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What Your Vet Doesn’t Know About Distemper Could Harm Your Dog

vet vaccineAny vaccine given to any dog at any point in his life has the ability to cause harm. This makes it incredibly important to limit vaccinations to only those that will protect your pet. After all, the entire point of vaccination is to protect your pet from harm, isn’t it?

If improved health is the true goal of your dog’s vaccination program, then your vet must understand that any unnecessary vaccine should be avoided. Yet this almost never happens.

The reasons vets over vaccinate are varied: some are just unaware that they are vaccinating too often. Other vets don’t believe that vaccines have the ability to harm your dog. Others just stick to outdated schedules out of comfort or habit. It really doesn’t matter why dogs are over vaccinated – what really matters is that this practice is stopped.

If you don’t think your dog is being vaccinated too often, the following information about the distemper vaccine might offer a glimpse into how many unnecessary vaccines our dogs are exposed to.

What You Need To Know About Distemper

In a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, renowned veterinary infectious disease expert Dr Ronald Schultz vaccinated puppies with just one dose of distemper vaccine just four hours prior to placing the puppies in a room with distemper infected dogs. All of the puppies (which were vaccinated at 12 weeks), were protected against distemper in this challenge study.

In fact, the distemper vaccine works so well, that it can even be given up to three days post exposure to healthy puppies and still offer protection. Dr Schultz offers his expertise on the subject in the following video taken from New Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines: What Has Changed and Why:

What About Booster Shots?

Many pet owners (and some vets) believe that it takes more than one vaccine to protect a puppy. This isn’t true in most cases. It only takes one vaccine to confer immunity, if delivered at the right time. Although two and even three doses of vaccine were the original recommendations made in the AAHA 2003 Canine Vaccine Guideline, Dr Schultz’s research shows that the series of vaccinations is unnecessary.Puppies vaccinated for distemper once at 12 to 16 weeks of age with a high titer vaccine have a virtually 100% chance of being protected. And that protection is most likely for life.

In 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce warned vets in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) that “Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination … Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.”

“This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information  as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.”

“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.”  says Dr. Schultz.  “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”

Below is the result of duration of immunity testing on over 1,000 dogs.  Both challenge (exposure to the real virus) and serology (antibody titer results) are shown below:

Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines
Minimum Duration of Immunity
Methods Used to Determine Immunity
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
Rockbom Strain 7 yrs / 15 yrs challenge / serology
Onderstepoort Strain 5 yrs / 9 yrs challenge / serology
Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) 7 yrs / 9 yrs challenge-CAV-1 / serology
Canine Parvovirus-2 (CAV-2) 7 yrs challenge / serology


It’s important to note that this is the MINIMUM duration of immunity.  These ceilings reflect not the duration of immunity, rather the duration of the studies.  Dr. Schultz explains “It is important to understand that these are minimum DOI’s and longer studies have not been done with certain of the above products. It is possible that some or all of these products will provide lifelong immunity.”

Dr. Schultz has seen these results repeated over the years.  In 2010, he published the following with newer generation, recombinant vaccines.  It’s important to note that not only did the vaccines provide protection for a minimum of 4 to 5 years, they did so in 100% of the dogs tested.

So Why Are Dogs Vaccinated Every Year Or Three Years?

That’s a good question and here’s one answer:

“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 might be 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. “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.”

What Are The Dangers Of Over Vaccination?

It’s important that vaccines are only given when necessary because every vaccine has the potential to kill the patient or create debilitating chronic diseases including cancer and allergies. Below is a list of potential adverse vaccine reactions:

Common Reactions:

  • Lethargy
  • Hair Loss, hair color change at injection Site
  • Fever
  • Soreness
  • Stiffness
  • Refusal to eat
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Sneezing
  • Oral ulcers

Moderate Reactions:

  • Immunosupression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Vitiligo
  • Weight loss (Cachexia)
  • Reduced milk production
  • Lameness
  • Granulomas/Abscesses
  • Hives
  • FacialeEdema
  • Atopy
  • Respiratory disease
  • Allergic uveitis (Blue Eye)

Severe Reactions triggered by Vaccines:

  • Vaccine injection site sarcomas
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Arthritis, polyarthritis
  • HOD hypertrophy osteodystrophy
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
  • Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP)
  • Hemolytic disease of the newborn (Neonatal Isoerythrolysis)
  • Thyroiditis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Disease or enhanced disease which with the vaccine was designed to prevent
  • Myocarditis
  • Post vaccinal Encephalitis or polyneuritis
  • Seizures
  • Abortion, congenital anomalies, embryonic/fetal death, failure to conceive

How Much Is Too Much?

It’s well established that vaccines can be harmful and should therefore be limited to as few as possible to protect our pets. “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given” says Dr Schultz. He adds, “Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”

So if the goal of vaccination is to protect animals from harm, how do the following vaccine schedules for distemper make sense when only one is needed to protect a puppy, most likely for life?

Yearly Vaccination

yearly distemper vaccine
Any dog who is vaccinated three times as a puppy and again at a year, then annually will be vaccinated for distemper 15 times if he lives to 12. Now read Dr Schultz’s research above. Most puppies are protected for distemper within hours of vaccination and most dogs, once successfully vaccinated, are protected for life.

If your dog is vaccinated yearly for distemper, then he will receive 14 unnecessary vaccinations in his life – if he’s lucky enough to survive those vaccinations for 12 years.

Triennial Vaccination

triennialMany vets pride themselves on not vaccinating annually. Triennial vaccination, although it delivers fewer vaccinations to your dog, is just as flawed in its logic as annual vaccination. Most 12 year old dogs who are vaccinated triennially will be vaccinated eight times for distemper. While that’s certainly better than 15, it’s still most likely 7 times too many!



What Should Your Dog’s Distemper Vaccine Schedule Look Like?

dog vaccineOne. Uno. That’s it. Some dogs may require a second distemper vaccine as puppies if maternal antibodies block the first one, but if a puppy is vaccinated after 12 to 16 weeks of age, he will most likely be protected, for life, with just one distemper vaccine.



What About The Other Vaccines?

We’ve just focused on distemper here. Most dogs also receive other components in their vaccines including parvovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza, Lyme disease, leptorspirosis, bordetella, rabies and more. Clearly, the number of unnecessary vaccines our companion dogs endure – and the potential damage they pose – are out of control. So what can you do?

Take Back Control

If the information we’ve presented in this article makes you think that you should lighten your dog’s vaccine schedule, then do it. Don’t expect your vet to do it for you. And don’t go to groomers, training facilities or boarding kennels that require too many vaccines. There are enlightened vets and businesses out there and your dollars would be much better spent supporting these fine people instead of the businesses who are asking you to subject your dog to an unnecessary and dangerous vaccination protocol.

Dr. Schultz summarizes his 40 years of research with the following:

“Only one dose of the modified-live canine ‘core’ vaccine (against CDV, CAV-2 and CPV-2) or modified-live feline ‘core’ vaccine (against FPV, FCV and FHV), when administered at 16 weeks or older, will provide long lasting (many years to a lifetime) immunity in a very high percentage of animals.”

Like anybody who is exposed to too many drugs, the first step is to admit you have a problem. The second step is to stop the vaccine addiction immediately. That may mean saying no to your vet or, preferably, it means finding a vet who is paying attention to the damage vaccines can cause and is using vaccines (or not using them) to do what they were designed to do: protect your dog!



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  • 60 Responses to What Your Vet Doesn’t Know About Distemper Could Harm Your Dog

    1. Sarah

      My lab was given distemper combo in 2 injections over a months time. He now all of the sudden has had skin irritation. He was 17 months old when we vaccinated him. I’m never having any vaccine given to him except rabies. Very frustrated to say the least.

    2. Anna

      My puppy received all her first shots, but rabies before she was 10 weeks old as she had to fly and have those done to enter another country…..does that mean the vaccinations might not had worked for her? I keep reading she should have her distemper and parvo vaccines done between 12 and 16 week….

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Anna, it’s possible that maternal antibodies may have interfered with the vaccine at that age, but the best way to find out is to have a titer done for rabies. You can have your vet draw blood and send it to hemopet.org (visit them online for instructions). That’s usually the most economical way to do it.

    3. You know this information is VERY disturbing. People like me who has 3 dogs and takes them to the kennel once a year are REQUIRED by the owners of the kennel to have updated distemper vaccines. One owner of the kennel even rejected me one year because I gave the vaccines myself!!! She wanted me to go to the Vet and have them vaccinated AGAIN in the same year. I am a nurse and QUITE capable of giving a sub Q injection just as well as the Vet. I refused, explaining the dogs had their vaccines in March and this was for August. She refused to let me board them unless I had a piece of paper stating they were VET vaccinated. RIDICULOUS!! Breeders do it all the time!! Also I had to have the bodatella vaccine given again as well. Perhaps the Vets these days need to FORGET about making their millions of dollars ( because I KNOW how much each vaccine costs, and they charge you WAY over that ) and think about the good of the animal. NONE of the Vets in my area of Pa. tell you to forgo the vaccines. NONE. But if you want to vacation, and you don’t want to take your dogs, you are stuck.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Diane, perhaps you can find a kennel that will accept titers, or let you sign a waiver? Sometimes a better option is to have someone dogsit in your home.

    4. Chad Geri

      As a veterinarian, I’ve been following the protocol of vaccinating every three years for distemper, CAV, parvo and rabies for as long as I’ve been practicing. I’m frustrated at vets who continue to give these vaccines annually, although I’m glad that most newer vets are learning and adopting these updated protocols. This article, however, does distort Dr. Shultz’s research and once again demonstrates the danger of making decisions based upon articles that report on study findings rather than based on the study itself.

