Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diet for cats and dogs; a Critique

Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diet for cats and dogs; a Critique

Critiqued paper: FPJ van Bree et al. Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diet for cats and dogs  Vet Rec 182 (2), 50. 2018 Jan 13.

Critique by Nick Thompson BSc.(Hons) Path.Sci., BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS.



Overall, this introduction is a catalogue of speculation and conjecture, suggesting the hypothesis of the entire paper is build on very shifting sands. One could interpret the introduction a case of ‘raw feeding may work in practice, but does it work in principle?’

  1. The authors state ‘It has been estimated that 51 per cent of dog owners in the Netherlands feed their dogs entirely or partially with raw meat-based products.1 Given that 36 per cent of households in the Netherlands own either a dog or a cat, it is possible that RMBDs are used in more than one million Dutch households.

Given this statistic, and the levels of zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in this one-off study, it is surprising that so few cases of animal (other than two cats 15 years ago, some historical cases of greyhounds in kennels and one report of some puppies, all with Salmonellosis) or human infection from raw food/raw fed pets are mentioned in the paper or any of the 59 references.

  1. Hyperthyroidism is quoted as a risk when feeding raw meat based diets (RMBD). A single case is quoted in the ‘Hyperthyroidism in a dog after raw meat feeding’ paper.
  1. Equally specious is the claim ‘and injuries such as gastrointestinal tract perforation’ are well recognised from raw bones in RMBD.
    1. This is not the case. They quote the Freeman et al, 2013 review paper, who themselves site four papers totalling 229 cats and dogs with foreign body obstructions. A word search of these four papers reveals the the word ‘raw’ was not mentioned at all.
  1. The authors continue in the next paragraph with ‘these diets are often deficient in several nutrients and may therefore lead to serious health problems, especially in young animals that are growing.’ They quote only one review, Schlesinger and Joffe, 2011 who say on the subject:  Nutritional osteodystrophy was reported in 2 litters of 6-week-old large breed puppies fed a bones and raw food (BARF) diet from about 3 wk of age (from 2002). Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism has also been reported in a litter of German shepherd puppies fed a diet of 80% rice with 20% raw meat. The diet contained excessive amounts of phosphorus (from 1993). Not all puppies fed the diet experienced problems, suggesting individual or genetic susceptibility. I hardly think that three litters of puppies in 25 years constitutes an epidemic of nutritional disease caused by raw food feeding. Actually, given that some people feed raw food so badly, I’m surprised the reports are not more frequent.
  1. The following sentence is then offered: ‘The spread of such bacteria and parasites in the environment, either directly from contaminated RMBDs or by animals infected through consumption of RMBDs, represents a risk for the human population.’  Two papers are quoted. The first by Lejeune et al, 2001, mentions the word ‘risk’ 16 times. In none of these cases is the risk actually quantified or substantial evidence given for actual risk in the real world. It is a mostly speculative paper (if x, then surely y etc). The second paper by Jennifer Lenz et al in 2009 describes ‘Responses to a questionnaire probing practices and beliefs regarding raw meat feeding that was administered to dog owners demonstrated that dog owners may either not be aware or refuse to acknowledge the risks associated with raw meat-feeding; thus, they may neglect to conduct adequate intervention strategies to prevent zoonoses among themselves and their families.’ This is pure speculation without a shred of evidence to back it up. 
  1. The authors continue,Other bacteria that have a possible impact on human health and that have been isolated from RMBDs include enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (including the serotype O157:H7, which may cause renal failure in human beings), Listeria monocytogenes18 and Brucella suis.’ And yet no clinical cases reported from RMBD.
  1. Anti-biotic resistant species of bacteria are mentioned and this is a worry in any medical context. I feel some of the blame should rest on the meat production industry and the overuse of antibiotics in farming. The raw feeding community cannot solely shoulder the responsibility here.
  1. It was heartening the see mentioned that Campylobacter spp were not found in any of the RMBD researched in the three papers cited in the Introduction to this paper. They rightly state that Campylobacter is labile at very low temperature storage conditions.
  1. Although only Sarcocystis spp and Toxoplasma gondii parasites were studied in this paper, the authors are at pains to mention a host of other parasites for some reason. Is this scare-mongering? I think this is inappropriate in a scientific paper, especially in the Introduction.

Materials and Methods

  1. Sample collection seems reasonable (choosing the most common in Utrecht). Storage, too, seems reasonable, but the time from purchase to storage is not noted, unfortunately. If this period was extended, and foods defrosted before storage, this would prejudice bacterial numbers.
  1. Most raw-feeders do not defrost frozen meat under the tap, in my experience. The most common methods are defrosting in the fridge overnight, or at room temperature. It is possible rapid defrosting influenced bacterial numbers. It is noted that ‘processing’ for analysis took place at 0-4 degreesC.


  1. Products containing only meat/by-products should not, in my opinion, be sold as ‘complete’ or ‘complete and balanced’ foods. This label should only apply to products having been analysed to comply with FEDIAF/AAFCO regulations, in my opinion. There are limitations with following these guidelines and I have reservations, but it establishes a benchmark, a minimum standard to which the raw food industry should aspire.
  1. Warnings were only found on one brand in the study. I believe all raw food, whether for human or animal use, raw or intended to be cooked, should have handling instructions for optimum hygiene for both owners and pets.
  1. Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma DNA were found in the products. The researchers confirmed (personal communication Feb 2018) that they did not believe these organisms to be viable. Both are killed by freezing at -18degreesC.


  1. It must be well noted that the authors state ‘The low sample size and no randomised selection in this study do not allow generalisation of infection rates or to perform a risk analysis’.
  1. Mention is made of pathogen contamination, quoting two studies. In the first: ‘This is in contrast with dry, semimoist and canned pet food, which is rarely contaminated with pathogens’. Both studies mention finding bacteria in raw (and processed) foods, but mention is not made of real-world risk. i.e. finding one E.coli in your food means it’s contaminated, but finding a billion is a completely different matter. Work needs to be done on real-world risk. The second study, the Strohmeyer paper in JAVMA is wholly and typically biased. 20 raw foods were compared to just two dried foods and two canned foods. Pathogens, interestingly and somewhat surprisingly, were found in the canned products. This is surprising because the heat processing should render all canned goods pathogen free. If pathogens were found in such a small sample of canned pet food, it could be induce that much of the canned pet food available in the USA could be potentially contaminated. I am surprised this has not been followed up by the AVMA who are otherwise keen to find fault with potential infectious disease derived from raw food feeding. Risk of raw food feeding to owner or pet was not quantified in either paper.
  1. It is noted that ‘The overall microbiological quality of the commercial RMBDs tested in this study was acceptable since none contained more than 5×106 cfu total aerobic bacteria/g meat, and only two contained more than 5×105 cfu/g’. However, spurious and unhelpful comparisons are made between raw food contamination levels and human food bacterial thresholds, where the food/meat is most likely to be cooked.
  1. The authors list direct and indirect means of contamination from raw pet food. These equally apply to all households, even vegetarian homes!
  1. Interestingly, the authors note ‘While most cases of E coli O157:H7 infections in human beings have been associated with raw or undercooked beef, cats and dogs are known to be short-term shedders of these bacteria’. They are unable to show any evidence for infection of animals or humans as a result of raw food feeding.
  1. In a similar vein, they are only able to note one paper where Salmonella has been implicated in infection of two cats. Many felines are fed raw in Europe, USA and the Antipodes.
  1. Three papers are quoted to demonstrate that ‘RMBD have also been identified as a source of gastroenteritis in greyhounds’. This is disingenuous as Salmonella is found in dogs fed many different foods (Arsevska E et al., Small animal disease surveillance: GI disease and salmonellosis. Vet Rec. 2017 Sep 2;181(9):228-232.). Salmonella is also referenced as causing diarrhoea in puppies. The paucity of reports for what they suggest is such a widespread infection problem in raw food (20% of food sampled) begs the question that finding bacteria in food and risk to pets and people may not be correlated.
  1. The authors imply a review paper has ‘shown that direct contact with pets plays a major role in human salmonellosis’. This is not the case. The abstract from the review says: ‘Reviewed results suggest that illnesses and outbreaks are most commonly attributed to exposure to contaminated food, and that eggs, broiler chickens, and pigs are among the top sources. Although most source attribution studies do not attribute salmonellosis to produce, outbreak data in several countries suggest that exposure to raw vegetables is also an important source. International travel was also a consistently important exposure in several studies’. Therefore banning vegetables and international travel might be a good idea before targeting raw food feeding in cats and dogs where actual risk to pets and owners is unknown.
  1. Dried pigs ears and chicken jerky pet treats are noted as having Salmonella contamination. Depending on how they are produced, they may not be raw, i.e. uncooked, therefore should not appear in this paper without explanation.
  1. Antibiotic resistance is of concern to humans and pets. The Schmidt et al paper (2015) is quoted where 73 healthy Labradors were tested for antibiotic resistance in stool bacteria. Raw meat feeding was considered to be a significant risk factor in this small study. We must remember that this is not a function of feeding raw meat as such, it is a side effect of the UK meat industry producing meat products high in bacteria with antibiotic resistance, which is a completely different discussion – one that needs to be had and needs further study.
  1. Parasite (Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma) DNA was found in the samples, but, as the authors note, this poses no risk to owner or pet if the food is frozen at -20degreesC for 48 hours, as would be the case with most commercial meats/diets. Emphasis should be made to owners that if fresh meat is bought from supermarkets or similar, that freezing for at least 2 days is essential before feeding.

