Saturday, December 5, 2009


Sensible Guidelines

Whether or not to vaccinate is an individual decision, and deciding what to do can be a difficult choice. While some veterinarians and owners refuse to vaccinate altogether, many others take a middle ground approach. They inoculate against only the most life-threatening conditions, give one vaccination at a time, and detoxify the animal afterwards. Here, in more detail, are what we think are sensible guidelines to follow:
You may want to vaccinate only for the most important communicable diseases. Because of the dangers associated with vaccines, many holistic veterinarians encourage pet owners to take a long look at the risks and benefits of each vaccine, and to choose only the ones most needed. When two or more are necessary, space shots two to three weeks apart or rotate vaccines so that the animal is not getting several every year. Three vaccines that most holistic veterinarians recommend for dogs and cats are those for rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.

The rabies vaccine is high-risk for vaccinosis in a percentage of dogs and cats - but it's necessary as it is required by law for all dogs and cats in most localities. To minimize side effects, the rabies vaccine should be given by itself, signally, and homeopathic antidotes - discussed later, under 'Vaccinosis' - should be given at the same time.

Distemper is a fatal disease that strikes both dogs and cats that can be easily controlled with a vaccination which has been around since the 1950s. This vaccination does not seem to be a threat to animals and does more good than it has ever done harm.

Parvovirus is another lethal canine disease. Since a vaccine was developed in the late 70s, the incidence of parvovirus in domestic dogs has also been lowered.

The Holistic View

Our position on vaccines is not anti-vaccines, but rather pro vaccine-safety. That means, we strongly believe that we should only inject substances into our pet's body, and especially into the bodies of puppies, kittens and the unborn, that have been rigorously studied and proven safe both short-term and long-term.

In the opinion of many holistic vets, the, canine and feline rabies (mandatory by law), canine and feline distemper, and canine parvovirus are the only vaccines that should indisputably be given to all pets.

With regard to other vaccinations, each case needs to be considered individually.

Feline leukemia is a disease against which cats are routinely vaccinated, and yet the vaccine is not all that effective. Not only that, but there are problems. Feline leukemia is one of the vaccinations to which cats may have serious adverse reactions, including injection-site fibrosarcoma tumors, which must be surgically removed, sometimes along with the limb they are associated with. In light of this, the owner of an indoor-only cat, who is not likely to come into contact with any other cats, may feel confident in not giving the feline leukemia vaccine to their pet (only 1 percent of indoor-only cats manifest the disease -- 30 percent of outdoor cats develop an acute form of the disease). By the way, if your cat tests positive for feline leukemia be sure to test again in three weeks to be extra certain that the first result was not a false positive reading.

It is a good idea to avoid vaccines of lesser importance, especially when there are other, less drastic ways to treat the condition. For the average, healthy pet, the corona virus is nothing more than a short lived case of off color diarrhea that goes away on its own in a few days if the animal is kept quiet and warm. A less healthy pet might succumb to this infection, even here the usefulness of the corona vaccine has not been established.

Boarding kennels will only take animals that are inoculated annually with the bordetella vaccine. A problem with the procedure is that kennels will take animals the day of or after they've been vaccinated, long before immunity to the disease has had a chance to develop. In fact, after a single vaccination of bordetella, you need to wait two to three weeks and then follow with a booster before getting any sort of immunity at all. I myself have known of two dogs who were inoculated nasally who died right after the procedure due to an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Bordetella (kennel cough) to me, is like a human being getting a cold. You get over it. If your animal has had the inoculation once and its immunity is proven via blood titer, haver you veterinarian write the kennel a note so stating, along with a copy of the results of the titer for proof. As an extra precaution, supply your pet with extra vitamin C and echinacea during its stay.