      Nowhere in the data reported can I see evidence of lifelong immunity in all dogs. In fact, it looks like the worst case scenario was immunity lasting five years. Further, I don’t see any evidence that one vaccination as a puppy between 12 and 16 weeks produced lifelong immunity in all dogs. I searched online to see what Dr. Shultz’s own recommendations are regarding vaccination protocols. As recently as 2013, which post-dates the study referenced in this article, Dr. Shultz was involved in releasing the current AAHA guidelines for vaccination (www.aahanet.org/publicdocuments/can…).

      These guidelines, which Dr Shultz endorsed, recommend vaccination not more often than every three years, and do acknowledge that duration of immunity lasts five years or more. But nowhere does it suggest that immunity is lifelong. And in a 2013 interview Dr Schultz recommended either revaccination or titer checks “no more frequently than every three years” (www.greenacreskennel.com/pet-health…). So clearly the researcher himself who is cited in this article is not comfortable with saying immunity will be lifelong.

      The take-home is this. If your vet is still vaccinating annually, perhaps you should request a different protocol or find another vet, because your pet simply is being over-vaccinated (for the core vaccines; other vaccines such as kennel cough or leptospirosis should be given more frequently). But if your vet is vaccinating every three years or so, they’re practicing good medicine, and the assertion that they’re over-vaccinating your pet just to get your money is unfair and incorrect. Triennial vaccination has been virtually universally agreed upon to be a safe balance between too much and insufficient vaccination, minimizing risks of vaccine reaction while ensuring that ALL pets are sufficiently protected. And nothing in this article undermines this.

      - Chad Geri, DVM

    5. Dr. Lisa

      It’s great to spread the information about the newer vaccine protocols that prevent over-vaccination.
      However, there is an area where this article is somewhat misleading, and that is Parvo.

      The information about distemper is pretty accurate. It’s an amazingly effective vaccine, which seems to confer immunity for life from very few immunizations. The problem is that parvo vaccine is usually given as a combo vaccine (immunization for multiple diseases in one vaccine) with distemper, hepatitis and parainfluenza (DHPP). Parvo vaccine is effective as well, but the disease protection is not as uniform as it is for distemper.

      I personally have tested blood titers (markers for disease immunity) on several dogs that showed that they had lost their immunity to parvo after 3 years. The dogs particularly at risk for shorter immunity duration are those that have a weaker immune system, such as older dogs, those with chronic diseases, auto-immune problems or allergies. However, one of the low-titer dogs I tested appeared to be normal and perfectly healthy.

      So, are you going assume your dog is one of the many that can go 7 years without a parvo booster, and take the risk that your dog might be one of the few that doesn’t stay immunized? Parvo is far more common than distemper in most areas, and it’s a devastating disease.

      My strong advice: if you go longer than 3 years between vaccinating for parvo, at least do the titer test every few years. Then, if you dog has a low titer, vaccinate for parvo only.

    6. Technician

      Please stop buying into VACCINES WILL SAVE YOUR DOG!!! They will do way more harm than good if you over do something. Just like ice cream, its great, tastes good, but if you over it, you get fat (no offense to anyone)

      Please stand up to your vets and technicians about over vaccinating. I for one, LOVE hearing clients stand up to us about over vaccinating. Its my job to discuss vaccines and I dont do it fully (shhh), I dont push vaccines like the dr wants me to, Ive been there for many years now, we argue all the time about it. I wont even vaccinate my dogs (and when clients ask me about my dogs, I tell the truth)
      Dobermann: Puppy vaccines, 1 year booster dhpp and rabies (none sense) He just turned 5yrs old and recent titer shower protected
      Dobermann 2: Same protocol as before, she will be 7yrs old in November, I just did her titers as well, she was protected
      Mix Breed: I got her when she was 2 years old. She had initial shots, Dhpp and Rabies, because no one was aware of her vaccine history. She hasnt been vaccinated since. Titers Showed Protected, OH YEAH: She will be 15 years old next month. No one can believe she is that old, but I have the paperwork that shows when I adopted her and how old she was then.

      PLEASE TAKE A STAND AND SAY NO!!! Your pet can NOT speak for him/her self. So its YOUR JOB to speak for them. Dont just assume that the vet knows what they are talking about!!! Its about the bottom line, $$$ when it comes to vaccines. STOP VACCINATING!!!

      • Jeri

        Thank you, Technician!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being honest and not afraid of the science as so many of your colleagues appear to be. How I wish there were more of you in the vet field!!

      • Teri DeGrado

        I have an 11 month old 35 lb female lab/shep mix who is a distemper survivor. Vaccinations for distemper have concerned me for her. she has not had any since her original 3, but the time is coming! My thinking is that she should NOT get a vaccine because (obviously) she has the REAL antibodies from having survived, but I didn’t know if possibly, because she did have it, that she would need a vaccine.

        Your advice on this will be so helpful! Thank you.

        • Jeri

          Run a titer on your dog, Teri. If it comes back positive, she’s good for life (according to Dr. Schultz). You cannot give her more immunity than she has from surviving it (which most agree is the best immunity to have!) Google Dr. Ronald Schultz’ work. It’s solid and meets the gold standard for science. Best wishes with your pup!

