How long will your dog live? Will it be 10 years or 20? What will the vet bills be? The care you give them now decides the future ...
Our dogs eat a diet of 4 Health Lamb and Rice kibble made with grassfed New Zealand lamb. Our dogs also enjoy fresh and cooked meats, veggies, and oils. Some basics are fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, cooked greens, cooked root veggies, bits of grass fed beef, sardines, or wild caught salmon, garlic in moderation, and the occasional strawberries, blueberries, and apple. I ferment veggies and often add the leftover "probiotic juice" to their food. They love to chew on smoked or raw bones and enjoy farm fresh eggs and eggshells. We avoid corn, wheat, soy, by-products, BHT preservatives, dyes, and chicken in dog foods and prefer to feed a pea free food.
We supplement this with Only Natural Pet Maxmeat as treats.
Feeding your dog a natural diet of raw meat, fruits, veggies, and supplements is one of the healthiest options. It preserves their teeth, supports their immune system, and promotes overall health. On a natural diet it is not unusual for dogs to live to 20 or more! Scroll through the slideshow to your right to see suggested brands of prepackaged raw and fresh prepackaged foods.
Why feed raw? It is a dog's natural diet! Most common health issues in dogs such as thyroid, dental, & kidney issues as well as dander, itching, shedding, and that nasty poop eating habit some dogs get are largely due to the unhealthy unnatural diet that pets are fed. Even "doggie odor" disapears on a raw diet! I highly recommend at least supplementing with a fresh or raw diet.
Homemade dog food
80% meat (examples are turkey, lamb, salmon, duck, beef, venison) I prefer to buy pre-ground raw
meat at my local discount food center. You can also just give chunks of meat to your dog, but it may be a messier process. No need to cook the meat.
10% organ meat (heart, liver, kidney, spleen, lung, tripe, brain, etc) This is harder to find. Asian groceries or local butchers sometimes carry it, or you can order online in various forms. offers an easy to serve preground mix.
10% bone and skin. This can either be preground into the meat (some pet stores carry meat and bone meal frozen), or you can just get fresh raw meaty bones and give them to your dog to eat. Butcher shops sell them, or just cut them out of your own food before you cook. As for skin you can buy meat with the skin still on, or buy dried duck or chicken feet for them to chew on.
Supplements such as raw organic egg, turmeric, probiotics (you can purchase canine probiotics at petsmart or on amazon), cilantro, parsley, extra virgin olive oil & coconut oil, black pepper, diatomaceous earth, garlic, red raspberry leaf tea (for unspayed girls), bone broth.
Pulped veggies such as spinach, kale, carrots, dandelion greens, bell pepper. You can buy them prediced and frozen if it is easier.
Some rice, potato, or other starch,
A few blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, or other fruit.
There is room for variation in this. I do a slightly different version each time. As with humans it is beneficial to eat a variety of things. I mix up and freeze a large batch of this and defrost in small quantities.
My dogs eat 4 Health Lamb and rice or puppy kibble when they go to new homes. These days there are many high quality brands to choose from. Some high quality kibble suggestions are given in the slideshow on the right. These are
free of corn, wheat, soy, by-products, BHT preservatives, and dyes - ingredients that signify inferior quality and that will shorten your pets life, degrade their health and can even cause serious allergic reactions in pets. All of the foods below are made with high quality meats and other ingredients, and important
supplements. We recommend avoiding foods that are chicken based due to the low quality of that type of meat when produced by factory farms.
Your dog can still benefit from these supplements with their meal:
Turmeric, probiotics, cilantro, parsley, virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, black pepper
Fresh ground veggies such as spinach, kale, carrots, dandelion greens, bell pepper.
Blueberries or cranberries for urinary health
Additionally it is good to occasionally change brands of food, or at least use a different formula. It is not healthy for them to eat the same thing year in and year out, they will begin to not fully absorb nutrients.
I feed puppies all they want in a meal 3x a day until 12 weeks, then 2x a day until 6 months. After that I feed a rationed amount 1x a day. I alternate feeding a raw homemade diet and high quality kibble.
