Annual Vaccinations for Pets Are Doing More Harm Than Good

As far back as 2003, there were reports that all 27 veterinary schools in North America were considering new guidelines in relation to annual vaccinations for pets.  A new protocol was accepted, which acknowledged that the immune systems of both dogs and cats are fully mature by the age of 6 months.  Therefore, if the animal is vaccinated after the age of 6 months, it results in immunity from the major diseases vaccinated against – parvo virus and distemper.  If a further vaccination is given a year later (the first of the so-called “annual vaccinations”), the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect.

Yes, you did read that correctly – little or no effect.

The guidelines went further, finding that not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.  Vaccinosis is a common term used for these types of reactions.  It can occur in any animal.  Animals that are most at risk of experiencing such reactions are those which were not in excellent health at the time of the vaccinations.  Unhealthy animals should never be vaccinated.

But wait, there’s more (as the saying goes) … the guidelines went on to find that there is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV (modified live virus) vaccines. Yes, NO scientific documentation to support annual vaccinations!

Vaccinations for dogs1

Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk, which is active for the first 8 to 14 weeks of puppies’ lives.  A series of vaccinations should be given starting at 8 weeks and given 3 to 4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age – so a maximum of 4 vaccinations between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks. A further vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at the age of 1 year 4 months) will then provide lifetime immunity.

Yes, lifetime immunity.

So why are we still being misled into believing that annual vaccinations for animals are required?

Why indeed.  There are a combination of reasons, including –

(a) ignorance on the part of vets (although as time goes on, there is less and less excuse for this kind of ignorance),

(b) unwillingness to trust pet owners to bring their pets in for an annual health checkup and using the spectre of “required” annual vaccinations as the means to get pet owners to bring their pets in,

(c) profits.

Will you succumb to the continued pressure to vaccinate your pet unnecessarily every year, or will you take a stand and advise your vet that you do not wish to vaccinate your pet any more.  (Of course, you should always discuss the issue with your vet, as it is of great importance to have a vet you can work with in relation to the holistic health of your pet.  Annual checkups are very important, and you never know when you’ll need to call on your vet if your pet is injured or gets sick). 

If your vet will not support your decision not to vaccinate your adult dog or cat, then find a vet who will.  Titer tests are an alternative that your vet may suggest, and you may wish to consider.  Titers test the blood for antibodies, which can reassure you that a “booster” vaccination is not required.

Certainly there are laws which need to be changed – including the laws which currently govern boarding kennels in many areas, which require any animal boarded to be “up to date” with its annual vaccinations.  This is obviously a problem for people who need to board their pets.  Some kennels will accept homeopathic vaccinations such as homeopathic distemper remedies and homeopathic kennel cough remedies, but many will not.

Rabies vaccinations are also law in many places.  But what you may not know is that you can request a smaller dose.  And here’s a tip that one of my readers gave me – press a slice of lemon on the injection site immediately after the small dose is given – it can lessen the effect by drawing back out the residue of the vaccine left near the surface.  Of course, you’ll need to discuss these strategies with your vet to ensure that your vet will support your decision.  And again, if not, find a vet who will.

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