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Vaccinating Your Dog, the Benefits and Risks  

Los Angeles veterinarian Rick Palmquist said vaccines can remain effective for years without booster shots. He did a survey of more than 100,000 dogs that were vaccinated once for distemper and parvovirus. In every case, those who were tested and did not get boosters have remained healthy.

Over-vaccination has been suspected in causing tumors in some cats and immune problems in dogs. One family said their Yorkshire Terrier, Nicky, nearly died after an annual series of booster shots. "She couldn't breathe well, she was weak, limp," a family member said. "She was going to die. They said she probably wouldn't pull through it." After $6,000 in medical fees and a week in intensive care, Nicky pulled through. Doctors suspect an adverse vaccine reaction. "You bring your dog in because you're trying to keep her healthy, and a week later you find out you almost killed her," the family member said.

If you're getting your pet vaccinated, here's a simple plan: Start with the basics, rabies, distemper and parvovirus, then consult with your vet. The doctor said German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Poodles are at higher risk for adverse vaccine reactions, as are older pets. Concerned pet owners with questions are encouraged to consult with their veterinarian.

Topic: Ask the Veterinarian. Expert: Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf  Date: 7/12/2007

Reaction to Rabies Vaccine

Question: My 5 pound Chihuahua had a rabies shot a few months ago and about 6 weeks later had a patch on her hip about the size of a quarter that looked almost like caked on mud.  It was black and her hair was black.  My vet says its a reaction to the vaccine.  Now her hair is almost gone in that spot and it is crusty and peeling off. :{ I am so sad and very worried.  Is this something I should get a second opinion on, is it permanent, is there anything I can do or is she just going to have this awful patch for the rest of her life?  And if its a reaction, why has she never reacted this way before.

Sincerely, Kimberly and Sophie (my Chihuahua)

Answer: It could be related to the vaccine, although the typical rabies skin reaction is a slowly thinning hairless area about the size of a quarter.  Rarely have I seen this problem where there is a crusty patch.  You might want to get a second opinion from another vet.

Fast Facts on Vaccine Reactions

Most dogs and cats never develop vaccine-related problems. But vaccines are medications, and any medication has the potential to cause side effects. Here’s what you should know:

  • Signs of local reactions to vaccinations include itching, swelling, pain, hair loss at the injection site, and cancer development at the injection site.

  • Systemic reactions, which involve the entire body or a specific area other than the injection site, include allergic reactions; anaphylaxis and collapse; polyarthritis (lameness); vomiting, with or without diarrhea (most common in cats); trouble breathing; fever; and lethargy.

  • The vaccines most likely to cause reactions are distemper, parvovirus, rabies and giardia.

  • The breeds most at risk for vaccine reactions are Akitas, American Eskimo Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes and Weimaraners. Any animal with a white coat and pink nose or a dilute coat color, like that of the harlequin Great Dane, is more at risk.

Vaccinations: My 10 week old puppy had a shot today and is warm and hurts when I pick him up. Can I give him anything?

If you have not yet taken the rectal temperature of this pup, if you are able to do so it would give you a better idea as to how warm the puppy really is. The ideal temperature should be around 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F. If his temperature is higher than that, place some cool (not cold) wash clothes on his body or let him lie on them. Try not to handle him too much and keep him as relaxed as possible.

As with any foreign substance introduced intravenously into the body, there will be a reaction and in some dogs the reaction may be more severe. It is understandable that he would be sore at the injection site but if he seems to cry out wherever you touch him, that could be a problem. Allow him a good night's rest and if there are no changes within 24 hours, take him back to the vet for a follow up. Do not administer any drugs to him at this time. 

Also, do not allow your vet to give any vaccinations while your dog has any kind of issues with loose stools or is taking antibiotics. This can lead to long term health problems.

What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines by Don Hamilton, DVM.

Yearly "boosters" are unnecessary, provide no benefit if given (will not increase immunity). Thus boosters are either a legal issue (Rabies) or a manipulation issue (inducing clients to come in for examination rather than directly suggesting an examination).

Veterinary Malpractice - "Of the tens of thousands of veterinarians practicing in the United States, many are incompetent, careless or both. Others fail to deliver adequate care because their singular focus on profits makes them unwilling to pay for qualified employees, equipment, supplies, etc. I have even known of one vet who diluted her euthanasia drugs and another who re-used single-use surgery supplies. Unnecessary deaths and suffering have become commonplace."

Brandon Brooks, DVM  - "Many (if not most) Over The Counter (OTC) or non-prescription  flea control products are very toxic to cats and kittens- especially the ones only approved for use in dogs. Many people mistakenly buy these for their pet (it's not always their fault, the companies that make them want you to buy it, they don't really care about the dangers involved) so it pays to be extra careful when buying flea control products."

Dr. Pat Bradley, DVM, Conway, USA -  "The most common problems I see that are directly related to vaccines on a day to day basis are ear or skin conditions, such as chronic discharges and itching. I also see behaviour problems such as fearfulness or aggression.