Raw Pet Foods – What Does the Science Really Say?

January 31, 2018 by 
Filed under Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Blog

Both the Alberta and Canadian Veterinary Medical associations have been targeting raw pet foods of late, claiming they are unsafe due to potential exposure of owners and their pets to food-borne pathogens. Despite any good intentions, these articles and position statements actually do the public a disservice, because the implication is that the converse must also be true. That is, feeding canned and kibble diets must be safe, if raw foods are unsafe. This is not at all the case, as any brief investigation will reveal.

For example, only 1 of the 17 pet food recalls reported by the FDA in 2017 was a raw food company. The company in question is located in Oregon. No illnesses arose from consumption of the food. It was the company’s own internal monitoring that detected higher than acceptable numbers of Salmonella, prompting the company to pull the food from the shelves.

The other 16 recalls were of canned and dry foods and treats, for a number of reasons, ranging from the presence of Salmonella and Listeria to metal fragments and phenobarbital. More foods had to be recalled due to phenobarbital residues than for any other reason. A few years ago, it was melamine in canned and dry foods that was the problem. Thousands of dogs and cats died. Veterinarians happily endorse those same foods today – in fact, they never stopped! But can you imagine the hue and cry if it was a raw food manufacturer that was the guilty party back then?

Here is a list of pet food recalls dating back several years: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recalls/
You’ll notice that the vast number of recalls were for canned dog food and treats, none of which have ever been targeted by the CVMA and AVMA. Certainly some raw brands are on the list, but they are uncommon. Just as frequently appearing are household names like Iams, Purina and Hill’s, which most veterinarians happily recommend, in spite of this data. These companies have a much broader reach, however, affecting many more dogs and cats than small boutique raw food manufacturers. Much more harm has been done by feeding canned and kibble diets than has ever been incurred by feeding raw diets.

Not to belabor the point, but, but a study published by U of A grad student Bushra Alam found that of the four pet foods recalled in Canada since 2012 for the presence of Salmonella, three were dry dog foods.

The bottom line is that no food is immune from bacterial contamination, so this issue really needs to be taken off the table as a reason to feed one food over another. Controls are in place in all industries, including the best of the raw pet food manufacturers, to limit bacterial exposure. Veterinarians like to think of themselves as scientists, but our turning a blind eye to these facts reveals us to be anything but. True scientists don’t have biases.

How would a true scientist investigate the merits of feeding of raw pet foods? Surely they wouldn’t do yet another test to see if they could find bacteria in the food. After three decades of doing that, I think we can finally safely assume the answer is ‘yes’, although the actual counts of bacteria in frozen raw foods are generally small. That is why they are recalled only infrequently.

Instead, I feel a scientist would ask “Why are people feeding raw petfood?”. Consumer surveys have found that ninety percent of people are aware of the risk of bacterial contamination of raw food. A scientist would surely ask what possible benefit could arise from feeding raw foods that consumers would consider it worth the risk.

If we search up ‘raw pet food’ in a medical research database like Pubmed, we find the usual tedious reporting of the presence of bacteria in raw meat. Discussions of health benefits are absent, as veterinarians continue to gleefully report. If, however, we stop focusing on the word ‘raw’, and instead search for evidence of the negative effects of food processing on health, we not surprisingly find thousands of articles. Included among them are articles on the deleterious effects of food processing on canine physiology.

The weight of the evidence supports what most consumers would consider obvious – the more unadulterated whole foods you eat, the healthier you are. It’s not the ‘raw’ that’s important. It’s whether a food is processed. Homemade diets that aren’t loaded with carbs would be expected to create the same benefits in a dog or cat as a raw diet, and those benefits turn out to be just ‘avoidance of problems’ that processed diets create.

I’m embarrassed to say that I was once a veterinarian who toed the line and spouted the usual biased rhetoric currently rampant in our profession against raw foods, all the while thinking that I was a good little scientist. It took the clinical experiences of my wife, colleague, and EHVC co-owner Kären Marsden, to show me the light.

Kären had patients that were sick for years with inflammatory bowel disease become normal within a few days of a switch to raw.  These animals did not lack for the best efforts of our city veterinarians, who had gone to the lengths of even putting the animals on chemotherapy to try to shut down their exuberant inflammatory responses.

The most recent of these miracle cures was just a few weeks ago, which several city veterinarians bore witness to. It turns out that high insulin levels are a big driver of both acute and chronic inflammation as well as obesity, and raw diets excel at keeping insulin levels low by being digested much more slowly. THAT’S why these diets are popular. Know anyone with an overweight or inflamed cat or dog? Search a medical database for articles on the link between inflammation and insulin, and you’ll find tens of thousands.

These patients of Kären’s are now free of medication and truly healthy for the first time in their lives. Note that, contrary to what we are all told to expect, none of these chemotherapy-treated raw fed cats keeled over from Salmonellosis.

Why isn’t this research collated, packaged, and disseminated to veterinarians? Let’s just say there is a ‘financial disincentive’ to do so. Veterinarians don’t feel they have the time to read research on nutrition, so they rely on pet food companies to inform them. As for manufacturers of processed pet foods, they know the information I’ve shared here, but are not about to publicize it – it would be corporate suicide.

So long as big money is at stake and so long as owners want to save time or effort by feeding cheap convenient foods to their pets, canned and dry dog and cat foods are not going away. Fair enough. Let’s just be honest about the real reasons these diets are promoted. But as for them being safer and lower in bacteria counts than raw diets, enough already. They aren’t. Ten minutes of unbiased scientific investigation shows it.

Steve Marsden


Nobel Prize Winner Luc Montagnier Supports Science of Homeopathy

Nobel Prize Winner Luc Montagnier Supports Science of Homeopathy

by Dana Ullman

(NaturalNews) Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus, has surprised the scientific community with his strong support for homeopathic medicine.

In a remarkable interview published in Science magazine of December 24, 2010, (1) Professor Luc Montagnier, has expressed support for the often maligned and misunderstood medical specialty of homeopathic medicine. Although homeopathy has persisted for 200+ years throughout the world and has been the leading alternative treatment method used by physicians in Europe, (2) most conventional physicians and scientists have expressed skepticism about its efficacy due to the extremely small doses of medicines used.

Most clinical research conducted on homeopathic medicines that has been published in peer-review journals have shown positive clinical results,(3, 4) especially in the treatment of respiratory allergies (5, 6), influenza, (7) fibromyalgia, (8, 9) rheumatoid arthritis, (10) childhood diarrhea, (11) post-surgical abdominal surgery recovery, (12) attention deficit disorder, (13) and reduction in the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. (14) In addition to clinical trials, several hundred basic science studies have confirmed the biological activity of homeopathic medicines. One type of basic science trials, called in vitro studies, found 67 experiments (1/3 of them replications) and nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive. (15, 16)

In addition to the wide variety of basic science evidence and clinical research, further evidence for homeopathy resides in the fact that they gained widespread popularity in the U.S. and Europe during the 19th century due to the impressive results people experienced in the treatment of epidemics that raged during that time, including cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza.

Montagnier, who is also founder and president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, asserted, “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.”

Here, Montagnier is making reference to his experimental research that confirms one of the controversial features of homeopathic medicine that uses doses of substances that undergo sequential dilution with vigorous shaking in-between each dilution. Although it is common for modern-day scientists to assume that none of the original molecules remain in solution, Montagnier’s research (and other of many of his colleagues) has verified that electromagnetic signals of the originalmedicine remains in the water and has dramatic biological effects.

Montagnier has just taken a new position at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China (this university is often referred to as “China’s MIT”), where he will work in a new institute bearing his name. This work focuses on a new scientific movement at the crossroads of physics, biology, and medicine: the phenomenon of electromagnetic waves produced by DNA in water. He and his team will study both the theoretical basis and the possible applications in medicine.

