section).

Most  of the time, however, people don’t realize their cat has FVR until the symptoms  have progressed to a later stage. Work with a holistic veterinarian and read the section on infections.


Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

catbuttFeline  calicivirus manifests itself with similar flu-like symptoms as feline herpesvirus-1,  except the nose and eyes are usually not as severely affected. FCV symptoms also include ulcers of the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the bottom of the nose. The difficulty in treating cats infected with FCV is that their mouth is so sore they are hard to treat. Consult with a holistic veterinarian. The same treatment described in the infections section applies to FCV infections. You  may want to explore alternative methods of giving your cat supplements, such as suppositories. Talk with your holistic veterinarian.


Dog Influenza

As  with most viruses, flu viruses are generally species-specific. This means you can’t catch your cat’s cold and your cat can’t catch yours. However, also like all viruses, this virus multiplies rapidly, which means it can mutate into a new strain rapidly. It has become somewhat common that certain mutations of flu have developed the ability to spread from one particular species to another.  This doesn’t mean that you get the same flu as your horse.pig It means that, for example,  ducks may have a duck-specific flu that mutates into a virus that can infect pigs in the fish ponds. The mutated pig-specific virus can then mutate again into a strain that infects people. This is what happened with the Asian swine flu epidemic.

The  symptoms of influenza in dogs are the same as for people:  fever, vomiting,  diarrhea, body aches, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, and lethargy. See the section on Infections for more information. Generally, when the dog has a fever, a fast is in order. See the section on fasting.

Your dog should recover from dog flu on his own. You should see a holistic veterinarian, though, to rule out other diseases and, especially, if symptoms persist. Don’t give your dog antibiotics unless there is a secondary bacterial infection. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, and overuse of antibiotics weakens the immune system. There is a vaccine for dog influenza, but we do not  recommend it. Talk with a holistic veterinarian who is specifically trained in immunology if you are curious.


coughingdogKennel Cough, Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Canine  infectious tracheobronchitis, otherwise known as kennel cough or canine  respiratory disease complex, can be caused by viral infections, such as canine  distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory  coronavirus or Orthomyxoviridae influenzavirus, or bacterial infections, such  as Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is commonly called kennel cough because the  infection can spread quickly among dogs kept in the same area.

Both viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough are spread through the air by infected dogs sneezing and coughing. It can also  spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact.  It is highly contagious, even days or weeks after symptoms disappear. Symptoms appear anywhere from two to ten days after exposure, and can progress to pneumonia.  From recent studies, kennel cough is now believed to be a zoonotic disease,  meaning it can transfer from animal to human and vice versa.dogbarking

The  main indicator of canine infectious tracheobronchitis is a dry, hacking cough,  often with gagging and retching. Other symptoms may include vomiting, clear, watery discharge from the eyes and nose, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever,  but this varies from case to case.

In  most cases, the disease is viral, and antibiotics are not recommended. However,  most conventional veterinarians will prescribe them, anyway, the same way many  conventional doctors will give moms a prescription for antibiotics when they  bring in their child who has a cold. As stated previously, antibiotics do no  good against viral infections. They only fight bacterial infections. And the  overuse of antibiotics weakens the immune system, causing further disease and  giving viruses am advantage. See a holistic veterinarian, preferably one with  experience in viral infections and one who has studied immunology.

In Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural  Health for Dogs and Cats, Dr. Richard Pitcairn says that the most effective  thing you can do for a dog with kennel cough is to “place the dog in a  steam-filled room (such as a bathroom with a tub full of hot water or after running a hot shower) or in a room with a cold-mist vaporizer. Veterinarians  recognize this as a disease that just has to “run its course” (two to three  weeks) before recovery.” He also advocates beginning treatment with a fast, giving immune-boosting  supplements, and using an herbal cough treatment. See the Infections section for more  information.

glassteapotMullein  is an herb that has been known for centuries to help with a dry, hacking cough.  Make a strong tea and let it steep and cool. Peppermint, menthol, pine needle  oil, slippery elm, and capsicum can also be beneficial as ingredients in a throat tonic.

A  dry, hacking cough is not always kennel cough. For example, its also a symptom of heart disease. See a holistic veterinarian if you’re not sure what brought on the cough, or if symptoms persist.



