Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 2, 2010

YOU Are Your Dog’s Advocate!

Posted at 03:15PM - Comments: (10)

While visiting my own dog, post-surgery, at a large specialty & emergency veterinary clinic recently, I met a woman and her very sick dog. He had been a patient at the clinic for two days: He was lethargic, not eating, and running a high fever.  The diagnosis? An adverse reaction to vaccination.

It turns out the woman had adopted the dog, who was probably two or three years old, a year prior. With a year gone by, it was time to take her dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. The veterinarian wanted to vaccinate the dog; she inquired about running antibody titers instead, and was told “no.”

The clinic proceeded to vaccinate her dog with a 5-in-1 vaccine (distemper, adenovirus, Leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus), the influenza vaccine, and the rabies vaccine, all at the same visit. As the woman related this information to me, she crinkled her nose.

Clearly, her instinct had been that this was unnecessary... that perhaps this was too much. And she did try: she inquired about running an antibody titer test in lieu of vaccinations. But the vet said no.

I don’t know what happened to her dog, whether he made a recovery or not. What I do know is this woman learned a costly lesson, and I can only hope that her dog didn’t pay the ultimate price. It is up to us to advocate for our dogs. If we are uncomfortable about the care a veterinarian proposes, we need to speak up. Particularly in the case of vaccinations, we have lots of leeway in terms of their timing; in most cases, there is no harm in postponing an adult vaccination for a short while.

I am not against vaccinations. But I am against a one-size-fits-all approach to veterinary care. And as long as that attitude exists, it’s more important than ever that we are advocates for our dogs’ health.

See the August 2010 Issue on Over-Vaccination - Dog Owners Beware.

Comments (10)

So we went to the vet today and had a surprisingly great result. I thought that my very old fashion vet may be a bit aged in his recommendations of vaccines but I was very pleasantly surprised. He agreed to every three years for Distemper and Parvo and even raised some questions about Lepto that left me with something to think about. There was an article recently published (of which I got a copy) that he had read that showed that in our neighboring state of MT all of the 21 confirmed cases of Lepto from 2009 were strains that the vaccine didn't cover. So now what to do?? I am trying to get in contact with someone from our state lab to see if this is also the case. But this gives me cause for concern. So for now we are running a titer test for Lepto and I will wait and see what if anything that shows. Has anyone else ran into this problem? Any advise??

Posted by: Heidi R | January 12, 2011 5:08 PM    Report this comment

While catching up on emails I read the vaccine comments and was very surprised reading the comments about Homeopathy. I am an RN trained traditional medicine and like Roger was biased with no personal experience. Then came a friend who did and I witnessed incredible things with it's use. There are Homeopathic MDs and APRNs converted after their experiences. Today knowledgeable practitioners of both areas are recommending nosodes to lessen side effects in children.If you haven't tried it don't knock it. My Sheltie would be surprised to know it's quackery when it stopped a limp that no one would adopt him for because of it. The x-rays he had under anesthesia almost killed him and the HS vet could find no anatomical defect.They gave me Rimadyl for him he'd need to"take for life' which didn't work though I used it until gone then tried aspirin. Then my friend told me about a $6 remedy which immediately stopped his limp! Mind over matter? I think not and he had 7 years of no limp until the deformity in his hock got the best of him. He is 14 now. You will not find the research like you will for drugs it costs too much and up to now the grants aren't there for the kind of proof he wants but anecdotal proof is. Shadow had no idea what I gave him. Please don't let the comments made by others keep you from using homeopathy or naturapathic modes of treatmentthere is something to be said for many types of treatments.

Posted by: kathy s | September 12, 2010 7:57 PM    Report this comment

This article has been great. I felt terrible questioning my vet's advice after a round of bladder stones. My vet suggested that I change dogfood - for the rest of his life and I just didn't want to do it. He had one episode with a struvite stone. The dog food she was suggesting was full of corn and by-products. I only give him distilled water now and Verus Dog food. I test his Ph everyday. He is staying between 6.8 and 7.0 and I feel really good about that. Sometimes we do know what is best for our pets and we HAVE to question everything!

Posted by: SHEILA D | August 6, 2010 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Although the science does support substantial revisions in the current vaccine protocols for dogs, the science does NOT support the fraud that has been perpetrated with so called homeopathic 'medicine.' Several well known studies, particularly in the US and the UK, have not found a shred of evidence that homeopathy is anything more than junk. In fact, for the principals of homeopathy to work, the laws of physics and chemistry would have to be altered. The science is clear on this, and I would RUN away from any person formerly trained in science (such as a veterinarian) who now advocates homeopathy. It is good to question and research, but one MUST look at the evidence and form reasoned conclusions based on that. Homeopathy is a waste of time and money.

Posted by: roger.bergez | August 4, 2010 8:36 AM    Report this comment

I question everything and research my vet's recommendations. I like my vet and she agrees that my dogs do not need any more vaccinations, I have a 13 yr old Basenji, 5yr old Dalmatian(rescue) and a 6 yr old shep/mix (rescue)My Dalmatian got immune mediated polyarthritis from vaccines. She was given vaccines by shelter before I rescued her. She had to have surgery on her leg to remove a growth cased by the IMP and was on very expensive meds for 6 mos. I am giving her Colostrum to build up her immune system and she is doing much better. I firmly believe and researsh shows that we are way over vaccinating our pets and they are suffering because of it. Vaccines are big money makers for vets and drug companies so we each have to advocate for our dogs.

Posted by: Carol M | August 3, 2010 3:21 PM    Report this comment

As the story relates above, so does my own. I rescued my dog two years ago at the age of three. The rescue gave him vaccines. A year later she got her five vaccines in a combination of two shots. Within a week, my dog developed a lump at each injection site. One was the size of an orange and the other the size of a golf ball. They did a biospy on one and the report said it was a vaccine reaction. My dog does dog training and is a TDI dog. The training sight requires vaccines.
I now space her vaccines and am working with a holistic vet in giving her homeopathic remedies and nosodes before and after the vaccine to better prepare her for them. It is not as good as doing titers and but it is better then just giving the shots. So far so good. I am working to get the support of the dog training center to accept titers as well.

Posted by: CHARLENE L | August 3, 2010 3:09 PM    Report this comment

13 states have statutes which provide for exemptions/waivers to the rabies vaccination requirement. If you are the guardian of an animal companion living in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut,Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia or Wisconsin, check out your state's statute.

Posted by: LuckyMom | August 3, 2010 2:16 PM    Report this comment

I found I was definitely swimming upstream by insisting on titer testing -- my vet said she "doesn't believe in it." I like and respect her in many areas and felt uncomfortable insisting, eventually I ended up going elsewhere. And yes, titer testing showed that my dog, age 11-ish, is covered and does not need to be re-vaccinated. She'd had a previous reaction to the rabies vaccination 3 years ago so I was glad not to have to risk that again.

Posted by: azogal | August 3, 2010 11:01 AM    Report this comment

We insisted that our vet run Titers, which he did, guess what, our dog is fully covered for everything, we vaccinated him as a pup and gave him boosters at age 2, he is now 12years old and except for rabies (it's the law) we have never vaccinated him again. After his booster shots he developed skin allergies, we have not been able to ascertain the cause. Sometimes you just have to insist as vaccines are a great income source for vets.

Posted by: Highlander | August 3, 2010 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I agree you need to be your pet's advocate. I also think pet owners need to understand that one size does not fit all and that your veterinarian should custom tailor your pet's wellness needs every 6 months. Many people do not know how quickly dogs age and that their health status changes rapidly. It is important for all dog owners to make sure their vet is holistic, identifies risk factors, lifestyle, age and breed of your dog before making decisions on any health care need. I would also have to say that the cheapest place in town is not always best because they have to buy cheaper vaccines to pass along those cheap prices. This also can play a huge role in whether your dog will have issues or even be protected by vaccines. The whole point in vaccines is to help eliminate disease for your dog and you! Do your research and ask questions. Your dog is depending on you!

Posted by: christyleaddog | August 3, 2010 10:49 AM    Report this comment

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