There is quite a bit of concern about animals, especially those in the Northeastern states, contracting Lyme disease. While this fear might be somewhat overplayed (only 5 percent of dogs that are bitten by ticks contract the disease), you will still need to take preventive measures; however, vaccinations are not the hoped-for-solution. In fact, both shore and long term effects of the Lyme vaccine are proving to be as devastating as the disease itself, or even more so. Soon after the inoculation pain, the animal may have local reactions such as swelling, pain, and even an allergic reaction leading to breathing difficulties. Later on deeper difficulties may develop. These include immune suppression and autoimmune reactions in any number of body systems. Thus, your dog or cat may develop seizures, arthritis, dermatitis, or thyroiditis. Repeating the Lyme vaccine annually could prove devastating with the development of kidney or liver disease, or even cancer. It would be a better idea to have your animal's Lyme titer checked yearly.

Dos and Don'ts of Vaccinating

Before vaccinating, always consider the health of your animal. Is pet lively and vigorous, or does it have symptoms of an immune system that is already compromised? If your pet is fighting cancer, for example, or experiencing a flare-up of a chronic skin problem, it's best not to further disrupt its immune system with a vaccine. Although vaccine labels clearly state, "for healthy animals only," some veterinarians will vaccinate sick animals regardless of the warning unless an informed owner insists the animal not be vaccinated at the time.

If the animal is undergoing another medical procedure, such as neutering, your vet may think this is an opportune time to vaccinate, but you should never allow it. Multiple procedures, anesthetics, and medications will place further stress on the immune system and at the same time may lessen the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Never vaccinate an animal that is younger than 6 weeks old. Preferably, shots should begin at between 9 and 16 weeks. Very young animals acquire a natural immunity through the antibodies in their mother's colostrum, the first milk feedings. This protection may last as long as 14 to 16 weeks. When vaccines are given too early, maternal antibodies may interfere with the immune response.

Vaccination Schedule


9 weeks - distemper, modified-live vaccine (killed not available)
12 weeks - parvovirus, killed vaccine
15 weeks - repeat nine-week immunization
18 weeks - repeat parvovirus, killed vaccine
21 weeks - rabies, killed vaccine (three-year, if possible)

9 weeks - feline distemper/rhinotracheitis/ calicivirus vaccine (combination only)
12 weeks - repeat nine-week immunization
15 weeks - rabies, killed vaccine (three-year, if possible)

Vaccines should be given singly. (Especially true of the rabies vaccine.) Avoid combination vaccines, which may be convenient to use but are detrimental to the health of your pet. Ask your veterinarian to order individual vaccines (although for some vaccines, this is not possible) and to give just one shot per visit. Additional vaccines should be spaced at least one week apart, or preferably two or three weeks apart. Also, used killed vaccines, when these are available. Modified-live vaccines are banned in Scandinavia because their abilities to replicate and mutate make them far more dangerous.


Detoxification after an inoculation is essential. To offset possible negative side effects from vaccines, many holistic veterinarians give their patients the homeopathic remedy Thuja, which is considered the most important antidote for preventing or reversing vaccine-induced illnesses. Realize, however, that Thuja, like vaccines, is not a panacea, and that the best approach is to vaccinate as little as possible.

Thuja can be bought online or in health food stores that carry homeopathic remedies. Use a 30C potency for any size or any age animal.

One homeopathic pellet is crushed and placed on the tongue once daily, an hour before or after a feeding for seven days after a vaccination to help eliminate compromising effects on the immune system.

Things That May Help

Request that your veterinarian use 25 gauge needles when administering vaccines to your cat. Small hypodermic needles are less likely to carry irritating hair and debris under the skin.

Request that your veterinarian massage the area where the vaccine was administered. Massage spreads out the antigen (vaccine) lessening inflammation.

Veterinarians that see many cases of VAS sometimes begin giving their vaccinations in a lower rear leg. Although the plan is somewhat gruesome they realize that a tumor occurring on the leg would allow the leg to be lost but the cat to be saved.

Be sure your veterinarian keeps accurate records of the brand of vaccine used and the site where it was given. Although this may not help your pet, it will help us to determine which brands of vaccine may be causing problems. To identify the vaccine used, it is now recommend that the feline panleukopenia-calicivirus-chlamydia-rhinotracheitis vaccination be given on the right shoulder. Rabies vaccination should be given on the right rear leg as far down the leg as possible. Feline leukemia vaccination should be given on the same spot on the left rear leg.

For more information on using natural remedies for pets visit our website at:

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