holistic health magazine





The Pet Vaccine Debate:
Changing the Status Quo

by Doug Knueven, DVM

article pic

Holistic Health Newsletter!


newNatural Weight Loss Program recommended by The Share Guide
learn more

About Share Guide

Holistic Health Articles

Health Directory




Contact us

Do you have a
Holistic Business?
Get listed in Share Guide's Holistic Health Directory for only $9.95 per month. For more info
Click Here

In the past, vaccines were a no-brainer for veterinarians. Every animal came in every year, and we would hit them all up with as many shots as we could. Research showing that the vaccines imparted immunity for several years had been out since the 1980s, but most veterinarians thought it was better to be safe than sorry. Many had lived through devastating outbreaks of canine distemper and canine parvovirus. Plus, the vaccine reminders brought a dog in for his yearly exam, which is very important in maintaining an animal's health. Besides, many reasoned, we were not causing any harm. At the same time, there certainly was no financial incentive for veterinarians or vaccine producers to change the status quo.

Then, in the mid-1990s, cats began to develop malignant tumors between their shoulder blades. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the common denominator was vaccines. Suddenly, the medical imperative "first do no harm" came into play, and some veterinarians began to question the wisdom of administering so many vaccines. The charge was led by the feline practitioners.

In 1998, the American Association of Feline Practitioners Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines recommended 3-year boosters for the core feline vaccines. In 2001, after two years of study, the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents found that, as far as the core vaccines go, "...the one-year revaccination frequency recommendation found on many vaccine labels is based on historical precedent and USDA regulation, not on scientific data." So, according to the major conventional veterinary medical authority, since 2001, it has been pseudoscientific to vaccinate pets yearly.

Then, in Feb. 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force released its recommendations for 3-year distemper combination booster intervals, while they estimated that the immunity from these vaccines lasts at least 7 years. More recently, a study published in the Jan. 2004 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded, "In most dogs [98%], vaccination induced a response that lasted up to and beyond 48 months for all 5 antigens [found in the distemper combination vaccine]." Currently, many North American veterinary schools have adopted a 3-year revaccination schedule for core vaccines in dogs and cats.

Unlike some holistic practitioners, I am not against vaccines for dogs. I worked at a humane society for 5 years and saw what often happens when animals do not get any vaccines. Canine parvovirus is a deadly disease that still infects unprotected dogs. Canine distemper is less common but just as deadly. In my 20 years as a veterinarian, I have not seen a properly vaccinated dog become ill from these diseases.

While I am not against vaccines, I am against overvaccinating our pets. Every dog does not need every vaccine, and they certainly do not need them every year. Experts agree that, after the initial series of vaccine boosters in puppies, they need a one-year booster, and then the core vaccines can be given every three years at most.

An excellent alternative to regular vaccines is having your dog's immune status to canine distemper and canine parvovirus checked by vaccine titers. Vaccine titers are a measure of the antibody level in the blood for specific diseases. According to experts, a high titer assures that your pet can adequately respond to the disease. These are simple blood tests that are performed by national veterinary labs.

It is time for veterinarians, boarding kennels, groomers, and training organizations to follow the guidelines set by vaccine authorities. As a pet caretaker, you have the right and responsibility to refuse vaccines when that action is appropriate--get vaccine titers instead. Overvaccinating a pet can be just as dangerous as undervaccinating him. I urge all pet owners to be proactive and insist that the scientific vaccine recommendations be followed, for the health of our pets.

Excerpted taken from the book The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog ©2008 TFH Publications, Inc. Used by permission. www.tfh.com.

newNatural Quit Smoking Program recommended by The Share Guide: learn more


freeIf you liked this article, you'll love The Share Guide's
Holistic Health Newsletter. Click here to subscribe for free!

Home Health Directory Articles Index Interviews

Health Store Links About Share Guide Contact us


Avertising Info
Subscribe to magazine

Search this site

copyright 2008--The Share Guide--All rights reserved