Is Your Dog’s Vet a Vaccination Expert?

Written by Jan on July 23, 2009 – 12:01 am

Eliz Hart dog alone cropped_edited-1
Some veterinarians are avid readers of veterinary journals and attend the seminars of top experts. They’re always up to date on the latest scientific findings regarding vaccination.

Others, not so much.

Would you know if your vet vaccinated appropriately, according to the latest suggested protocols? Would you know if your vet took every precaution to avoid unnecessary shots and adverse reactions?  Here’s how to find out.


Pictured: Sasha, whose death after over-vaccination prompted activism

Dangerous Vaccination Practices

Your dog’s health is at risk if your vet:

  • Has ever failed, prior to vaccinating, to evaluate your dog’s current health … or failed to ask if your dog has ever reacted badly to shots … or failed to determine your dog’s age and current lifestyle … or failed to check his or her file … or failed to ask if your dog has been vaccinated elsewhere in the past three years.
  • Even once vaccinated your dog without your express consent.
  • Even once vaccinated without fully explaining the risks, benefits and alternatives to vaccinating. (Learn your vet’s Liability Related to Vaccination.)
  • Vaccinates your adult dog yearly with combo shots or against parvovirus and distemper.
  • Argues if you question the need for a shot or ask about titer testing instead of vaccination.
  • Vaccinated your dog before, after or during surgery or while being wormed or being given a rabies shot.
  • Vaccinated your dog when the dog was ill, had allergies, infections or skin problems or was stressed. (See Vaccinating Unhealthy Pets: Beware Reactions & Vaccine Failure.)
  • Vaccinated your dog with a combination shot without warning that combo shots are linked to adverse reactions (especially for small dogs) and often contain unnecessary vaccines or vaccines “not recommended” by experts.
  • Fails to consider the possibility that a new health or behavioral problem could be related to a recent shot.
  • Vaccinates against Leptospirosis (the “L” in a combo shot) or Lyme or Bordetella without urgent, proven local need and effectiveness.
  • Recommends giving an antihistamine with a shot to a dog who reacts badly to shots rather than delaying or forgoing vaccination.

Below are the stories of two people who lost their beloved dogs to over-vaccination.

From James Piercey: Tonight my little dog died from seizures…. This morning he had a seizure and it lasted maybe 30 seconds. While he was there [at the vet’s office] for severe seizures the vet decided upon himself it was a good time to vaccinate him and give him all his shots. Why couldn’t that have waited? I have been going to this vet for years and always trusted him but now i feel he knew my little guy was close to death and sent him home maybe to make sure he got paid which he did.  (Read his complete story — comment #16 — and responses by vets and me.)

From Sasha’s “mom,” vaccination researcher and writer Elizabeth Hart: Here in Australia, annual revaccination for parvovirus, distemper virus and adenovirus is still “accepted practice” by the veterinary profession.

My eight year old Maltese x Silky terrier, Sasha, became very ill with “haemorrhagic gastroenteritis” eight days after her sixth unnecessary annual booster last year. Four days after that she was dead. The veterinarian concerned refused to consider her illness and subsequent death might have been influenced by the revaccination. No wonder the dog and cat vaccination guidelines of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association note that “there is gross under-reporting of vaccine-associated adverse events which impedes knowledge of the ongoing safety of these products”.

I now know, too late, that Sasha did not need to be revaccinated for parvovirus, distemper virus and adenovirus. She didn’t need to be vaccinated for parainfluenza or bordetella either, as she wasn’t boarded out. She didn’t need any revaccination at all, so why did the veterinarian’s annual vaccination reminder letter compel me to have her revaccinated to ensure she “stay healthy”? Is this ethical practice?

Why are vets allowed to over-vaccinate with impunity?

Why are we allowed to be exploited in this way? Where is consumer protection for consumers of veterinary services?

Why do vets have to be pleaded with and cajoled to adopt best scientific practice? Why is self-regulation in the veterinary profession so weak? Isn’t it way past time more effective regulation was put in place to protect consumers?

Why are many vets not informing their clients about long duration of immunity (probably lifelong) with core MLV vaccines, and the possibility of a range of short-term and long-term adverse reactions, which means vaccination should be minimized.

Why are pets’ lives being put at risk with useless and possibly harmful interventions?

Why is there no accountability, no justice?

Articles by Elizabeth Hart: Are Vets Making Our Pets Sick? and Over-Vaccination of Pets: An Unethical Practice. These are well-researched, excellent articles. The first is the short version of the second.

*****

Please bookmark this page and tell your friends about the dangers their dogs may be facing.

Access all of my best vaccination articles in a group or read the two most important ones:
Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots
Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily

Also see my website pages:

Vaccinating Dogs: What Your Vet Won’t Tell You (video, info and links)
Rabies Vaccination: What You Must Know (learn how to vaccinate more safely, get exemptions, and more)

Find a new vet using the referral lists at my Find a Vet web page.

Watch my video on Avoiding Dangerous Vets below or at my website.  Also see Standing Up to Your Vet

Please, save yourself a lot of heartache by becoming an educated pet guardian and by standing up to authority whenever necessary to advocate for your pet’s health or safety.

Jan Rasmusen is the author of the national award-winning book Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care. Sign up for notification of  future articles and our free dog care e-newsletter (delivered quarterly). Follow K9Author at Twitter.

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Posted under Preventing Vaccine Reactions, Uncategorized, Vaccination, Veterinarians | 47 Comments » Email This Post

47 Comments to “Is Your Dog’s Vet a Vaccination Expert?”


  1. Katie Says:

    Last year, I took my robust, energetic 3 yr. old Boxer, Mickey, to the vet for his annual shots. 3 days later, both anal glands erupted in abscess. I thought perhaps from the rectal scraping they did for stool specimen. (it was a wooden paddle they inserted, not a swab)

    I treated that, per vet, with incision, drainage, cleansing, antibiotics, etc. He started drinking huge amounts of water and peeing all over. As soon as the abscess was cleared enough he had surgery to remove them, they did a biopsy, and at my repeated insistence, aspirated a huge lymph node under his jaw for biopsy as well. (they didn’t do this while under anesthesia as I’d requested, so while he was still groggy, I insisted they do it, while I was sitting with him in a recovery kennel.)

    I’m a nurse and I knew something was terribly wrong. We are all mammals, after all!

    I asked him to look at the aspirate under the microscope, despite his saying he wasn’t good at that. He finally did and saw a huge amount of lymphocytes. My blood ran really cold at that point, and with the high calcium levels, which was the cause of the drinking (trying to dilute) and incontinence.

    After I left the clinic, I went home to research … Two days later, when I went back for the second visit of the day, the owner of the clinic told me the results were in, would I like to come into her office. I asked, “Is it lymphoma?” She was incredulous that I would know, and said so. I told her I was a nurse and had internet and lab values.

    We put him on a couple different chemo agents and he did well until the vet didn’t get the medication (it was there, when I called they said it wasn’t). the vet said she told them to call me. I think she dropped the ball. Chemo late 3 days was too late. My beautiful dog could not be saved.

    In my grief, I continued research and found this reaction is not uncommon. Yearly combined immunizations are lethal for some animals and just a racket to make money for the vet.

    My attitude is, the less the better. While rabies shots are required yearly in Alabama, I make sure they are at least a month or more late, and never given with anything else.

    Combined vaccines, I think, are the worst. They overwhelm immune systems. Never again will I subject an animal to this!My critters are older and I give them only what the law says I must. They’ve developed enough immunity for most things and antibiotics will take care of the rest.

    Sorry for the ramble, but I’d like to save anyone from the heartbreak and huge expense I endured.

  2. Katie Says:

    More … Of course I found a new vet, one that accepts my views that an endless array of immunizations can be lethal.

    Another little greedy thing the other vet did was re-use syringes. I saw a tech washing and rinsing them, leaving them on a towel covered tray…which the vet’s parrot walked all over. If a vet is too cheap to use new, sterile syringes, where else might they be cutting corners??

    Always ask to see “the back” of the clinic. You can get a good idea of how the practice is run.That was my last trip to that clinic.

    Thanks for all you do to keep people aware that their vet may be the biggest problem their dogs (cats and horses) ever face.

  3. Gabbie Says:

    I cannot believe that some vets would be so incredibly careless on things like these???? It’s should be a passion for them to cure animals not treat them to death!

    Katie, thanks for all this useful information that you gave us….This is so scary for any pet owner but you’re right, it would really help someone from any possible grief and expense….I am so sorry to hear that you experienced such a hassle…

    All the best to you! Thanks again 🙂

  4. Elizabeth Hart Says:

    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:
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/vets-dogged-by-criticism-over-vaccinations-20090731-e4f7.html

    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.

    Jan, many thanks for all your good work in drawing attention to the problem of over-vaccination.

  5. Jack Russel Lover Says:

    My dog a 25lb Jack Russel Terrier was vaccinated on June 03, 2009 on August 08, 2009 we put her to sleep. Every year Nala-our Jack Russel would get her annual vaccination shots. In 2009 I decided to get her the three-year Rabies Vaccines. This was a bad decision. Shortly there after Nala was not her usual energetic self. She became lethargic and groogy. On runs she would breathe heavily. When we took her to the Vet today, they could not find out what was wrong with Nala. Her vitals were poor. Nala was leaking fluids from her anus and has vomiting. The Doctor said Nala’s body was burning up inside as she dehydrated, her heart was racing. We laid Nala to rest at 6:15 p.m. on August 08, 2009.

  6. Jan Says:

    I’m so sorry about Nala. I responded to you at Hubpages, but don’t know if you got my message. Also, I have a few more thoughts.

    You said you went in for annual shots. I presume that means you got shots in addition to the rabies shot. This is a bad idea. Your vet shouldn’t have given the rabies shot with any other shot. A reaction is made more likely.

    I can’t do anything to help you, but if anyone else is reading this, I hope they’ll read the vaccine articles at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/category/vaccination/ Vaccination is a serious medical procedure with serious risks. Vets who vaccinate annually are doing so for money, not science. The practice of annual shots is NOT recommended by ANY veterinary organization or vet school in North America. It’s hard to know if all these shots were responsible for Nala’s illness or not, but they certainly didn’t help. Vets like this have got to stop putting money before health.

    Here’s another caveat for everyone: if you suspect your dog’s behavior or energy level has changed after a shot, report it immediately to your vet. Cut back on exercise. Monitor water consumption. Hydration, especially in summer, can be deadly. Dogs need lots of water. It’s the only cooling mechanism they have. If they’re compromised by vaccination, heat and exertion are even more dangerous. Vets should warn people what can happen after a shot. The most I ever heard from a vet was to expect a little fever and lethargy. That’s not enough information.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you’ll become an expert on vaccination and warn others about the dangers of overvaccination.

