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The Truth About Dog Vaccinations

Brett Winn has been an online writer for many years. she trains and competes in AKC and ASCA obedience with her Australian Shepherds.

Dr. Mark, U of Missouri Veterinary Medicine grad and 40+ years working with dogs, exotics and livestock

The risk of a Vaccine Administered Adverse Event (VAAE) increases when multiple vaccines are given simultaneously.

The risk of a Vaccine Administered Adverse Event (VAAE) increases when multiple vaccines are given simultaneously.

Canine vaccinations play an important role in protecting dogs from contagious and lethal disease. However, they are not without cost. Despite increased publicity in recent years about the adverse effects of vaccinations, many people still assume annual vaccines for their dogs are necessary and many veterinarians continue to administer them. The question is not whether to vaccinate, but for which diseases, when, and how often?

Dog vaccinations are a double-edged sword. Studies have shown that most canine vaccinations provide immunity from seven years to life, if given when a dog's immune system is mature. However, vaccinations also have considerable potential for harm. Dog owners should be informed of the benefits and risks in order to make appropriate decisions for their pets. The seemingly obvious source for this information are veterinarians and vaccine manufacturers, but a conflict of interest exists between them and the education of the public. For what vaccine manufacturer wants to fund a study that might find their product to be unnecessary and/or harmful? And it is certainly understandable if some veterinarians are reluctant to advise against annual vaccinations, when those vaccinations represent a substantial portion of their annual revenue.

The key to reducing vaccine reactions in dogs is to reduce the number and frequency of vaccinations given. Before examining the potential unwanted consequences, here is a brief look at vaccines and their effect on the canine immune system.

This Chihuahua receives the same amount of vaccine as a Great Dane!

This Chihuahua receives the same amount of vaccine as a Great Dane!

What Is a Vaccine?

A vaccine is one or more disease antigens that, when injected into a dog's body, causes his immune system to produce specialized proteins known as immunoglobulins, or antibodies. Antibodies fight infection and disease and neutralize the antigens by binding to them. The cells that created the antibodies (a form of white blood cell) have a memory of the antigen so that when the antigen is encountered again, the cells' "memory" enables them to rapidly produce more antibodies i.e. to mount immunity against that pathogen. The most common dog vaccination is a combination cocktail called DHLPPC which includes pathogens.

What Pathogens are Dog Vaccinations for?

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus-2
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvo

Other Common Vaccinations for Dogs

  • Rabies
  • Bordatella (Kennel Cough)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Giardia

There are two types of vaccines, killed (inactive), and modified-live (MLV). A killed vaccine takes a virus or bacteria and renders it unable to reproduce with heat or chemicals. The immune system doesn't readily recognize dead antigens, so the antigens are combined with substances called adjuvants. An adjuvant slows the release of the antigen and lengthens the dog's exposure to it in what is known as the "depot" effect. The immune response is improved and less antigen is required. Oils, aluminum salts, and proteins are examples of adjuvants. Killed vaccines contain preservatives such as thimerosal (which is 49% mercury), to kill germs that might have accidentally contaminated the vaccine. Adjuvants and preservatives share culpability for some of the adverse reactions dogs experience.

MLVs are created from isolated bacteria and viruses that have been attenuated, or weakened so as to not cause the disease. They do reproduce in the dog's cells, and provoke immunity by mimicking infection with the virulent disease agent. MLV products are preserved by freeze drying, or with small amounts of antibiotics. They produce a stronger immune system response with fewer doses than do killed vaccines, and do not require the addition of adjuvants. MLV vaccinations are thought to sometimes overstimulate the immune system, causing it to malfunction. They are contraindicated for dogs with already suppressed immune systems. MLVs have the potential to revert to the virulent form of the disease.

Delay "puppy shots" until the puppy is eight weeks old and longer when safe circumstances make it possible.

Delay "puppy shots" until the puppy is eight weeks old and longer when safe circumstances make it possible.

