Does Your Dog Really Have Lyme Or Need Anti-biotics?

Does Your Dog Really Have Lyme Or Need Anti-biotics?

Lyme disease and your dog

“I have positive Parvo and Distemper (oh, and Lyme) titers. But I feel fine. Should I worry?”

Does Your Lyme Positive Dog REALLY Need to be Treated for Lyme?

You’re probably familiar with the increase in Lyme disease and ticks. You probably also know that Lyme is a tick-borne illness.

But did you know that Lyme disease is often over diagnosed and over treated? Your pet may test positive, get treated, but not have the disease.

In this post, we’ll cover why that’s common as well as what to do and natural ways to prevent Lyme disease. Let’s first lay things out more clearly.

Why is Lyme a Disease But Not a Dis-ease?

My name is Jeff Feinman. I’m a traditionally trained holistic veterinarian who understands most health problems to actually be imbalances (or dis-eases) in the vital force. However, Lyme and other bacterial and viral diseases are different. They are not just physiologic imbalances.

Infectious diseases like Lyme, Parvo, Distemper, etc. have readily identifiable and transmissible triggers. The Lyme spirochete (a bacteria) can be isolated, grown, cultured, and transmitted. It’s a true dises-causing agent. Non-infectious health challenges like most kidney, liver and hormone dis-eases are not like this.

Natural resistance prevents illness from infectious diseases. Healthy animals with vigorous vitality get sick from Lyme less often.

You may know that dogs are much more likely to develop Lyme disease than cats. Even though some outside cats pick up loads of ticks. Why might that be? Well, cats are generally vaccinated and suppressed less than dogs. They seem to have a more robust immune system and natural resistance to Lyme.

Research studies have shown that vaccination is related to (and can cause) immune dys-function. A strong immune system is the best protector against Lyme and other infections.

The Truth About the Lyme “Epidemic”

The epidemic of Lyme positive animals started around the same time that the in-clinic test for Lyme became popular. A screening test for Lyme started to be included along with routine heartworm testing. In some (“endemic”) areas over 90 percent of all dogs were coming up positive on this test.

When the diagnostic testing became more readily accessible, and more frequently used, the Lyme epidemic began. In reality, Lyme detection became widespread. Not a disease epidemic.

Almost all Lyme tests only show antibody production. Not Lyme infection. A positive test shows exposure to the ticks that carry Lyme. That’s it. The test is great for proving exposure from but it doesn’t translate into there being an infection.

These Lyme tests are very similar to the familiar Parvo and Distemper titers. They help you decide if your pet is protected from these infections. A positive titer is good. It shows that the immune system is doing its’ job (making antibodies).

But a positive Lyme titer we’re not so happy about. Why? Because we are told that this means disease and the need for anti-biotics. Not true. Just like a positive Parvo titer does not mean that immediate Parvo treatment is needed.

The main difference between Lyme and other titers is that the Lyme titer antibodies are not protective. A positive titer does not translate to protection (unfortunately).

However, when interpreted using the Context and Interpretation method, Lyme titers and other diagnostic testing is useful. It helps make up part of the whole and facilitates good holistic medical decisions.. So do the test, but don’t treat based only on the test results. Is your pet showing symptoms of Lyme disease (context!)? Maybe all s/he needs is following up with a more accurate test.

Lyme Testing and The Best (and Worst) Lyme Tests

Few tests actually look for Lyme organisms. Even when one does, the bacteria are rarely found. They hide.

Most tests are only for the antibodies against Lyme. These show an immune response. The most common, “SNAP”, tests are often run in the vet hospital. But these are subjective qualitative tests. Not quantitative (where the result is a definite number). SNAP tests are therefore not as helpful. They are useful for screening but not for deciding whether to treat an asymptomatic positive pup.

If the subjective screening test is positive you should get more definitive information. You need the number. It reflects the number of antibodies. You can currently (2017) do this two ways. There’s one test that gives just one number. That is the Idexx C6 test. Even better is the newer Cornell University Multiplex which reveals multiple numbers.

The Cornell Multiplex is especially useful for monitoring. The multiple immune parameters it measures can better help guide your treatment decisions. But like any test, it needs to be interpreted in context (test result + clinical scenario = context).

In addition to natural exposure, vaccination is the other way to get a positive titer test.
This artificial immune stimulation may or may not be effective. Like the flu shot. Either way, it is scientifically known that vaccination can damage the immune system.

This lack of effectiveness along with the known immune damage from every vaccine, makes vaccination for Lyme less than desirable.

