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News from Optimum Choices, LLC

May 2005

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Current news
Vaccination controversy
Upcoming classes
DVD of the month
Contact us

Current news

Denver Dumb Friends League Furry Scurry

Saturday, May 7, 8:30-Noon

Margaret Auld-Louie of Optimum Choices will be offering 10 minute mini canine massage sessions for $5 at the annual Furry Scurry in Washington Park, Denver. Russell Louie will be demonstrating the benefits of our holistic whole food product for pets, BioPreparation. We will be joined by Cindy Lloyd of Natural Pet, LLC, who offers anesthesia-free teeth cleaning services at area vet offices. For more information, see www.ddfl.org.

Vaccination controversy

Are vaccinations beneficial or dangerous for our pets? This is a controversial topic. On the one hand, we're told that our dogs and cats should get yearly shots or we're not taking proper care of them. Most veterinarians send out yearly reminders to bring our pets in for their annual vaccinations. So we feel we're taking good care of our pets by doing this. But did you know that there is no scientifically proven reason to give pets annual vaccinations? Instead, it is done because of "historical precedent" or, in other words, "that's the way it's always been done". Since we are not vets at Optimum Choices, we would not presume to give you advice on how often or what to vaccinate your pets for. Instead, we will report on what veterinarians are saying about this topic and encourage you to do further research and make up your own mind on this issue.

Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, a leading holistic veterinarian, states "I think that vaccines, justly credited as the tamers of disease epidemics, are nevertheless the leading killers of dogs and cats in America today." Dr. Goldstein, a columnist for Animal Wellness Magazine, is the author of The Nature of Animal Healing, where he devotes a whole chapter to the problems caused by vaccines. He has been in practice since the 1970's, specializing in holistic treatment of cancer, though he deals with all diseases. He feels that over vaccination, along with poor diet, environmental toxins, and drugs contribute to the epidemic of cancer and other degenerative diseases that our pets are experiencing now. Most holistic vets are in agreement that while certain core vaccines are important for puppies and kittens, giving yearly vaccines throughout an animal's life causes more harm than good and is unnecessary. Other than the rabies vaccine, which is mandated by law, most holistic vets will not recommend annual booster vaccines after an animal has had their initial shots when young.

Even conventional vets are starting to change their recommendations, as studies come out from veterinary schools showing that vaccines' effectiveness can last for many years. The premier vaccine researcher in the country is Dr. Ronald Schultz, DVM, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He states "Annual revaccination provides no benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions. The percentage of vaccinated animals (those vaccinated only as puppies) protected from clinical disease after challenge with canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus in the study was greater than 95%" (in "Current & Future Canine & Feline Vaccination Programs," Vet Med 3: No. 3, 233-254, 1998). Also, he has stated "when there is no interference from maternal immunity, immunized puppies are protected for life, just as children are". Dr. Schultz has more than 45 years of experience in the field of immunology and has been a driving force behind many of the recent changes in vaccine recommendations made by the American Animal Hospital Association and other organizations. The new recommendations are for vaccinations every 3 years, though vaccine expert Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM acknowledges that they are much more modest than they need to be (every 3 years is unnecessarily frequent). She states that "we don't want to appear too radical here". Unfortunately, your vet may not be up on the latest recommendations and still recommend yearly vaccines, so if you are concerned about over vaccination of your pet, you may need to educate your vet or if they won't listen to you, change vets.

Dr. Goldstein also states that annual booster vaccines are unnecessary and redundant. But, he argues, redundancy is not the problem. He states that "giving too many vaccines makes pets sick". His concern with vaccines is not just the immediate bad reactions that some animals have to vaccines but the long-term effects on an animal's overall health. His concern is that the way vaccines are delivered to the body is unnatural, since few diseases enter the body by injection. "Where is there a dog or cat in nature who's exposed to seven or eight diseases at the same time by injection?" he asks. "The immune system isn't designed to withstand that onslaught". Intranasal (in the nose) vaccines can cause their own problems, such as sinusitis and nasal cancer. Homeopathic doctors and veterinarians, such as Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, have a term for the chronic problems caused by vaccination--they call it vaccinosis. They feel that vaccines, while preventing an immediate acute illness, may lead to a long-term chronic form of the disease that accounts for up to 80% of the illnesses that vets treat. Dr. Goldstein has seen so many cases in his practice of animals getting sick soon after annual vaccines that he no longer feels it is "coincidence" but that there must be a correlation between the two. In my own experience, I remember a colleague's dog getting a skin problem after vaccination for Giardia, which the vet stated must be "coincidence".

