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The ABC7 I-Team investigated claims of dangerous side effects from dog vaccines.

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
 By Chuck Goudie and Christine Tressel

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 The ABC7 I-Team investigated claims of dangerous side effects from dog vaccines. Vaccines are considered a standard part of owning a puppy, but some pet owners say these routine shots are harming their animal.

The current human measles outbreak has been partly blamed on the rejection of vaccines. Now, dog owners are questioning the shots their animals are getting. The I-Team has learned of growing concerns about the number of routine shots, and whether they're harming pets health instead of protecting it.

"She's not quite the same dog she used to be," said Julie Harding, owner of a 4-year-old Vizsla named Piper.

This past summer, Harding says Piper became violent and vicious, with unexplained seizures.

"She was foaming at the mouth, she was flailing everywhere," Harding said.

Neurologists at a specialized clinic diagnosed Piper with auto-immune meningitis.

"They asked has she had a vaccine recently," Harding said.

Piper was vaccinated against leptospirosis, a potentially deadly disease. This report says the brain swelling could have been triggered by that vaccine and her predisposition to allergic conditions. Veterinary neurologists say it was unusual to receive Piper's case and four others possibly linked to one vaccine within a month-and-a-half. The manufacturer tells the I-Team each suspected adverse reaction was thoroughly reviewed and no causal association between the vaccine and the Chicago cases was found.

"In the last year to year-and-a-half, we have seen more cases in this practice related to dogs who have recently been vaccinated. We are trying to understand what the risks are," said Michael Podell, D.V.M., a veterinarian neurologist and neurosurgeon.

In a yearly visit, dogs could receive a host of vaccines. Some owners say over-vaccination is jeopardizing their pet's health, causing everything from swelling to autoimmune disorders and more.

"Once we stopped giving him all of these extra vaccines he's been a lot healthier dog," said dog owner Crissy Conway.

Ron Schultz, a long-time researcher of canine vaccines, finds immunity of many diseases can last a dog's lifetime, much like humans. He says vaccines are vitally important, but questions the need to vaccinate so often.

"It's very disappointing to me to still have distemper, parvo and adno given every year when we know it provides a life of immunity," said Schultz, an immunologist at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

Schultz says you don't want to vaccinate an immune animal because the vaccine may cause a hypersensitivity reaction. At the very least, he wants veterinarians to think twice about doing certain vaccines every year. Current guidelines recommend three-year intervals for rabies and other core vaccines for common diseases. Others, known as lifestyle vaccines, may need yearly updates.

"It is still a volatile debate because there's so much fear involved and an awful lot of money involved," said Barbara Royal, D.V.M., a veterinarian at Royal Treatment Veterinary Center.

Royal offers a blood test, called a titer, to measure a pet's immunity. She says aside from the rabies vaccine, many of her clients no longer get inoculations past the first year. She claims they're now healthier.

"Someone makes a vaccine and we all have to give it, but the efficacy and the safety of those vaccines is not necessarily that well researched," Royal said.

Not so, says an association representing animal health products, pointing to millions of dollars invested each year in scientific studies and development and USDA regulation. Advocates insist these shots are safe, and say severe reactions are rare, and have more to do with the animals underlying health and genetics.

"Vaccines are very important and they not only enhance the pet's health, but help protect humans, too," Podell said.

Harding says even after spending thousands saving her dog's life, she's not anti-vaccine.

Cat owners are also questioning the use of vaccines following reports of a rare type of cancer in felines that can appear at the injection site.

Only rabies shots are mandated for dogs in Illinois and most states. The I-Team discovered that if a dog has an adverse reaction to a vaccine, veterinarians are not required to report it to the manufacturer or the government, although many do.

Federal regulators require vaccine manufacturers to keep reports and make them available to the USDA.

The American Veterinarian Medical Association said in a statement: "While adverse reactions can occur, they are extremely rare, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Vaccination is the primary reason why deadly diseases like rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and panleukopenia have become much less common in U.S. pets. Pet owners should talk with their veterinarians about any concerns they have regarding vaccines, and to determine the best vaccination plan for each individual pet."