Even the veterinary Lyme specialist Dr. Meryl Littman of the University of Pennsylvania says about Lyme vaccination (when talking about Lyme nephritis and kidney failure in Golden Retrievers and Labradors): “These patients are most likely the very ones we should NOT vaccinate lest we add more complexes or sensitize them for a more intense immune-mediated reaction when they are boostered or exposed naturally.”

Dr. Littman is saying that even though these pups are those most likely to get Lyme-associated kidney failure, we still should not vaccinate them. It’s dangerous.

She says, rather than risk immune damage from vaccinating, focus on promoting vigorous vitality. Vital dogs are less likely to contract Lyme disease.

We therefore see that:

  1. a positive Lyme titer does not equal Lyme Disease and
  2. the Cornell Multiplex is the best test for diagnosis and monitoring.

If you want a full on course on how to prevent and treat Lyme, you can find it here.

Holistically yours,

Dr. Jeff

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Holistic Actions! and My (Dr. Jeff) Lyme Story

Holistic Actions! and My (Dr. Jeff) Lyme Story

Over Father’s Day weekend of 2001 we had a house full of company. Little did I know that it would be a fateful weekend (my Dad’s last Father’s Day + my Lyme).

That Friday, I started feeling flu-like symptoms of heavy eyes, decreased appetite, muscle soreness, weakness, and was running a low-grade fever. I typically ignored such minor deviations from health since I trusted my body to do what was best for it.

Tincture of time almost always worked in my favor. Unfortunately, not this time. I had forgotten about the attached deer tick and bullseye rash which I had found on my right thigh the prior week.

Inspect and remove any ticks you find. Ideally twice/day.

My family was visiting from Philadelphia and Cherry Hill and we were having a lovely weekend. I’m so glad that no one knew that I felt “blah” so that I got to spend this time with my parents (they both passed away in 2002).

By that Sunday when everyone was set to depart, I felt exceptionally weak and a little disoriented. I decided to take my temperature even though I rarely bothered with such things. It was 103. This was particularly significant as my baseline temp is often below 98 degrees.

“OK, fine” I thought, so I’m run down from catering to my guests and playing tennis this weekend. “I’ll just rest and I’ll be ready to see my patients tomorrow”. I was very wrong.

Within a few hours of taking to my bed to rest, my temp went up to 104. I became so weak that I was barely able to get up. When I tried to stand, my equilibrium was off and I could barely walk straight. I still wasn’t overly concerned, but my darling wife was ready to call the ambulance.

I don’t have much recollection of the next few days. I know that my temperature kept rising but I couldn’t (rise). At the 105 degree point my wife was frantic. I wouldn’t let her take me to the ER. I still had faith in the healing abilities of my body.

Fortunately, I was already working with an expert ND homeopath, Dr. Howard Fine. I had also recently become certified in veterinary homeopathy (after cure of my lifelong allergies, but that’s a story for a different day). My wife left a message for him Sunday night.

Monday morning, he called and evaluated my symptoms in detail. Not just the common symptoms seen with Lyme, but the totality of my specific symptom picture. He needed to know the exact locations of the pains, whether I was thirsty, restless, feeling hot, chilled, etc.? He then prescribed a homeopathic remedy designed to help my body rally its’ defenses.

With a few repetitions of this first homeopathic medicine, I felt better, but kept relapsing. Later that day, Dr. Fine prescribed a different homeopathic medicine. I again felt better, but by Wednesday my temperature was back up to over 104. I still had no appetite, horrible chills, and debilitating vertigo that prevented me from getting out of bed (had I wanted to get up). My wife was even more frantic.

Around noon that day I spoke with Dr. Fine again and he prescribed a new remedy. He had been pondering my case and had a fresh take on my symptom manifestations. Well, I’ll tell you. Had I not already seen miraculous responses to homeopathic medicines, I would not have believed the changes that I felt.

I took the remedy and within moments I could feel some of the tension and heat leaving my body. When I felt my improvement stop, I redosed the remedy. Kind of like building a fire. No need to add logs (or dose) as long as the fire was growing.

By that evening my appetite had returned, I was out of bed, and my fever was minimal. By the next day I was back on the tennis court (though unfortunately still playing poorly)!

Since then I have removed many ticks from myself but have never had a similar problem. My immune system and resistance seem to have been strengthened by working through the dis-ease. A wonderful “side-effect”!

A few weeks later I went to the doctor for a routine checkup and mentioned my experience. He found it amusing (since I obviously didn’t have Lyme). Imagine his surprise when my Lyme titer (antibody level) came back so high that it was off the charts.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Howard Fine who both treated me and was a mentor of mine in my studies of homeopathy. Since then I have helped resolve Lyme in many of my own patients. 

Prevent Lyme through Holistic Actions! Build a strong immune system and preserve vitality. You can access Lyme course here.

Be well.

Dr. Jeff

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