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Root and cause: interactions between behaviour and health

In the past when a dog expressed a particular kind of unwanted behaviour, the focus would often be purely on treating the symptom rather than the cause. Fortunately, training methods evolved and knowledge has spread that a happy dog needs to be balanced, mentally and physically. The cause often becomes clear when imbalances are analysed, however this isn’t always the case. In such instances it can be helpful and necessary to have the dog examined by a vet to see if there is an underlying issue, such as pain, allergy or disease. Sometimes these health problems can be resolved with medication, diet, physiotherapy or behavioural therapy. In many cases stress reduction is key. A big aim of the PDTE community is to alleviate these circumstances and triggers through guidance and support.

But what about those cases without a clear beginning or end? If an obvious cause for behaviour and health issues can’t be found this becomes more challenging. This is when a more holistic approach can be very beneficial, combining insight into medical progress, behavioural advances as well as new information about things such as food and vaccinations.

New insights and advances have shown that vaccinations and nutrition are an essential part of a dog’s wellbeing. From our own experience over the years we’ve seen plenty of examples of a dog’s health declining that were related to the application of (over)vaccination. Even if the dog was vaccinated years ago, side effects can continue to bother and affect the dog's health and behaviour. Such effects can range from anxiety or reactive behaviour to immune disorders. Most of the time these serious side effects are not noticed or recognised by veterinarians. Therefore owners, understandably, often do not link these issues with the vaccinations that have been administered to their dog. Modern research into immunization show that the antibodies created through vaccination often last longer than the dated vaccination protocol still used by many veterinarians.

What can we do?

Times are changing for the better and with modern tools we have different ways to keep our pets safe and healthy. A key tool that is available for this purpose is called VacciCheck. VacciCheck allows you to accurately measure whether there are enough antibodies to ensure your dog is protected. In recent years, several veterinarians and specialists such as Dr Schultz and Dr Jean Dodd have already done extensive research indicating that when vaccinated at the right time, even one vaccination may suffice for a dog’s lifetime.

By advising owners to have their dog’s blood titer test taken to see whether vaccination is necessary, the strain of unnecessary vaccinations can be prevented. And the good news is it can even start with your puppy! Breeders can have the puppies checked by blood titer as early as 7 weeks so they can see when the maternal protection is fading and give one vaccination instead of three at this young and sensitive age. We have had very good results with this and our vet comes to our home for our puppies to have their blood titer taken. Less stress and better for their health!

If you suspect your dog is suffering from symptoms of earlier vaccinations visiting a holistic veterinarian can be helpful. They can determine supportive options to help with ongoing symptoms the dog has exhibited in the past.

Whether it is training, breeding or dog ownership, taking a more holistic approach will result in a happier, healthier dog with fewer, if any, behaviour problems.

Some useful references can be found below:

Monique Koelewijn, Upsidedown Labradoodles

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