Use the same guidelines that are used for buying dog food when buying treats avoiding corn, wheat, soy, sugar, dyes, and unnecessary chemicals.Look for treats that are essentially dried jerky.
We also recommend giving your dog purified water. The heavy metals found in city water supplies are very harmful.
Additionally avoid feeding canned foods regularly due to the aluminum content. Aluminum is very harmful to health particularly brain function. Canned food absorbs aluminum from the can during the cooking process.
Let's Talk About Weight
Being overweight creates many problems for your pet. It not only taxes their organs and joints, and takes years off of your pet's life, it also often leads to behavior problems. What is a correct weight for your pet?
If an adult dog is at a proper weight, you should be able to feel its ribs easily, and the dog should have a defined waist.
Excellent weight. Note the "tuck" at her waist, the smooth cheeks under her eyes, the well sprung ribcage
It is important not to use toxic "pet shampoos" that are offered
at many pet stores. We use Castile soap from Vitamin Shoppe or
Amazon, Trader Joes Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, or this recipe for
homemade pet shampoo. Natural flea and tick repellents that are essential oil based are also offered by Mercola and are available on Amazon.com including flea collars, drops, and sprays. We also occasionally use Bravecto during the height of flea season as a less toxic alternative than topical products. We use diatomaceous earth as a natural flea prevention and give garlic as a daily part of their diet to prevent fleas. I have also found Buzz Away essential oil bug spray to be very effective against ticks etc.
Common household air fresheners and cleaners are very harmful to you and your pet. They can even put tiny dogs into seizures, even death! We use essential oils for air freshening, and natural based detergents and cleaners.
Vitamin D is critical to your pet's health. Synthetic vitamins are not well absorbed, so make sure your dog gets outside for plenty of sunshine and excercise! Similarly many dogs eat feces. This is caused by a vitamin B deficiency where the dog is not absorbing the synthetic vitamins in the food. Give fresh foods rich in vitamin B to help resolve the problem.
Genetic health is important too. I test my dogs for DM (degenerative muscle issue), MDR1 (drug sensitivity), VWD (bleeding disorder), CEA (Collie eye), and PRA (progressive retinal atrophy).
A Word On Vaccinations
Most pet dogs are heavily overvaccinated. We follow a very limited vaccine protocol with our dogs. We vaccinate pups for parvo using Dr. John Robbs size adjusted vaccine doseage by weight at 7, 10, 13, and 16 weeks. After that research shows that the vaccine is good for a minimum of 5 years, usually longer. We vaccinate for rabies as close to fully grown as possible. Once again research has shown rabies vaccines are good for at least 5 years, so we get the 3 year rabies which is the exact same shot as the 1 year rabies! Small dogs suffer higher rates of vaccine related injury and death if the vet does not adjust the dose by weight since most vets give a chihuahua and great Dane the same dose. Vaccines contain many harmful heavy metals and toxins. Long term affects of vaccines are often seen in the form of behavioral issues as well as physical maladies.
Dental health is critical for long term wellness. Dental problems eventually lead to heart damage and even brain seizures, so dental care is essential to good health. Many breeders and pet owners never look in their dogs mouths and let them develop rotten teeth! As part of dental care we highly recommend giving real bones and tendons to your dog. These are readily available at pet supply stores and your local grocery store. They will keep your dog's teeth clean and provide much needed oral-stimulation. raw bones, dried poultry feet, bully sticks, and cow hooves are all good options. Additionally there are dental sprays that help reduce tartar buildup, and a routine dental cleaning at your vet may be needed.
Delay spay/neuter until at least 1 year of age to allow for proper bone and endocrine system growth. Additionally spaying too young can cause urinary issues. There are many health advantages to leaving your pet intact. They are at less risk of thyroid, urinary issues, as well as several cancers. Additionally the hormones help their bodies to regulate.
Detoxifying After Vaccination
Vaccinations destroy gut health. The health of the gut impacts brain and immune system function. It is critically important to detox after vaccination to help remove toxins and rebuild gut health. There are several ways to help your dog detox from vaccines – they’ll help rid his body of unwanted chemicals and side effects, but they won’t interfere with the vaccines themselves. You’ll want to try these as soon as your dog is vaccinated (don’t wait for symptoms to appear, start the detox right away).
