Combination Shots for Dogs: Weapons of Over-Vaccination

Written by Jan on September 9, 2009 – 11:04 am

comboshotWhombo combos, mumbo jumbos: that’s what veterinarians who understand immunology call combination shots. Unlike a vaccine such as rabies, which contains a single virus, combination vaccines contain multiple “modified live” viruses mixed with various bacteria. Think of them as toxic soups, biochemical wolves in sheep’s clothing. When your vet sends out reminders to bring your dog “up to date on shots,” expect the whombo combo. Beware the wolf.

You’ve probably seen combo shots listed on your vet bill as DHLPP, DHLPPC, DA2LPPC, 5-Way, 6-Way, 7-Way, 7 in 1 or the like.  After you learn more about them, you won’t want to see them on a bill again.

Why would your vet use combination shots?

Profit and convenience are the big selling points. Vets in large corporate practices, even those who don’t like combo shots, may be under orders to use them.

I suspect some vets don’t realize (or want to believe) how dangerous these weapons of over-vaccination can be.  Pharmaceutical reps, frequent visitors to veterinary clinics, promote the shot’s many benefits for the vets while minimizing potential risks for pets.  Adverse reaction reporting is voluntary and rare. The 2007 World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Vaccine Guidelines reports (regarding all vaccines) there is: gross under-reporting of vaccine-associated adverse events which impedes knowledge of the ongoing safety of these products.”  Unless a vet is an avid veterinary journal reader, he/she may be stuck in the mindset of believing shots are safe and that if shots are good, more shots are better.

Proponents say that the combo saves Spot multiple needle pricks, and saves you and your vet time and money.  True — but only if vaccinating against multiple diseases is really necessary … and only if expensive adverse reactions don’t occur.

Why should you avoid combination shots?

  • Immunity given by some vaccine components can last for years, even a lifetime, but other components may give immunity for less a year, yet they’re packaged together.

This is the pharmaceutical equivalent of packaging beef jerky and ice cream together. To keep immunity strong with short-duration vaccines, the long-duration vaccines have to be given again and again needlessly. This exposes your dog repeatedly, for no good reason, to adverse reactions which may include  skin diseases, autoimmune disease, allergies and even death. Vets who still, for monetary reasons or ignorance, vaccinate annually find this practice quite convenient. Jab away. But vets who’ve switched to vaccinating every three years — which is still a misunderstanding of current guidelines recommending vaccinating “no more often” than every three years — aren’t using the short-duration vaccines often enough.  Either they don’t believe the short-duration shots are really necessary (which is usually true) or they are being negligent and putting your dog at risk.

  • Some combo components are made from viruses, some are from bacteria, all delivered at once with a dangerous punch.

Dr. Patricia Jordan, author of Mark of the Beast, writes about one manufacturer’s combo shot: “… the absolutely worse adverse vaccine reactions have been noted with … the “mumbo jumbo” polyvalent with several modified live viruses, killed whole bacterins of Leptospirosis, killed corona virus (the vaccine looking for a disease), lots of adjuvant, mercury, aluminum, antibacterial like gentocin, antifungal and fungi stats, proprietary ingredients of whose true identity makes me shudder to even speculate.”

Author Catherine J.M. Diodati wrote about combination shots in her Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats: “The number of pathogens plus toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that the animals are exposed to all at once generate an enormous toll on the immune system. The results can be devastating.”

  • Small dogs and puppies suffer more adverse reactions when receiving multiple antigens at once.

Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM wrote in DVM360 on-line magazine: “The likelihood of adverse reactions in dogs has been found to correlate with the size of the dog and the number of inoculations given, with higher risk associated with small size and multiple inoculations.”

Renowned pet vaccination expert Dr. Jean Dodds has written about combo shots (she calls them combo whombos) that they: “can overwhelm the immunocompromised or even a healthy host….  The recently weaned young puppy or kitten being placed in a new environment may be at particular risk.”

This means: no combo shots for small dogs — or any other dog for that matter.  And NEVER EVER GIVE ANY OTHER SHOT — ESPECIALLY A RABIES SHOT — WITHIN 3 WEEKS OF A COMBO. This also means no Bordetella given nasally.  Giving rabies and Bordetella with a combo could mean as many as 9 shots in one day. Some dogs don’t survive this.

  • If your dog experiences a reaction to the combo shot, there is no way to determine which antigen caused the reaction and must be avoided in the future.

Determining which antigen caused the reaction is like trying to determine which ingredient is causing an allergic reaction to kibble. It can’t be done.

If all this isn’t bad enough, the components are unnecessary for most adult dogs, the great majority of which have lifetime immunity to the important shots or have no need for other ingredients.

So, exactly what’s in these combination shots?

The ingredients differ, but here are some in the most common combos.

Give me a D!  Give me a P!

The D is for distemper and one P is for parvovirus. Your dog very likely has lifetime immunity to both if he has had even one shot for these diseases after 4 months of age. These are important shots, but they needn’t be given again and again. In fact, adult dogs rarely need revaccination for parvovirus and distemper and there is a simple blood test called a titer test that your vet can run to prove immunity.

H stands for hepatitis, a disease virtually nonexistent in North America. Sometimes this is expressed as A2, or adenovirus 2, which gives cross protection to hepatitis.  According to the 2006 American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force Report, it gives immunity for 7 or more years. To protect against the disease reemerging, renowned pet vaccination expert Dr. Ron Schultz recommends giving adenovirus-2 just once after a dog is 16 weeks old.

L is for leptospirosis, a highly-reactive “non-core” shot (says the AVMA, AAHA, AHVMA, and all North American vet schools). Non-core vaccines are to be given only in special cases, not to every dog who trots into the clinic.  It often doesn’t even protect against the specific disease strains in your area.  Jeffers Pet veterinary supply, a vaccine seller, warns: “Many vets do not recommend vaccinating small dogs or young pups with Lepto. The vaccine is not normally needed and can cause harsh and sometimes fatal reactions. House dogs do not need to be vaccinated for Lepto; adult outside dogs need to be vaccinated for Lepto only if there is a possibility of traveling in the same area as feral animals.”

The other P is for parainfluenza (giving immunity for at least 3 years). It is also a non-core shot and does not protect against the canine flu.

C is for coronavirus, a vaccine specifically “not recommended” by any major vet organization or school.  Extremely rare, it’s called “a vaccine looking for a disease.”  Diodati reports that the reactions from the shot are more dangerous than the disease itself.

Combination shots are part of the unethical practice of over-vaccination of pets. They should have no place in your dog’s health care regimen.  And vets who use them should have no place in your dog’s life.

Did your vet inform you fully about this shot before giving it?

If your dog was given a combo shot, and your vet didn’t explain exactly what was in it, why your dog needed it, why your dog may not have needed certain components, and what adverse reactions they may cause, change vets (and tell him/her why) and report that vet to your state veterinary board for using products not backed by science and not informing you properly.  This is the only way things will change.  Veterinarians have a legal obligation to obtain your informed consent before vaccinating by fully disclosing benefits and risks of the suggested shot — and alternatives. Of course, had they told you the truth about these shots, you’d probably wouldn’t have consented.

Alternatives to Combo Shots

To avoid the combination shot, you have to take action and be willing to stand up to your vet (or switch vets). Most are reluctant to give up their cash cow. Here’s what to do:

1. Test titers for parvovirus and distemper.  If titers are strong, don’t revaccinate.  (If weak, read my article.) Forgo lepto, coronavirus, hepatitis and everything else unless your dog has an urgent, proven need because of the special circumstances of his lifestyle.

2. Avoid clinics that subscribe to “one size fits all” vaccination even though all vet schools and organizations recommend otherwise.

3. If you’re vaccinating a puppy, or a young dog with low antibody titers, ask your vet to use a monovalent vaccine (meaning the vial contains only one vaccine).  Also, use vials with only one dose  to avoid the extra chemicals preventing contamination in multi-dose vials.  Three readily available vaccines include: Galaxy Pv (a shot containing only parvovirus, offering 7+ years of immunity) and Galaxy D (a shot containing only distemper, giving 5 or more years of immunity).  If those aren’t available, use Intervet Progard Puppy DPV containing both parvovirus and distemper but nothing else.

4. If your vet won’t purchase monovalent shots (protesting that his distributor doesn’t carry them), purchase them yourself and have your vet give them. Refrigerate until use. Better yet, have them sent to your vet by the reseller. You may not be able to purchase just one vial, but the extra cost is worth the savings from potential adverse reactions.