Montagnier’s new research is investigating the electromagnetic waves that he says emanate from the highly diluted DNA of various pathogens. Montagnier asserts, “What we have found is that DNA produces structural changes in water, which persist at very high dilutions, and which lead to resonant electromagnetic signals that we can measure. Not all DNA produces signals that we can detect with our device. The high-intensity signals come from bacterial and viral DNA.”

Montagnier affirms that these new observations will lead to novel treatments for many common chronic diseases, including but not limited to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Montagnier first wrote about his findings in 2009, (17) and then, in mid-2010, he spoke at a prestigious meeting of fellow Nobelists where he expressed interest in homeopathy and the implications of this system of medicine. (18)

French retirement laws do not allow Montagnier, who is 78 years of age, to work at a public institute, thereby limiting access to research funding. Montagnier acknowledges that getting research funds from Big Pharma and certain other conventional research funding agencies is unlikely due to the atmosphere of antagonism to homeopathy and natural treatment options.

Support from Another Nobel Prize winner

Montagnier’s new research evokes memories one of the most sensational stories in French science, often referred to as the ‘Benveniste affair.’ A highly respected immunologist Dr. Jacques Benveniste., who died in 2004, conducted a study which was replicated in three other university laboratories and that was published in Nature (19). Benveniste and other researchers used extremely diluted doses of substances that created an effect on a type of white blood cell called basophils.

Although Benveniste’s work was supposedly debunked, (20) Montagnier considers Benveniste a “modern Galileo” who was far ahead of his day and time and who was attacked for investigating a medical and scientific subject that orthodoxy had mistakenly overlooked and even demonized.

In addition to Benveniste and Montagnier is the weighty opinion of Brian Josephson, Ph.D., who, like Montagnier, is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

Responding to an article on homeopathy in New Scientist, Josephson wrote:

Regarding your comments on claims made for homeopathy: criticisms centered around the vanishingly small number of solute molecules present in a solution after it has been repeatedly diluted are beside the point, since advocates ofhomeopathic remedies attribute their effects not to molecules present in the water, but to modifications of the water’s structure.

Simple-minded analysis may suggest that water, being a fluid, cannot have a structure of the kind that such a picture would demand. But cases such as that of liquid crystals, which while flowing like an ordinary fluid can maintain an ordered structure over macroscopic distances, show the limitations of such ways of thinking. There have not, to the best of my knowledge, been any refutations of homeopathy that remain valid after this particular point is taken into account.

A related topic is the phenomenon, claimed by Jacques Benveniste’s colleague Yolene Thomas and by others to be well established experimentally, known as “memory of water.” If valid, this would be of greater significance than homeopathy itself, and it attests to the limited vision of the modern scientific community that, far from hastening to test such claims, the only response has been to dismiss them out of hand. (21)

Following his comments Josephson, who is an emeritus professor of Cambridge University in England, was asked by New Scientist editors how he became an advocate of unconventional ideas. He responded:

I went to a conference where the French immunologist Jacques Benveniste was talking for the first time about his discovery that water has a ‘memory’ of compounds that were once dissolved in it — which might explain how homeopathy works. His findings provoked irrationally strong reactions from scientists, and I was struck by how badly he was treated. (22)

Josephson went on to describe how many scientists today suffer from “pathological disbelief;” that is, they maintain an unscientific attitude that is embodied by the statement “even if it were true I wouldn’t believe it.”

Even more recently, Josephson wryly responded to the chronic ignorance of homeopathy by its skeptics saying, “The idea that water can have a memory can be readily refuted by any one of a number of easily understood, invalid arguments.”

In the new interview in Science, Montagnier also expressed real concern about the unscientific atmosphere that presently exists on certain unconventional subjects such as homeopathy, “I am told that some people have reproduced Benveniste’s results, but they are afraid to publish it because of the intellectual terror from people who don’t understand it.”

Montagnier concluded the interview when asked if he is concerned that he is drifting into pseudoscience, he replied adamantly: “No, because it’s not pseudoscience. It’s not quackery. These are real phenomena which deserve further study.”

The Misinformation That Skeptics Spread

It is remarkable enough that many skeptics of homeopathy actually say that there is “no research” that has shows that homeopathic medicines work. Such statements are clearly false, and yet, such assertions are common on the Internet and even in some peer-review articles. Just a little bit of searching can uncover many high quality studies that have been published in highly respected medical and scientific journals, including the LancetBMJPediatricsPediatric Infectious Disease JournalChest and many others. Although some of these same journals have also published research with negative results to homeopathy, there is simply much more research that shows a positive rather than negative effect.

Misstatements and misinformation on homeopathy are predictable because this system of medicine provides a viable and significant threat to economic interests in medicine, let alone to the very philosophy and worldview of biomedicine. It is therefore not surprising that the British Medical Association had the sheer audacity to refer to homeopathy as “witchcraft.” It is quite predictable that when one goes on a witch hunt, one inevitable finds “witches,” especially when there are certain benefits to demonizing a potential competitor (homeopathy plays a much larger and more competitive role in Europe than it does in the USA).

Skeptics of homeopathy also have long asserted that homeopathic medicines have “nothing” in them because they are diluted too much. However, new research conducted at the respected Indian Institutes of Technology has confirmed the presence of “nanoparticles” of the starting materials even at extremely high dilutions. Researchers have demonstrated by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction and chemical analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES), the presence of physical entities in these extreme dilutions. (24) In the light of this research, it can now be asserted that anyone who says or suggests that there is “nothing” in homeopathic medicines is either simply uninformed or is not being honest.

Because the researchers received confirmation of the existence of nanoparticles at two different homeopathic high potencies (30C and 200C) and because they tested four different medicines (Zincum met./zinc; Aurum met. /gold; Stannum met./tin; and Cuprum met./copper), the researchers concluded that this study provides “concrete evidence.”

Although skeptics of homeopathy may assume that homeopathic doses are still too small to have any biological action, such assumptions have also been proven wrong. The multi-disciplinary field of small dose effects is called “hormesis,” and approximately 1,000 studies from a wide variety of scientific specialties have confirmed significant and sometimes substantial biological effects from extremely small doses of certain substances on certain biological systems.

A special issue of the peer-review journal, Human and Experimental Toxicology (July 2010), devoted itself to the interface between hormesis and homeopathy. (25) The articles in this issue verify the power of homeopathic doses of various substances.

In closing, it should be noted that skepticism of any subject is important to the evolution of science and medicine. However, as noted above by Nobelist Brian Josephson, many scientists have a “pathological disbelief” in certain subjects that ultimately create an unhealthy and unscientific attitude blocks real truth and real science. Skepticism is at its best when its advocates do not try to cut off research or close down conversation of a subject but instead explore possible new (or old) ways to understand and verify strange but compelling phenomena. We all have this challenge as we explore and evaluate the biological and clinical effects of homeopathic medicines.


(1) Enserink M, Newsmaker Interview: Luc Montagnier, French Nobelist Escapes “Intellectual Terror” to Pursue Radical Ideas in China. Science 24 December 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6012 p. 1732. DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1732

(2) Ullman D. Homeopathic Medicine: Europe’s #1 Alternative for Doctors. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-…

(3) Linde L, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al., “Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Lancet, September 20, 1997, 350:834-843.

(4) Ludtke R, Rutten ALB. The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analyzed trials. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. October 2008. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2008.06/015.

(5) Taylor, MA, Reilly, D, Llewellyn-Jones, RH, et al., Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial Series, BMJ, August 19, 2000, 321:471-476.

(6) Ullman, D, Frass, M. A Review of Homeopathic Research in the Treatment of Respiratory Allergies. Alternative Medicine Review. 2010:15,1:48-58. http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fu…

(7) Vickers AJ. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Reviews. 2009.

(8) Bell IR, Lewis II DA, Brooks AJ, et al. Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo, Rheumatology. 2004:1111-5.

(9) Fisher P, Greenwood A, Huskisson EC, et al., “Effect of Homoeopathic Treatment on Fibrositis (Primary Fibromyalgia),” BMJ, 299(August 5, 1989):365-6.

(10) Jonas, WB, Linde, Klaus, and Ramirez, Gilbert, “Homeopathy and Rheumatic Disease,” Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, February 2000,1:117-123.

(11) Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jimenez-Perez M, Crothers D, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Metaanalysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2003;22:229-34.

(12) Barnes, J, Resch, KL, Ernst, E, “Homeopathy for Post-Operative Ileus: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 1997, 25: 628-633.

(13) M, Thurneysen A. Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. Eur J Pediatr. 2005 Dec;164(12):758-67. Epub 2005 Jul 27.

(14) Kassab S, Cummings M, Berkovitz S, van Haselen R, Fisher P. Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 2.