Vaccines can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut – this community of bacteria helps your dog manufacture and absorb vitamins and it’s the core of your dog’s immune system. You never want to damage this delicate community! Adding probiotics (plus their food, prebiotics) will help restore the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut. You can buy a pre-made prebiotic/probiotic blend or you can give your dog some kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi – any fermented food is a great source of healthy probiotics. Give probiotics twice a day (look for at least 10 billion CFU and avoid dairy-based probiotics) Garlic is perfectly safe for your dog in the right amounts. Garlic contains sulphur, which helps the liver detoxify from heavy metals. Dark leafy greens like kale, parsley and cilantro can help reduce the buildup
of heavy metals like mercury in the body. Give a half clove garlic per 10 pounds and add dark leafy greens to the meals daily. Also give a combination turmeric, black pepper, and olive oil added to their food
A List Of Holistic Veterinarians
Holistic Vet Clinic - Florida Brenda M. Tobin-Flood - South Carolina
Dr. Tamara Hebbler DVM - S. California Dr. Charles Loops DVM - North Carolina
Dr. Wendell Belfield DVM - N. California Dr. Christina Chambreau DVM - Maryland
Dr. Irene Devilliers D. I. HOM - Washington Dr. Larry Bernstein DVM - Florida
The products suggested here are ones that are recommended on other sources and appear to have good ingredients. We do not endorse or have financial interest in these products.
My dogs all love squeaky toys, especially the kind with no stuffing. I use the collars and leashes from Lupine Pet as they do not bleed or fray. I order them off Amazon though, not from the company. For tags I always recommend getting a nameplate that slides onto the collar like these Click Here as dangling tags are a choking hazard.
The Pet Vaccine Controversy
Most pet owners are familiar with the traditional protocol of taking pets in for a series of puppy shots, and then for yearly booster shots. We trust our vets give the correct doses and needed shots. However in recent years controversy has strung up regarding what consititutes responsible pet vaccination. A startlingly high number of pets (particularly small dogs) are showing vaccine reactions, high cancer rates, high kidney disease rates, seizures, and even death following vaccination. Meanwhile science is bringing to light the fact that pet dogs are heavily overvaccinated. Many vets are coming out to protest the overvaccination that is taught in vets schools and forced on pet owners. The vaccination issues has multiple components: Overly large doses, how frequently we give vaccines, what vaccines are needed, the rabies shot issue, and whether we give monovalent or multivalent vaccines.
So why should we be concerned about vaccines in the first place? To cite Dogs Naturally Magazine “Forty years ago, there was a popular misconception within the veterinary field that vaccines could be given continuously without harming the animal. More recently, the dangers of vaccination have been brought to light. Some vets are paying attention while others still use repeated vaccination. They either don’t believe or know of the research, or they’re protecting their income. Pet owners have two choices: allow their vet to decide how often their pets are vaccinated, or research vaccine safety and take an active role. For pet owners who wish to protect their pets from unnecessary vaccination, here are five vaccine ingredients they should know.
Aluminum is the most common adjuvant in veterinary vaccines. Aluminum is linked to the degeneration of the brain and nervous system. It can also cause neurological dysfunction. It promotes brain inflammation, oxidative damage, reduces the levels of brain antioxidants (i.e., glutathione) and disturbs calcium homeostasis. In the immature and developing brain, it might lead to a number of neurodevelopmental conditions in humans, such as seizures. In the mature (especially the aging brain), these mechanisms can lead to progressive neurodegeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease and ALS. Alzheimers disease is caused by plaque formation in the brain and chemical analysis shows an aluminum core at the root of each plaque.
Research at UC Davis in California suggests up to 39% of aging dogs have at least one sign of dementia. The dogs hade the same plaques as Alzheimer’s patients. Leading immunologist Hugh Fudenberg MD, says that humans who received five flu vaccinations between 1970 and 1980 are ten times more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than those who had only one or two shots. Fudenberg attributes this to aluminum and mercury, which almost every flu vaccine contains. The gradual accumulation of aluminum and mercury in the brain leads to cognitive dysfunction.