    7. Anita

      Our dog was given his rabies vaccination and 6 mos. later was diagnosed with myacarditis. His spleen was enlarged and had only 21% functionality of his heart. Prior to this his heart was fine. I know because he had three ultrasounds done when he was young prior to being bred. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure that tbe vaccination is to be blamed because all dogs with this type of problem also have had rabies vaccinations. Our dog will not get another rabies vaccination. As for the other vaccinations, I do puppy shots only and all my guys have had immunity for at least 7 years or more. This is a great article.

    8. Jeri

      For those trying to claim that this information isn’t in peer-reviewed studies, you may want to do some serious research on that. Dr. Ronald Schultz is THE immunologist/vaccinologist expert whose work is behind the current 3 year protocol. It’s laughable to even suggest that his work isn’t somehow of the quality to be in these “journals” some of you spew on about. Guess again. His work is quoted EVERYWHERE because he’s been doing vaccinology/immunology and doing scientific studies for 40+ years!! He is the head of Pathobiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so I would be personally embarrassed to show my ignorance by suggesting his work isn’t “scientific” enough or “peer-reviewed” enough to be recognized by the scientific community. Better do your homework before showing that you do not have a clue about the gold standard in vaccine protocols (most of which he helped to set!) Good grief! If you want to continue to over-vaccinate your animals, you need to own up to the fact that you are doing so against all science and current knowledge.

    9. Melanie

      We have a boxer pup by the name of Cody. Like any “good” parents we began the puppy vaccination series. Cody was an active, energetic, playful pup with a huge ball drive.On Feb 28th, 2014 Cody was given the parvo/distemper vaccination. Within 24 hrs we noticed some lethargy in Cody. When we called the vet he said it was normal after vaccination. Within 72 hrs we noticed Cody was stumbling a little and again the vet said it was normal. Cody then began displaying tremors and head bobbling when excited, the vet again said “normal” and he would see him at his next vaccination. During the next visit we explained to the vet and the vet agreed that there is something wrong but denied it could be linked to the vaccination. We have nothing in or around our home that would harm Cody as we have another dog and have had the house puppy proof for many years.

      We sought out a second opinion of a vet neurologist. The neurologist ran a series of tests; including a CAT scan, spinal tap, blood work, liver testing, etc. and he is in agreement that the vaccine has caused the damage. Cody is presently under treatment which includes steroids and painkillers along with a multitude of vitamins yet we see no progress in his condition and we have no available prognosis for the future. We are taking one day at a time. Presently Cody is lethargic and stumbles. He so wants to play but can’t take more that a couple bobbling steps before he collapses to the floor. He doesn’t appear to be in pain any longer. (Picture a drunk with Parkinson’s)

      We have spent over $6000 on testing and medication so far for Cody. Cody is like a child to our family but we are now trying to figure out what the next step is. I know I will NEVER vaccinate another animal and I strongly encourage others to weigh all the risks.

      • suzie q

        I have an 8/10yr old rescued beagle mix who is just getting over a life threatening reaction to the parvo/distemper vaccination. The vet said this was her last one due to her age. Within 20 min she started feel bad, her ears were hot, she didn’t sleep well the first night, the 2nd day she got progressively worse, lethargy, stopped eating and drinking, collapsed during her walk, leaned against a wall and shook, too weak to stand. I rushed her to the emergency vet where they gave her a steroid and benadryl shot. She sleeps with me and we were covered with a blanket so should have been warm. At 3:30am I felt her and she was cold as ice, hardly breathing and totally non responsive, finally she lifted her head but couldn’t open her eyes. The vet said she had a sudden drop in blood pressure. The next day she laid in a glassy eyed stare all day and had very rapid breathing. Later in the afternoon she began dry heaves, disoriented and unsteady walking. I rushed her to the vet again. They tried to tell me she had a secondary problem causing all this. Two days prior she had her yearly physical with glowing praises about her wonderful health and her home made meals and a perfect blood panel. She is recovering now and I hope there won’t be any side effects from this. Now I’m starting to worry about her rabies shot next year. The chance is great that she will have a reaction to it also. The problem is, the town I live in required your dogs to be licensed with the town and demands proof of current rabies vaccinations. If they won’t accept a titer or a letter from the vet saying she is exempt, I will move and not even give it a second thought. There is too much of this happening and it’s being swept under the rug. Our babies and their suffering at the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies and some vets is being ignored.

        • Technician

          The labels on the vaccines CLEARLY STATE: If the dog has had a reaction, do NOT use. So insist that your vet write you a letter or you will find another vet who will. SIMPLE!!! Trust me, the vet would rather give you the letter instead of loosing a client. Be nice about it, but if that doesnt work, get all crazy on them LOL :-)

      • Dr. Lisa

        Wow, Melanie, that’s awful.
        It sounds like Cody had a huge immune reaction to the vaccine and developed encephalitis/meningitis, is that what the neurologist thought? You still have a good chance of recovery for Cody, just hang in there.
        Get a letter from the neurologist that states Cody has a serious reaction to vaccines and it’s unsafe to vaccinate him from now on. Keep him home, and steer clear of dog parks to minimize exposure to diseases.


