Rabies Vaccination For Dogs - Beware the Health Risks
By Jan Rasmusen
Though most people think of vaccines as safe and protective, vaccination is a serious medical procedure with significant risks. The rabies vaccine, the only pet vaccine required by law, is arguably the most dangerous inoculation given to dogs and cats -and we give it far more often than necessary to protect people and dogs. And did you know: a Chihuahua puppy gets exactly the same dose shot as an adult Great Dane? This increased antigen load in relation to body size likely exposes small dogs to even bigger health risks.
Immediate adverse reactions after vaccination are easy to spot: vomiting, facial swelling, fever, lethargy, circulatory shock, loss of consciousness and even death. Non-immediate reactions, occurring days or even months, after vaccination include:
- Fibrocarcinomas (cancer) at the injection site
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Autoimmune diseases, such as those affecting bone marrow, blood cells, joints, eyes, kidney, liver, bowel and the central nervous system
- Chronic digestive problems
- Skin diseases (small dogs are especially vulnerable to ischemic dermatopathy and panniculitis)
- Muscle weakness or atrophy, particularly lack of rear-end coordination
- Pica (eating inappropriate materials, including feces)
- Behavioral Problems: aggression, destruction, separation anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviors like tail chasing or paw licking
Perhaps because it's required by law, few conventional vets warn about adverse reactions to this vaccine. For various reasons, delayed and unusual reactions are seldom reported to manufacturers or the FDA.
Given the risks...shouldn't we vaccinate only as often as necessary to protect dogs and people? Yes, but that's not what happens. Although blood antibody titer tests show that the rabies vaccine provides immunity for seven years, and a 1992 French "challenge" study proves at least five years of protection, most areas require vaccination of adult dogs every three years. Some U.S. localities require annual or biannual vaccination even though the "three year" shot is guaranteed by manufacturers to give three years of immunity. If that weren't bad enough, the three-year shot is often the one-year shot simply relabled to meet local requirements.
Can you avoid the rabies vaccine? If your dog has a well-documented history of health problems, and a low probability of contracting rabies, your veterinarian can apply for a deferral or exemption in many areas. A blood test for antibody titers (pronounced like tighter) showing strong antibodies to the disease may help your case, but will not by itself get you an exemption. Inexplicably, some vets refuse to apply for exemptions and some localities refuse to offer them. Ironically, strong titers, not repeated vaccination, are the only proof that a dog has immunity.
Incidentally, according to the CDC, rabies is no longer transmitted dog to dog in the United States. Your dog can contract rabies only from a wild animal such as a bat, fox or coyote.
We Can Change Antiquated Laws
Because the USDA , which oversees animal vaccines, will not accept blood tests or foreign studies as proof for vaccine duration of immunity, concerned American dog lovers have banded together to fund the research required to extend the period between vaccinations and to make the vaccine safer.
Nationally-renowned pet vaccination experts Drs. Jean Dodds and Ronald Schultz (Chair of the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison) are volunteering their efforts to study the vaccine. The University has waived its usual overhead fee (customarily 48% of direct costs). Concurrent five- and seven-year studies, using USDA testing protocols, are currently determining the duration of vaccine protection. Phase II of these studies will investigate the safety of the shot's boosting agents (called adjuvants) and establish a much-needed reporting system for adverse shot reactions. This study offers the opportunity to improve the health of every dog in America.
Learn more about adverse reactions, vaccination exemptions, titer testing and the Rabies Challenge Fund , and watch our entertaining but informative video at our Rabies Vaccine page.
2008 Jan Rasmusen.
Jan Rasmusen is the national award-winning author of Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, a highly-researched, but fun-to-read book on holistic dog health and safety. Subjects include vaccination, nutrition, pet meds, dental care, air and auto safety and more. Scared Poopless was named Best Health Care Book of any kind and Best Pet Care Book. It's recommended by the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Wellness Magazine, The Animal Protection Institute and countless vets. Find free dog care videos, audios, and articles at Jan's website http://www.Dogs4Dogs.com Sign up for her popular free e-newsletter and her article/video blog.
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Dog VaccinationAuthor: DoggiePro
With an increase in the knowledge about the dog health and immune system, veterinarians and researchers have conferred vaccines for puppies and yearly boosters for adult dogs. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to the disease so that the dog is protected against various organisms in the environment. If the immunized dog is later exposed to the infectious agent, the antibodies react quickly to attack and destroy the disease.
State Vaccination Requirements
Every state in the United States has its own laws governing requirements for pet owners. When it comes to vaccination requirements, the states mandate only one vaccine: rabies. The frequency of the vaccine administration varies, with most states requiring one every three years (when the veterinarian is using a vaccine that lasts three years) or in accordance with the recommendations of the vaccine manufacturer. Washington D.C. and Vermont, however, require annual rabies boosters regardless of the manufacturer.
Pet owners should work with their veterinarians to design a vaccination schedule for each pet based on age, breed, lifestyle, travel habits, health status, reproductive status, and environment. The vet will most likely recommend a series of three sets of vaccinations, generally given at four-week intervals starting at eight weeks of age. If vaccines are given too early, protection from colostrum fights off the vaccine and the vaccine does no good. If given vaccinations too late, the puppy may contract a disease.
When not to vaccinate the dog?
As vaccinations put a lot of stress on your dog's immune system, do not vaccinate if
• The puppy or dog is too young
• The puppy or dog is sick
• The puppy or dog is malnourished or underweight
• The puppy or dog has a weakened immune system due to genetics, a previous disease, or drug therapy
Which vaccinations are important?
AAHA and AVMA suggest two vaccination programs for their clients: a core vaccine protocol for triennial vaccination against the high-risk, contagious, and potentially fatal diseases of rabies, parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper and a non-core schedule for protection against additional diseases that may be extant in particular regions of the country.
• Distemper is absolutely essential vaccine
• Adenovirus vaccination also protects against hepatitis
• Parvovirus is also very essential vaccine
• Rabies vaccination poses a lot of health risks on a dog but, it is mandatory by law
• May also be inoculated against Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bordetella, Heartworm disease, Coronavirus, etc. if local conditions warrant or if the pet will be traveling in an area where these diseases are known to be a problem
Dog vaccinations are not without controversy and vaccine protocols are changing, so the best thing is to always understand what your vet recommends and why. Remember, routinely vaccinating your pet is often cheaper than paying for treating your sick dog later, and reduces virus transmission in the dog population.
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