This mercury based additive has been used as a preservative for decades – and apparently the extreme neurotoxicity that mercury in general and Thimerosal in particular have also been known for decades.
In 1935, Eli Lilly (the creator of Thimerosal), was contacted by veterinary vaccine manufacturer Pittman-Moore after they declared Thimerosal as completely safe. Pittman-Moore wrote to them:
“We have obtained marked local reaction in about 50% of the dogs injected with serum containing dilutions of Merthiolate (Thimerosal). Merthioiate is unsatisfactory as a preservative for serum intended for use on dogs.” (Director of Biological Services, Pittman-Moore Company, letter to Dr Jamieson of Eli Lilly Company dated 1935. U.S. Congressional Record, May 21, 2003, E1018, page 9). Since then, repeated studies show the dangers of Thimerosal. In 1967, a study in Applied Microbiology found Thimerosal killed mice when added to vaccines. In 1972, Eli Lilly found Thimerosal to be “toxic to tissue cells” in concentrations as low as one part per million (PPM), 100 times weaker than the in a typical vaccine. Despite all of this ongoing and emerging data, Eli Lilly “continued to promote Thimerosal as ‘nontoxic,’” even including Thimerosal in topical disinfectants. In 1977, ten babies at a Toronto hospital died when an antiseptic preserved with Thimerosal was dabbed on their umbilical cords. In 1982, the FDA proposed a ban on over-the-counter products containing Thimerosal. In 1991 the FDA considered banning Thimerosal from animal vaccines.
Finally, in 2006, researchers at UC Davis published a study connecting thimerosal with disruptions in antigen presenting cells known as dendritic cells obtained from mice. Researchers and parents had previously proposed links between childhood vaccines and autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects language skills and social interactions. The UC Davis study indicates that in addition to being a direct neurotoxicant, Thimerosal may also be an immunotoxicant, leaving the immune system vulnerable to microbes and other external influences. Samuel R. Goth et al., Uncoupling of ATP-Mediated Calcium Signaling and Dysregulated Interleukin-6 Secretion in Dendritic Cells by Nanomolar Thimerosal.
Today, most veterinary vaccines still contain Thimerosal, despite the dire warning signs that have been present for nearly a century.
Why is Thimerosal necessary for vaccines? Well, it turns out it isn’t. Thimerosal has one function. It allows vaccine manufacturers to package vaccines in multi-dose vials. This means each vaccine will cost a few dollars less. Thimerosal would be completely unnecessary if vaccines were manufactured in single dose vials.
Contaminants found in vaccines are also behind many of the adverse reactions we see in dogs. “Contaminant” means anything that shouldn’t be there. That’s anything impure or unclean, is toxic or poisonous, or has the ability to create disease. Vaccines contain contaminants that can cause cancer, leukemia, autoimmune diseases and a myriad of other unwanted conditions. An important scientific paper was published in April 2010 in the Journal of Virology (Isolation of an Infectious Endogenous Retrovirus [RD-114] in a Proportion of Live Attenuated Vaccines for Pets, Journal of Virology, April 2010, p 3690-3694, Vol 84, No 7). It showed how two teams of scientists, in Japan and the UK, isolated a feline retrovirus (called RD-114) in both feline and canine vaccines in the UK and Japan. Had teams from America, or Germany, or Kazakhstan also been looking, they would probably have found the retrovirus, too. The contamination involved seed stock – the witches’ brew of disease shared amongst vaccine manufacturers internationally, from which they make their vaccines.
The following are extracts from a related paper appearing in Biologicals in 2010. “RD-114 was first isolated from a human tumor cell line (RD cells) derived from a human rhabdomyosarcoma after passage through fetal cats, and is thought to be xenotropic.”
Translation: they found this cat retrovirus in a highly malignant human tumor. “Xenotropic” means that it will be harmless in the original host species, but will cause problems (like tumors) in a different species.