In my book, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answer You Need for Your Dog, I discussed the critical role a properly functioning immune system plays in your dog’s health. If the immune system is weak (immunodeficiency), your pet’s ability to fight off disease is compromised or absent, which can expose them to many infections, including bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Immune deficiency may possibly also reduce the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer-specific antigens. On the other hand, an overly-stimulated immune system can trigger immune-mediated diseases – autoimmune disorders in which the immune system mistakes normal organs as foreign invaders and attacks them. Autoimmune diseases include those affecting many tissues of the body such as the blood, thyroid, adrenal glands, joints, kidneys, liver, bowel, reproductive organs, muscles, nervous system, eyes, skin and mucous membranes.

So, what does this post’s topic – vaccinations – have to do with our pets’ immune systems? Plenty! As a dutiful pet caretaker, you are no doubt vaccinating your pet against a host of diseases. And, of course, a proper vaccination program is essential to your pet’s health. On the other hand, research shows that our pets simply don’t require annual vaccination boosters to keep them protected. In fact, the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) revised 2011 Canine Vaccination Guidelines recommend a revaccination program every 3 or more years for dogs. And the truth is that once your dog has completed his puppy series (or kitten series for cats) for the core vaccines, there is a good chance his body will maintain immunity to these diseases for life. Yet, many well-intentioned people continue to follow the advice of some veterinarians and give their adult dogs and cats annual (or even semi-annual) vaccine boosters. This can result in over-vaccination and a variety of potentially damaging – and in some cases, even life-threatening – adverse reactions (referred to as “vaccinosis”).

These risks are especially true for pets afflicted with immune-mediated disease, since over-vaccination places undue stress on the immune system and has been linked to autoimmune disease.

Side effects from canine and feline vaccinations can occur anywhere from instantly up to several weeks or months later. Vaccines can even cause susceptibility to chronic diseases later in life.

Mild reactions associated with canine or feline vaccines include:
•  Fever
•  Malaise
•  Urticaria [hives]
•  Facial swelling
•  Anorexia
•  Vomiting
•  Stiffness
•  Sore joints
•  Abdominal tenderness

Severe and fatal adverse events include:
•  Susceptibility to infections
•  Neurological disorders and encephalitis
•  Aberrant behaviour, including unprovoked aggression
•  Collapse with autoagglutinated [clumped] red blood cells and icterus [jaundice]; autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) or the synonym immune-mediated haemolytic anemia (IMHA), when red blood cells are damaged and destroyed; or petechiae [pin-point] and ecchymotic [splotchy] hemorrhages from immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), when the blood platelets are destroyed.   Hepatic enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may occur by itself or accompany bone marrow suppression.

In my next post I will discuss the difference between killed vaccines and modified-live vaccines (MLV), the dangers posed by each, and the dog breeds most susceptible to vaccinosis.

But don’t worry, because solutions are on the way! In upcoming posts, I will tell you how you can prevent over-vaccination in your dog or cat by using titer tests instead. Titer tests, which are simple blood tests to check the strength of a dog or cat’s immune defenses to a disease, are the pet owners’ greatest friend. I will discuss how titers work, how they are performed, interpreting the results and the current laws and regulations surrounding them (hint: legally, they can be used as valid proof of protection against all diseases except rabies).

You won’t want to miss these continuing posts on vaccinosis and titer testing, as protecting your pet from unnecessary assaults on their immune systems will help ensure the two of you enjoy many happy, healthy years together.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

In my last post, I began discussing that when it comes to canine and feline vaccines, too much of a good thing can be problematic. To restate what I mentioned before, vaccinations at the appropriate times, for the appropriate animals, in the appropriate circumstances are of the utmost importance to preserve health and well-being. Responsible vaccination protocols have enabled us to safely and effectively protect our pets from infectious diseases. The puppy and kitten vaccine series, for example, should always be given. Puppies and kittens who do not receive this series are at critical risk of contracting one or more deadly infectious diseases. [Let’s also not forget foals and young farm animals in this equation.]

The concern relates to the overuse of vaccines in these immunologically naive youngsters  and adult dogs and cats, as well as to vaccines given to aged pets and those with already compromised immune systems. This is when you, as your companion animal’s trusted guardian, should understand what is appropriate and put the breaks on giving unnecessary vaccines.