Dr. Goldstein suspects vaccines of causing many different problems in animals, far more than most vets recognize yet. He speculates that in cats the distemper vaccine has led to the increased incidence of hyperthyroidism. Holistic cat expert Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM points out that the feline distemper vaccine is grown in feline kidney cells and recent research shows that kittens develop autoantibodies to their own kidney tissue after being vaccinated for distemper. Almost all older cats these days develop chronic renal failure (CRF) and many die of it. Could we be causing this, at least in part, with annual distemper vaccines? I personally lost two cats to this at age 17, after several years with CRF, and they had both been vaccinated annually for much of their lives. My remaining cat, who is now 17, did not have regular annual vaccines and does not suffer from CRF yet.

Based on his many years of clinical experience treating cancer, Dr. Goldstein is now convinced that over vaccination is a major factor causing cancer. Clients would call him in a panic because cancer had recurred even though the owner stuck with the new diet and supplements. Upon questioning, Dr. Goldstein would hear responses such as "our local veterinarian told us just two weeks ago how great our dog was doing when we brought him in for his annual vaccines". What is proven in relation to cancer is that some vaccines can cause "vaccine induced fibrosarcomas" or tumors. Vaccines that used to be given between the shoulder blades are now administered in the legs so that if a tumor appears, the leg can be amputated. One vaccine can be put in one leg and one in another. However, after a while, you run out of appendages. Dr. Hofve states "I guess the FIV vaccine will have to be given in the tail, the next most likely appendage to lop off in the event of cancer". 

One unfortunate aspect of vaccination is that we may be required to show proof of "current vaccinations" (generally meaning annual) to take our pets anywhere outside our home such as a kennel, hotel, dog park, doggie daycare, dog race, airplane, etc. So even if we work with a holistic vet that doesn't recommend annual vaccinations, that doggie daycare you want to use does require it. Virtually all facilities for dogs require current vaccination for bordetella or kennel cough. According to Dr. Goldstein, the vaccination for it is probably ineffective, may even cause kennel cough and is immunosuppressive. And he states, bordetella "is a mild condition, hardly life-endangering". Unfortunately, I have yet to find a kennel or daycare that does not require vaccination every 6 months for bordetella.

Vaccinations can be particularly stressful for elderly animals. The Cat Care Society in Lakewood, Colorado, which approaches health care for cats fairly conventionally, is now suggesting that people stop vaccinating cats after age 10, since it is probably unnecessary at that point, particularly for indoor cats, and is too stressful. Dr. Goldstein illustrates the problem of vaccinating elderly animals when he tells of a couple that took their elderly 19 year old cat to a kennel for boarding so they could take a much needed vacation. The kennel was inflexible and required "current vaccinations" so they brought their cat up to date on all vaccines with a FRVC+E shot and when they picked up their cat two weeks later, it was nearly dead. He states that vaccinating this elderly cat is "as if a one-hundred-year-old woman had planned a two-week stay at a seaside hotel, only to learn that before she checked in, her doctor would have to vaccinate her for chicken pox, smallpox, polio, and flu--at the same time!". He adds, since the diseases pets are vaccinated for rarely occur in older animals, the vaccines are not even necessary. He explains that in veterinary school a teacher discussed a case of a dog with distemper that was eight and a half years old and this was the only dog the teacher had ever seen over the age of eight with it. Yet, dogs of twelve to sixteen years old are routinely given vaccines for distemper.

What about alternatives to annual vaccination, such as titer testing and nosodes? These areas are just as controversial as vaccines. Titer testing means drawing blood and measuring the antibodies for a specific disease. The problem with it is that it only measures one aspect of immunity so a low titer does not necessarily mean lack of immunity to a disease. However, if you are concerned about your pet's immunity to a disease, it can be a useful tool. The use of nosodes means using homeopathic dilutions of a disease for protection against it. This sounds like a good idea but its effectiveness is not proven and vets who do classical homeopathy feel that it can be suppressive to the immune system, unless the animal already has the disease when given the nosode. Nosodes are non-toxic, since they are an energetic medicine, but their long-term effects on the immune system are unknown.

So, given all these concerns about vaccinations, how do you decide what to do with your pet? We would suggest finding a holistic vet you are comfortable with and consulting with them. Most holistic vets have a protocol of a few "core" vaccines they feel are necessary, rather than the large number of vaccines given these days by conventional vets. They generally will give these core vaccines once or twice as a puppy/kitten, depending on their age, or give them once to an adult animal of unknown vaccination status (such as a shelter animal). To reduce stress on the immune system, they generally give vaccinations singly, rather than the combinations of 3, 5 or even more vaccines given at once by conventional vets. They generally try to wait until 6 months or older to give the rabies vaccine. After that, they may recommend titer testing periodically to check the status of your pet's immunity and may revaccinate if titers are low. Also, they will likely recommend  readministration of the rabies vaccine as required by law in your community. The vaccine protocols tend to vary from vet to vet so you need to find a vet you feel comfortable working with and educate yourself about vaccinations. Dr. Goldstein's book The Nature of Animal Healing has an excellent chapter on vaccinations. Also, there is a great deal of information available on the Internet, although you will have to be discerning as to whether the information is accurate. You can even find discussion groups on the Internet (such as on Yahoo Groups) about the problems with vaccinations. Below are a few sites with more information.

Article by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM

Article by holistic vet Dee Blanco, DVM

Several dog breeders have successfully raised generations of dogs with minimal or no vaccinations. Here is the website of one such breeder:
Article by dog breeder

Upcoming classes

Using the Tao in Business

Sunday, May 15, 12:00 - 5:00

$55 by May 8 ($66 thereafter)

Journey Books & Gifts
1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO

Do you have an unsolvable problem at work? Are you unsuccessfully trying to change careers or make a mid-life transition? Have you started your own business but have not manifested your dreams yet? Get rid of all these blocks and be in the Universal flow by practicing the Tao in business.

A tennis player can be good with just a forehand. But a master tennis player also has a good backhand. Those who aren't at least exposed to or consider the Tao (or some other Eastern philosophy) are playing the game of life without a backhand. Join us in becoming a master of life by learning how to use the Tao in your business and personal lives. Come learn with others how to use the Tao to live in harmony with the Universe.

Instructor: Russell has been an esoteric student for over 20 years. In addition to Alice A. Bailey (D.K., the Tibetan), he also is a student and teacher of the Chinese Taoist philosophy. He combines his Eastern Oriental heritage with his Western scientific mind into a perfect synthesis of practical everyday wisdom. He has taught Tao classes at Colorado Free University and the Creative Light Center. Come learn how you can use the Taoist teachings to make life flow easier in both your personal and professional lives.

Registration: For more information on this class, contact Russell Louie. To register, call Journey Books at (303) 239-0382. Journey Books is located at 1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO in the Villa South Shopping Mall at Mississippi (NE corner).

Add Years To Your Pet's Life with Natural Pet Care

June 25, 2005, 10:00-2:00

Panera Bread: Grant & 13th Avenue, Denver, CO

$33 by June 18, $39 thereafter. Price includes lunch, pre-registration required.

Improve and maintain your petís health naturally! This workshop will show pet owners how they can play an active role in extending the life expectancy of their pets through optimum nutrition and complementary wellness therapies. We will focus on optimum nutrition for our pets, which is the foundation of good health. We will also touch on some of the many natural options for pet owners including aromatherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, canine massage, Reiki and Bach flower essences. Participants are invited to bring their pet food package labels for a free analysis and to receive suggestions for diet modifications.