5.  Better still, find a holistic vet who’ll know how to vaccinate, or not vaccinate, without harming your dog and already use monovalent vaccines.

I asked holistic vet Tamara Hebbler what she thought about combo shots. She responded: “I won’t give them. Ever! You couldn’t pay me enough to use them. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your dog’s health. The risks are just too great.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Other posts you might like:

If you have a small or medium-sized dog: Vaccinating Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing
Is Your Dog’s Vet a Vaccination Expert?
Vaccinating Unhealthy Pets: Beware Reactions & Vaccine Failure
Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots
Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily
Dog Flu Vaccine: Do You Really Need a Shot for the H3N8 Canine Virus?

Find links to vaccination recommendations by the American Animal Hospital Association and WSAVA, plus more information on vaccinating, Vaccinating Dogs: What Your Vet Hasn’t Told You

And please, bookmark this article and forward it to friends. Just one combo shot can destroy a dog’s health forever.

Sign up for notification of  future articles and our free dog care e-newsletter (delivered quarterly). Follow K9Author at Twitter.

Tags: combination, combo shots, DHLPPC, DHPP, distemper, dog, Leptospirosis, parvovirus, puppy shot schedules, reactions, shots, vaccinating a puppy, Vaccination, vaccines
Posted under Preventing Vaccine Reactions, Uncategorized, Vaccination | 71 Comments » Email This Post

71 Comments to “Combination Shots for Dogs: Weapons of Over-Vaccination”

  1. Jessica Says:

    My 2 month old 14 oz yorkie got her 1st DHLP-PV-C shot and died in less than 14hrs. I need help and I don’t know what exactly to do, I stay in Oklahoma. I went to the vet and asked for an explanation and the Dr. Said that the vaccine wouldn’t kill no dog and that one shot fits for all dogs. She past away yesterday and I’m emotionally sad. She was so active and playful until I took her to the vet.

  2. Jan Says:

    Jessica, I’m so sorry. Your dog should have never gotten multiple vaccines at once. A study from a prominent vet school published in the American Veterinary Medical Assoc. Journal, and widely published since, proves it. I’m going to send it to you. Yorkies are one of the dogs most damaged by multiple vaccines. You can read about this study here: Print out the actual study article, which I’m sending to you, and show it to your vet. And a judge in small claims court. And your local paper and TV station.

    Furthermore, the L in the shot, Leptospirosis, is known to be extremely dangerous for tiny dogs and is almost never useful. Death is a known reaction. The C, coronavirus, is not recommended by any national veterinary organization. It is for a disease that pretty much doesn’t exist.

    It is very important that you report your dog’s death to the vaccine maker. Here’s more about what to do and how to do it.

    There’s a whole lot more information at

    Don’t just be sad. Get mad. This never should have happened.

  3. MangoDogMD: Keanu at the Vet for His Shots and Annual Exam. | Mango: Chihuahua Service Dog Says:

    […] Go to: Combo Shots for Dogs: A Dangerous Convenience. Go to: Info on what to do if your fur friend has a reaction to the vaccine. […]

  4. David Says:

    Dear Jan,

    My 2 year old Shih-Tzu Lilly Rose who’s 15 pounds (spayed) recently went to get the 7 in 1 vaccine as well as a nasal spray for what I believe is called Bordatella, a few hours after she came home she had an allergic reaction. Her eyes and muzzle area became very red and she was rubbing her face on the floor due to the itching and panting heavily. We took her to the vet clinic immediately and they administered a benadryl shot as well as a cortisone steroid. Before the reaction we noticed she kept shaking or shivering. She never does this but she seems to be in some type of pain especially in her hind legs (where she received the injection) We’re very worried, so we took her for a blood test and the vet said everything was ok. Her temperature was slightly elevated. Since we got Lilly at 4 months the vet has given her two 7 in 1 shots as well as others. It has been 7 days since the 7 in 1 vaccine and she’s still shaking and panting a lot and has not been her normal self. After reading your articles on over-vaccination, we’re worried that it may be the vaccines. Do you have any idea why she would still be shaking and panting like she is? We’re hoping she will be ok, at this point we’re very wary of the vet’s advice. We want to know if there’s anything else we should look out for. Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thank you very much.
    – David

  5. Jan Says:

    David, how’s your dog doing? You’re right to question your vet. Please read this: about what vaccines might actually be needed.

    Don’t just question that awful vet. Fire him/her. Giving 8 vaccines at once to a dog that likely didn’t need ANY is horrible. Each additional vaccine over one increases the chance of an adverse reaction by 24%. Make sure you read this:

    Your dog had a severe allergic reaction. I hope you can afford to see a holistic vet. Your conventional vet will have no clue about what to do to help your dog.

    Let me know how things are going.

  6. Lorrie Says:

    I took my puppy(2 months old) to get her vaccination shots yesterday. I did a little bit of research on vaccination shots but I was not well informed about the risks of each vaccine. I trusted the vet and asked her many questions. Her answers were very general and in conclusion she said, that “if my dog stays in the house most of the time and does not go out then the vaccines are not recommended. However, she recommended my puppy get the 5-1 vaccinations. DHPP, Lepto, and Kennel Cough.” After reading your article and many others about the great risks that come with over vaccinating puppies….I have become very concerned. My puppy is currently doing well she needs to go back for the 2nd then 3rd and 4th rounds of shots. I don’t think I will go back! I need your insight on this decision. Please e-mail me back.

    Kind regards,


  7. Lorrie Says:

    I took my puppy(2 months old) to get her vaccination shots yesterday. I did a little bit of research on vaccination shots but I was not well informed about the risks of each vaccine. I trusted the vet and asked her many questions. Her answers were very general and in conclusion she said, that “if my dog stays in the house most of the time and does not go out then the vaccines are not recommended. However, she recommended my puppy get the 5-1 vaccinations. DHPP, Lepto, and Kennel Cough.” After reading your article and many others about the great risks that come with over vaccinating puppies….I have become very concerned. My puppy is currently doing well she needs to go back for the 2nd then 3rd and 4th rounds of shots. I don’t think I will go back! I need your insight on this decision. Please e-mail me back.

  8. Hair Loss after Vaccine??? Says:

    […] Pet Vaccine Dangers and Recommendations…r-vaccination/ Combo Shots for Dogs: A Dangerous Convenience | Truth4Dogs Over-Vaccination – Dog Owners Beware – Whole Dog Journal […]

  9. Leslie Moore Says:

    The information on this page has been very helpful. I didn’t known that combo shot and Rabies shots shouldn’t be given close together. Thank you for this information. Leslie

  10. Jan Says:

    Lorrie, my software didn’t notify me of your post and I just found it today. Have you already made the decision about vaccinating your dog? Here’s some info to decide about what to do. Especially read about lepto and kennel cough. Just off the top of my head, I’d say find another vet.

  11. Jan Says:

    Leslie, please read this about vaccinating a dog. Sorry for the delay in responding. I didn’t see your post until today.

  12. DHPP and DHLPP Frequency? - Page 2 Says:

    […] was caused by vaccinating him too early." My Dog Died from his Vaccinations – Dogs – MedHelp Combo Shots for Dogs: A Dangerous Convenience | Truth4Dogs Over-Vaccination – Dog Owners Beware – Whole Dog Journal Article Are too many vaccinations bad […]

  13. Gina Says:

    What happens if a Puppy is given a cpmbo Vaccine and then one is given 5 days later? Does the second Vaccine Nullify the first?

  14. Jan Says:

    Gina, the second shot does not nullify the first. The first nullifies the second. However, the two vaccines will increase the chance of an allergic reaction and health problems down the road. I would suggest that you see a holistic vet who can help protect your dog.

    Your dog should never have gotten even one combination vaccine. They are unnecessary and dangerous — especially when given twice.

    Fire your vet. And tell the vet why. Combos are dangerous. The more vaccines given at once, the more damage can be done. You need a vet who puts health first and stays current on vaccine information. I hope your puppy is doing well now.

  15. Charmaine Grant Says:

    Thank you sooooo very much for educating us on the pros and cons of multiple vaccines. Every-time my baby goes to the vet her mood, energy and wellness deteriorates for a few hours sometimes days and I suspected the vaccines but now I feel like a bad mother because I didn’t investigate it further. I trusted whole heartedly and now I know. Thank you.

  16. Jan Says:

    Charmaine, adult dogs rarely need vaccines outside of the legally-required rabies. Please tell your friends to question before vaccinating.

