Vaccine Protocol

The core vaccines as determined by the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association are

  • Distemper
  • Parvo virus
  • Rabies

It is important to note that is never impossible for a species or age group to NEVER get a disease for which that species may be prone. You should make your decision to vaccinate based upon strong evidence of disease prevalence in your particular area.

Adult dogs of any breed are generally NOT susceptible or have greatly reduced incidence of disease from Distemper. This is a puppyhood disease and is RARELY found in adult dogs.

Adult dogs are NOT susceptible to Parvo virus. This too is a puppyhood disease.

Leptospirosis, Adenovirus, and Para are considered non core vaccines. Their incidence is generally low, and some of these are treatable diseases. Moreover, the strain used in the common leptospirosis vaccines is not protective for the strain acquired in the infectious disease state.

Giardia vaccine, corona, bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines are not generally protective and are NOT recommended under ANY circumstances.

Vaccine guidelines should include the following:

  1. Age
  2. Incidence in your area
  3. Health status of your pet
  4. Previous medical and vaccine history
  5. Life style and possibility of exposures

It is important to realize that vaccinating is most commonly driven by fear: the fear of “getting an infectious disease”. Much current research has conclusively shown that adult dogs have immunity far past one year for most vaccines given. In fact, most vaccines will last a lifetime after the puppyhood vaccine is given.

The Rabies vaccine requirement varies from state to state; some states require a vaccine every 3 years, some require a vaccine every year. The three year licensed vaccine MUST be used in order for the state to recognize three year coverage. The one year licensed vaccine is good for much more than one year, but the states and counties do not recognize this.

Prior to giving any vaccines, your pet’s health must be evaluated by you and your vet. If your pet has the following ailments, then they may be exempt from getting vaccinated with rabies vaccine and should NOT be vaccinated with any other vaccines:

  • Autoimmune diseases (autoimmune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, lymes disease, other tick borne diseases, pemphigus, lupus etc.)
  • Seizures
  • Addisons disease
  • Cushings disease
  • Any infection anywhere
  • Cancer
  • Any organ failure or compromise of any organ system, temporary or permanent
  • Vaccine reactions
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis

The vaccine inserts themselves are careful to state “to be used in healthy animals only”. Believe me, the veterinarian will be liable if anything goes wrong, NOT the vaccine company.

Vaccine reactions do occur and are not as uncommon as one might be lead to believe.

Watch out for these types of vaccine reactions:

  • Lethargy
  • Vaccine site swellings, abscesses, granulomas
  • Vaccine site cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases: autoimmune hemolytic anemia, lupus, pemphigus, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, allergic dermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune complexes against organ tissue, kidney and thyroid
  • Possibly cancer
  • Seizures, post vaccine induced encephalitis or meningitis
  • Paralysis, autoimmune
  • Fever, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Anaphylactic reactions, swellings, respiratory distress, hives
  • Lymphoma
  • Decompensation of existing illnesses either currently under treatment or unknown at the time of vaccinating

It is important to note that judicious use of vaccines for those individuals that are at greatest risk is fine to consider, but the abovementioned considerations MUST be taken into consideration with regard to the best interest of the patient.

Most states will accept an exemption letter from a licensed veterinarian if your pet is too ill to receive a rabies vaccine. Check with your state board and your local veterinarian. If he or she refuses to comply with your wishes, find one that will.

Puppy Vaccines
According to lectures on the subject of puppy vaccines given by Ronald Schultz, PhD, Schultz, professor and chair of pathobiological sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, a leader in vaccine research and funded by the vaccine companies:

A single combination vaccine (with core vaccines) may be given at 14 to 16 weeks of age and is protective for the life of that pet in the MAJORITY of cases. At this point no maternal antibodies should be left to neutralize the vaccine given.

There are what he calls, vaccine NONresponders. These are dogs or puppies that no matter how much you vaccinate them, they will NEVER produce protective immunity. Therefore, WE MUST NOT CONTINUE TO TRY TO VACCINATE these pups.

It is important in the first 6 months to pay close attention to exposure and sanitation to minimize the chances of acquiring infection. We have lead people to believe that ALL dogs are susceptible to Parvo and Distemper and this is not true. We cannot however, measure who is and who is not.

I suggest that a person who acquires a dog with unknown or an “overdue on vaccines” status, do antibody titers to measure protective levels. According to Dr. Schultz, any antibody titer level is considered protective. The antibodies measured are part of the memory cell production to protect an animal. It is false to say that the titers are unproven and meaningless.

The only way an animal will have antibodies against any disease is through natural exposure or vaccination. If an animal is not well enough to vaccinate for rabies according to state law, do a rabies blood titer to help assure any handler, foster home, prospective new owner, and the general public that this pet is protected. I would suggest only doing vaccine titers for the other core vaccines, distemper and parvo.

Not all veterinarians agree and profit and beliefs can get in the way of what is best for our pets and fosters. Dr. Jean Dodds and Dr. Ronald Schultz are leaders in research on vaccine and endocrinological diseases. It is difficult to dispute research, although it’s not perfect. It is difficult for some people to change, as information changes.

Not one of us has ALL the right answers, and those of us in the veterinary profession open enough to pay attention to the clinical and scientific evidence before us are most likely to advise the safest procedures that we are aware of to date. Please be patient, as the information may change before us, but not one shred so far is likely to lead us down the path of continuing to overvaccinate.

Robin L. Cannizzaro D.V.M., C.V.A.
June 6, 2004