  7. Diana Sichta Says:

    Years ago I worked for a nation-wide mobile vaccination service. Since I had previously worked at vets and shelters, and I had pets of my own, I knew the “importance” of a yearly rabies shot. I was also pretty sure that my 2 year old cat probably died from a vaccination-although I could not prove it. Other than that, I had no idea of how dangerous and downright sloppy this practice really is! By the end of my “career” there, I began to tell people the truth. Because the company was only concerned about money, it didn’t earn me any points.

    The Rabies Challenge Fund was a wonderful way to inform the public about what vaccines can do to your pet. Thank goodness for Dr. Dodds and caring people like her. Please don’t just rely on the vet’s office protocol for vaccinating your pets. Do what’s necessary, but don’t overdo it!

  8. Jan Says:

    Diana, thanks for your post about mobile shot clinics. I cringe when I see people and their pets lined up in front of pet stores getting shots they don’t need, that may indeed ruin their pet’s health. It’s especially troubling because the pet store owners, many of whom know better, just do it for the money. It’s my book, that’s criminal.

    The Rabies Challenge Fund needs money now. I hope everyone sends in a donation — even $5 helps. http://www.rabieschallengefund.org

  9. Maryanne Schafer Says:

    Yeah, I believe what you said about some wonderful vets and some that are not. I really appreciate this post. This information would be very useful because I’ll be getting a puppy from Save a Dog: http://apps.facebook.com/save-a-dog/

  10. Jan Says:

    Maryanne, congratulations on your impending motherhood!

    I have a suggestion about what to do for rescued pups to help them acclimate to a new home. One is get some Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to help de-stress the transition. Put 4 drops in water bowls and rub some on gums or inside ears. It can be very calming. Use it until your dog is used to her new home.

    I’d also see a vet skilled in homeopathy to help rid the dog of the vaccines most rescued dogs have been given. Many of them may have been recently vaccinated in their former home then vaccinated again when rescued. Use Lyssin for the rabies vaccine; thuja (thuya) for the others. Dogs who were vaccinated in stressful situations (after rehoming, being on the street, etc.) are the most likely to have vaccine reactions, sometimes even several months later. There are referral links on my Find a Good Vet page. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet “Clearing” the vaccine now can save you money and save your dog illness.

  11. Mike McGraw (posted by Jan from Facebook message) Says:

    My 10 year old lab Harley had a fatty cyst on the outside of his rear leg so we took him to the vet on Friday, August 7th to find out if we should do anything about it. It had been there about a year and never seemed to bother him, but it was getting larger and was a matter of concern for us.

    The vet examined him and said that Harley was in good health, his heart rate was good, not overweight, etc. He did recommend that we have the cyst removed, as it had barely started to “open”. The vet said the cyst wasn’t attached to anything ,was nothing to worry about and would be simple to remove so we made an appointment to take Harley back in the following Tuesday for surgery. Since we were already there he also advised us to get his “shots” done. We agreed and the vet administered 2 shots. One was a combination DHLPP shot and another shot (not sure of the name)

    When we brought Harley home he was very lethargic. We just assumed he had a rough day, visiting the vet, the weather was hot, etc, and he was fine…just tired. Saturday he still seemed tired, but again, we assumed just that. his behavior was okay, just not quite “up to par” as far as energy.

    Sunday, as I got his food out for him, he didn’t get up for his food. The sound of the food hitting the bowl always….ALWAYS…made him come out to his feeding place. He did eat, but I had to call him a couple times to get him to his food. We had family come over that day and he was still “off”. He always loved all the attention the grandchildren give him and I usually had to get on his case a little to settle him down. That Sunday he just laid there on his bed most of the day, only got up once or twice.

    The next day I fed him, he ate fine. Went outside, did his “business” and I brought him in the house. he laid down in his bed as I went back to my room to take a short nap. An hour later my wife woke me, saying, “Mike, get up. Harley’s not moving.” He had fallen asleep and wouldn’t move when she called him. I came out to wake him, he was already gone. No breathing and he had already started to get cold. He died in his sleep.

    I called the vet, in shock, to tell him what happened. He made no attempt an an explanation. He just tried to console me.

    I started thinking, after the shock of this was all over, that those shots had to have something to do with his death. He, in the vet’s words, was very healthy. Then why was he dead 3 days later?

    I’m still not sure what I can/will do about this, but I am angry and don’t want to leave this lie, if for no other reason just for the sake of other dogs and owners that this will happen to.

    Thanks for your information.

  12. Jan Says:

    Hi Mike. I so sorry about what happened. I can’t believe it wasn’t the shots. I’m not a vet, but I’ll tell you what experts tell me.

    DHLPP, a “combo” shot is a major assault to any dog’s system. It’s also an unnecessary shot to give to an adult dog, or any dog for that matter. Your vet should have known that.

    The D is for distemper and one of the P’s is for parvovirus. Your dog very likely had lifetime immunity to both if he had had even one shot for these diseases after he was 4 months old. These are important shots, but they needn’t be given again and again. Certainly not to a 10 year dog. There’s a blood test called a titer test that can prove immunity.

    H stands for hepatitis, a disease virtually unknown now in the US. Ask your vet when he last treated a dog for it.

    The L is for leptospiroris, a seldom-effective, often reactive shot. It’s a disease of wetlands and woodlands, and even if you live such an area, the vaccine probably wouldn’t prevent the disease strains there. It is a dangerous shot I would never give my dogs. It’s is doubly dangerous for small dogs. The other P is for parainfluenza, a vaccine that may or may not be useful in a shelter or kennel environment. The L and P are non-core shots, to be given only in special cases. This is what the top experts say.

    None of these shot should be given close to the time of surgery. Try to find out what other shot your dog got. It will be in his records, which you should get.

    Learn more about shots at Vaccinating Dogs: What Your Vet Won’t Tell You. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/shots
    There are links to the guidelines for the top veterinary organization guidelines.

    Why did your vet not say it probably was the shot that killed Harley? Because he gave the shot and didn’t want to be blamed.

    What can you do? If your vet didn’t explain the consequences of the shot and exactly why your dog needed each antigen, your vet violated the doctrine of informed consent. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vaccination-informed-consent If so, report the vet to your local veterinary board. Probably nothing will happen, but it may make you feel better and him feel worse. But maybe he’ll do a better job with another client.

    Learn how to report your vet at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet Tell your friends.

    Take care, Jan

  13. Concerned Vet Says:

    Jan.

    Please..regarding Mike McGraw’s dog Harley, and I quote you, “I can’t believe it wasn’t the shots”

    (a) do you truly believe you’re qualified to answer that question
    (b) did you examine this dog before it died
    (c) did you post-mortem it.
    (d) have you considered other causes of sudden death, like a ruptured splenic haemangiosarcoma, for instance?

    The fact of the matter is that a 10 year old dog is a risk of dying at any point. It’s natural, it happens. If you look at what probability says: If we assume that old dogs die at an even rate during the year – of all dogs dying that year, a proportion of 7/365, or more than 2% will die within 1 week of vaccination. Then what happens, is the owner correlates the two events (rightly or wrongly), writes into you, and you fan the flames.

    I’m not aiming to discredit you, but if I’m able, I’d love to add some balance to your arguments. Because to me they come across as somewhat very well informed, and then sometimes alarmist and misled. It is your right to be an advocate for pet owners against vets. It is also my right to defend a profession, that in my experience, despite some occasional bad eggs, is generally noble and well meaning.

    I would finally suggest if you are committed to opening discussion and welcoming a balanced forum, you should publish my response on this site.

  14. Concerned Vet Says:

    I might also suggest that people not wait 4 DAYS before they speak to their vet that their dog is unwell 🙁

  15. Jan Says:

    Hi Concerned Vet. You wrote:”I’m not aiming to discredit you, but if I’m able, I’d love to add some balance to your arguments. Because to me they come across as somewhat very well informed, and then sometimes alarmist and misled.”

    I certainly try to be well-informed. When I’m not, I say so and refer people elsewhere. However, I suspect you’re right about my shifting moods. All day long I get e-mails and blog posts from people whose pets are dead or dying, many after inappropriate vaccination. Did you read the one about the dog taken to the vet with multiple seizures who was given a combo shot and a rabies shot between seizures? Not surprisingly, the dog died. There are many other stories almost as shocking. It angers me and breaks my heart. People find me when they have no place else to go. I try to help.

    I wonder, do you follow the vaccination protocols of the AVMA, AAHA Task Force and WSAVA? That is, core shots no more often than every three years? Do you test titers of older puppies and adults instead of vaccinating for parvo and distemper? If you do, I’m a fan. What I hear all day is vets who use combo shots containing lepto and coronavirus, and they give them yearly and disavow any adverse reactions. I hear about vets who don’t inform their clients about DOI or explain why most non-core shots aren’t necessary for their dogs. Too often, they bully and humiliate them if the client questions the need for annual shots or asks if their sick dog should be getting shots. My list of grievances is, I’m afraid, very long and growing.

    On the other hand, I have many friends who are vets, who contributed to my book and often to my blog, and who have helped my own dogs at midnight and Sundays. I’ve conversed with five vets friends in the past 24 hours, asking them questions about an article I’m writing and also setting up an educational seminar.

    Vets are my favorite people, and least favorite. You sniped at me a bit on YouTube. Others have been extremely rude — criticizing me instead of raising specific questions. They disappear when I ask exactly what facts I might have wrong. But, also from YouTube, I have made three lifelong friends of vets who wrote (one called) that they thought I was saying what they wished they could say. They are embarrassed at what so many colleagues, especially those in big corporate practices, were doing. They are heartbroken at the pets whose lives they have seen ruined.

    I approved your post and I am happy to publish any well-intentioned comments you wish to make. I welcome “a balanced forum.” I wish you’d left your name, though. And maybe your web address. It makes the discussion more balanced.

    Best regards,
    Jan Rasmusen

  16. Bettina Hayes Says:

    Hi Jan,
    i bought your book last October (3 actually-one for me and 2 for gifts). I had them sent to friends we were going to be staying with in California. I brought the books home with me-easier than having them mailed. We are from outside of Toronto, Canada .

    I wish I had had this wealth of information years ago!!

    I am a dental hygienist and conversations somehow often turns to our dogs-I tell as many people as I can about things in your book: food, vaccines and neutering especially. I would actually like to get some of your cards to give to people-so much better than me writing it out on a piece of paper with my less than perfect printing!

    so…. I have certainly learned to question recommendations. I make sure I understand the POTENTIAL benefits as well as the risks. I have chosen not to give rabies to the puppies I got in California(one in October then one in December). We see a homeopathic vet and our regular vet. As a health care professional, I welcome questions from my patients-if I can’t answer the question, I direct them to someone who can.

    I was hoping for some advice today-I did read the suggestions from your book, but this is for a specific case. The puppy was 9 weeks old on September 4th-he only weighed 8 oz at the time-he is energetic, eats well etc. What to do about vaccines? Do PARVO @ 10 and 14 weeks, Distemper @ either 11 and 15 weeks(or 12 and 16)re: Dr. Dodds, or do first Parvo at 12 weeks followed by Distemper 2 weeks after that-then Titer test at16 weeks). re: Dr. Schultz?

