Vaccination Archives

December 9, 2005


More and more pet owners understand now that vaccines do not provide immunity. A healthy immune system does. Veterinarians in general don't know much about vaccines, they know little about immunology and even less on canine nutrition. Many are still giving yearly shots, even though research has shown that is an arbitrary timetable. Vaccine companies have also really taken advantage of this schedule that was devised in the 1970’s. Vaccine companies and Vets thrive on vaccinating your pet. They will vaccinate now and attempt to repair damage created later in your pets life, usually providing no long term benefit or being able to view and your dogs health from a position of surviving to “thriving” to your animal. Increasingly Holistic Vets and in particular those who study immunology tell us over and over again that if you feed a species appropriate raw diet (prey model), eliminate toxins in the form of vaccines, heartworm, flea/tick medications and allopathic meds. Strive to provide clean water, fresh air, exercise combined with reasonable amount of exposure to diseases (distemper/parvo via dog-dog socialization then you “should” have a healthy dog and she/he "should" resist disease, including fleas and ticks!

Unless a veterinarian has a special interest in immunology, he or she probably will not have all the information needed to give you an informed response on vaccinations. I also wish I could tell you that there is a definite answer to these questions, based on science and research; there isn't. I have read so much information on this subject (some of which is conflicting -so keep an open mind about this subject), I have also queried Vets and homeopaths about it. Ultimately, no matter what your Vet suggests, or what I believe, or what you read as you research this issue, this is your decision to make.

What About Vaccines?

by Betty Lewis, RVT, Dr. A.N.

When I started to write this article, I decided to see if there were any trends I could discover by looking back in my own history as a Registered Veterinary Technician. I quickly found that I could characterize the various veterinary hospitals where I worked by half decade, as well as by the reasons that it seemed to me most people took their animals to the veterinarian. These are my recollections: nothing “scientific” or etched in stone, but I found the trends to be interesting.

I first started working in the veterinary profession in 1973. The word “trauma” sums up my memory of those early years. Outside of routine spays and neuters, the main reason that animals showed up at this vet’s included what we called “HBCs” or “hit by cars”, also, cats who got caught in car fan belts, dog fights, cuts and scratches and broken limbs. In other words, there were a lot of otherwise healthy animals who ended up needing veterinary attention because of accidents. We did not see an overwhelming amount of chronically ill animals.

I left that practice in 1976, so my memory of the next veterinary hospital pertains to the late 1970s. In that hospital, the character had changed a little and now we saw more allergies, bloats and growth issues, like panosteitis.

The next hospital was in the early 1980s and by that time we were seeing parvovirus cases, and more metabolic diseases like diabetes in dogs, cancer and heart failure.

By the late 1980s, animals were showing severe signs of illnesses. Even more diseases began to be commonplace such as dental diseases, kidney failure, hypothyroid (dogs), hyperthyroid (cats), diabetes continued in dogs, but now emerged in cats as well, cardiomyopathy, cancers, and serious autoimmunities such as lupus, myasthenia gravis and others.

From the late 1990s to the present, all of the above diseases continue across breed lines, sometimes across species lines and there are new problems being added all the time. IBD/IBS (inflammatory bowel disease/syndrome) was unheard of when I left veterinary practice in 1987 to open my holistic consulting business, but is now nearly at epidemic proportions. Seizures and temperament problems are common now and there are more cancers and autoimmune diseases.

I find this trend to be incredibly alarming. When charted in this cut and dried fashion, it is obvious to me that animals are *much* sicker now than they were a mere 30 years ago and the diseases are very serious.

I have mulled this situation over, trying to decide why animals (and probably humans) appear to be sicker than they used to be, and have come to the conclusion that I can sum up the fundamental reason for this trend in two words: “toxic exposure”. Our focus has changed from acute disease, leading to quick death, to chronic disease and long, drawn-out, painful death. We really have gone from having animals who weren’t really sick much at all to animals who are always sick.

Toxic exposure takes many forms, from industrial waste in our water, such as chlorine and fluoride, to toxic cleaning supplies, to so-called preventive products for parasites such as the topical “spot-on” products or heartworm “prevention” products. There are many other environmental toxins that our animals are exposed to, but, in my opinion, the two biggest husbandry or management mistakes that we make in caretaking our animals represent two sides of the same coin. One is species inappropriate diet and the other is the use of vaccines.

