I will start with my recommendation for vaccinations published by Dr. Jean Dodds in California.
The basic premise is that you should space out vaccines, give them one at a time so the body can mount an unencumbered defense, and titer before giving another. So what is a titer? A titer is a blood test that shows the amount of antibodies that the body retained from the last vaccine that will fight any future exposure to a disease. Not only do I titer before vaccination, but I send it to Dr. Dodds in CA for interpretation. The short reason is that Dr. Dodd's research shows that when any antibodies exist the dog is still immune while other laboratories have made arbitrary cut offs. What does that mean to you? Nothing really. Whether or not a dog is determined by a certain laboratory to be immune to Distemper, for example, doesn't mean you have to revaccinate. There are no laws required Distemper vaccinations. Only Rabies is required by law. And depending on your State you can get one year or three year vaccinations (that are both the exact same vaccination.) And some States accept a vet note that a dog has had an adverse reaction to a rabies vaccine and therefore doesn't need to be vaccinated again.
(You should note that studies have shown the Rabies vaccine to remain viable in a dogs system for 7 years so far, so every 3 years is still overkill.)
The dangers of over vaccination, which would be revaccinating annually, are well documented. The foremost being autoimmune disorders that manifest as itchy skin, food allergies, or general poor health. Some vaccinations have been attributed to severe reactions, even death, but the actual evidence is not conclusory. However, when you get a vaccine you have to weigh the risk. Will my dog get this specific disease? Is it easily treatable? Or is the possible reactions to the vaccine worse than the disease its trying to prevent?
Vaccines work by introducing a small amount of a specific disease into the system so the body learns to fight it. Dogs are often tired and sore after a vaccine. You should note that, as I have done previously with a pup that was very sore after a vaccine. I recommended to the new owner that she only give one more vaccine and then titer until the levels were too low. Regular vaccines would certainly effect this dog int he long term, but how I cannot say. But why risk it? Why risk causing an allergy or constant rash? Death isn't common, but its possible. And realistically the only reason to NOT titer in lieu of vaccine has to do with price. Its around $80 to titer compared to $30 to vaccinate. Its your call as a dog owner, but like I said, why risk it for a lifetime of autoimmune healthcare?
There are vaccines I don't give even though the Vet's have pushed them on me, such and Lyme and Leptospirosis. Why? Because once you give them the dog always pops positive, and thus you cannot easily rule out both treatable diseases with a simple test. I have search and rescue dogs, ones that regularly pick up ticks and drink dirty water, but I still don't do it.
I treat Lyme with Ledum, a homeopathic remedy or antibiotics if they are lame. Even if a dog has the Lyme vaccine they can still get Lyme. Lepto is often in 5-way shots, which I also don't recommend, and is also easily treated. The symptoms are also rather distinct, such as vomiting. But if you have the vaccine and your dog starts vomiting after a hike the vet can't tell you if it is or isn't Lepto. Thus, I don't give the vaccine.
Each Vet feels differently. Some Vets are going to accept your desire to minimally vaccinate, other will pressure you into a 5-way. The reason has to do with how they were trained. They were told these things had to be done and they follow that logic without question. They are unwilling, or unable, to look at the new evidence and change their practices accordingly. And at least to some people that reason has to do with greed. They get paid for each vaccine, and its a HUGE margin. So if they tell you that you must do annual vaccines then they get you into the clinic, charge and overhead fee, and exam fee, a vaccine fee, and at least some of them truly want to be sure your dog is healthy. The same reason they only give you 12 months of heartworm. They say to give it year round and its 100% effective, but if that is true why would we need to retest every year? You would not. But then they couldn't keep an eye on your dog and how much you overfeed it. That is a different post.
The short of it is, if you vaccinate split it up, do them weeks apart, and titer. I have one 4 year old that was given one Parvo + Distemper combo at 16 weeks. She did not receive another dose. Four years later and her titer results show she is protected, so why would I revaccinate what is not broken?
#minimalvaccines #puppyvaccine #drdoddvaccines #titer