How Safe is Your Pet from "Just a Rabies Vaccine?" II

Part Two

The Verdict: Guilty of (Nearly) AnimalSlaughter

(If you’re just joining us, you’ll want to read what all the fuss is about.)

Let's see, two lives down, okay. Now, no more!

Let’s see, two lives down, okay. Now, no more!

Tigger’s “one rabies vaccine” that nearly cost him his life (twice!) was clearly the cause of this little cat’s problems. He’d been a normal, healthy, playful youngster before this vaccination, and his life was nearly lost after it, with two bouts of severe autoimmune hemolytic anemia and a year of languishing health in between them.

The germaine question from the mock “trial” depicted in Part One is this:

Who is The Real Perpetrator?

If you are driving your car, and hit someone on a bike and injure him, you could hardly argue, “My car is at fault! It ran right into this poor guy!” You were driving, and any court in the land would place the blame squarely on your shoulders.

So, who’s guilty in the bigger picture in the case of rabies laws and their instruments of administration, the veterinarians and animal control outfits and states’ and municipalities’ laws?

Clearly, none of the legal requirements that are out there, from one year to three year rabies vaccination rules, have been based on this basic understanding of immunology that’s at least a couple of decades old:

Immunity to virus vaccines lasts a very long time, probably for life.

Two Problems Unique to Rabies Vaccination

Since rabies is a human health concern, it’s more complicated than say, distemper or parvo or most other vaccines you might choose to use or not use. You are compelled to vaccinate for rabies. So, let’s break rabies vaccination down into two areas:

1. A medical procedure done to your animal.

2. A law compelling you to do and to repeat this procedure.

As we’ve seen, these two often get entangled. We’re trained in veterinary school that vaccination is not only not a risky procedure, but has saved the world from the scourges of infectious disease.

I, for example, had no clue that illness, let alone serious illness, could result from a vaccination. Nor did it sink in, if it was mentioned, that vaccinating pregnant animals is risky.

Vaccines Saved the World? Ah, No.

It’s important to know that the infectious diseases of the world were well on their way to resolution before the vaccines for them were ever invented. Graphs depict this most clearly: Disease Decline Pre-Vaccination

Clearly, the vaccines don’t deserve the accolades often awarded them by medical “experts” as they’ve missed an important understanding: it was largely sanitation and water management (simply separating sewage from drinking water sources, quite often) that brought about the decline of some of our deadliest human diseases.

Vaccines came later and were given the credit. Likely by those with a vested interest in their continued use.

And, early life animal vaccinations, rabies among them, if given after the youngster’s immune system is properly ready to respond (usually at 4 months of age) are highly likely to be efficacious in conferring immunity. Long lasting immunity, according to veterinary immunologists.

Likely life long immunity, they say.

Vaccination Works. But Over and Over? Not So Much.

Further, say these same veterinary immunologists, the likelihood of further adding to the already established immunity from earlier vaccinations is low to nil.

…revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response…. The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy…” [1. Schultz and Phillips, Current Veterinary Therapy, Volume XI, 1992]

Doesn’t Work, And Causes Harm? Damn.

Where the greater rub comes in vaccine repetition, is the possibility of damage to your animal. Part one of this series had an unprecedented response in the comments, where your stories of your own animals corroborated what Tigger showed us so clearly:

Vaccines are risky to health.

Remember, Tigger had a bunch of vaccines before Laurie ever took him in. He came from a shelter. That’s how shelters work. It’s the “steer in the chute” mindset: “Get ’em processed while we’ve got ’em caught!”

The rabies vaccine that caused him to nearly die was given to a “primed pump,” you might say. Because there had already been multiple vaccinations, the next one to come along was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

In his case, that broken back was life threatening anemia, twice over, from autoimmune attack. Your stories from Part One included seizures, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, and malignant tumors. Often from “just a rabies vaccine.”

So, Who Gets Sentenced Here?

In This Holding Cell: Vaccine Manufacturers

On the one hand, we have vaccine manufacturers, who make and sell the rabies vaccines. They’ve studied a vaccine for a year, noted how many were protected from challenge with live rabies virus, and labeled it a “One year vaccine.”

They’ve studied the same vaccine in a three year trial, did the same head count, and labeled that lot a “Three year vaccine.” (Yes, same stuff, two trials, two different labels. I learned this from Dr. Ron Schultz about 20 years ago). [2. Personal communication, AHVMA Annual Meeting, Minneapolis 1993]

And this is very important to understand:

Labeling a vaccine for 1 year or 3 years has nothing to do with the duration of immunity conferred by that vaccine. We don’t know if that same “3 year rabies” vaccine has a duration of immunity in the vaccinated animal of 5, 7, or 12 years of life, because the data hasn’t been generated. Yet.The Rabies Challenge Fund has been working towards gathering data to see how long actual immunity lasts, and so far, it’s looking like at least 5 years, even if the titer levels fall.

But you already knew titer levels are an incomplete measure of immunity, right?

So, that manufacturer’s label? It’s only a result of the limited trials they’ve done to get to market.