(15) Witt CM, Bluth M, Albrecht H, Weisshuhn TE, Baumgartner S, Willich SN. The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):128-38. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

(16) Endler PC, Thieves K, Reich C, Matthiessen P, Bonamin L, Scherr C, Baumgartner S. Repetitions of fundamental research models for homeopathically prepared dilutions beyond 10-23: a bibliometric study. Homeopathy, 2010; 99: 25-36.

(17) Luc Montagnier, Jamal Aissa, Stephane Ferris, Jean-Luc Montagnier, Claude Lavallee, Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences. Interdiscip Sci Comput Life Sci (2009) 1: 81-90.

(18) Nobel laureate gives homeopathy a boost. The Australian. July 5, 2010. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new…

(19) Davenas E, Beauvais F, Amara J, et al. (June 1988). “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE”. Nature 333 (6176): 816-8.

(20) Maddox J (June 1988). “Can a Greek tragedy be avoided?”. Nature 333 (6176): 795-7.

(21) Josephson, B. D., Letter, New Scientist, November 1, 1997.

(22) George A. Lone Voices special: Take nobody’s word for it. New Scientist. December 9, 2006.

(23) Personal communication. Brian Josephson to Dana Ullman. January 5, 2011.

(24) Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, and Govind S. Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy. Volume 99, Issue 4, October 2010, 231-242.

(25) Human and Experimental Toxicology, July 2010: http://het.sagepub.com/content/vol2…
To access free copies of these articles, see: http://www.siomi.it/siomifile/siomi…


Two Weeks Before Raw Feeding Conference

Just 11 days to go until the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS) Conference in London and it’s all happening too fast. In parachuting circles this is called ‘ground rush’, where you see the ground approaching as you drift down beneath your canopy, but the last 20 feet seem to happen faster than the previous thousand!

We’ve got Lyn Thompson MRCVS, who’s set up a chain of eight shops selling raw food and giving veterinary advice to owners, in Auckland, New Zealand. She is an inspiration and is one of the best read vets/people in the world on all things raw. I can’t wait to hear her perspective.

Chris Furley MRCVS is a zoo vet who famously, at the March meeting of the RFVS this year, said words to the effect of ‘I think the most surprising thing about raw food in the UK is that the vets have any problem with it at all’. On the back of that we’ve got him to come and tell us how they feed a range of carnivorous animals in zoos. I wonder how many tigers are fed a kibble, how many hyenas are given tins of ‘scientifically formulated’ tins of food. Hmmm.

Anna Hielm-Bjorkman DVM is a researcher with dozens of papers under her belt. She’s an Assistant Professor at the University of Helsinki who’s been researching among other things, pain, acupuncture and other CAM therapies, and recently did a study on over 600 dogs being fed raw and their owners’ impressions of their health. I’ve asked her to talk to us about the current state of research on raw. Can’t wait to see her vision of what’s happening and what is yet to happen.

Isla Fishburn PhD gave us an introduction to wolf diet in March. The outcry to get her back was so great we had not choice but to get her to come and talk more about where raw all started. There’s a lot of controversy as to just how much wolf digestion/behaviour/anatomy/physiology the modern dog has. I figure that the only way to know for sure is to research the current knowledge, use it to find gaps in our understanding, then talk to the likes of Anna to drive focussed research forward.

It is with great pleasure that we have Jonathan Self, co-founder of Honey’s Real Pet Foods, writer, ecologist, thinker and all round good guy, to come and give us some overview of raw and the raw food industry. Craig Taylor from Natue’s Menu talked in March. I think it’s important that we maintain a relationship with industry without being beholden to any one company. We need them, they need us, but we must be careful to remain independently minded and have appropriate nutrition at the forefront of our minds. Jonathan will close the conference.

What a historic day. Can’t wait.

Any vets/VNs who’d like to come to the conference are welcome. Please email moragjmoseley@gmail.com for details.

Why I Became a Homeopathic Vet

I was raised with homeopathy, my mother being into all things strange; homeopathy, nutrition, acupuncture and holistic living. I remember my disgust at being offered brewer’s yeast in a smidge of apple juice at 8 years old! It’s funny how these ideas were considered cranky in the 70’s, but are now universally accepted as essential mainstream tools, apart from homeopathy, perhaps. 

I went to Edinburgh in the mid 80’s to study Vet Medicine. On the way I picked up an Honours Degree in ‘Pathological Sciences’ (immunology, virology, molecular biology and a soupçon  of parasitology) as I knew I would be working with non-orthodox medicine, so wanted credentials to bolster my position. 

When I qualified, I went into conventional practice in Yorkshire and loved it. I thought I knew everything, so didn’t think much about homeopathy and holism for a few months. Then it struck me that I was using drugs on animals where I would not use them in myself; recommending processed food where I strove to eat well and trying to do good medicine in 10 minute consultations (impossible). 

I applied to do the vet course at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, as it was then. I did a year there, then the Homeopathic Physician’s Teaching Group came along to take over and I continued my early journey with some inspiring doctor colleagues. 

After 3 years James Herriot practice near the Dales , I decided I needed to use my homeopathy and work holistically. I joined Mark Elliott’s the newly formed practice in West Sussex and cut my homeopathic teeth; Ant tart for rattly lungs in horses, Phos for post-op complications in dogs, Staphys for resentful cats (and Arnica for everything!). One Portsmouth Collie came to me with noise phobia. Not unusual for a Collie, but if you live in that town, you have to deal, every midday, with the Noon Day Gun! She resolved nicely with good old Aconite.

During my time at the Kingsley Veterinary Centre, I began to use constitutional prescribing more and more. The case that stands out in my mind was a large, lovely nine year old Lab cross called Harry who was found to have massive, inoperable and spreading stomach cancer. The vet operating offered the owner to put him down on the surgical table or send him home to die. The owner opted for the latter and gave us a ring. After a half hour consultation at the practice, we decided that Harry was a Phosphorus type (very open and gregarious, less happy alone, incredibly sympathetic, thirsty and loved to be warm), so I prescribed Phos 1M, split single dose.

Harry came back to see me two weeks later (good start!), then a month later, then a month again after that, much to my pleasant surprise. I saw him for about four months in all, during which time he maintained his weight, his appetite and joie de vivre. Harry’s fate after that is a mystery to me, but I think of him now and again and am glad we gave him at least a few more months of great quality life.

Another prominent case from those early years is Pip. He was a 12 year old New Forest Pony with savage Sweet Itch (a skin allergy to midges). Most Sweet Itch horses itch for 2-6 months during the midge season. Pip itched 11 months of the year and had done for the previous 10 years, only being completely normal in January-time. By June of each year he developed ‘rhino skin’ where he’d been itching his wither and tail so much.

He got Arsenicum album 1M after my initial consultation in August and I thought it a fine prescription. After four weeks, he was as bad as ever. I re-took his case and prescribed Sulphur. On the wall of my practice today, I still have a picture of him the following July in gleaming summer coat without a hint of thickened, greying skin, looking impish and inquisitively toward the photographer.

Since these early forays into homeopathy, I have broadened my holistic approach within my own practice, Holisticvet, to medicine encompassing many approaches to homeopathic prescribing, loving the Ramakrishnan approach to cancer, Hahnemannian prescribing at many levels, eclectic prescribing espoused by Ian Watson, to name a few. In addition I use acupuncture, raw food nutrition and herbal medicine to treat horses, dogs and cats. I have a good relationship with most vets I deal with in the Bath/Bristol area and beyond.

But none of this would have happened without homeopathy to open my eyes to the true nature of health, disease and healing.

Dog Obesity: The Truth About Starch – Dogs Naturally Magazine

Richard S Patton has written a fantastic article in Dogs Naturally Magazine more succinctly and interestingly than I ever could, so I’m sharing this with you now: 

by Richard S Patton PhD in Nutrition And Diet – 


In a book about the fate of human societies, the author framed the discussion with a rhetorical question; why did European descendants come to dominate Native Americans instead of the other way around, with Geronimo scalping the king of England. In this book, Jared Diamond went on to answer this question with convincing insight. The discussion here could be framed by another rhetorical question: why, if fat is the problem, has per capita consumption of fat gone down precipitously for the past 30 years, yet obesity has increased dramatically?

An ancient tale. Often someone will begin to relate a tale with the opening statement, to make a long story short. As we know, they frequently fall short of being short. I can promise you the version of the story today will be shorter than the actual story, which is four billion years old.

Dog Obesity and Diet: An Ancient Tale
All mammals have a set of genes and metabolic machinery that has been perfected by four billion years of evolution, and it is remarkably similar in all mammals, including our pets and ourselves. The most obvious feature of mammalian DNA is the incredible ability it bestows on us to survive on lack. As written in my book:

“A silent force powers each creature’s daily survival. It is all the thousands of enzyme systems faithfully transferred forward by genes to deal with lack or insufficiency. This can be first a lack of a basic nutrient, such as protein or copper, and secondly lack of subsequent or secondary products, such as amino acids or copper dependent enzymes. We can endure the lack of certain nutrients for months, and in some instances, years. Everyone has skipped a meal now and then, many fast for days on a voluntary basis, and the annals of history are full of tales of survival for weeks or even months on the most meager of ratios. What is even more intriguing is that the emaciation of months of starvation in adult is usually repaired without a trace in a relatively short time.”