In her article on Vaccine Contaminants in the January 2013 issue of Dogs Naturally Magazine, author Catherine O’Driscoll continues, “One of the authors of this paper wrote to me privately: “If the ERV induces diseases in vaccinated animals and humans, it will take more than five years (in animals) to ten years (in humans) when the first patient appears. But it will take additional time to relate some diseases with specific vaccines because expected diseases are very common (such as cancers, lymphoma and autoimmune diseases). If so, when we are aware of the real risk of ERVs, it is too late because millions are infected with the viruses by the contaminated vaccines.””
The only official checks made for contaminants in vaccines are for a few known pathogens, potentially missing a vast host of unknown, unstudied, small particles and chemicals. It’s simply impossible to remove contaminants from vaccines.
4. Animal Protein
Disease micro-organisms are often cultured on animal tissue including embryonic chickens or cow fetuses. When a vaccine is manufactured, it is impossible to divide the wanted virus from the unwanted animal tissue. It all gets ground up together and injected into your dog’s body.
If a dog eats animal flesh or an egg, it is digested into simpler amino acids before entering the bloodstream. The digestive process in most cases changes protein molecules so they don’t trigger an immune reaction. This is not the case for vaccines. They are injected undigested, directly into the bloodstream, where the foreign protein matter circulates throughout the body.
An immune response is triggered when the body detects foreign proteins. Killer cells (white blood cells) are sent out to consume the cells containing the foreign proteins and protein fragments. This process is nature’s way of protecting the body from being overwhelmed by invading organisms and eventually succumbing to them. The foreign protein fragments are not always destroyed by the body as it is busy cleaning up the multiple viruses that have just been injected, along with the serious chemicals aluminum, Thimerosal, formaldehyde and more. So the foreign protein matter gets absorbed into body cells. T-Cells, sensing they are there, but unable to reach them directly, attack the body cells that harbor them. This can lead to autoimmune disorders including cancer, allergies, arthritis and more.
“Our ongoing studies of dogs show that following routine vaccination, there is a significant level of antibodies dogs produce against their own tissues…Some of these antibodies have been shown to target the thyroid gland, the connective tissue such as that found in the valves of the heart, red blood cells, DNA etc.” Larry Glickman DVM, referring to the results of the Purdue Vaccine Studies.
The final vaccine ingredient to be discussed isn’t injected into dogs, but the concept of vaccination itself. In 2005, the global vaccine market was $6 billion. In 2012, it is $34 billion. It’s not surprising that more vaccines are manufactured for dogs and media hype frightens pet owners into using them. The canine influenza vaccine is an example. In 2011, the media heavily covered canine influenza and the need for vaccination. At the center of most of the media articles reporting the need to vaccinate for canine influenza was Dr Cynda Crawford. Dr Crawford is a veterinarian at the University of Florida (UF) who led the research team that first identified the canine influenza virus in 2004.
Interestingly, Crawford, along with colleagues at UF, Cornell University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), share intellectual rights to the canine influenza virus; Merck has licensed the right to use the virus to make a vaccine. However, Crawford maintains that she and the others do not receive compensation from vaccine sales.
The VIN reports:
“Some veterinarians suspect that vigorous marketing of canine influenza vaccine plays a part in confusing perceptions of disease prevalence. Vaccine manufacturer Merck confirmed it markets the vaccine through “education of boarding facility operators, kennels, pet owners and veterinarians about the disease state and about steps they can take to encourage prevention.” Told that some are concerned about overzealous marketing, Merk had no comment.
“Dr Crawford said that regardless of Merck’s role in calling attention to the disease, documented infections are occurring. She said the company is making worthwhile contributions to scientific understanding of the disease.”
When the dust settled in 2011, it appeared that canine influenza wasn’t that big a deal after all. Dr David Lewis, director of consultation services at Antech Diagnostics and a consultant on VIN, said his lab saw no unusual flu activity outside of the New York City area in 2011.
(NOTE: So why do vets continue to vaccinate for the dog flu?
Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center reported an uptick in positive results from greater New York City as well as from a single kennel in San Antonio, Texas. Idexx noticed eight cases in California, three in New York City and ten cases in Texas. Clearly, there was very little risk from canine influenza but much profit to be made.)
