Vaccines and Health

This is a long post. I have spent many hours attempting to distill my views (and their reasons) on the relationship between vaccinations and allergies which drives both the way I now raise my dogs and puppies and helps to inform the ingredients we put in our raw food.

I hesitate to use the term over-vaccination (though this is what it is) because these days it is easy to be wrongly labeled as an anti-vaxxer which I most definitely am not! I am, however, concerned primarily with maintaining the good health of my dogs and I have learned to treat with caution vets demands for regular vaccinations, the combining of several vaccines together and vaccines for different diseases which seem inappropriate and unnecessary (e.g. Lyme disease and Leptospirosis). In short my philosophy with vaccinations as with our food is to only put something in my dogs body which provides a real and proven benefit.

A little history

15 years ago, not long after moving to the USA from Scotland, I had the absolute privilege of attending a seminar at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown NY that featured Dr Shultz, one of America's leading veterinary immunologists. Listening to this man that day confirmed everything I had always understood about vaccines. From my biology classes in school, to the lectures I listened to during my nurse training decades ago, I had learned that the process was in essence that we introduce a foreign pathogen, the immune system mounts a response and we are protected, most probably for life, against that pathogen, whatever it may be.

Dr Schultz is the only veterinarian (that I am aware of) to have conducted studies to show duration of immunity. The trials received funding for seven years and he was able to show that vaccinated dogs maintained immunity for at least seven years and, he believed, most probably for a lifetime. This is what we expect from our own childhood vaccinations, that they will last a lifetime.

The last part of the seminar was a question-and-answer session and Dr Schultz was asked what protocol he followed for his own dogs. His response was “I vaccinate as a puppy and that is it"

I have never forgotten his answer, and this is what I do with my own dogs.

All holistic veterinarians agree that the best age to administer a once only vaccine for the core diseases such as Parvo and Distemper is between 12-14 weeks of age. We have always known that when that first vaccine is delivered, the puppies’ passive immunity, inherited from their mother, starts to diminish quickly because of the way in which the vaccine works. It seems crazy that we breeders do this at an incredibly stressful time for our puppies anyway, they are leaving the nest, the comfort of their siblings and of course their mother.

In the past, If I was keeping a puppy from one of my litters, I held off on the first vaccine and administered it myself when the puppy turned 12 weeks old.

Listening to Dr Will Falconers Podcast recently, which I highly recommend, persuaded me that I have to change my practice as a breeder and do this for all of my puppies moving forward. Here is a link to his Podcast.