Risks and Benefits

The benefits are obvious. The dog doesn't get the diseases for which he has been vaccinated and the dog's owner has peace of mind, and doesn't have to pay for expensive treatment when the dog becomes infected. The risks are harder to assess as unwanted side effects vary in type, number and severity from dog to dog. The likelihood of a dog having an adverse reaction depends upon his sex, age, size, health and genetic predisposition as well as the type and number of vaccines administered.

Potential Side Effects

A Vaccination Administration Adverse Event (VAAE) can be subtle or severe. Anaphylaxis, characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and shock, is an immediate and life threatening response to vaccines that some dogs experience. The dog may experience cardiac and respiratory failure leading to death unless immediate treatment is available. Anaphylactic reactions most often occur with killed variations of vaccines such as those for Rabies, Leptospirosis, and Coronavirus. Less dramatic adverse reactions can include the following.

Reactions to Vaccinations

  • localized pain and swelling at the injection site
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • aggression
  • depression
  • skin allergies

Dogs with seasonal allergies sometimes worsen after vaccination. The distemper vaccine can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Some dogs and more commonly, cats, have developed cancers on injection sites. Pregnant dogs vaccinated with MLV products are at increased risk for abortion.

Small white dogs are more susceptible to auto-immune disease and adverse reactions to vaccines.

Small white dogs are more susceptible to auto-immune disease and adverse reactions to vaccines.

Canine Auto-Immune Disease

The most pervasive side effects of vaccination cover a spectrum known collectively as auto-immune disease. There are many different auto-immune disorders, but they all share an immune system gone awry. The dog's immune system begins to destroy his own cells as if they were the disease causing agent. Some canine diseases thought to be either caused by, contributed to or triggered by (in the case of genetic pre-disposition) canine vaccinations.

Canine Diseases Caused by or Contributed to by Vaccinations

  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
  • Addison's Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Epilepsy well as many white coated (particularly small) breeds or those with coat color dilution genetics such as merling (Collies, Australian Shepherds), harlequin Great Danes, blue and fawn Doberman Pinschers, etc. A dog may exhibit symptoms in one or multiple areas.The weakened immune system leaves the dog vulnerable, especially when neither owner nor vet recognizes the real culprit and multiple vaccines continue to be administered. Vaccinations are not the only culprit in canine auto immune disorders; certain dog food preservatives, environmental toxins and pesticides are also suspect.

One key to reducing adverse reactions is to reduce the overall number of vaccinations given.

One key to reducing adverse reactions is to reduce the overall number of vaccinations given.

Limiting Risk: Less Is More

In 2002, a landmark report published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (COBTA) stated in part, "...the practice of revaccinating animals annually is largely based on historic precedent supported by minimal scientific data; unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance and may expose animals to unnecessary risks...". It is clear that the "one vaccination protocol fits all" mentality of previous years must be reviewed, and that the benefits of vaccination must be weighed against the potential risk for an individual dog and his circumstances. It is important that dog owners not feel intimidated into giving more vaccines than they feel is wise. The only vaccination mandated by law is the Rabies vaccine, and even that is three years into a seven-year (grassroots – consumer funded) study that hopefully will demonstrate seven-year efficacy. Dogs that spend time around other dogs, that are boarded frequently, or who attend dog shows and dog parks, may need more careful monitoring than dogs that never leave home. Regardless of circumstance, the good news is that there are ways to minimize risk.

That said, Parvo can still be brought into the house on the bottom of your shoes. In countries like the United States, where Parvo is still a problem, puppies do need protection early on.

