Vaccine Recommendations

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MPORTANT NOTE: The data provided on this page is presented for your information only, based on personal choices we believe in and choose to make for our own pets. These schedules are ones I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by your veterinarian would be less than satisfactory. It’s a matter of personal and professional judgment and choice. We provide this information primarily to give you options based on information to assist you in making your own personal choices. The most important thing to remember is that you DO have choices, don’t let anyone intimidate you or coerce you into making a choice that you aren’t comfortable with.

Immunization Schedules

There is a great deal of controversy and confusion surrounding the appropriate immunization schedule, especially with the availability of modified-live vaccines and pets who have experienced post-vaccinal problems when using some of these vaccines. It is also important to not begin a vaccination program while maternal antibodies are still active and present in the puppy from the mother’s colostrum. The maternal antibodies identify the vaccines as infectious organisms and destroy them before they can stimulate an immune response.
Many breeders and pet owners have sought a safer immunization program.

Recommended “Minimal” Vaccination Schedule
Vaccine Initial 1st Annual Booster Re-Administration Interval Comments
Distemper (MLV)
9 weeks
12 weeks
16 – 20 weeks
At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only None needed.
Duration of immunity 7.5 / 15 years by studies. Probably lifetime. Longer studies pending. If concerned, titre test instead
Can have numerous side effects if given too young (< 8 weeks).
Parvovirus (MLV) 9 weeks
12 weeks
16 – 20 weeks
At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only None needed.
Duration of immunity 7.5 years by studies. Probably lifetime. Longer studies pending. If concerned, titre test instead
At 6 weeks of age, only 30% of puppies are protected but 100% are exposed to the virus at the vet clinic.
Rabies
(killed)
24 weeks or older At 1 year (give 3-4 weeks apart from Dist/Parvo booster) Killed 3 year rabies vaccine In many areas, titer test results are accepted in lieu of booster. If titre test results not legally accepted, 3 yr. vaccine given as required by law in most provinces/states Rabid animals may infect dogs. Ensure titre levels are adequate, or 3 yr protocol maximium

There are two types of vaccines currently available to veterinarians: modified-live vaccines and inactivated (“killed”) vaccines.

Modified Live Vaccines (MLV)

Modified-live vaccines contain a weakened strain of the disease causing agent. Weakening of the agent is typically accomplished by chemical means or by genetic engineering. These vaccines replicate within the host, thus increasing the amount of material available for provoking an immune response without inducing clinical illness. This provocation primes the immune system to mount a vigorous response if the disease causing agent is ever introduced to the animal. Further, the immunity provided by a modified-live vaccine develops rather swiftly and since they mimic infection with the actual disease agent, it provides the best immune response.

Inactivated Vaccines (Killed)

Inactivated vaccines contain killed disease causing agents. Since the agent is killed, it is much more stable and has a longer shelf life, there is no possibility that they will revert to a virulent form, and they never spread from the vaccinated host to other animals. They are also safe for use in pregnant animals (a developing fetus may be susceptible to damage by some of the disease agents, even though attenuated, present in modified-live vaccines). Although more than a single dose of vaccine is always required and the duration of immunity is generally shorter, inactivated vaccines are regaining importance in this age of retrovirus and herpesvirus infections and concern about the safety of genetically modified microorganisms. Inactivated vaccines available for use in dogs include rabies, canine parvovirus, canine coronavirus, etc.

Vaccines Not Recommended For Dogs
Distemper & Parvo @ 6 weeks or younger Not recommended.
At this age, maternal antibodies form the mothers milk (colostrum) will neutralize the vaccine and only 30% of puppies will be protected by the vaccine, yet 100% will be exposed to the virus at the vet clinic.
Corona Not recommended.
1.) Disease only affects dogs <6 weeks of age.
2.) Rare disease: TAMU has seen only one case in seven years.
3.) Mild self-limiting disease.
4.) Efficacy of the vaccine is questionable.
Leptospirosis Not recommended
1) There are an average of 12-15 cases reported annually in many areas.
2)  Side effects common.
3) Most commonly used vaccine contains the wrong serovars.  (There is no cross-protection of serovars) There is a new vaccine with 2 new serovars. Two vaccinations twice per year would  be required for protection.).
4) Risk outweighs benefits.
Lyme Not recommended
1) Low risk in many areas.
2) 85% of cases are in limited areas.
3) Possible side effect of polyarthritis from whole cell bacterin.
Boretella
(Intranasal)
(killed)
Only recommended 3 days prior to boarding when required.
Protects against only 2 of the possible 8 causes of kennel cough.
Duration of immunity 6 months.
Giardia Not recommended
Efficacy of vaccine unsubstantiated by independent studies

After 1 year, annually measure serum antibody titers against specific canine infectious agents such as distemper and parvovirus. This is especially recommended for animals previously experiencing adverse vaccine reactions or breeds at higher risk for such reactions (e.g., Weimaraner, Akita, American Eskimo, Great Dane etc etc).
Another alternative to booster vaccinations is homeopathic nosodes. This option is considered an unconventional treatment that has not been scientifically proven to be efficacious. One controlled parvovirus nosode study did not adequately protect puppies under challenged conditions. However, data from Europe and clinical experience in North America support its use. If veterinarians choose to use homeopathic nosodes, their clients should be provided with an appropriate disclaimer and written informed consent should be obtained.
We recommend only killed 3 year rabies vaccine for adults and give it separated from other vaccines by 3-4 weeks. In many areas, titer test results are accepted in lieu of booster.
We do not personally recommend Bordetella, corona virus, leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines unless these diseases are endemic in the local area. Furthermore, the currently licensed leptospira bacterins do not contain the serovars causing the majority of clinical leptospirosis today.
We do NOT recommend vaccinating bitches during estrus, pregnancy or lactation.
For breeds or families of dogs susceptible to or affected with immune dysfunction, immune-mediated disease, immune-reactions associated with vaccinations, or autoimmune endocrine disease (e.g., thyroiditis, Addison’s or Cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc.) we HIGHLY recommend considering titre testing in lieu of boosters of any kind.