One example of mammalian ability to deal with lack is seen with dietary calcium. If the diet contains inadequate calcium, bone is dissolved to keep blood levels sufficient. Liver stores vitamin A so efficiently that one can function perfectly with no vitamin A in the diet for months and even years. Pregnancy can be cited as an example of this survival machinery at its most sophisticated. In mild starvation, peripheral tissue sensitivity to insulin drops measurably. The effect is to shunt critical blood sugar to the fetus, enhancing survival of the next generation at the temporary inconvenience of the mother. But if the starvation becomes severe, full insulin sensitivity returns to peripheral tissues.

This at first seems incongruous, as it invariably results in abortion. But evolution knew what it was doing. In dire circumstances, pregnancy greatly complicates survival chances, so emphasis reverts to keeping the mother alive, to be a mother later in better times.

Perfected by Lack
All mammals are especially perfected to deal with lack of energy, the foremost nutrient, after water. Whether talking of protein, fat or carbohydrate, there is a way to convert it to energy. Some amino acids (protein building blocks) are so quick to convert to energy that they are called glucogenic amino acids.

Ruined by Excess
However, mammals, including pets and people, have no ability to deal with constant, excess starch and sugar. There is a logical explanation.

As four billion years of evolution adapted all creatures to their surroundings, constant high levels of starch and sugar were never encountered. If you analyze anything that might constitute food or nourishment, anywhere in the world, it will be low in starch and sugar. The average starch and sugar content of meat, fish, eggs, insects, plants, fruits, berries, and vegetables is about 4%. Of course, honey and berries are high in sugar. But honey was rarely encountered, and berries are mostly water. Eating berries to satiety actually does not overload metabolism, and even if it does, the berries don’t last but a few days in a primordial setting.

Hormone Abuse
Contrast this 4% starch-sugar content of the primordial world with the average starch-sugar content of dry, expanded pet food, the type bought in the grocery store.

Most all dry pet food is 40% carbohydrate. It should be obvious where this discussion is going; 4% versus 40%.

A single large feeding a day of a diet that is 40% carbohydrate is in drastic conflict with what we have evolved to thrive on, and constitutes literal hormone abuse.

Consider that there are eight hormones that raise blood sugar, yet only one that lowers it. From this, we can conclude that nature saw a great deal of importance to keeping blood sugar held up to a minimum safe level, and relatively little need to lower blood sugar. This one blood lowering hormone, insulin, was invented, so to speak, to capture the rare or occasional spike in blood sugar and save it as fat. In this regard, insulin served a critical role in our evolution, and as we know, insulin is very proficient at this assignment. The hormone insulin is identical, to the last molecule, in all mammals, and does the exact same thing in all creatures.

Dim Light Becomes Sun Light
As an analogy, suppose we had spent the last four billion years in a world of twilight and star light, when suddenly a brilliant sun appeared. Our eyes would struggle to deal with this new development. This is quite similar to what happened to mankind 10,000 years ago with the introduction of genetic modification of grain, and the advent of the agricultural revolution.

For perspective, 10,000 years in the history of evolution is the same as a second in five days. Mammalian diets before the advent of farming were better. Dr Weston Price traveled the world in the 1930s evaluating the health of specific populations. He found 11 societies that existed in two isolated groups at the same time. Each had portions of their group adhering to their historical hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and a portion that had adopted modern western diets. In all 11 cases, the hunter gatherers were healthier, with virtually no bone or dental problems. Skeletons of people living in the near east prior to 10,000 years ago are three inches taller than those that came later.

The foraging of pre-agriculture humans provides an ideal model for us. It is precisely what we are evolved to do. Foraging has three inherent and important advantages; it keeps you moving (exercise), it invariably is automatic portion control, and it only serves foods of a chemical composition we are designed to eat (low in starch and sugar).

How Did We Get To This Situation?
3-LEG-Stool-4-13-11-e1367339785532Forty percent of our pets are overweight, not coincidentally the same obesity seen in all Americans.

One of the reasons is due to a sneaky trick of Mother Nature. As an ingredient in the diets, fat has over twice the energy of anything else. This invites us to follow a false line of reasoning, as we assume lower fat is better.

Proof of this – any grocery store is full of manufactured foods touted as low in fat, reduced fat, less fat. There is a coffee creamer known the world over as half and half, and it is available as fat free!

Fat is not the problem. This has been known for over 100 years, and it has been proven unequivocally by the scientific community. People on a low carb diet can eat all they want yet lose weight, and have a healthier blood lipid profile.

What is the solution to the obesity epidemic in our pets?

Americans spend more on pet care than the GDP of 87 countries. The concern is there, but evidently we are not correctly applying what we know. If weight loss is the problem we wish to address, it can be viewed as a three legged stool. The three legs are exercise, portion control and food composition. Sound familiar? Foraging should come to mind.

The solution is to feed as much raw, frozen, canned or freeze dried pet food as your budget will allow. Owners of several big dogs could rapidly go broke feeding a fresh or raw diet, bu tto the extent that the dry kibble can be reduced, or lowered as a percentage of the diet, nutrition will be better.

Interested in learning more about starches, fats and finding the best foods for your dog? Join Dr Richard S Patton PhD and more great presenters for the Natural Canine Health Symposium.

Why hounding homeopaths is both batty and arrogant.

 Body of Evidence

There is no shortage of villains in the world. Psychopaths – domestic and national – whalers, toxic waste dumpers, global eavesdroppers, billionaire tax avoiders and their army of accountants –  all well worth campaigning against with the aim of getting them banged up or forced to cough up.

There is also an infinite supply of people who are mildly irritating who misplace apostrophes, wear Croc shoes, do crochet, litter their sentences with “you know” and text using their middle finger.

However most of us can tell the difference. In fact mixing the two categories up is a pretty reliable indicator of a serious level of battiness . Picketing shops that sell Crocs or campaigning to forbid the sale of mobiles to clumsy texters puts you firmly in the mild-to-fairly-irritating and definitely-a-bit -potty class.

Step forward the Nightingale Collaboration, earnest and self-styled defender of rationalism, whose seriously potty members have got…

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Homeopathy: A 200-year-old Nanomedicine (Part 1)

By: Shelly Epstein, DVM, CVH
From IVC Issue: V3I3
Homeopathy has been around for over two centuries and is the second most utilized form of complimentary and alternative medicine in the world. The acceptance into widespread use for humans and animals has been hindered by the inability to scientifically explain its mechanism of action. Recently, old assumptions about the lack of particles in high dilutions have been overturned by advances in modern technology. As conventional medicine evolves, veterinarians find themselves in possession of more tools to help patients. But with these tools, like fourth generation antibiotics, joint prosthesis and even kidney transplants, come concerns for drug resistance, adverse events and of course impossible price tags. Fortunately, this 200-year-old system of medicine that many veterinarians find safe, effective and inexpensive is experiencing a resurgence.

Pathogenetic trials

Homeopathy is based on one unifying principle: like cures like. The medicines, referred to as remedies, are fi rst tested in healthy humans in a process known as provings, or by the contemporary term pathogenetic trials. The test subjects record their mental, emotional and physical symptoms, paying special attention to the modalities, or what makes each symptom or the person feel better or worse. The most peculiar symptoms are of special importance.

The symptoms experienced by all the provers are then collated and organized into searchable books known as materia medicas and repertories. When a patient is sick, his symptoms (signs in animals) are analyzed and the remedy that most closely matches with the symptoms experienced by the provers is given to the patient to cure him.

For example, in the proving of Arsenicum album, a remedy derived from arsenic (with no toxic arsenic effects when homeopathically prepared), the provers reported frequent thirst for small sips of water, nausea, vomiting of blood, diarrhea, restlessness with severe weakness, with all symptoms worse after midnight. Likewise, when a dog wakes his owners at 1AM with an urgency to go outside, and diarrhea and vomiting are accompanied with the dog pacing around all night and wanting to drink water, the remedy that may help is Arsenicum album. Homeopaths often fi nd in such a case that the dog will make a full recovery by morning.

Many applications

In practice, veterinarians use homeopathy for a wide range of conditions. In fi rst-aid situations, remedies can be used for conditions such as trauma, bite wounds, abscesses, musculoskeletal injuries and bee stings. Homeopathy is also used successfully for a wide range of chronic conditions in animals. These include infl ammatory bowel disease, allergies, cancer, seizures, mastitis and behavioral problems. With limited training, veterinarians can learn the indications of a small number of remedies for the most commonly encountered acute conditions (see sidebar on next page). With comprehensive training, almost any condition can be treated with homeopathy.