  • Limit the number of vaccinations the dog receives: More is not necessarily better. A study published in 2005 in the Journal of the AVA (American Veterinary Association), determined that the risk of adverse side effects increased with the number of vaccines given simultaneously. When a dog is vaccinated with multiple pathogens, his immune system is forced to respond to them all. The various pathogens "compete" for the immune response, resulting in a lesser response over all. Consider vaccinating only for the "core" (potentially fatal) diseases: Distemper, Parvo and Rabies and Adenovirus-2. Consider the non-core vaccines in light of a dog's individual risk. There is no need to vaccinate for Lyme disease unless the dog lives in or is traveling to an area where Lyme is prevalent AND the dog's habitat or lifestyle puts him at risk. A tick carrying Lyme Disease generally must be attached to the host for 24 hours to communicate the disease, so rapid, habitual detection and removal of ticks negates the need for the vaccine. As much as possible avoid multiple disease "cocktail" vaccinations.
  • Limit the frequency of vaccinations with both puppies and adults. A puppy is typically given a series of "puppy shots" that begins as early as six weeks of age and concludes around sixteen weeks, followed by a "booster" at around one year. These vaccinations are wasted when the puppy is still protected by the immunity he received from his mother. Maternal antibody interference is the most common cause of vaccine failure. Exactly when the immunity conferred by the mother wears off varies between puppies, but it is known to last longer than previously thought. According to Dr. Mark, "as far as we know maternal antibodies wear off in about 3 weeks, so if, for example, you adopt an 8-week old puppy, vaccinations need to start at 11 weeks." In this time period, it is important the puppy be socialized only in places where the other dogs are known to have been immunized, such as friends' homes, and not public places such as Pet Smart where the status of dogs encountered is unknown. Certainly, the beginning of a vaccination series should wait until the puppy has been away from its mother for 3 weeks. Allow a minimum of 3 weeks between vaccinations.
  • Have adult dogs titered, and do not vaccinate when titers are adequate. A titer (pronounced TIGHT-ER), test measures the antibodies in a dog's blood, and indicates if his immune system was mounting immunity at the time his blood was drawn. Titer tests are a bit problematic in their interpretation. The dog may show no antibodies to a particular pathogen and yet his cells be fully capable of producing them when needed. The lack of antibodies doesn't always indicate a lack of protection, but rather that the memory of the pathogen had not been provoked at the time of the test. One way around this frustration is to deliberately expose the dog to the vaccine a week or ten days prior to his titer test. This is done by purchasing and mixing a vaccination of the type he is to be titered for, but instead of injecting it into the dog, put it on a cotton ball or tissue and allow the dog to sniff it, or perhaps even rub a bit of it on his nose. This increases the likelihood of the titer test result's accuracy.

Ongoing Research

Two researchers are at the forefront of the field of canine immunology, Ronald D. Schultz, Ph.D, DVM and W. Jean Dodds, DVM. They are currently working together on a Rabies Challenge study that is underway at the University of Wisconsin's School of Veterinary Medicine where Dr. Schultz is a professor and the current chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences. Dr. Schultz has been studying the efficacy of vaccines and immunity since the 1970s. Regarding the practice of annual vaccination, he says, "...we have found that annual revaccination, with the vaccines that provide long term immunity, provides no demonstrable benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions." Dr. Dodds, an expert on Canine Autoimmune Thyroid Disease and founder of the first private non-profit blood bank for animals, Hemopet, is equally recognized as an authority on canine vaccines and immunology. Dr. Dodd's limited vaccination protocol is widely followed by purebred dog breeders concerned about the incidence of adverse reaction. Regarding titering at the one year period, she says, "If the titers are sufficient, then a booster isn't needed."

Dachshunds are among the breeds known to be vulnerable to vaccine related auto-immune disorders.

Dachshunds are among the breeds known to be vulnerable to vaccine related auto-immune disorders.

Other Considerations

One concern for small dog owners in particular, is the amount of vaccine given. A Chihuahua is vaccinated with the same amount of pathogen as a Great Dane. Some researchers maintain that since at the cellular level there are the same number of receptor sites in every dog, that there is no reason to adjust dosages for body size. However studies show that the smaller a dog, the greater his potential for vaccine reaction.

There is a period of vulnerability, particularly with Parvo, when a puppy's maternal antibodies prevent his immunization with a vaccine, and yet are insufficient to protect him from actual infection with the virus. This is important to remember with puppies in areas with widespread incidence of Parvo.

Just as with humans, there is an emerging body of evidence on the role inflammation plays in the canine body. Long thought to be a cause of healing, it is increasingly thought to be a causative agent in disease, and not a cure. The natural response in a dog's body to vaccination is an increase in inflammation.