        I’ve never seen one exactly like Cody, but I have seen several dogs with serious problems after vaccination, and one anaphylaxis death in the exam room after a rabies vaccine. That poor Border Collie that died was one of the worst things that ever happened to me at work. Lovely dog. I was talking to the owners after giving the vaccine and the dog was sitting there, then gave a quiet whimper and slumped to the ground. I immediately picked up the dog, rushed it to the treatment room and started CPR, but I wasn’t able to bring her back. The poor clients were devastated, we were all crying, and there wasn’t a damned thing I could do. A great couple that came in for simple vaccines for their sweetie, and left with a dead dog. Horrible. Horrible.

        But after thinking on it, I continued on with a reasoned vaccine protocol. Because I’ve been a practicing vet for 20 years, where >20,000 vaccinations were given by me or my staff (about 5 patients/day), and this is what I’ve seen that can be blamed on vaccines:

        8 serious reactions (very rare):
        * 4 immune-mediated polyarthritis cases (treated temporarily with steroids, resolved completely)
        * 2 immune-mediated skin disease cases (chronic steroids, comes back if meds are stopped)
        * 1 encephalitits case (WORSE than Cody, better in a week on meds, meds for 12 weeks)
        * 1 case of anaphylaxis death (as serious as you can get)

        Moderate reactions (~5% of vaccinations):
        * hives or facial swelling (treated with antihistamine +/- steroids, resolves within 1-24 hours)
        * small patch of hair loss at rabies site in “haired” dogs (poodles, etc – usually permanent)

        Mild reactions (percentage unknown because I don’t hear about most of them):
        * “I Don’t Feel Good” reaction (mild lethargy, low appetite, mild digestive upset, resolves in a day)

        Also, the number of vaccine-related illnesses are undoubtedly higher, because there are some cases of we can’t count. If a problem happens the day after vaccination, there’s good cause to believe it’s related to the vaccine. The longer between the vaccine and signs of the disease, the harder it is to know if vaccines played a role. But, physiologically, it’s safe to say that the worst of the vaccine-related diseases are identified because they occur soon after the vaccine.

        Now, here’s the other side of the coin…In 20 years of practice in an area where parvo and distemper are not as common as some places, I’ve also seen:

        * >400 cases of parvo in dogs that were unvaccinated or undervaccinated.
        * ~75% of these dogs died due to owners opting to euthanize or due to treatment failure
        * treatment for a case of parvo costs $2000-$3000 due to intensive care and long illness
        * I have never seen parvo in a correctly vaccinated dog
        * these cases arose in an area where most dogs are immunized.

        * >25 cases of distemper in dogs that were unvaccinated or undervaccinated.
        * almost all of them died, with or without treatment



        * Many dogs are still dying due to lack of vaccination. Really.

        *Serious reactions to vaccination are very rare and most vaccine-related issues are minor (albeit frustrating).

        *If significant numbers stop vaccinating completely due to fear of vaccine-related illness, the numbers of dogs dying from parvo, and distemper will rise drastically and rapidly.


        * Vaccinate for parvo and distemper after 3-4 months of age.
        * Rabies vaccine required by law in the United States (which is why we rarely see it)
        * Check parvo titers every 3-5 years to make sure you don’t have an atypical pet. If low, vaccinate.
        * If your pet has is one that reacts badly to vaccination, don’t vaccinate that individual again.

        Thanks for reading. :-)

    10. Joy

      This was a wonderful article. My dog is ‘behind’ in getting her vaccines, I know this because my Vet mails out yearly reminders.

      I love our pets Veterinarian, however, he doesn’t like when I say the word “titer”! He makes me feel like a bad dog parent when I mention the word TITER. The other Vet who works in the same office, doesn’t really see a reason to vaccinate yearly. I make appointments with her as much as possible! As I said I like our pets Veterinarian, although he is younger[ meaning he hasn't been a Vet for 20+ years and is old school] he still insists on yearly vaccines. I would hate to think that he is out for the money that vaccines bring in.

      I do have my pets checked for Lyme Disease and Heartworm yearly. Those two diseases can wreck havoc on your pet. I feel that if they are drawing labs for those two tests why not do some titers at the same time? It would break my purse but, may save my pets from worse problems. I do make sure that they get their Rabies Vaccine every 3 years.

      What is that old adage? Sometimes the cure is worse then the disease”

      Thank you for printing this enlightening article.

    11. I really hope someone can help me here. I am involved in a discussion of vaccines and titer testing. A person who says she is a DVM posted this… ” titers are meaningless unless a protective titer level has been established by research. As far as I know, protective titer levels have only been established for rabies.” I would love to know the accuracy of this statement. Thanks so much

      • Ella from OCHD

        It is true that titers do not prove Protection. challenge tests must be done to see if there is protection. This person says he did research and did challenge tests but I would need to see that the research was published in a peer reviewed journal before I could believe it.

      • Anna

        Please check out this site. http://vaccicheck.com Also look up Dr. Ronald Schultz and Dr. Jean Dodds. After you read some of their work you will be better able to go “toe to toe” with people on this subject. Both of them are very well respected in this field that you ask about.

    12. Debbie

      I live in San Antonio. I was wondering how you go about finding boarding that will accept a dog without updated immunizations. I normally board my dog with my vet and they won’t take him without all his immunizations up to date…:\ He’s always indoors except for his morning walk on a lead.

      • Melanie

        I have used Care.com to find a sitter for my dogs in the past. The sitters come to my home, walk and feed my dogs and play with them. I find my dogs (a 150lb Rottweiler and a 70lb Boxer) are less stressed than being put in a cage and only let out to exercise once a day. The dogs enjoy the sitters company and playtime.

        The dog sitters are usually high school/college age students. I would recommend getting a background check and calling references as they will have access to your home. Sitters here average about $10 per hour on Care.com and you decide how often they come to your home.

        Good luck!

      • Technician

        Hire someone to come over and take care of him or take him to a friends house and pay them. SAVE YOUR PET!!!

    13. natasha martin

      Hi my dog Addie Mae got the distemper shot twice and has been acting really weird and running around just plan acting weird I don’t know how to explain it…but is there a way we could sue the vet for the way she is acting?? Or how should we go about this?? Please help us thanks

    14. Sheena

      One of my dogs had a litter of five about a year and 8 months ago and they all received 3 doses of the 5in1 vaccine, including distemper, as puppies. Was that supposed to be enough or were you referring to just a vaccine focused on distemper alone? Because if the doctor mentioned in the article claimed that only 1 vaccine is enough to protect a puppy/dog for life, why then did one of the dogs from that litter become infected with the distemper virus and died eventually at 1 year and 7 months old?

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Hi Sheena
        Sometimes when giving 5in1 vaccines, the multiple viruses can “cancel” each other out and the dog doesn’t respond to them. This increases with the number of vaccines given at once. Also, it’s always important to rule out whether the distemper was the vaccine strain or the wild strain, because vaccines can “awaken” in the dogs and cause the disease they were meant to prevent.

      • Technician

        The vaccine you gave (or the vet gave) could have been given when the mothers natural antibodies were present in the puppies. Which would mean that the vaccine had no response to the puppies at all. Which is why it is suggested to wait til 12 – 16 weeks (when the mothers natural antibodies in the puppies wears off) to vaccinate.

    15. Caren

      Does anyone know of a vet and a day care/boarding facility in or near Denver, CO, that would accept titers? Also, do you know if Colorado accepts titers for rabies? Thanks.

      • Dr. Lisa

        Technician is absolutely right.

        The puppies probably received that single vaccine too early (prior to 3 months old), and it didn’t provide immunity.

    16. My chaweenie dog is experiencing asthma-like symptoms five days after a rabies booster and distemper shots. He did vomit a little a few hours after receiving these shots. Is this common as side affects? Please send your reply. Thanks.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Hi Alice
        Yes, it’s common. Did you know the label on the rabies vaccines suggests that it shouldn’t be given at the same time as other vaccines? Never give the rabies vaccine to a sick dog or when giving other vaccinations.

    17. Jennifer Browning

      I’m curious to know about Rabies. I do get my dog vaccinated every year for that because I am scared of my dog getting the disease without it. She hunts critters in the back yard & has been bit a few times. How often do I really need to do it? I know with my cats, I get their cores & that is it. Even my one outside cat who is an AWESOME hunter has never been updated & he is 10 yrs old.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        There are studies showing that the rabies vaccine lasts for 5 to 7 years (the duration of the studies), so it’s a very good bet that, like other vaccines, the rabies vaccine protects for life. Every state has approved a 3 year vaccine and there’s no reason to vaccinate any more often than that.

    18. Destiny White

      My puppy was vaccinated at 7 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks with Distemper/Parvo. She was titered at 18 weeks. The Vet said her Parvo was very high, but her Distemper was not. No vets in my area offer JUST a distemper shot. What do I do? I really don’t want to give her ANOTHER shot against Parvo, and everything else in their 5-1 shot, if just her Distemper is low.

      What would you recommend? I don’t frequent dog parks or let her walk around in unknown areas. All my other dogs are vaccinated. We do occasionally have dogs over at our house, but they are all vaccinated as well.

      Help please!

    19. San

      I own and operate a boarding facility. I personally believe in minimal vaccinations and follow that protocol for my own animals. The challenge is by law in order to operate my facility in my county, I have to require rabies and distemper/parvo vaccinations. I do however accept titer results and notes from veterinarians on letterhead stating that an animal is exempt from further vaccination. I do believe that a lot of facilities are afraid of the liability of not requiring their customers to have their animals vaccinated.

    20. ANDREA

      I’m curious as to whether a prior history of distemper is enough to confer immunity. My (New) Vet told me “No”, but she could not, or would not give me citations, articles, or studies to to back up her statement. Any information on the subject?

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Hi Andrea
        Canine distemper is closely related to measles and both will provide lifelong immunity once an animal has been exposed, either through natural infection or vaccination.

    21. Lana

      Great to read more opinion and anecdotes.

      Considering the huge number of dogs saved every day by the vaccinations everyone is so condemning I reckon there should be a bit more evidence other than wishywashy sad stories of unproven “vaccinosis” episodes, so rare? How many are serious events are documented , despite studies looking for such? A mere handful? Any at all? Consider instead the billions of dog vaccination doses.This is a RARE complication if serious vaccinosis even exists at all, but the diseases vaccination protects against are VERY real and deadly. (allergic reaction, usually to the adjuvant is not vaccinosis, merely an unfortunate allergy just as may happen to an antibiotic or food) So before sad stories confusing accidents, bad luck, other infections, autoimmune diseases in dogs with inherited risks, etcetc, or even food allergies, before we blame all of this on vaccinations with NO proof, perhaps we should sit back and wonder why Schultz about the only vet doing studies and rarely are any of these good enough to publish in vet journals….or is it a conspiracy?? LOL, or perhaps the evidence of serious problems from vaccinations is both rare and perhaps usually misblamed. Sure , if the MLA core vaccines last longer then adjust the timing of such if titre testing is done, but let’s not get hysterical about nonexisting or very very rare complications of life saving vaccines. Anecdotes are not scientific , not evidence, just a sad story that needs to be investigated further. But NOT proof.This kind of magazine preys upon ignorance combined with love and no doubt all think you have to buy what is suggested as supplements too. We also have had 30 years of \healthy dogs, fully annually vaccinated, living usually over 12-15. That anecdote of ours proves nothing either about safety of vaccines just as anecdotes about alleged illnesses after vaccines proove anything.Only studies do that correct for all the complicating factors.Where are the well designed studies proving there is a serious rate of vaccinosis occuring in the population of pets, the billions of vaccine doses done, millions of dogs saved from deadly diseases and all this hysteria about a rare effect that may not even exist due to vaccines or if it does is so VERY rare compared to the deadly disease protected against. Yet now, because of this fear drivvel people will stop vaccinating, herd immunity will drop and dogs WILL die and die horribly. Irresponsible really.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Hi Lana
        We’re not sure what article you’re referring to because we aren’t saying don’t vaccinate for distemper, we’re saying don’t do it multiple times when it only takes one or maybe two.
        As for rare complications – it’s the the adverse events that are rare … it’s the vets’ ability to recognize them that’s rare. By the way, the studies are in the article. You just need to read it.

        • Connie

          For anyone who thinks that vaccinations are something good and helpful – I suggest you do a LOT more research on the harm vaccinations can cause. Vaccinations do NOT save lives and yes, they can and do cause harm and vaccinosis. I’m currently dealing with my 8 lb. Min Pin who was vaccinated on April 12 with a DAPP shot, without my consent or knowledge. His reaction was immediate, and it continued. In order: Lethargy, sneezing, yellow mucous from nostrils, coughing, edema of both body and pulmonary (he gained 2 lbs. in 2 weeks), yet he had loss of appetite, blood dripping from penis, a few lesions on his skin. This little dog was FINE before that shot! Some of his symptoms are symptoms of adenovirus, one of the very things the vax was for!

          None of my dogs will receive another vaccination, ever.

          • Gina

            My beagle was also given the DAPP vaccine 8 days ago, without my consent and her file states NO vaccinations are to be given. Since then we have been to the vet (a new referred vet, of course) 5 times in the last 4 days. She has loss of appetite, lethargy, fever as well as lowered temperature. She’s gotten antibiotics, fluids, x-rays, allergy meds, and steroids. I am now monitoring her for a temperature that is below normal which is a big concern. So far the bills are totally $713 and I am pretty sure we aren’t done. My dog has been going to the clinic that vaccinated her, again, WITHOUT my consent – and I verbally told them when I left her for her comprehensive that I did not want ANY vaccines done, for 9 years. Big chain – Banfield. We are currently in discussions as to what they can do for me. At the very least I expect them to pay all of the vet bills I have no incurred due to their incompetency. If that does not happen, they can expect to have a law suit filed. My dog was healthy when I left her their hands and has now been extremely sick for the last week!

            • Dr. Lisa

              Banfield is a corporation that requires their veterinarians to follow their profit-motivated vaccination protocol.

              Their vaccine protocol is not standard practice, and I do not know any veterinarian outside of their company that agrees with it. It is a clear case of medicine with a profit motive, and their employee veterinarians are forced to comply.

              Last time I checked, they annually vaccinate with DHPP (common core vaccine containing distemper, parvo, and several other viruses), lepto, corona, Lyme, and giardia. Maybe more, I don’t know. Many vets have don’t give lepto, corona and Lyme except in areas where they are prevalent. I don’t know another veterinary hospital that vaccinates for giardia, let alone annually.