Let’s take a look at the two types of vaccines – modified live-virus vaccines (MLV) and killed vaccines – and their potential effects on your pet’s health.

MLV vaccines

As the name suggests, MLV vaccines use a modified, but weakened, form of the live microorganism. When the virus is injected into the body, it multiplies many-fold and stimulates the immune system’s production of antibodies, creating an immune response that protects the body against future exposure to the disease.

For dogs: Distemper virus, adenovirus-2 (hepatitis, canine respiratory virus) and parvovirus are all MLV canine vaccines, as are intranasal bordetella, intranasal coronavirus (not recommended by 2011 AAHA* Canine Vaccine Guidelines), and parainfluenza virus. The first three vaccines plus rabies vaccine are the so-called “core” vaccines for dogs. (Note: a recombinant canine distemper virus vaccine is also available.)

MLV vaccines have been associated with the development of temporary seizures in both puppies and adult dogs of breeds or crossbreeds susceptible to immune-mediated diseases – especially those involving hematologic or endocrine tissues such as immune-mediated/autoimmune hemolytic anemia (IMHA/AIHA), immune/idiopathic thyrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a low platelet count  and autoimmune thyroiditis.  MLV vaccines – given singly or in combination – are also increasingly recognized contributors (albeit rarely) to immune-mediated blood disease, bone marrow failure and organ dysfunction. When MLV vaccines are given to pets with compromised immune systems, the animal is actually at risk of contracting a weakened form of the virus from the vaccine.

The introduction of MLV vaccines more than 20 years ago is linked to increasing allergic problems and immunological disease in companion animals. Dogs with pre-existing inhalant allergies (atopy) to pollens display an increased risk of vaccinosis (an adverse vaccine response).

Killed vaccines

Killed vaccines use an inactivated “ dead” form of the virus (previously live microorganisms that have been killed with chemicals or heat), along with an adjuvant (a substance added to a vaccine to enhance its effectiveness without itself causing an immune response).

For dogs: Killed vaccines include all rabies vaccines, canine leptospirosis, Lyme, canine influenza, injectable bordetella, injectable coronavirus (not recommended by 2011 AAHA* Canine Vaccine Guidelines) and diamondback rattlesnake toxoid (does not protect equally against all types of rattlesnakes, including Mohave green variety).

For cats: Unlike canine vaccines, most vaccines for cats come in MLV (not recommended for pregnant queens or very young kittens), killed and intranasal versions. Vaccines for feline panleukopenia virus (a parvovirus, often incorrectly called feline distemper), feline viral respiratory disease complex (feline herpes virus and calicivirus) plus rabies vaccine are considered as “core” feline vaccines.  Killed and so-called ‘lifestyle’ (see below) vaccines also include those for feline leukemia virus (a recombinant version is also available), feline immunodeficiency virus, chlamydia and intranasal bordetella (these latter two are not recommended for routine use).

As with MLV vaccines, killed vaccines can trigger both immediate and delayed adverse reactions. Of highest concern are the vaccine injection-site sarcomas most commonly seen after rabies vaccination in cats, but also seen occasionally in dogs. Genetic predisposition to these disorders in humans has been linked to the leucocyte antigen D-related gene locus of the major histocompatibility complex, and is likely to have parallel associations in domestic animals. Killed vaccines can at worst aggravate an already existing autoimmune disease and may prove ineffective.

Although all dogs are susceptible to vaccine-related side effects, breeds at highest-risk of vaccinosis (in alphabetical order) are:

•  Akita
•  American Cocker Spaniel
•  German Shepherd
•  Golden Retriever
•  Irish Setter
•  Great Dane
•  Kerry Blue Terrier
•  Dachshunds (all varieties, but especially the long-haired)
•  Poodles (all varieties, but especially the Standard Poodle
•  Old English Sheepdog
•  Scottish Terrier
•  Shetland Sheepdog
•  Shih Tzu
•  Vizsla
•  Weimaraner

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.

Note: Breed-susceptibility data are generally unavailable for vaccinosis in cats.