  17. Ayesha Says:

    We rescued a lhasa apso puppy about two weeks ago. He is 2 months 11 weeks now. Last year we lost two puppies of 45 days to vaccinations. And for that reason we haven’t rushed into getting him vaccinated this time. There are absolutely no holistic vets in Kolkata and every single vet that I have spoken to regarding vaccinations have advised to give 7 in 1. We de-wormed him 3 days ago and have called a vet (who sounds better than the rest) home for a wellness check and vaccination tomorrow. Before our horrid experience of losing two babies, we blindly vaccinated every puppy we had in good faith and nothing ever went wrong. Now we are awfully confused and scared. Should we get him vaccinated at all? Cause it seems quite necessary, especially in India, where distemper and parvo are pretty common. The only option for us here will be combination vaccinations. What can we do Thanks!

  18. Nancy Says:

    I adopted a 2 1/2 month old Golden Doodle from a breeder who supplies his/her dogs to a pet store a month ago. He is very calm and well tempered. His sister was adopted the week before. She had Giardia/Parasities. (siblings are in the same puppy training class).

    My dogs first series of shots were 1 Sentinel<25 lb K9 Green Sample, 1 Puppy Distemper 1 and 1 Fecal exam For Giardia. (Which of course the Giardia came back Positive!) today I took him for his second vet check up. Started second treatment of Panacea SUSp. 100 mg/ml, 1 Lyme Booster 1, 1 Puppy Distemper w/Lepto 2, 1 Bordetella Oral Vaccine and 1 Sentinel<50 LB K9 Yellow and 1 Frontline+ K9 44# 1Mo. When I got home he peed and pooped all looked normal. went inside the house and 8 mins. later he vomited at the door.

    I called the vet and he told me it may have been a reaction and to give him 1 Benadryl 25M and no food until dinner. Then give second Benadryl 25M an hour or two after his meal. Continue to give Benadryl until his next visit in two weeks. After reading the comments above I am going to find another Vet! Also hoping my dog will be Ok! I wish I knew about this website before I took my dog for his shots!!! (Feeling horrible at the moment!)

  19. Jan Says:

    Nancy, yes, please find another vet. What your poor dog got in one session is horrible. May have been a reaction ???? And to say to just give Benadryl for two weeks, that’s disgusting. Make sure your conversations were recorded in your dog’s file. Get a copy of the file. Then fire the vet and tell him why.

    Here’s a list of holistic vets. A holistic vet can help undo any damage already done.

    Please read this before vaccinating again. Good luck.

  20. Marina Says:

    My two dogs Suzie and Nookie, are bigger dogs, one is a husky and one is a pitbull shepherd mix. Me and my husband recently moved into an apartment, so we had to get our dogs vaccinated. Suzie the mix, had never had shots before, because I don’t like giving them to my dogs due to horror stories like dogs dying from Parvo shots.

    They were given the combo shot, and were fine for about 2 days. All of a sudden one morning my alarm rang for work, Nookie did not know what is was and came to my side of the bed to check out what the noise was. Suzie which is mainly my dog, rescued and trained by me, attacked my husbands huskey. Lucky for us my husband got up and separated them.

    When I got home later that day we went for a walk, I walk them at the same time. Every thing was fine until we got into the apartment. they were at it again. Two 50+ pound dogs and me, I am only pushing 120. Some how I managed to separate the two dogs by grabbing their collars (don’t do this unless it’s an emergency) and pulling them into the air. Since I was home alone and it was all I could do to stop the fight I did it. We kept them in different rooms and even entertained the idea of giving one away.

    From Friday (the day of the fight) to Monday the next week all they saw of each other was through the door, Besides the attempt to keep them on leashes and forced to be close. Tuesday I am at work and my husband decided to let them be together and they are two completely different dogs from what I saw Friday. Normally my dog Suzie is so good, around cats and even tiny dogs so having this come up was just too weird for us. Since it came and went so quick I am assuming that it was due to the combo shot they’d both gotten. Since Suzie is only 3 and never had shots it may have just been a bad reaction?

  21. Jan Says:

    Marina, I suspect you’re right. Aggression is a known reaction to combo shots and also the rabies vaccine.

    This will likely be hard to hear, but your adult dogs surely didn’t need more puppy shots. Please read this: And find another vet.

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