It's one of those undesirable facts of life; one of those things you don't like to think about let alone talk about. And, when you mention it to folks, and as an herbalist, I do mention it, they get that look in their eye. That look that says "eeeeew". That glazed look that says they wish they were anywhere discussing anything with anyone else but me.
That subject? Worms. Parasites. Trust me when I say they are everywhere and no one and no place is immune. And, yes, you most likely have a few. A few can be good. It helps make you immune to them. So, by the same token, a few can be good for your pets.
Farmers and multiple animal owners are the exception to the "eeeeew" factor. When dealing with animals it cannot be ignored, it must be managed or you and your animals will pay a heavy price.
Here at Rocky Creek Farm before we ever moved onto the property I decided to carry my herbalism philosophy over into the management of farm animals. Knowing next to nothing about how to control parasites in animals other than traditional chemical protocols, I set out to learn. I studied everything I could think of. My herbal training was great with how to get rid of them naturally in people, but not so much on the preventative and elimination side for animals.
After reading Juliette de Bairicli Levy's book for the Complete Herbal Handbook for Barn and Stable( available in the side bar) I was hooked on what this world-renown herbalist had to say about what she called natural rearing for animals. I got her book "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Dog and Cat" along with a pile of other natural method books and commenced to study. We already had our mini Auzzie dog, Cassie, a small array of cats for rodent control and a flock of chickens. I began my natural parasite regimen and crossed my fingers.
After taking in all the experts had to say I ultimately designed a protocol myself. I make my dogs meals and supplement a good commercial dog food. I made a dog and cat "Green Goodness" which is a vitamin/mineral/herbal supplement that I mix in their food. (I have one for people, too!) The parasite preventative also goes into their food, bedding and for the chickens wherever they "dust bathe".
Of the several cats we have, one came as a stray. A beautiful small calico queen (Katy Scarlett)...and you guessed it, she was full of worms. I was dismayed but at the same time anxious to see how my new protocol worked.
Goats were next on the agenda. We found two cute mixed breed (Coco and Willie) and a Boar doeling (Belle). Goats are notorious for getting parasites; all goat owners give a regimen of chemical vermicides rotating them so the worms do not become resistant. Before we brought them home I found a great resource: Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby. I was satisfied with his credentials and experience so now I was armed with how to use the natural method for goats.
We isolated Coco and Willie upon their arrival. Then we added another dog; our future goat-guard. Rocky is just 9 weeks old and is a beautiful Anatolian/Akbash mix. I knew it was time to check the animals I already had to see if the parasite regimen was working and check the newcomers to see where we stand. I spent an hour collecting specimens: dogs, multiple cats, goats. Belle had not come home yet so I stopped by her farm to get her contribution and delivered them all to my vet.
I knew I wouldn't hear anything until the end of the day but I still jumped at the phone each time it rang. I'll admit I was nervous. I had been warned by several that I needed to use the chemical treatment if I didn't want serious infestation. I love my animals and this is a life or death situation for them so the outcome of the tests was important. I had been using the natural method for six months during the prime season . If we had infestation it would mean the natural protocol did not work. Was I ready to give it up?
When the vet's call came I ran for paper and pencil to write down all the info. Cassie: negative. All cats: negative. Coco and Willie: negative. Rocky: negative. Belle: positive. All of the animals who had been on the natural protocol were negative. Even Katy who without a doubt was infested. It was working.
Coco and Willie came from a farm where they had the run of a large forested area which helps to keep down infestation. We built an isolation area for Belle and will keep her there for 30 days. I've decided to give her a chemical dose to kill the worms in the beginning then put her on the natural protocol for the rest of the month. I know the natural protocol takes a little time and I want to kill the adult worms right away so I don't have to worry about that.
I am very excited about using the natural method. In fact, when I got off the phone with the vet I actually jumped up and down and did a happy dance. I plan to have tests done every in 4 weeks or so to keep an eye on things.
My entire protocol will be posted on my website in the articles section next week. If you have experience with this subject--good or bad-- I would love to hear from you.
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