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We interrupt your regularly scheduled scruffies to bring you an important message …

a fellow raw-feeder and minimal-vaccinator sent me a link today that has forced me to set aside my back log of orders and take some time out to write a few non-photography words.   recently i’ve been shot down on a few different on-line lists for voicing my experience … told that what i’m providing is merely anecdotal at best and that if i can’t back it up with actual sources or scientific evidence that i should basically keep my trap shut.

well, this is my blog so i guess no one can tell me to shut up, right?   at the same time, i’m venturing onto touchy territory which i swore i’d never do on this blog.  ‘Keep it about the business,’ i promised myself when i first launched it.   but i can’t.

dogs’ lives are at stake.  your dog’s life.

and i’m astounded by the number of loving, doting dog owners who seriously have no clue.  so here it is, folks … anecdotal, and all.   take what you will from it, and do your own research because as much as i’d love to provide scientific evidence, unfortunately, no one is compiling it at this time … that i know of.

the issue is vaccines.   although a necessary component of our dogs’ health, vaccines can be extremely dangerous, if not downright deadly.  i never have, nor will ever say, that vaccines aren’t necessary … although i have always had shelter dogs who come fully loaded with TOO many vaccines pumped into their already stressed-out systems.  i can tell you about how morley is now hypo-thyroid because of over-vaccination from the shelter, how he fell apart after adoption, lost his coat, scratched himself bloody for months, so on and so forth.   i can talk about how matea, too, lost her lovely coat and proceeded to have every infection possible – skin, eyes, bladder, ears, etc.   most striking was her reaction to her last rabies shot … it was the first time she got snotty with another dog.   and i don’t call it aggression because she’s never gone to that level.

but those reactions were minor and were really only the icing on the cake of conviction that had been baked up for me much earlier with the loss of my murph (the original scruffy dog).   he died at 4 years of age because of vaccines.   but hey, that’s only anecdotal, right?

murph maybe that’s not enough for you?  try a search on vaccine reactions and read the hundreds upon hundreds of other ‘anecdotal’ cases out there.  i hear of them constantly … almost weekly, it seems …. everything from injection-site tumors to lymphoma, IBD, cancer, encephalitis and other diseases to outright immediate death … like this story sent to me by my friend … just another story, seriously nothing surprising.   in fact, it read almost the same as one of two we had discussed only the week earlier.

still, for some, it should be eye-opening … and maybe this blog entry will open a few eyes … maybe it won’t.

if you’re interested in exploring the issue of vaccines a little further, try a couple of books:
– Martin Goldstein, D.V.M, The Nature of Animal Healing … this is the book i read right after murph’s death and wished to hell i’d found it sooner
– Catherine Diodati’s Vaccine Guide for Dogs and Cats

murph-redone and if you want to take it further still, since your dog’s health is up to YOU, try some on-line sources, especially Dr. Jean Dodds who is heading “The Rabies Challenge Fund” to “determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines.”   the goal of the project is “to extend the required interval for rabies boosters to 5 and then to 7 years.”   you can read some of Dr. Dodds’ articles here:
i applaud Dr. Dodds … i always have.  she is an amazing individual, wonderful to speak with, the expert on thyroidism, and – i expect – the person who will change the face of veterinarian medicine in regards to the rabies vaccine and its potential adverse reactions.   of course you could also consider contributing to the Rabies Challenge Fund.

in a lot of cases, especially with dogs who have already demonstrated a reaction to vaccines, there are other options.  look into titering (testing the antibodies in your dog’s blood), talk to your vet or find a new vet who is willing to work with you and not put your dog at risk.

bottom line is, please do your research, educate yourself on your dog’s health in the same way you would educate yourself on your child’s health … YOU are your pet’s advocate and their only voice.


ALSO: please read the comments by readers and blog-followers below … even more “anecdotal” evidence and experience on the dangers of vaccines.

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  • illonathank you, Zoe, for sharing your story. with cases like my murph — where the reaction was slower and death took 6 weeks — most vets are incapable or unwilling to make the connection. fortunately some vets do.

    but when a case presents itself so clearly, within minutes of receiving the vaccine, as horrible as it sounds, it’s almost a good thing … it’s visible and clear, the damage is right there and so obvious, not simmering below the surface for no one to notice.

    if you’re still going to the same vet, be sure to ask him/her for a hard-copy letter or some kind of paperwork that you can take home with you for Caney’s file which exempts her from future vaccinations due to her severe reaction. you never know when you might need it in the case of an emergency.

    hugs to you both.ReplyCancel

  • ZoeI just want to thank you for this post. I made this discovery of the damage caused by vaccines several years ago, after my white boxer puppy had a severe, life-threatening reaction to her second round of puppy vaccinations when she was only 11 weeks old. I was at work that morning when my boyfriend took her to the vet for her first check-up and round of shots since she’d been home with us, and thank goodness I wasn’t there to witness what happened to my poor baby girl… the mere thought of it still makes me ill almost 4 years later.

    Within minutes of receiving her 5-way shot — the 2nd round of puppy vax — as my BF told the story, “as soon as the vet left the exam room, she swelled up in huge hives, her skin turned the color of a tomato, and she went into a panic. She was screaming and running around the exam room, clawing at the doors, trying to scratch herself with both of her back legs at the same time… I knew this was an emergency and called the vets to come back quickly. They rushed our little puppy into immediate treatment for a severe allergic reaction, and she remained there in the hospital the rest of the day.

    I was the one to pick her up several hours later; but the drama wasn’t over yet. Our little pup was still flaring up in hives as soon (or even before) her steroid and antihistamine injections wore off. Before releasing her to me, the vet asked if we would be home to supervise her ’round the clock for the next several days; I said that we would. Then she asked if I was comfortable administering antihistamines to my pup I/M (intramuscular, AKA. giving her a shot in the glutes), which I also said yes to. I was sent home with a pup doped up with steroids and antihistamines, and a plastic baggy full of benadryl syringes to last 3 days (once that supply ran out I had to go back to the vet for more, as the allergy flare-ups lasted well over a week). My poor little baby was such a good sport every time I had to stick her with a needle during those days to follow, it was like she knew I was trying to make her feel better. And even despite receiving the benadryl injections every 4 hours, she was still flaring up in hives at least an hour or two before she was due for her next dose, EVERY time. It was heartbreaking having to see my little girl in such agony, especially at such a young age.

    Thankfully she was back to normal after about 2 weeks.

    I am so grateful to have my little Caney in my life today… she will be 4 yrs old come March 2011. Soon after her near death experience in 2007, I did extensive research on vaccines and learned of the risks they carry. I have done all that I can to inform my family and friends about the dangers of vaccination, but even after many different approaches I am afraid that my preaching has fallen on deaf ears. I don’t wish anyone to have to go through what I went through with my littke Caney, but I’m beginning to think that one must experience this for themselves in order to believe it… and it makes me very sad.

    Following Caney’s severe vaccine reaction when she was a puppy, she has since received only one vaccine (Rabies, when 7 months old, and she was closely monitored by veterinary staff for several hours following the shot just in case of a reaction), and as far as I’m concerned she will receive NO more vaccines for the rest of her life.ReplyCancel

  • Marj KibbyThe importance of vaccinations in preventing the spread of infectious diseases can be easily seen if you visit a country where vaccination is not generally available, however I’d suggest:

    *Only get your dog vaccinated if it is absolutely healthy.
    *Know the risk of particular diseases for your dog, depending on where you live and what activities you engage in.
    *Weigh up the risks for non-fatal diseases like Kennel Cough.
    *Don’t get different vaccinations at the same time.
    *Avoid vaccinations altogether if your dog is old, has any chronic condition, immune deficiency, debilitation, is on ongoing medication, has allergies, is anemic.
    *Know and trust your vet, make sure they know about alternative vaccination protocols, and alternatives to vaccination, and weigh up risks and benefits for each dog individually.

    People were able to safely not vaccinate babies for Whooping Cough while most of the population were vaccinated, but now that the number of un-vaccinated people is growing babies are dying of a disease that was almost eradicated. I wouldn’t want to see the Distemper epidemics previous generations experienced.ReplyCancel

  • JeanOh man, I don’t even know where to begin. I first learned about this issue about 15 years ago. Our Border Collie was sicker than I care to remember and I knew the treatment she was getting was going to be the end of her. We went to a new vet and she said “if that dog gets one more vaccine it is going to kill her”. So began our journey into raw feeding as well as canine and human health issues.

    Hooray Jean Dodds! I saw her at a conference and learned a lot. For instance, hypo thyroid is very common but did you know you are supposed to administer the meds 1 hour before or 3 hours after a meal? It was news to our vet and it makes a big difference. I highly recommend her seminars if you get a chance to go.ReplyCancel

  • Emily PriestleyI have always looked up to you for advice regarding diet and vaccinations and I am so lucky to have a vet who is not only pro-raw, but also a minimalist when it comes to vaccines.

    He never sends out vaccine reminders, and has never brought up vaccines at a visit. He also focused on strengthening Daisy’s immune system after we brought her home from the SPCA…she was kept in a cold kennel on cold concrete in October, sick and over-vaccinated (this is not a slam against the spca, mind you).

    She hasn’t had a vaccine since…every year we head to the vet for her annual titer testing…so far she’s well covered. She’s better for it and it only costs me about $30. You can’t lose!

    I’m also urging everyone to think twice about vaccinating themselves. I’m the only care aide at work who did not receive the flu vaccine at work last year, and I’m one of the only ones who didn’t end up sick. With the release of the swine flu vaccine just around the corner (and not tested well enough yet) it’s important to think carefully before being poked with a concoction we don’t know enough about.

    Thanks again, Illona, for sharing your wisdom!ReplyCancel

  • MarciTiter

  • MarlaYou already know I agree with you whole-heartedly but wanted to pop in and cheer you on for expressing these thoughts.

    We’re convinced Dyna’s beautiful sire (owned by friends) was lost way too soon as a result of an adverse reaction to being vaccinated and I’m certainly aware of plenty of other “anecdotal” cases – from minor to major – that all add up to more than mere coincidence.

    Fortunately I have a vet even more reluctant to vaccinate than I am and willing to work with us and treat each of our dogs on an individual basis w/r/t their needs.

    We rely on titers (have done so for about 5 yrs now) but a word of caution about them… we travel with our guys across the border and have been advised that it is up to the discretion of the border guards as to whether or not they’ll accept titer results as proof of vaccination. It’s well worth the risk to me though and to date we’ve never had any issues, however we always draw annual titers, despite the expense, in order to ensure the results are “current”.

    Thanks for the links. I’m definitely going to check them out.ReplyCancel

  • JenniferI can’t imagine what lists you were on that shot you down….this is serious stuff and many mainstream vets do not consider it anecdotal. Most vets that recommend titers don’t even feel yearly titers are necessary, so dog owners can’t really complain about cost issues – I spoke to a friend back east and her vet told her the same thing mine did, which is to titer every three years. I own a pet boutique and I hand out over-vaccination packets to every new puppy owner, as well as having them in the brochure rack at all times. It is just ignorance…most people seem to be receptive to the info and prepared to be proactive with their vet. Thankfully, most vets around here are pretty progressive, but there is one that I am constantly in battle with, it seems — and I have to provide literature to counterbalance the crappy information that comes from that office.ReplyCancel

  • AnitaI have worked at vet clinics and let me tell you it is a money grab. My vet (who is also my dear friend) doesn’t believe in yearly vaccines…but the clinic that we both used to work at did. They also PUSHED (yes, PUSHED) the declawing of our feline friends. Why in gods name would anyone push the extremely painful amputation of the tip of EVERY finger on a cat (where they have to have a gd heroin patch put on their arm for days after wards to cope with the pain)? The same reason someone would push a full on attack of yearly vaccines…it’s fast and easy and makes them lots of money.

    Vets don’t know everything, and it blows my mind how many people don’t realize this. Half the time they’re running into the back to look stuff up in books or ask another vet’s opinion. I think anyone who has gone into a clinic and had their vet push shitty kibble at them could tell you that. It’s on the same page as what Liz said about the vet schools being funded by pharmaceuticals, they’re also funded by kibble makers. But as she also said, that’s for another post.ReplyCancel

  • illonathank YOU, Liz for sharing your experience. what i wouldn’t give to have a vet like Dr. Beltran here! but more and more vets are learning the damages that over-vaccination can do. i, too, left a vet i adored because i was being pushed to vaccinate too much and i simply wasn’t up for the fight any more. not to mention that he wasn’t keen on my feeding practices.

    yes, i titer as well … it’s not the cheapest alternative, but the fall out from over-vaccinations can be WAY more expensiveReplyCancel

  • LizGood for you for being brave enough to speak about this. I had my eyes open this past April at a Therapeutic Paws of Canada seminar where I had set up my photography and Ottawa Dog Blog booth. I didn’t go there for the speakers, but being there changed mine and my dog’s lives.

    At the seminar was a very prominent holistic vet named Dr. Eddy Beltran. He has done years of research into vaccines and antibiotics and found some shocking things. My eyes got bigger and bigger as he explained the risks and side effects including hypo-thyroidism etc. He explained that the veterinary schools are funded largely by these pharmaseutical companies who profit from the sale of these vaccines.

    The very next day I switched vets. Not that my other vet wasn’t great, they really were, I just wanted Dr. Beltran. His words affected me and I knew my dogs would be in great health. After our visit with him, we found out that Corduroy, who was just over 1 year at the time, had been given 3 THREE YEAR DOSES in a row of “puppy vaccinations”. 3 YEARS?!?!?!? That means she’s been vaccinated for 9 years within the span of 2 to 3 months. Paddington was 2.5 at the time and had had her puppy vaccinations as well as another dose at 1 year – even worse! He gave us a detox for both dogs and we are performing titers in a few years to see where the dogs are at.

    The way Dr. Beltran explained it to us is that the first set of vaccinations are usually beneficial, then the dog’s body clues in and says “ok, i know what to fight off now”. Every vaccination after that is redundant and the ingredients that are supposed to “vaccine” the dog end up just being absorbed into their system and that’s where problems arise.

    Testing the Titer will tell you where your dog’s immune system is at. It’s expensive, but only needs to be done every couple of years meaning the money you save from the vaccines will outweigh the cost of the titer.

    My dogs’ health is very important to me. For this reason we have also stopped feeling processed kibble and have moved to a home cooked diet, but that is an issue for another post.

    Thank you Illona, for speaking up about this. I haven’t been brave enough to broach the subject on my blog yet, but I hope to in the future.ReplyCancel

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