Monday, 21 October 2013

Is Your Dog or Cat Over Vaccinated? Vaccines and Vaccinations - Risks, Costs, Alternatives

On a Walk With My Dog Pack...
from small to large - not over inoculated!

In this article - vaccines and vaccination...

  1. Defining Core Vaccines v.s. Non-Core Vaccines
  2. Core Vaccines - Updated Guidelines
  3. Non-core Vaccines - Does your Dog or Cat Really Need One?
  4. How Does a Vaccine Work?
  5. What is in a Vaccine?
  6. The Serious Health Risks of Over Inoculation;
  7. Your Best Defense Is...

1.0 Defining Core Vaccines v.s. Non-Core

1.1 Core Vaccines
The  American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) define core vaccines as:
  • Vaccines that all dogs should receive to be protected against serious or potentially fatal diseases;
    • These diseases are;
      • Present in all areas within North America;
      • Are more easily transmitted than non-core diseases.
    • Core vaccinations as defined by the AAHA are:

1.2 Non-Core Vaccines
The AAHA defines non-core vaccines as:
2.0 Core Inoculations - Updated

The AAHA's updated guidelines issued in 2011 (includes the US and Canada):
  • Recommends that canine vaccination be done every three (3) years.
  • In these guidelines, the AAHA also admits/acknowledges that immunity for vaccinations extends beyond the three year horizon...
    • Core inoculations such as:
      • Distemper and Parvo are good for 5 or more years;
      • Ardenovirus is good for 7 years;
      • Rabies is the only inoculation is that usually mandated by law;
        • In many locals, rabies is a 2 or 3 year inoculation.
Although this new 3-year protocol is taught in Veterinary Science schools, the majority (the number currently sits at about 60%) of practicing allopathic veterinarians continue to recommend annual re-vaccinations. 

If your veterinarian is still pushing you to re-vaccinate your dog or cat on an annual basis you should:
Ask them to do a titer test to measure your dog's or cat's current level of immunity;

Basically if your dog or cat was properly vaccinated when he /she was a puppy or kitten, he/she is likely protected for life from core diseases. The only exception to this rule (in a legal sense, not in an immunity sense) is rabies. The province or state in which you reside sets the protocol for rabies inoculations. For an example of a government mandated rabies protocol you can check this one for Ontario Canada, the province that I reside in. 

3.0 Non-core Vaccines - Does Your Dog or
      Cat Really Need One?

Decisions regarding inoculation with non-core vaccinations should be based on an individual dog's particular circumstances -for example:

3.1 Overall health...

Diet plays a key role in protecting your dog and cat from illness and disease...
    • The problem is that most commercial dog and cat food diets do not support the overall health of you companion animal;

3.2 Exposure due to Lifestyle...
    • For example, 
      • In the case of Bordetella, your dog is going to a boarding or daycare facility that only accepts dogs that have this vaccine;
      • You are traveling to a location with a high incidence of Lyme Disease.

3.3 Exposure due to Geographic Location...
    • For example;
      • You are living in an area with a high incidence of Lyme disease;
      • Your dog walks in areas populated by deer-tick bearing wildlife;
      • You don't check for ticks on a routine basis and remove the tick within 24 hours of attachment (disease is only transferable from tick to dog after 24 hours of attachment).
4.0 How Does A Vaccine Work?

A vaccine is supposed to protect your dog or cat from potentially fatal infections by disease causing (pathogenic) viruses (i.e. distemper). The vaccine contains a killed virus or modified (non-pathogenic) live virus. This is intended to stimulate your dog's or cat's immune system to recognize and fight that particular virus. After the vaccination your dog's or cat's immune system should then be able to produce his/her own antibodies to fight the virus. 

During the period just after vaccination your dog's and cat's immune system is suppressed as it fights to acclimatize itself to the foreign antibodies. During this time the immune systems normal ability to reject common bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses may be seriously hampered. This can result in increased susceptibility to acute or chronic infections, for example:
If your dog is suffering from a chronic condition or disease you really need to think twice before re-inoculating your dog or cat as his/her weakened condition may not support the further assault on the immune system caused by vaccinations.