People often ask me about the non-core vaccines, such as leptospirosis, Lyme disease, bordetella (a component of kennel cough) and canine influenza. These vaccines are considered “lifestyle” vaccines and should be assessed according to your dog’s individual risk factors. Does your dog play at a dog park with other animals? Is he boarded in a kennel? Does he attend doggy daycare? Does your geographic location have increasing outbreaks or incidences of a particular disease? All of these factors should come into play when deciding whether to vaccinate your pet against the lifestyle vaccines. Most non-core vaccines require annual revaccination to maintain immunity, so be sure that your dog really needs them.

In my next post, I’ll discuss appropriate alternatives to current vaccine practices, including the use of titer testing in lieu of vaccinations. Stay tuned!


* American Animal Hospital Association

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

In my last two posts, I discussed the potential side-effects (vaccinosis) of over-vaccinating our pets, and the difference between MLV (modified live) and killed vaccines. I cautioned that dogs and cats with immune-mediated diseases are especially vulnerable to vaccinosis, since over-vaccination places additional stress on their already compromised immune systems and has been linked to autoimmune disease. So, then, what is the solution to this dilemma? How can you protect your pet from over-vaccination and the risk of contracting a life-threatening disease at the same time? Fortunately, the solution is simple and affordable. Titer tests.

What is a titer test?
A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents). For instance, your dog may be more resistant to a virus whereas your neighbor’s dog may be more prone to it. Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called “core” diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats), enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary. All animals can have serum antibody titers measured instead of receiving vaccine boosters. The only exception is rabies re-vaccination. There is currently no state that routinely accepts a titer in lieu of the rabies vaccine, which is required by law.

There are commercially available vaccine titer tests for dogs that can be performed in a laboratory or also in the veterinarian’s office for faster results. Several commercial and university veterinary diagnostic labs and Hemopet offer reliable titer testing for dogs, cats and horses.

What do I do if the titer shows that my pet has immunity?
If your pet’s titer levels show that an adequate immune memory has been established, you do not need to create the potential for vaccinosis by introducing unnecessary antigen, adjuvant, and preservatives into his body via booster vaccines. Instead, skip the boosters and have your dog re-titered in three years.

Are there downsides to titering?
There is no downside to titering your pet. However, be aware that some veterinarians may be resistant to performing titer tests in lieu of vaccination. These veterinarians are misinformed and incorrectly believe that measuring an animal’s serum antibody titers is not a valid method of determining his immunity to infectious diseases, or that this testing is too costly.

With all due respect to these professionals, this represents a misunderstanding of what has been called the “fallacy of titer testing,” because research has shown that once an animal’s titer stabilizes, it is likely to remain constant for many years. Properly immunized animals have sterilizing immunity (immunity that prevents further infection even when an animal is exposed) that not only prevents clinical disease but also prevents infection, and only the presence of antibody can prevent infection.

As stated by the eminent expert Ronald Schultz, DVM of the University of Wisconsin in discussing the value of vaccine titer testing, “You should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected, and titer testing can determine if adequate, effective immunity is present. It is often said that the antibody level detected is ‘only a snapshot in time.’ That’s simply not true; it is more a ‘motion picture that plays for years.’”

Furthermore, protection as indicated by a positive titer result is not likely to suddenly drop off unless an animal develops a severe medical condition or has significant immune dysfunction. It’s important to understand that viral vaccines prompt an immune response that lasts much longer than the immune response elicited by contracting the actual virus. Lack of distinction between the two kinds of responses may be why some practitioners think titers can suddenly disappear.

What if the titer test is negative?
Interpreting titers correctly depends upon the disease in question. Some titers must reach a certain level to indicate immunity, but with the clinically important “core” diseases vaccines, the presence of any measurable antibody indicates protection.

A positive titer test result is fairly straightforward, but a negative titer test result can be more difficult to interpret. This is because a negative titer is not the same thing as a zero titer, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the animal is unprotected. A negative result usually means that the titer has failed to reach a desired threshold antibody level, but a low titer may still mean that the dog is protected upon exposure, as it doesn’t reflect tissue levels of immunity.