The diet issue is a huge one, but not the focus of this article. The rest of this article will focus on vaccines and vaccinosis.

In the 1800’s, a homeopathic physician named F. Compton Burnett, coined the word to mean chronic disease induced by vaccination.

In 1993, a well-known American homeopathic veterinarian and immunologist, Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, presented a paper to a veterinary conference. The paper can be found by going to the link below.

In the paper, he showed the correlation between acute diseases, such as canine and feline distemper, rabies and feline panleukopenia and chronic symptoms we are commonly seeing in dogs and cats today. The chart below is re-printed from his paper. You can see the frightening implications when reading the chart and you can understand his premise that it’s very likely that the vaccinations we’ve been giving our animals for several generations to combat acute infections from the diseases, are now conferring lifelong chronic afflictions on those same animals.

On the left side of the chart, you see the acute symptoms of canine distemper and on the right side are the common chronic symptoms. To see charts for the other diseases Pitcairn studied, please go to his website and read the whole article.

Now, let’s examine some myths concerning vaccines which have somehow been elevated to the level of gospel truths in conventional medical circles.

Myth #1: that the administration of vaccines is safe.

A British group, called Canine Health Concern (CHC) analyzed the post vaccinal histories of 3800 dogs. The whole report can be viewed at

The quotes below point out some of the pertinent points which I would like to emphasize, however.

“We have been able to show a definite statistical correlation between a vaccine event and the onset of a number of specific illnesses. Our published conclusions have satisfied mathematical or inferential statistical tests at a level of confidence of 99% or better.

"Overall, we found that 66% per cent of all sick dogs start being sick within three months of vaccination, which is considerably more than double the expected rate of illness. Worse, 49% of all illnesses reported in the survey occurred within 30 days of vaccination. This is over five times the expected percentage if vaccination had no bearing on subsequent illness. More damning still, 29% of sick dogs first became sick within seven days of their vaccine jab. This means that a dog is 13 times more likely to become ill within seven days of vaccination than at any other time.
In the study, 69.2% of allergic dogs first became allergic within three months of being vaccinated - more than double the expected number. 55.8% of dogs with autoimmune disease developed the condition within three months of being vaccinated - again, more than twice the expected figure. Of dogs with colitis, 65.9% developed the complaint within three months of being vaccinated and, of dogs with dry eye/conjunctivitis, 70.2% developed their conditions within three months - both nearly three times higher than expected. 73.1% of dogs with epilepsy first became epileptic within three months of vaccination. As 2% of all dogs in the UK are epileptic, vaccines are clearly causing horrendous damage. For statisticians, our Chi score for epilepsy is 96: any Chi test statistic higher than twelve gives a 95% confidence about the conclusions. Without doubt, then, the majority of epileptic dogs in our survey are vaccine damaged.

"But perhaps most astonishing is the fact that a majority of dogs (64.9%) with behavioral problems appear to have developed their difficulties within three months of vaccination. Similarly, 72.5% per cent of dogs with nervous or worrying dispositions became nervous within three months of their jabs (with a Chi score of 112), and 73.1% per cent of dogs with short attention spans lost their attentiveness within three months of vaccination.

"Other diseases that were highly represented within three months post vaccination included cancer (35.1%), chorea (81%), encephalitis (78.6%), heart conditions (39.2%), kidney damage (53.7%), liver damage/failure (61.5%), paralysis of the rear end (69.2%), and pancreas problems (54.2%)."

Research conducted at Purdue University shows routinely vaccinated dogs developing auto antibodies to a vast range of normal canine biochemicals - which corroborates our findings. “

Myth #2: that dogs, once vaccinated, need to be “boosted”

This myth has been perpetuated by veterinarians for at least 50 years, but I am astonished when I think about this fact, because it doesn’t even make logical sense to me. I am extremely annoyed at myself for ever allowing myself to have believed something so absurd. Now, from two top immunologists, Ron Schultz, DVM and Tom Phillips, DVM, here is a quote confirming that it just isn’t so. The quote is from Kirk’ Current Veterinary Therapy 1992:

"A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal...... Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response.... The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy..."

Myth #3: that vaccines protect against the diseases as advertised

First, of all, the insert that accompanies all vaccines says that only healthy animals should be vaccinated. Next, vaccines do not confer immunity on individuals; instead, they sensitize the body to produce antibodies. During the period after vaccination, the body is particularly susceptible to adverse reactions. Again, quoting from the CHC survey, they discovered the following information.