    He is not my dog but may be if he stays healthy and gets through the gauntlet of the above. After what you have written about corticosteroids-I think they should be avoided like the plague.

    I have had “discussions” with people that have lost tiny puppies (under a pound) after the Distemper shot, so any advice would be appreciated.

    I have read and re-read your book many times and I keep it close to refer to it. I think it is fantastic! My dogs sure appreciate the great menus these days as well!!

    If I can send you an address, could you send me some business cards?

    Thanks so much,

    Bettina(Herc, Sam, Thor and Velvet)

  17. Jan Says:

    Hi Bettina. I’m thrilled you like my book. Thanks for telling me and passing on the word about holistic dog care.

    Re puppy vaccination schedules, it’s a tough decision. Everyone has his/her own idea and I am not qualified to choose between what the two greatest minds in pet vaccination have to say. In fact, I’m not sure anyone is qualified.

    That said, I think a lot depends on your dog’s lifestyle. If I had a puppy that stayed with my own dogs in my own yard and didn’t go to places like dog parks until titers were strong, I’d probably follow Ron Schultz’s plan. Of course, if you vaccinate at 12 weeks and 14, and then do titers two weeks after the distemper, you may have to give another round and titer again if immunity isn’t strong. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 2 shots total may do it, and to my mind, less is more. Ron has said that he has never had a problem using that shot schedule for his own dogs.

    On the other hand, if my dogs will leave the house before titers are strong (which they shouldn’t) and go to places where strange dogs congregate, I’d go with Jean’s plan. She starts immunizing sooner. In either event, I like using monovalent shots, that is, shots containing only one type of virus. I’ll be writing more about this in an article on the dangers of Combination Shots that I’ll post either September 9 or 10. If you subscribe to my blog at Truth4Dogs.com, it will come automatically.

    I know I haven’t really answered your question, but I hope I’ve helped some. Re sending you business cards, of course, I’d be honored. I’ll contact you privately.

  18. Elizabeth Hart Says:

    “Concerned Vet” (September 2nd, 2009 at 5.54 pm), please understand that more and more pet owners are becoming aware that many veterinarians are putting their pets needlessly at risk with unnecessary interventions.

    I’ve been researching the problem of over-vaccination of pets since the unexplained death of my own eight year old Maltese x Silky, Sasha, after unnecessary revaccination last September 2008.

    I discovered that vets in Australia were continuing to urge their clients to have their pets needlessly revaccinated with MLV core vaccines for parvovirus, distemper virus and adenovirus every year, despite the fact that the international veterinary community had acknowledged there was no scientific basis for ongoing revaccination, and ignoring warnings from veterinary immunology experts that vaccination should be minimised to reduce the risk of adverse reaction to vaccine products.

    Please refer to my paper “Over-vaccination of pets – an unethical practice” for a layperson’s / pet owner’s perspective on this issue: http://users.on.net/~peter.hart/Over-vaccination_of_pets_-_an_unethical_practice.pdf

    Only very recently, in late June 2009, after lobbying by concerned pet owners, the Australian Veterinary Association adopted a triennial revaccination policy. As the veterinary profession is “self-regulated”, there is no guarantee that all vets will adopt the new policy. I also question whether triennial revaccination is necessary…

    I’ve asked the Australian Veterinary Association to provide scientific evidence that triennial revaccination is necessary, but so far they have provided no proof.

    Are pet owners being informed that there is no evidence to support triennial revaccination? Are they being informed that veterinary immunology experts such as Professor Ronald Schultz advise that pets properly immunised as puppies with MLV core vaccines are likely to have lifelong immunity? Are pet owners being given the opportunity to make an “informed decision” before consenting to revaccinate their pets?

    As for Jan Rasmusen, I greatly admire her dedication and perseverance in bringing attention to this problem. She provides a valuable source of information for those pet owners who believe their trust in the veterinary profession has been betrayed.

  19. How to Avoid Vaccination Reactions in Dogs | Truth4Dogs Says:

    […] Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing Combination Shots for Dogs: Weapons of Over-Vaccination Is Your Dog’s Vet a Vaccination Expert? Vaccinating Unhealthy Pets: Beware Reactions & Vaccine Failure Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to […]

  20. steven misner Says:

    We took our 7 year old Yorkshire Terrier for her annual shots on Dec 4th at 10:30 am. She received her shots and was fine, at approx 10:30 that nite she was panting, I took her to the emergency by our home but it was closed. I took her to a second emergency & had her admitted. They refused to let me see her & wanted $ 380 to do a chest xray for potential fluid build-up and told me that she was having heart failure. I took her home (she was breathing normally at this point after being on oxygen). On the way to the second emergency she stopped breathing, we kept her alive through cpr & mouth to mouth but her blood pressure had dropped so much they could not revive her. The autopsy and biopsy on her liver, lungs & heart all showed her to be healthy. The vet doesn’t want to admit any liability & suggest we sue the manufacturer of the vaccine….. Our little girl was priceless but we spent over $ 3,000 on her as a puppy…..the sad part is that we believe she died of anaphylactic shock, if only we had been warned of this potential side effect when she got her vaccines we had childrens benedryl at home which would have saved her. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you

  21. Jan Says:

    Steven, I’m so sorry for what happened to your little girl. I wish there were something I could do to help her.

    What can you do now? Get all the records from your vet’s office. Especially find out what shots your dog got, including brand and lot numbers.

