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Limited Vaccination Protocol

    I have mentioned that I believe in a very limited vaccination protocol for my puppies.This consists of specific vaccinations at specific intervals, designed to maximise protection and minimize risk.

    There is an incredible amount of information out there about vaccines and their side effects. Often previously considered to be benign and harmless, now we are learning that we were wrong! Vaccines can have very many serious side effects, including autoimmune disorders, epilepsy, encephalitis, allergies, behavior problems, digestive disorders, cancer and death! With the Toller breed we have to be particularly careful, as their self-coloring and very limited gene pool puts them at a greater risk of vaccine-related problems than the average dog.

    The number one rule of my vaccination protocol is to NEVER give combination vaccines (a vaccine that contains more than one virus). The vast majority of vets give these combination vaccines only, so you will likely have to ask your vet to special-order your puppies vaccines for you. They may tell you its not possible to get a single-virus vaccine, don't believe them! Many don't want to order it in because it is more work for them! Galaxy makes the "Galaxy-D" single distemper vaccine; Intervet (Proguard) and Duramune both make single Parvo vaccines.

    The all-to-common multi-virus vaccines tend to confuse to immune system rather than stimulate it. Many of these combo-vaccines contain anywhere from 5-8 diferent diseases! Where in nature would your dog be exposed to that many diseases all at the same time? You can only imagine the dog would have a very difficult time effectively fighting that many diseases at once! Just think about the stress on the dog's immune system, and especially on a young puppy who's immune system is still developing. Excessive vaccination can actually cause the immune system to cease working altogether. I call that the "I can't handle it anymore, I quit!" response.

    Rule number two is limit the total number of vaccinations. There is no valid reason for giving the same vaccine over and over again to a puppy. The reason this practice was started is because puppies receive maternal antibodies from their dam while they are nursing, and these gradually wear off after weaning. But they wear off at different rates in different puppies, so we have no way of knowing for sure when they have worn can be anywhere from 5-16 weeks, although the average is 6-10. Giving a puppy shots while it still has maternal antibodies is useless, as the maternal antibodies will "block" the vaccine and prevent immunity from being established. So vets in their infinite wisdom decided to give puppies vaccines over and over again so that eventually one will be given after the maternal antibodies are worn down. But since we don't know when they were down, it could leave pups unprotected for several weeks, which is why vets will tell you to keep your young puppy off the streets and away from strange dogs until it "has had all its shots" at 12-16 weeks.

    So if we have to keep puppy isolated even if giving all these most-likely useless shots, then why do we both putting all that extra stress on the poor puppy's system? Doesn't it make more sense to not give those shots (since they likely won't work anyway) and just be careful with puppy until he is a little older? Stay away from dog parks, petstores and other areas frequented by large numbers of dogs until after 4 months old. Do your public socializing outside the grocery store, library, Home Depot, any place you can think about that has lots of people, but few dogs. Invite people over to your house to play with puppy, they can bring their adult, healthy dogs with them for playtime.

    Rule number three is no annual boosters! The practice of giving annual vaccinations is a practice developed by the vaccine manufacturers, so that they will sell more vaccines. Vaccines don't suddenly "expire" after a year, that's just when the manufacturer's stopped testing the immunity.ONCE IMMUNITY TO A VIRUS EXISTS, IT PERSISTS FOR YEARS OR LIFE. There is no need to keep rechecking titers and revaccinating every 3 years or whatever. You cannot add more immunity to an already immune dog. It is not immunologically possible. All you are doing is increasing the risk of chronic disease....there is no benefit.

    The duration of immunity to infectious disease agents is controlled by memory cells, B & T lymphocytes. Once programed, memory cells persist for life. Even in the absence of an antibody titer, memory cells are capable of mounting an adequate immune response in an immunized patient. A negative titer does not indicate lack of immunity, or the ability of a vaccine to significantly enhance the immune status of a patient.

    The USDA Center for Biologic and Therapeutic Agents asserts that there is no scientific data to support label claims for annual re-administration of modified live vaccines, and label claims must be backed by scientific data.

    It is the consensus of immunologists that a modified live virus vaccine must replicate in order to stimulate the immune system, and antibodies from a previous vaccination will block the replication of the new vaccinate virus. The immune status of the patient is not enhanced in any way. There is no benefit to the patient. The client is paying for something with insignificant or no effect, except that the patient is being exposed to unnecessary risk of an adverse reaction.

    According to Dr. Ronald D Schultz, head of pathobiology at Wisconsin University and arguably the world expert on this subject, once immunity to a virus exists, it persists for years or life. I am told that he vaccinated his own Golden Retrievers as puppies, and then didn't vaccinate them again. He took yearly blood tests. His Goldens are reported to have died naturally at around 15 years of age, and showed good antibody levels from the first booster until they died. Moral of the story: this and other research shows that annual shots are not necessary.

    Research by Dr. Ronald D Schultz, shows that a vaccine received at or after 12 weeks of age provides immunity in over 95% of dogs. He also states that the less than 5% which did not have immunity would never get immunity regardless of how many vaccinations they received. Dr. Schultz is the author of this paragraph in Kirk's "Current Veterinary Therapy XI", the conventional medicine textbook: "A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The practice of annualvaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (i.e., certain states require annual revaccination for rabies)."

    Another interesting point on the vacination issue is that your dog will in fact essentially be "vaccinated" on a regular basis by being exposed to other dogs that have been vaccinated recently. You see, for a several week period after vaccination with a modified live virus vaccine, dogs will actually "shed" particles of the virus into their environment. When another dog is exposed to the shed virus, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, just the same as if it was exposted to the actual disease. Only this is much safer, since it is through a more natural means of exposure (inhaled or ingested rather than injected) and with a much smaller dosage. This vaccination through shed virus is known as the "herd immunity effect". So as long as you keep taking your dog (over 16 weeks) out and about and expose it to other dogs regularly (parks, training classes, dog shows) it will regularly receive low-level stimulation of its immunity, which is safe and effective.

    For addiotional information, I highly recommend checking out the following web pages:

    Now for the recommended vaccine schedule....

    At 12 weeks, your puppy will get a vaccination of MLV Parvo only.

    At 14 weeks, your puppy will get a vaccination of Distemper only. While at the vet clinic that day, have the vet draw some blood and have it sent to Antech Labs for a Parvo Titer test...this will show if the previously given Parvo vaccine has worked. If the Parvo titer comes back at zero or very low, it means that the puppy still had maternal antibodies at the time of vaccination, and the vaccine didn't take. In that case, you give another Parvo only at 16-18 weeks.

    At 16 weeks, you can optionally have the vet draw blood again, and send off for a Distemper Titer. This titer is optional because by this age and for this disease it would be exceptionally rare for a dog to not have formed a titer.

    If you have ended up giving a Parvo at 16-18 weeks, you may opt to do another Parvo titer 2 weeks later (18-20 weeks) to make sure that one took, although it almost certainly will be effective by that age. But if it makes you feel better, go ahead and test it!

    Rabies is given after the age of 6 months (8-12 months is better), if required by law in your province/state. Also do not give the Rabies shot (or any vaccine for that matter) within a 30 day period before or after any surgery (such as spay/neuter) or within 30 days of any other vaccine.

    That is it for the vaccinations! If it makes you feel better, you can run titers at a year old, and every 1-3 years after that, but it is not necessary, and doesn't really tell all that much, since titer levels will rise and fall through the dogs lifetime in accordance to their frequency of exposure. Remember, a low titer does not equal low immunity, as it is the memory cells that are the important part, and we have no way to measure those. So you can pretty safely consider any measurable titer to be proof of current immunity.

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