      • Craig

        There are several other recent studies on vaccinations, human and canine.
        Purdue University has published a study showing that the need for vaccinations for dogs ends, at least, with puppy shots.
        The University of Illinois has also done just such a study , prior to Purdue, with the same results.
        Just as with us humans, vaccines became supposedly more needed as we moved farther and farther from a natural diet to the point where we now vaccinate ourselves and our pets to the point of causing more harm than good.
        Coyotes and, obviously, wolves, fox etc never get vaccines yet we have yet had a notable outbreak of wild illness that threatened our domestic animals or even those like coyotes, fox, deer, raccoon etc that live close to or in concert with us.
        I’ve had over 30 dogs in my 47 years, mostly puppies that went to other homes, and I have seen some curious occurrences after vaccines. While these instances occurred in only a couple of pups, along with the research I’ve read from actual veterinary sources and the human vaccine comparisons, I stopped vaccinating my 8 dogs several years ago.

        • Cheryl

          My 10 1/2 year old dog was vaccinated with DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo and Parainfluenza) as a puppy and a booster a year later. Her titers which I just checked are fine. My 4 year old dog had 3 puppy shots and that is it. Her titers are fine also. I do not check titers every year. I do it every few years.

      • Laurel Sorensen

        I’m not sure why you have taken such an aggressive stance on an informative article, but Dr. Schultz is the most renown vaccination researcher in America today. Many Many dog breeding groups pay to have him come and give seminars on the latest research regarding vaccines. He developed a vaccine for parvo called Neopar, that ignores the mother’s immunity, and is much more effective than the vaccines used by most vets/available to most breeders. My husband and I raise golden retrievers. If you know anything about the breed, you know that new imports from Europe are being used in America to improve the breed health, (that has suffered greatly due to overbreeding/careless breeding). We currently own dogs that cost us ranging from $600, to $3,000. One of our girls Riley, was given puppy shots at 8/12/16 weeks, and given the 1 year booster (that was recommended at the time). Within a couple of days, lethargy set in, followed by lack of interest in food. Within a week, we had her to the vet, who believed she was suffering some “unknown infection”. She was placed on antibiotics, and pain med (by then, she was groaning when she tried to walk). 2 more trips to the vet and a weekend at the vet, where she was placed on IVs, and we were told to take her to Michigan State University’s small animal clinic. By the time we got her there on Monday afternoon (less than 2 weeks from the booster shot), she was bleeding through the skin. She had developed Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. She was placed on IV/given a blood transfusion/prednisone for 6 months…….$5,000 later (and release paperwork from MSU that clearly states the problem was caused by her vaccine), she will NEVER be the girl she was before…she still has to sleep several times a day, and rarely shows the personality she had prior to getting sick. She lost almost all of her muscle tone, and does not have the strength to build it back. Bear in mind….it was 2 years ago that she was sick. Never doubt that over vaccination is incredibly dangerous. MSU stated it was the leading cause of them having to put dogs down (because most owners will not pay $5,000 to save their dog.)

    22. It is amazing that studies on the benefits and risks of vaccinations are focused on one alone, and not on the interactions. Further, the safety studies do not look into long terms effects, only immediate adverse reactions.

    23. Mary

      Any information regarding Rabies vaccines that are required every 2 years by the state for licensing? I feel I would rather get her blood tested for immunity than administer another vaccine, especially since she is seldom around other animals.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Hi Mary
        I don’t believe any state requires a two year schedule for rabies. I would check directly with the state, not your vet. And if your state or municipality accepts titers, then absolutely do titers!

        • Connie

          I live in Pennsylvania, and they require rabies vax every 3 years by law. I was just speaking to someone else, he may have been from NJ, who said that they are required by law to get the rabies shot yearly.

          • Joy

            Hi Connie

            I live in New Jersey and we are required to give our pets a rabies vaccine every 3 years, however we must license our dogs/cats every year. Maybe your friend meant the licensing of his pet(s)…

        • Laurel Sorensen

          Is there any possibility that the cost of titering a dog is going to come down as more people request it. We titered our most recent 2 pups, and it was $100 for each pup….and the vet recommended it as a yearly test.

          • sara

            Hi Laurel,
            The only reason a vet asks for a yearly titer is for profit not for protection. You are the customer so you tell the vet when you will get the titer as you are paying for it. If the vet doesn’t like that. Fire your vet and hire a vet that cares. I have had to fire a lot of vets thru the years. Some work out for awhile, then there is a disagreement as the vet is more interested in profit and lies to me, I do my research and fire the vet. Then hire a new vet. You are in control. You hire and you fire.

      • I believe RI or WV was the last state to update and revise their laws from bi-annually to following the rabies compendium:
        (e) Except as otherwise amended by board regulation, the owner or keeper of a dog, cat, or ferret shall have the animal vaccinated not earlier than three (3) months of age nor later than four (4) months of age and at regular intervals as prescribed by board regulations, but at no time to exceed recommendations made by the most current compendium of animal rabies control.
        Rabies Compendium:
        By State:
        Rabies Challenge Fund:


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