• Vaccination vs Over-Vaccination

  • Homeopathic Nosodes

  • Puppy Vaccinations

  • Puppy Socialization & Vaccinations

  • Vaccines & Core Vaccines

  • Vaccination Protocals (Dr. Jean Dodds)

  • Titer Testing Services

  • Vaccine Detox - Treatment of Vaccinosis

  • Rabies

  • Adverse Event Reporting

  • Resources

vaccination vs over-vaccination

Vaccinations have saved the life of countless numbers of animals but concerns about over-vaccination and potential adverse effects (Allergic (hypersensitivity) and immune-mediated reactions) have led to a reevaluation of the annual revaccination (booster). Vaccines are generally safe but do carry a minimal risk to the animal since they are designed to challenge the animal’s immune system to stimulate immunity to an infectious disease.

“However, it is of note that small breed dogs do have a higher incidence of adverse effects following vaccination (particularly allergic reactions following the use of adjuvanted bacterins) and appear to make higher serological responses (to rabies vaccine) than larger breed dogs. This latter observation has recently been explored in a study that demonstrated wide differences in breed response to rabies vaccination (Figure 20.7). Breed differences in vaccine responsiveness may well be related to the MHC background of the dogs as MHC alleles are often strongly restricted in particular purebreeds. It is worth highlighting the rottweiler as a breed known to make poor responses to vaccination (in particular for canine parvovirus).” Day, Michael J.; Schultz, Ronald D.. Veterinary Immunology: Principles and Practice, Second Edition CRC Press

Historically veterinarians and vaccine manufacturers for companion animals have recommended annual revaccination against the most common diseases. Annual re vaccination was originally an arbitrary recommendation and was not based on any studies showing maximum duration of immunity. Yearly revaccinations became standard with most veterinarians because it also provided an incentive for owners to get a physical examination and health check.

Not every animal necessarily requires every vaccine. Although vaccines are extremely safe, minimizing vaccine use reduces the risk of any potential adverse consequence of the procedure.” Day, Michael J.; Schultz, Ronald D.. Veterinary Immunology: Principles and Practice, Second Edition CRC Press

in small companion animals, recent epidemiological data have suggested that the greater the number of components included at one time of vaccination, the greater the likelihood of adverse effects.” Day, Michael J.; Schultz, Ronald D.. Veterinary Immunology: Principles and Practice, Second Edition CRC Press

Homeopathic Nosodes

Homeopathic nosodes are often touted as alternatives to conventional vaccines. In fact, I often suggest the homeopathic nosode remedies, Lyssin, along with Thuja, to help blunt the effects of potential and actual adverse vaccine reactions. However, I do not recommend nosodes to prevent or treat infectious diseases. They do not generate measurable humoral immunity; the B-cell response we want to protect against infectious diseases.

Different Vaccine Types and Advancements

Puppy Vaccinations

Puppies are born without a developed immune system. Immunity to an infectious disease results form an adequate level of antibodies circulating in the dog which provides protection from the disease. Newborn puppies can obtain the antibodies they need to resist infection from their mother’s colostrum which is a form of milk the mother produces the first few days after birth. The newborn puppies may be able to absorb the antibodies up to 48-72 hours after birth.[1] If the mother has an adequate level of antibodies the puppies can be protected up to 14-16 weeks. (Maternal immunity) It is important for a puppy to get these antibodies from its mother’s colostrum because a puppy cannot develop its own immunity until its immune system is fully functional at about 6 weeks of age.[2] The reason puppies are recommended to get a series of vaccines starting between 6 and 10 weeks of age and then every 2-4 weeks after the first set of shots is to insure the puppy gets one dose of vaccine soon after the maternal immunity diminishes. If the maternal immunity is still present it will block the puppy from developing its immunity from the vaccination. There is a critical period of time during which the maternal immunity the puppy received from its mother is not high enough to prevent infection from a disease, but is still strong enough to block the puppy from developing its immunity to a vaccination. The puppy may be susceptible to the disease during this short time referred to as an “immunity gap”.[3]  A single vaccine (Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) is expected to provide protective immunity but only if the maternal immunity is absent. Puppies 14-16 weeks old are not likely to have interfering levels of maternal immunity that would interfere with the vaccination thus blocking the puppy from developing a natural immunity. If we wait until the puppy is 16-weeks of age to vaccinate, it would leave the puppy unprotected and vulnerable to viral diseases which is what we want to avoid.   This presents a challenge because 3-12 weeks (up to 16-weeks) is a critical period of time when proper socialization should take place, and it is a critical period of time when the puppy may be susceptible to disease. Puppies are especially susceptible to parvovirus (Parvo) which is a life threatening disease that is potentially everywhere in the environment.

