The Truth About Vaccines
Some in the holistic community are against all vaccines. I am not one of them. I worked at a humane society for five years and witnessed firsthand the deadly consequences when animals were not vaccinated properly. Vaccinations are an important part of pet healthcare. The incidence of certain deadly diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, and rabies has been greatly reduced thanks to the widespread use of vaccines in US pets.
At the same time, this medical procedure needs to be applied prudently. Like any other medical intervention, there can be adverse events associated with vaccination. Therefore, pets should be vaccinated according to their risk of exposure. Every animal does not need to be vaccinated against every disease. Also, booster vaccines should be given only as needed by the individual pet. In other words, it is best if vaccine protocols are individualized for each pet.
The Dark Side of Vaccines
Because vaccinations are routine procedures for pets, some people take their safety for granted and are unaware of possible complications. Many pets experience a few days of achiness and sluggishness after vaccination. This common side effect demonstrates the powerful systemic repercussions of this procedure. Vaccines contain components called adjuvants that stimulate the animal’s immune system. This unnatural immune system excitation can stir up allergies and possibly cancer.
Vaccines have also been linked to the development of autoimmune disease in pets. Autoimmune disease includes a group of illnesses brought about when the immune system becomes deranged and starts attacking various cells of its own body, leading to life threatening consequences. In addition, certain cancers in pets have been linked to vaccinations. These more serious vaccine adverse reactions are rare but their incidence increases with every vaccine dose, so it makes sense to use this tool wisely.
Try Titers Instead
There is a blood test, called a blood titer, which can be done to see if your pet has immunity against distemper and parvovirus in dogs and distemper in cats. I recommend that this test be done instead of having your pet vaccinated on a regular basis. This will spare your pet from unnecessary vaccines.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Healthcare for pets is changing from the outdated, one-size-fits-all method to a more holistic, individualized system. Medicine works best when each patient receives care that is tailored to her unique needs. This approach is especially helpful when it comes to pet vaccine protocols. Pet owners need to pay close attention to all medical procedures being applied to their pets and take an active role in the decisions being made. The potential benefits need to be balanced by a consideration of possible side effects. When it comes to vaccines, sometimes less is more.
I personally have decided to put vaccines to the test. I have to confess that I’m running an experiment on my own dog. I do not suggest that others follow my experimental vaccine protocol without doing the extensive testing that I am doing.
I have a Maltese named Katy. Her last distemper-parvo combination vaccine was given when she was 12 weeks of age. At that time I gave her ½ the recommended volume of the vaccine. (Another issue I have with vaccines is that the same dose is given to any sized dog from a half pound Chihuahua pup to a 200 pound Great Dane). I have been doing blood titers every year since then which show that her vaccine immunity has lasted 10 years and counting. If I had been following the vaccine label, my little Katy would have gotten 20 times more vaccine in her life so far! Who knows what damage that may have done?
How often does your pet get vaccinated?
Dr Doug, I too have a maltese (two as a matter of fact) 4 lbs each that are 1-1/2 and 8 months old. I did core vaccines at 1/2 dose at 12 and 16 weeks and did titers a few months later- With results that are favorable to not having to do another vaccine. I will test yearly. You do not mention rabies though and what you are doing there? I choose not to do it. Maltese dogs are prone to MVD and LS – our BAT tests are indicative of asymptomatic MVD as post numbers are higher than the normal range (and can be for maltese) – I feel a rabies vaccine is not in our best interest.
Your thoughts please.
Carol, You are very astute to notice I did not mention rabies. In fact I have chosen to keep Katy up to date on that. That is my personal choice and I certainly honor yours. – Dr. Doug
Dr D, Would you reconsider what you are doing with rabies….. if a BAT suggested MVD? but was asymptomatic?
Also, It is possible in NYS to get a waivers… Thanks!
I would certainly rethink things.
I don’t vaccinate my dogs after the initial vaccine when they are pups. I titer each year and have had to give a booster for parvo once in 9 years and a booster for distemper once in 4 years. I will continue to insist on titers versus vaccines.
Best. Information. Ever!
This is simple, informative and incredibly helpful. Thanks Dr Doug!
Thank you for this article-I posted it to Facebook . This is something I feel very strongly about and take every chance I can to inform people of over vaccinating. They should research it for themselves and then talk with their vet, Not do the cookie cutter vaccine protocols!
I feel strongly about it too. Thanks for getting the word out.
How does this information translate to cats? I have 2 and would prefer to not vaccinate them if possible. They are strictly indoor cats. Is it safe to avoid rabies vaccines for them?
It is definietely best to avoid unnecessary vacines in cats. Indoor cats do not need the Feline Lukemia Virus vaccine and I do not believe they need the distemper vaccine once they are adults. The rabies vaccine on the other hand is a little tricky. I’ve had 3 cases in the past 2 years where stricly indoor cats were exposed to rabies via bats. A few years ago I found one of my cats playing with a bat in my living room – luckily it tested negative. We put a screen over our chimney and have not had futher problems. I do recommend indoor cats get their rabies vaccine.