Often guardians will report that these begin shortly after vaccination, and are exacerbated with every vaccine. In a more general and frightening context, I see the overall health and longevity of animals deteriorating. The bodies of most animals have a tremendous capacity to detoxify poisons, but they do have a limit. I think we often exceed that limit and over-whelm the body's immune system function with toxins from vaccines, poor quality foods, insecticides, environmental toxins, etc.

This is why we've seen such a dramatic increase in allergies, organ failures, and behaviour problems." (NOTE: a growing number of holistic veterinarians use Transfer Factor before and after vaccination to minimize the side effects and help the animal recover)

Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D - "For some readers the very idea that vaccines are anything but wonderful and life-saving may come as a surprise, and it's not a very pleasant one. After all, the general population pictures vaccines as one of modern medicine's best and brightest moments, saving literally millions from the scourge of diseases like poliomyelitis and smallpox."

Charles E Loops DVM - "Homeopathic veterinarians and other holistic practitioners have maintained for some time that vaccinations do more harm than they provide benefits. Vaccinations represent a major assault on the body's immune system.... Vaccine induced chronic diseases range from life-threatening conditions such as auto-immune crises to conditions destroying the quality of life of an animal as in chronic skin allergies." Syringe and bottle

Dr. Blanco, D.V.M - "You take healthy animals and often very quickly after you vaccinate, you can see simple things like itching of the skin or excessive licking of the paws, sometimes even with no eruptions. We see a lot of epilepsy, often after a rabies vaccination. Or dogs or cats can become aggressive for several days. Frequently, you'll see urinary tract infections in cats, often within three months after their [annual] vaccination. If you step back, open your mind and heart, you'll start to see patterns of illness post-vaccination." 

More and more dogs have skin problems and Dr. Messonnier DVM writes convincingly about over-vaccination and poor nutrition being major causes.

pawprints line

The photo below and accompanying information was taken from an article discussing Weimaraners, it is not information from Dr. Messonnier, DVM.

Rabies vaccination resulted in skin discoloration

"Little (1957) described graying as a progressive change resulting in a lightening of the hair coat as the dog ages. He suggested that this could be a dilution gene but it is not like the Weimaraner dilution gene, which causes pups to be born a diluted color and remain so. The gene that causes this in dogs, has not yet been discovered. This Standard Poodle demonstrates the effects of this gene in a very dramatic way. The small black spot by her neck is the result of a rabies vaccination! It will take a long time for that black hair to change to silver."

pawprints line

"Many people are very concerned about vaccinating their animals and the adverse reactions are often referred to as vaccinosis and miasms which is said to be difficult or impossible to cure. Most wonder why "annual boosters" are given to our animals when vaccinations for humans last for our lifetime. Also asked is why isn't the dose adjusted for the size of the animal? The many serious adverse reactions may be grossly under-reported to the vet (insist on telling the vet), to the manufacturer, and to the USDA Biologics Hotline (report the reaction, manufacturer, and lot number ) at 800/ 752-6255. The experts are now addressing these concerns and the First International Veterinary Vaccines and Diagnostic Conference was held in July 1997 regarding this important health issue. An excellent article is by Don Hamilton, DVM who specializes in Homeopathy." Helen L. McKinnon

"We should not allow politics and tradition or greed to enter the decision (on frequency of vaccination). Changing vaccination schedules doesn't have to mean less profit, but that you have more income from some clients and less from others. Veterinarians and the industry need to have guts to be honest with ourselves and assess the risk and not be trapped in tradition." -- Dr. Dennis Macy in "Are We Vaccinating Too Much?" AVMA Journal, 1995

"55% of all illnesses reported by participants occurred within the first three months of vaccination."

  • Arthritis

  • Diarrhea

  • Allergies

  • Dry eye/conjunctivitis

  • Epilepsy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nervous/worrying disposition

  • Skin problems

  • Nasal discharges

  • Vomiting

  • Weight loss

  • Behavioral problems

  • Tumor or growth." - Catherine O'Driscoll

What vets don't tell you about vaccinesPrevaccination Protection: Dr. Falconer DVM explains how to protect your animal from vaccines damage. Vaccinations: All Veterinary Schools in North America Changing Vaccination Protocols. Feline Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) research from Colorado State University suggests a link between vaccination for feline distemper (panleukopenia) and the development of chronic renal failure. Vaccinosis and inflammatory bowel disease: epidemic of pet inflammatory bowel disease. Vaccine Alternative: Testing a dog’s serum antibody titers can prevent over vaccinating. Vaccines, Infectious Diseases and the Canine Immune System: Dog's recover from Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA).

In many cases, the reason for our animal's health problem is due to an overload of toxins entering the dog's body via his paws, breathing cleaning and other chemicals in your home or kennel,  from chemicals sprayed on your lawn, in parks, on golf courses,  everywhere you take your dog there are toxic chemicals. Chemicals are even included in your pet's food, both dry and canned food unless you have wisely researched and chosen food that does not contain chemicals.  Dogs are extremely sensitive to these chemicals as are most animals including us.

Vaccinating your pet