Question: “Ali, I know you have a holistic viewpoint when it comes to the health of your dogs, what do you do about yearly boosters, flea/tick treatment, and wormers?”

I’m happy to tell you my personal opinion and personal experience only, as I’m not a vet, of course. However, like you by the sound of things, I do my research for myself and I also do it for my dogs and feel that unnecessary toxins are seen as a “normal” monthly prescription without consideration of the individual. For example, I don’t worm Ludo, as he has never had worms.  Instead, I test him every few months via

I haven’t vaccinated them for a long time, instead I titre test (I don’t accept “in-house titre testing, I always choose to send the samples away to a lab such as Idexx) to check their immunity for ICH, parvovirus and distemper to see if they need booster vaccinations.  In my experience some vets have pushed back on Leptospirosis, and I ask them how many cases they have treated at the clinic recently, just to get past the automatic response and have an informed, sensible conversation.  I have had many a vet/vet nurse look at me like I’m mad, and that’s why I choose to go to a holistic vet if at all possible, because the conversation is wider in my experience and my opinions are taken into consideration (I know my dogs best!). You can look here Nick Thompson is an interesting one to follow with loads of resources. I also follow articles and videos by Dr Karen Becker from Canada. 

None of my dogs have ever had a flea infestation, although I did catch a couple on Ludo last year (a particularly strong flea and tick year due to a couple of warmer winters, this year should be ok again).  I did not freak out (well, I did a bit but only momentarily lol) and I did not cover him in chemicals and fumigate the house! Instead I combed him to check for others with a flea comb, there were no others.  And I used Verm-X flea and tick powder in his food, which I have found really effective, contains herbs, bit like curry powder!

Chili had the odd tick in her lifetime.  I got a tick remover and then used herbal repellent in the season. 

Basically, I strongly advise doing a flea/tick/worm/disease risk assessment for your area and for your lifestyle.  What is the prevalence of all of the above?  Where are the risky areas?  Do you use daycare and what are those dogs like?  If you’re going to a deer park, that’s the day to put the herbal stuff on, if you’re going to the beach, less so. Get in touch with and get into a regular parasite check. 

I’m not against anything if it is required. I use medications and herbals for my own health. But I don’t agree with worming if the dogs don’t have worms (n.b. lung worm is a bit different so make sure you look into that).  Nor do I agree with regular monthly flea and tick chemical prevention if you don’t yet know whether your dog is one who picks up fleas and ticks, and by the way these chemicals are insecticides (a disaster for our pollinators and therefore the ecosystem, I choose not to have them on my dog, nor in my garden).  And I don’t agree with vaccinating yearly without looking at their base immunity.  Monthly “plans” sold by some vets in the UK are an absolute disgrace in my opinion, and really driven by money rather than the real health of an individual animal, and it is bad news for the environment as a whole.  

My choice is to risk assess it for myself, my dogs, and then have an open conversation with our vet to discuss our individual requirements.  What do you do?  Email me and let me know!

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