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ISBN 0-939165-48-1
165 pages

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click to order Pets at Risk

Endocrine-Immune Mechanisms in Animals and Human Health Implications

By Alfred J. Plechner, DVM

Research indicates that the common endocrine-immune defiency Dr. Alfred Plechner has diagnosed in animals may have a parallel in humans.

This compendium of articles explores the possible human implications for Dr. Plechner's work.

Click here to learn more...


Pets at Risk: From Allergies to Cancer, Remedies for an Unsuspected Epidemic
By Alfred J. Plechner, DVM with Martin Zucker
This method by Dr. Plechner has helped many thousands of pets lead normal happy lives. Without it, many would have been euthanized. This information is decades ahead of mainstream veterinary medicine.

—Albert J. Simpson, DVM

Pets at Risk provides a clear guide for healing, written for both pet owners and veterinarians alike. Dr. Plechner explains that many health problems originate with genetic or acquired disturbances to the adrenal cortex production of cortisol, an important hormone. A domino effect ensues, affecting the hypothalamus- pituitary- adrenal axis. Other hormones go awry and immune function is compromised.

Dr. Plechner also identifies adverse environmental influences such as food intolerance, poor diet, toxins in the environment, and stress, among others, as factors that also may affect adrenal malfunction and overall pet health.In Dr. Plechner’s therapy program, he uses a safe and effective combination of pharmaceutical and plant based (natural) cortisone preparations, depending on the severity and stage of disease.

Many once-sick animals—some seriously ill—have made remarkable recoveries and lived long and healthy lives on this program. “My independent clinical experience shows that low-dose cortisone along with thyroid replacement, is hugely beneficial for restoring lost immune competence present in many canine conditions,” explains Dr. Plechner. “In most affected felines, cortisol alone works.”Pets at Risk creates the blueprint for an effective working partnership between pet owners and veterinarians. A part of the treatment includes pharmaceuticals, which must be prescribed by a veterinarian, along with a healthy diet and careful attention to food allergies, which require an attentive pet owner.

In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Plechner relates his findings in animals to illnesses in human beings. Dr. Plechner has presented his clinical perspectives in 2002 and 2003 to physicians at the Broda O. Barnes, M.D. Research Foundation in Connecticut, an organization dedicated to education, research, and training in the field of thyroid and endocrine balance.

After learning about Dr. Plechner’s findings, one physician, David Brownstein, stated: “His revelations from years of clinical practice have connected the dots between unrecognized hormonal defects and immune system disorder. As a medical doctor, I find that his work explains many of the chronic problems I see in my patients. This book shows how safe and effective hormone treatments can be used to rebuild the immune system. The information has great therapeutic significance not just for sick animals but for sick humans as well.”

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Alfred Plechner, DVM

Martin Zucker


About the authors

Alfred J. Plechner and Martin Zucker have collaborated to write Pets at Risk with its breakthrough information. Dr. Plechner combines his thirty-five years of veterinary clinical knowledge with Zucker’s twenty-five years as a writer specializing in health and medicine. They first worked together in 1986 when they co-authored Pet Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic, which the Seattle Times described as “a superb, provocative wake-up call to American pet owners.”

Dr. Plechner is a graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He founded the California Animal Hospital, which has been ranked among the top 1 percent of animal clinics in the United States. His research and clinical experiences have been published in veterinary and medical journals, including Medical Hypotheses, Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, and Progressive Health News.

In the mid-1980s, Dr. Plechner co-developed the first successful commercial lamb and rice diet, a new hypoallergenic pet food diet that was widely copied. He later developed a new generation of hypoallergenic foods that are currently sold by veterinarians nationwide.

Martin Zucker was a former foreign correspondent with Associated Press, who has since written, co-written, or ghostwritten more than ten books. His specialty is health and medicine. His five previous books on pet health include The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs and The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats (Three Rivers Press/Crown, 2000). His most recent books are Preventing Arthritis (G. P. Putnam & Sons, 2001) and Natural Hormone Balance for Women (Pocket Books, 2002).To read recent articles by Dr. Plechner, visit his web site at



  • Foreword
  • Preface

Part One:
The Epidemic

  • Chapter Two
    Clinical Evolution: From Frustration to Discovery
  • Chapter Three Endocrine-Immune Chaos: Putting the Puzzle Together
  • Chapter Four
    Imbalanced Dogs
  • Chapter Five
    Imbalanced Cats
  • Chapter Six
    Environmental Influences: Food, Fleas, and Toxins