Homeopaths do not aim for merely a disappearance of clinical signs in their patients. Rather, the goal of homeopathy is to cure the patient, and in the least harmful way. To a homeopath, cure means:

• The symptoms are gone with no future relapses.

• No more medications or remedies are required.

• The patient’s level of health has been raised so that she feels better overall, has more energy and is more resistant to diseases and other physical and emotional infl uences.

In other words, there is something special about a remedy that does not simply suppress a symptom, but rather causes the entire body to heal itself – and become healthier.

What’s causing the controversy?

Since its founding as an empirically-derived system of medicine in the late 19th century, homeopathy has suffered from an extreme lack of respect among practitioners of conventional medicine. The founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), based his theories of practice on meticulouslydocumented experimentation and observation, and initiated the fi rst system of drug testing. Unfortunately for homeopathy, Dr. Hahnemann was no diplomat, and the medical method he founded was markedly less interventional and expensive than the prevailing treatments of the time (bloodletting, leeches, mercury, etc.). His disparaging writings about these mainstream treatments had the net effect of a negative response toward his new system of medicine by the “regular” medical community.

Three years after the American Institute of Homeopathy was founded in 1844, the American Medical Association was founded in reaction. A clause in their charter prevented members from consulting with practitioners “whose practice is based on an exclusive dogma, to the rejection of the accumulated experience of the profession.”2 Allopathic doctors risked expulsion from the society if they talked to homeopaths. This clause remained in medical society applications until the 1920s.

Homeopathy has suffered the lingering effect of the poor relationship between homeopaths and allopaths. Although it was the fi rst system of medicine to stress experimentation at a time when unfounded ideas about the origin of disease abounded, its failure to secure a major role in modern medicine is likely attributed to what many refer to as its “implausibility”. Simply stated, the argument claims that the high dilutions used in the making of remedies means these medicines contain nothing other than water. In other words, the claims of tens of thousands of homeopaths throughout the world, the purported claims of healing by patients, and the observed convalescence of animal patients can be nothing more than placebo. The suggestion has been taken one step further to imply that administration of homeopathic remedies is therefore unethical.

Remedy sources Homeopathic remedies are made from substances in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms.

• Animal kingdom remedies are made from products such as venom of the bushmaster snake (Lachesis), whole ground honeybee (Apis) and bitch’s milk (Lac caninum).

• Plant remedies include poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), pot marigold (Calendula) and leopard’s bane (Arnica montana).

• Mineral remedies are made from any element of the Periodic Table as well as any of their salts. Sodium chloride (Natrum muriaticum), phosphorus, and calcium carbonate (Calcarea carbonica) are three commonly used remedies.

The preparation process

The preparation involves successive dilution steps. The first three steps entail grinding the starting material in milk sugar, typically using a mortar and pestle, or making a tincture following precise instructions in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia3. The remaining steps entail dilution in ethanol and then water. Of major importance is the process known as succussion, which is the rigorous shaking or agitation of the solutions between each dilution step.

Dilutions are performed in either a 1:9 or 1:99 series until the desired potency is reached. For example, a dilution of 1:9, first in milk sugar and then in ethanol, carried out 12 times, would be designated as a 12x dilution, where the “x” designates the “1 to 10” dilution. A dilution in the 1:99 series carried through 200 steps of dilution would be designated a 200c dilution, where the “c” designates the “1 to 100” dilution.

According to “Avogadro’s constant”, after a total of 24 “x” dilutions or 12 “c” dilutions, no particles of the original substance should theoretically be present in these preparations. While it is possible to practice homeopathy using low dilutions that theoretically should contain the starting material, most homeopaths use dilutions in the magnitude of 30c, 200c and beyond – way beyond where Avogadro’s constant says any starting material should be present. To further confound the situation, according to homeopathic principles, the higher the dilution, the more “potent” the remedy!

New evidence shows homeopathy is plausible

Up to now, the nature of homeopathic remedies has been a major sticking point. Skeptical voices have claimed that homeopathy is nothing more than placebo, and ordinary chemical analyses of these dilutions have supported these claims. Conventional practitioners and even some integrative ones are hesitant to use homeopathy for fear of being labeled unscientific. Yet by using these medicines, homeopaths claim to cause signifi cant reversals in the health of their patients, including in animals which are not susceptible to the placebo effect.

Exciting new research in diverse fi elds of science is providing insight into potential mechanisms for the action of homeopathic remedies in the body. In Part 2 of this article (Fall issue of IVC Journal), we will explore some of the latest research that shows the following:

• Homeopathic remedies, even at high dilutions, contain nanoparticles (NPs) of the starting substances under transmission electron microscopy.

• These NPs are super-potent forms of their source material with multiple properties distinct from those of their original bulk forms. NPs can penetrate membranes easily to enter the blood and lymph nodes and can even pass through the blood-brain barrier.

• The cells perceive very low doses of these NPs as hormetins, mild or low intensity stressors that stimulate a cascade of adaptive responses in the cells and across the entire organism. The emergent result is a self-organized healing response.

• This healing works best for the individual as a whole when mobilized according to the principle of like cures like. This principle involves matching the complex pattern of symptoms that the source material can cause in healthy people with the cross-adapted pattern of symptoms that the patient experiences as his/her “disease.” The nonlinear dose-response relationship of hormesis and endogenous metaplasticity leads to self-organized reversal of disease symptoms and recovery.

• The body integrates this healing response dynamically throughout all its biological systems as an interconnected complex adaptive network.

Exploring the natural behaviour of wild canines to understand dog communication.

Exploring the natural behaviour of wild canines to understand dog communication.

 Dr Isla Fishburn – Kachina Canine Communication (www.kachinacaninecommunication.co.uk)

I have long had an interest in understanding the conflict and coexistence between people and wildlife and I am keen to share the wonderful world of animals to anybody that is willing to listen. However, having spent a few years working with people and their dogs I have soon realised that many do not understand how to communicate with their dog let alone care about an animal that does not live with them. My interest in human-animal interactions has taken me on a wonderful journey of exploring how to engage people in nature as well as engaging them with their dog.

I am a strong believer that if you work in cooperation and communication with those in a similar field to you then your overall efforts and goals will be far more effective than if you worked in isolation. Yet, tell dog professionals that I adopt the principles of what I have observed from captive wolf packs to understand how to communicate with dogs and only a few will be interested in listening further.  The majority are of the consensus that wolf behaviour and dog behaviour share so few parallels that the two cannot be compared. Agreeably, a wolf is a wolf and a dog a dog meaning differences between the two exist, but these are subtle and few. When teaching or working with a client and their dog I always follow the knowledge given to me about wolf behaviour in order to understand the dog before I then implement a training programme.

When is an alpha not an alpha?

Lets start by looking at two of the nine different characters that make up a wolf pack. It is widely acknowledged that the alpha is the individual in charge of the pack. Consequently, read some of the older books on dog behaviour and you are constantly reminded that you must be this assertive, forceful, dominant alpha leader with a list of dos and don’ts about showing your dog you are the boss. What most people don’t realise is that the character being described to them in these books is not that of an alpha but of a different character all together.

The alpha is confident but also very calculated, calm and reserved. This animal is responsible for making good decisions in a calm and balanced manner; if the alpha was to become out of control it would cause panic in the rest of the pack. Naturally then, if an alpha is in charge of its pack then its life must be very valuable. So, this animal is very snob like, aloof and self-preserving – its life simply is too important to put itself at risk. With this in mind if we were to choose this animal as a pup it is typically (but not always) an animal that is picked for us. Why? Because the alpha tends to be the last pup left in a litter and the reason is simple. A family arrive at a breeder’s home to pick a new pup and, being human, they want an animal that they can instantly bond with. However, being self-preserving an alpha is not as keen as its other littermates to go bounding forward, bouncing on the lap of a strange person. It will, instead take a step back and assess the situation – is it safe and if so the alpha will then approach. The alpha has set itself up to be the last pup in the litter to be picked as each time the animal shows this reserved, almost hesitant behaviour to greet a human family, the family feel less attached to that pup than the others that they are surrounded by.

Typical position of an alpha pup or young dog (alpha is behind other litter mate)

Now lets take another character that can also place itself at the back of its littermates but is almost always guaranteed to be one of the pups to be picked by a loving family. So, why is this animal chosen unlike the alpha when they are both keeping a distance from the people coming to choose a pup? Again, the answer is simple. Unlike the alpha who displays somewhat regal qualities, this other pup is sat, cowering with big wide eyes looking incredibly scared and nervous. A family take one look at this pup and, listening to their heart, feel that no-one but them could give it a better loving home. They immediately feel sorry for the animal, whisk it up in their arms knowing that they can give all the love and safety that this nervous pup clearly needs. However, this character is naturally shy and nervous for a reason and is known as an early warner. It is designed to be the lookout and to alert the pack of any unusual sounds, smells or movements. For our dogs, it is a natural barker!

