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The Truth About Pet Vaccines: Part 1

27 18:15:20
Most pet owners today are finding the whole issue of pet vaccines more and more confusing. Your local conventional veterinarian is telling you that "you should, as a responsible pet owner, follow my advice - vaccinate your dog and cat every year" with annual boosters. And at the same time you've read the horrible stories about pets who develop cancer right at the site of a vaccine injection, and many other stories about adverse reactions to vaccines in both cats and dogs.

So... are we vaccinating our pets far too often? Are we giving them the right number of vaccines, or too many? By vaccinating yearly, are we really doing what is best for our pets, or is this all about the veterinarian's 'bottom line'?

There are many different views, often completely contradictory. The Veterinary Society in general is telling pet owners to vaccinate yearly, that vaccines are not harmful to our pets. Many veterinarians tell pet owners to vaccinate casually, that "at worst, they won't cause any harm". The evidence, and many individual veterinarians and alternative pet health practitioners, suggests otherwise.

Why are we vaccinating our pets?

A basic understanding of vaccines, and why we vaccinate in the first place, is important. We give our pets vaccinations to protect against infectious disease. When we give a vaccine, it stimulates our pet's immune system to produce "Opposite Invaders" or antibodies. The new antibody that is produced is just for that particular virus, so if your dog or cat is exposed to the real virus at a later date, she will be able to respond quickly and produce antibodies to overcome the infection before it takes hold.

In theory, vaccines sound wonderful, if they are able to protect our pets from life threatening diseases such as rabies and parvovirus. And in that sense, they are, because vaccines have saved countless lives. So if that is the case, what are the drawbacks - what is the reason for caution?

The dangers of vaccines

We simply need to open our eyes to see the evidence. With current medical advancements we've made, our pets should be healthier than ever. But in reality, our pets are sicker than they have ever been. It's common to see cancer in cats and dogs at less than 5 years of age. Diseases including skin cancer, immune mediated skin disease, immune mediated hemolytic anemia, leukemia, allergies, arthritis, neurological conditions, and inflammatory bowel disease are just a few of the diseases that seem to have a link to over-vaccination. There are links to many common chronic pet health diseases because of over-vaccination.

It's believed that when we vaccinate, the immune system may become 'over-taxed' and respond inappropriately - especially when multiple vaccines are given at the same time. Many pets experience adverse reactions within a short time after vaccination, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and abscesses appearing at the site of the vaccine injection. In others, the reaction shows up later, in the form of a multitude of various diseases, such as allergies or cancer. A recent study has found that the more vaccines that are given at once, the higher the risk of developing soft-tissue cancer (sarcoma)... up to a 175% increase if vaccines are administered in the same location.

While over-vaccination may not be the sole reason we have so many sick pets today, it is definitely a major factor. Other reasons include low quality food, environmental toxins, and genetic deterioration due to poor quality breeding. The combination of these factors is leaving each generation more and more susceptible to disorders and chronic disease. Regardless, we are vaccinating our pets too often for more diseases than they truthfully need.

Reasons for over-vaccination in our pets

The reasons we have been over-vaccinating are manifold. These include the original belief that "at worst, vaccines won't cause any harm", to the bottom line of both veterinarians and the companies that produce the vaccines. Many veterinarians choose to ignore current research because they feel the benefits of vaccines outweigh any risks, or because they still rely on 'annual booster shots' as a source of income.

By now you are probably wondering if you should vaccinate your pets at all, with the risks of vaccines being so high. In short, I do currently advise a limited vaccine regimen for most cases - just not as often and not as many vaccines as you currently are giving your pet. Alternatives to vaccines do exist, but only if you are willing to make changes in how you care for your pet and how you view the risks involved. In Part 2 of this series, I will provide my recommended vaccine schedule and an overview of vaccine alternatives.