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Pet Tales: Are Vaccines Harmful?

by Stacy Conroy Most caregivers of dogs and cats receive annual cards in the mail from their vet’s office reminding them to make an appointment for the next round of vaccinations. It is a cost pet owners incur with the hope that their beloved companions won’t fall victim to a deadly disease. However, some veterinarians are saying we may be over vaccinating our pets, causing allergic reactions and even serious illness. There may be a better way of caring for our companions. According to a recent press release from UW – Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the risk of adverse reactions outweighs the benefits of vaccination in many cases. Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, began researching vaccines more than 25 years ago. He wondered why humans were vaccinated as children and then not again, but animals were vaccinated annually. His research confirms that most animal vaccines, like human ones, seem to create long-term immunity. Dr. Schultz’s findings show core vaccines (vaccines against deadly diseases in dogs such as adenovirus, parvovirus and rabies; and in cats, panleukopenia, calicivirus, herpesvirus, and rabies), should be given to puppies and kittens over 3 months and boosters before the age of one year. After the first year, no benefit is gained by revaccinating the animal. Non-core vaccinations aim to protect against regional problems and diseases with low mortality such as Lyme Disease. Many health-savvy animal caregivers are opting to use titer tests on previously vaccinated animals. Titer tests analyze the animal’s blood to see whether antibodies to various diseases remain from previous vaccinations. If they do, the animal does not require another vaccination. Any vet can perform titer tests if you ask. The one exception in the law requires a rabies vaccination to be given to all healthy animals every three years. Some vets will provide a rabies waiver for sick animals who cannot be vaccinated due to pre-existing health issues. Dr. Jodi Gruenstern, a holistically trained veterinarian at the Animal Doctor clinic in Muskego has been promoting titering vs. vaccinating for about two years. “I have witnessed many reactions to the leptospira vaccine as well as acute lymphocytic leukemia two weeks after vaccinating,” she said. “I see many animals with excessive immune complex so I believe there is a relationship between chronic inflammatory disease and excessive immune system stimulation.” Gruenstern has submitted titer results from hundreds of dogs and cats to Dr. Schultz for his research. The overall health of your pet is what’s important. Annual exams, regardless of the vaccination protocol used, are a must. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 8 – August 2003
by Stacy Conroy