Puppy Socialization & Vaccinations

A dog’s personality is mostly shaped in the first four-months of the puppy’s life, so once you bring your puppy home at 8-weeks, you have no time to waste before you start to socialize your puppy. During the next 4 and 8 weeks your puppy’s personality/temperament continues to develop.  After the first 16-weeks it not realistic to think you will change the dog’s personality. Although personality/temperament is consistent and changes very little during the dog’s life if any, behavior can be modified to varying degrees. The importance of early socialization has been widely known since the publication of Scott & Fuller’s research on the social behavior of dogs in the 1960’s.   The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in England understood the temperamental damage done to puppies that did not get early socialization. They pioneered the idea of early vaccination and early socialization in the 1960’s with great success even in the face of a great amount of criticism from the veterinarian profession. There are still veterinarians today advising owners basically to quarantine their puppy until it completes its full set of vaccinations. The problem with this advice is that of the millions of homes that adopt a puppy each year in the USA, almost half of those dogs will never live to see their second birthday because their owners are unhappy with how they turned out and surrender them to shelters… two out of three will be euthanized.  In the book “Puppy’s First Steps” it states that “puppies that had dysfunctional backgrounds with inadequate socialization were 580 times more likely to end up with fear aggression toward strangers.”

More veterinarians today are now recommending early socialization for puppies as long as appropriate precautions are taken. Dr. R. K. Anderson, DVM, wrote “An Open Letter to My Colleagues in Veterinary Medicine” in 2006 encouraging early socialization after receiving at least the first set of vaccinations and as long as other precautions are followed. Dr. Anderson goes on to state “that the risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of behavior problems is more than 1,000 times the risk of dying of distemper or Parvo virus”.  The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has also come out to state “that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”

Go to the Socialization page for guidance.


The rabies vaccination is the only vaccine required by law in most states. The rabies vaccine is important since rabies can be transmitted from dogs and cats to humans and is almost always fatal. The rabies vaccine is the most potent vaccine and is associated with significant adverse reactions. Because “It is medically unsound for this vaccine to be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity” and overvaccination can cause harmful adverse effects in dogs Dr. Ronald Schultz one of the world's leading veterinary vaccine experts is conducting research (The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust) at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine to establish that a 3 year booster interval required by state laws may be unnecessary. “The goal of The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust is to extend the legally required interval for rabies boosters to 5 and then 7 years.

In 2017 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) published its most recent guidelines and recommendations for core and noncore vaccines. Core vaccines are for protection against high risk infectious diseases and these are vaccines the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends every dog should have. Non-core vaccines protects from a disease that not every animal may be exposed to. The AAHA states that the “guidelines and recommendations should not be construed as dictating an exclusive protocol, course of treatment, or procedure.” Since every dog does not need every vaccination and giving a noncore vaccine to a dog should be based on risk of exposure, the AAHA developed a Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator that can be used to “develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.”

AAHA’s Core Vaccination Protocol (Guidelines)

Vaccine Timing

Beginning as early as 6 weeks of age, administer sequential doses of a combination vaccine at an interval of 2 to 4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age. Dogs residing in a HIGH-RISK environment may benefit from receiving a final dose at 18 to 20 weeks of age. Administer a single dose of a combination vaccine within 1 year following the last dose in the Initial Vaccination series.

Administer subsequent boosters at intervals of 3 years or longer.

Measuring antibody levels (quantitative or qualitative) provides a reasonable assessment of protective immunity against CDV, CPV, and CAV2.

Core Vaccines

Non-Core Vaccines

Question:  My veterinarian believes anytime dogs are in contact with water that they are at HIGH risk for contracting leptospirosis.
Answer: Not so. Most Leptospirosis strains (there are about 200) do not cause disease, and of the seven clinically important strains, only four — L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars — are found in today’s vaccines.  So, exposure risk depends upon which serovars of Lepto have been documented to cause clinical leptospirosis in the area where you live. You can call the county health department or local animal control and ask.”

Dr. Jean Dodds Vaccination Protocol (Guidelines)

Note: New research states that last puppy parvovirus vaccine should be at 18 weeks old.

1 Year After Last Vaccination (Optional Booster)

If the client decides not to give this optional booster, run a serum antibody titer instead.

If the client intends to just retest serum antibody titers in another three years, this optional booster at puberty is wise to give for more assured protection.

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired.