The veterinary associations also have a pro-vaccination agenda. Animal vaccine researcher Dr Ronald Schultz says, “Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.” Dr Schultz published An Ideal (But Not Proven) Immunization Schedule for Dogs and Cats in 1978 and followed up with research where dogs where challenged with exposure to Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus, anywhere from one to 11 years after vaccination. Every single dog was protected when exposed to the virus. These early recommendations prompted the AAHA to assemble a task force. In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force evaluated the data from these challenge and serological studies. While noting core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least seven years, it compromised in 2003 with the statement “revaccination every 3 years is considered protective.”
Task force member Dr Richard Ford, Professor of Medicine, North Carolina State University, said the decision to recommend a three year core vaccine revaccination schedule was a compromise. “It’s completely arbitrary…,” he said. “I will say there is no science behind the three-year recommendation…”
Why did the vets advocate a three year recommendation when the data showed vaccines lasted for at least seven years?
“Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession’s resistance to update its protocols. Without the lure of vaccines, clients are less inclined to make yearly veterinary visits. Vaccines add up to 14 percent of the average practice’s income, AAHA reports, and veterinarians stand to lose big. I suspect some are ignoring my work,” says Schultz, who claims some distemper vaccines last as long as 15 years. “Tying vaccinations into the annual visit became prominent in the 1980s and a way of practicing in the 1990s. Now veterinarians don’t want to give it up.”
Vaccination is fraught with problems that weren’t considered even a few short years ago. Vaccination programs should consider both the benefits and the inherent risks of each vaccine given to companion animals. Some vets are able to see through the politics and money that drive revaccination while others can’t. To protect their pets from unnecessary vaccination, pet owners must discover which camp their vet is in.
“I believe that before we continue to inject foreign substances year after year into our pets which I believe can cause them harm, that we should first make sure they absolutely need it. If they don’t, why do it?” says Michael Goldberg DVM. That’s a very good question indeed and one that both vets and pet owners should be able to answer.
“Did you know that a 160 pound Mastiff and a 10 pound Chihuahua both get the same amount of vaccine? Unlike every other veterinary drug, 1 ml of vaccine is given to every dog, regardless of his size according to standard veterinary protocol. There seem to be a few problems with this approach. Researchers (Moore, Guptill, Ward et al, in their study “Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16220670 ) looked at veterinary records gathered from Banfield veterinary clinics for two years to find any trends in reactions suffered three days after vaccination. What they found was that small breed dogs (especially if they were young or neutered), were at the greatest risk.
In fact, the risk increased as the body weight went down, just like a sliding scale. Overall, dogs weighing 11 pounds or less were four times more likely than dogs over 99 pounds to suffer an adverse event (and medium sized dogs also had an increased risk over larger dogs). Why Are Small Dogs More At Risk? Because vaccines contain only a small amount of antigen for safety reasons; you wouldn’t want your dog to get rabies from the vaccine! So vaccines contain either small amounts of inactivated antigen or, more recently, subunit antigen particles that look like a virus to the body but can’t really stimulate much of an immune response on their own.
So the vaccine needs to contain some pretty toxic ingredients called adjuvants (stuff like aluminum) that make the body respond to vaccines quicker, longer and more actively. These adjuvants create an inflammatory response that can range from a bump at the injection site to allergic reactions, anaphylaxis and even cardiac arrest. With time, they may even lead to chronic allergies, joint disease and cancer – but we’ll stick to adverse events that occur within 72 hours of vaccination, because most vaccine reactions that occur outside that timeframe (and many do!) aren’t considered vaccine related by most vets and aren’t reported.
So that’s why small dogs are more at risk of vaccine damage…they get the lion’s share of adjuvants (and other things like mercury, formaldehyde and foreign animal protein) in their 1ml of vaccine.”
