« Another chance for Denver ' s pit bulls? | Main | One leg of rescue transport needed in Bay Area... can you help? »

29 May 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I have been saying for years that if ALL vaccines were made available in monovalent (only one disease per vaccination) form rather than the combivalent (several diseases per vaccination) soup which is the only way to get certain "core" vaccines, the vets could have "the best of both worlds.

They could rotate their clients through the various monovalent "core" vaccines - about one per year, coming back to repeats every third year - thereby accomplishing that all important "practice management" in getting clients in for their "yearly shots". But they wouldn't be over-vaccinating by giving everything every year and would be following AAHA's 3 year protocol.

And with computer records, keeping track of which core vaccine each animal is due for each year should just not be all that big a deal.

Let's do away with combivalent vaccination soups!


The vets in my town were notorious for the "annual vax required or we'll never get the pet owners in for their annual checkup" rationale. Luckily, our city council decided to get "science-based" and changed the rabies requirement to a 3 year one.

But my own vet, who unlike most vets in town always would give a 3 year vax to those who live outside the city limits, told me he vaccinates his dog yearly "because he's a hunting dog and might encounter a rabid fox and I don't want to worry whether he's in his 2nd or 3rd year of the vaccine".

And here I thought that the rabies vax actually prevented a vaccinated dog from, you know, getting rabies...


I was glad to read this information. My older catgirl (13) has what is likely a vaccine site induced sarcoma between her shoulders. However it hasn't changed in size in over a year so right now we're watching it closely because she also is a survivor of the pet food poisoning and now has IBD, liver disease and only one functioning kidney. So we can't use anesthesia any longer and she will only have procedures that don't endanger her further. I found a wonderful university vet who is willing to do titres rather than vaccinations (since she is due for her rabies next month). It's just scary to me.


I'd be all for that, OTHER Pat, for another reason: I've a couple of cats who are invariably feverish and poorly for a few days after the FVRCP. If it were possible to spread it out, maybe we could avoid that -- and since I do go in at least twice a year anyway (senior cat protocol), it's not like it would be that much trouble from my end either.

Gina Spadafori

I love the idea, too, but it certainly will require education for pet-owners, otherwise I know I will be fielding complaints from readers who will insist the shots have been broken up to "pad the bill." :::sigh::::

Ark Lady

This was a hot issue at our clinic down in San Diego where vaccinations were considered an optional choice in the mid-1990s due to the issues suspected to surround them and the over vaccination issue.

However, I think what it also boils down to is covering your a** when it comes to dog training, kennels, etc., and exposure within those venues.

I don't know anyone who has actually researched into that aspect of "exposure" within those confines and the legal implications--if any. Just has been "the way it has been."

As for rabies, it is alive and well in this country. I watch alerts come through from around the country in wild animal populations.


This whole system of veterinary vaccination needs a total overhaul. At the rate things are evolving the industry will try to convince us our indoor only pets need 40 shots a year to “be safe”.

Actually, the trend is going the other way, towards three-year protocols for most vaccines, research into whether rabies can be given less often, and reduced recommendations for anything other than core vaccines depending on individual circumstances.

Rabies Vaccinations now it’s occurred to me wait a minute there hasn’t been one SINGLE case of rabies in this area for 20 years.</i?

Think about that.

Comment by Kate — May 29, 2009 @ 8:31 am

That's because we vaccinate most of our pets. Over-vaccinate, still, probably, but rabies is still very much present in wild animals, and it would be back with a vengeance if we stopped vaccinating altogether.

Susan Fox

There is practically an epidemic of rabid grey foxes in our area right now. The latest incident within the last week ended with a child bitten in a schoolyard and a close call (no broken skin) for the officer who shot the animal as it charged in on him.

We're talking something like 30 rabid foxes in less than a year. Thank goodness for the rabies shot requirement for dogs and cats.

When I asked one of the ACOs what to do if a fox came at us, he said to just do anything we could to keep from being bitten, whatever that was. But the type of rabies occurring here now is the one that makes the animals psychotic-aggressive.

Kate, you might consider that consistent vaccinations are WHY there haven't been any cases in 20 or so years in your area.


And here's a note from the other end of the spectrum . . . . I vaccinate my dogs as minimally as possible, but I do vaccinate them against "core" diseases. Once upon a time I wanted to believe in natural immunity, and although I do think it's a possibility, efforts to achieve it come with enormous risk. In 2004 I purchased a puppy from a novice breeder of Scottish terriers who followed an extreme form of natural rearing as if it were religion. Her very first litter contracted parvo at 10 weeks. The breeder went to great lengths to save her puppies, only losing one during the outbreak. My puppy, who also came from this litter, lasted a bit longer, succumbing to liver failure at 21 months. From the looks of her entirely necrotic liver upon necropsy, she had been suffering from liver disease for most if not all her life. After euthanasia, her breeder branded me (publicly!) a "murderer," blaming "her" puppy's death on the conventional wormer I was obliged to use to treat the heavy load of hooks and whips that came with the pup. Talk about learning the hard way . . .

