We over vaccinate our dogs (and cats) in this country. Plain and simple: Overvaccination and the horrible side effects of this practice has become an epidemic of alarming proportions. As a dog mom whose last Cocker Spaniel developed mast cell skin cancer at the site of yearly dog vaccines, I’ve made it one my life passions and missions to become a more educated and more informed pet parent. As a dog writer and blogger, I also share this information so that other dog parents are aware, know their options, and so they can be an active participant with the veterinarian in their dog’s care.
Dr. Jean Dodds is one of my favorite people in the world. We’ve written about Dr. Dodds here on Fidose of Reality and we named her a 2012 “Paw-er” Woman of Fidose of Reality. What makes her so special is her voice is mighty, her research is groundbreaking and bar setting, and her ardent fervor for animals spans a 50-year career. I follow her word like the gospel it is. Dr. Dodds gives lectures worldwide on variety of veterinary topics including clinical pathology, hematology, blood banking, immunology, endocrinology, nutrition, and holistic medicine.
Save the Life of Your Dog: Know How Vaccination Protocols Have Changed
I attended a webinar for two hours last night, with Dr. Jean Dodds as the special guest. The seminar was called “New Life-Changing Vaccination Protocols: Safer and More Effective.” I was hooked. Here is a synopsis of what I learned, including an arsenal of information to discuss with your dog’s veterinarian. And if your vet is old school, won’t budge, isn’t into talking about your needs and desires, or won’t customize a protocol specific to your dog’s needs, honestly: Time to find a new vet.
Pros of Vaccines
Vaccines are not evil. According to research Dr. Dodds shared, thanks to vaccinations, historically more lives have been saved and more animals have been safeguarded than any other medical advances. The very first vaccines were against small pox, distemper, and anthrax.
Canine vaccinations have significantly reduced endemics of canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus but NOT in wildlife reservoirs.
So what’s the problem then? Well, vaccine companies make excellent products, but they aren’t one-size-fits-all for every dog.
Kennel Cough or Canine Influenza
A very important distinction was discussed between these two. Canine influenza looks like kennel cough early in disease. Canine influenza can become chronic pneumonia. Dogs with the “flu” will have a fever early on – whereas kennel cough is not associated with a fever. So learn to take your dog’s temperature, and at the first sign of a cough that lingers see the vet. Make note of any fever so you can report these findings and help your vet in helping your dog.
What Vaccines Should Your Dog Have?
A goal needs to be for pet parents to work with their vets to understand informed consent is essential. Dog moms and dog dads need to talk to their dog’s vet about potential adverse reactions. You absolutely do NOT need to re-vaccinate (give “boosters”) automatically. All that might be needed is a titer. The bottom line is that Dr. Dodds recommends more titers for distemper and parvo for adult dogs.
As dog mom to a pooch with a lot of white in his coat coloring, I was surprised to find out that a dog with white or dilute coat colors has a higher propensity to reactions to things in general. Lighter colored dogs are more prone to chemical reactions beyond vaccine side effects – including flea meds and sulfonamides, etc.Use caution if your dog is white and/or is lightly pigmented, as my dog is.
The Good News
Vaccines are more potent and cleaner today than they were years ago – some companies advertise their vaccines are cleaner and don’t contain what used to be in them 10 years ago. That’s a good thing. But too much of a good thing is never a, well, “good thing.”
The same dose of vaccination that is given to a giant breed is the same one given to a toy breed: Why? Dr. Dodds is a pioneer in challenging this and also in the Rabies Challenge, which she and her organization insist (and rightfully so) that the rabies vaccine need not be given as frequently as current law and mandate dictates. You can learn more about the Rabies Challenge Fund and get involved. Fellow dog blogger, Roxanne Hawn, has a dog who has suffered severe reactions to a rabies booster. I’ve been following Lily’s saga and this only reinforces to me the need for the Rabies Challenge Fund and that times must change.
Side effects and reactions to vaccines tend to occur in smaller dogs and in dogs who are vaccinated with multiple vaccines together. Sadly, in a huge study that was released in 2005, evidence showed that smaller dogs were at risk and that too many vaccines cause major problems. Nothing has changed, and here we are in 2013!!!
What Should Dog Parents Do?
Pay close attention to the geriatric animals point: According to Dr. Dodds, don’t vaccinate older animals that have had proper vaccines in lifetime. By older, this is according to your dog, but in general, once dogs are about 10 years of age.
What is Titer Testing and Why Should You Have It (pre vaccination)?
Titer testing measures the exposure to the agent in the dog’s body. So basically, if your dog tests positive on a titer for parvovirus, you don’t need to vaccinate with a booster. If the titer comes back 1:8 or 1:64, it doesn’t matter. As Dr. Dodds says, “you can’t be a little pregnant!” Similarly, immunity is immunity, no matter what the ratio shows. Any ratio that shows immunity means the animal is protected.
Titers are not as expensive as one would think, and there is now even an in-office titer test your vet can do for your dog. The titers you need only test for are distemper and parvovirus, even though others are available. Discuss the information with your vet but make sure you don’t feel pressured to do what the vet says must be. Dialogue should be open. Dr. Dodds says that these are some reasons for vaccine titer testing:
What if the Titer Shows Immunity Without Having Had Vaccine?
Interestingly, a dog’s titer test can show that the dog is effectively protected against a disease, such as parvo, and perhaps the dog hasn’t had a parvo vaccine since puppyhood. The reason for this is that the dog has been exposed to parvo in the real world – and that exposure created a natural immunity. “It doesn’t matter how it got there, as long as it’s (the immunity) there,” Dr. Dodds shares.
Is There a Recommended Vaccine Protocol?
“I developed a unique , patented vet diagnostic tests to help pet guardian and dog/cat/horse breeders. I started vaccine titer testing in the late 1990s in lieu of automatic annual booster vaccinations,” Dr. Dodds told me in an interview.
Dr. Dodds’ canine vaccine protocol can be found on her “It’s For the Animals” website, and hers is the one I follow for my own dog. Again, each dog is different. Dogs with immunocomprised systems or prior reactions to vaccines, those in heat or about to be, and those who are pregnant, amongst other categories, should not be vaccinated. This is why vets need to discusses changes of vaccinations and the need for a “vaccine checkup” and not a “mandatory vaccine appointment.” Still see your dog’s vet regularly – I do at least 2 visits a year with Dexter for wellness checks. Preventive medicine is key.
Be diligent, be your dog’s voice, and be a savvy dog parent who knows these things. Your dog’s life depends on it. Do you titer test? What are your thoughts? Bark at me below.
By the way, I am not alone in my quest to share information for and about pets. I am also participating in a “blog hop” of fellow pet bloggers today and here are a few of my “fur-ends” below: