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Over Vaccinating?

Vaccinations have become big business.  The odds are your pet is being over-vaccinated right now and your vet will not tell you differently since he stands to make a significant portion of his income from vaccinating pets.  Against all odds, the AAHA has come out with a protocol that is sure to make many vets cringe from loss of income.  The problem with overvaccination is that is stresses the immune system and tends to CAUSE disease.  Autoimmune disease is on the rise and it's partly because many pets are being overvaccinated.  Most dogs only need 2 core vaccinations:  Rabies and a Distemper group shot (DHLPP or DHPPV - puppy shots) with a booster after 3 years or more.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force has updated their vaccination guidelines for 2011.

According to AAHAnet.org:

Developed in a manner consistent with best vaccination practices, the 2011 Guidelines include expert opinions supported by scientific study, published and unpublished documents, and encompass all canine vaccines currently licensed in the U.S. and Canada. The task force that developed the guidelines included experts in immunology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, law, and clinical practice.

The best part is that all vaccines, with the exception of the 1 year rabies, is now recommended to be given at 3-year or greater intervals.

Even better is the task force has acknowledged that in the case of the non-rabies core vaccines, immunity lasts at least 5 years for distemper and parvo, and at least 7 years for adenovirus - much longer than the ONE year that was recommended.  So vaccinating every 3 years is MORE than adequate!

These new guidelines will help Malamute owners understand how important those first puppy shots are! And hopefully, more dog owners may now request titers rather than automatically revaccinating their canine companions for distemper, parvo and adenovirus. 

Summary of New AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines for 2011

CORE VACCINES

Canine Distemper (CDV)

Initial vaccination in puppies less than 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose

Revaccination

  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then revaccinate at 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every revaccinate at 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Parvo (CPV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies less than 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose

Revaccination

  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then revaccinate at 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every revaccinate at 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 5 years.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2)

Initial vaccination in puppies less than 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs older than 16 weeks of age

  • One dose

Revaccination

  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then revaccinate at 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every revaccinate at 3 years thereafter

Notes: Among healthy dogs, distemper vaccines are expected to induce immunity for at least 7 years.

Rabies 1-year

Initial vaccination in puppies younger than16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs older than 16 weeks of age

  • One dose

Revaccination

  • For all dogs: annually as required by law

Rabies 3-year

Initial vaccination in puppies less than 16 weeks of age

  • One dose not earlier than 12 weeks or as required by law

Initial vaccination in dogs less than 16 weeks of age

  • One dose

Revaccination

  • For all dogs: within 1 year of initial dose regardless of age at time of initial dose, then every 3 years thereafter as required by law

NON-CORE VACCINES - these are not recommended to be given automatically!

Measles Vaccine (MV)

This vaccine is supposed to provide temporary immunization of young puppies against distemper by 'cross-protecting' them against the disease in the event there are still maternally derived antibodies present. It is always given in combination with other vaccines – distemper plus measles, or a 4-way combination of distemper plus measles plus adenovirus plus parainfluenza.

It is only recommended for healthy dogs between 6 and 12 weeks of age.

Canine Parainfluenza (CPiV)

There are two delivery systems for this vaccine – intranasal and parenteral (injected).

This is a flu vaccine. The intranasal form prevents clinical signs of illness, infection and shedding. The injected form prevents clinical illness, but not infection or shedding. It is used for dogs that aggressively resist intranasal delivery.

The parenteral vaccine is always given in combination with certain core vaccines; the intranasal form is always given in combination with the bordetella vaccine alone, or with bordetella plus adenovirus.

It is always given in a single dose. Revaccination recommendations, depending on the form of the vaccine (intranasal or parenteral), are per the combined core vaccine schedule, annually, or more frequently for 'high risk' animals.

 This vaccine we recommend mainly for dogs that will be at shows or boarded.  There are several hundred varieites of canine flu, and these only vaccinate against a couple varities, but if a dog is boarded, there is higher risk.  Otherwise these are really not necessary.

Bordetella (Bb) Vaccine

The bordetella vaccine can also be delivered intranasally or by injection.

Parenteral administration requires two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart. For the initial vaccination, it is recommended the second dose be given at least a week before the dog is boarded, attends a dog show, etc. Revaccination is recommended annually

The intranasal vaccine is single dose, with revaccination recommended annually or more often for 'high risk' dogs. Some dogs experience side effects for 3 to 10 days after vaccination, including coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge.

