Vaccinations - Do our dogs need all of them?
Portions of the intro to Vacinations are taken from "Shots in the Dark?" Click for full article
Arnold Plotnnick, DVM
Republished from Dog Fancy Magazine, October 2000
Experts question whether vaccinating too often creates more risks than benefits.

Vaccinations probably have done more for the health of dogs than any other veterinary advances.  The lifespan of pets today is largely the result of our control over preventable diseases.  However, as veterinary-immunology developments emerge and side effects associated with vaccination become apparent, veterinarians and their clients have begun to question the need for yearly boosters.

Option vs. necessity
Itís difficult to say which canine vaccines are necessary and which are of limited or no value.  The American Association of Feline Practitioners, in conjunction with the Academy of Feline Medicine, issued vaccination guidelines that also can be applied to dogs.  They divide vaccines into two groups:  core and non-core.  Core vaccines are those every animal needs.  Non-core vaccines are those to be considered based on various factors, including the risk of disease exposure, disease severity, the efficacy and the safety of the vaccine, and clien-specific concerns such as cost and convenience.

Most veterinarians agree every dog should be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, adenovirus (infectious hepatitis) and parvovirus.  Some also list parainfluenza and bordetella (kennel cough) among core vaccines.  Vaccines against coronavirus, Lyme disease, leptospirosis and giardia are generally considered non-core.

Commonly, dogs receive vaccinations throughout life if the disease for which the vaccine protects can affect the animal at all stages of life and if the immunity produced by 
the vaccine is short-lived.

However, recent research has shown dogs vaccinated against the canine distemper virus as puppies, for example, develop antibody levels that persist for many years.  Studies on dogs vaccinated against parvorirus have shown that immunity to this potentially fatal disease lasts several years and may be lifelong in some instances.

Rabies is the most important core vaccine due to the fatal nature of the disease in animals and itís human-health implications.  Public health authorities set frequency standards for rabies vaccination.  Many studies have shown the three-year rabies vaccine induce immunity.

Some vaccinations offer immunization for three years.

The fact that the duration of immunity for most core vaccines is three years (and often much longer) has led many veterinary universities to change their vaccination  protocols.  Private veterinarians also have begun to embrace these changes.

The Bad with the good

Any vaccine can induce adverse reactions, including local pain and swelling, hives, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite.

But, serious side effects are uncommon.  Avoiding vaccination is not an option.  The goal is to vaccinate more dogs, less often.

Arnold Plotnnick, DVM, is vice president of animal health for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York.

Consider this as a conservative shot schedule

This is what is in a DHLPP
Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, 

A more conservative schedule is to only give core vaccines and not this combination. 

A very concervative shot schedule would be: (please consider that some areas of the country may require you to give other boosters to combat diseases that are prevalant. This is for those areas that have no major outbreak)

6 weeks: parvo only
8 weeks: distemper only
10 weeks: parvo only
12 weeks: distemper only
16 weeks or older: rabies only

Your dog should not need yearly boosters after this series and only the required rabies shot. Check with your local County to see whether a 3 year rabies shot is given, and if so, opt for that one. Many Counties have a 3 year but do not tell the public. You will still be responsible for purchasing a license yearly though, which is better than having to give a shot yearly.

Lepto is a rare disease and affects few dogs, plus, many dogs have reactions to it, including Dachshunds. 

Core vaccines for dogs include 

  • distemper
  • canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis and respiratory disease) 
  • canine parvovirus.
Noncore vaccines include 
  • canine parainfluenza 
  • Bordatella bronchiseptica (both are causes of "kennel cough")
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme Disease)
  • coronavirus
  • Leptospira.
A smart way to give shots is to only give core vaccines separately.  Only if there is a real risk of exposure to the noncore viruses should you give 
your dog these vaccines.

My Holistic veterinarian who is President of the American HolisticVeterinary Medical Association for 2000-2001 is a firm believer that shots are a tremendous cause for the immune system breakdown by bombarding the system with unnecessary vaccines and too often.  There are enough articles to substantiate this and I think it will open many people's eyes.  It is imperative though that you know what your dog's risk of exposure is.  Different areas of the country have higher risk to certain diseases and each dog is different, so, common sense prevails.  He says to discuss your own needs with your vet and choose your vaccine wisely.  (On a note of an analogy, how many booster shots do you, 
yourself get a year???)

If your vet has been paying attention to the latest studies, they may modify their vaccine procedures.  It they tell you "they're all safe" get 
another vet.

On a side note, after the shot is administered, massage the area. The shot can be in the layers of skin and not absorb correctly causing a cyst to develop down the road.  It only takes a moment to massage.  There is another controversy about the area where the shot is given and that maybe 
it should be given in the rear leg (particularly rabies) since there has been a correlation with sarcomas developing at the shot site.

For those of you who get USA Weekend in your paper, two weeks ago there was an article about vaccinations.  An abreviated version of it is on line, but, there are many studies out there that you can  find on the Internet. 
USA Weekend article

Related Links[1].htm - A Very good review and awareness of how dangerous vaccines are.
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