In Conclusion

The study of canine immunology will be ongoing into the foreseeable future. Troubling questions remain for which there are no absolute answers or all encompassing solutions.Vaccination decisions are unique to every dog and should be determined by the dog's age, health, breed, etc. Links for further reading as well as to some of the latest and most conservative vaccination protocols have been provided. 

Additional Reading and Resources


Because this is an evolving topic, links to relevant news stories will be posted. I'm happy to list any links you might find!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Simply Natural on December 15, 2019:

Sorry Sarah, but not sorry that I have done much research and use my own mind to think, and come to a conclusion myself. I don't give trust to "professionals" just because they have gone thru "formal" "schooling". They may have cheated and/or passed with a "D". And besides that, look what they are doing...."WORKiNG". Working for MONEY.... MONEY for them not you. They get yours! The more of a need the more they get! So I don't agree with you and I already know your resource is not based on truth nor facts for you state "Everybody" laughs or looks down on the anti vaxxers. Well I for one am one that makes up "everybody" and I don't do any of a such. Besides who gave you rights to speak for others? Maybe you should think about this..... Why are there these things called "recalls"? Why do they have hotlines to report adverse reactions? Have you ever thought you, your child or your pet is a part of an experiment?? It's good to share, but not good to share shit! I thank this writer for sharing her wisdom so that others can gain more insight from another view. Put your own mind to use and look at all the advantages we have in communication. Differences allow same. Both have equal value for both are needed to make the other. Less is more .....

Sarah on November 09, 2019:

Just to let everyone know, Parvo is easily and most commonly contracted among puppies who don't have/ only have their first or second shots. While their are risks for getting vaccines, there is no solid proof of the standard protocol of vaccines are wrong or unsafe. If it was unsafe, your vet would not do it. And also, titers are over $500CND. It would cost more to titer then vaccinate, and if your dog does not have the antibodies to fight Parvo or Canine distemper or rabies, you still have to vaccinate. I would take a breeders advise with a grain of salt. Your vet have gone to university for Vet medicine for 8 years. I would trust their advise over someone with poorly bred perigee dogs who are sick from the start. And just to note, if your dog gets loose and captured by your local government, have fun paying those fines that your local government will charge you. Lastly, if your government suspects your dog to have rabies, they will force you to euthanize, then cut off your dog's head to test for rabies in its brain. Only to test for it. Just vaccinate your damn animals and quit being anti vaxxers that everyone makes fun of and looks down upon!

Sara on October 10, 2017:

We are encouraged to vaccinate yearly (booster injections) otherwise it invalidates our pet insurance policy. Great information and research into a very well written article. Really hard to know sometimes what the best thing to do for our canine pets. Our vets stance is always preventative measures, but in most cases I think don't fix what isn't broken.

Lorraine butler on September 29, 2017:

I did wonder why we are encouraged to vaccinate our pets annually. Children aren't expected to be vaccinated each year. The whole point is to make the animal immune. Once immune why would they need more of the same. The problem is kennels won't accomodate your pet without proof of annual vaccinations.

Aussiemamakate on September 27, 2016:

Incredible article,! Well researched, well written, and well taken! Truth!

The comments lend even more to the article. Kudos to all of you who shared your story.

Most of all-

Thank you Brett!

Olivia Sanzzi from San Antonio on July 03, 2015:

This was a great, informative read. Thanks for the research!

Erin on March 15, 2015:

I had never given this a thought before, but it is rather disturbing that the smallest dogs and the largest receive the same dose of vaccines. My chihuahua has had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past. This is definitely a topic that deserves further investigation!

Brett Winn (author) from US on March 11, 2015:

Thank you for your comments — which are thought provoking. Most of the readers of this article are from America, where over-vaccination is as great or greater a problem than failure to vaccinate. An appropriate vaccination protocol is an important part of responsible pet care. However, in America, there are many who take it to an extreme, some from greed, others from ignorance.

