New clients often enter my exam room for a second opinion on how to manage their pets’ chronic diseases. These diseases most often include hypothyroidism, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease or even cancer. As we review the patient’s case, one of the most important questions I ask is, “Are your pet’s vaccinations up to date?”
“Oh, yes, is the reply, my other vet just took care of that.”
This answer drives me crazy. Those vaccinations can be causing or aggravating their pets’ chronic diseases. And this is clearly written right on the vaccine label! Here are four very clear warnings from the vaccine manufacturers that are often ignored:
1. Vaccinate only healthy animals
Surely everyone would agree patients suffering from chronic diseases like hypothyroidism or allergies are not healthy! Yet, despite these manufacturer warnings, the previous veterinarian administered the vaccine anyway. What is the justification for this? The client is often told that annual revaccination is a requirement. Yet, vaccine inserts say…
2. Revaccination decisions should be made based on veterinarian/client/patient relationship
What does this mean? The client gets to participate in the decision? Yes! In fact, in Wisconsin and many states, there is an informed consent law which requires the veterinarian to explain benefits and risks of every recommended procedure before implementation.
What are the benefits and risks? Is there a benefit to giving a vaccination to a pet who is immune-suppressed during allergy treatment with prednisone? No – the body cannot respond to a vaccination when it’s immune-suppressed. In fact, vaccine reactions are often suppressed intentionally, with prednisone treatment! Does the risk of a reaction outweigh the need for the vaccine based on the pet’s lifestyle? Commonly, the answer to this is, yes! Contrary to this, my client was told annual revaccination is standard care and problems with vaccines are uncommon. Yet the insert clearly says…
3. Vaccines may produce anaphylaxis and/or inflammatory, immune-mediated hypersensitivity reactions.
Tissue–origin vaccines contain extraneous protein that can lead to autoimmune disease. Vaccine may induce the development of injection-site fibrosarcomas (in cats).
What is this all about? Manufacturers know that vaccines might not be safe? Vaccines might actually cause more harm than good? The manufacturer says the vaccine could cause autoimmune disease?
What is an example of an autoimmune disease? In humans, many are familiar with lupus. In pets, many are familiar with autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) or immune –mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP). These are life-threatening blood disorders. Often the cause is unidentified. Yet these disorders commonly occur within two weeks to three months after a vaccination.
There seems to be an epidemic of autoimmune thyroiditis in dogs. Researchers are now proposing an autoimmune mechanism as a cause for arthritis. Concerned pet guardians can’t help but wonder about the vaccine connection to all this!
My practice is inundated with the most chronically and severely ill patients because we offer alternatives for pets when conventional approaches fail. My staff is always so excited when a fresh new puppy or kitten arrives because we love nothing more than to get them off to a great start! We strive to provide a safe balance using Western diagnostics and skills and Eastern thought and natural medicines.
Periodically, a savvy new pet guardian will say, “My regular vet told me those titers are a waste of money. The vaccine is cheaper and then you know your pet is protected. But, my new smart client adds, “I had a friend whose puppy was vaccinated and died from parvo anyway. I’m so confused, I just want to do what’s best.” What the previous veterinarian didn’t explain is that it clearly states in the vaccine manufacturer insert….
4. Maternal antibodies interfere with the development of immunity in a puppy (or kitten)
If maternal antibodies block the effectiveness of the vaccine and you don’t know this, than an exposed pup will get very ill, despite being vaccinated. How can you know whether that vaccine has protected your puppy? Draw some blood and check the titer! That’s what titers measure best: the development of immunity.
Why do vaccine manufacturers make these statements and place them inside every vaccine package?
They don’t want to be held liable for harm that can happen if their products aren’t used properly. For this same reason, veterinary advisors who work for these companies will recommend that vaccines not be repeated after a reaction. Yet my clients tell me their reactive pets are still vaccinated every year but the vet gives an antihistamine injection prior to giving the offending vaccine. The veterinarian who does this is clearly ignoring the vaccine manufacturer’s warning.
Be your pet’s advocate. Now you know that it’s okay to question the routine administration of vaccinations. All you need to do is ask your vet to let you read the vaccine insert and you can ask him for his reasons for vaccinating your dog against the recommendation of the vaccine manufacturer.