This vaccine we recommend mainly for dogs that will be at shows or boarded.  There are several hundred varieites of canine flu, and these only vaccinate against a couple varities, but if a dog is boarded, there is higher risk.  Otherwise these are really not necessary.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) – Intranasal

The intranasal form of the adenovirus vaccine is a non-core vaccine.

It's recommended for dogs at risk for respiratory infection caused by the adenovirus, and it may not provide immunity against canine hepatitis. It should not be considered a replacement for the injectable form of the vaccine.

This vaccine is available only in combination with the intranasal bordetella and parainfluenza vaccines.

Canine Influenza

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 6 weeks. Annual revaccination is recommended.

Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age. Revaccination is recommended annually and/or at the beginning of tick season as determined regionally.

Notes: Recommended only for use in dogs with known risk of exposure, living in or visiting regions where exposure risk is high or where Lyme disease is endemic. Tick control products are required in addition to the vaccine.

Leptospira interrogans

This refers to the 4-way killed whole cell or subunit bacterin. The 2-way killed bacterin form of this vaccine is not recommended.

Vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, in dogs older than 12 weeks of age.  Revaccination is recommended annually, but only for dogs with reasonable risk of exposure.

Notes: Vaccination should be based on known geographic occurrence/prevalence and exposure risk of the individual dog.

Canine Oral Melanoma

This vaccine is only available for treatment of dogs with malignant melanoma. It is not intended for the prevention of oral melanoma.

Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback rattlesnake vaccine) (toxoid)

Field efficacy and experimental challenge data in dogs are not available at this time. (Vaccine efficacy and dose recommendations are based on toxin neutralization studies conducted in mice.)

Canine Coronavirus (CCov)

This vaccine is not recommended. Neither the modified live nor the killed CCov vaccine has proved effective against combination coronavirus/parvo disease. Only the parvo vaccine is protective against dual viruses.

What Dr. Ron Schultz Recommends

Dr. Schultz is one of the preeminent experts in the field of veterinary vaccines. If you read the full AAHA vaccination guidelines report, you'll see his work referenced throughout.

Dr. Schultz recommends not starting a puppy or kitten core vaccination program before 6 to 8 weeks of age, with revaccinations no more frequent than every 4 weeks. So for example, if you start the program at 8 weeks, you would give another dose of the core vaccines at 12 weeks, and the third dose at 16 weeks.

Dr. Schultz's core vaccine protocol for his own family's pets differs in that he actually runs antibody titers on the mother to know exactly when the best time is to effectively immunize the puppy or kitten for the 3 core viruses. Then he titers the little ones 2 or more weeks after the vaccine, and as long as the response is adequate, he doesn't in most cases revaccinate for the rest of the pet's life.  This is obviously not practical for regular pet owners, but is good to know it can be done.

When it comes to rabies vaccines, Dr. Schultz gives the first vaccine after 4 months of age, revaccinates in a year, and then again in 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. In other words, he follows the law for 3-year rabies vaccines, even though he doesn't believe a vaccination every 3 years is necessary for immunization.

Currently Dr. Schultz is in year 4 of a 7-year study of the rabies vaccine. You can read more about the study at the Rabies Challenge Fund. His goal is to be able to recommend that after an animal is vaccinated at from 12 to 24 weeks for rabies, there's no need for re-vaccination every 3 years.

Hopefully we'll see the results of his 7-year study reflected in a future revision of the AAHA's canine vaccination guidelines, as well as in state and local laws.

O'Mal Vaccination Protocol

At O'Mal Malamutes we give the first round of the 3 puppy vaccines at 6 weeks, 9 weeks (usually before the puppy goes home), then at 12 weeks and the 4th at 16 weeks - but not within a week of the first Rabies.

As for the non-core vaccines, I don't recommend any of them unless there is a need. Visit the following pages for a discussion of:

 Many of these extra vaccines are piggy-backed with the core vaccines your pet is getting anyway.  You don't want to double up or you can compromise their health.  Most traditional vets do not carry single vaccines, so ask to see the vaccine vial before assuming your pet is only receiving one agent at a time to be sure.