What’s the bottom line on titers?
More than a decade of experience with vaccine titer testing and published studies in refereed journals show that 92 – 98% of dogs and cats that have been properly vaccinated develop good measurable antibody titers to the infectious agent measured. In general, serum antibody titers to the “core” vaccines along with any natural exposures last a minimum of 7 – 9 years, and likely are present for life. This corresponds with what we see clinically, as the number of cases and deaths due to these diseases has decreased significantly in the vaccinated population.

The bottom line is that using vaccine titer testing as a means to assess vaccine-induced protection will likely result in your pet avoiding needless and potentially harmful booster vaccinations. And that is a huge benefit for a simple blood test!

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843


Some veterinarians have challenged the validity of using vaccine titer testing to assess the immunologic status of animals against the common, clinically important infectious diseases.

With all due respect, this represents a misunderstanding of what has been called the “fallacy of titer testing”, because research has shown that once an animal’s titer stabilizes it is likely to remain constant for many years.  Properly immunized animals have sterilizing immunity that not only prevents clinical disease but also prevents infection, and only the presence of antibody can prevent infection. As stated by eminent expert Dr. Ronald Schultz in discussing the value of vaccine titer testing, these tests “show that an animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection.  If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum). Furthermore, the animal doesn’t need to be revaccinated and should not be revaccinated since the vaccine could cause an adverse reaction (hypersensitivity disorder). You should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected.  It is often said that the antibody level detected is “only a snapshot in time”. That’s simply not true; it is more a “motion picture that plays for years”.

Furthermore, protection as indicated by a positive titer result is not likely to suddenly drop-off unless an animal develops a medical problem such as cancer or receives high or prolonged doses of immunosuppressive drugs.  Viral vaccines prompt an immune response that lasts much longer than that elicited by classic antigen.  Lack of distinction between the two kinds of responses may be why practitioners think titers can suddenly disappear.

But, not all vaccines produce sterilizing immunity. Those that do include: distemper virus, adenovirus, and parvovirus in the dog, and panleukopenia virus in the cat.  Examples of vaccines that produced non-sterile immunity would be leptospirosis, bordetella, rabies virus, herpesvirus and calicivirus —- the latter two being upper respiratory viruses of cats.  While non-sterile immunity may not protect the animal from infection, it should keep the infection from progressing to severe clinical disease.

Therefore, interpreting titers correctly depends upon the disease in question. Some titers must reach a certain level to indicate immunity, but with other agents like those that produce sterile immunity, the presence of any measurable antibody shows protection.  The positive titer test result is fairly straightforward, but a negative titer test result is more difficult to interpret, because a negative titer is not the same thing as a zero titer and it doesn’t necessarily mean that animal is unprotected.  A negative result usually means the titer has failed to reach the threshold of providing sterile immunity. This is an important distinction, because for the clinically important distemper and parvovirus diseases of dogs, and panleukopenia of cats, a negative or zero antibody titer indicates that the animal is not protected against canine parvovirus and may not be protected against canine distemper virus or feline panleukopenia virus.

Finally, what does more than a decade of experience with vaccine titer testing reveal?  Published studies in refereed journals show that 90-98% of dogs and cats that have been properly vaccinated develop good measurable antibody titers to the infectious agent measured. So, in contrast to the concerns of some practitioners, using vaccine titer testing as a means to assess vaccine-induced protection  will likely result in the animal avoiding needless and unwise booster vaccinations.

Reasons for Vaccine Titer Testing: *
1. To determine that animal is protected (suggested by a positive test result).
2. To identify a susceptible animal (suggested by a negative test result).
3. To determine whether an individual animal has responded to a vaccine.
4. To determine whether an individual vaccine is effectively immunizing animals.

* from: Schultz RD, Ford RB, Olsen J, Scott F.  Titer testing and vaccination: a new look at traditional practices. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert).

Dodds WJ.  Vaccination protocols for dogs predisposed to vaccine reactions. J Am An Hosp Assoc 38: 1-4, 2001.

Lappin  MR, Andrews J, Simpson D, et al. Use of serologic tests to predict resistance to feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, and feline parvovirus infection in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 220: 38-42, 2002.