So why do small dogs get such a big dose? I called the manufacturer of a popular vaccine company Neotech and asked them. The answer is that they only tested the vaccine in one dosage size. They simply never bothered to put further research and money into testing these vaccines for approval in smaller doses!! They do not test their vaccine products for safety in tiny dogs or puppies or before getting approval for sale (or test for long term side affects) either. They simply use a few 20 lb mixed breeds, give them a vaccine overdose, and if they do not show any obvious physical reaction within a few weeks then the vaccine is considered safe to give to a 12 ounce puppy!! We used to see vaccine reactions frequently in toy breed puppies and now follow a very limited vaccine protocol with our dogs. Dr. John Robb has created a vaccine by weight dosage chart that is very helpful. Titer testing has shown these doses to be effective, and I have not personally had any vaccine reactions since starting this protocol.
So how frequently should we vaccinate? ”The puppy’s immune system is not fully mature, or active, until he is around six months of age, so the maternal antibodies provide passive immunity to each puppy. When a puppy with a reasonable amount of maternal antibodies is vaccinated, the maternal antibodies will essentially inactivate the vaccine, just as they would a real virus. The maternal antibodies for distemper are fairly predictable and are usually low enough for vaccination to be effective at eight or nine weeks of age. In the case of parvovirus however, the maternal antibodies last a lot longer in most puppies, so vaccinating at eight or nine weeks wouldn’t be all that effective.
In a study performed by Vanguard, it was found that a combination vaccine (which typically contains parvovirus, distemper and one to five other antigens), given to six week old puppies had only a 52% chance of protecting them against parvo. At nine weeks of age, 88% of the puppies in the study showed a response to the vaccine. At 12 weeks, 100% of the puppies were protected. Some vaccines will provide protection earlier or later. What this study shows is that vaccinating puppies under 12 weeks of age for parvo, and certainly under nine weeks of age, is a high risk – low reward approach.”
Puppy shots are not boosters. Instead puppy vaccination entails vaccinating ever 3 weeks in the hopes that eventually the vaccine will work. Once puppies reach 16 weeks the vaccines are certain to work as the maternal antibodies have fully worn off. This means that puppies retain the immunity from the vaccine. Most vets recommend yearly vaccination after the intial puppy shots. However did you know your dog’s (and your cat’s) vaccines last a lot longer than this?
To cite Dog’s Naturally “the duration of immunity for rabies vaccine, canine distemper vaccine, canine parvovirus vaccine, feline panleukopenia vaccine, feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, have all been shown to last a minimum of 7 years by serology (measuring blood antibody levels) for rabies and challenge studies for all the rest.
In the Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis, Ithaca, NY, 1999, Dr Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the forefront of vaccine research and chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences, outlines the duration of immunity for the following vaccines:
Minimum Duration Of Immunity For Canine Vaccines
Distemper- 7 years by challenge/15 years by serology
Parvovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Adenovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 9 years by serology
Canine rabies – 3 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Dr Schultz concludes: “Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.” (Are we vaccinating too muchJAVMA, No. 4, August 15, 1995, pg. 421) Yet vets continue to vaccinate annually. Dog owners feel that their vets are doing their dogs a great service by vaccinating every three years instead of annually – why do we allow it when these studies were done over thirty years ago and have been replicated time and again by other researchers?” You see veterinarians only practice what they were taught in vet school. They tend to not do much research outside of this expensive education. Additionally yearly vaccination is the bread-and-butter of the industry.
Core vaccines are the ones most vets recommend your dog should have as a puppy. These vaccines all protect against dangerous viral diseases, and they are: Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus.
The Non-Core vaccines include: Bordetella, Lyme Disease, Leptospirosis 4-way, Canine Influenza, Parainfluenza, Adenovirus Intranasal
Several of the non-core vaccines (Bordetella, Lyme and Leptospirosis) are bacterial vaccines. Bacterial vaccines have low efficacy rates coupled with high incidence of adverse reactions. This means they should rarely be used, and then, only after careful consideration of all the risks of vaccinating vs not vaccinating against these diseases.
I will refer back to Dog’s Naturally here “There are many problems with the Leptospirosis vaccine, which is why many vets stay away from it. The two most important strikes against it are …
It does not provide effective immunization
It has an extremely high rate of adverse reactions
Ironically, vaccinated animals can also shed the bacteria and infect humans. Unfortunately, many vets recommending Leptospirosis vaccines rely on information provided by the drug companies that make the vaccines, and, as a result, are not aware that the vaccine does not confer immunity – despite the fact that even the AVMA guidelines warn that 30% of dogs may not respond to the vaccine.