“Many contend that vaccines are a necessary evil; that we need them to protect our dogs against certain deadly canine diseases. However, our survey found that high percentages of dogs are developing the diseases we vaccinate against, soon after vaccination.

"Of dogs with hepatitis, 64% contracted it within three months of being vaccinated and, of those with parainfluenza, 50% developed it within three months of their shots. Also, 69% of dogs with parvovirus, 56% of dogs with distemper, and every single dog with leptospirosis in the survey contracted the diseases within three months of vaccination.

"Our figures support the view that vaccines don't confer guaranteed immunity and may actually cause the diseases they're designed to prevent. Our figures appear to demonstrate that vaccines cause illness in one in every hundred dogs - and this is a conservative estimate.

In conclusion, then, I want to make some suggestions. Also, be aware, that in the USA, almost every state requires the rabies vaccine. Therefore, my recommendations cannot include that vaccination. However, there are some pertinent articles about rabies vaccines in the resources below.

Ronald Schultz, DVM, is a vaccine researcher and he does believe in giving “core” vaccinations. I attended a day long seminar he gave on this topic and he made this important point. He says that you must vaccinate within the “window of opportunity.” He calls this “immunologic imprinting.” If you vaccinate an immature immune system, or one not capable of responding fully, he says you get only a partial response and will never again have the opportunity to get a complete response. That window, he points out, occurs after 12 weeks of age in the dog. Therefore, it is his opinion, that routine vaccinations given before 12 weeks are not indicated except under very special circumstances.

One of the tremendous advantages of the Internet, is the ability for “regular” people to communicate and for thousands of people to compare notes. Through this route, I have discovered that when unvaccinated puppies are exposed to recently vaccinated dogs (who are therefore shedding the viral particles), the unvaccinated puppies demonstrate a titer to the diseases. (A titer is a measure of circulating antibodies.) In fact, I had a conversation with Harm Hogenesch, another veterinary vaccine researcher on the Purdue Study. He said, “The very best way to protect your dog is to make sure your neighbor vaccinates *her* dog!”

So, if the veterinarians who are experts in vaccines say we should wait until after 12 weeks to vaccinate, and the best way to accomplish that is by allowing our puppies exposure to dogs shedding vaccine particles into the environment, then it makes sense to me to forgo the actual injection and simply take the puppy to puppy kindergarten or the park. Is there a risk that our puppies could get sick following this approach? Of course! Life isn’t safe, but there is also a risk that the puppies could get the diseases after being vaccinated. It also appears to be true, from reading many case histories on the Internet, that dogs who get parvovirus after being vaccinated, are sicker and more likely to die than their unvaccinated counterparts who also contract the disease.

Most of us, who are led to a study of vaccinosis, do so because one or more of our dogs (or children) have been irreversibly damaged or compromised by vaccines.

Anyone considering vaccinating needs to know that there are some consequences of any given vaccine.

Is it worth the risk? Richard Pitcairn,DVM, PhD Richard Pitcairn,DVM, PhD A New Look at the Vaccine Question

April 14, 2006


it never ends does it? here is some links you can research and see whether you want to make the decision for your pet - or let you Vet decide

Download file

September 18, 2006

Changing Vaccine Procotols - by W Jean Dodds, DVM

The challenge to produce effective and safe vaccines for the prevalent infectious diseases of humans and animals has become increasingly difficult. In veterinary medicine, evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis) is compelling. While some of these problems have been traced to contaminated or poorly attenuated batches of vaccine that revert to virulence, others apparently reflect the host’s genetic predisposition to react adversely upon receiving the single (monovalent) or multiple antigen “combo” (polyvalent) products given routinely to animals. Animals of certain susceptible breeds or families appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse reactions to vaccines.

