John Watt" <>
Subject: New BARF Survey - final version

In 1996 Canine Health Concern conducted a survey of dog owners who had
purchased a copy of Ian Billinghurst's book 'Give Your Dog a Bone' during
the previous 18 months or so. The results were significant and showed a
major drop in veterinary treatment of dogs which had changed to BARF.
Recently the pet food industry has attempted to discredit natural diets by
using one animal for each of the popular natural diets. Our survey was
conducted across an audience of BARF feeders that was much smaller than
today. So we invite you to complete this questionnaire.
The definition of BARF varies considerably between groups of people. What we
want to see is if dogs fed naturally on traditional lines are better off
than those fed processed pet food. It's a before and after comparison in
many cases but not exclusively so. So dogs fed from birth on BARF etc will
have a useful value in the research. Traditional ways of feeding can include
table scraps, cooked human quality food as well as raw meaty bones.

The new survey form can be accessed at:


Anyone may participate - the more the better.

Thank you

John Watt

Canine Health Concern

Canine Health Concern

What is the Canine Health Census?

The Canine Health Census is an independent survey that seeks to discover how we can help our dogs to live long, healthy, lives. It is organized by dog lovers for dogs. It was started by John Watt and Catherine O'Driscoll after their beloved Oliver, a four year-old Golden Retriever, died suddenly and mysteriously, then his sister Prudence died of leukemia. Many people will understand the devastation people feel when their friend dies - John and Catherine were heartbroken.

They started asking why? Why do nearly a quarter of all dogs die of cancer, rising to 46% of those over the age of ten? Why do so many dogs suffer from hot spots and allergies and arthritis and fits and thyroid problems and heart problems and leukemia and diabetes and . . . . what is happening to our dogs? Do you remember when dogs used to die of old age? Why is it always the special dogs that die so young? Why is it always the dog who has been loved and cared for; who was always taken to the vet; who received the best care money could buy? Why? What is happening?

The experts disagree.

Why do we need an independent survey organized by dog lovers for dogs? Why not leave it to the experts? Because the experts disagree with one-another!

Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet and author, believes adamantly that commercial pet food can take five years off the average dog's life. He believes that many of the problems our dogs face in the modern world - infertility, periodontal disease, arthritis, hip dysplasia, etc. - are a direct result of inadequate feeding. But ask your vet what he thinks - he's probably selling selected processed pet foods.

Ed Dorosz, a Canadian vet and author, also believes that our dogs would fare better if we prepared their food ourselves. He advised: if you don't know what's in it, don't buy it. Can you understand, fully, what is in the tin or packet from the information given on the label? Do you know what ash, or 'animal derivatives' or 'meat byproducts' are? The Pet Food Manufacturers Association, a trade body, states in its own literature that many of the ingredients in pet food would be thrown away if we didn't give them to our dogs! If your dog has eaten processed pet food all his life, we want to know how healthy he is. If he has eaten 'natural' food all his life, we want to compare the results.

Alfred Plechner, an American vet and author, believes that processed pet food, plus in-breeding of pedigree dogs, is causing an "epidemic of death and disease". He bases his theory upon years of practice as a vet. But he is rarely listened to by his fellow vets.


If you love your dog, and listen to your vet's advice, your dog is vaccinated annually. Why do we need to vaccinate dogs every year? Why do children only get vaccinated once or twice? Does your dog get sick and have diarrhea after he's vaccinated?

Jean Dodds, an American vet and researcher, believes that modern 'multiple live virus vaccines' are damaging our dogs' immune systems. She believes that diseases such as cancer and hypothyroidism and epilepsy, are directly connected to the current vaccination regime. Ronald D Schultz, a top American veterinary immunologist, states clearly that there is no scientific basis for annual revaccination: once the virus has been introduced into the body, antigens remain in the system. Countless other vets have been quoted as saying that vaccines are harming our dogs.

But dare you ignore your vet's advice? If you love your dog, what do you do? Already, over two thousand dogs have taken part in the Canine Health Census. Many of their owners are telling us that their dog started limping three days after their booster shot, and the limping turned out to be arthritis. Others are saying that their dog developed colitis or had fits [seizures] after their annual vaccination. Is there a connection, or is it just coincidence? Other dog owners have told us that they never revaccinate their dogs, and they say that the dogs are living to 15 or 16 years of age, with rarely a need to visit the vet.

By sharing your experience, you could help dogs in the future. You could help us to settle the debate once and for all.


Do you live in a town or city, or do you live in the country? Our city-dwelling Census participants often tell us that their dog is affected by petrol [gasoline] fumes, with post-mortem results to prove it! Country-dwellers have recounted tales of their dog being deluged with crop [pesticide] spray. They wonder whether this is why their dog later died of cancer, or aborted a litter. By adding your dog to the information pool, we might be able to discover how dangerous agricultural chemicals, or vehicle emissions, really are. We might, together, do something to make the world a safer place for our pets, and for our children. At the very least, we might educate ourselves to think twice before using certain chemicals.

Already, we know that certain commonly-used chemicals can cause cancer and leukemia - in dogs and humans. Certain garden chemicals have been directly linked to cancer in dogs. The same chemicals, used in agriculture, are thought to increase the incidence of cancer in farmers.

Some dog owners have been able to stop their dog having epileptic fits [seizures], simply by changing from a plastic food or water bowl to a metal or ceramic bowl. Others, notably the Oregon Greyhound Rescue, say that thyroid problems have been cured by filtering the dogs' water.