Part Two: The Solution

  • Chapter Seven
    Repairing Endocrine-Immune Imbalances
  • Chapter Eight
    The Test that Can Make a Difference
  • Chapter Nine
    The Hormone Replacement Program
  • Chapter Ten
    The Diet Replacement Program
  • Chapter Eleven
    Supplements and Natural Remedies
  • Chapter Twelve
    Dogs in Balance
  • Chapter Thirteen
    Cats in Balance
  • Chapter Fourteen
  • Chapter Fifteen
    Breeder Responsibility
  • Chapter Sixteen
    Implications for Humans
  • Resources References
  • About the Authors
  • Index


The following is excerpted from Pets at Risk: From Allergies to Cancer, Remedies for an Unsuspected Epidemic (NewSage Press 2003). This material is copyrighted by Alfred J. Plechner, DVM and NewSage Press, and may not be copied or excerpted without direct permission from the publisher.


Chapter One: Endangered Dogs and Cats

Veterinarians are frustrated. They treat pets engulfed by relentless disorders with multiple and seemingly unrelated clinical signs. They frequently can do little more than temporarily relieve their patients and make them more comfortable, but are unsuccessful in reversing the decline in vitality and health, or the course of disease. Many times veterinarians have no choice but to euthanize hopelessly sick pets, even young ones. On a daily basis veterinarians see animals like the following cases I have worked with:
  • Georgette, a beautiful three-year-old Golden Retriever, developed the canine equivalent of breast cancer. Another veterinarian had removed the mammary gland tumor and treated the dog with radiation. Within weeks, however, an adjacent mammary gland became cancerous. The vet removed the new tumor and again treated the dog with radiation. At this point, the veterinarian was extremely pessimistic about the chances for survival and indicated to the owners that the dog probably had no more than three to six months to live.
  • Miles, a seven-year-old Airedale weighing just over a hundred pounds, had developed aggressive behavior and had bitten his owner on two occasions. Just prior to these attacks, a strange expression of rage suddenly appeared on Miles’ face. Something had to be done or else Miles would probably have to be euthanized.
  • Buster was dying. This six-year-old domestic longhair male had been previously diagnosed with feline leukemia and treated with chemotherapy by another veterinarian. By the time I treated the cat, he had chronic diarrhea, was losing weight, and unable to hold his food down. Buster had anemia and white gums, typical of advanced disease, and major hair loss, a side effect of the chemotherapy. A blood test revealed that the cat had serious hormonal imbalances affecting his immune system. He was overproducing killer cells that were not only attacking the leukemia virus but also his own tissue.
  • Bob, a three-year-old male mixed breed dog, and Cherry, a five-year-old shorthair female cat, shared the same household and the same daily diet of lamb and rice kibble. Their owner, like most people, believed that this type of diet was safe and hypoallergenic, meaning food that does not cause allergic reactions. Yet, his dog and cat had developed diarrhea and vomiting. Both animal companions had flaky skin and weight loss, signs of improper food absorption, and were clearly unhealthy. The concerned owner brought the animals to my clinic, puzzled over their illness.
  • Candy had been a national field trial champion at the age of two, but a year later, the Brittany Spaniel had refused to run, point, and fetch. She had been bred but could not conceive. Candy also developed “valley fever,” a mysterious and hard-totreat fungal condition that damages the lungs.
These cases are examples of an insidious, unsuspected epidemic that sickens, weakens, and kills companion animals before their time. Pure and mixed breeds. Males and females. Neutered, spayed, and intact animals. All are at risk. Many are suffering because of this unrecognized epidemic. As a result, veterinarians are seeing the following manifestations of ill health:
  • More chronic diseases, particularly chronic health problems among younger animals that previously affected mostly older animals.
  • Middle-aged animals with the appearance and organs of old animals.
  • More animals with weakened immune systems.
  • More cancer.
  • More animals unresponsive to conventional treatment.
  • More relentless skin allergies with inflammation, ulceration, and itchiness.
  • Severe hypersensitivity to food and insect bites.
  • Conditions among many breeds that were originally thought to affect only one particular breed.
  • Inability to develop protective antibodies from vaccinations.
  • Miscarriages and sterility.
  • Aggressiveness, rage, and strange behavior.
During more than thirty-five years in practice, I have treated tens of thousands of dogs and cats with these kinds of problems. Many years ago, I was fortunate to discover a common underlying mechanism for multiple illnesses of pets that involves certain imbalances within the endocrine and immune systems of the body.