The onset of adverse reactions to conventional vaccinations (or other inciting drugs, chemicals, or infectious agents) can be an immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reaction, or can occur acutely (24-48 hours afterwards), or later on (10-45 days) in a delayed type immune response often caused by immune-complex formation. Typical signs of adverse immune reactions include fever, stiffness, sore joints and abdominal tenderness, susceptibility to infections, central and peripheral nervous system disorders or inflammation, collapse with autoagglutinated red blood cells and jaundice, or generalized pinpoint hemorrhages or bruises. Liver enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may accompany bone marrow suppression. Furthermore, recent vaccination of genetically susceptible breeds has been associated with transient seizures in puppies and adult dogs, as well as a variety of autoimmune diseases including those affecting the blood, endocrine organs, joints, skin and mucosa, central nervous system, eyes, muscles, liver, kidneys, and bowel. It is postulated that an underlying genetic predisposition to these conditions places other littermates and close relatives at increased risk. Vaccination of pet and research dogs with polyvalent vaccines containing rabies virus or rabies vaccine alone was recently shown to induce production of antithyroglobulin autoantibodies, a provocative and important finding with implications for the subsequent development of hypothyroidism (Scott-Moncrieff et al, 2002).

Vaccination also can overwhelm the immunocompromised or even healthy host that is repeatedly challenged with other environmental stimuli and is genetically predisposed to react adversely upon viral exposure. The recently weaned young puppy or kitten entering a new environment is at greater risk here, as its relatively immature immune system can be temporarily or more permanently harmed. Consequences in later life may be the increased susceptibility to chronic debilitating diseases.

As combination vaccines contain antigens other than those of the clinically important infectious disease agents, some may be unnecessary; and their use may increase the risk of adverse reactions. With the exception of a recently introduced mutivalent Leptospira spp. vaccine, the other leptospirosis vaccines afford little protection against the clinically important fields strains of leptospirosis, and the antibodies they elicit typically last only a few months. Other vaccines, such as for Lyme disease, may not be needed, because the disease is limited to certain geographical areas. Annual revaccination for rabies is required by some states even though there are USDA licensed rabies vaccine with a 3-year duration. Thus, the overall risk-benefit ratio of using certain vaccines or multiple antigen vaccines given simultaneously and repeatedly should be reexamined. It must be recognized, however, that we have the luxury of asking such questions today only because the risk of disease has been effectively reduced by the widespread use of vaccination programs.

Given this troublesome situation, what are the experts saying about these issues? In 1995, a landmark review commentary focused the attention of the veterinary profession on the advisability of current vaccine practices. Are we overvaccinating companion animals, and if so, what is the appropriate periodicity of booster vaccines ? Discussion of this provocative topic has generally lead to other questions about the duration of immunity conferred by the currently licensed vaccine components.

In response to questions posed in the first part of this article, veterinary vaccinologists have recommended new protocols for dogs and cats. These include: 1) giving the puppy or kitten vaccine series followed by a booster at one year of age; 2) administering further boosters in a combination vaccine every three years or as split components alternating every other year until; 3) the pet reaches geriatric age, at which time booster vaccination is likely to be unnecessary and may be unadvisable for those with aging or immunologic disorders. In the intervening years between booster vaccinations, and in the case of geriatric pets, circulating humoral immunity can be evaluated by measuring serum vaccine antibody titers as an indication of the presence of immune memory. Titers do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and/or exposure to the disease, although the magnitude of immunity produced just by vaccination is usually lower (see Tables).

Except where vaccination is required by law, all animals, but especially those dogs or close relatives that previously experienced an adverse reaction to vaccination can have serum antibody titers measured annually instead of revaccination. If adequate titers are found, the animal should not need revaccination until some future date. Rechecking antibody titers can be performed annually, thereafter, or can be offered as an alternative to pet owners who prefer not to follow the conventional practice of annual boosters. Reliable serologic vaccine titering is available from several university and commercial laboratories and the cost is reasonable (Twark and Dodds, 2000; Lappin et al, 2002; Paul et al, 2003; Moore and Glickman, 2004).

Relatively little has been published about the duration of immunity following vaccination, although new data are beginning to appear for both dogs and cats.

Our recent study (Twark and Dodds, 2000), evaluated 1441 dogs for CPV antibody titer and 1379 dogs for CDV antibody titer. Of these, 95.1 % were judged to have adequate CPV titers, and nearly all (97.6 %) had adequate CDV titers. Vaccine histories were available for 444 dogs (CPV) and 433 dogs (CDV). Only 43 dogs had been vaccinated within the previous year, with the majority of dogs (268 or 60%) having received a booster vaccination 1-2 years beforehand. On the basis of our data, we concluded that annual revaccination is unnecessary. Similar findings and conclusions have been published recently for dogs in New Zealand (Kyle et al, 2002), and cats (Scott and Geissinger, 1999; Lappin et al, 2002). Comprehensive studies of the duration of serologic response to five viral vaccine antigens in dogs and three viral vaccine antigens in cats were recently published by researchers at Pfizer Animal Health ( Mouzin et al, 2004).

