More Vaccine Info

If you read my first vaccine page, there I outline what I recommend for a limited vaccine protocol. This page, is more for the reasons and theory for why I advocate limited vaccines.
The number one rule of my vaccination protocol is to NEVER give those "all in one" combination vaccines, like the 5 in 1 or 7 in 1 vaccines, that have a large number of different virus all given together to a puppy. The vast majority of vets give these combination vaccines only, so unless you are dealing with one of my recommended vets you will likely have to ask your vet to special-order your puppy's vaccines for you. They may tell you its not possible to get your requested vaccine, but the truth is many don't want to order it in because it is more work for them!

The all-to-common multi-virus vaccines tend to confuse to immune system rather than stimulate it. Many of these combo-vaccines contain anywhere from 5-9 different diseases! Where in nature would your dog be exposed to that many diseases all at the same time? You can only imagine the dog would have a very difficult time effectively fighting that many diseases at once! Just think about the stress on the dog's immune system, and especially on a young puppy who's immune system is still developing. Excessive vaccination can actually cause the immune system to cease working altogether. I call that the "I can't handle it anymore, I quit!" response.

Rule number two is limit the total number of vaccinations. There is no valid reason for giving the same vaccine over and over again to a puppy. The reason this practice was started is because puppies receive maternal antibodies from their dam while they are nursing, and these gradually wear off after weaning. But they wear off at different rates in different puppies, so we have no way of knowing for sure when they have worn can be anywhere from 5-16 weeks, although the average is 6-10. 

Giving a puppy shots while it still has maternal antibodies is useless, as the maternal antibodies will "block" the vaccine and prevent immunity from being established. So vets in their infinite wisdom decided to give puppies vaccines over and over again so that eventually one will be given after the maternal antibodies are worn down. But since we don't know when they were down, it could leave pups unprotected for several weeks, which is why vets will tell you to keep your young puppy off the streets and away from strange dogs until it "has had all its shots" at 12-16 weeks.

So if we have to keep puppy isolated even if giving all these most-likely useless shots, then why do we both putting all that extra stress on the poor puppy's system? Doesn't it make more sense to not give those shots (since they likely won't work anyway) and just be careful with puppy until he is a little older? Stay away from dog parks, pet stores and other areas frequented by large numbers of dogs until after 4 months old. Do your public socializing outside the grocery store, library Malls, any place you can think about that has lots of people, but few dogs. Invite people over to your house to play with puppy, they can bring their adult, healthy dogs with them for playtime.

Rule number three is choosing to only use vaccines that are actually needed in your area. Don’t give a vaccine simply because it exists. Every vaccine given to your dog places stress on the animal’s immune system and increases the risk of an unwanted autoimmune reaction. Parvovirus is an example of a disease that is very common and widespread and effects mainly puppies – therefore we may consider it to be a vaccine worth vaccinating puppies for. Also, the Parvo vaccine rarely seems to cause vaccinosis.

Distemper is another vaccine that is typically recommended. This vaccine has been noted to cause a lot of side effects (vaccinosis). Common side effects to this vaccine  include temperament issues (fearfulness), Enamel Hypoplasia (pitted teeth), belly rash, chronic itchy skin, urinary tract infections and Distemper Encephalitis. Some of these are temporary problems, others have life-long effects. Although some dogs can experience adverse effects from a single Distemper vaccine, the likelyhood does increase with numerous "booster" vaccines given.

It is the consensus of immunologists that a modified live virus vaccine must replicate in order to stimulate the immune system, and antibodies from a previous vaccination will block the replication of the new vaccinate virus. The immune status of the patient is not enhanced in any way. There is no benefit to the patient. The client is paying for something with insignificant or no effect, except that the patient is being exposed to unnecessary risk of an adverse reaction.

According to Dr. Ronald D Schultz, head of pathobiology at Wisconsin University and arguably the world expert on this subject, once immunity to a virus exists, it persists for years or life. I am told that he vaccinated his own Golden Retrievers as puppies, and then didn't vaccinate them again. He took yearly blood tests. His Goldens are reported to have died naturally at around 15 years of age, and showed good antibody levels from the first booster until they died. Moral of the story: this and other research shows that annual shots are not necessary.

Another interesting point on the vaccination issue is that your dog will in fact essentially be "vaccinated" on a regular basis by being exposed to other dogs that have been vaccinated recently. You see, for a several week period after vaccination with a modified live virus vaccine, dogs will actually "shed" particles of the virus into their environment. When another dog is exposed to the shed virus, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, just the same as if it was exposed to the actual disease. Only this is much safer, since it is through a more natural means of exposure (inhaled or ingested rather than injected) and with a much smaller dosage. This vaccination through shed virus is known as the "herd immunity effect". So as long as you keep taking your dog (over 16 weeks) out and about and expose it to other dogs regularly (parks, training classes, dog shows) it will regularly receive low-level stimulation of its immunity, which is safe and effective.