An early warner doing its job


How to stay in control?

So, if we want to be in control of our dogs and to be an alpha leader then how do we communicate this with our dogs? The alpha needs to show other pack members that they can trust her and her decisions. She will therefore spend time showing calm and giving trust to the pack and this is something that I apply when first working with a dog. Once trust is acknowledged the alpha will highlight to her pack that the decisions she makes are the most knowledgeable and will ensure pack safety. The alpha can therefore remain in control of the pack by giving direction.

This is where many people begin to create conflict between them and their dog. Ask any dog trainer and they will tell you they frequently hear the same comment from a new client about their dog; when in the house the dog listens to them most of the time but as soon as they are out in the woods the dog doesn’t listen to a word that the person says. Now, think about the role of an alpha animal; to be a good decision maker for the survival of the pack that has the most knowledge and is calm, balanced and trusting. Naturally, in a domestic realm it is the person that has more knowledge about the environment and the dog responds to this. However, when out in the woods, field or park the dog realises that you are not so in control of your environment and the dog will begin to ask questions of you.

So, how do you stay in control of your environment and of your dog? The answer depends on the type of character your dog is, as different characters can display different behaviours and, therefore, a different approach to training may need to be applied. For instance, an alpha will see situations as a puzzle in which to solve (particularly female alpha’s). The alpha dog will listen to communication and direction given to it by an owner but, being independent, they have an attitude of “I will do it your way for now but I know there is a better way and then I will do it my way.”

If you are training or working with an alpha you can be in a constant battle with the animal’s level of independency. Thus the owner or instructor needs to work with making the alpha more dependent. Alpha’s are not difficult to train in terms of them understanding what you are asking them to do (or, better said, how and what we are communicating with them), but an owner or instructor will battle with the mental exhaustion that alpha’s can create simply because they will be assessing and asking about your ability and quality of making decisions; if bad decisions are made by the owner, the alpha will find it uneasy to forgive and you will have highlighted the opportunity for the alpha to make its own decisions.

So, how do we overcome the alpha’s natural ability to be independent? The answer is: to bluff the animal to show that you have more knowledge and that you are good at making decisions. The alpha will then become an alpha in waiting but will never get to be an existing alpha because the owner will outlive the dog’s life.

An early warner, on the other hand, is a follower who will be the first to alert the rest of the pack. So, if you select a dog that is an early warner and live on a nice, quiet country estate then this will not cause too much concern. However, if you live in the middle of the city do not be too surprised that the dog barks continually.

Unlike the alpha, an early warner is not a confident animal and is very dependent on others around it, making this character prone to separation anxiety. Being a typical barker, the time of year you select an early warner is important. It is more difficult to familiarise the dog with outside sounds and smells in the wintertime. This is because there is not enough light during the day and we do not want to socialise the animal correctly. This means when the pup is put in the garden to go to the toilet etc it is left on its own and is exposed to all the noises, smells and movements that it will assume are dangerous or a problem.

There is a reason why wolf cubs are born in the spring and it is not just because there is plenty of food around. Most importantly, there is plenty of daylight too. With lots of daylight the mother has enough time in her day to introduce the pups to unfamiliar places, sounds and smells. This means that she bonds with her pups and they learn what noises and smells are safe and familiar and which ones aren’t. With this time of year the owner is more dedicated to going out into the garden with their pup and spending time with the animal. The pup therefore learns what local noises are not a cause for concern.

Training an early warner can be time consuming. Training may need to be done slowly and methodically as an early warner can struggle to understand what communication you are asking. An early warner will make more mistakes if you become frustrated or aggravated by the slow speed at which an early warner may learn and will then look for and give calming signals that you should respond to. Unlike an alpha that can jump from one to five to ten, an early warner may need to be taught through smaller steps. So, you may need to do 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and back to 1.2 again.

In addition, from my experiences, behavioural problems can occur if an early warner is allowed to breed for two reasons. Firstly, for wolves breeding is an earned right and it would not be expected for an early warner to breed. If an early warner does breed then it may have increased dominance when meeting other dogs, or, you may find that dogs that are naturally more assertive use more discipline towards the early warner that has been allowed to breed. I have certainly seen this in both wolves and dogs.

Second, if an owner of an early warner selects that dog to breed, her pups will develop the qualities of their mother as they will be exposed to her shy, nervous, suspicious nature and will show this in their characters as they mature. This is why I am of the opinion that an alpha female is usually the only female in the pack to breed (although an alpha can allow other females in her pack to breed but she will then take those pups and raise them as her own). As the alpha is confident, calm and balanced her pups will have the best start in life compared to developing in to shy, nervous animals taught to them by their shy, nervous mother.

Communicating with your dog in its own language

Being in control of your dog is not about force or dominance but about being in control of your environment and educating and communicating with your dog through trust, balance and guidance; each time you take your dog out you are saying that you are great at making decisions so the dog doesn’t have to. With a wolf pack the mother will always be a good role model for her young cubs and then select appropriate role models within her pack for her cubs to meet. We can apply this theory of using role models when getting our dogs to meet other dogs or new people; your dog does not have to meet all other dogs and all other people in a 50 mile radius, but if you select a handful of good role models you will again demonstrate to your dog that you constantly make good decisions for him/her and their survival.

From my experiences there are many examples where we can use wolf behaviour to understand and communicate with our dogs before we then apply training principles. Here, I will discuss the communication of discipline and defence used by wolves and how I apply this knowledge passed to me to teach a young pup or adult dog.

During a cub’s early development and before it is educated about discipline the cub will be shown trust and a series of calming signals from its mother. During this time the young animal learns everything that is good whilst receiving warmth from its mother by lying with her. At times when the pup does something wrong, the mother will get up and move away. The cub learns that an error on its part causes the warmth to be denied, and so the steps of discipline begin to be put in to place. The first principle of discipline is to deny another animal warmth. So, the cubs are taught right before wrong and good before bad. Discipline is therefore used to educate the animal and not used as punishment;

A hybrid receiving trust and calming signals

At about four to five months the wolf cubs will be at an age where they can now begin to be educated about discipline. There are three passive levels of discipline; the final level is a physical discipline. The first level is described as a low rumble and is of little threat. This is equivalent to us saying “no.” The second level of discipline, which is a throaty growl is stronger, more assertive and longer. It is similar to us saying “nnnoooooooo” which sounds like a rumble. Often, with this discipline a wolf and dog will curl the lips to expose the teeth.

The third level of discipline is a snap. It is best described as a dog attempting to take a bite out of another dog but missed. It is the snap that most dog owners panic at, believing their dog to be aggressive or the dog that has shown the snap to be aggressive. However, wolves and dogs communicate with their mouth, and for the animals, the snap is seen as communication. It is how we respond to the snap that causes this level of discipline to become out of control. For us, the snap is equivalent to giving a short, sharp and loud “NO.” The final level of discipline is known as the contact which involves a wolf physically showing another that it has done wrong.

The levels of discipline are never used as punishment and the animal disciplining will then move down the levels of discipline so that when the animal receiving the discipline hears these again s/he should respond to the passive levels and not the contact. So, from the fourth level of discipline, the animal will then go to the snap, the throaty growl and then, finally, the low rumble.

Second level of discipline includes exposing of teeth (area of weaponry)


Discipline is more detailed than what dog owners think. Usually we are poor at teaching our dog the correct way to communicate discipline resulting in our dogs to use excessive discipline, incorrect discipline or even force. As role models for our dogs, if we use excessive discipline or force to teach them about how to use discipline then it teaches our dogs

that contact or a snap must be used every time. This does not allow for

any correction, to accept trust and can often cause our dogs to be unbalanced. If, however, we communicated with our dogs correctly through the four levels of discipline then our dogs would respond to and use the first two levels of discipline more effectively.

One area of discipline on a wolf is the back of the neck. The principle of disciplining the back of the neck is an extension of the communication that should have been given to this animal when it was young; receiving and giving trust. There is a set pattern used when a wolf disciplines this area. The wolf will hold the back of the neck and the wolf receiving the discipline will then turn on to its back exposing its front. The wolf disciplining will then hold the throat then calmly sniff and/or lick the abdominal area. The wolf that has rolled on to its back acknowledges the discipline and asks for trust in return, which the other wolf now gives. This is an important point for two reasons. First, when a dog rolls on to its back many people give a frantic belly rub – this can be a bad idea if the dog is asking how trustworthy and balanced we are. Second, due to the different sizes of breeds present today a large dog may discipline a small dog on the back of the neck but the small dog is unable to roll over and give trust.  This often gives the impression that the large dog is aggressive (although some dogs that are aggressive do show this ragging behaviour to other dogs). In reality, the size differences meant the small dog was in the air and was not able to turn over, causing the big dog to discipline even more as it is asking for the small dog to show trust having received the discipline.

With this in mind, cast your minds back to Issue 66 of Service Dog and the very interesting article by Robert Alleyne on puppy parties. I was alarmed to read the story he told about a vet pinning a pup down on its back. Not only was this animal too young to receive discipline in this form it was also inadvertently being taught to use a contact discipline (the final level of discipline) without having been taught trust or the three passive levels of discipline. So, the human role model was educating the pup that no matter how minute the crime, the discipline given must be in the form of a contact that is forceful and to then not

Giving trust after receiving discipline


acknowledge the area of trust which should be used        to show the animal you are still calm and balanced.

So, what about those people who discipline their dog by hitting, kicking or tapping the dog in side of ribs? Ever seen an owner do this and the dog’s response is to immediately go into a prey/play bow which adds further frustration to the owner. This is because the rib area is not seen as an area of discipline but an area of prey defence. Here is how it works. When a wolf is chasing a large prey animal just as a dog would chase a deer, the prey animal will kick out using its back legs in an attempt to injure the wolf. The area that this kick hits is usually the side of the ribs (but can be the jaw) and the wolf or dog will learn to duck and dodge these blows and continue to chase the prey animal. That means if you discipline a dog in the rib area the dog will assume they are being taught prey defence and will begin to jump from side to side in the play/prey bow.

I have seen many examples of when a dog has been given the incorrect communication about discipline from their owner. In addition, we can inadvertently cause miscommunication between us and our dogs simply by what we wear.  Have you ever seen a dog unsure of people that wear hats, caps, hoodies, sunglasses etc? It is my belief that this is down to understanding the natural defence of a wolf (although I acknowledge for dogs that have suffered trauma from a person who was wearing a cap, for example, can have a negative association to all people that wear caps).

When a wolf is born it spends the first few weeks learning from its mother. It is this time spent with its mother in the den site where the young animal is in its first natural learning circle. The cub needs to learn that this circle is safe and a place where the animal can go if ever vulnerable and in need of protection.

      A wolf leaving the den site is similar to how a dog uses its domestic environment to feel safe

Domestic dogs will replicate the use of a den site and its advantages to ensure the dog’s safety. This can be seen when a dog feels vulnerable and will go behind the back of furniture, under a coffee table or behind the back of its owner’s legs.

The den site provides several safety advantages for the individual using it due to it shape. First, the entrance is a small round opening just big enough for one wolf at a time to squeeze through. This opening restricts the size of other large predators to enter. This can be a cause of seperation anxiety in our dogs (particularly for an early warner) because when we leave our dogs on their own they have to contend with a large doorway. To a dog an animal the size of a bear could get through this doorway and tear them apart. Second, a natural den site has a a long narrow passageway. This passageway allows an animal to feel safe because only one enemy can come down the passageway at a time. Due to the shape of the den site the wolf can sharply enter, turn around and the only part of its body exposed will be its muzzle (i.e. area of weaponry). Exposing the muzzle allows the dog to use this to defend itself and snap and bite anything that is trying to enter.

Baring this is mind there are two instances where we may cause a dog to feel threatened by us. If we were to approach a strange dog when wearing a hood, hat or cap, expose our teeth and smile we are actually given the impression that we are defending ourselves by exposing our teeth when in a small, narrow opening. This can often lead to dogs becoming defensive. Equally, we teach young children to smile and open their arms wide to offer a hug to a family member or friend. The child assumes that they can make the same action when meeting a dog. However, the child is actually exposing its teeth while in a long narrow passageway which can, again, communicate to a dog that you are being defensive.

There are so many parallels between the behaviour of our Canid friends I now offer courses that explore these similarities and how we can apply them to understand our dog before we put in the necessary steps to training; from scent rolling, food choice and selection, prey drive, communication, early development and role models to name but a few.  Quite simply, we need to be able to communicate with our dog. This means understanding its world as much as our dog needs to understand ours.

The way I see it is that I have met many wonderful people who share the same passion and interest to understanding canine behaviour. From a retired Australian shepherd, animal shelter manager, dog breeder to experienced military dog handler, each person has allowed me to develop my portfolio of knowledge and skills. I hope I have been able to do the same here by sharing my experiences with you.

Dr. Jean Dodds’ Blog on Raw Food (Part 1).


As feeding raw has increased in popularity over the past decade, so has the debate about whether a raw diet is more beneficial than a cooked or commercially prepared diet and whether feeding raw food to our companion animals is safe. This debate has become even more polarized in recent months with position statements issued by theAmerican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association(AAHA), the two primary small animal veterinary medical associations in the United States. The statements issued by these organizations make it clear they are against the feeding of a raw food diet to our companion animals. The AVMA and AAHA cite safety concerns – not just for the animals, but for the people in the households, as well as the public at large. The AVMA FAQs explain its rationale.

So, given these strong positions, what is my take on the issues surrounding the raw diet controversy? Let’s take a look at some facts: 

Fact: Many of us in the veterinary community, including myself, have seen first-hand the health and vigor of dogs and cats fed raw diets. These animals just ‘shine’ in all respects. While these observations are shared by a growing number of animal health care professionals as well as experienced dog and cat fanciers, they could be considered as merely anecdotal. Perhaps so, but I consider them experiential findings based on years of observations by many dedicated professionals in the holistic veterinary field. I believe, therefore, that to criticize all raw diets on the basis that they are inherently harmful is misleading, and conveys an inflexible message.

Fact: Veterinarians speaking on behalf of the AVMA have stated that the commercial pet food industry has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for Salmonella in kibbled products, creating the impression that this same zero-tolerance would not pertain to commercial raw diets. This is false.

Whereas the USDA actually has an acceptable threshold of Salmonella in meat sold for human consumption (Yes, that’s correct! You could be buying Salmonella-contaminated beef or poultry for your family!), it is the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine that controls the pet food industry, and this organization mandates a zero-tolerance policy of Salmonella for all pet foods, not just ‘cooked’ products.

As anyone who follows pet food recalls knows, commercially produced kibbled products and treats are recalled on a regular basis due to contamination with Salmonella and E. coli (Campylobacter is also of concern).

Fact: Larger producers of raw pet foods incorporate a ‘kill-step’ into their production process to eliminate pathogens while creating the least impact on the food’s enzymes, proteins and other nutrients. One such method involves high pressure processing (HPP), which works by using intense pressure rather than heat to kill the pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. HPP also kills yeasts and molds.

These raw food manufacturers also test each batch of food before releasing it into the marketplace. As per the FDA’s zero-tolerance policy for all pet foods (including raw foods), these products must test negative for pathogens before they go out. Any raw food manufacturer that releases food with Salmonella in the product is not abiding by the FDA’s regulatory guidelines.

That said, there are many “mom and pop” producers of raw foods, and these companies may not employ a ‘kill step’ to eliminate pathogens, or fail to test each batch of their product to ensure it is pathogen-free. So, prior to feeding your pet any raw food, be sure to contact the manufacturer and ask them what steps they take to ensure your pet’s food is free of Salmonella and other pathogens.

It is true that not all animals thrive on raw diets (or any specific diet, for that matter), and not all animals can tolerate them, especially if they have a history of bowel disorders. In addition, people feeding a raw diet to their pets must follow common sense hygienic procedures to avoid potential contamination of utensils and surfaces and to ensure the safety of the humans in the household. 

Nutritionally, raw diets are the most wholesome, followed by dehydrated, freeze-dried and fresh, home cooked, properly balanced diets. Premium quality commercial kibbled and canned food diets are the next tier of the pet food chain, especially those that are grain- or gluten- free. 

While the recent position statements of the AVMA and AAHA have angered many people dedicated to feeding their pets a raw diet, it is important to understand that these statements in no way limit your rights – that is, unless your pet is a therapy dog or cat. Many raw-fed therapy animals are no longer welcome in hospitals, nursing homes or other such facilities due to the potential increased risk of illness for seniors or those with compromised immune systems.

Finally, remember that pets (and people) can be carriers of bacterial pathogens like Salmonella, E.coli and Campylobacter whether they eat raw, cooked or kibbled meats. Our bodies and excrement are never sterile, nor were they intended to be!

In Part 2 of our raw foods blog, we will delve further into the differences between commercial raw foods processed using HPP and those that are non-HPP, as well as how they compare to home-made raw diets. We will also address the confusion that often exists concerning dehydrated and freeze-dried diets.