When an adequate immune memory has already been established, there is little reason to introduce unnecessary antigen, adjuvant, and preservatives by administering booster vaccines. By titering annually, one can assess whether a given animal’s humoral immune response has fallen below levels of adequate immune memory. In that event, an appropriate vaccine booster can be administered.

Table 1. “Core” Vaccines *
Dog Cat
Distemper Feline Parvovirus
Adenovirus Herpesvirus
Parvovirus Calicivirus
Rabies Rabies
* Vaccines that every dog and cat should have

Table 2. Adverse Reaction Risks for Vaccines *

“There is less risk associated with taking a blood sample for a titer test than giving an unnecessary vaccination.”
* Veterinary Medicine, February, 2002.

Table 3. Titer Testing and Vaccination *

“While difficult to prove, risks associated with overvaccination are an increasing concern among veterinarians. These experts say antibody titer testing may prove to be a valuable tool in determining your patients’ vaccination needs.”
* Veterinary Medicine, February, 2002.

Table 4. Vaccine Titer Testing *

“Research shows that once an animal’s titer stabilizes,
it is likely to remain constant for many years.”
* Veterinary Medicine, February, 2002.
Dodds WJ. More bumps on the vaccine road. Adv Vet Med 41:715-732, 1999.
Dodds WJ. Vaccination protocols for dogs predisposed to vaccine reactions. J Am An Hosp Assoc 38: 1-4, 2001.
Hogenesch H, Azcona-Olivera J, Scott-Moncreiff C, et al. Vaccine-induced autoimmunity in the dog. Adv Vet Med 41: 733-744, 1999.
Hustead DR, Carpenter T, Sawyer DC, et al. Vaccination issues of concern to practitioners. J Am Vet Med Assoc 214: 1000-1002, 1999.
Kyle AHM, Squires RA, Davies PR. Serologic status and response to vaccination against canine distemper (CDV) and canine parvovirus (CPV) of dogs vaccinated at different intervals. J Sm An Pract, June 2002.
Lappin MR, Andrews J, Simpson D, et al. Use of serologic tests to predict resistance to feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, and feline parvovirus infection in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 220: 38-42, 2002.
McGaw DL, Thompson M, Tate, D, et al. Serum distemper virus and parvovirus antibody titers among dogs brought to a veterinary hospital for revaccination. J Am Vet Med Assoc 213: 72-75, 1998.
Moore GE, Glickman LT. A perspective on vaccine guidelines and titer tests for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 200-203. 2004.
Mouzin DE, Lorenzen M J, Haworth, et al. Duration of serologic response to five viral antigens in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 55-60, 2004.
Mouzin DE, Lorenzen M J, Haworth, et al. Duration of serologic response to three viral antigens in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 61-66, 2004.
Paul MA. Credibility in the face of controversy. Am An Hosp Assoc Trends Magazine XIV(2):19-21, 1998.
Paul MA (chair) et al. Report of the AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force: 2003 canine vaccine guidelines, recommendations, and supporting literature. AAHA, April 2003, 28 pp.
Schultz RD. Current and future canine and feline vaccination programs. Vet Med 93:233-254, 1998.
Schultz RD, Ford RB, Olsen J, Scott F. Titer testing and vaccination: a new look at traditional practices. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert).
Scott FW, Geissinger CM. Long-term immunity in cats vaccinated with an inactivated trivalent vaccine. Am J Vet Res 60: 652-658, 1999.
Scott-Moncrieff JC, Azcona-Olivera J, Glickman NW, et al. Evaluation of antithyroglobulin antibodies after routine vaccination in pet and research dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 221: 515-521, 2002.
Smith CA. Are we vaccinating too much? J Am Vet Med Assoc 207:421-425, 1995.
Tizard I, Ni Y. Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc 213: 54-60, 1998.
Twark L, Dodds WJ. Clinical application of serum parvovirus and distemper virus antibody titers for determining revaccination strategies in healthy dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 217:1021-1024, 2000.

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About Vaccination

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Healthy Dogs in the Vaccination category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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