by ONPS Veterinary Advisors
Most dog and cat guardians have never been told the truth about vaccinations. On
the contrary, you are likely to get annual notices from your veterinarian that
your companion is “due for their annual booster shots.” The evidence against
vaccinating, however, is overwhelming. Veterinarians have resisted making
changes in the way they vaccinate, many because they are afraid of the liability
from failing to vaccinate animals as recommended by the vaccine maker. Some are
unwilling to make the effort to educate their clients on the importance of an
annual exam, with or without vaccines—it’s easier to just send that postcard.
And some simply don’t want to lose their vaccine income. What many veterinarians
don’t realize is that there was never any scientific evidence supporting yearly
vaccines in the first place.
What Vaccination Does
The purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate the body to produce antibodies
(germ-fighting proteins made by specialized white blood cells) and “memory”
cells, so that if the animal ever encounters the disease again, his system will
be primed and ready to defend against it. It turns out that many vaccines are so
good at this that they don’t need to be boostered every year, if at all.
Vaccinations do prevent serious illness and death in young animals, but they
should be used with common sense, and only when truly needed for any individual
animal. Before vaccinating, consider the risks. The decision about vaccinations
is very individual, and should be guided by your own research on the subject
before you go to the veterinarian.
Why Too Many Vaccines are Dangerous
Vaccinations are a major stress to the immune system. They can not only cause
immediate side effects and allergic reactions, but they also contribute to long
term problems. Many chronic health issues may be linked to vaccination,
thyroid disease, recurrent
irritable bowel disease, neurological conditions (such
aggressive behavior and
auto-immune diseases, and
Holistic veterinarians who have been in practice for 20 or 30 years report more
serious illnesses in younger and younger animals. It is becoming distressingly
common to see cancer in dogs and cats under 5 years of age. Autoimmune diseases
are on the rise as well. Our companions are suffering from generations of
over-vaccination. When combined with inadequate nutrition, poor breeding
practices, and environmental stresses like air pollution, the result is that new
generations that are more susceptible to congenital disorders and chronic
If your pet does have an adverse reaction,
Thuja can be helpful. It is the primary vaccinosis (adverse reaction to a
vaccine) remedy for all species. If you must have your pet vaccinated, it is a
good idea to give a dose of
Thuja 30C within two hours of the injection. It is also helpful in case of
immediate vaccine reactions such as vomiting or diarrhea occurring within a few
hours of the shot.
A Basic Vaccination Strategy
An initial two- or three- vaccine series for kittens and puppies is necessary
for most vaccines to be effective. Vaccines should be given at least 3 weeks
apart; there is little published research suggesting an outside limit, but at
least a 4-8 week interval is probably safe and effective. The animal should be
between 8 and 12 weeks of age before vaccinating. The common breeders’ practice
of vaccinating pups at 2 weeks of age and then every 2 weeks is useless, not to
mention harmful to young puppies’ immune systems. Up until and for at least 2
weeks after the first vaccine, keep your pet away from parks and pet stores,
where deadly viruses like parvo can remain infectious for years.
Rabies is another matter; it has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and
if you get it, it will kill you. One rabies vaccine at six months of age and a
booster one year later will protect most pets for life, in terms of immunology.
Because rabies is such a severe public health threat, regular rabies vaccination
is required by law in many states, cities, and counties. Your local animal
control can tell you what the requirements are where you live.
Never vaccinate a sick, injured, or weakened animal. WAIT until the animal is
healthy. Vaccinating an already-compromised immune system is almost sure to
worsen the problem!
Why Your Pet Doesn’t Need Yearly Boosters
Vaccinations do not magically lose their effectiveness 366 days after the last
shot. In fact, studies have shown that the vaccines for parvovirus, canine
distemper, and feline panleukopenia provide extremely good, long-term protection
from disease—8 to 10 years or more. “Booster” vaccines do not increase the
animal’s immunity, but they do increase the risk of adverse reactions. There are
no benefits and many risks to re-vaccinating for a disease your animal is
already immune to.
A blood test called a “titer” can determine if your companion’s antibody levels
for parvovirus, canine distemper, or feline panleukopenia remain high enough to
resist infection. However, even with a low titer, most animals will still retain
enough immunity to fight off infection. Parvo, distemper and panleukopenia are
almost exclusively diseases of young animals, so while puppies and kittens
definitely need the protection of vaccines, adults do not.
Vaccines They Need
Experts agree that only “core” vaccines—panleukopenia/rhinotracheitis/calicivirus
and rabies for cats, and distemper/parvo/adenovirus/parainfluenza and rabies for
dogs—are truly necessary. (For cats, Merial’s Purevax rabies vaccine does not
contain the additives that have been shown to cause a certain type of cancer.)
All other vaccines are optional, and should only be given if the animal’s
lifestyle, environment, or health considerations make them advisable.
Many vaccine manufacturers package these essential vaccines with several others,
including unnecessary and possibly harmful components such as Coronavirus,
Bordatella, Leukemia, Chlamydia, and FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). Try to
avoid these “multi-valent” (many component) vaccines; ask your vet if they can
order a simpler version—or try another clinic.
The initial canine distemper-parvovirus-adenovirus-parainfluenza or feline
panleukopenia-rhinotracheitis-calicivirus vaccine can be given at 8-12 weeks of
age, followed by a booster 4-8 weeks later; and if desired, one last time 1 year
later. However, older kittens and puppies as well as adults will be protected by
a single vaccine, regardless of prior history. Many veterinary groups now
suggest boosters for distemper/parvo or panleukopenia every 3 years, but even
this is overly cautious, and still leaves open the risk of serious long-term
Vaccines They Don’t Need
Kittens and cats do not need vaccines against Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP),
Giardia, Chlamydia, Ringworm, Bordatella, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV,
also called “feline AIDS”). Even if cats go outside, the risk of contracting
these diseases is very small—in many cases, less than the risk of adverse
effects from the vaccine. The Feline Leukemia vaccine is not necessary in adult
Dog vaccines on the market include several that are worthless or dangerous.
Coronavirus, Giardia, and Ringworm vaccines either do not prevent disease, or
the disease is so mild as to not be worth vaccinating for. Rattlesnake,
Bordatella (kennel cough), Borrelia, and Leptospirosis should only be given to
high-risk animals, or when required, such as for show dogs or boarding kennels.
Leptospirosis is becoming more common throughout the U.S., so it may be
advisable for some dogs; but the vaccine is not 100% effective, and it causes
some of the most severe reactions. Dogs in limited areas of the northeastern
U.S. may need the Lyme disease vaccine.
Just Remember This!
Vaccination is a medical procedure with risks and benefits. Ask your
veterinarian about the purpose of each and every recommended vaccine;
specifically why your pet should receive it—based on current health status,
lifestyle, and risk factors; and what the potential adverse effects are. Make
sure that every vaccine is well justified, and don’t let anyone bully you into
complying with their outdated or inflexible protocols.
It’s your pet, and your decision—no one else, including your veterinarian, has
the right to order you around. In fact, it is your absolute right—even your
duty—to decline any medical procedure you don’t want or aren’t sure about.
You have the information; now you’re ready to be an active partner in your pet’s
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