To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That's become burning question of many dog owners in this day and age. I'm not a veterinarian, just a regular pet owner like yourself, but would like to impart information I've found regarding regular vaccinations for animals. You can then make your own decision.
I came across much of this information when researching information on vaccinations for children, of all things. What I found shocked me. So, I figured if this is what is being injected into young babies and children, I had to ask myself - what is being injected into our pets? Here is what I've found.
Why Do We Vaccinate Our Pets?
In centuries past, most animals were allowed to have run of roads with little supervision. Over years leash laws have been enforced and most pet owners keep their dogs leashed or fenced within their yards. If taking your dog for a walk, majority of areas require you to keep your pet on a leash (although there are more open no-leash areas springing up). Still, most canines are now supervised or owners face a fine for allowing them to run loose.
Vaccinations are given to "prevent" your dog from contracting particularly harmful/fatal infections from other animals. The vaccinations given come in two forms - killed viruses or non-pathogenic (modified live versions) of virus. The vaccinations are designed to sensitize your pet's immune system and causes it to produce anti-bodies should your pet be exposed to certain viruses. The modified live vaccinations are "suppose" to provide a longer and better immune response over killed vaccines.
However, in some recent studies it's been found that most vaccinations will provide so-called immunity for 5 years and often longer. I say "so-called" because these vaccines don't actually prevent animal from getting disease and in many cases, may actually cause it.
When Are The Recommended Vaccines Given?
Just like human babies, puppies (and kittens) when first born are provided with a natural immunity from their mothers for first few weeks. The initial vaccination shots are then usually given between 8 and 12 weeks of age, with boosters routinely given yearly thereafter.
If you choose to vaccinate your dog - or if it is currently required by law in your area - then You should only vaccinate your dog if it is healthy. If your dog is sick or has a chronic illness, it is advised that you postpone any vaccinations until they are well.
Should your dog require surgery in near future and is due for their shots, you should have them vaccinated several weeks beforehand, not at time of surgery. Their bodies will be under stress at that time and vaccination itself can cause major problems.
If you choose to have standard vaccinations given by your veterinarian, be sure to request that they be administered separately as opposed to a multivalent vaccination (combination). In this way, you can monitor any side-effects that may occur and know which vaccine has caused it.
Government laws will usually require you to vaccinate your dog for parvo virus (a mutation of feline distemper which causes heart disease), canine distemper and rabies. However, rabies vaccination should really not be given at same time as other vaccinations.
Many homeopathic veterinarians recommend that you do not vaccinate for leptospirosis, hepatitis or parainfluenza and that you vaccinate only every 2 to 3 years instead of giving them yearly shots in order to reduce risk of side effects.
The Problems Associated With Traditional Vaccinations
Controversy has grown over whether to vaccinate or not because of potential side effects caused by many vaccines. Some are not very effective and others can have short and long-term serious side effects. A study in United Kingdom by Canine Health Concern in March 2001 has found that 1 in 10 dogs suffer from side effects from regular rabies vaccinations which is contradictory to vaccine-manufacturers claim that less than 15 adverse reactions occur out of 100,000 companion animals vaccinated.
It's been noted that yearly vaccines can increase frequency and severity of side-effects, most notably problems that involve animal's immune system. Vaccinations are designed to stimulate immune system in an unnatural way and your dog's body could potentially over-react to stimulus causing allergies and skin problems. More frightening is fact that over stimulated immune system can cause your pet's body to produce anti-bodies against itself (autoimmune disease). Traditional vaccinations have also been shown to increase likelihood of infections in pets from ear infections to bladder problems to cancer.