Optimum Choices      January 2007


"Book of the Month - 
If you love your pet and want it to live a long, healthy life, we highly recommend you read this book."

In [a previous article], we talked about "Less is More" or how giving too much stuff or too many treatments to our pets does not always benefit them. This book talks about how giving too many vaccinations can be harmful to our pets. Despite the title, the author is not totally opposed to vaccination of pets, though he quotes some experts that choose not to vaccinate at all. He is primarily opposed to the over vaccination of pets, which occurs when our pets get their "annual booster shots". He agrees with most vets that there are certain core vaccinations that are important for most pets to get in their first year of life. However, there is no scientific justification for giving annual shots and they can cause health problems in our pets. The author quotes the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which states "unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events". Also, giving many different vaccines at one time, as is commonly done, is very stressful on our pets' bodies. Some of the health problems suspected of being caused by vaccines include cancer, paralysis, allergies, leukemia, liver damage, auto immune disorders, Parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, leptospirosis and chronic renal (kidney) failure. The AVMA also states, "not all pets should be vaccinated with all vaccines just because these vaccines are available", but this is commonly done by many pet owners. The author mentions the studies at the University of Wisconsin's Veterinary Teaching Hospital showing that "vaccines for Parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis protect for at least seven years." Unfortunately, many veterinarians are still vaccinating yearly and sending out reminder cards for "annual booster shots" because that is the traditional way of doing things and it typically produces about 50% of their annual revenue.

I particularly like his explanation of titer testing, which is testing the blood for antibodies to disease. This is a confusing area to understand because titers only measure one aspect of immunity to disease and a low titer does not necessarily indicate lack of immunity to the disease. The book covers in detail the vaccine recommendations of the official veterinary groups as well as opinions from more holistically oriented practitioners. Rather than dogmatically telling you what to do, the author presents information from many experts and suggests you do further research. He also has a list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" at the end with suggestions on how to minimize vaccination problems, such as not over-vaccinating a newly acquired puppy or kitten and not giving vaccinations close to periods of stress (such as going on vacation). Unfortunately, all shelters and rescue groups immediately vaccinate animals when they first get them, which also happens to be when the animal is under the greatest stress. Since vaccinations lower the immune system, this makes it easier for cancer and other immune system problems to get a foothold, though the ill effects may not be evident for years.

The one thing in the book that I would not agree with is his statement that nosodes are perfectly safe. Nosodes are homeopathic preparations made from the disease. While they are safe in that they contain no actual molecules of the diseased substance, classical homeopathic practitioners feel that using an inappropriate remedy can weaken the energetic and immune system of the animal. In classical homeopathy, an inappropriate remedy would be one that is not addressing the current and complete condition of the animal. So they would generally only use nosodes if the animal has definitely been exposed to a disease and is in danger rather than to prevent future disease (as vaccinations do).

The author has done a very good job of providing a clear and comprehensive look [at] vaccinations, a topic that can be very confusing and controversial. If you love your pet and want it to live a long, healthy life, we highly recommend you read this book.





"Stop the Shots!
Are Vaccinations Killing Our Pets?"

John Clifton

Foley Square Books
January 2007


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