Endocrine refers to the system of glands that produces hormones, molecules that serve as messengers in an amazing network of inner intelligence that regulates the function of the body. Health and orderliness are based on this inner intelligence. There are myriad hormones made in the body, many of which scientists still don’t clearly understand. These substances are secreted by glands — such as the adrenals, ovaries, and thyroid — that are overseen by higher centers in the brain. The problem I have identified starts with hormonal imbalances that affect the immune system, a network of cells and organs that defends the body against bacteria, viruses, and disease.

I have seen these imbalances many times, creating so much bad health that I seriously fear for the survival of our cherished pets. One thing is for sure: if this epidemic continues to grow, basic health care costs of pets may become so prohibitive that many people will not be able to afford pets at all.The physical starting point of the problem I have identified is a defect in the adrenal glands, important hubs of hormone production. The defect creates a damaging domino effect among other hormones that weakens the immune system. The end result is a major loss of protection against disease and a greatly increased risk for disease.

I became alarmed and concerned early on in my veterinary practice more than thirty years ago. As more clients brought inexplicably sick animals into my clinic, I became dissatisfied with just treating the superficial signs. Moreover, the conventional treatments I was trained to do were having little impact on animals seemingly more susceptible to disease and allergies and who were living shorter and sicker lives.

I saw dogs dying at six or eight years instead of twelve or fourteen. They developed bizarre autoimmune diseases pitting them in a life-and-death struggle not just against bacteria and viruses but against the very food they ate. I saw cats with confounding combinations of inflammatory bowel disease, failing kidneys, and urinary tract disorders.My medical school training did not prepare me to deal with this inundation of ill health. So I had to learn on my own.

Over time I learned that many of the problems I saw had an apparent common denominator of skewed hormones and compromised immune system. Some animals with this endocrine-immune disturbance would develop clinical signs of disease early on in life. Others would develop disease later. I liken this disturbance to a timebomb. Some animals have long fuses. Others short fuses. Sometimes the disturbance manifests dramatically in acute illness. Other times, the endocrine-immune disturbance slowly unravels an apparently healthy and orderly system, infecting the system with increasing chaos like a computer virus. In the process, animals are often unable to absorb medication and respond to conventional treatments. Until the imbalances are corrected, the treatments may not work.

Sometimes stress, poor diet, exposure to toxic chemicals, and parasites such as fleas can aggravate, or even cause, the imbalances. My clinical studies indicate, however, that animals are more likely to react to these factors simply because their immune systems are compromised by hormonal imbalances. For instance, the scratching itching and skin problems typically associated with fleas are usually secondary to hormonal-immune imbalances. Correct the imbalances and the animal becomes healthy. The fleas go elsewhere and target other weak animals.The solution is to identify the hormonal defect and correct it. This is what I did for Georgette, Miles, Buster, Bob, Cherry, and Candy, all of whom recovered from their illnesses.

After years of treating thousands of dogs and cats with serious and chronic health problems, I want to share the same program that I use so successfully with pet owners and their veterinarians, so they can recognize hormonal defects, correct them, and restore health to ailing animal companions.

This book is an eye-opener. For veterinarians, it fills a big knowledge gap and opens a broad avenue into effective prevention and healing. For pet owners, the book is a blueprint for forging a dynamic partnership with veterinarians that can preserve the health of vulnerable animals and restore the health of those who are sick. This information is decades ahead of mainstream veterinary medicine.

--Albert J. Simpson, D.V.M., Oregon City, Oregon


Humans suffer from hormonal imbalances, so it makes sense that our pets would also suffer from them.ŠVeterinarian Alfred Plechner has a different spin on the problem than I have with humans, but I believe he's on the right track and is a much-needed pioneering clinician in veterinary medicine.

--John R. Lee, M.D. , "The John R. Lee Medical Letter"
Co-author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause:
The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone


This book is dynamite. It presents us with a way of evaluating and treating our animal patients with all kinds of problems related to dysfunctional immune systems. My initial experiences with the protocol have been extremely gratifying.

--Carvel Tiekert, D.V.M. Founder of the
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association


Al Plechner's revelations from years of clinical practice have connected the dots between unrecognized hormonal defects and immune system disorder. As a medical doctor, I find that his work explains many of the chronic problems I see among my patients. This book shows how safe and effective hormone treatments can be used to rebuild the immune system. The information has great therapeutic significance not just for sick animals but for sick humans as well.

--David Brownstein, M.D., West Bloomfield, Michigan


This is a major therapeutic option we didn't learn about in veterinary school.

--Dwight Benesh, D.V.M., Chandler, Arizona



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