Core Vaccination Protocol

9 - 10 Weeks of Age

14 – 15 Weeks of Age

18 weeks of age

Rabies vaccine - “it should be spaced a minimum of 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines, as it presents the strongest antigenic challenge to the immune system.”

Question:  What kind of rabies vaccine should I get?
Answer:  The rabies vaccine should be thimerosal (mercury) – free – i.e. Merial IMRAB TF.

Question:  Are there any methods to stop the potential side effects of vaccine reactions?
Answer:  You can pre-treat dogs with the oral homeopathics, Thuja and Lyssin, to help blunt any adverse effects of the rabies vaccine. For other vaccines, just Thuja is needed. These homeopathics can be given the day before, the day of, and the day after the vaccine.  Some product protocols suggest a different regimen for them.

Vaccine Issues & WSAVA Guidelines 2015-2017

By W. Jean Dodds, DVM on March 3, 2018

Age and Long-term Protective Immunity in Dogs and Cats

This is a summary of an article by Dr. Ron Schultz

Vaccination can provide an immune response that is similar in duration to that following a natural infection. In general, adaptive immunity to viruses develops earliest and is highly effective. Such anti-viral immune responses often result in the development of sterile immunity and the duration of immunity (DOI) is often lifelong. In contrast, adaptive immunity to bacteria, fungi or parasites develops more slowly and the DOI is generally short compared with most systemic viral infections. Sterile immunity to these infectious agents is less commonly engendered. Old dogs and cats rarely die from vaccine-preventable infectious disease, especially when they have been vaccinated and immunized as young adults (i.e. between 16 weeks and 1 year of age). However, young animals do die, often because vaccines were either not given or not given at an appropriate age (e.g. too early in life in the presence of maternally derived antibody [MDA]). More animals need to be vaccinated to increase herd (population) immunity. The present study examines the DOI for core viral vaccines in dogs that had not been revaccinated for as long as 9 years. These animals had serum antibody to canine distemper virus (CDV), canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) and canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1) at levels considered protective and when challenged with these viruses, the dogs resisted infection and/or disease. Thus, even a single dose of modified live virus (MLV) canine core vaccines (against CDV, cav-2 and cpv-2) or MLV feline core vaccines (against feline parvovirus [FPV], feline calicivirus [FCV] and feline herpesvirus [FHV]), when administered at 16 weeks or older, could provide long-term immunity in a very high percentage of animals, while also increasing herd immunity.

Titer Testing Services

What is a titer test?
A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents)…    Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called “core” diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats), enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary. All animals can have serum antibody titers measured instead of receiving vaccine boosters. The only exception is rabies re-vaccination. There is currently no state that routinely accepts a titer in lieu of the rabies vaccine, which is required by law.

What do I do if the titer shows that my pet has immunity?
If your pet’s titer levels show that an adequate immune memory has been established, you do not need to create the potential for vaccinosis by introducing unnecessary antigen, adjuvant, and preservatives into his body via booster vaccines. Instead, skip the boosters and have your dog re-titered in three years.

Are there downsides to titering?
There is no downside to titering your pet. However, be aware that some veterinarians may be resistant to performing titer tests in lieu of vaccination. These veterinarians are misinformed and incorrectly believe that measuring an animal’s serum antibody titers is not a valid method of determining his immunity to infectious diseases, or that this testing is too costly.

“The antibody levels against these diseases, as measured by titer tests, fall off with each successive year. However, in addition to antibodies, animals also have what we call immune memory cells against disease, and they remain for a lifetime.

Thanks to these immune memory cells (which cannot be titered for), a low titer against one of the non-core diseases doesn’t necessarily mean the pet is no longer protected. She may still be protected for up to a year or much longer by immune memory cells.

We can reasonably compare the dog and cat core vaccines to the human polio vaccine, or even vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (the MMR vaccine), which provide lifetime immunity. Non-core veterinary vaccines can be compared to the human tetanus vaccine, which may not last for a lifetime.”

“any measurable titer to a vaccine including distemper & parvovirus means that the dog has specific committed immune memory cells to respond and afford protection upon exposure. It really doesn’t matter how high the titer result is as long as it measures something. If your dogs consistently have no measurable titer to canine distemper virus, it means mean that they are distemper “non-or low-responders”, an heritable trait where they will never mount immunity to distemper and will always be susceptible. These dogs should not be used for breeding.”

Titer Testing (Hemopet)

Hemopet Rabies, Distemper / Parvo titers

Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Core vaccine:  rabies, distemper, parvo and Adenovirus

Summary of the Rabies Challenge Fund Duration of Immunity Study

Age and Long-term Protective Immunity in Dogs and Cats

Vaccine Detox

Treatment of Vaccinosis