Canine Coronavirus (CCV) is NOT recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) because it:
causes mild or subclinical disease.
generally occurs in dogs younger than six weeks old.
is typically self-limiting.
In other words coronavirus that occurs in dogs old enough to be vaccinated against it is a mild illness that is not highly contagious. Additionally it is not common.
But what about kennel cough? To quote Dog’s Naturally magazine “Your veterinarian, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer says your dog should/must be vaccinated against kennel cough…
…but you’re trying not to over-vaccinate your dog.
More and more, pet parents are finding another vet, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer — or keeping their dog at home! Vaccination is a serious medical procedure with significant potential risks. If that isn’t enough, this vaccine is unlikely to prevent kennel cough. It can even produce kennel-cough like symptoms. In general, if they have good ventilation and practice good hygiene, kennel cough shouldn’t be an issue. Bordetella is not for dogs playing together in well-ventilated areas — like dog parks or backyards or living rooms. Think of kennel cough as a canine cold, transmitted as human colds are transmitted — from an infected individual in close contact with another individual with compromised immunity. Like a cold, it is also considered a mild self-limiting disease.
If the person insisting on the Bordetella vaccine is afraid other dogs at their establishment will contract kennel cough from your unvaccinated dog, this person clearly doesn’t trust that the vaccinated dogs actually have immunity. If they don’t believe the vaccine is protective, why insist that you or anyone else vaccinate? World-renowned vaccination scientist, Dr. Schultz says [emphasis is mine]: “Many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and CPI and/or CAV-2 every 6 to 9 months without evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and disease is not seen. CPI immunity lasts at least 3 years when given intranasally, and CAV -2 immunity lasts a minimum of 7 years parenterally for CAV-I. These two viruses in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica are the agents most often associated with kennel cough, however, other factors play an important role in disease (e.g. stress, dust, humidity, molds, mycoplasma, etc.), thus kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable disease because of the complex factors associated with this disease. Furthermore, this is often a mild to moderate self limiting disease. I refer to it as the ‘Canine Cold.’”
Personally I used to vaccinate against Bordetella. I found that about half of my dogs would catch the illness from the vaccine. Others were not protected and caught it later as there are many strains. Additionally the vaccinated dogs were shedding the illness and giving it to everyone! This is one reason dog shelters have an abundance of dogs with kennel cough, they proactively vaccinate for it!
So what about rabies? While rabies vaccinations are proven to confer immunity that lasts between 5 years-life, most states only allow 1 year and 3 year rabies vaccination. I give the 3 year since it is the same dosage as the one year! There are vets pushing to change the legislation regarding rabies vaccinations and I hope they succeed! While many holistically minded vets can be found who will give size adjusted doses of distemper or parvo vaccines, they legally are not allowed to give a rabies shot in any other dose than 1 ml. So I wait until my dog is fully grown to vaccinate for rabies to minimize the any reactions.
Can’t find a vet who will give size adjusted doses? Pet owners can also purchase their own distemper and parvo vaccines through local pet stores, feed stores, or online companies and administer these vaccines themselves.
Unlike a vaccine such as rabies, which contains a single virus, parvo and distemper vaccinations are usually given in combination vaccines that contain multiple “modified live” viruses mixed with various bacteria. 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. So why do vets use these combinations? Profit and convenience are the big selling points. Vets in large corporate practices (such as Banfield), 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.
According to Dogs Naturally Magazine “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.
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 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.”
So what other options exist? I use Neotech vaccines which are monovalent (one disease only). I vaccinate for parvo and distemper and rabies only, and always vaccinate 3 weeks apart. This means my puppies are given parvo shots at 9, 12, and 16 weeks, then a distemper at 19 weeks, then much later a rabies vaccine. If your vet refuses to accommodate you find a new vet, preferably someone who is holistically minded and researches issues out of concern for their furry charges. You can also do titer testing to confirm immunity.