And, In This Closet, Legislators Everywhere

Next, we have the law makers. Hold onto your hat, because now it really gets confusing. States have laws. All fifty states of the U.S., as of 2010, finally have a three year rabies requirement law. Way too many had a one year requirement to repeat rabies vaccinations for many years before this.

Fifteen states now allow medical exemptions to further rabies vaccination. See your vet for a rabies vaccine exemption if your animal:

  1. Has any ongoing illness.
  2. Regularly takes medicine of any kind, including thyroid hormone.
  3. Is on a special diet of any kind.
  4. Is plagued with itchy skin or ears (the commonest form of vaccine illness).
  5. Ever had a vaccine reaction.

Why? I’d be happy for you to know.

Is your state not one with exemptions on their books? See your veterinarian anyway, and try to get “Do Not Vaccinate!” on your animal’s records, especially if you’ve dealt with illness in your animal. That’s a very good start.

For inspiration, be sure to read the comments to Part One of this series. Some great success stories there.

Can you say, “I’m sick and tired and I’m not going to take it anymore!”?

Here’s the complicated part. While the states are now finally on the same page, cities and counties can and do set their own innane rules, many of which could be annual revaccination laws. And they likely have never been challenged in court, though I’ve asked my colleague who’s also a lawyer about this to see if I’m wrong. I really, really hope I am.

It’s important to note that law makers on all levels often refer to manufacturer’s vaccine labels for the language of their laws. So do the veterinarians in a national organization that oversees zoonotic diseases, rabies among them: The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

A good number of laws quote the NASPHV’s Compendium on Animal Rabies. So, remember how manufacturers set their vaccine repetition intervals? They studied a given vaccine for a year. Or for three years. It worked, and the label then said, “Repeat every year (or three years).”

This is a very, very different thing from knowing that immunity runs out when the calendar comes around to one year or three years, right?

The duration of immunity is much longer than these labels indicate, there’s just no data as yet to prove that. The Rabies Challenge Fund is currently gathering that needed data.

And, In This Cage, Suspended Over Hot Lava: Dr. WhiteCoat

Adding further to the confusion surrounding rabies vaccination is the one who plunges the syringe into flesh and administers the shot to your animals: your veterinarian. It turns out that, although we are far from experts in immunology, my profession often has the critical say in how often your animal gets vaccinated for rabies.

Unless you stand up for your animals with a better understanding. (Say, have you seen those comments yet for inspiration here? We’ll wait for you. Go take a gander.)

A recent estimate revealed an astonishing statistic: 60% of practicing veterinarians are still recommending annual revaccination.

It’s true. Our track record on vaccination policies is embarrassing. According to some vaccine manufacturers, including Dr. Mark Kimsey, senior brand manager for canine biologicals (vaccines) with Boehringer Ingelheim, a full 60 percent of us (veterinarians) are still vaccinating our patients annually in spite of long standing evidence-based recommendations to the contrary.

At the risk of incurring the 60 percent’s wrath, I say it’s high time we abandon our protectionist’s ways with respect to vaccination protocols and accept that vaccinating annually makes us look like turnip-trucking idiots who care more about our bottom line than our patient’s well being.

I don’t care why you are doing it-whether it’s because you think you won’t get your patients in every year or because AAHA and the AVMA give you a wink and a nod in the name of “veterinary discretion” (for shame!)—you should just stop doing it already. It makes us all look stupid when we ignore reams of evidence just because it is expedient to do so.” [3. Dr. Patty Khuly, in Veterinary Practice News, March 2014]

So, if you are unlucky enough to have someone in this 60% making vaccination decisions for you, your animals are at high risk. Is it time to re-evaluate who you spend your hard earned dollars on for veterinary care?

Remember, you vote each time you get your pocketbook out.

Vaccinations in La La Land

Here’s something quite amazing to me, and it should make everyone associated with Tigger’s earlier veterinary care cringe. After all he’d been through in the Spring of 2013, nearly dying of anemia clearly brought on by his rabies vaccination, Laurie, his owner, was, in the Spring of 2014, sent a reminder postcard for more vaccinations!!!

Had no one in the entire clinic yet realized that Tigger’s rabies vaccination caused his prolonged illness, that was punctuated by not one, but two near death anemic emergencies?

Or were they simply so oblivious to the serious risks that re-vaccination (or any vaccination) can cause that they supposed such a “reminder” was benign instead of life threatening?

Perhaps the front desk of Dr. WhiteCoat’s clinic operates independent of doctors’ records, and just acts robotically, following the prompts of a computer instead of thinking about the living, breathing animals on the other end of the postcard?

Luckily, sanity and circumstances saved Tigger from going back for more shots that were supposedly “due:”

1. Laurie, seeing the light, swore she’d never vaccinate Tigger again. (Bravo!)

2. The family had moved, and the postcard was returned to sender.

And the Winner (Loser) is… Dr. WhiteCoat!

Yes, we have manufacturer’s labels, and cock-eyed, contradictory laws that have no basis in science, but in the end, it’s Dr. WhiteCoat who’s on the front lines, making variably responsible decisions for your animals that many of you feel you must accept.