Vaccine Reactions

Adverse reactions to vaccination have been recognized for years, and were commonly seen in several human vaccines including polio and smallpox vaccines. Adverse reactions to vaccines also occur in dogs and cats. However, compared to the risks of not vaccinating dogs and cats, the risks associated with vaccinations are very small in comparison. Adverse effects from vaccinations can vary with the type of vaccine used, and the age and breed of animal vaccinated. Anaphylaxis and the development of a fibrosarcoma are the most serious reactions to vaccines. Some of the more common (but still rare) risks are discussed below.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a rare, life-threatening, immediate allergic reaction to something ingested or injected. If untreated, it results in shock, respiratory and cardiac failure, and death. An anaphylactic reaction can occur as a result of vaccination. The reaction usually occurs within minutes to hours (less than 24) of the vaccination. Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin College of Veterinary Medicine estimates that about one case of anaphylaxis occurs for every 15,000 doses of vaccine administered.

The most common symptoms of anaphylaxis are the sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, coma, and death. The animals’ gums will be very pale, and the limbs will feel cold. The heart rate is generally very fast, but the pulse is weak. There can be facial swelling.

Anaphylaxis is an extreme emergency. If you think your dog is having an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately. Epinephrine should be given as soon as possible – we are talking within a few minutes. IV fluids, oxygen, and other medications are given as needed.

Anaphylactic reactions are more commonly associated with the use of killed vaccines such as rabies, canine coronavirus, and leptospirosis. Killed vaccines have more virus or bacterial particles per dose and have added chemicals (adjuvants) to improve the dog’s immune response. These characteristics also increase the risk of an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

If your dog has ever had a reaction to a vaccine, subsequent vaccinations should be given by your veterinarian. In some cases, certain vaccines may be excluded from your dog’s vaccination regimen, a different type of vaccine will be used, or certain drugs, including antihistamines may be given prior to vaccination. The veterinarian may place a catheter in the dog’s vein so if a reaction does occur, medications and fluids can be given immediately. Depending on the situation, your dog may need to remain in the veterinarian’s office for a period of 30 minutes to several hours. Once home, the dog should be kept under observation for several additional hours. Even with these precautions, life-threatening reactions could still occur.

If you vaccinate your own dogs, you should have epinephrine available and know how to use it in case a reaction occurs. If your dog has an anaphylactic reaction after a vaccination, inject the proper dose of epinephrine and seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately.

Worsening of allergies

Some studies have shown that dogs with atopy who are vaccinated at the height of the allergic season, may have an increased risk of developing more severe allergy signs. It is suggested that dogs with seasonal allergies be vaccinated during the ‘non-allergy’ season.

Neurologic and eye disease

Neurologic symptoms are the most common vaccine reaction seen in dogs. Canine distemper vaccination is the most common cause of neurologic disease, and can cause an inflammation of the brain. Measles vaccine in puppies has been reported to rarely cause damage to the nervous system. Cerebellar disease has been reported in puppies and kittens less than 5 weeks of age who were vaccinated with a modified live vaccine.

Canine adenovirus-1 is known to cause an allergic uveitis (inflammation of the eye), often called ‘blue eye.’ Most vaccines now contain canine adenovirus-2 instead of adenovirus-1, almost eliminating the chance of blue eye occurring today.

Discomfort and swelling at the injection site

Pain, swelling, redness, and irritation can occur at the injection site. These effects generally occur within 30 minutes to 1 week of the vaccination. If the signs persist, or are severe, contact your veterinarian.

Occasionally, abscesses can form at the injection site. These abscesses are generally not caused by infection, but by the body’s over-reaction to the vaccine.

Mild fever, decreased appetite and activity

Mild fever, decreased appetite, and depression may be observed for 1-2 days following vaccination, most commonly when modified live vaccines are used. Generally, no treatment is warranted.

Severe illness can occur if vaccines designed for intranasal use are accidentally injected. Severe reactions can also occur if any of a vaccine made for injection accidentally enters an animal’s eyes, nose, or mouth.

Respiratory signs after intranasal vaccines

Dogs vaccinated with the intranasal Bordetella and/or parainfluenza vaccine may develop a mild cough, which generally does not require treatment. They may spread the vaccine-form of the virus to other animals through their coughing.

Lameness

Rarely, lameness can result from several different vaccinations.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy: Certain lines of Weimaraners, and some other large-breed dogs, may develop hypertrophic osteodystrophy following canine distemper vaccinations given between 2 and 5 months of age. They may also develop respiratory signs, enlarged lymph nodes, and diarrhea. The hypertrophic osteodystrophy is treated with glucocorticoids and the signs of the disease usually resolve.

Shedding of vaccine agent

Vaccine virus may be found in the nasal secretions of dogs vaccinated intranasally. In addition, vaccine parvovirus is shed in the feces of vaccinated dogs, canine adenovirus-1 can be shed in the urine, and canine adenovirus-2 can be found in nasal secretions. These viruses are the vaccine forms of the virus; they do NOT revert back to the disease-causing strains.

Birth defects or infections

The vaccination of pregnant animals with a modified live vaccine can result in birth defects or abortions. It is recommended that modified live vaccines NEVER be given to pregnant animals. In addition, vaccinating puppies and kittens less than 4-5 weeks of age, can actually result in them becoming infected and developing disease from modified live vaccines.

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