Renier Delport on March 04, 2015:

Please be mindful that one thing pet owners is unaware of that every vet gives vaccinations according to the threat presented in his/her community. Our hospital sometimes have to even recommend vaccinations as early as 4 weeks age. In my 4 years in this community I can recall 2 cases of pemphigus. One (50%) was never vaccinated for anything. I recall 2 mild (unconfirmed) hypersensitivity reactions (vomition) during this period, but more than a dosen puppies I had to euthinase because they had Distemper, not to speak about the dosens of CPV cases we get every year.

And to put things even more in perspective, I recall a Bulldog dying from respiratory failure half way through a pedicure. Should we test dogs for heart and lung conditions before we do that as well?

We practice in a small third world rural town in South Africa and Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus are real threats, even in sub-minimal vaccinated puppies. We sit with the majority of our clients complaining about the costs of vaccination consultation fees. What will they think of the idea of titre testing? It's funny how mainly the clients with 5 pets, flea riddled, sick with babesia comes in and while I'm treating have the nerve to waste my time with petty things like over vaccinations...

Brett Winn (author) from US on March 01, 2015:

Marilyn, I am not a veterinarian, but I have 30 years of experience in the dog community as a breeder and trainer. Your dog does not need a yearly booster. A dog that had a proper series of puppy shots likely has lifetime immunity to most canine diseases. No vet school recommends annual boosters any longer. It sounds to me like you need a new vet! Failing that, ask him to draw titers instead, to see if your dog shows immunity. Too many vaccines are potentially as harmful as too few!

Marilyn on February 25, 2015:

my vets insisting our 8 year old gets her usual yearly one done in a single dose ( our last dog died age 5 he had addisons and got a yearly booster ) ive been advised to have it done in 2 doses 4 weeks apart from a breeder of weineranas for 33 years , confused !!!!! Wondering if it brought on the addisons !!! I've also got a 6 moth puppy , I want the best for them both but finding it hard to see what's best ,

Josephine on December 28, 2013:

Dr. Dodds list of dogs Predisposed:

She also goes on to say dog with Breeds with white or predominantly white coats, as well as those with coat color and pigment dilution such as fawn (Isabella) or blue Dobermans, the merle coat color, blue Yorkshire Terriers, grey Collies, harlequin Great Danes, and Australian Shepherds are also more susceptible.

• Poodles (all varieties, but especially the Standard Poodle

• Old English Sheepdog

Scottish Terrier

• Shetland Sheepdog

• Shih Tzu

• Vizsla

• Weimaraner

J Stacy, I am so sorry about your FAWN doberman. I found this on Dr. Jean Dodds web site.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 22, 2012:

Cindy...I'm so glad to read your follow-up posts and learn that your dog is improving. Also thrilled that you recovered from cancer by using a holistic approach. I'm a firm believer in eating only organics (though it's getting more difficult to trust the USDA Organic certification in the U.S.). I visit the farmers market weekly and buy from the few organic farmers with booths. Glad to help local farmers, especially those doing it the natural way, without pesticides.

Give your Schnauzer a hug for me and my Puppy Girl (a salt-n-pepper mini-Schnauzer who overcame an over-vaccinating vet and now has a good one!)


Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 21, 2012:

I had read this earlier and was happy to see how well researched the article was. A couple of comments. Many vets do know about the adverse affects of the vaccinations, unlike j stacy´s comment, but they do not encourage owners to vaccinate less because of the financial trap they are in. They do not charge enough for the physical examination and expect to make up for it giving vaccines, heartworm tests, selling heartworm preventative, etc. That is foolish.

Also, there is some research to indicate that a low titer does not indicate that the vaccine is no longer effective. It just means that the body´s immune system is at rest. When the dog is stimulated by a dose of live distemper (or parvo, etc) the titer level will shoot back up. Maybe those titers we are doing are just a waste of money.

Finally, I vaccinated my Pit Bull at 7 weeks. Her mother may not have been current but at 7 weeks a dog has a functional immune system. It may have been uneccessary but a vaccine reaction in a puppy of that age is highly unlikely. Not impossible, I realize, but statistically unlikely. She was at much greater risk from infection, and, since I have seen cases of distemper and parvo strike puppies that young here on the beach, I always recommend it to those people who want to protect their dogs.