When you stand up for better decisions, and vote for more Vital Animals in how you choose your animal health care, things will change, from the grass roots up. And my purpose in all this work will be fulfilled.

Next Up: In part three, my proposed alternative to this law.  It’s up now, in which I advocate for a law based on facts. What a concept!

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  1. Destiny on September 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

    When I adopted my dog, a great dane, she needed a dental and unfortunately got a rabies vax last December. Arizona state requires a license EVERY year, even if the vaccine is 3 year. My almost 2 year old Papillon got a rabies vax when she was 5 months old.
    Animal control has sent me 3 letters — 2 letters for the Papillon and 1 for my great dane. They are saying records indicate that my dogs are NOT licensed and they are both current. I have a fine for both dogs (the license plus $2-$4 a month per late fee). I dont want to pay because then i will be on record more so.
    I dont wanna vax for rabies anymore, but since I am already on the radar how do I opt out???? My state wont accept titers OR medical exemptions. I spoke with Animal control and they said they send letters (reminders), but in some cases they will send a citation to court, as it is a Class 2 MisDemeanor. I could face 4 months in jail or a maximum of $750 fine – or both- depending on how the court sees fit. Are you serious??!
    I may be moving next year (same county, different house) and thought about not telling my vets my address — I cant get in trouble in Animal control doesnt know my address right?? Who is to say I didnt move out of state.. I am just worried that my vet (who isnt too supportive) will tell Animal control when I have been to the clinic 🙁 I only go in ONCE a year for Heartworm Test and then titer every 3 years. I am so nervous,
    I found a more understanding vet (no holistic unfortunately), but I am worrried — new vet, and a new notice sent to Animal control that I am NOT current.
    What to do…
    I miss my small town in Illinois that had NO animal control.
    PS. I can send the letter back saying–
    1. The dog is dead.
    2. i no longer own the dog
    3. I dont live in the county for 30 consectutive days or more
    My grandma, who has decided not to vax anymore, sent her 4th letter back yesterday saying the dog is dead.
    Could that work?? What about when you go in for yearly exams? Wont animal control see you STILL have a dog???

  2. Abby on August 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I am so glad you are putting up this info! About a year ago I started educating myself on vaccines for pets after my mother warned me about vaccines for children. Unfortunately, the laws in our county insist on a rabies vaccine and I can find no way around it. Two months later we are dealing with inflamation in the paws and an itchy belly. I cannot wait for the day when we don’t have mandatory vaccine laws.
    (BTW don’t worry,I found a hollistic vet who helped us with the skin issues so Miss Flossie isn’t stuck being miserable.)

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 18, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Glad you found some help, but there’s a limit to that. What about next year and the next shot, etc? Time to start thinking outside the box, Abby.
      Best of luck finding creative solutions to avoid damaging Miss Flossie from unnecessary and damaging rabies vaccinations.

  3. Esther on July 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    The cock- eyed, contradictory laws that have not basis in science need to be changed. Titers and waivers seem like a good way to go. Right now there are only 18 states with provisions for exemptions. In my state they say: No vaccine is 100% effective. Therefore, a domestic animal involved in a bite or non-bite exposure with another domestic animal (or human) is quarantined for ten days WHETHER OR NOT the animal(s) is/are up to date on their rabies vaccination. So, can the officials tell us why are we vaccinating and continue to vaccinate if a dog is going to be quarantine anyway!!.
    The situation gets worse when it comes to an animal that was exposed to a confirmed rabid wild animal or unknown wild animal. In this case a dog CURRENT ON VACCINATION is supposed to be quarantine for 45 days, and booster at the end of that time. A domestic animal NO CURRENT on its rabies vaccination and exposed to a confirmed rabid animal, or unknown animal, must undergo a SIX MONTH QUARANTINE. They are not to be boostered until five months into the quarantine!!
    How do you think we can change the LAWS in this scenario Dr. Falconer?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      This area isn’t the one to worry about, at least for now, Esther. It’s a rare circumstance that a domestic animal gets bitten by a rabid animal, and the ways of the disease are such that rabies incubation in the bitten animal varies like crazy, up to months. Hence the long quarantine, to be sure the bitten animal doesn’t get rabies and then pass it on further.
      We need to stay focused on lessening the vaccination repetition requirements, which is much more clear: there’s no good that comes of it (no further immunity in an already immune animal) and there’s significant harm possible, as Tigger and the many other animal reports in these comments clearly demonstrate. The data on duration of immunity will help these laws to change, and our efforts in this arena will save a lot of unnecessary suffering.

      • Esther on July 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm

        Thank you for your answer. I was just curious to know about that part of the Law, you have explained very well. I completely agree that we need to stay focused on lessening the vaccination repetition requirements. Hopefully the RFC will help change these Laws. They still need donations to reach a certain amount of money for the study of 7 years duration. So if anyone is able to donate they will appreciate it since they have two anonymous donors that will match any donations up to $12,000 I believe.
        Thanks again for caring.

  4. L on July 30, 2014 at 8:36 am

    It’s very difficult to get that rabies waiver signed by a vet, around here the only one I know of was for a 20 year old sick cat.
    I asked 3 vets to sign the waiver for my 10 pound dog that receives immunotherapy for allergies….none would sign it.
    A friend of mine is looking for an apartment, the policy says 1 dog is allowed (additional monthly fee)
    A letter from a veterinarian and proof of current vaccinations required, and the dog must be licensed. And this is out in Maine!
    Thanks, Dr Falconer I find the information you provide here very helpful and look forward to the weekly blogs and comments.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Apartment managers, much like groomers and boarding facilities, really shouldn’t be stepping into regs that even the states and local governments have gotten wrong! Yet, it happens, and all too regularly.
      Thanks for the feedback, L. I’m glad you find value here. We’re glad you contribute your thoughts and experiences.

  5. Jane Jones on July 29, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    We haven’t vaccinated a critter (or person) in over 20 years. I have a cat with severe heart disease. Vets are amazed at how well he is doing…they just can’t believe it! He was a rescue who was left outside for 3 years by a person who “took care” of him…in Colorado during a couple of really horrible winters. He’s been on a raw diet for 8 years and mostly homeopathic care. His heart disease is treated with gemmotherapy from another homeopathic vet. But when I mention any of this to the vets as an answer to “why he seems so healthy with such a severe heart condition”, the scoff and ignore. But we get to live with a fabulous cat everyday who climbs trees and plays with one of our other cats, and lays by me while I am working! The ignorance and lack of curiosity are sad, especially from people who are educated and are clearly “smart”.
    I have The War of Art on cd’s and listen to them at least twice a year. That way I can work while also getting Steven Pressfield’s “kick in the pants”!!!! GREAT book for anyone who creates anything!!!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Amazing, isn’t it, Jane? And, if the proof seems so obvious, in seeing such an amazingly vital animal, how can that be brushed off? Or worse, feared, which I’ve also heard reports of. These are the people who may be out of a job, as animal owners who do see it, who do appreciate what’s possible from natural methods, vote with their pocketbooks for vets, groomers, boarding facilities, stores, etc who align with their natural paths.
      Smart and wise are clearly two different things.

      • Bren Hutchinson on October 14, 2023 at 1:53 pm

        If only there were more like you, Dr Falconer! I can’t find a homeopathic vet in Texas…
        My dog has started having seizures as a result of rabies vaccination and I refuse to allow
        him any further vaccinations. Thank you for all of the information you make available to
        everyone…many blessings to you!

  6. Maria Segreto on July 29, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Dr. Falconer,
    I follow all your newsletter. They all resonate with me and that feels good, it confirms that I am in the right path.
    I have for some time now, emerged myself in the world of homeopathy with great results, from my own animals to my human ones too 😉 .
    In my library I have your homeopathy course which I consult when in doubt, it’s been amazing.
    Bach flowers are still unexplored territory for me, even though I have a battle of rescue remedy, but I love reading about them in your newsletter.
    I just wanted to wish you luck on your September gig, and like they say in very simple and direct words…go kick ass!!!! because we all need it.
    Have a wonderful day and thanks, always!
    Maria S

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 29, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Thanks so much, Maria. I appreciate the words of confirmation and the encouragement to climb this mountain ahead.

  7. Joyce on July 29, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I agree with Jeri, titers are a must across the board along with waivers being accepted across the board, is what I would hope for in the future, as a good place to start.
    I am very excited to see the findings from the RCF, as it’s been a long time coming.
    In the ideal scenerio, I hope that once we have documented proof from
    RCF, we can move towards a one rabies vaccine, say at 6 months, and titer 2 weeks afterwards, and be done for life.
    One tought that occurred to me, another possible ideal scenario.
    Vets might start doing in house titers, as a way of recouping lost income from less vaccinations.
    Preferably, within the period, two weeks after vaccination, as proof they took. Done deal.
    Why not let Dr. Schultz set up the master protocol for timing of vaccines, and their titers, to be followed by all vets?
    Why not allow the master researcher of immunology, to set these guidelines. AVMA needs to get with the program!
    Or, they can stay in the dark ages….and see how that works for them, as
    more and more of the masses is self educated.
    Until then, ” In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
    Donny Miller said it best!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Yes, I like that quote a lot, Joyce. It really boils down to choice, and if animal owners need to be better informed on immunology than their vets, so be it. Someone has to lead this charge, and who better than those who live among real world Vital Animals and know how they got that way?
      I have the hope that titers are just the beginning of recognizing immune responses. I’ll write more about that soon.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Joyce.

      • Joyce on July 31, 2014 at 9:44 pm

        The upshot…I was in to my local vet for routine blood work and a nail trim( my male won’t let me do it) and I was told it was time for a rabies booster!!
        He gave me his talk, ” after all it’s the law…” Etc etc.
        I told him what I think, and respectfully declined.
        It’s the first time in 5 years it’s come up.
        Ironically, his office was empty that morning. Hmmm, I wonder why?
        I am quite content with my decision.
        Thanks Dr. Will.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on August 1, 2014 at 8:13 am

          Oh, Joyce, good on ya!! “Respectfully declined” is a great way to approach this. Confrontation is usually a door closer, and I suspect this vet’s mind has been opened a bit more from your expressing your desires, based on your knowledge.
          Bravo! I wish I’d been a fly on the wall to hear the whole conversation.

          • Joyce on August 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

            Oh the conversation was pretty interesting.
            It even included a discussion on heartworm.
            He had asked me, well, what will you do, if your dog is positive for heartworms?
            I told him, I would be consulting with you, Dr. Falconer. I told him there are ways of treating heartworms that are non toxic.
            He said he needed to make sure I was informed.
            Of course, inside I was smiling to myself.
            The bubble outside my head was thinking.
            ” thanks very much, but I am quite informed”
            Thanks to you Dr. Will! You are the best thing that has ever happened to my animals! 🙂

  8. Darci on July 29, 2014 at 12:00 am

    I am fostering a little 3 yr. old chihuahua. She came to Canada from a puppy mill in the US. The rescue (mean well) and the law enforce mandatory vaccination. So, she was spayed, vaccinated for many things, given a heart worm dose and de-wormed. Her teeth had “moderate” plaque. One tooth cracked and fell out shortly after arriving in my house. With Homeo remedies at hand I watched for any infection(none came to her) She apparently had hollow nails (??) that were badly overgrown. Those were trimmed in two sessions apparently. I, upon receiving her, immediately put her on a raw diet. Within a week her plaque softened and I was able to begin scraping it off. Now, 3 weeks later it is 85-90% gone. She began itching and chewing at herself within a week of arriving. Not surprised. I dread giving her up for adoption. Afraid this sweet little girl will get more vaccinations, kibble, and perhaps a steroid to stop the itching. I may have to keep her.
    How can we change the views of rescue groups in regard to vaccinations , kibble and other toxins?
    Is there a safe rabies vaccine? A nosode perhaps?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      I fear rescue groups may be some of the last ones to accept reason on all this. They are often crusaders, it seems, thinking they are heroes saving untold numbers of animals from certain death. If they equate their methods with being responsible for saving lives, it’ll take a lot of paradigm shifting and education to get them to change course.
      I don’t think there is such a thing as a safe vaccine, no. Rabies or other ones. Some may have less toxic material, but it’s much more than toxins causing the damage in the vaccinated. And nosodes won’t fly with any legal body, as the human health concern will always demand some form of vaccination.
      Nice work with your Chi, Darci. Do you think the raw diet was the biggest factor, or were you also feeding raw bones?

  9. Lori on July 28, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I rescued a little poodle mix last year. I’m sure she was loaded up on vaccines at the shelter. When I got her home, she had runny eyes, a cough and itchy skin. I put her on a raw diet and supplements. Her runny eyes cleared up, itch minimized and cough disappeared. I was lucky with this one. She will get no more vaccines for the rest of her life.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Nice work, Lori. She’s on her way, thanks to your efforts. And she’ll hold her gains, thanks to your knowledge going forward.

  10. Lorraine on July 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I just went through this last week with my Vet…I was notified that my dog needed her 3-year rabies vaccine and a DHLPP booster. By law I have to get the rabies vaccine but I flatly refused the DHLPP booster and requested titers on Parvo, Distemper & Hep. I was informed that the level of antibodies for Parvo and Hep were very good however, the level of antibodies for Distemper was low. My argument was that any positive reading at all meant that my dog had antibodies against distemper and was covered. Is that correct? my only option to vaccinate against Distemper is to have her get a DHPP vaccine because I was told they don’t have a vaccine just for Distemper alone.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      This is a really valuable discussion to have with your vet, Lorraine, and it points out the fear I have of overly interpreting titer tests. You’ll want to read this page to understand a fallen titer does NOT mean a lack of immunity! Those who “swear by” titers all need to know the downside of them: when they run low, Dr. WhiteCoat will want to vaccinate again.
      That’s where you’ve got to be a step ahead in your understanding.
      Your dog is highly likely immune for the rest of her life to distemper and the others. “Any titer” means there was a response, correct. An immune response was made, and immune memory cells are established now, titer or no. Please don’t allow another vaccine. It would not be useful and could well be damaging.

  11. Jan on July 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I’m so glad that I found your web site! They say knowledge is power and now I have the power to say no more vaccinations! My guys are not living on kibble anymore and I can’t believe the change in them. Shiney coats, a ton more energy and I can just see a huge change in them. I’m kinda scared with the rabies law requirements and I was wondering if you still see these horrible reactions in dogs given radies shots that aren’t overwhelmed with other vaccinations and on a raw diet?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Jan, and welcome!
      Yes, I have seen this with one rabies vaccination, in isolation, but like Tigger, most have a past history of vaccination. I think if you look through the comments on Part 1, you’ll see some stories of “just a rabies vaccine” causing illness quite often.
      It’s why I put vaccination at the top of my watch list for animal people to think long and hard about. The effects for ill from vaccination can last a very long time and are not easily reversed, compared to say, making a bad food choice or a bad flea control choice, which can often be “fixed” more quickly and easily. Vaccinosis is much deeper than intoxication.