Lisa in Cape May County, NJ


This whole system of veterinary vaccination needs a total overhaul. At the rate things are evolving the industry will try to convince us our indoor only pets need 40 shots a year to "be safe". Rabies Vaccinations now it's occurred to me wait a minute there hasn't been one SINGLE case of rabies in this area for 20 years.

Think about that.

Gina Spadafori

I know Christie has written about cat vax protocols. Hoping she'll offer a link.

I have a couple of "back-up" vets I sometimes use for routine stuff when I can't get in to see my super marvelous and gifted primary care veterinarian. One of the back-ups got herself an earful from me for lecturing me after I refused an aggressive over-vaccination sked for Clara e Ilario.


Colorado Transplant

This illumination on vaccinations is so important!

Thanks, Christie, for putting on this blog.

I have cats, but I am sure that some of this applies to cats, also.


Found out through titre tests that the Schnauzer I adopted, is over-vaccinated through his puppy shots. Now he is receiving Thuja Occident remedy, 3 tabs, twice daily to rid his system of the over-vaccines. That is another problem with vets, most dogs receive the same amount no matter what their breed or size.

Anlina Sheng

Thank you for this. It's very difficult to find balanced info on vaccines. There seems to be the "vaccines are great! vaccinate ever year! vaccines are 100% safe!" crowd, and then the "vaccines are bad! vaccines are poison! any vaccinations will kill your pet and do nothing to prevent disease! homeopathy is the only way!" crowd and they're both loud and full of information they want to thrust on you and their agendas seem to take precedence over actual science.

I only have cats but it seems like the general advice here would apply to both cats and dogs and at the very least provides some idea of what a reasonable vax schedule should look like. Vaccinating every year seems excessive but not vaccinating at all regardless of the circumstances sounds like folly too.

I'm very fortunate that the vets I deal with have been accepting of the medical and health choices I make for my cats, but some times it's difficult getting enough information to even make that informed choice.


That is a brilliant idea Pat. After living with a dog that had cluster seizures after a group of vaccinations, then seeing my new dog get flu-like symptoms the day after a mix of puppy vac's - I refuse to allow any of my dogs to get more than one at a time. If we could add to that just getting parvo or distemper in one vaccination, I'd be THRILLED.

I suspect that the combo shots are a relic of the annual vaccination protocols. It would be great to see single disease vaccinations as an alternative.


Comment by Alison regarding restarting the vaccine series if the boosters are missed or skipped, ... but perhaps he’s just so ‘old school’ he actually did believe it?

Possibly -- I can remember being told much the same thing as late as the late 70s, but even then, it was from a vet who was nearing retirement. My then-new vet debunked it back in 1981 ... so if this chap was going on about it any time recently, I'd say he was really far out of the loop.


4) if the animal is not revaccinated at or before one year the “whole vaccination program needs to be started again”. — Not True

I'm surprised that *any* veterinarian would actually believe this.

My elderly aunt(nearly 80, and the epitome of traditional responsible pet owner)told me that because she was a couple of months late in taking one of cats in for his 'boosters', her vet told her that she had to start the whole regime from scratch (3 injections !). At the time I thought he was just ripping of an old lady, but perhaps he's just so 'old school' he actually did believe it ? Even if he believed it though, I still think it's about time he retired since the new protocol in England only requires 2 injections, even for puppies. I can only imagine the old dinosaur thinks he knows it all, what other reason would there be for not keeping himself up with new developments ? Perhaps he just doesn't care, I don't know the answer, but I do know that there's no way I'd want him making any decisions regarding my pets.


That's one reason why I evaluate my vets based on their willingness to listen. I'd love it if they were all reading all the journals and attending continuing education seminars all the time and so on, but realistically I realize that isn't probably going to always happen.

However, if I come in with something I've researched and want to try, and bring some supporting articles for my vet to read (and don't insist that he read them and render his decision RIGHT NOW), then it's important to me that he be willing to take a look at what I'm proposing even if it isn't something he was previously knowledgeable about.

I started my dog on the 3-year vaccination protocol a number of years ago, and my vet was one of those who was unsure "the proof was in". But he was also willing to concede there were some very knowledgeable people out there suppporting that position, and he knew I was a careful pet owner who WOULD bring my animal in if anything was amiss. So even though he was not yet onboard with the 3 year protocol as a matter of course with his other clients, he went along with it with my dog and I.