Mouzin DE, Lorenzen M J, Haworth, et al. Duration of serologic response to five viral antigens in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 55-60, 2004.

Mouzin DE, Lorenzen M J, Haworth, et al. Duration of serologic response to three viral antigens in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 61-66, 2004.

Paul MA (chair) et al. Report of the AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force: 2003 and 2006 canine vaccine guidelines, recommendations, and supporting literature. AAHA, April 2003 and 2006 , 28 pp.

Tizard  I, Ni Y.  Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc 213: 54-60, 1998.

Twark L, Dodds WJ. Clinical application of serum parvovirus and distemper virus antibody titers for determining revaccination strategies in healthy dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 217:1021-1024, 2000.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

We frequently receive questions regarding Dr. Dodds’ Canine Vaccination Protocol and thought we would put together a short FAQ to help your dog.


Question:  The breeder vaccinated before nine weeks of age. How do I start your vaccination protocol now?
Answer:  Just continue with the regular minimum vaccine protocol of Distemper and Parvovirus at 9 and 14 weeks. 

Question:  It is difficult to find a veterinarian who gives only the DPV (Nobivac Puppy-DPv) per your vaccination protocol. Can you recommend a vet? 
Answer:  You or your veterinarian can purchase it online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply. Your vet can then administer the shot.

Question:  We purchased a puppy from a breeder who only vaccinates for Parvovirus. Should my dog also have Distemper?
Answer:  Your dog does need a distemper virus shot – in fact two doses are needed 3-4 weeks apart. You can purchase it yourself. The only monovalent, single distemper shot on the market today is NeoVacc-D by NeoTech – available online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply.  (Note: you can also purchase a single shot of Parvovirus from the same places.)

Question:  What kind of rabies vaccine should I get?
Answer:  The rabies vaccine should be thimerosal (mercury) – free – i.e. Merial IMRAB TF. 

Question:  Are there any methods to stop the potential side effects of vaccine reactions?
Answer:  You can pre-treat dogs with the oral homeopathics, Thuja and Lyssin, to help blunt any adverse effects of the rabies vaccine. For other vaccines, just Thuja is needed. These homeopathics can be given the day before, the day of, and the day after the vaccine.  Some product protocols suggest a different regimen for them. 

Question:  Why won’t my state take my dog’s rabies titer test so he can avoid the vaccine?
Answer:  At this time, no state will accept a rabies titer in lieu of the shot. Additionally, a rabies titer does not satisfy any state’s medical exemption clause. For a list of states with medical exemptions, please visit The Rabies Challenge Fund.  There are currently 18 states that officially recognize exemptions from rabies booster, but only on a justified case-by-case basis and following the specific requirements of that state. 

Question:  What is the point of a rabies titer test if my state won’t accept it as a medical exemption?
Answer:  There are two reasons:
1) Rabies titer results are required by many rabies-free countries or regions in order for dogs and cats to qualify for a reduced quarantine period prior to entry. Some of these regions are Hawaii, Guam, Japan, St. Kitts and Nevis, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the United Kingdom. Always check with the destination authority to verify the pet importation.
2) The CDC states that a rabies titer of 0.1 IU/mL or higher is acceptable to protect a person from rabies. Further, the results of the 5-year Rabies Challenge Fund Study showed that immunologic memory for rabies vaccination remains at or above that level of immunity. This information is helpful for pet guardian peace-of-mind in areas where clinical rabies cases occur, and the dog or cat is medically exempt from further rabies boosters. 

Question:  Every year, the titer shows them as low on their distemper antibodies. What should I do?
Answer:   I do suggest titer testing your dog every three years for both distemper and parvovirus.

Additionally, any measurable titer to either distemper & parvovirus means that the dog has specific committed immune memory cells to respond and afford protection upon exposure.  If your dogs consistently have no measurable titer to canine distemper virus, it means mean that they are distemper “non-or low-responders”, an heritable trait where they will never mount immunity to distemper and will always be susceptible. These dogs should not be used for breeding.

As non-or low-responders to distemper are rare (1:5000 cases), my suggestion is that you retest at least one of them at Hemopet.

