A Paradigm Shift in Canine Healthcare

heart murmur in dogs

Science moves slowly. Old ideas and theories – paradigms – are stubbornly defended, even when they are wrong!  People have been put to death and excommunicated over the millennia for making revolutionary yet true statements.  It’s dangerous to say the world is round, for example, when everyone else thinks the world is flat.  As Albert Einstein said:  “Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

This is due, in part, to the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling humans have; it’s experienced when we hold two ideas at the same time which conflict with one-another.  The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that we humans have a need to reduce the discomfort we feel when we hold incompatible beliefs or thoughts.  We do this by changing our attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Or… the uncomfortable feeling is reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. Cognitive dissonance is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

So on the one hand vets and pet owners have been vaccinating animals every year in the belief that they are protecting them from contagious disease – and we all want to protect our beloved dogs.  On the other hand, for several decades, a small minority of vets and pet owners have been saying “Hold on!  Maybe we’re harming the animals by vaccinating them every year!”

The annual vaccination dissenters, of which I am a member, have made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable, and no-one likes to feel uncomfortable. When I first started writing and lecturing about over-vaccination and vaccine damage in 1994, I got a lot of hate mail.  Many people who attended my lectures (in those days) would wave their fists at me, heckle loudly and emotionally, and even storm out in protest.  People metaphorically waved crucifixes and garlic in my face.  It’s been really interesting to observe what it feels like, and to cope with, being so unpopular.

About eight years into the campaign to end over-vaccination, I noticed a pronounced change – the beginning of the paradigm shift.  Instead of every hand in the audience going up to say they vaccinated annually, only four or five would go up in a room of a hundred people.  I even heard people talk enthusiastically during breaks about how healthy their dogs were now they’d stopped over-vaccinating.  No-one was going red in the face and waving their fist at me any more.  The problem, of course, was that I was lecturing to groups of avid dog lovers, who attended shows and lectures.  The ordinary pet owner wasn’t being addressed.

However, a few years later, when I was invited onto internet discussion groups, instead of being ganged-up on and called names by dog lovers who said I was telling nasty lies in order to sell my book, make money, or make a name for myself, dog lovers were agreeing with me and even supporting what I said.  This was a very welcome change, since the honest truth is that I have never been paid for running Canine Health Concern, and you can’t make a living from books like What Vets Don’t Tell You About Vaccines – it’s not a popular market!  Jackie Collins I am not.

Then one Canine Health Concern member, who worked at a veterinary practice, wrote to tell me that at previous Christmas dinners, the vets in the practice ridiculed and slandered me, but now they were quoting me!

There are now thousands of dog lovers who have stopped over-vaccinating their pets.  Others have joined the ‘army’ – Kris Christine works tirelessly for the Rabies Challenge Fund in an attempt to reduce rabies vaccine frequency; Jan Rasmussen has done a fantastic job in making the pet vaccine issue known.  Holistic vets such as Chris Day, Richard Allport, Richard Pitcairn, Patricia Jordan and many others have stood up to be counted.  Elizabeth Hart from Australia has added her own voice and lobbied the various veterinary and licensing bodies.  There are many more courageous soldiers – too many to be named here – who have followed their conscience and acted with love to do their bit for our beloved dogs.

Alongside this, the natural feeding movement has gained ground – and those of us with healthy dogs are sharing what we’ve learned with a missionary zeal.  We want everyone’s dog to be healthy and long-lived.

But, as I said earlier, scientific practice changes very slowly.  Despite the science which shows that puppy shots will provide long-term immunity to the core viral diseases, despite the science which has been gathered to indicate the harm caused by over-vaccination; despite the inroads we are making, there are still too many vets vaccinating our dogs every year, and there are still too many dog owners paying to have their dogs vaccinated when they don’t need to be vaccinated.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the significant events along the road to stop harmful over-vaccination.  They illustrate the snails pace it has all been going at:

In the  mid-1970s, Dr Ronald D Schultz began work in his laboratory to determine the duration of immunity (DOI) for canine and feline vaccines. I’ve taken the following extracts from R.D. Schultz, Veterinary Microbiology 117 (2006) 75–79.

“Based on our observations and existing knowledge of duration of immunity following natural infection and/or vaccination, we published ‘‘An Ideal (But Not Proven) Immunization Schedule for Dogs and Cats’’ in 1978. We recommended a series of puppy/kitten vaccinations followed by revaccination at 1 year, then revaccination every 3 years.

“Based on the results of studies which have demonstrated an extended DOI of more than 3 years to canine and feline core vaccines, the current canine and feline guidelines (which recommend that the last dose of core vaccines be given to puppies and kittens that are at least 12 weeks of age or older then revaccination again at 1 year, then not more often than every 3 years) should more than adequately provide a level of protection equal to that achieved by annual revaccination.  (My emphasis)

“ … the canine core vaccines…are effective in a very high percentage (>99%) of dogs…

“Extending the revaccination intervals for canine and feline core vaccines does not place the animal at increased risk to developing vaccine preventable disease, but it does reduce the potential for adverse reactions.

“Vaccinating a larger percentage of dogs and cats at least once in their lifetime after the age of 3–4 months with the core vaccines would significantly enhance population (herd) immunity and also reduce the public health risks associated with rabies.

“Vaccination should not be considered an innocuous procedure, since vaccines may have harmful consequences to patients as well as owners, thus use those vaccines

that are required, give them only as often as is necessary and vaccinate as many cats and dogs in the population as possible.”

In 1994 I started Canine Health Concern to share information about natural feeding, complementary healthcare options, over-vaccination and vaccine damage, and in 1997, I published ‘What Vets Don’t Tell You About Vaccines’.  This carried the following quote from Current Veterinary Therapy. The authors are veterinary immunologists Ronald Schultz (University of Wisconsin) and Tom Phillips (Scrips Research Institute).

“A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal…… Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response…. The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy…”

This was followed by professor Neils Pedersen, a renowned University of California-Davis veterinary researcher, being quoted in a well respected magazine called AAHA Trends (AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association):

“Current vaccine practices are medically unsound. It is time to question the wisdom of annual booster, multivalent products (combination vaccines), and unnecessary vaccines. Doing so will return companion animals’ immunization to its status as a medical and not an economical procedure.”

Further support for decreasing vaccine use came from the 1st International Veterinary Vaccines and Diagnostics Conference, July 27-31, 1997.  Recommendations from this conference included:

  • Avoid vaccinations before six weeks of age.
  • Give annual booster vaccine at one year of age. Thereafter give boosters every three years, unless required more often by law.
  • Vaccinate puppies and kittens against the clinically important infectious agents such as distemper virus, parvovirus, panleukopenia and rabies.
  • Monitor serum antibody levels annually between boosters.
  • Geriatric animals [over the age of eight] generally do not need booster vaccinations. Monitor serum antibody titers instead.

Also in 1997, Colorado State University announced:  “A recent survey by one of the largest vaccine manufacturers (Pfizer) of small animal vaccination practices found 1,700 different vaccination recommendations for dogs and cats from veterinarians across the United States. In January 1998, the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital will be offering its clients one additional vaccination program. We are making this change after years of concern about the lack of scientific evidence to support the current practice of annual vaccination and the increasing documentation that over-vaccinating has been associated with harmful side effects. Of particular note in this regard has been the association of autoimmune hemolytic anemia with vaccination in dogs and vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats – both of which are often fatal.

“Boosters, the annual revaccination recommendation on the vaccine label is just that — a recommendation, and is not a legal requirement except for rabies. This recommendation could just as well have been every leap year or full moon and is not, in most cases, based on duration of immunity studies.

“Based on the concern that annual vaccination of small animals for many infectious agents is probably no longer scientifically justified, and our desire to avoid vaccine-associated adverse events, in January of 1998 we will be recommending a new immunization protocol to our small animal clients called “Program 1701″.

“Program 1701 recommends the standard three shot series for puppies (parvovirus, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza, distemper) and kittens (panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus) to include rabies after 12 weeks of age for cats and 16 weeks of age for dogs. Following the initial puppy and kitten immunization series, cats and dogs will be boostered one year later and then every three years thereafter for all the above diseases. Similar small animal vaccination programs to Program 1701 have been recently adopted by the University of Wisconsin, Texas A & M and the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

In 1998, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) debated and subsequently endorsed this same recommendation for feline core vaccines; the AAFP recommendations were updated in 2000. Also in 1998, recommendations from a group of canine vaccine experts were published (Schultz RD. Current and future canine and feline vaccination programs. Vet Med 1998;93(3):233-254).  They recommended revaccination with canine core vaccines no more than once every 3 years following initial booster revaccination at 1 year of age. (My emphasis)

In 2002, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) updated their vaccine guidelines after “recognizing that traditional guidelines were not compatible with the recommendations of a growing number of veterinary practitioners and experts in the fields of vaccinology and infectious diseases”.

The AVMA stated:  “Although many of these experts support triennial vaccination against core diseases, there is a relative paucity of published scientific documentation to indicate that every 3 years is any more rational than every 2 years or any less rational than every 7 years.”

The American Animal Hospital Association published Canine Vaccine Guidelines in 2003, along the same lines.

In 2004, 31 vets signed a letter that was published in Veterinary Times in the UK, calling for the end to annual vaccination.  These vets were threatened with being struck off.

In 2007, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association published its own vaccine guidelines, once again stating that immunity to the core viral diseases persisted for years or life, and that we should vaccinate no more often than every three years.  (My emphasis)

In 2010 the Australian Veterinary Association followed suit, and the Australian Veterinary Medicines and Pesticides Authority acknowledged that annual vaccination was no longer seen to be necessary, and that label recommendations would need to be updated.

Again in 2010, the British veterinary medicines licensing authority refused to withdraw one-year core MLV vaccines from the market, and the British veterinary bodies have continued to refrain from issuing guidelines to their members reduce over vaccination.  Nearly 50% of vets in the UK, according to a British Small Animal Veterinary Association survey, still vaccinate annually.

In May 2011, Intervet Schering Plough is conducting yet another ‘National Vaccination Month’.  It holds this sales campaign annually with the collaboration of British vets, enticing ill-informed pet owners into the surgery so that their dogs and cats can have a full puppy or kitten series if their boosters have ‘lapsed’ by 18 months.  Yet of course we know that dogs and cats can’t have ‘lapsed’ if they haven’t had an annual shot for the core viral diseases. They’re immune already!

Veterinary vaccines are a multi-billion international business, and pet vaccine sales are increasing, not declining.  Market research indicates that “the pet products industry has a high economic ceiling”.  This is sales speak for “pet owners love their pets so much that they can be persuaded to spend money if they believe it’s in their pets’ best interests”.

You might expect that veterinarians, as scientists, would have done more to stop over-vaccination.  But vets are educated in colleges that take money from the veterinary pharmaceutical and pet food industries.  Their education is contaminated and censored by the money men.

Secondly, vets get most of their continuing education from sales reps employed by the hugely wealthy pharmaceutical industry, and at luxury dinners and jaunts paid for by the pharmaceutical industry.  This is the established norm.  Everyone does it.  It’s common business practice.

Vets are also encouraged to treat vaccine-damaged dogs as the elephant in the room.  They are called ‘anecdotes’ (stories), and every single dog owner whose dog dies of cancer, or anaphylactic shock, or autoimmune haemolytic anaemia shortly after they are vaccinated, or gets arthritis or becomes epileptic, is deemed ‘unscientific’ and dismissed.  This is the scientific law; it keeps annual vaccination in place.  You have to have double-blind trials before you can believe the evidence in front of your eyes if you have been scientifically “trained”.  Therefore vets are reluctant to pay attention to the fate of individual dogs.

Vets are also taught in college to dismiss and ridicule anything which is not a steroid, NSAID, vaccine or antibiotic.  They are also worked so hard in college that they don’t have time to think for themselves, and neither will they pass their exams if they do.  At the same time, they are brainwashed into believing that they know what they are talking about – whereas a wise person knows that they know only a small part of the story.