    It sounds like you were not warned about possible side effects. Leptospiroris, the “L” in combo shots, can cause anaphylactic shock in small dogs especially. Even sellers of vaccine warn against using it in dogs weighing less than 10 lbs. Other shots, and multiple vaccines given at once, can also cause shock. Read this article: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/30/vaccinating-small-dogs-risks-vets-arent-revealing/ If you were not sufficiently informed you cannot have given informed consent and should report the vet to your state vet medical board. Find some info about this at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet

    Report the reaction to the national Yorkshire Terrier group. Google it to find the website. You might also give them the link to my article about small dogs.

    Report the reaction, and send copies of your dog’s file, to the manufacturer. They will sometimes offer you a settlement to keep you quiet. I can send you a link to a letter on company sent a friend.

    Make noise! Make your dog’s death mean something and try to help bring change.

    If you’re anywhere near So. Cal., check out our vaccination seminar at http://www.petseminar.org

    I send a hug.
    Jan

  22. steven misner Says:

    Jan: Thank you for your kind words, and no, we certainly were not told of the potential side effects. Could you please send me the link for the letter to one of the companies (as referenced in your comments). Thank you.

    Steven Misner

  23. steven misner Says:

    By the way, Saffron weighed 4 lbs

  24. Paralegal Says:

    I just watched your video on standing up to your vet. I must say it was just what I needed. I have been feeling guilty as I needed to end a long-term vet-client relationship ( almost 10 years!!!) because I felt the vet/owner would not hear me out regarding my concerns about the Lyme disease vaccine and its possible effects. There were also issues with mixing up my dogs records ( gave one of my dogs his vaccination but did not update the correct file, rather they listed the shot in the file for my other dog! When we went back about a month later they attempted to give the same dog the shot again because their records were not up to date so they thought he needed it!) Thank goodness I was there and not my spouse as I pay attention to everything!

    There were also issues with improper record retention but at the same time I felt a sense of loyalty to them for some reason and was anxious to find a new vet. I, and more importantly, my dogs are very happy with the new vet’s office. At the same time I feel guilty but as you put it, I need to keep in mind I am the advocate for my dogs. Thanks again.

    Thank you so much for posting your video and your website. It is most informative.

  25. Amanda Says:

    My 7 year old beagle got his annual booster last week and within 3 days a huge abscess had appeared on his neck. We took him to the vets and was told the muscle had swollen as the needle may have hit a muscle. We insisted it was an abscess but they said otherwise. Was given metacam and told to keep an eye on it.

    The next day it was even bigger so off he went back to the vets. They took a sample and found there was bacteria in there and was in fact an abscess. (Didn’t we say this in the first place?) This time he got antibiotics and we are to take him back tomorrow. They will probably lance it tomorrow as it hasn’t gone down.

    How did bacteria get in there if they use sterile needles?? Why am I having to pay for all this treatment when something has gone wrong with the booster?? Why has this abscess formed? The vets said they will contact the manufactuers but nobody is taking responsibilty. I asked the vet if the vaccine would have even worked now that its got all infected to which he replied that my dog had a different type of vaccine last year and that stays in the system for around 3 years so not to worry. So why then did he have to have another vaccine if his last one last 3 years? My dog is miserable and I can’t wait to get this abscess removed and change vets.

  26. Jan Says:

    Hi Amanda. You said your dog got a booster but didn’t say for what. Was it rabies? If so, you should know that the one-year shot and the three-year shot are the same vaccine relabeled. Yes, really. The only reasons to have had a one-year shot and then another shot the next year is if the first shot was your dog’s first rabies shot ever or if the law changed from one year shots to three (which is less likely).

    I have more to say, but need to know if you’re talking about rabies or some other vaccine.

  27. Amanda Says:

    Hi Jan
    According to the 2 stickers inside my dogs vaccination card 1 says lepto 2 and the other says Pi, it wasn’t a rabbies shot. I have always got him vaccinated and one year we left it a year and a half and they said we had to start the process again by having one vaccine and then going back for another a couple of weeks later.
    I don’t know what to do for the best next year as I don’t want to go through all this again (neither does stanley beagle) but then am I putting him at risk by not getting it done.

    I also have a 1 and a half year old Labrador, not sure whether to continue his or not!

    There are so many arguments for and against,

    Amanda

  28. Jan Says:

    Hi Amanda. Lepto and Pi, which I presume is parainfluenza, are both shots not recommended except if your dogs have special needs. Lepto, in particular, is very dangerous. It is also seldom effective. There are many strains of Lepto and not many strains in the shot. It’s like a cold where there are different viruses causing it. So, unless your vet can prove that the strains in your area are a big danger AND are the same strains that the shot gives protection against, why give it. And parainfluenza is mostly for kennel dogs. Scroll to the bottom of this page http://www.dogs4dogs.com/shots and click on the AAHA Canine Task Force link and read about it. Also the WSAVA link.

    Two articles on my blog to read are http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/10/08/protecting-dogs-from-vaccine-reactions/ and http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/

    Re: “There are so many arguments for and against,” there really aren’t. The only reason to give shots that aren’t absolutely necessary is to make your vet rich. Read these articles and research with the AAHA and WSAVA documents.

    I especially would never give Leptospirosis unless there was an important local need. It’s a highly reactive shot. In fact, both organizations I mentioned say not to give it to small dogs. Even sellers of the vaccine say that.

  29. Amanda Says:

    Stan is having surgery as we speak. Its gone beyond an abscess. The drug manufacturers are paying the fees also. He looked so sad this morning but the vet said he should be able to come home tonight. A lot of TLC I think is needed when he comes home and NO he will not have another booster ever!