Sorry for being verbose. This is a really important subject, as you are well aware.

Brett Winn (author) from US on May 27, 2012:

Cindy, I've heard so MANY good things about juicing ... keep looking for a Vitamix at the yard sales but guess I might have to break down one day and spend the money. :( I do believe that in so many cases, the Lord has provided a "cure" himself for the things that make us sick ... I believe we are intended to be well! I wish you continued health and many blessings, and your dog, too!

Cindy on May 27, 2012:

I did change diet to organic and also carrot juicing, I also use detoxify pills daily, drank a lot of Cassie yes, I used neways for my products. I have a friend at church who is a 9 year double mastectomy cancer free survivor who had none of the conventual treatments... Plus I lost 22 lbs, I was 163 and now 141. Tons of prayer and praise...

Brett Winn (author) from US on May 26, 2012:

Cindy ... just curious ... was part of your cancer treatment alkalinizing your body via diet? I have read some very interesting things in that area. Three cheers for your vet's willingness to help you out on the cost of the treatment! Things do happen, but it is such a blessing when people share responsibility and cost. So glad of that for you!

Cindy on May 26, 2012:

Thank you, Brett

I took blitz back to vet for more blood work and informed the vet I believe his issue was caused from the rabies shot, they agreed and contacted the manufacturer and they will be reimbursing me for everything this far and will be paying for everything he needs here on out.. He is coming around and did not need blood transfusion.. It will be a long road!! He will never have a rabies shot again! I myself am using holistic treatment and wish I would of known it is available to pets!! I never did chemo or radiation for the cancer I had. Only natural treatment. I want to say thank you so much for your response and most of all your prayers!! God bless!! Cindy, Minnesota..

Brett Winn (author) from US on May 25, 2012:

I don't know nearly as much about how to recover from auto-immune disease as I do about how to avoid it, unfortunately. But if I were in your situation, I would seek the advice of a holistic veterinarian. Several vet practices in my area (Raleigh NC) offer either a holistic veterinarian on staff, or else one who judicially offers both more traditional services as well as holistic. Look for someone who provides acupuncture for dogs. They will be sympathetic and able to steer you in the right direction. I am so sorry for your circumstance and pray your canine friend will recover fully!

cindy on May 24, 2012:

A week after my 7 year old miniature schnauzer got his vaccines he became very ill and after many tests and almost 2 thousand dollars we learned he had auto immune anemia disease. he is on steroids and other meds to try to boost his immune back up! Tomorrow and often there after he will need blood tests to see how his red blood cell count is.. I know it came from the shots because last time he had them his face blew up like a balloon and had to take benedryl before getting the shot. What can I do about it now?? I am heart broke, he is my buddy.. He helped me get through breast cancer in 2005, we are doing everything we can to get him through this!!! I think the vet should be held responsible for not explaining the risks!!! I am not happy!!!!!!!!!!! :-((

moonlake from America on February 16, 2012:

Great hub so much good information.

My daughter and I were talking about this not long ago. She always took her cats to the vet got all the shots. They all died young.

We don't do that. We make sure they have their rabies and every few years I give them the other shots. Our cats don't die young. The last one we had put down was 22. I believe the same goes for dogs. I'm surprised that they even have a shot for Lyme diseases our vet has never said anything about it. Lyme diseases is common in both human and dogs in our area.

Adrienne Farricelli on February 16, 2012:

Great hub, at the vet's office we used to send yearly reminders of annual vaccinations to clients, now, research shows dogs may be covered for much longer we thought. My pets were over vaccinated because I trusted the vets I worked for, too bad no research was done earlier :(

Brett Winn (author) from US on January 23, 2012:

Helen ... said but true, about the expense, but there are small signs abroad that minds are opening and times are changing ... it takes time sometimes for information to disseminate, it is human nature for most to be loath to change ... Thanks for stopping by, for the comment and support!