The peer pressure on vets is enormous.  If vets dare to break ranks and speak the truth, they run the risk of being struck off and ostracised.  Ask Dr Bob Rogers – he had 14 bricks thrown through his window after he tried to influence his veterinary peers in Texas about the over-vaccination issue.  Ask Dr Andrew Jones who set up an internet business to share veterinary information, including the vaccine issue.  He has been struck off.   Ask the British homoeopathic vet Christopher Day, who was dragged through the courts on spurious negligence charges after he spoke out about vaccine damage.  And ask Dr Patricia Jordan who spends practically every waking moment researching the pet vaccination issue without pay, and who has produced a library of vaccine damage information that few will ever get to read.

The problem is that too many pet owners still don’t know that they don’t need to vaccinate every year.  They don’t know that they’re wasting their money; and they don’t know that one more vaccine can give their dogs arthritis, epilepsy, cancer, leukaemia, skin disease, behavioural problems, allergies, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, or cause them to die.

A paradigm shift marks a profound change in the way something is perceived.  This brief timeline has taken us from the mid 1970s to 2011 – that’s nearly four decades since it has been known that we don’t need to vaccinate our dogs every year against all the viral diseases.  We need to hurry things along.

Just as I noticed a paradigm shift when people stopped heckling me at seminars, and just as I noticed a paradigm shift when people stopped shouting at me on internet discussion groups, I believe I am witnessing a profound paradigm change with the arrival and tremendous success of Dogs Naturally magazine.  It also seems significant that so many people have read my article detailing the science of vaccine damage on the Dogs Naturally blog, and have responded so positively by sharing it with other dog lovers.

We are about to see a huge shift in the way we care for our dogs, and we’ll see our dogs’ health transform for the better.  We are so close to achieving what we set out to do so many years ago.  It is nearly time – and I would urge YOU to be part of the final push.

There is a natural law which says that it is always hard to finish a job.  For example, it is easier to start and do the ironing than it is to put the ironing board away.  It’s easier to mow the lawn, but harder to put the mower back in the barn.  This is illustrated by the musical scale:  do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti.  Have you noticed that there is a larger interval between la and ti than there is between the other notes on the scale?  It take a little more effort to sing from la to ti.  You need to put a little more effort in to finish.

We could surely use your energy to help us complete the task in hand.

In fact, I believe, it’s incredibly important for those of us who now know the truth to band together to finish the job off – now – and I would implore you to lend your support to any of us who is already working to end over-vaccination.  Subscribe to Dogs Naturally and help it to continue to be a commercial success.  Join Jan Rasmussen’s mailing list.  Support the Rabies Challenge Fund.  Tune in to www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com. Sign up and become a member of Canine Health Concern!

There now follows an advertisement on behalf of CHC!

Canine Health Concern began in 1994 to research and share information about the health of dogs.  We have brought the vaccine issue to light, and helped to promote natural feeding and complementary healthcare alternatives.  Members are asked not only to read their quarterly newsletter, but to share what they know with fellow dog lovers.

We publish leaflets for our members to distribute.  We organise seminars.  We publish books, and a few years ago our members raised the funds to produce ‘In Search of the Truth About Dogs’ – an award-winning DVD on natural canine healthcare.  We have an internet discussion group just for members, an information-packed web site (www.canine-health-concern.org.uk), and we’ve even had a TV documentary based on our work, which can be viewed for free on the CHC website.

Canine Health Concern also has a branch network, and wonderful dog lovers put on evening lectures so that they can share what they know with their fellow dog lovers on a local basis.  The success of the branch network is phenomenal – they’re getting so many people through the door and telling them the truth that it’s a great testimony to their dedication and energy.  But we need more of you to take this initiative forward – worldwide.

With your support, the paradigm shift will be complete so much faster than without you.   To join the CHC ‘army’, click on this link:  http://caninehealthconcern.weebly.com/subscription.html

So – are you willing to take what is already known, which the veterinary profession is so reluctant to see through to its conclusion, and hammer the last nail into the over-vaccination coffin?

Act now, and you can surely be proud of your role in loving the dogs with your action.

Also look out for my next blog, as I’m going to be illustrating WHY we need to act quickly; why we have no time to waste.  I really want people to understand what over-vaccination is doing to our dogs, who are people and not numbers.

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