Question:  My veterinarian believes anytime dogs are in contact with water that they are at HIGH risk for contracting leptospirosis.
Answer: Not so. Most Leptospirosis strains (there are about 200) do not cause disease, and of the seven clinically important strains, only four — L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars — are found in today’s vaccines.  So, exposure risk depends upon which serovars of Lepto have been documented to cause clinical leptospirosis in the area where you live. You can call the county health department or local animal control and ask. 

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843


Reprinted with permission from Ana Falk, DVM
Retrieved from http://www.holistic-pet-vet.com/vaccinations/index.html

I find Dr. Falk’s perspective refreshingly global and grounded in reality. A special thank you to Dr. Falk for allowing us to share.

Having lived in both Ecuador, where most people do not vaccinate their pets, and in the USA, where most people do, I have a unique advantage in evaluating the response to vaccines.

First, what is a vaccine: a vaccine is made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe or its parts. When injected into the body, it produces an immune response that protects the body if exposed to the real disease.

We do not use homeopathic vaccines (nosodes) for prevention of disease; in this matter we agree with one of the best known human homeopathic doctors in the world, Dr. George Vithoulkas, “the concept of prevention in homeopathy is not a valid one. The reason being, a remedy will act if you have the symptoms of the remedy”. If there are no symptoms of disease what would the remedy do? Using nosodes for prevention will at best do nothing, and at worst the patient may prove the remedy.

In this instance, prove means to develop the symptoms of the remedy. Homeopathic medications are developed by administering a medication to a group of healthy individuals (usually humans) and recording the symptoms the medication produces in these individuals. This is called a proving of a remedy.

In Ecuador – where only a minority of the canine population is vaccinated – dogs with parvovirus and distemper are hospitalized on a daily basis. Sadly, most of these pets die, despite aggressive traditional and holistic treatment.

An example of proper vaccination: vaccinating only healthy animals, vaccinating at the appropriate age, and with the appropriate vaccine schedule. This procedure is effective, and does protect against the particular disease the vaccine is made for.

During my ten years of practicing in the United States, I have seen about five times the number of confirmed (by test) parvovirus cases in unvaccinated dogs, or dogs that had only received one vaccine.

I have yet to see here a pet with distemper. What used to be a daily concern in Ecuador is almost nonexistent in my practice in Iowa. This is due to over 90% of the pets receiving regular vaccinations.

The notion that vaccines are ineffective is invalid. Vaccines are effective but may come at a price.

Dr. Vithoulkas states, “the experience of astute homeopathic observers has shown conclusively that in a high percentage of cases, vaccination has a profoundly disturbing effect on the health of an individual, particularly in the relation to chronic disease”.

The adverse effects of vaccines and reactions make for a lengthy discussion; they are well documented by Dr. Jean Dodds at hemopet.org.

It is my belief – and that of most homeopathic doctors – that many chronic illnesses are the result of over vaccination. Having said that, however, I would prefer to treat a pet with chronic skin allergies than one with parvovirus or distemper. Someone who answers otherwise probably hasn’t had a patient that did not respond to any form of treatment and had a seizure that resulted in death, all from a disease that could have been easily prevented with vaccination.

To summarize, vaccines allow us to protect companion animals effectively against serious disease, but that protection comes at a price. To minimize the price, we recommend a vaccination schedule that is customized to our patient’s situation. One size does not fit all.

For protecting pets we evaluate the risk to an individual patient, recommend a cautious use of vaccines, and use vaccine titers, so we vaccinate only when needed.

Dodds, J. (2009, August 6). Treating Adverse Vaccine Reactions [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/08/06/treating-adverse-vaccine-reactions-by-jean-dodds-dvm/

Dodds, J. (2010). Vaccine Protocol 2010 http://www.dogs4dogs.com/puppy-shots.htm

Hahnemann, S. (1982). Organon of Medicine. ‘s Organon, § 121, 126, 141, 143.

Pitcairn, Richard H. (1995). Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, 2nd ed., Rodale Press, INC Emmaus, Pennsylvania, pp. 321-326

Vithoulkas.com/content videos, 2nd video. http://www.vithoulkas.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1693

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