  12. sandra on July 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    We’ve just spent our own year in Hell with our rescue dog, Tucker. I’m happy to say he is in recovery, finally, but what a roller coaster ride it has been. We believe that he may have had 2, possibly 3 rabies vaccinations within a 12-18 month period. His original puppy shots, once again when he was picked up as a stray and landed in a shelter, then again, for sure when he was transferred to a no-kill shelter from where we adopted him. He was, of course eating some nasty, cheap kibble too. He adjusted to his new life in our home pretty well and sure liked the raw diet we fed him, but he had a rabies vaccinosis lurking in his system and it emerged first as a small sore on his left, rear foot and before we knew it he was REALLY itchy – all down his left side. I won’t bore you with the 18 month saga that we’ve been through, but it took homeopathy, diet changes, nutritional supplements, socks & t-shirts to protect him from his own scratching, many holistic veterinary consultations (no one local – we did it all over the phone) and a great deal of faith in the path we were on. At one point his system was so compromised that he got mange and on top of all his other problems, we had to administer mange treatments. At one point he had about 50% of his hair left and his weight was down by almost 15 pounds. He looked like the walking dead so skinny and hairless, red sores all over his head and body. But the good news is that he’s back! We are still dealing with a few environmental health issues, but we have our shiny black dog back. To anyone out there dealing with this now I say – have faith. It is a long road, but stick to your convictions, follow your holistic vet’s lead and don’t listen to the nay-sayers!
    Thank you to Dr. Falconer for your efforts to educate people about a better way to care for our pets. Because I had been reading your blogs when Tucker got sick, I looked into finding a holistic vet that would consult with us over the phone. I believe Tucker would not have survived this under traditional care.

    • Elizabeth H. on July 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you for giving me hope should my little rescue go down that road after all the stuff well intended shelters and the rescue did to her while they had her. I am keeping a close eye on her and any question, my first stop is a homeopathic vet for sure.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Oh, Sandra, I’m so sorry you had to go through such a hell with Tucker. And you bring up a good point: if the left hand doesn’t know what the right has already injected, anyone going through multiple rescue portals is at great risk for vaccination overload and a disaster like Tucker’s. All too often, there’s no thought of whether a rescue has had previous vaccinations, and many times, it may be impossible to know, but I’d think isolation wards would be much saner and safer while a shelter tries to track that down. The knee jerk is usually to just blast away with vaccines, as if there were a bullet proof shield that confers super powers (and have no down side).
      Thanks for sharing his success in recovering with natural methods.

  13. Jeri Howell on July 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I have heard the argument from vets that if the time lengthens between vaccination requirements, they will see their clients less because so many are not diligent about check-ups. To that, I have replied that that would be the case regardless of what the length of time between visits happened to be: one year, three, or more. Some will come in and will want shots only, some will want some shots, and some none. Why should animals suffer dangerous side-effects because vets aren’t educating clients?
    I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it makes me angry that I had to be the one to educate myself re: titers. While our mainstream vet runs the titers I want, not once did he ever attempt to tell me about them! WHY? Clearly we are not of the group which wants “bare minimum” or “just the shots” – and I don’t believe for one moment that we are alone either!
    All of that brings me to the fact that the laws governing rabies MUST change. We cannot allow vets to continue to hide behind the “Well, we won’t see animals in time to help them if we lengthen time between visits” excuse. That group – the ones vets lament – wouldn’t come in on time no matter WHEN they were asked to do so. They cannot be the reason to keep the laws status quo. That’s like saying because some fathers won’t pay for child support, we shouldn’t have laws that are too strict re: payments! You set the laws to protect the innocent, not the guilty. In this case, the innocent are the animals.
    When the laws change – and change they must (even if the push to do so comes not from the vet profession, as it should, but from angry, frustrated pet owners) – titers must be acceptable across the board. They exist for people, and they exist for animal export. There is no reason they should not be included in the new laws. Waivers need to be acceptable for illnesses (and perhaps even a notation that that can include ANY chronic OR more serious illness) – and no state vet or bureaucrat should have the authority to override that waiver if granted by the local vet. Ideally, the vaccination protocol would be pushed back to the limits of the studies: 5 or 7 years, but with the resistance to change from the vet community, I’d settle for universal titer acceptance and waivers under the conditions stated.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Good thoughts all, Jeri. I just got off the phone after a long talk with Kris Christine re: Rabies Challenge Fund, and it sounds like there is some good, even exciting, data coming from these dogs on the study. Dr. Schultz will be my next conversation, and as I understand it, results should be in early next year, with the likelihood very high of data supporting longggg duration of immunity. I’m also egging them on to gather data that shows conclusively that immunity persists, measured by the cellular response, long past the time titers fall. I think that’s likely in the works as well.
      Good things on the horizon, and Kris, with years of legislative experience from working on the inside, can lend a hand when the time arises to help anyone mount a campaign to change their laws pertaining to rabies vaccination.
      I’ll also put this out in a newsletter, but if readers have not already signed on for alerts about the RCF’s work, here’s the link to get them:
      Kris also pointed out that liking their Facebook page may get you alerted faster than the email list:

      • Jeri Howell on July 28, 2014 at 6:59 pm

        That IS exciting news, Dr. Falconer! 🙂 I cannot WAIT to see all of those things come to pass. Our mainstream vet says the Study won’t change anything, but I disagree. How can it not? When people are pushing for it, and the science supports it and the immunologists are warning against the dangers of frequent over-vaccination, how can it not? Woe to the vets who try to stand in the way of that train!

      • Susan on July 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

        I am excited to see the new news from the RCF. BUT Even if extended to 5 or 7 years in my state, the law is that the dog/cat must have a 1 year rabies vax,, then >365 days later a 3 year vax, and then thereafter it cannot be one day more than every 3 years. (ridiculously stupid to think that one day the dog is immune & the next it is not) if you are one day late you have to start over with a 1 year, then 365 later a 3 year. If you get only 1 vax at say 6 months of age & then no more and are caught at say 20 months you have to start over with the one year vax then the 3 year 365days later. I also live where there are no exemptions allowed. I have emailed my reps repeatedly & only received one auto generated email that they are “looking into my concerns with an eye to the good of the public as well” ARGH.
        Even one vaccine can cause dis-ease, I have seen this with a NR Carolina Dog pup I bred. The owner was too scared to not get any rabies shot, so at about 6 months she took him in for a rabies shot only. He ended up contracting parvo, (confirmed by 2 tests) but was well in about 48 hours. he has since had red flaky skin on his rump area and undercarriage a bit as well. he is raw fed etc and with several homeopathic detoxes that has finally began to clear up some. But that is definitely all because of the Rabies vax law and “Just one vaccine”.
        I also have had to back off from helping with rescue. I just cannot deal with all the illness that comes from rescue’s “in the chute” mentality and must have ALL shots, flea/tick/HW meds and S/N all done before adopting a dog/cat… then the new owner has to deal with the fallout & of course the poor pet suffers the most. 75% or more of the dogs I have seen adopted in the past few years have had some sort of behavioral or medical issues including several that have already needed TPLO or similar surgeries at just 1-2 years old! All a direct result of vaccines or early spay/neuter.
        I look forward to your upcoming thoughts on what the law should be. hopefully the rescues & counties & cities will wise up to what they are doing to these pets and rethink their policies as the state laws are changed.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on July 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

          The hope is that the data generated on duration of immunity for a rabies vaccinated bunch of dogs will be useful as a means of changing existing laws.
          It may also change vaccine labels, but I won’t hold my breath on this. There’s not much incentive for manufacturers to have a 5 or 7 year (or longer) label now, is there?
          But the plan is to gather and publish the data in a peer reviewed journal or two and take that to the various legislators and get some sensible laws.

    • Judy Morton on September 5, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Interesting that vets would say the dogs need the shots yearly so they can check up on the dog. When I once told a vet that I gave my own vaccinations, (not rabies) she said well that is not a good idea because your animal could have a reaction and a vet is equipped to handle that emergency. So I ask, if you expect a reaction then perhaps we should be getting titers first, to see if they need a vaccination period.

      • Will Falconer, DVM on September 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        Great and pointed question, Judy! If you’re like me, it came to you later, and you went, “I should have asked…”
        Exactly on the money, though. “We want to do something risky, so we get a chance to examine your dog yearly.”
        No thanks. If you want to examine my dog, let’s just do that.
        Simple. Yet often missed.

  14. Jama on July 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Something in the comments–a mention of immunity through exposure to the urine of another animal with antibodies, makes me think there is a safer route to providing immunity that Dr Whitecoat could embrace, even though it’s all natural.
    Since the vaccine manufacturers are going to lobby against any threat to or suspension of their profit generating vaccine schedule, proposing an alternative means for them to get their profits may make the ultimate showdown easier for us to win. In any scenario, we’re going to get the laws changed for the better. By simply refusing to comply with the current vaccine laws on the grounds covered in these articles, and citing the lack of scientific evidence supporting vaccine efficacy, we will win this eventually, but perhaps we can get a win-win-win scenario: Health-producing natural immunity methods, better protected pets, and jobs for the manufacturers who are smart enough to embrace alternatives.

  15. Elizabeth H. on July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Having just adopted a lovely little dog from a local rescue, here is what I’m looking at – in the course of 3 weeks the poor dog was vaccinated, spayed, and then GIVEN A BOOSTER as well as rabies before she came to me. While the intentions are good with rescue groups, what they are doing to the potential health of these pets border on criminal. If I was feeding her Costco kibble I can’t imagine where she’d be in life. (Speaking of which, a friend who feeds Costco kibble and has more than enough dough to feed raw was just telling me her 7 year old dog has 3 lumps that need to be biopsied. Bet you can guess what my response was. I truly just don’t get people who are smart but so unmotivated to do well by their pets, who I know they love).
    With the help of Dr. F I started her on 4Life Transfer Factor and will hope and pray that, raw food, supplements and a lot of good luck from her immune system will find her getting through it ok. If symptoms arise you can bet I’ll be doing homeopathy FIRST.
    Laws have to change, rescue groups have to figure this stuff out.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      That’s a really challenging start to new life, Elizabeth. Lots of misunderstanding in how to handle these fragile youngsters, not only in rescue but in a lot of conventional vet clinics as well.
      I wish you the best will this challenged little pup.

      • Elizabeth H. on July 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        You’ll be the first to know if we have health challenges down the road 🙂 This dog is only 9 pounds so I don’t want to think about how much toxic waste they dumped into her.
        I do have hopes though that she can get through it ok and thrive. But it may be the last time I rescue a dog, next time I’ll park myself somewhere in the country and wait for some lost dog to wander by who likely never got any vaccines. Just kidding…. sort of…..!

        • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm

          A dog like that would likely have an immune system of steel! No kidding.

        • Rebecca on August 6, 2014 at 5:24 am

          There’s a pack of dogs which live down the road from me, out in the country. The owner is hardly ever around, but he leaves plenty of dry dog food and water for them. He’s a dog lover of sorts, he’ll take in a stray, but leaves them to their own devices mostly. I’m fairly certain they have never been vaccinated and they all seem strong and healthy in spite of that kibble diet.

          • Will Falconer, DVM on August 6, 2014 at 8:27 am

            That’s a great observation, Rebecca. While diet is important, and is the basis for repair and renewal of tissue, immune function, etc, vaccination is a far greater predictor of ill health.
            And diet changes can improve things rather quickly, in days or a few weeks. It’s very hard to change the outcome of a vaccination.
            Tigger was exceptional in this. I hope people don’t read this and think they can simply vaccinate and give a dose of sulphur afterwards, and all will be well. That would be highly unlikely.

    • Dog Lovers on July 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Like you, Elizabeth, all our previous rescue dogs suffered health problems, including miasms from the vaccines they received. Some of the dogs were 3-4 years older than what the rescue told us, too. They won’t run titers; we asked and were told it was too expensive. Really? It’s about $120 at Hemopet in CA. That’s nothing in comparison to what it costs the new owner in $$$ and heartache, and the animal suffers lifelong diseases. It’s sad there are so many shelter and rescue animals, but with all the over-vaccination and who knows what the animals have had, we’ve decided our new dogs will only come from a natural rearing breeder who feeds raw meat and never vaccinates. “Conventional” breeders over-vaccinate, too and many of them vaccinate too young also. We’ve owned two of those dogs and they were no better than the rescue dogs.
      Our neighbor adopted a 2 year old small Shih Tzu from a rescue. He came from a shelter and was given something like 7 vaccines in 4 days; 1 was rabies. About 4 weeks after they got him, he became very agitated and aggressive to other dogs and people. He tried to attack every dog he saw and bit 5 people. All of this was completely unprovoked. They contacted the rescue but they didn’t offer any help or even a partial refund. One of the people who was bitten reported it to the shelter. Animal control confiscated the dog and had him euthanized. They wouldn’t allow the family to try anything to help the poor dog. Chances are the dog had been vaccinated before it ever got to the shelter. It’s a tragedy that left a wonderful family devastated and an innocent dog killed.

      • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        Arrggh. You neighbor’s dog’s brain became inflamed, evidenced by all the agitation and aggression. While all vaccines can do this to some extent, rabies, being a brain/nerve virus, does it to a high degree. So, imagine the energetic disease of rabies has just been engrafted onto this little dog’s vital force, and you see a version of rabies like this. Biting, suspicion, agitation, irritability. No test would show a rabies virus present, but he got a big energetic dose of rabies, and died as a rabid dog would: euthanasia.
        Truly sad. Man made disease, man made death to “fix” it. Tragedy indeed.

  16. Linda on July 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

    the only way to win the war on vaccines is not to play. there is a third party at fault here. the person who owns the dog and does not do the due diligence that should be required as education, since the information is all over the internet and is easily accessed.
    no vaccines. none. period. and let’s see how our dogs are in six or seven generations of kibble and vaccination free environments.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      While I agree in principal, Linda, I count on the forward thinkers like you to follow this and show the rest their results. When enough Vital Animals are out and about, the evidence will speak for itself and others will be enticed to explore this path.
      Until then, it’s just too easy to follow along with the standards of “prevention” in conventional medicine promoted daily by vets.
      Education generally follows interest, and until we pique that interest with our examples, there’s unlikely to be a groundswell of thinking outside the box.

      • Cynthia on June 18, 2021 at 9:20 am

        Thank you for the valuable info. With the education we can all do better. I lost a puppy at 8 months old after a valiant try to save her. I swore this isn’t happening again and am on a quest to become informed about, nutrition, vaccinations, and spaying and neutering. Your diligence in helping us will will insure we can make informed decisions!!!

    • Roberta on August 1, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Oh I DO AGREE!!!

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