Understanding Vaccines for Dogs and Cats

Written by: Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

Vaccination Basics

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.

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, including skin allergies, arthritis, thyroid disease, recurrent ear and respiratory infections, irritable bowel disease, neurological conditions (such as aggressive behavior and epilepsy), auto-immune diseases, and cancer. 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 disease.

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.

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 ofThuja 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. 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!