  30. Amanda Says:

    update – hes come through the surgery thank god! They cut into it and got as much gunk out as they could but all around it was bruised where it had tried to push up through the skin. He has a tube draining the rest off but can come home at 4! They might have to take out his microchip as they think there might be a connection. Will find out more later when we pick him up as my other half got the phone and you know what men are like for getting half the story!!

  31. Jan Says:

    On the way to pick up Stan, stop at a health food store and pick up some Arnica Montana. It’s a homeopathic remedy that helps with swelling and bruising. Have the store tell you how to give it.

    I give it to my dogs, and use it myself, after any injury. You can give it every two hours the first day — three beads dissolved in spring water, 20 minutes away from food. Then switch to 4 or 5 times a day for a few days. It really helps with bruising and swelling. Start it as soon as you can. This is what my vet tells me to do.

    I’m glad the surgery went well.

  32. Koko Says:

    My dog was very healthy before she got 3 shots- anti rabies, distemper and bordetela. After a week or so, my dog could barely walk, very weak, sad and shivering on and off. I took her to the VET and gave her METACAM which made her sicker and sicker. After the metacam, she could barely stand up or walk around. I told the VET about the 3 injections earlier and he said it was not an issue. Next time, I will NOT believe EVERYTHING my VET will tell me. I hope my dog survives this! I will never EVER let someone inject my dog with TOXIC drugs or CHEMICALS. My poor dog is always sleeping, cant barely walk. She wasnt the same energetic dog before all these UNNECCESARY INJECTIONS which in my opinion is being promoted by PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES in COLLUSION with VETS to make lots of MONEY and PROFIT!!!! NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  33. Jan Says:

    Hi Koko, I’m so sorry for your dog’s illness by vet. I strongly recommend you get homeopathic therapy. It’s the only thing I know of that works. Just hoping your dog will get better won’t make it happen.

    Make sure all the information gets recorded in your dog’s file and get a copy of the file. You’ll want an exemption next time your dog needs a rabies shot and you’ll need documentation.

    Complain to everyone: shot manufacturers, drug manufacturers, the state vet board.

    Trouble walking is not an uncommon response to the rabies shot. This shot, by the way, should not be given with other shots. I hope you’ll read two articles: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/10/08/protecting-dogs-from-vaccine-reactions/ and http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/

    Don’t just be angry. Change things!

  34. Sheri Says:

    Hello,
    I adopted a dog from a shelter in December 2008, he was three months old then.The shelter gave him a rabies shot and neutered him. Since then he has received his recommended series of puppy shots. He also received shots that I have since found are not recommended such as, corona, giardia, lyme and bordatella. His last shots were in January 2009 when he received corona, distemper/parvo LA, giardia and lyme all at once. He was very lethargic afterward and seemed to be stiff and sore. (This was before I began researching.) Now a year later I receive a notice that he is due for an exam and shots. From what I’ve read, I should only get him the distemper/parvo. I’m really hesitant to do even that. Do you have any advice? After reading and researching vaccines, I really don’t want to vaccinate him ever again.

    Thanks so much,
    Sheri

  35. Jan Says:

    Sheri, I wish I didn’t have to keep writing this same sentence to everyone, but you need a new vet. Your vet has given your dog at least three shots most vets know not to give except in rare circumstances (if ever): coronavirus, lyme, leptospirosis. Bordetella is next to useless and should be given only if required when boarding.

    If it were my dog, I would get a titer test (pronounced like TIGHTer) for parvo and distemper. If the test show immunity, and it should, I wouldn’t vaccinate again, although some would say to vaccinate 7 years later. Read about titer testing here: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/category/titertesting/ Don’t go to the same vet. He/she will probably try to talk you out of this. At the risk of sounding cynical, some vets over-vaccinate to make money giving shots and treating adverse reactions and probably won’t change. Find someone who believes in science and the 21st Century!

  36. Stacy W Says:

    I am reading your stories, they are heartbreaking, but also I now know I am not alone in this. My Rigley passed yesterday. I do believe it was from an adverse effect to a vaccine that he did not need. He received his rabies with bodetella and the distemper. One week later he developed a cough. When I took him tothe vet the put him on antibiotics. He started to feel better but then it got worse to pneumonia. We had to rush him the emergency clinic as he was about to suffocate to death. They put him on a series of medications to relax and hopefully help him. However, in the end he stopped breathing. Can I get the 3000 dollars I spent for a vetenarian that obviously didn’t practice safe vaccinations? I trusted him! But itwill not bring back my little guy. And I did research on this all too late!

  37. Jan Says:

    Stacy, file a complaint with your state’s veterinary medical board for failure to get your informed consent before vaccinating, presuming that you weren’t told the dangers of giving multiple shots at once. Also, were you told that Bordetella is unnecessary for a dog not going to be in close quarters with other dogs (if that’s true) and giving distemper to a dog that was an adult. (The shot lasts 5-7 years if given to a dog once or after 15 or 16 weeks.) You probably won’t get satisfaction, but the vet will have to respond to the complaint if the board takes any action.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Tell all your friends about the dangers of vaccination and about precautions they should take.

  38. Liz Says:

    My 2 1/2 year old pit mix was given a “one year” rabies & distemper vacc when she arrived at the shelter last June. I rescued her three months later. My vet said she has a heart murmur and a collapsing trachea. I just received my yearly “rabies & distemper” reminder in the mail. I’m taking her for a check up, but refusing the boosters. I’m very concerned about her receiving boosters because of her heart murmur. Should I be?