Add Years to Your Petís Life will cover topics on how to:

  • Design an optimum nutrition program for your pets
  • Avoid the dangers of todayís pet fast food diets (dry kibble)
  • Learn why holistic vets recommend raw diets
  • Options for feeding a raw diet--homemade and prepackaged
  • Where to find super premium pet foods
  • Properly read pet food package labels
  • Boost your petís immune system with superfoods
  • Find holistic vets and other animal practitioners
  • Improve your petís health with complementary modalities

Since the 1950s, life expectancies of our pets have dramatically decreased and our pets are now commonly suffering from the degenerative diseases of humans such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and kidney disease. Due to mainstream commercial brand pet food diets that have significantly decreased in nutritional value and have become far removed from what Mother Nature intended our pets to eat, pet owners are faced with new challenges in making sure their pets are receiving the best nutrition possible. Optimum Choices teaches pet nutrition from the perspective of what Mother Nature designed our pets to eat, not what popular pet food manufacturers promote.

For more information on this class, contact Russell Louie. Click here to register online.

DVD of the month


Eat, drink & wag your tail: Improving the lives of our dogs through nutrition

Produced by Pamela Berger, Interdependent Pictures

Featuring an interview with holistic vet Dr. Richard Pitcairn

Click picture to order directly from us on the web or call: 303-271-1649 or toll-free 866-305-2306


This month we feature a DVD rather than book. After reading the excellent review of this DVD in the Spring 2005 issue of The Bark magazine (page 27), I jumped at the chance to evaluate it. I was not disappointed. This very professionally done film presents a compelling look at the importance of nutrition to our dogs' health and options for improving their health through home cooked and raw diets. The producer, Pamela Berger, was inspired to create this film when her own dog died suddenly of cancer at a young age. Since Pamela is a professional television producer, the film is entertaining, humorous and dramatic, rather than the typical educational video that can be a chore to watch. This film is always interesting and engaging, while presenting a persuasive case for feeding dogs home cooked or raw food rather than commercial dog food. Rather than lay out a specific diet to follow for your dog, the film presents numerous options. Pamela explains: "I hoped to present the information in such a way as to just get people thinking, to really just get dogs off of dog food. It's really the most important because if people start thinking about it, they'll do the research and hopefully, find out what works best for their dog. Since I'm not a vet or nutritionist, I didn't approach this as a how-to film, but more a reasons-why film."

The 48-minute film contains 18 vignettes on dog nutrition, starting and ending with the story of Master Dog Chef, Micki Voisard. Micki recovered her own health from cancer by changing her diet and then was inspired to improve her dogs' health as well through nutrition, since they were also dying from cancer. She now runs a business teaching people how to cook healthy diets for their dogs and is the author of Becoming the Chef Your Dog Thinks Your Are. An interesting vignette shows how people feed their dogs in Italy, which is mainly table scraps or home-cooked meals, illustrating that the American culture of feeding commercial dog food is not the only way to go. Other vignettes show stories of dogs that have recovered their health through dietary changes. There is a particularly funny vignette on dog poop but I don't want to spoil your fun by telling you about it before you see it.

A lengthy interview with Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM is interspersed throughout the segments, which will be enjoyed by anyone wanting more scientific verification for dietary change. He debunks ideas such as bacteria in raw meat being dangerous for dogs. Additionally, there are 23 more minutes of interview with him in the bonus materials. Dr. Pitcairn is the pioneering holistic veterinarian who wrote Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, soon to be released in a third edition, and he has trained over 300 veterinarians in homeopathy. This film is Dr. Pitcairn's first on camera interview in 23 years and it is a treat to hear the wisdom from his many years of practice. (He had avoided interviews in the past because his practice was too busy but has recently quit practice to write and train other vets.)

This film is so well done and the information in it so important to the health of dogs that I wish it could be shown on TV, to reach millions of dog owners. Since that has not happened (not yet, anyway), we offer the DVD through Optimum Choices on our website or by phone. You can also order it direct from Pamela Berger at Interdependent Pictures. The DVD comes in an environmentally-friendly cardboard case, rather than the standard plastic DVD case.

Contact us

Click here to give your pet
the fountain of youth today!


General Information: Russell@OptimumChoices.com
Webmaster: Webmaster@OptimumChoices.com
Newsletter Editor, Margaret Auld-Louie: Editor@OptimumChoices.com


866-305-2306 (toll-free)

Location (call first for appointment)

416 Plateau Pky
Golden, CO 80403-1533

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