Thursday, March 13, 2008

Raw Food Diet Day 44- I'm One Tired Boy

Yesterday was the first day in a long time that feasting was not the most important thing on my list of important things to do in a day. I got to play at the dog park! When we first got there, I saw so many crazy and stinky dogs that I almost pulled a muscle in my back because my tail was wagging so hard. Then my human let me off the leash and I pranced around and sniffed some bums, then set off sprinting as hard as I could while the other dogs chased me in a group. I'm a really fast boy, and I love being chased! My brother didn't like one of the dogs so he had to stay on his leash and wasn't allowed to play until that group of dogs went home. But then a whole bunch of female dogs showed up at the same time and my brother was in heaven. He loves to crawl on his belly and flirt with the girls. I think girls are stinky and only good for a game of chase, so I stuck my bum in the air and slammed my front legs on the ground and took off running. Those girls are slow-pokes!

My human said that we were there for almost 2 hours. I am only interested in "hours" if they're good for feasting. Towards the end my brother and I could barely get ourselves to go faster than a jog... until this greyhound showed up. I couldn't believe it -- he was faster than me!! This can't be! I thought I'd show him who's boss around this park and ran so hard that I barked and squeaked with every leap, but he still beat me. I got so fed up that I insisted we go home and I demanded the raw egg and cheese snack feast that I deserved for being the fastest boy around. After all, the greyhound obviously cheated. He's a horse and shouldn't be at the dog park.

Bark parks are the best because I get to play with so many new dogs and make a million new friends every time I go. I forget all of their names right away, but my sore sprinting muscles the next day make me remember all of the races I won. Nothing's better than going to a stinky park, lifting my leg on everything I see, and then showing off my speed-racer abilities. I hope my humans have this much fun at their human park!

I'll race you,

brother typed for hours:
We love the park. My favorite is body-slamming my brother while he's running full speed and then stealing the attention of the girl that was chasing him. I'm a sneaky boy like that, and I fancy myself something of a ladies' man. For me, the Bark Park is all about fun, flirting and feasting. But to our humans, dog parks can bring worry of bacteria and viruses that other dogs might carry. With that, let’s talk about vaccines.
It seems that raw feeders, holistic medical practices and an anti-vaccine attitude go hand-in-hand amongst the majority of the humans that choose to practice these canine care techniques. When your human takes his/her first steps towards this alternative lifestyle education (by "alternative" I mean non-kibble), it can feel to them as if they are peering into a somewhat cult-ish mentality. It’s overwhelming to say the least, and so much of what’s out there is written from an almost-rabid point of view. (Like that use of “rabid” in my vaccination post?) My human and I have read and read and searched website after website, and finally digested the volumes of information to create this extremely abbreviated posting on our findings of vaccine information, pros and cons. This is an area that requires much research and education by your human before they make any changes in your medical routine, and the information provided is in no way set in stone. Your person must make these choices with the help of your doctor.

Humans, dogs, cats, horses, ferrets... all are vaccinated. There are so many diseases that once plagued each of these species that have been eradicated, or controlled to the point that threat of infection is almost non-existent. There are so many pros that come with vaccinating, with peace of mind being ranked somewhere near the top of that list. Health, of course, sits above that. However, glowing health cannot be promised because vaccines, like all things in life, aren’t 100% effective 100% of the time. So if they're faulty, then why vaccinate at all?

Generally, there are 2 external factors that can seriously effect our health, and for which we are given preventive injections. These include bacterial and viral disease. Bacterial threats that are commonly vaccinated for are Canine Bordatella (CAV-1), Leptospirosis, and Lyme Disease. Immunity built up from bacterial pathogens is short-term, and so vaccines for these infections are not effective for much time. Viral disease vaccines include Rabies, Canine Infectious Hepatitis (CAV-2) (expected to have a viral entomology), Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2), Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Coronavirus, Canine Adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) and Giardia (not a true virus but its make-up and pathology are similar). Viral immunity is very long-lasting, and in some cases a singular exposure to the pathogen can result in a life-long immunity.

There are two different ways to create a vaccine. One uses a modified live version of the infecting pathogen (Modified Live Vaccine = MLV), the other uses killed pathogens. In MLV vaccines, since the virus is still active (but not highly infectious since modified) the immune system has a high response rate. Therefore, a smaller dose is needed and it will provide better and longer-lasting protection. The pathogen in this case acts more like the disease-causing form of itself, so the body is able to create a stronger and more precise immunity against it. Killed vaccines are weaker, and because the pathogen is already dead the body has far less of a immune response. Because of this, adjuvants are added to the mix, which stimulate the immune system. Adjuvants, however, have been found to be the cause of many side-effects.

It is difficult to make negative argument with regard to the prevention of such a vast array of diseases and infections. I believe I have heard humans say that prevention is the best medicine. However, vaccines don’t just cause immune responses to the virus or bacteria, and the more often we are vaccinated the more likely we are to develop adverse reactions. There have been studies done to figure out how often and to what extent us dogs need to be vaccinated. Presently, the veterinarian-recommended amount is excessive, up to 16 vaccines given every year, and some bacterial vaccines given every 6 months. Triggering severe immune responses with such frequency can cause the immune system to behave in a way that it was not intended, and the results can be detrimental.

According to Jean Dodds, DVM, a veterinarian who has been studying vaccine guidelines for over 30 years, we are being overdosed with vaccinations when there was never any set data to begin with that stated vaccines must be administered annually. Overdone Parvovirus and Distemper vaccines have been shown to be responsible for immune-related diseases, such an anemia, arthritis, epilepsy, thyroid disease, liver and kidney failure, diabetes, and allergies. (1)

“Approximately 5 to 10 percent will develop problems,” according to Dodd. “That increases 20 percent in pure breeds.” (2).

Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine studied the effect of vaccines on the canine immune system. What they found was a greatly increased occurrence of autoimmune disease in the study group of vaccinated animals, while these diseases were not seen in the non-vaccinated group. In the vaccine group, these dogs were seen to have developed a “confused” immune system, that began attacking its own elements for tissue growth and repair, and some showed blood work which indicated a response similar to that of the human disease Lupus. Antibodies to the body’s own collagen were also reported, along with autoantibodies to the dogs’ own DNA (3,4)

The American Veterinary Medical Association discovered that over 160,000 cats each year were developing terminal cancer at injection sites, and in August of 2003 the Journal of Veterinary Medicine showed that dogs were, in fact, suffering from the same issue. Cancer-causing vaccines is not a strange thought, as the Salk polio vaccine for humans was shown to have the same result. (5)

According to the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (Merck is a major manufacturer of vaccines), autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA), a fast-acting, generally fatal disease, which can be caused by MLV vaccines. The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and Tizrard’s Veterinary Immunology also agree with these findings. Merck also published findings that vaccines can cause encephalitis (brain inflammation). (6)

As canines, our immune systems mature at 6 months of age. Like humans, if the body is exposed to a pathogen and develops immunity against this invader after the system has reached maturity, the memory cells for this disease are created and immunity is set for life. This makes the need for booster shots debatable and arguably something to avoid, as the consistent introduction of pathogens to the system can cause any number of side-effects. (7)

The extent to which some vaccines are useful is also something that is debated. While a Bordetella or Parvo vaccine may protect against a few strains of the disease, the pathogen is always mutating and we are, in fact, never 100% protected. To put this into a human’s perspective – your human can catch Mono (Mononucleosis) or the Chicken Pox and develop immunity against that particular strain of the disease that will last them through their life. However, at some point in their lifetime they may be exposed to a different strain of the disease that has mutated, and their immunity is no good. They can catch the Chicken Pox as many times as they are subjected to new strains. The same goes for many of our canine diseases.

So what is your human to do? It is difficult to turn your nose up at the vaccines that can help prevent serious, life-threatening diseases. And if you’re a city dog, like my bother and me, it may be best for you to maintain your immunity. We are out and about all of the time, exposed to many different things and playing with lots of dogs. Our exposure rate is high. For some dogs who live at home and play in their back yard, the level of risk is quite low. Vaccination requirements for each of us can be quite different, and the longevity of a vaccine may play a more important role in some dogs' lives and not others'.

Ronald Shultz, a professor and chair of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Science has been testing the duration of a vaccine’s effect. According to Shultz, “...the vaccines for CDV, CPV-2, and CAV trigger an immunological memory of at least seven years.” His studies of rabies shots, however, indicate that they last only 3 years, which is why most states legally require rabies vaccines to be administered at this rate. Other “non-core” vaccines have been shown to last only 1 year, however not every dog has a need for these injections (see below for list of "core" and "non-core" vaccines). (8)

“Another common vaccine that Schultz says is unnecessary protects against ‘kennel cough,’ an often mild and transient disease contracted during boarding or dog shows. ‘Most pet dogs that do not live in breeding kennels, are not boarded, do not go to dog shows and have only occasional contact with dogs outside their immediate family,’ Schultz recommends, ‘rarely need to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated for kennel cough’ (9).