The root word “parvo” means small and was given to this virus because of its relatively tiny size. Parvovirus belongs to a viral family that has been long known to infect cattle, pigs, rodents, and cats. It’s only been since 1980 that the  virus mutated to a dog-specific variety. Since then, it quickly spread and killed millions of dogs. When parvovirus is discussed, people are usually talking about canine parvo. Feline parvo is more commonly referred to as panleukopenia and may become feline infectious enteritis, which is also thought of as feline distemper, and is discussed in the Distemper section.

ParvovirusCanine  parvovirus (CPV) is highly contagious between dogs and is spread directly or indirectly by contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination. It has two distinct forms, cardiac and intestinal. The common signs of the intestinal form  are severe vomiting and dysentery. The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies. Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalization. Parvovirus infection is serious and has a high mortality rate.  Canine parvovirus will not infect humans.

Symptoms  crop up within three to ten days. The symptoms include lethargy, vomiting,  fever, and diarrhea, which is usually bloody. Diarrhea and vomiting result in  dehydration and secondary infections can set in. Due to dehydration, the dog’s  electrolyte balance can become critically affected. Because the normal  intestinal lining is also compromised, blood and protein leak into the intestines  leading to anemia and loss of protein, and toxins escape into the bloodstream.  Dogs have a distinctive odor in the later stages of the infection. The white  blood cell level falls, further weakening the dog. Any or all of these factors  can lead to shock and death. The first sign of CPV is lethargy. Usually the  second symptoms would be loss of appetite or diarrhea followed by vomiting.

puppyatvetVaccination  against parvovirus is one of the few vaccinations that holistic veterinarians  will often recommend. In Dr. Pitcairn’s  Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, Dr. Richard Pitcairn  states, “If you really want to play it safe, keep your new puppy isolated from  contact with other dogs and just vaccinate once.” He recommends the parvo  vaccination at twenty six weeks of age. If you’re not comfortable with the  single shot schedule, his second suggestion is to vaccinate once at twenty  weeks and then again at twenty-eight weeks. The only other vaccine he advocates  is distemper.

Read  the Infections section for general information on boosting the immune system  and overall health. This is the best prevention against viral and all diseases.



rabiesProbably  the most popularly known viral disease, rabies is a serious disease that is  usually fatal by the time symptoms develop. The reason that it is so highly  popularized and guarded against is that it is zoonotic, meaning that people can  catch it from animals. The fear and hype this has induced has created a society  that demands we vaccinate our pets against the disease yearly, even though it  is thought that immunity lasts much longer. Currently, there has not been  enough funding to support further research into studies that prove how long a  rabies vaccination is effective. If you would like to support such a study, go  to this website: .

Rabies  is transmitted through biting. After a bite, the rabies virus travels slowly through nerves, taking three to eight weeks or longer to reach the brain. Most animals then go through one or more classical stages. Rabies, however, is a very variable disease. Those with exceptional immune systems can be bitten but unaffected.

Typcial Stages of Rabies:

dogeyesStage  One: In this stage, symptoms are generally negligible. In dogs, this phase typically  lasts for two or three days. The animal often becomes nervous and anxious. It  may withdraw from contact and run a fever. Personality changes are common.  Friendly dogs may become fearful or aggressive and normally fearful or  aggressive dogs may become overly friendly. Some observers say that their pet  they frequently licks the bite site. Cats seem to go through this phase more  rapidly than dogs. Some animals go straight from phase one to phase three.

Stage  Two: Once the virus has entered the nervous system, it is transported to the  brain, and then to other highly innervated areas and to the salivary glands.  This is when you will see slobbering and the virus is contagious to others.  Soon after, you will see irritability to sight and sound, restlessness, and  aggressiveness. This stage can last one to seven days. Eventually these animals  become ataxic, or wobbly, and may develop seizures and die.

rabiesvirusStage  Three: This is the stage in which the nerves of the head and throat become paralyzed.  The infected animal drools and walks about with its mouth open. The animal is  unable to swallow and looks as though it may have something lodged in its  throat. During a period of about a week, these animals become more and more  paralyzed and finally die.

There’s  not much that can be said about rabies prevention at the moment because we are  so constricted by laws to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. The best thing you  can do, though, is to boost your pet’s overall health and immune system.  Guidelines are given in the Infections section and throughout  this website.

One thing that can be said is that most of the danger to humans  from rabies is not from dogs and cats but from wild animals. Raccoons and  skunks are at the highest risk for having the rabies virus, and yet some people catch these animals in the wild and adopt them as pets.

A final note, if you happen to have a wolf hybrid, rabies vaccinations are particularly unsafe because of specific risks of infection.

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