Had he simply rejected my request because "he knew more", I would have been vet shopping the next day . . . . . .


When I was taking my dog to Petsmart training classes, they required evidence that she was current on vaccinations according to my vet's recommendations. The only thing the specifically required that my vet wouldn't have recommended if she weren't going to training classes, was bordatella.



It's apparenty a bone of contention among vets about how long a rabies vaccination actually prevents rabies.

I learned this when my dog got into it with a raccoon (I live near DC, where the coons can be rabid); he was scratched. I called my vet first thing in the morning, after reading a lot on the internet (and being very worried). They said that according to the current consensus that he was okay unless he bit a human, then he'd need to be isolated just in case. He's on a three year vaccine, and this really didn't clear that much up for me. They took a lot of time researching, from what I can tell, and there really isn't a 100% answer. It's a bit frustrating.


According to my vets, the recommended frequency for cats is every three years. The cat protocol also includes recommendations for the injection sites to reduce the risk of vaccine-induced sarcoma. The CFA has the recommendations up on their website, I know.


Comment by catmom5 — May 29, 2009 @ 9:42 am

I found a wonderful university vet who is willing to do titres rather than vaccinations (since she is due for her rabies next month).

Actually, any vet can draw blood for a titer and send in to Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet. Here's a link to the form (it only lists titer for rabies, but other titers are available upon request):


Liz Palika

To stand up for my 'other' profession - dog trainer - at Kindred Spirits we do require vaccinations for puppies attending the puppy class. However, we allow the owner and veterinarian to determine what is needed. After that, we do not require any vaccinations. After all, I don't vaccinate yearly - I have my dogs titered every few years to determine their antibody status. Usually after one adult booster, my dogs are fine and healthy for life.

The same requirements are for our therapy dogs.


Elizabeth Hart

When is somebody really going to blow the lid on this scandal?

The veterinary community has known for years that ongoing revaccination of adult dogs for canine parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper virus (CDV) and canine adenovirus (CAV) isn’t necessary. Why have they been allowed to get away with withholding this information from us? Why have they continued to put our pets at risk of adverse reaction from unnecessary revaccination?

For example, here’s a quote from the 2003 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines: “When MLV vaccines are used to immunize a dog, memory cells develop and likely persist for the life of the animal.”

The 2003 AAHA guidelines go on to ask a very pertinent question, with a stunning answer: “So why revaccinate animals with these products annually when the minimum DOI (memory cells and antibody) is many years, if not a lifetime, for some of the vaccines? Ironically, there is no scientific basis for the recommendation to revaccinate dogs annually with many of the current vaccines that provide years of immunity (e.g. CDV, CPV-2, rabies)…”

There are legal requirements for rabies vaccinations but other vaccinations are not compulsory. (On the topic of rabies vaccination, see this site for information on the Rabies Challenge Fund: http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/researchers%20behind%20the%20challenge.html )

Why do vets persist in urging people to have their pets revaccinated unnecessarily with MLV core vaccines? This is an intervention which is of no benefit to the animal and actually puts it a needless risk of an adverse reaction. Who in their right mind would knowingly choose to have a useless and possibly harmful intervention?

An article titled “Are we vaccinating too much?” published in the JAVMA in 1995 (i.e. 14 years ago…) highlighted concerns about vaccine reactions and acknowledged that there was little scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual revaccination, noting that many vaccines would “last for years”. This article appears to have been the catalyst for challenging outdated annual revaccination protocols and instigating action for new guidelines to be defined.

There is no need for annual OR triennial revaccination with MLV core vaccines. It has not been scientifically proven that ongoing revaccination is required. The more recent triennial recommendation is just a compromise arrived at in the veterinary community for economic reasons, it has no scientific basis. It is a compromise which has excluded consideration for the rights and concerns of people with pets. Information on long duration of immunity continues to be withheld from us. Veterinarians are not ensuring they obtain “informed consent” from us when they fail to tell us the information on long duration of immunity, probably lifelong, and the risks of vaccination.

Every day countless dogs (and cats) undergo interventions which are of no benefit and which could cause harm. We’ve got to find a way to get a warning out to other people with pets, because the vets aren’t telling us.

And the reason for my passion on this subject? One of my dogs became very ill last year after her last (unnecessary) revaccination. She is now dead. I have been researching and campaigning on this issue in Australia for the past eight months. The Australian government regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, convened a meeting of senior scientific staff to discuss my concerns about over-vaccination on 15 April. I await the outcome of this meeting.

I prepared a report to be tabled at this meeting titled “Is over-vaccination harming our pets? Are vets making our pets sick?” This report is a review of the veterinary literature on vaccination, and contains discussion on the latest international dog and cat vaccination guidelines, duration of immunity, vaccine product labelling, adverse reactions, and professional, ethical and legal considerations.

