Dog Vaccinations Are Not Harmless

Get educated on what vaccinations are and when they need to be administered. Be prepared for a shock! This page gives you much needed information to keep your sheltie safe.

I don't know about you, but it’s always been tough for me to keep my head clear about puppy vaccinations. Two opposing camps: traditional vets vs. holistic vets, "for” vs. “against” vaccines.

dog vaccinations

Just What Do Dog Vaccinations Consist of?

Vaccinations contain, obviously, the virus. It is either killed or modified live. The Sheltie is given a tiny amount of this harmful substance, so the body can recognize it and create antibodies against it to fight off infection in the future.

But wait….

Because it is such a small amount of bad guys (dead virus) in that syringe, there needs to be something really irritable in the vaccine to make sure the body takes notice that something bad has arrived.

Enter the adjuvant. That’s the stuff the virus is mixed with. It is what elicits a more marked immune response from the body.

It was originally thought that the adjuvant was harmless. Now we are beginning to find out that sometimes these vaccinations cause unexpected negative reactions.

More and more studies are showing a correlation between autoimmune disease in canines and the high rate of vaccination to which they are subject.

So let’s talk about when and how often we start giving these questionable substances to our shelties.

Puppy Vaccinations

I bet most of you think that the puppy vaccinations are administered every 3 to 4 weeks when they are young in order to “booster”, (to steadily increase their immunity) over time. WRONG!

Mother Nature has done quite a good job all by herself.

During the nursing phase of a puppy’s life, immunity against disease is passed on by the mother through her milk. So much so, that when a 6 week old puppy is inoculated, the vaccine is rendered ineffective because the mother’s antibodies, in the puppy, take care of the injected virus before the puppy’s immune system can kick in.

You just wasted your time and your money. AND you just injected a bunch of foreign substances into your pup for no good reason.

When does this mother’s immunity actually wear off to the point that a puppy needs the dog vaccinations to create its own immunity? Long ago, no one was really sure, sooooo….

Let’s give them another shot in 3-4 weeks…..

And another…

And another….

At some point ONE of them is bound to be effective, right?

It's the shotgun approach.

Studies have shown that maternal antibodies slowly decrease until about 16 weeks of age. At that point, it is about 98% certain the vaccine will be effective.  Definitely, puppy vaccinations before 12 weeks old is a total waste. What I know from buyers is that most don’t want to wait ‘til 12 weeks old to take their new puppy home. 

Not to mention, those pups given the vaccine can still get parvo. And those vaccinated dogs that get parvo have a greater chance of dying from it compared to non-vaccinated pups.

For myself, I’m biting the bullet, taking the bull by the horns, or whatever other analogy is appropriate, to make the not-so-popular decision to do what I think is right for the Shelties I keep for myself from any litter:

What Puppy Vaccinations I Give My Shelties

  • parvo and distemper vaccination at 16 weeks. 
  • rabies at 6 months of age administered by the vet as required by law

That’s it. 

Only Parvo and Distemper are “puppy killers” because they can dehydrate a puppy quickly from diarrhea and/or vomiting. The other diseases can usually be treated. That is why I reduced the vaccines I give to just those two. If you would like more info on Distemper, click here. If you would like more info on Parvo, click here.

Because not all owners will be on the same page as me, I offer options at the time they purchase an 8 week old pup so that they can feel comfortable with how the vaccination protocol will proceed for them.

New puppy owners can:

  • Have me administer a combination parvo and distemper vaccine at 8 weeks and take the puppy home
  • Take the puppy home at 8 weeks and come back at 12-16 weeks to get a combination parvo and distemper vaccinations at no charge.
  • Receive no vaccinations from me and take the pup to their vet for whatever vaccinations they think appropriate.

For owners who don’t want to come back here but prefer to go to their vet’s office for a shot, PLEASE, for the love of Pete, look at the recommendations for limited puppy vaccinations and not get sucked into the vortex of more, more, more. “7 way puppy vaccinations” are totally uncalled for.

The Usual Puppy Vaccinations Given By Vets

The usual set of vaccinations given by vets for puppies can include:

A single combination vaccine given multiple times consisting of:

  • Distemper 
  • Parvovirus 
  • CAV 1 & 2 
  • Parainfluenza 

There are also combinations that contain additional viruses including the unnecessary Corona virus.

Then there are the separate vaccinations given multiple times of: 

  • Lyme 
  • Lepto

And finally:

  • Rabies given usually around 6 months old when the dog will be getting its county license

These last 3 vaccines: Lyme, Lepto and Rabies should ideally be given separately from each other and any other vaccine. So figure you’ll be living in the vet’s office for a few months. 

But it doesn’t end with the puppy vaccinations, it continues through their lives.

Adult Dog Vaccinations

What about the adult shelties?

A routine part of vet visits has traditionally been about annual dog vaccinations. For a long time, thinking about vaccines made my head want to explode.

So, yearly just like everyone else in the world, all the Shelties got marched in to the vet’s for shots without thinking twice. After all, I trusted my vet or I wouldn’t be taking my guys to him.

But the practice of yearly vaccinations has come under intense scrutiny for the past 10 years or so and I researched.

As with many things related to a canine's health, we must weigh the risk of disease with the risk of harm from the drug. Drug companies have no data to back the need for yearly vaccines, yet that is what they print in their literature. That is only because they didn't take the drug trial past a 1 year duration to see how long the vaccine is good for. 

Don’t believe me? Ask your vet to show you the scientific studies showing the need for annual vaccinations in dogs. Nope. Nothing, zip, zero, nada.

Vets generally follow whatever the manufacturers listed protocol is even though it is not required by law. That’s because they are concerned abut liability if they do something other than what is on the label. No one likes to get sued. But newer studies are now being performed which refute the need for dog vaccinations, to the extent that they have always been given.

Time For A Change

So, I’m turning over a new leaf.

I’m not stupid,

               I’m not careless,

                                 I’m not uncaring,

                                                    I’m not cheap.

I’m just a breeder who is realizing we have been sold a bill of goods that is not in the best interests of the dogs.

So, as I tell my pack of dogs when they are getting out of control…. E-NOUGH! GRRR!

This is what I have my vet give my dogs

Adult Vaccinations:

  • Rabies at 6 months of age
  • Rabies one year after that
  • Rabies every 3 years as required by law after that

Dog Vaccinations My Shelties DON'T Get

  • Lymes Disease vaccine? NopeIt doesn't prevent the disease but can make the symptoms less severe to the point you may not notice your dog is feeling ill, but the infection can still cause permanent kidney damage since it wasn't treated. 
  • Lepto vaccine? Nope. Only a few of the strains that a dog can catch are in the vaccine, so like the flu shot for humans, it may not cover your dog for the right variation when the time comes.
  • Bordetella?  Nope. Dogs that come down with "kennel cough" have been infected with a variety of other germs, not just the bordetalla. Further, like the common cold in humans, it is a self limiting disease even without treatment and the vaccine is only effective for about 6 months. Do you really want to vaccinate a dog every 6 months for life?

Risks And Side Effects Of Dog Vaccinations

Historically it’s been thought that vaccinations could do no harm and  actually do some good. So more is better, right? But like most medicine, human or canine, dog vaccination side effects that manufacturers don’t want to own up to are becoming evident.

There are significant risk factors. So much so, that even traditional vets are hedging their bets by vaccinating cats on the leg or tail because at least the limb can be amputated when it develops cancer.

That doesn’t sound harmless to me.

Dogs are developing: 

  • seizures shortly after being vaccinated 
  • allergies
  • behavioral problems

Being anecdotal, the supporters of vaccinations deny any relation of these issues to vaccines.

I had a puppy whose owner said both rabies and lepto vaccines were given on the same day. The owner told me that the pup was sick for 4 days after. He had diarrhea, lethargy, wouldn’t eat and developed a bout of demodectic mange (an illness triggered by stress in a pup with an immature immune system). 

Luckily, he rebounded. Hopefully there will be no lasting effects.

What You Can Do

There is a better way.

  • You can have your pup’s blood titered to see if there are enough antibodies a few weeks after a vaccine to know it has take effect.
  • You can vaccinate for only those diseases that are relevant to your area or required by law.
  • You can give dog vaccinations for only those few untreatable diseases.
  • You can reduce most vaccinations to once every 3 years instead of yearly.
  • When you have your pup vaccinated for rabies ask for mercury free (thimerosal free)

We are finding that vaccines are effective for at least 3-7 years and sometimes for life.

The American Animal Hospital Association had published Vaccination Guidelines in 2011 which now unfortunately is no longer on their website. However, I did sit down and create a chart of their guidelines for puppy buyers a while back.

If you are interested, click here for the PDF file SUMMARY CHART of that report I created. It shows the huge number of dog vaccinations usually given.

Then there is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s position on vaccinations. They advise customizing the vaccination schedule rather than using the traditional “one size fits all” approach that is still the norm. This is a major change in philosphy for vet schools and finally heading in the right direction. But it's like trying to turn the Titanic around. It will take time to get vets willing to rethink how they run their practices.

You can read what other well-known, respected vets such as Jean Dodd, DVM recommend, and again a SUMMARY CHART of her recommendations that I created.

And finally, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Vaccination Guidelines.

It's a subject that is a hot topic these days and one that takes time to figure out what is the best for your Sheltie.

I plan on minimum vaccinations for all my Shetland Sheepdogs. What will you do?

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