8:33 am   
Dog Tip: Vaccinations and Vaccinosis: The Vaccine Controversy
Courtesy of Best DAWG Rescue

The whispers have grown to a roar. Just punch "vaccinosis" (over-vaccination) into a search engine and be prepared for an avalanche of articles on this highly volatile topic. Vaccinosis has gone from an issue often dismissed by veterinarians, to one that has caused many pet owners to rethink their pet's care.

An explosion of real-life stories regarding the likelihood of vaccine-related immune suppression leading to arthritis, skin diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, spondylosis, epileptic seizures, loss of motor control, cancer, and even death has caused a revolution in pet stewardship.

Don't think you have anything to worry about? Ask yourself this: has your pet ever had a reaction such as fever,weakness, loss of appetite, swelling, itchy skin, rashes, even loss of consciousness after a vaccination? Has your vet asked you to monitor your dog for these reactions? What about behavioral changes following vaccination?

Aggressive behavior and unusual fearfulness have been known to occur following rabies vaccinations. Your dog's reaction is a red flag you should heed.

Aren't vaccinations required by law? The only vaccination required by law is the rabies vaccine. All other vaccinations are discretionary.

So how do you determine which vaccines are appropriate for your dog?

Mainstream publication BARK recently published an article about the over-vaccination controversy, "Less Is More." The article referenced the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an international organization of companion animal veterinarians, which offers new guidelines for canine vaccinations based on three categories: core, non-core, and not recommended.

For core diseases (distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus-2, and rabies), AAHA recommends revaccination of adults dogs (after puppy shots) no more than once every three years. AAHA recommends that non-core vaccines (for leptospirosis, bordatella, lyme, parainfluenza) are be given with core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are for less prevalent or situational diseases (e.g., the bordatella vaccine is generally not needed except when boarding a dog).

On AAHA's "not recommended" list are coronavirus, giardia, and adenovirus-1 vaccines. In addition, AAHA recommends discontinuing revaccination if your dog has had an anaphylactic reaction because "the risk from vaccine-induced anaphylaxis may be much greater than the risk of infection."

In light of the AAHA recommendations, how do you know your pet is protected by vaccines he already has received? An "antibody titer blood test" can tell you if your dog is likely to have immunity to certain diseases. Keep in mind the test is reasonably precise and is one way to determine what's right for your dog.

Are certain dogs more at risk of vaccinosis than others? Yes, especially if you have an older, immune-compromised, or generally "delicate" pet. Do not vaccinate your dog if you suspect the dog is not well, and NEVER vaccinate in an all-in-one veterinarian annual visit. It is much better to stagger vaccinations you feel are necessary throughout the year. That would give your dog the benefit of additional exams during which your veterinarian might detect a health problem in your pet. Be sure to give your veterinarian a comprehensive portrayal of your dog's life,including potential visits to rural areas that have additional disease risks.

What proof is there that there is a connection between over-vaccination and reactions and disease? Unfortunately, not much can be documented through scientific research. According to Colorado State University (1988): "We are making this change [revising the vaccination protocol] after years of concern about the lack of documentation that over-vaccinating has been associated with harmful side effects ... which are often fatal."

Is there anything else you can do to preserve your dog's health and enhance his immunity. Yes! Without question, the immune system is supported on a daily basis by what the dog eats. Many people have turned away from commercial foods in favor of natural canine diets and supplementation (use of supplements) tailored to the dog's needs. The purpose of this article is not to provide a thorough examination on the topic of vaccinosis, but rather, to suggest questions to inspire you study the issue on your own and ask your veterinarian for his or her recommendations. Your decisions regarding vaccination will enhance your dog's life ... or could even save it.

To download the complete Report of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force: 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, go to http://www.aahanet.org/assnlink/sharedvac.cfm

Further Reading:

Vaccination Articles

Holistic Health Tips and Insights, Association Contacts and Related Resources

Vaccine Guide for Dogs and Cats by Catherine J.M. Diodati, MA. Available from www.thinktwice.com, this book supports the idea that the less you put in the body, the fewer chances you have for reactions. Routine vaccination has been found to create short term and long term symptoms.

Note: The information in this tipsheet is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary care.


For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at  www.paw-rescue.org

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

FOR NONPROFIT USE ONLY. These articles may NOT be reproduced or circulated without author permission.

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport