Vaccination: Non-rabies

Do You Need the Other Vaccines?


Aside from rabies, what about the other pet vaccinations? Are they necessary? Are they required?

What about risk/benefit ratios?

In dogs, cats, and horses the majority of what we vaccinate with are also viral vaccines, so there should be “no immunological requirement” for repeating them yearly.

The one exception is the tetanus toxoid given to horses. This is not viral, but actually a bacterial toxin made into a vaccine. It may need to be repeated, but certainly not yearly. The immunity may lapse from this toxoid after 7-10 years and repetition will boost this kind of immunity.

Also know that none of the others are required by law to be repeated. Some are even useless to give at any age, others at any age over one year.

Fear the Germ!

A lot of what conventional medicine recommends is based on fear. If there’s a “bad germ” out there that might “get us” (or our animals), we want to use something to protect against that germ.

Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about dogs dying of Parvovirus infection, and have been admonished to get yearly (or even twice yearly!) vaccinations against this deadly disease.

Yet how many adult dogs die of Parvo each year?

Ask your veterinarian this question. Parvo is almost always a disease of puppies under one year of age, and very occasionally old dogs who have weakened immune systems from unhealthy living (commercial diets, pesticides for fleas and heartworm, and frequent vaccinations!).

Why, then should you vaccinate against it repeatedly throughout life?

Coronavirus also causes puppy diarrhea and vomiting, but differs from Parvo in that it is not fatal.

Bordetella vaccines are given to prevent kennel cough. How efficacious they are is open to question, but more importantly, how serious is the disease? It’s the canine version of a coughing cold in humans. Bothersome, but never fatal.

Is it worthwhile injecting viruses into our animals for a disease from which they will surely survive?

Veterinary immunologist Dr. Ron Schultz and others feel it is not. Yet this and other non-fatal viruses are in common use in every “(non-)booster” given.

One to join the roster recently, Canine Influenza, has even the conventional vets wary about it being a total marketing push. No mention of dogs dying from it at all.

But, We’ve Always Done it This Way (Haven’t We?)

Animal - Walking Cat
You might ask why this annual pet vaccinations habit exists. It’s a very good question, and one that conventional medicine is examining more and more frequently as time goes on.

It might be assumed that there are studies showing duration of immunity of only one year, hence the labeling about repetition.

That would be a wrong assumption. There are precisely zero studies that indicate this.

Perhaps the weakest argument I’ve heard is the liability issue. Vaccines are labeled for yearly repetition, and a label must be followed, legally, by the user of the vaccine or drug. The argument states, if the vaccine interval is longer than a year, and the animal gets ill from a disease that was supposed to be prevented by the vaccine, the poor veterinarian could be sued.

It’s about as likely as the animal getting a vaccine-preventable disease after being vaccinated. It can happen, because no vaccine confers 100% immunity in those vaccinated. Far from it, in fact.

So, lawsuit-happy people can sue for anything, but the odds are that an animal vaccinated properly with a virus vaccine will be as immune several years after the vaccination as it was when the one year anniversary came up.

And, if label following were the reason veterinarians feel compelled to vaccinate annually, how about another very important part of the label, the part that states “Only for use in healthy animals?” See Your Vaccination Waiver for this part of the argument.

Don’t get me started on how often sick animals are vaccinated!

Experts: Speak!

A watershed occurred when a renowned University of California-Davis veterinary researcher and professor, Neils Pedersen, commented on the practice in a very well-respected conventional magazine called AAHA Trends (AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association).

Current vaccine practices are medically unsound. It is time to question the wisdom of annual booster, multivalent products (combination vaccines, the most common being DHLPP for dogs and FVRCP for cats), and unnecessary vaccines. Doing so will return companion animals’ immunization to its status as a medical and not an economical procedure.

Reality Check

What will get you a lot closer to what you really want (healthy animals who are resistant to all disease) is to focus on raising your individual animals in the way that allows them to do what nature intended: to live freely, happily, and fully, vitally alive, with an immune system that responds directly to any challenge that confronts them.

In our haste to protect our animal companions, let’s not forget that it’s the animal’s immune system that protects, not some solution of viruses in a syringe.

If you’d prefer to work with that elegant system in a safe and very effective way, consider raising your next pup with natural immunization, no vaccines required!

In the next part on this subject, I’ll address another aspect of the vaccine question that a lot of people get wrong: the notion of titer testing in lieu of vaccinating.

Keep your thinking cap on.

Big outcomes for the right decisions here!

And very serious consequences for the wrong ones.

Here’s the series again, with titer wisdom next up:
The Fallacy of Titer Tests
Vaccination: Safety
Vaccination Waiver
Vaccination Rabies