Or consider flea collars: did you know that many flea collars contain carbaryl? Do you know what carbaryl has been shown to do to animals in laboratories? It causes cancer, mutates cells, and causes birth defects. How safe is it for your dog to wear a flea collar around his neck for up to four months? And why do the manufacturers tell us to stop our children touching the collar? And the flea sprays - read the instructions. Are you told not to breathe in whilst spraying your dog? Can you tell your dog not to breathe? And what's in all the flea killing shampoos? One of them, at least, contains a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer if taken in through the skin! The manufacturers say they're safe if we use them correctly - but are they? You can help us to find out.

And is there a safer way? For example, Alfred Plechner tells us that a dog fed a natural diet with mineral supplements is virtually flea proof. Have you experience to share in this light?

Drugs [Prescriptions]

You take your dog to the vet with a skin infection. Your vet gives your dog a steroid injection. The skin infection clears up. Later, you discover your dog has kidney disease. Is there a clear connection between the steroid injection and your dog's diseased kidneys? You don't know. But we do know that steroids are known to damage kidneys. We also know, from the drug [pharmaceutical] manufacturers' own data sheets, that steroids can cause liver damage, brittle bones, diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, an inability to deal with stress, and damage to the immune system.

But, again, we have a dilemma. If your dog has a skin infection, you need to do something about it. You need to help your dog to get better. Many participants of the Census have been telling us that they used herbs and homeopathy, as well as diet, to cure their dog. By sharing knowledge, dog owners may be able to find a safer way.

Quite a few Census participants have questioned the 'family planning' injection. They wonder whether hormones might have something to do with their dog's early demise. Jean Dodds says that hormonal imbalances are connected to diseases of the immune system. Ian Billinghurst says that hormonal imbalances arise from faulty diet . . . Again, by comparing notes on a large scale, WE CAN DISCOVER HOW TO CARE FOR OUR DOGS BETTER.

Did you know that a misalliance injection - to stop your bitch [female -canine] having puppies - has a one-in-a-hundred chance of causing bone marrow failure? Death? How safe are other [prescription] drugs? Do we dog owners understand the risks, or do we abdicate responsibility for our dogs' lives?

Your dog looks at you with love and trust in her eyes. It's time we dog owners stopped handing that trust over to strangers. Did you know that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate - which is the UK's 'official watchdog' for [prescription] drugs used on animals, is financed through the payment of fees from industry? Did you know that industry employees sit upon 'expert' panels at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food? Did you know that your vet may have been educated in nutrition by employees of pet food companies, or that he is continuously 'educated' about drugs by sales representatives from pharmaceutical companies?

Who, apart from you, will put your dog's life above all other considerations?

Isn't that a bit cynical? Maybe. Maybe not. We know that there are plenty of consumer organizations to protect the interests of human consumers. But there's nothing to protect our pets. We have, for many years, assumed that manufacturers have our dogs' best interests at heart. Have we been too trusting? Maybe we should trust everyone who sells products into the multi-billion pet industry?

But if that is the case - why are our dogs dying? Caveat emptor! Similarly, if one vet is telling you that you must vaccinate your dog, and another is saying it's dangerous, who do you go with?

Perhaps, as some experts have pointed out, we should blame the breeders? But surely it's not as simple as that? Remember the Thalidomide drug? Remember that it caused birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug? Do you know what is happening now? The children who were born deformed and without limbs as a result of the Thalidomide drug are having their own children, and many of their children are being born deformed and without limbs - so the drug has gone into genetic memory. So what causes genetic defects in the first place?

Is it natural to expect dogs to be born with inherent defects? And how can breeders prevent this happening? One of the Census panel of experts, Dr. Ian Macadam, believes that we can breed cancer out of our dogs. But, again, he is rarely listened-to by his peers. Dog owners, who must sit with their dogs as they die, can have a voice by taking part in the Census.

Census funding

Although the Census organizers have been offered sponsorship by companies selling into the pet industry, we have declined their offers. We believe it is vital that we remain independent.

By taking part in the Health Census - by donating L5 towards costs (US:$11, Can$15, Aus$15, NZ$17 or similar foreign currency equivalents) and filling in detailed questionnaires about your dogs - you are taking an important step. The psychiatrist M Scott Peck defines love as, 'giving your attention to aid your beloved in their growth'. You are actively demonstrating your love for dogs when you take part in the Census.

In return for your donation, you will receive the findings free. We must stress that the organizers - John Watt and Catherine O'Driscoll - are not making any money from this research. Indeed, they have supported the Census to the tune of several thousand pounds. Similarly, none of the experts on the Census team is being paid for his or her time. We expect the costs to be as high as L90,000 - and we rely upon your support, for the sake of our dogs.

Finally, if you are an old age pensioner or unemployed, and cannot afford L5 or $11 etc., then please take part anyway. Most importantly, we need your knowledge and experience. If you write to us, or if you send off for questionnaires (please state how many questionnaires you would like), you can do one small thing to help:

please enclose a large stamped self-addressed envelope [9x12, not stamped].

Our Census Team of Experts includes:

Christopher Day, MA, Vet. MB, MRCVS, Vet. FF. Hom.; Richard Allport, B. Vet. Med.., Vet. MF Hom., MAPMC, MRCVS; Ian Billinghurst ,BVSc, BSc. Agr, Dip.Ed.; Alfred Plechner, DVM; Jean Dodds, DVM; Ian Macadam, Ph.D., MRCVS; Jane Fraser, MRCVS, B. Vet. Med.; Michael Brookman, herbalist; Keith and Chrissie Mason, BRCP, Ph.D.; Sheila Bailey and Erica Peachey BSc, canine behaviorists; Ed Dorosz, DVM, BSA; and John Watt, MSc. We also have the support of many breed and rescue clubs from around the world.

The Canine Health Census, PO Box 1, Longnor, Buxton, SK17 OJD, U.K.Research, 

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