If your animal has already been vaccinated, ask yourself the questions below, as you might already have a fully protected animal.
Did your dog receive at least one modified live vaccine for distemper/parvo after she was approximately 14 to 16 weeks old?
If you answered yes, that’s most likely enough for a lifetime. Yes, a lifetime! The expression “one and you’re done” applies to puppies vaccinated once mama’s antibodies have worn off. Evolution, once again, has created a brilliant system for protecting the young pup making sure she has enough antibodies to go boldly into the world without a mature immune system.
If you want to limit vaccines, wait until around 14 to 16 weeks for the best option for vaccines to take effect. It may be sooner but Dr Ron Schultz from the University of Wisconsin has found virtually all maternal antibodies disappear by 16 weeks. Before the mama’s antibodies have worn off, vaccine protection isn’t likely but toxicity from mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, foreign proteins, etc., is certain.
If you answered no, and you prefer to vaccinate in the safest way possible, give single monovalent vaccines for parvo and distemper but start at or after 14 weeks for optimum response. You can separate them by two or more weeks.
Did your animal receive at least one killed rabies vaccine?
It doesn’t matter if your pet received a one or three year rabies; even if it expired years ago, it’s very likely to still have very protective titers. And because the one year and three year are the same vaccine (yes really!), your pet will more than likely have plenty of protection to last several lifetimes! Yes, the cat’s out of the bag now. The smoke and mirror effect around that first rabies at three months only lasting for one year has been proven to be incorrect.
Ongoing studies of the duration of immunity for the Rabies Challenge Fund in Dr Schultz’s lab shows rabies protection for at least five years – and he is now looking into seven years. Studies in Europe show much longer. A very recent study done by Michael Moore DVM PhD, project manager for Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, shows rabies vaccine memory cells are protective for much longer than their expiration date. “Basically, once an animal has been vaccinated, they can receive a booster if they are exposed to the rabies virus, then their chances of surviving that virus are very, very good,” Moore says.
Dr Moore refers to the use of rabies boosters in humans: “If those antibodies fall below a certain level, we’re given a booster. While the vaccines are licensed for a certain number of years, the immune system doesn’t sync to a date on the calendar and shut down because it’s reached that particular date.” Hmm … so why are we pushed so strongly to vaccinate every three years? Why does the city or county knock on your door?
There are several reasons but the first is because rabies is a public health issue, a zoonotic disease than can spread from your animal to you. It’s top on the list of things to fear from your pet. It’s the law. But our laws are not reflective of good science, and in some ways they’re hurting our animals.
Back to the question: did your animal receive at least one rabies vaccine?
If your dog received one (or maybe two) rabies vaccines, and they are one to three (my experience is even longer) years out of date, the immune system remembers and will produce protective antibodies if given a booster vaccine at the exposure. Dr Moore’s compassion for owners who euthanize or quarantine pets for months led him to research the difference between up-to-date and out-of-date vaccine status. It turns out that the out-of-date animals actually had higher antibody titers! Yes! Seriously! Amazingly! Cool! You get it, right?
So, what does this tell us? It tells us that the folks in the labs know these vaccines, even “killed” vaccines, are good for many, many more years than the arbitrary expiration date of three years. You can draw your own conclusion here.
Does your animal have to be kenneled or groomed where vaccines are mandatory?
If the answer is no, save your money and your animal’s health. The Bordetella vaccine required by many kennels and groomers is highly ineffective and frequently causes adverse reactions. If these folks require vaccines, try to find more educated facilities. If you are stuck with the need to use their service, ask to sign a waiver or hold harmless agreement that you will not sue if your animal gets ill. Get titers and prove to them your animal has an immune system that is “turned on.” Otherwise, find a pet sitter or a mobile grooming service. Don’t be intimidated!
Does your animal have ANY chronic ailments? Skin, teeth, digestive, thyroid, ears, auto-immune, etc.
If the answer is yes, I suggest you reconsider ANY use of vaccines, as the likelihood of exacerbating those chronic ailments is great. Speak to your holistic veterinarian about writing a waiver letter and getting antibody titers for more information about rabies, distemper and parvo immune status.
The takeaway is: you have options! Study them carefully and remember YOU, the pet guardian, are the first line of real protection for your animals.