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The Vaccine Dilemma

If you talk to most veterinarians about the increase of certain illnesses, odds are they will tell you how they have seen a dramatic rise in cases of cancer, auto-immune diseases, hypothyroidism, and epilepsy over the last decade. They will also tell you quite proudly how vaccines have radically reduced or eliminated Parvo, distemper, rabies and a variety of other diseases. What they will rarely if ever admit to, is the connection between the two.

Don’t misunderstand, I feel that vaccination against disease is extremely important; vaccines save lives every day. It is the abuse of these vaccines which is the root of the epidemic that is threatening our pets. And it is an epidemic; whether it is your own dog, or someone else’s, everyone knows of a dog facing some major health challenge. So why aren’t veterinarians making the connection? Well, most of them rely on immediate cause and effect. For instance, if you give a dog a vaccine and they go into anaphylaxis, they can see the correlation between the vaccine and the illness, but if the dog comes down with say epilepsy one to three months after getting “booster” vaccines, they just don’t see the connection. As someone who keeps extremely detailed notes on my dogs, I can tell you that I have seen the connection, on more than one of my dogs, and I took the steps to stop it. But my concern shouldn’t be enough to persuade you into changing the protocol your vet has established for your dog. I am, after all, not a vet, and I would be challenging what I have to say if I were in your shoes too.

When I first started my intense research into vaccines, I came across two extremely knowledgable veterinarians who have both spent a large part of their careers investigating the correlation between vaccines and illness. The first was Dr. Jean Dodds, who has spent the majority of her career researching hypothyroidism. You can learn more about her through her organization Hemopet. The second veterinarian is Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor of Immunology, University of Wisconsin Veterinary School. He is perhaps the foremost veterinary authority in the United States on immunology. I highly recommend that everyone watch this interview with Dr. Schultz. You can also read his credentials here.

Both of these veterinarians are part of the task force for the Rabies Challenge Fund; a study to see if dogs can go as long as seven years before having to be re-vaccinated. They both firmly believe in blood titers, a test designed to gauge the level of antibodies in the blood after a vaccine, and neither one is shy about discussing their views on not requiring annual “boosters”. There is no such thing as boosting your dog’s immunity, your dog either has antibodies against the specific disease or they don’t, you can’t “boost” them to make them stronger. You are simply revving up your dog’s immune system for no reason and that can lead to myriad problems.

Dr. Dodds and Dr. Schultz have developed vaccine protocols that they use on their own pets. I have personally followed Dr Schultz’s protocol for core vaccines for over eight years with astonishing results. In addition, I follow Dr. Karen Becker’s protocol regarding non-core vaccines. Once I have a puppy in my possession, I review what vaccines the breeder or rescue organization has given them. If they have received two shots already, I wait until they are 16 weeks old to vaccinate them one last time for Parvo and Distemper. For me, puppy shots should be limited to 3 sets of only core vaccines (Parvo/Distemper) given three weeks apart.

At 18 weeks, I have a titer run. If they show active antibodies I do NOT vaccinate again. I will run a titer once again at five years. All of my dogs have shown active antibodies in their blood five years after having their last vaccine at only 16 weeks of age! My two oldest dogs (10 and 12 years) were vaccinated last at five years old (before my research began they had annual “boosters”) and titers on both have shown they still possess active antibodies. I do not give the rabies vaccine until they are six months old. I vaccinate every three years with rabies but only because it is required by law. As for the rest of the non-core vaccines, I do not do any of them because my dogs are not in any situations where they would be exposed. It is important to be aware that many veterinarians give core vaccines that have been combined with non-core ones. If you wish to follow the best protocol for your dog, it is important to ask for shots that only contain the core vaccines (Parvo/Distemper). Rabies should always be given when no other shots are given.

After seeing reactions in some of my dogs that are no longer with me; auto-immune hemolytic anemia (3 weeks post “booster” combo vaccine), epilepsy (1 month post “booster” combo vaccine), and lupus (2 months post “booster” combo vaccine) you would be hard pressed to convince me that there is no connection between vaccines, especially combo ones, and illness. All of these dogs went into remission once I stopped vaccinating and put them on a home-cooked diet.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide what is best for your pet and the best way to do that is by educating yourself. Many veterinarians will argue against your decision, but always remember that it is YOUR decision. Our dogs and cats have no voice other than ours, we must speak up and do what we feel is best for them, even if it is not what everyone else is doing.
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