Vaccination Should we vaccinate?Questions we are asked as vets:
- How often?
- At what age?
- Should we include everything?
- Are vaccines safe?
These are are questions we get asked by the general public as vets
The most authoritative recent answer from a conventional veterinary study is found in the
WSAVA 2015 Study '‘Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats'
You can read this document on this link
If you follow this guidance the vaccination frequency used by most vets in the UK is unnecessarily frequent but also leaves a percentage of puppies and young dogs at risk until the first booster.
The 'data sheets' us vets are given by drug companies do not always reflect the advice the academics give us and so many vets will vaccinate excessively. Is this harmful or good sense just to make sure?
The jury is out on that question and it is a complex subject.
If vaccines never cause side affects then why not vaccinate very year just to be on the 'safe side' but undoubtedly they can cause side affects and there are definable risks each time you have a vaccine. That said if you do not vaccinate you run the risk of your companion catching parvovirus or leptospirosis or whatever. There is no risk free strategy it is a matter of assessing the risks and making an educated choice for your family.
Here is a link to what vets in the US are now recommending in dogs. It's a long complex document but if you are concerned it shows how much trouble the profession puts into their advice. A holistic vet will take all this into account before giving advice and this will change as new vaccines are produces and new diseases come to light.
I recommend you read these studies and decide what you feel best to do there is no one right answer but here is what I recommend.
Dogs and Puppies
Vaccinate for Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus (DHP) at 12 weeks plus of age.
Then blood test for antibodies to the viruses a month later. Read more about titre testing from the AVMF
Repeat vaccines necessary after this and perform another titre test.
If positive no need to repeat. Probably for life if a vaccine works it gives a life long cell mediated immunity. You can check using titre (Vaccicheck) test every few years.
New research shows a proportion of as much as 5%-10% of animals just vaccinated at 12 weeks and not later that a proportion do not have immunity to one of these diseases, in particular Parvovirus, as maternal antibodies stop the 12 week vaccine working.
This is why I recommend titre testing at 14-16 weeks. An alternative is repeat vaccination for DHP at 16-20 weeks of age, why wait until a year old?
Read more on the references below.
It seems to me this vaccine is not very affective even if given at the recommended 2 doses a few weeks apart unfortunately antibody titre levels are not reliable with this disease. If you are worried about lepto. then you will need both doses. You could use the nosode but we have little evidence this is affective or not for that matter. Leptospires only really survive in water not in the regular environment. Advice leaflet
I would not do this vaccine at all but would use the nosode before kennelling or dog shows training classes etc.
Boosters - Titre test and then decide the main virus vaccine last for life in most cases. I can arrange to have this blood test taken to check your pet has antibodies .
Cats and Kittens
Again 1 dose at 3 months old should be enough they are all live virus vaccines. Titre test to check they have worked at 4 months of age.
There are exclusions and exceptions to all situations and you should consult with you holistic vet if for example you are a breeder
There is less research I am aware of for bunnies. Myxomatosis is a horrible disease. I would give my pet rabbit a single dose in 'childhood' at least.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease or VHD or RHD is also available
House rabbits may not need these but if you rabbit runs free in the garden I would have them covered.
Read More / References
Titre Testing (American Veterinary Medical Association)
Ron Schultz DVM Immunologist
Dr Jean Dodd's Recommendations - dogs
Dr Jean Dodd's Recommendations - Cats
Dr Dodds Recommendations - Leptospirosis
WSAVA 2015 Study '‘Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats