The following article was written by an experienced natural rearing (NR) breeder about her experiences with parvovirus (parvo). My hope is that it will show you that there are alternatives to vaccination, even when it comes to diseases that are typically regarded as very serious or even life-threatening. This article reflects Ms. Jamieson’s experiences, but those experiences are representative of what many natural rearing breeders have found. I hope that you will open your mind and your heart to her message, and let her experiences empower you to help your pet live the healthiest, most natural life possible. I also hope that you will see how she applies the 8 laws of health, and her own intuition and common sense, in addressing the issue of parvo. As always, the information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
If you are interested in learning more about natural breeding and rearing, please visit the Natural Rearing Breeder’s Association at http://www.nrbreedersassociation.org. Enjoy the article!
Parvo and our naturally reared litters
We have had parvo with almost every litter born here and/or every pup that has come here to live. Our first few parvo litters had great losses (50%). Once we actually bred a litter from a bitch who had survived parvo herself, we never had any losses again. I believe this is because as we have gone forward through naturally reared (NR) generations (which have gone through the disease process and survived it), our dogs have passed on real and natural “immune system knowledge”, or “natural immunity”, to their puppies.
I kept a diary of what I did with our sixth generation NR litter when they had parvo. This is positive news for those of you who have had difficult times and losses in your first or second generation NR litters.
At the time I write this article, I have seen parvo for the third time in a fourth through sixth generation NR litter. The dams of each of these litters had and survived parvo as puppies. Each of these generations had very mild symptoms and no losses whatsoever. My fifth generation litter required absolutely no subcutaneous or IV fluids. They only got oral colloidal silver and a little oil of oregano, as they were drinking water on their own and were not in peril of dehydration.
Our sixth generation litter of eight had a father who was an imported dog who unfortunately had been vaccinated before arriving here (including rabies). However, their mother was out of my fifth generation litter; she had been mildly ill for less than 18 hours when she had parvo as a pup. The father had been treated homeopathically for about 18 months for his vaccinosis issues prior to any breeding. He was very much improved and well by the time we used him to produce this litter. One more noteworthy item to the general picture of this litter: I let my dams wean their puppies on their schedule, not on my schedule. Most of my dams continue nursing their pups until at least 9 or 10 weeks of age (this one did to 9 ½ weeks).
Addressing parvo in your puppies
The first pup in this litter showed illness symptoms starting on a Thursday at 12 weeks of age. He was not vomiting, but he did have some diarrhea and was feeling punky for about a day and a half. He received oral fluids and one or two enemas given several hours apart until he seemed to brighten up late Friday evening. After that, his recovery was quick. He lost very little weight, started nibbling on some dehydrated liver Friday evening and Saturday, and was back to eating food on Saturday evening. By Monday night, the next puppy showed signs of feeling under the weather, followed within hours by two more. The second puppy had only mild symptoms; I treated him with a mix of colloidal silver & plain Pedialyte®, along with a few drops of Oregon grape, Astragalus, Echinacea, and Ginseng tinctures. He got this mixture a few times orally, along with a teaspoon of coconut oil with 1 drop of Oil of Oregano added to the coconut oil (this was basically the treatment I gave all of them). He was recovered and back to normal the next morning—in all, his recovery process took less than 14 hours. The other pups got it over the next day or two. Some were lethargic for a day or less, some for 1.5 days, and one for two days. Only one female required subcutaneous fluids, because she vomited and had diarrhea every time she got oral or enema fluids. She was down for about 3.5 days. She was not deathly ill, however, and there was never a point that I feared that she would die. However, she did require subcutaneous fluids twice a day for at least 2 of the days that she was ill. She did not get the tincture/colloidal silver/Pedialyte® that the rest got, because she fought the oral fluids and would immediately throw them up. I think that is partly why her recovery took an extra day and a half. At any rate, she was not horrifically ill. She had some vomiting (mostly bile) and her parvo did go further than her small intestine, into her large intestine, because she had liquid bloody stools. The rest of the litter had more “gel” consistency stools, which are a better sign. The bottom line, though, is that all the puppies survived without too much effort and without me any sleepless nights for me. I was never worried about them!
A few other options
Since that experience, I have changed some of what I do for pups that have parvo. I found that using Australian Bush Flower Essence (ABFE) Emergency was extremely helpful. In hindsight, I could have given the above sixth generation litter a dose each of Aconite as soon as that first puppy showed signs of illness. Giving Aconite, followed by liberal use of ABFE Emergency, is very helpful at shortening the length of time the pups are ill. I also found that giving a dose or two of liquid Bentonite Clay is very helpful as well. It helps remove the virus and other toxins from the gut. The last few puppies that have had parvo here since the sixth generation litter described above have been treated with just the initial Aconite dose, followed by the ABFE Emergency, the bentonite clay, and a 50/50 colloidal silver/Pedialyte® mixture (I do add a few drops of Astragalus, Ginseng, and Oregon grape tinctures to the colloidal silver/Pedialyte® mixture). This approach has worked really well, and the pups have had very fast recoveries.