5.0 What Is In a Vaccine Besides

Vaccines contain more than the active antibodies. Vaccines contain many substances that can wreak havoc on your companion animals' health....
    • Toxins such as the vaccine adjuvant aluminum hydroxide (associated with causing neurological disease);
    • Chemical preservatives which can also be endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic);
    • Foreign proteins;
    • Immune irritants;
    • Mutated bacteria, and;
    • Viruses. 
Aluminum hydroxide is one example of a vaccine adjuvant that can cause serious problems for your dog or cat - specifically aluminum hydroxide can and does cause neurological disease. 

6.0 The Serious Health Risks of Over

Over-inoculation comes with a considerable risk of major adverse health issues such as those encapsulated under the term Vaccinosis. 

6.1 Vaccinosis includes… 
  • Mild adverse reactions to vaccination; 
  • Severe adverse reactions; 
  • And Illness.

6.2 The following are some of the mild adverse reactions
      caused by vaccines and vaccination:

  • Conjunctivitis;
  • Fever and, other;
  • Flu-like symptoms;
  • Hair change;
  • Hair loss;
  • Inflammation and swelling at the injection site;
  • Lethargy;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Sneezing;
  • Stiffness;
  • Soreness;
  • Oral Ulcers.
6.3 The following are some of the severe adverse reactions
vaccines and vaccination...
  • Allergic hypersensitivity;
  • Allergic uveitis;
  • Anaphylactic shock;
  • Behavioural change;
  • Granulomas and abscesses;
  • Hives;
  • Lameness;
  • Swelling of the face;
  • Neurological damage;
  • Respiratory Disease;
  • Vitiligo;
  • Weight loss, and;
  • In breeding females – reduction of milk production, and…

6.4 And, finally some of the Illness caused by  vaccines and
  • Abortion – spontaneous;
  • Anaphylaxis;
  • Autoimmune arthritis;
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia;
  • Congenital abnormalities in foetus;
  • Encephalitis;
  • Fetal (embryotic) Death;
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy;
  • Infertility;
  • Myocarditis;
  • Polyneuritus;
  • Seizures;
  • Tjyroiditis;
  • Cancer - Injection-site sarcomas.

7.0 Your Best Defense Is...

7.1 Knowledge. 
Don't allow your veterinarian to push you into annual re-inoculations. If you are concerned about immunity levels ask your veterinarian to do a titer test.

7.2 Diet
Support your dog's and cat's system from the inside - don't get roped into feeding a poor diet. No dry dog or cat food is nutritionally complete or species appropriate. You can go to the Index Page of my blog site and read up on nutrition.

7.3 Use of Chemical-Based Insect, Parasite Preventatives...

Use Only IF Absolutely Necessary…
Chemical based insect and parasite preventatives are powerful pesticides that are toxic and carcinogenic – they tax the immune system, the renal system and more. You can read more about that here.

Use Healthy Alternatives...
There are many natural herbal, homeopathic interventions that can be used - both ingested and topical – you can find an entire series of articles on that here.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld. 


  1. Thank you for all the research and the work you commit to in the process of helping pet owners take better care of their beloved animals.

  2. I am so glad I found your website through a different one. the question I have is last year I lived in KY for a short time before moving back to the fingerlakes region of NY. here in NY it every 3 yrs by law for rabies vaccine but in Ky where my one of my dogs was updated for rabies they update after a year even though they told me it would last 3yrs so that's whats on his tag and paperwork, so the problem is we go camping and they need a record of the shot how bad would it be to do another rabies vaccine this year so he could go camping I don't want to overdo and cause harm to him and have no one to watch him while we camp. sorry for such a long post. thanks

    1. The vac for the 1 year Rabies shot is actually the same as the 3 year shot. The only issue is that you were given a 1 year tag. You can see if a veterinarian in the NY area will honor your paper work showing your dog has been vaccinated and give you a rabies tag from his/her vet office, or...see if the NY municipality you are in will accept a titer test from a/your veterinarian which will show your dog's anti-body levels prove he is up-to-date on his rabies shot.

    2. Thank you I will talk to my vet to see if they can do anything and see if they will do titer test instead of vaccines every year.


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats