How’s that for a title? If it got your attention, that’s good because this topic needs your attention.
It used to be that dogs visited the vet pretty rarely. They only needed a couple of vaccines, they got to eat real foods and they weren’t continually loaded with:
Thinking back, maybe that’s why they didn’t need to go to the vet all that often. Today, there’s a very different veterinary clinic. We now have access to better medicine, including MRIs and more technologically advanced surgery. I think it’s great that these modern, life-saving tools are available to dogs.
But not all change is good …
Why The Veterinary Profession Is Broken …
Somewhere along the way, the veterinary profession became broken. Vets today have a lot more drugs, vaccines and chemicals at their disposal. And all of these carry hefty side effects. Despite the advances in medicine, modern dogs are living shorter, sicker lives than their ancestors. And vets aren’t taking responsibility.
Arguably, the most common and harmful problem in veterinary medicine is over-vaccination. Not only do the vaccines cause a lot of damage in our dogs, but nearly every vaccine vets give our dogs is unnecessary.
Pay attention to that sentence: nearly every vaccine given to our dogs is useless – your dog gets no benefit but all of the risk. How could this happen? How can vets cause so much disease and devastation in our dogs without even knowing it?
Vets Don’t Understand Immunology or Vaccines
I paraphrase Dr Ronald Schultz, the leading veterinary immunologist, when I say that vets are inept at making vaccine decisions.
We interviewed some vets on how thorough their training was on vaccines. Here are some of the responses we got:
I was taught vaccines were safe and it was implied there had been safety studies done on them before they were used on the general public. They are not safe and there have not been any safety studies done on any of them. ~ Dr Stephen Blake
My training in vet school was not complete with regard to the harmful effects that vaccines have on the immune system. ~ Dr Jeff Feinman
Vaccination in college was skimmed over with little discussion of potential risks involved. In practice I have seen what I believe to be vaccine related problems of skin disease (allergic); inflammatory bowel disease; and epilepsy which appear to have been triggered or coincided with vaccination. ~ Dr Mark Carpenter
So vaccines are a substance that can cause severe health issues and even death. But vets admit that they really weren’t educated in their use.
More importantly, most veterinary colleges are financially aligned with the pharmaceutical companies. This means most of the curriculum is pro-vaccine with little time spent discussing the very real issue of harmful reactions and side effects.
How could this happen?
More Is Not Better!
Back in the 1970s, dogs were only vaccinated for one or two diseases. Today, there are vaccines for adenovirus, parainfluenza, bordetella, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, hepatitis, rabies, canine flu, coronavirus – and there are more and more every year. Nowadays, dogs and puppies are often vaccinated with seven or more viruses at the same time.
In the 1970s, all vaccines, with the exception of rabies vaccines, were tested for only a few weeks to a few months. So all the vaccine labels just said ‘‘Annual Revaccination Recommended’’ because nobody spent the time or money to figure out how long they would actually protect dogs. So vets vaccinated dogs every year, even though field observation suggested that immunity after both natural infection and vaccination was long lived.
“The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given.” says Dr Schultz. “Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”
Dogs are either immune or they are not, and once immune, there is every indication that this protection lasts a lifetime. The distemper vaccine has been shown to last for 7 to 15 years. In fact, all of the core vaccines have shown this kind of duration of immunity.
Why Do Vets Continue To Vaccinate Too Much?
“Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession’s resistance to update its protocols” says Schultz.
“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. 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.”
Even those vets who want to do the right thing are vaccinating our pets too often and with too much. They’re not prepared to make balanced vaccine decisions because the veterinary colleges rely on the vaccine manufacturers to teach their curriculum. This means you can’t rely on your vet to protect your dog from unnecessary vaccination and the damage it causes. He hasn’t been taught to know this.
But what about the veterinary associations – aren’t they looking out for your dog?
The Fox Is Watching The Hen House
In 1978, when vets were vaccinating annually, Schultz et al published An Ideal (But Not Proven) Immunization Schedule for Dogs and Cats.They recommended a series of puppy/kitten vaccinations followed by revaccination at 1 year, then revaccination every 3 years.
Every single dog was protected when exposed to the virus.
“The results from this limited group of dogs clearly demonstrated the Norden modified live vaccines provided immunity for at least 11 years against CDV and CPV-2″ says Dr Schultz. These early recommendations prompted the AAHA to assemble a task force.
The AAHA’s Reaction
In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force evaluated the data from these challenge and serological studies and, while noting that the core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least seven years, compromised in 2003 with the statement that “revaccination every 3 years is considered protective.”
Task force member Dr Richard Ford, Professor of Medicine, North Carolina State University, said that the decision to recommend a three year revaccination schedule for core vaccines was a compromise. “It’s completely arbitrary…,” Ford said. “I will say there is no science behind the three-year recommendation…”
Today, a decade later, despite more and more research showing long lasting immunity for core vaccines and the deleterious effects of vaccination, the AAHA hasn’t changed its position all that much. “Both the AAHA and the AVMA must do more to “step up to the plate” says Ford.
But vets don’t have to listen to the AAHA or the AVMA anyway …The veterinary medical boards refuse to enforce safe vaccine schedules, opting to leave it up to the individual vet. Yet vets admit they’re not prepared to make a decision about how often they should vaccinate and what vaccines they should give.