Helen on January 23, 2012:

Yay brilliant article I titer my three terriers for the boarding kennel and run the gauntlet of disapproval from my local vet every time the blood is drawn - they wont listen to different opinions but I refuse to inject unknown poison into my dogs - plus my way is far more expensive :-)

Brett Winn (author) from US on January 22, 2012:

Bless you for your support, and for helping publicize this important information!!!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on January 22, 2012:

This is a terrific article! My miniature Schnauzer (now 7 years old) had a severe adverse reaction to vaccination boosters several years ago and, afterward, had to be on thyroid medication for a year.

I changed veterinary clinics and learned that my dog did not actually have hypothyroidism, but "euthyroidism", which she no longer has. Her current vet titers her to determine if she needs boosters (everything except rabies vaccine, which is mandated by law every three years). At her recent annual wellness exam, her titers showed she still has immunity from earlier vaccine, so she did not have to be given boosters. I do not want to put her at risk.

Thanks for spreading this information! Voted UP, USEFUL and INTERESTING.


John on July 16, 2011:

Great info!

Brett Winn (author) from US on April 27, 2011:

J stacy,

I am so sorry for the experience you are going through. In my opinion, vets are not knowledgeable because they are not taught in vet school. I've had more than one occasion where I knew more than the vet about one thing ... they know a little about a lot of things, but if something in particular affects your dog and you do your research, you often end up knowing more than your vet does on that particular aspect of health. Also, vets (and medical doctors as well) are only given cursory exposure to nutritional information and alternative treatments when in medical school. It's sad ... has to do with the pharmaceutical industry having it's hand in the vet's pocket and vice versa.

I hope your dog recovers ... my prayers are with you!


j stacy on April 24, 2011:

My fawn doberman is at a hospital this morning getting a blood transfusion because of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

she has because of rabies vaccine. I have raise dobies all my life and had never heard of this before, but after less than 5 minutes research on-line found out she never should have been vacinated without a titered test. Why didn't the vet know and suggest this? Now after $2,500 just for the transfusion and weekend at the animal hospital (not the one that gave the rabies shot) if she survives this, we have many months of expensive treatment ahead. WHY AREN'T VETS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND ADVICE PEOPLE OF THE DANGERS!!!

Denise on December 17, 2010:

I wish I had read more about vaccines prior to giving them. My vet gave my 18 month old german shorthaired pointer her 2nd year lepto shot the afternoon of October 29th. I took her hunting during the early morning of the 30th, and noticed a hive like bump on her nose. Thought it was just a briar scratch. Took her hunting again on the 31st, and her muzzle looked slightly puffy. On November 1st, she had a couple more bumps, but no signs of infection. On Tuesday the 2nd, a few more bumps. When I came home on Wednesday the 3rd, she had scabs. Fortunately, someone mentioned staph to me, and I got her to the vet the following morning. After 5 weeks of Cephalexin & Prednisone, she was looking terrific, with no new bumps and hair regrowth. Two days ago, we started getting some pimples again, even though she was just about to finish the meds. I believe the immune suppression from the vaccine, coupled with the stress of hunting, opened her up to the staph. Now I worry that that one vaccine has lead to an autoimmune disease, and I PRAY everyday that this will be a temporary problem.

Heather on December 11, 2010:

Our little Jack was really ill after her annual booster last year: I'm not putting her through it again. I've read too much about this and don't like it.

Debi Durkin on December 11, 2010:

My dog is a beagle, dash hound, and when she got the lyme shot, her face swelled up 3 times the size, the vets gave her 2 things to bring down the sweeling, then with in an hour she was oucking, she has a reaction to the meds they gave her to counter act the lyme shot. So now she is limited to her vacines the vet is willing to give her.

Sue on November 30, 2010:

I'm a HUGE fan of Dr Dodds, and have Molly's titers done thru Hemopet yearly (she's now 12). I refuse to re-vacc for rabies & will only do so if her titer is low, which it hasn't been for 4+ years now. My vet has (with arm twisting) signed a waiver so we can get our town license w/ titers. I urge everyone to try to do so. Nobody believes they give the same amt to a 3 lb dog as they do to a mastiff. It's unreal!