    Thank you!

  39. Jan Says:

    Liz, it’s unlikely your dog needs another distemper shot. One shot given after 4 months of age means she has a 90-95% chance of being immune for life according to the top experts (for parvovirus and distemper). If you need proof, get a titer test for parvo and distemper (read about them at http://www.truth4dogs.com), but if it were my dog, I’d presume immunity. After all, she just survived life in a shelter (a hot bed of disease). But it’s up to you.

    I doubt if your vet will offer to write a letter to get a medical exemption (as he/she already overvaccinates), but you can try. See which states offer exemptions at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/rabies-laws. You might try a holistic vet who knows more about immunology. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet has referral lists. Also, a vet familiar with homeopathy will know what remedies to give with the rabies vaccine to make it potentially less harmful. If you can’t find a vet or get an exemption, write marina @naturalrearing.com (omit the space) and ask for Lyssin and instructions on how to use it with a rabies shot.

    I’ve never heard of a murmur and a collapsing trachea being exacerbated by a shot, but I’m not a vet. It’s hard to get around getting the rabies shot without an exemption as it’s required by law. But no other shot is.

  40. Liz Says:

    Thank you! I have already purchased lyssin and thuja from naturalrearing.com. I was given the dosage instructions on the lyssin for the rabies shot. I’ll be searching for new vet, especially since my current vet sent me an email offering “on spot” drops for fleas. Yikes!

  41. Jan Says:

    Liz, yikes, indeed! I hope you give your vet hell! It’s time to drag him/her into the 21st surgery!

    I’d still consider contacting Dr. Dodds. She’s the foremost expert on rabies vaccine reactions.

    I don’t know where you live, but does your vet also recommend year round heartworm meds even with cold winters?

  42. Liz Says:

    I live in New York. My vet sold me Sentinel at my dog’s first examination. He never gave me instructions on dosage. Fortunately, I discovered your site before giving the pills to my dog. Since she tested negative for heartworms, I gave her one pill every 6 weeks, starting in October (when her test came back) and stopping in December. I restarted in April when the weather became warm again. Mosquitos are a problem here.

  43. Tania Kidd Says:

    Hi Jan & all,

    Jan you may remember me from my articles on vets & vaccination at Suite 101.

    I wonder if vet schools offer classes on JUST vaccinations & their appropriate usage? If not, perhaps this should be addressed in some way through the vet schools.

    I’m appalled at the blatant and flagrant way supposedly knowledgeable vets (long-term, experienced vets) continue to violate what we KNOW about overvaccination by suggesting that so many vaccinations that are totally unnecessary be given.

    I’m appalled by the unethical GRAB for $$$$$ from innocent but uneducated pet owners who DO throw total and complete trust at their vets – and sadly come out on the losing side of things.

    After it happened to me 15 years ago with two precious schnauzers – within months of each other – I vowed “never again” and set out to educate myself and as many others as possible.

    I appreciate your website and the efforts that you and Kris Christine and all the others are putting into getting information “out there” – doing what many vets wish you would not do.

    It’s still a fight – for all our four-legged little ones!

    Tania

  44. Tania Kidd Says:

    P.S. I’d like to see a certificate or “vaccination license” of some kind for VETS to post in their offices so we’d know at a glance how educated they have made themselves on the topic.

  45. Ashley Ng Says:

    I would just like to say that until we have good quality studies (not hearsay or stories or a study done on 25 purpose-bred beagles living in a lab, not real life) to show that immunity lasts more than 3 years, I am a proponent of vaccinating every three years for rabies and distemper. I have seen so many cases of parvo in my practice, sometimes even in an older pet whose owner “didn’t believe” in vaccines. There is always a risk with anything and of course, I have seen reactions. You need to start blaming and questioning vaccine manufacturers to do more studies. It is not worthwhile monetarily for them to do these, so they don’t. Vets are big on using evidence-based medicine. So where’s the evidence? Also, titers all all well and good, but they usually cost over $100, where a vaccine costs $20. You try to convince a client to do a titer. It’s not going to happen.

  46. Karen Says:

    I have recently moved and am realizing what a safety problem this is! I have tried two vets who are now hounding me to give a rabies vaccine to my 12.5 year old boxer who has a file from the past few months that is inches think because she’s had so many serious medical issues! She was sent to a specialist for heart testing and a spleen biopsy just a few months ago and has spend multiple weekend at the local ER due to chronic pancreatitis but they still are threatening to vaccinate each time I go in for treatments such as acupuncture or pick up meds. I thought it was unethical to vaccinate a dog while sick? I’m very worried that these doctors are not advocates of my dog’s full health.

  47. Jan Says:

    Karen, you’re a good mom! Vaccinating a 12.5 yr old boxer with health problems is malpractice in my book. I suspect any rabies vaccine manufacturer would advise against it, although they wouldn’t do it in writing.

    The big question is where do you live and what is the local law? Check http://www.dogs4dogs.com/rabies-law to check your state law for an exemption. If it’s not allowed, check with your local Animal Control. Find a sympathetic, KNOWLEDGEABLE vet. Check out http://www.truth4pets.org/vets Read this: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2012/03/05/does-your-state-permit-rabies-vaccination-medical-exemptions/ Pennsylvania was recently added.

    The right vet, probably a “holistic vet,” will help protect your dog.

    Even the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Assoc, recommends exemptions. http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/avma-on-exemptions/ If you don’t have the law you want, call your state legislator and change it! Maybe their recommendation will change your vet’s mind.

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