We've been saddened and distressed at seeing so many young and middle aged cats and dogs become seriously ill suddenly, especially with cancer. Furthermore, we've noticed that these illnesses show up shortly after (2 to 3 days to several months) their being vaccinated. When we have a cat or dog just plucked off the streets or for any other reason needing building up, we put off giving it shots until it has been checked out and seems robust. Our long term charges which we've vaccinated minimally all seem to live long lives - cats into their late teens or twenties - dogs until twelve, thirteen, fourteen even as long as seventeen years! Not a big sampling, but compared to what we see around us - and we see alot - something to wonder and worry about.
Then this year a discussion between two Cornell and other veterinary experts entitled "Are We Vaccinating Too Much" appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and is summarized in the Animal Health Newsletter of the Cornell Veterinary School. That's a mouthful of authority and important to keep in mind when considering vaccinating your pets. Holistic and Homeopathic veterinarians have been presenting strong arguments against vaccination and/or overvaccination for years but when orthodox veterinarians rethink the vaccination issue, it's way past time to believe what we see.
In approaching vaccination, the vets cited in the Cornell letter are the most traditional of those cited here. Here is what they say:
- The need for annual boosters for parvovirus or distemper has not been established.
- Dogs continue to succumb to parvovirus in spite of an effective vaccine. Some vets give weekly parvo vaccinations to puppies. One of the vets in the discussion, Dr. Ronald Schultz, says that this is unnecessary and possibly harmful. Harmful. He recommends instead that one of the best vaccines be given at six, nine and twelve weeks of age. Harmful! The Cornell Newsletter has reported in the past and reiterates: There have been many instances of vaccine associated tumors developing in cats. Dr. Dennis Macy estimates that there have been about 22,000 such cases and he believes that it's possible for more cancer to develop when more vaccines are given in a particular site over time. To counter the rest of over-vaccination in general, Dr. Fred W. Scott suggests rotating vaccines so that the pet is not getting all of the various types every year. Another way to counter the risk: pets can be given yearly tests to determine the level of antibodies and hence the actual need for new shots. One Cornell vet on the panel, Dr. Leland E. Carmichael, says he vaccinates his own dogs once every three or four years.
The two Cornell vets on the panel agreed that the case for coronavirus vaccine has not been made.
WHAT TO DO?
There is much authoritative and reasonable opposition to some or all vaccines and the way they are administered on the one side. On the other side, most of our veterinarians advise routine shots; our kennels and licensing agencies require them.
We believe that each caring pet owner should become acquainted with this material and discuss it with their vet. Even for the most traditional, certain changes in the routine of giving shots can be safely made. The most that we urge our vets to change the current routine of inoculation, the more common the changes will become - even though, at first, it might require more visits to the vet. Even if you want to stay with the tradition, here is what you can do to make your pet safer:
- Vaccinate for only one disease at a time. The Rabies vaccine, especially, should be given separately.
- Use only killed vaccines.
- Test yearly to determine the level of antibodies and hence the actual need for vaccines and booster shots. These test can be improved and will be if we ask for them.
- Rotate vaccines so that your pet doesn't get all the shots every year.
- Make sure that your pet doesn't receive the injection in the same site each time.
- Don't vaccinate if your pet is in poor health, pregnant or undergoing surgery.
- Don't vaccinate if your pet is receiving corticosteroids.
- Consider using remedies to counteract potential adverse effects. They are available.
- At least one homeopathic veterinary expert says not to vaccinate for feline leukemia. Mainstream vets differ on this. Some experts believe that this vaccine as well as the vaccine for infectious peritonitis should be used only for cats at high risk. Others believe that the incidence of feline leukemia is so high that any cat may be at risk. Consider the risk for your particular pet.