In the last two years, I have also found bovine colostrum extremely helpful. I start pups off when they are having their first solid foods, with raw goat milk mixed with bovine colostrum powder, given at two of their feedings every day. By the time they are 3 months of age, I will drop it down to a morning feed of raw goat milk with the bovine colostrum (my adults get the same thing in the mornings). I learned over time that a bigger dose seems to work better at staving off parvo symptoms. Since I have been doing this, we have had parvo only once in five groups of puppies, and their recoveries were very fast (one of the pups was very compromised with scoliosis and a severe cleft palate, and he recovered in less than 24 hours). It was nice to see that these pups who, although they showed some symptoms and stayed on a bed much of the time, were not so sick that they gave up playing (they would lay there and mouth wrestle and smack each other with their paws). They were up and around in less than 24 hours.
My latest litter may have had parvo, but I don’t know if it really was or not. They had a short bout of loose stool (which could have been anything) but were never quiet or acting ill in any other manner. They got generous amounts of colostrum every morning (I actually added a little goat milk to the powder to make a paste and they got a teaspoon each every morning and evening).
Homeopathy and parvo
Homeopathy can be very helpful with parvo; however, you must have some background knowledge of homeopathy, have a material medica and a good repertory, and good intuition about your animal(s), to be able to identify possible remedies that may be useful. Don Hamilton, DVM and Christopher Day, DVM have decent books with small animal material medica and repertories that you may be able to match to your puppy symptoms. It is worth having their books in your library. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Susan Meyer told me that she has had excellent results by asking clients to give homeopathics in a very unconventional way. She asked them to dose puppies with a mixed dry dose of Aconite 30c, Arsenicum album 30c & Phosphorus 30c all at once, dosing every hour for 4 doses immediately should the pups present with vomiting or diarrhea. I recently tried this with a pup immediately upon his vomiting twice (he was also feeling very punky). I don’t know if he had parvo, however I reacted as if it was. I asked my sitter (I was on my way home at the time) to give him Aconite and ABFE emergency. Within the hour I was home and mixed the 3 homeopathics.
This dosing is not typical classical homeopathy, and quite unconventional, but let me tell you that within about 20 minutes after his third dose he seemed to be back to normal. I did give the 4th dose just to be sure, but he was completely better by then. I did not need to hydrate, do any herbal tinctures, colloidal silver, or bentonite clay. I was very impressed.
Parvo and a natural breeding program
So as you can see, without vaccines, through multiple generations of survivor bitches in particular, you will find your puppies will handle parvo more like a mild flu, and that you will not lose your pups. I will say that the little bitch I mentioned above from my sixt generation litter, who was more ill than the others and took a little longer to recover, was left out of my breeding program even though she was of breeding quality. It was my feeling that her response to the parvo symptoms would not be good enough for my breeding program. There were 5 males and 2 other bitches that had milder symptoms with very fast recoveries. That is what I wanted for my future generations. By removing this female from my breeding program (I placed her in a pet home), I feel that I had Mother Nature helping me to “naturally select” my breeding stock. I needed only to ask myself, “Would this bitch have survived in the wild?” I wasn’t sure, and as such, I felt it prudent to remove her from my breeding program. I think it behooves us all to think in this way, because “beauty/conformation” is not health/vitality. We need to preserve the health and strength of our breeding choices. Yes, they should be sound and conform, but they must equally be of sound health and mind. I do not think we can extricate any of these three things (soundness/conformity, health/vital force, or sound mind/temperament) from our breeding goals. They are all necessary and of equal value. I do not believe that any of them can be extricated from a breeding decision. Keep in mind that the biggest carriers of parvo virus are other freshly vaccinated pups/dogs, coyotes, and wolves. Yes, not only do coyotes and wolves get it, but they survive it, without vaccination, because their immune systems function naturally. I am sure that early on they had losses too, but I am equally sure that they have few or no losses now because their numbers have not decreased in the least.
Again, if female puppies get parvo and they survive and are used for breeding, you will immediately see an improvement in subsequent puppy parvo symptoms and survival. Instead of a 50% or less survival rate, you will have a 90 to 100% survival rate with light to moderate illness (mine had a 100% survival rate). The next generation following will more than likely be 100% survival. You will know that they have great immune function because of the weak symptoms and the speed of the recovery. In a way, we can look at parvo as something of a “friend” in our efforts to breed very healthy, strong dogs. In reality it should be no different than the mild measles or chicken pox that many of us had as children. Most children survive their childhood diseases easily, having complete lifetime immunity thereafter. We now know that the MMR vaccine does not impart lifetime immunity, and often causes the very diseases it is supposed to offer protection from!
