Dog Vaccination - Current Recommendations

The custom of yearly vaccination took hold back in the 1950's. It wasn't based on scientific research and, at the time, it was believed there were no risks.

But there are risks with vaccines. In fact there can be serious adverse reactions. Every Veterinary school in North America as well US and World industry associations have updated their recommendations based on more current science.

Current recommendations for re-vaccination range from "3 or more years" to "7 or more years" to never...

Dr Ronald Schultz, expert in immunology and member of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Vaccination Guidelines Group and American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force: If a puppy is immunized for parvovirus, distemper virus and adenovirus "there is every reason to believe the vaccinated animal will have up to life-long immunity".

Adverse Reactions To Vaccines

Vets generally only see immediate reactions while the dog is still in their office. The range of symptoms that develop later - perhaps an hour, a week, or even years are often not linked to the vaccine.

Ideally, the vaccine virus is destroyed by the pets' immune response. That doesn't always happen - particularly with repeated vaccines. These toxins and foreign substances can remain and accumulate in organs, muscle and joints, creating low-grade inflammation and weakened immune system.

Reactions can be immediate, or they may not be obvious for some time. They can be minor, but they can also be a severe as death.

Reactions include:

Allergies, chronic skin problems, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, pancreatitis, kidney failure, liver failure, arthritis, thyroid disease, epilepsy, seizures, paralysis, auto-immune disease, cancer.

Also behavior problems such as aggression, suspiciousness, restlessness, aloofness, separation anxiety, excessive barking, destructive behavior, tail chewing.

Vaccine Protocol

A vaccine protocol should be individualized for each dog and include:
-Which vaccines
-How often

Common dog vaccines are: Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis (Adenovirus), Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza. Bordatella, Coronavirus and Lyme disease are less often given.

Parvovirus can kill puppies but rarely effects adult dogs.
Distemper is rare, but can kill.

The Hepatitis vaccine (Adenovirus) only protects against some causes and hepatitis isn't common.

Leptospirosis is rare and there are hundreds of strains. The vaccine is for only a few strains and lasts only 3-6 months. The Leptospirosis vaccine is also prone to side effects.

The Parainfluenza vaccine doesn't protect against all causes and the flu rarely is serious.

Bordatella vaccine is for kennel cough which is not serious and not likely if your dog isn't in close contact with other dogs such as would be the case in a kennel.

Corona results in mild diarrhea. The vaccine isn't fully protective.

The risk of Lyme disease is location and lifestyle dependent.

Vaccine schedule

Maternal antibodies protect a puppy for 16-22 weeks. So the earliest you want to start vaccinating is 16 weeks.

Dr Pitcairn's recommends a conservative approach:

- First Distemper shot at 16 weeks
- First Parvovirus shot at 20 weeks
- Second Distemper shot at 24 weeks
- Second Parvovirus shot at 28 weeks
- Rabies shot a month later.

If your municipality requires a rabies shot sooner than 8 months, he recommends you start with the rabies shot and then begin the rest of the schedule 4 weeks later.

It's best to get a single vaccination at a time.

You can for rabies; however, most of the other vaccines come as a combination.

For dogs you'll likely get DH - Distemper and Hepatitis. At least limit the vaccine schedule to one shot at a time.

Additional recommendations:

  • Don't vaccinate if your dog is sick or immune compromised.
  • Don't vaccinate if your dog is receiving pharmaceuticals, especially steroids.
  • Don't vaccinate near or at the same time as surgery such as spaying/neutering.
  • If there's any adverse reaction at all stop or at least slow down the schedule.
Are you concerned about providing the best care for your dog or cat?

Dog and cat nutrition - what you feed your companions - matters to their health.

Learn about pet vaccines, nutrition and safe herbal solutions for pet health and behavioral problems at They depend on you.

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