The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccination Task Force has reviewed the recent research on vaccines and divided them into groups, ranked from most necessary or “core,” to “not generally recommended.” These groups are as follows:

“ . . . Recommended or “core” vaccines are those that the committee believes should be administered to all puppies (dogs <6>

Vaccines identified as “not generally recommended” are those that the committee believes have little or no indication. The diseases involved are either of little clinical significance or respond readily to treatment. In addition, the vaccines available against these diseases have not demonstrated clinical efficacy in the prevention of disease and may produce adverse events with limited benefit. The vaccines that the committee believes fall into this category are Giardia spp., canine coronavirus (CCV), and canine adenovirus- 1 (CAV-1). . . .“ (10, 11)

If all of this seems like too much to put together, I have included a portion of Dr. Jean Dodd's Recommended Vaccine Schedule. Please refer to the website for a complete chart and more information. Again, this is not medical advice, but information for your human to discuss with your doctor.

Dr. Jean Dodds' Recommended Vaccination Schedule
VaccineInitial1st Annual BoosterRe-Administration Interval
Distemper (MLV)
(e.g. Intervet Progard Puppy)
9 weeks
12 weeks
16 - 20 weeks
At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only
None needed.
Duration of immunity 7.5 / 15 years by studies. Probably lifetime. Longer studies pending.
Parvovirus (MLV)
(e.g. Intervet Progard Puppy)
9 weeks
12 weeks
16 - 20 weeks
At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only None needed.
Duration of immunity 7.5 years by studies. Probably lifetime. Longer studies pending.
24 weeks or olderAt 1 year (give 3-4 weeks apart from Dist/Parvo booster) Killed 3 year rabies vaccine3 yr. vaccine given as required by law in California (follow your state/provincial requirements)
Vaccines Not Recommended For Dogs
CoronaNot recommended.
1.) Disease only affects dogs <6>
LeptospirosisNot recommended
1) There are an average of 12 cases reported annually in California.
2) Side effects common.
3) Most commonly used vaccine contains the wrong serovars. (There is no cross-protection of serovars) There is a new vaccine with 2 new serovars. Two vaccinations twice per year would be required for protection.).
4) Risk outweighs benefits.
Only recommended 3 days prior to boarding when required.
Protects against 2 of the possible 8 causes of kennel cough.
Duration of immunity 6 months.

There's a lot going on here, I know. But it's important to be aware of the facts regardless of whether or not your human is considering reducing your vaccinations. For some dogs like me who are prone to developing allergies, over-vaccinating can be a serious threat as the risk of developing autoimmune disease increases dramatically. But, for a healthy, active, very social dog, a full round of vaccines may be determined to be what's best for you. In the end I'm not here to push anything on anybody. I'm just sticking around to provide your human with information, because the more knowledge they have the better off you're going to be. So, here's to research.. and to post-research snacking.

This is brother signing off.

(1) "Are Our Pets Being Overvaccinated?" by Melissa Burden
(2) "Are Our Pets Being Overvaccinated?" by Melissa Burden
(3) Purdue University and Hayward Foundation Study on Vaccines
(4) "The Science of Vaccine Damage" by Catherine O'Driscoll
(5) "The Science of Vaccine Damage" by Catherine O'Driscoll
(6) "The Science of Vaccine Damage" by Catherine O'Driscoll
(7) "The Science of Vaccine Damage" by Catherine O'Driscoll
(8) "Annual Dog Vaccines May Not be Necessary, Says UW Veterinary Immunologist" by Emily Carlson
(9) "Annual Dog Vaccines May Not be Necessary, Says UW Veterinary Immunologist" by Emily Carlson
(10) AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force: 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature
(11) IL Cocker Rescue: Vaccines
(12) Dr. Jean Dodd's Recommended Vaccine Schedule

Another excellent resource:
Re-Vaccination: Vaccination for Previously Vaccinated Dogs and Older Puppies


Louis Reginald said...


My mom writes the site, I believe she mentioned receiving a comment from you. Like your parents, my mom and dad feed my sister and I a raw diet. As you said, once you get inducted into raw feeding, the almost cultish 'alternative lifestyle' for dogs is thrust upon our mommies and daddies and it becomes super confusing.

Both my sister and I were fully vaccinated when my mom and dad got us and I have overheard them talking about using the 3 year Rabies vaccine (as is the law in Florida) and running titers tests for the rest of the life threatening illnesses. From there, they will make individual decisions regarding re-vaccinating when the time comes. My family subscribes to the 'do what is right for you' philosophy and we do not ever follow any one philosophy blindly.

Its great that your humans are taking the time to research all this stuff, my mom and dad do too, and we are healthier for it.

And the best part is definitely feasting on raw meaty goodness every day!!

Your friend,

Finni said...

Hi Stanislaw,
Our mum uses Homeopathic Nosodes instead of vaccines. They don't cause side effects, taste nice and are very effective. Check out this site aboout the recent use of H. Nosode for Leptospirosis in Cuba:
Finni & Nelly xx