The parvo vaccine
I do want to comment on the virus (or viruses and other microbes in general). In nature, it is not to the microbe’s benefit to kill the host. New emerging viruses often do kill, but remember that if the host is killed, the virus also dies. So it is in the microbe’s best interest via mutative selection to not kill the host and for the host to be able to mount a response so that the microbe does not over-run the host. They do mutate over time so that the new mutation may be less likely to kill the host. That forms a better “relationship” and is beneficial to both the host and the microbe. I think that by vaccinating for parvo (or anything), the vaccine itself is mutated by human tinkering/intervention, and these non-evolutionary mutations may make the microbe deadlier, while weakening the host immune system by unbalancing the humeral and cell-mediated systems and rendering the host immune system unable to protect itself. I think this is why dogs who are vaccinated for parvo can get it, and it is also why puppies that get parvo after a vaccine has been given often die. In my experience, unvaccinated pups have good outcomes because their immune systems have not been suppressed or unbalanced by the vaccine.
The mind/body/spirit connection
I have a couple of other things worth mentioning. The first is the metaphysical causes of disease. Sometimes I feel that we humans can literally draw something to us with our feelings, emotions or thoughts, even if they are subconscious thoughts. One of the things I did to help myself after the 50% parvo losses I had in the early litters was to practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). This was a very beneficial exercise to help me deal with my fear of parvo. I had very deep fears after losing some of my puppies, and I felt that it was possible that my emotional state was actually drawing the disease to my dogs in a deadly way. I needed to change that. EFT did that. It freed me from the fear. For more information on EFT and how to use it, go to these web pages: http://www.mercola.com/forms/eftcourse.htm, http://www.emofree.com/splash/video_popup.asp, and www.tapping.com.
The second thing I want to point out is that every case of parvo that we had here either came from a veterinary office or on the footwear/clothing of children coming from a school yard, or from my fields, where coyotes and wolves frequent. Try not to take your puppies to the vet before 10 weeks of age and try not to go there yourself. If you must go, take a change of shoes with you. Spray the shoes you wore into the vet office with a 30:1 water/bleach mix and leave them outside in the sunlight until they are dry. Change your clothes and launder them. If the puppies have to see the vet, take a clean towel with you and place it on the exam table and put the puppy down on the towel. Make certain the vet has had no parvo dogs in that week, and if they have, consider going to another vet (always call to see if they had any parvo cases in recently). Do not put your puppy on the floor at the vet’s office. Carry the pup(s) in and out and don’t let them touch their feet down on anything other than your clean towel on the exam table. Make sure visitors to your home are wearing fresh clothes and remove shoes at the door, and make sure that they left straight from their home and came directly to your home. Hand washing before touching puppies is important. Do not rely on hand sanitizers. They do not work. Plain old soap and water is the best way to clean hands of microbes.
Having mentioned this, I also want to mention that I personally do not go too crazy on prevention, because I know my pups will be OK if and when they get parvo. I am careful to keep their environment clean, but I do not go overboard. I don’t drive myself crazy over it, because microbes are everywhere, and I know that the “terrain is everything”, the microbe means little. I do avoid going to the vet when I have puppies at home, until they are at least 9 or 10 weeks of age. So if I want to make sure that I have enough Ringers Lactate (for subcutaneous fluids) or IV lines on hand “just in case”, I will get this supply from the vet just before I do the breeding. Believe it or not, I actually want my puppies to get parvo so as to train and strengthen their immune systems.
By Roberta Jamieson
Roberta Jamieson has been breeding livestock & dogs for almost 40 years. She was introduced to NR after reading the book by the late great Herbalist, Juliette de Baïracli Levy in February of 1987. She started raw feeding at that time and by 1994 realized the harm she was causing with all the vaccines and jumped off that merry-go-round.
She breeds whippets under the prefix “Lepus” (Perm. Reg’d), and over the last 30 years, have also bred both Borzoi and Italian Greyhounds. She has also shared her life with several Greyhounds, several rescue mixed breeds, a Rat Terrier, a Jack Russell Terrier and a couple of German Shepherd dogs. She has also taken over the reins of Whippet Rescue Ontario over the last few years.
She has participated in Obedience and Agility and currently still participates in Conformation Shows, Lure Coursing Trials, Oval and Straight Track Racing. Her whippets “do it all”. She strives to breed functionally sound dogs with excellent health, temperament and beauty. She won’t give any of those things up.
She and her family live on a small acreage farm, and still occasionally raise meat goats but concentrate mostly on the whippets and pasture-raised poultry. You can visit her at www.lepus-sighthounds.com.