Brett Winn (author) from US on November 29, 2010:

doglover, my local kennel club, here in NC, Durham Kennel Club, annually has a bunch of clinics in association with their September show and one of the things they offer are reduced price titers. I think the blood draw is $20.00 and the Hemopet reduced cost is $36.00. Check and see if something similar is available where you live!

Brett Winn (author) from US on November 28, 2010:

luvgermanshepherd, I became a believer in acupuncture two years ago when I had a dog with a herniated disc injury. He became paralyzed and eventually had to be put down, but tried everything to keep him alive and to give him the (admittedly remote) chance for a full recovery. Acupuncture was AWESOME with him. Thanks for sharing this, I'll remember this in the future, especially since I've located a good canine acupuncturist!

guest on November 28, 2010:

Amen Brett about being your pets advocate.

doglover on November 28, 2010:

YerMom, he did cite 2 studies that were published by the Journal of AVA, and the AVMA.

I have a Sheltie that nearly died from AHA. Since then I have done alot of reading and research. And I support the Rabies Challenge Fund.

Also as a sidebar of our cats was recently at the Vets. I was being pressured to do vaccinations, esp. rabies. I said 1st I would like to do a titer. ($250) The results came back 1.8, safe for exportation is .5. Surprised? I was not. Since then I have learned that Hemopet will do the titers (your Vet draws blood) for $75 and it is read by Dr. Jean Dodds.

This is not some crazy far out group that is watching for space aliens, this is for real. If you don't believe this article do your own researching. If you care about your pets that is.

luvgermanshepherd on November 28, 2010:

In the city where I live it is a 2 year rabies. I have pushed it to 3 just by going to different vets around the time it is due and tell them that my "regular" vet will do it when I go in for their next wellness exam. I also do accupunture with my "regular" vet as he informed me there is less reaction to vaccine after accupunture.

I wish that a titer on rabies would be accepted.

concerned HU-mom on November 28, 2010:

to the last poster's, if you click on the link at the bottom, you'll find the sources and additional information

Guest on November 28, 2010:

YerMom, I agree, where are the resources for the studies mentioned?

YerMom on November 24, 2010:

I actually didn't see any resources cited whatsoever for all of the studies mentioned...

J on October 26, 2010:

yes, very well written and valuable information with cited resources for the skeptical. good job mate. cheers!

Suzi Rayve from California on August 12, 2010:

Excellent Hub! I refuse to vaccinate my Collie without a titer and will absolutely not give him a rabies until the three year mark, and then only because it's a law. It is the same for all the vaccines we destroy our human babies immune systems with. Where do we think all the immune deficiencies are coming from in both pets and humans? Of course the Vets and Drs aren't going to argue. They don't do the shots, they don't make the money. Well written Brett. I salute you!

Sally McGregor on May 26, 2010:

Why isn't there a link to your kennel web?

Brett on April 10, 2010:

Some of them do. I think it is a bit like with medicine in humans. When you have a vested interest in something, you can become a greater expert than the people w/the initials behind their names, but they still know by far more than you about more things. Also, this knowledge is growing and spreading. I am by no means the only person aware and trying to educate others. In the end, we all have to be our pets' advocate, as they have no voice to be their own.

Doxie's Mom on April 08, 2010:

Well written,interesting article-why don't Vets have this info??

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on April 04, 2010:

Great hub. My dog has had severe reactions to vaccines in the past. It's good that someone cares enough about this topic to bring it to light.

Whitney from Georgia on October 27, 2009:

I will agree that we over vaccinate out dogs. I saw something the pit bull gazette as to a better vaccination schedule that we should all adhere. Basically, start pups a few weeks later than currently recommended. Pups from nasty or overcrowded conditions should start at 6 weeks, all others 8. Shots every 4 weeks until about 20 or 24 weeks. Then that's it till the year shots. After that request the 3 year rabies vaccination instead of the 1 year, and leave it at that.

rgspruill on October 20, 2009:

What a great article!