I have not yet set up my own website to post this report, it’s on my list of things to do. However, I want to help ensure that this information is freely available to all who want to read the facts. In the meantime, I’ve emailed a copy of my report to Pet Connection for the attention of Christie Keith.


After living with an over-vaccinated epileptic dog for ten years (also the love of my life) we swung 180 degrees with our next puppy.

Our cattle dog mix was not vaccinated at *all* until she was almost 2 years old. At that point I vaccinated her for Parvo, Distemper and Rabies. A year later she received a booster for each of these. She *may* receive another vaccine at age 7 or 8, but that's IT. During her first two years we had two rescue dogs with parvo through the house, and at least a dozen with kennel cough. Thankfully, she was unscathed. YES, I do realize this was extreme, but my fear of vaccinations at the time was not exactly rational.

Our other pup (the vast majority of our dogs come to us as already vaccinated adults) started Parvo/Distemper shots at 7 weeks. I brought her to work with me from day one (pet supply store) and I just couldn't justify the potential risk to her or customers. She got three sets, four weeks apart. They wanted to give her the rabies vax her last visit - we declined. She will be done next week (she just turned six months). She will also receive one booster vaccination and then no other shots until the age of 7 or 8.

I don't live in a disease-heavy area, and the shop I work in is very high end (not that this means disease free of course, but these are not dogs who come in contact with wild animals or strays, or who are allowed to roam free, etc).

I don't claim that our way is the right way - I know we've made mistakes. But after dealing with Parvo and dealing with epilepsy/hypothyroidism/autoimmune disorders, I fear vaccinations more than I fear Parvo, at least with any dog of a substantial age.

To make matters worse, we're getting another pup in August - and the vaccine schedule is up for question again. I'm off to read the 17 page pdf. Thanks, Christie. :O)

Susan Fox

I asked our vet about titers and that I'd heard that some people used those instead of vaccination. Her response was that a titer is the equivalent of a snapshot, useful for that moment in time.

The doggy day care places around here require kennel cough vaccines every six months, which we used to do. Now it's once a year because I volunteer at the shelter and we "board" Niki in a private home where there is minimal exposure.

But she is uncompromising about not risking Niki due to my exposure to so many unknown dogs. She has gone to the three year protocol.

I'll get an update on her thinking when she comes to "do" the cats next month. She sees Niki in Dec. and gives the cats a look over and vis versa in June.

peter dykstra

I think the vaccination question is quite simple,and let's not sugar coat it! It's all about money,and the veterinary industry has to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept the findings of Dr Ronald Schultz.What he said was quite simple-"If an animal is vaccinated as an adult-then immunity lasts 7 years and probably a lifetime."End of story!What's the problem? Billions of $$$$s is the problem!

I had been concerned for years about overly interfering with the natural immune system-then I discover what is in the adjuvants and possibly explains the epilepsy side effect.Not to mention the protocols for the transportation and storage of vaccines.Done by whom? Humans-yeah right!nuff said.For a cost of about 1c every vaccine vial could have a VVM (vaccine vial monitor) which would show if that vial had been compromised.Why not? Again question of money,because I fear many would not be up to scratch ,and who would pay to discard them?

Finally-consider this-The change to three years vaccinations in the US was-as I read it-a negotiated/bargained outcome-and not willingly on the part of the veterinary a pharmaceutical industries.

Elizabeth Hart

Re my previous comment on May 30, 2009 @ 12:24 am

I've prepared a paper on the subject of over-vaccination titled: "Over-vaccination of pets - an unethical practice".

This paper can be freely accessed via this link.

I want to share this information so other people can become informed about what has been going on over the past years.

The paper is based on my report "Is over-vaccination harming our pets? Are vets making our pets sick?" The report was originally prepared to be tabled at a meeting of senior scientists from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, held on 15 April 2009. I am still awaiting a report on the outcome of that meeting.

The scandal of over-vaccination has been going on for years - it's time pet owners were told the truth. Way past time...

Elizabeth Hart


Elizabeth Hart

The problem of over-vaccination of pets is starting to get media attention in Australia.

Over the weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published an article by its Consumer Affairs Reporter on over-vaccination of pets:

Vets Dogged By Criticism Over Vaccinations:

PET OWNERS are wasting millions of dollars a year and may even be exposing their animals to harm by heeding the advice of their vets.

Here’s the link to the full article:


The article was published in a prominent position on page 3 of the newspaper. Hopefully more people might start to take notice and demand that vets stop unnecessary and possibly harmful revaccination.

The comments to this entry are closed.