In the end, the vets are over-vaccinating either out of ignorance or greed, and the governing bodies only seem interest in protecting the financial interests of their veterinary members. Speaking of that, the major sponsors of the AAHA guidelines are the major pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these vaccines.
Why are most pet owners unaware of vaccine dangers?
Because vets are taught to believe vaccines are safe, they teach us to believe they’re safe. If vets take our money for medical procedures, they’d darn well better know the safety and efficacy of that procedure. That’s their JOB. It’s the vets’ responsibility to fully understand the risks and benefits of every medical procedure they perform on our pets and to research it thoroughly.
Here’s the most important part …
It’s the vet’s responsibility to inform pet owners of the risks and benefits of any procedure. But they ignore this responsibility when it comes to vaccines. But has your vet ever told you your dog’s vaccine can cause injection site sarcomas, other forms of cancer, severe allergic reactions or even anaphylactic shock and death?
Here’s the list of adverse events known to be induced via vaccine administration (Schultz, 2007):
Common Vaccine Reactions
- Hair loss, hair color change at injection site
- Refusal to eat
- Oral ulcers
Moderate Vaccine Reactions
- Behavioral changes
- Weight loss (Cachexia)
- Reduced milk production
- Faciale edema
- Respiratory disease
- Allergic uveitis (Blue Eye)
Severe Vaccine Reactions
- Vaccine injection site sarcomas
- Arthritis, polyarthritis
- HOD hypertrophy osteodystrophy
- Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
- Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP)
- Hemolytic disease of the newborn (Neonatal Isoerythrolysis)
- Disease or enhanced disease which with the vaccine was designed to prevent
- Post vaccinal Encephalitis or polyneuritis
- Abortion, congenital anomalies, embryonic/fetal death, failure to conceive
Are you made aware of these potential complications every time your dog is vaccinated? Every day, dogs are permanently damaged from vaccines and vets continue to urge us to vaccinate without any regard to the potential risks. In human medicine, performing a medical procedure without full disclosure and informed consent would be called malpractice and there would most definitely be a lawsuit.
But in veterinary practice, this doesn’t happen …
Veterinary Malpractice Is An Illusion
Until the mid-part of the last century, the term “malpractice” didn’t even apply to veterinarians (and still may not in some states where the veterinary profession isn’t listed under the malpractice statute).
Even today, veterinarian malpractice lawsuits still aren’t that common because the measure of damages for the loss of a pet in most states is the market value of the pet. In other words, what someone else would pay for an identical pet of the same age, breed and condition.
In nearly all cases, the legal fees would be a whole more than pet owners would be able to recover in court. Also, pet owners have to prove the same things you would have proven in a medical malpractice case, which isn’t always easy or inexpensive. A few states allow monetary damages for emotional distress and loss of companionship. But awards for an owner’s mental suffering are the exception rather than the rule.
So it seems the veterinary colleges can continue to allow the vaccine manufacturers to teach their students about immunology. The vets can continue to deliver unnecessary and dangerous vaccines to our animals without full disclosure of their risks. The veterinary associations will continue to make vague statements regarding vaccine duration of immunity and refuse to monitor the activities of their members. And your dog will be the victim nobody cares enough to do anything about.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I care. I care a lot. And because you’re reading this article, I know that you care too.
So what can you do about it?
What Can Pet Owners Do?
Just because we can’t sue vets doesn’t mean you can’t sock it to them financially. If you demand informed consent and refuse any and all unnecessary vaccinations, you’ll help us force vets to look into different revenue sources.
Look your vet in the eye and tell him that the core vaccines he wants to give your dog is not only unnecessary but dangerous.And have the paperwork to back it up (just read this article and you’ll find all you need). Then kindly decline any vaccinations that Dr Schultz’s research shows as unnecessary.
There are other ways you can influence vets financially too. Stop buying their crappy prescription diets. They’re full of synthetic and processed ingredients that can harm your pet.
Better yet, support those caring vets who don’t push needless vaccinations, overly-processed foods or other harmful drugs.
Finally, demand that any and all vaccine and drug reactions are reported to the right agencies. Remember, it can take months or years for vaccine damage to rear its ugly head. Here are the phone numbers and websites you need to know:
For adverse veterinary drug reactions:
Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration: 888-332-8387. Or visit their website and follow the link for report a drug reaction.
For veterinary vaccines and other biologicals:
Center for Biologics, USDA. 800-752-6255
For topical insecticides
The best solution is to give our money only to the best vets who have done their homework on vaccines and immunology. There are good holistic vets out there and if you pay them instead of the vets who choose to over-vaccinate, you’ll force the rest of those vets to also start learning about natural health care.
You are the only thing that stands between your dog and harmful veterinary over-servicing. By educating yourself and refusing unnecessary vaccination, you can help fix what’s broken with the veterinary system.
Schultz, RD. Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis. 1999:22.
Smith CA. Are we vaccinating too much? J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1995 Aug 15;207(4):421-5.
Tizard I, Ni Y. Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1998 Jul 1;213(1):54-60.
Schultz RD. Duration of immunity for canine and feline vaccines: A review. Veterinary Microbiology. 2006;117(1):75-9.
[Presentation to veterinarians ] Schultz RD. What everyone needs to know about canine and feline vaccination programs. 2008 Conference of the AHVMA. 2008.
[Article] Schultz RD. Dog vaccines may not be necessary. University of Wisconsin-Madison News. 2003 March 14.