Health & Nutrition



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This page was last modified March 07, 2022.

Please Do NOT Give Your Dogs ANY Oral Flea & Tick-Killing Medications!

"On September 20, the FDA issued a communication for pet owners and veterinarians, warning about the potential for neurologic adverse events following the administration of certain flea and tick products to dogs and cats. The products named in the release are oral products, available by veterinary prescription only, that contain isoxazoline-based ingredients. These include Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica." (Whole Dog Journal Blogs, Sept 27, 2018)

I have been warning my adopters for years about the dangers of oral flea/tick control medications, and this announcement from the FDA provides further proof that my warnings are legitimate.

I have always believed--just from common sense--that a pesticide taken orally which lasts for about one month (or three months in the case of Bravecto) is going to be dangerous--even more dangerous than a "spot-on" pesticide applied topically.

The information provided 1-14-16 by Dr. Elizabeth Carney, DVM, on her Website "Your Pets Need This" about Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) associated with the oral flea/tick products Nexgard and Bravecto put me on alert. Now, the FDA's "communication" about the risks of Nexgard, Bravecto and similar isoxazoline-based oral flea/tick preventatives just adds to the volume of evidence that THESE PRODUCTS ARE DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS TO YOUR DOGS--EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE ANY OBVIOUS ADVERSE REACTIONS.

"But why would my veterinarian prescribe a product for my dog (or cat) that is dangerous to them?"
Simply put, most veterinarians rely heavily on medications to treat medical problems in our pets and seem to have great faith in the integrity of the companies that manufacture those medications. Most of these medications are safe and work just fine.

However, most vets don't question the safety of FDA-approved medications and dismiss those who raise concerns about certain medications--unless the evidence is profound. Further, vets see the worst of what fleas and ticks (and other parasites) can do to dogs and cats, and so are willing to "lower the bar" of safety to prevent the awful conditions that fleas and ticks can cause.

Now, the evidence that oral flea/tick preventatives are dangerous to dogs and cats IS profound! Time to face the truth and NOT give your dogs ANY oral flea/tick-killing medications!

"So, what products CAN I give my dog that are not harmful to them to prevent fleas and ticks?"
Bug-Off Garlic, a supplement that I've been giving to all my dogs for nearly 20 years, is a natural, SAFE product that is very effective at repelling fleas (though much less effective against ticks). Bug-Off Garlic is available only from the manufacturer, Springtime, Inc, based in Maryland.

With just the daily use of Bug-Off Garlic, I have hardly seen any fleas on my dogs in all the years I've been running my rescue program!

Additionally, biotin--the other supplement that I give to all of my dogs-- prevents allergic reactions to fleas and other allergens and is great for dogs' skin and coat. Biotin is available in the vitamin section of your local grocery store. Many women take biotin because it makes their nails grow hard and fast and is great for hair. Lesser known is biotin's natural antihistamine properties--it really works great!

I recommend 5mg (5,000mcg) of biotin daily for dogs 40-90 lbs. For smaller dogs, you can purchase biotin in 1mg tablets or capsules and give one or more daily. Biotin is water-soluble and safe in quantities far exceeding those I've stated here.

If you must resort to pharmaceuticals to control fleas, please consider a flea reproduction inhibitor such as Program, instead of the toxic topical pesticide products. Program does not kill adult fleas but renders them sterile once they have fed on your dog, which will prevent any flea population outbreak in or around your home. Program, used in combination with an occasional bath using a flea shampoo and use of a flea comb will generally prevent any flea outbreaks. If you must use a topical flea-control product, please use it only during the months when fleas are a problem. Also, avoid "spot-on" flea control products sold at grocery stores--they are generally much more toxic (though less expensive) than those sold at vet offices.

"What about ticks?"
As for ticks, one needs to take a rational approach with these little buggers, weighing the health risks they present with the risks posed by the chemical weapons that combat them. If one lives in an area where deer are present then Lyme Disease is a concern, as it is carried by deer ticks. Rather than dosing your dog up with poisons to ward off deer ticks, I recommend vaccinating your dog against Lyme Disease then routinely inspecting your dog for ticks and manually removing any that you find on your dog.

As for other species of ticks that we find in the Central Valley, I simply recommend routine inspection and manual removal of these ticks. The most common ticks in lowland areas of the Central Valley are the Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick. Though these ticks CAN carry certain diseases (though not Lyme Disease), the incidence of such disease are quite uncommon here in the Central Valley.

I live on a property that, unfortunately, is a haven for Brown Dog Ticks and American Dog Ticks. In the spring and early summer, I spend countless hours picking ticks off of my dogs. I've literally picked off thousands of ticks from my dogs over the years, and yes, more than a few from myself. The fallout? A little itching. Period. ZERO cases of tick-borne disease, ZERO broken tick mouthparts (that could lead to infection), and ZERO cases of infection from tick bites that required antibiotics. (If it's deer ticks you're dealing with, you will run the risk of breaking off the mouthparts when removing them.)

"But ticks are so CREEPY!"
Yes, ticks are creepy, but to me they are nowhere near as creepy as the act of putting poisons on--or worse, IN--your dog.

.......more to come.


This page is a work in progress, so please forgive the limited content.

Welcome to the Health & Nutrition Information page of the GSRSV Website. This is a page that is only about 18 years overdue (as long as the GSRSV Website has existed)! I feel that information on this page is more important than any of the other content in this Website. After all, whether it applies to your children or your pets, what's more important than good health? The only thing that has kept me from creating this page sooner is that it is a daunting task--and my main mission of  rescuing and rehoming dogs is a full-time job in itself.

There is so much misinformation out there about what's best for your dogs' health, much of it propagated by the industries that profit from the sale of their drugs and other products that are potentially harmful to your dogs. Sadly, some of the misinformation about what is good and what is not good for your dogs' health is passed along by veterinarians who either have not been exposed to non-traditional--yet factually based--ideas and information, or who simply feel that what they've learned in veterinary school is gospel. 

There are also many natural supplements and remedies that are not only safe alternatives to their traditional medicinal counterparts, but are just as effective and often much less expensive. I hope that this page will introduce you to some of these supplements/remedies and help you maintain the good health of your dog(s) with the fewest risks to their longevity.

I want this page to be as interactive as possible, so if there is some info that you would like to see provided on this page, please let me (Brian Foran) know about it at

General Health
The Natural Approach: Effective and Safe!
Recently I discovered the Website for a holistic veterinarian named Deva Khalsa, DVM ("Dr Deva"). After thoroughly reviewing Dr Khalsa's Website, I am confident enough to simply refer people to her site for much of the information that I would like to provide on this page. Why re-invent the wheel? Dr Khalsa has done an amazing job of amassing natural, safe and effective health advice for companion animals into her Website. Please visit Dr Khalsa's Website, and pay particular attention to the section on "Combating Cancer" and to the video "Are Vaccines Dangerous for Your Dogs?" under the "Pet Health Videos" section.

Another good online resource for natural/holistic veterinary information is the "Education" page of This page contains numerous posts written by Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, and focuses on vaccines, nutrition and thyroid issues. (Thanks to Dianna Cheung for informing me of the Website.)

Bloat (Gastric Dilitation/Volvulus)--every GSD owner should know about this condition! Several of my adopters have lost their GSDs to bloat!
Gastric dilatation/volvulus, more commonly known as "bloat", is an all-too-frequent, often fatal event for German Shepherds. Basically, gastric dilatation refers to a condition in which the dog's stomach fills up with air due to various reasons, the main ones being eating too fast or eating large quantities of food (such as when a dog gets into a full bag of kibble). The dog's abdomen becomes visibly "bloated", and can cause great discomfort. If the bloat persists, often what happens next is volvulus--the stomach literally rotates on its intestinal axis, shutting off the blood supply both to and from the stomach. At this stage, the dog usually has only hours to live, and the condition must be treated surgically. The sooner the dog is treated, the better its chance for survival and full recovery. 

Learn how to avoid bloat in your dog, and how to recognize the symptoms. Please click on this link to open a very informative Webpage about bloat. I recommend printing the article and placing it where you can immediately access it if you suspect that your dog is experiencing bloat. Click on this link for a printable MS Word version of the article.

Obesity in Dogs: Just as Harmful to Dogs as to Humans
"Keeping Your Dog Thin is a Lifesaver"--Click the link at left to download an excellent article about the beneficial health effects of keeping your dog thin (not just "normal") by Denise Flaim, Whole Dog Journal, Jan 2014.

Geriatric Issues
(coming soon)

Dog Food
I have found the Whole Dog Journal to be the most comprehensive source of information about what makes a dog food "good" or "bad", and for ratings of all kinds of dog food, including pre-packaged, refrigerated or freeze-dried raw foods. While the Whole Dog Journal does tend to lean towards the very top-shelf dog foods, which are great but cost an arm & a leg, they also cover the less expensive good-quality dog foods.

Raw Dog Food
There is a ton of information (and misinformaiton) out there about the pros and cons of feeding you dog raw food. (I, for one, am a huge advocate.) An excellent, inexpensive reference on the nutritional benefits of raw food for dogs is the book Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: the Ultimate Diet by Kymythy R. Schultze. This paperback book only costs about $12-15 new, and used copies can be found online for just a few bucks!

No other company that I've encountered manufactures so many highly effective nutritional supplements for dogs (and horses), at reasonable prices, as Springtime, Inc--an independent company based in Maryland. I have been feeding my dogs several of Springtime's supplements for years, and believe in them so strongly that I provide a one-month supply of one of them ("Bug-Off Garlic") to every one of my adopters, and include their product catalog in all of my adopted dogs' adoption packets.

Springtime, Inc is the ONLY company that I endorse on my Website, and I do so voluntarily with no "kickback." Springtime, Inc does provide GSRSV with a 10% discount on their products, but they have done so without any knowledge of my endorsement.

Parasite Prevention
(coming soon)