Evidence Update: Vaccination and Autoimmune Disease

One of the potential adverse effects of vaccination is the triggering of autoimmune diseases in susceptible individuals. There is some evidence in humans, for example, that the routine MMR vaccine (which prevents measles, mumps, and rubella) can trigger an autoimmine disease, called ITP, which destroys platelets and reduces a patient’s ability to form normal blood clots. The evidence suggests this occurs in roughly 1-3 children for every 100,000 MMR vaccinations.

While this is a real and serious risk, it is important to note that not only are the diseases prevented by this vaccine a much greater risk, but it turns out that these disease can also cause ITP and at a much higher rate than the vaccine (1 child out of every 3,000-6,000 cases). Therefore, the benefit of vaccination is clearly greater than the risk in this case.

There is, as always, far less data to determine what, if any, risk of autoimmune disease there is in vaccination of dogs and cats. Both ITP and IMHA, another autoimmune disease involving destruction of red blood cells, occur in dogs, and these have been reported to follow vaccination. However, the relevant research literature is sparse, flawed, and inconsistent. The bottom line from my previous review of the literature was this:

Bottom Line

  • Little evidence vaccination causes IMHA/ITP
  • No consistent temporal association
  • Data are weak
  • Overwhelming majority of vaccinated animals do not develop these diseases
  • Infection can be a greater risk for IMHA/ITP than vaccination
  • Don’t vaccinate more than necessary
  • Don’t vaccinate less than necessary
  • Don’t avoid vaccination out of fear of IMHA/ITP

A small piece of additional evidence was recently presented at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) 2017 Forum.

Moon, AKB. Veir, J. Vaccination Behavior and Adverse Events in Dogs Treated for Primary Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (Abstract HM17) ACVIM Forum, National Harbor, MD, 2017.

This study surveyed the owners and veterinarians of dogs who had been diagnosed with IMHA. Such dogs are frequently not vaccinated once they recover from the disease because of concerns that vaccination might trigger a relapse. This is often done even when there is no specific reason to think vaccination triggered the initial episode. It is a reasonable precaution, but since it is not clear that vaccination actually is a risk factor for ITP or IMHA, it is possible that these dogs are being left vulnerable to infectious diseases unnecessarily.

In this small study, survey results were available for 44 dogs. There were several relevant findings:

  1. The average time from most recent vaccination to the initial onset of IMHA was 351 days. Such a long period makes it unlikely that vaccination was a major trigger for IMHA in many of these dogs. It still might have been in the subset who were vaccinated closer in time to the onset of their illness. This study found no such temporal relationship, but a different study design would be necesary to confirm that.Previous studies have found only a small proportion of IMHA cases received vaccinations in the 2-4 weeks before the onset of their illness, and most found no difference in recent vaccination rates between dogs who developed these diseases and comparison dogs who did not. So far, the overall data suggests that vaccination is rarely a proximal trigger for these autoimmune disease, though whether they play a role as an overall risk factor isn’t known.
  2. About half of the dogs had not been vaccinated since their IMHA diagnosis. This is consistent with the common practice of many vets to eschew vaccination in dogs who have had a history of autoimmune disease. However, about half of these dogs did receive vaccines after their diagnosis, and almost all of these were rabies vaccines. This is likely because rabies vaccination is legally required in most of the U.S. and exceptions are not always allowed for dogs with a history of autoimmune disease.Only 2 of the 21 dogs who were vaccinated following their IMHA had any reported adverse reaction. These two reactions were typical of the acute hypersensitivity reaction seen with vaccination. No relapse of IMHA or other autoimmune disease was reported in the vaccinated dogs. This suggests that such dogs may not be more sensitive to vaccination than other dogs, though again the size and methodology of this study is not adequate to demonstrate that with any certainty.
  3. Though this is just a small bit of data, it does fit into the larger context of existing evidence in dogs, and the much more comprehensive evidence in humans, suggesting that vaccines play an extremely small role, if any, in triggering such autoimmune diseases, While caution is warranted, and certainly unnecessary vaccination should be avoided on principle, there is no justification for extreme and confident claims that vaccines are a major cause of these autoimmune diseases in our pets or that what risk may exist outweighs the benefits of appropriate vaccination.
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74 Responses to Evidence Update: Vaccination and Autoimmune Disease

  1. DogsMum says:

    You may sound knowledgeable and I admire the fact that you do refer to scientific evidence for every article. However. I lost my dog to IMHA as a result of vaccination, L4 containing thiomersal to be precise. Until that moment my boy was healthy and never required any medical attention or help.

    Since then I have also met at least 30 dog owners who lost their dogs to IMHA as a result of L4 vaccine. I have then switched the vet and now work with the one who spent several years studying IMHA with particular interest in the link between vaccinations and the condition (as well as other side-effects)

    They DO NOT use L4 vaccine in their practice because since it was introduced by other surgeries, the number of dogs dying from IMHA increased from 1-2 per year to at least a dozen! True, there is no firm evidence between the disease and specific ingredient, but one has to be blind and brain-washed NOT to see the link.

    I do still advocate vaccinations because I am not from the dark ages and do understand the importance of immunisation, but I would strongly disagree with the fact that vaccine is not linked to IMHA as well as several other fatal conditions.

  2. skeptvet says:

    I understand why your experience leads you to this conclusion. The problem is that when others have entirely different experiences if there is no controlled data you end up with clashing anecdotes and everyone simply chooses to believe their own and ignore everyone else’s. That vaccine has been widely used, and we certainly use it often at my hospital. We’ve seen no change in the occurrence of IMHA and have not had any dogs develop IMHA associated with receiving this vaccine. Likewise, since the vaccine was introduced, there is no evidence of any increase in the incidence of IMHA. And if you think the thiomersal is responsible, why has this association not been seen in humans, when that preservative was widely used for many years, or with all the other vaccines containing the same ingredient? Again, all you have is anecdotes and opinions, and while the conclusion you’ve drawn is reasonable based on these anecdotes, it is not consistent with the experiences of many others. Either we then give up on determining the truth and just all believe our own stories, or we rely on controlled research data rather than anecdotes.

  3. As another evidence-inspired practitioner, I am grateful for the time and effort Skeptvet puts forth in this continuing discussion. An anecdote, if you’ll allow. A mid-career small fluffy dog with known history of immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets, leading to bruising/bleeding) arrived for a rabies booster. Young couple owners, very nervous about boostering a dog with an immune mediated disease. We’re in PA and have a rabies vaccine law. The law, though, allows us to make a medical decision not to vaccinate, if the attending vet thinks it might be risky. I thought it was risky, to the relief of the owners, completed the exam, signed a rabies waiver (which is sent to our Dept. of Ag.), and off they went. 10 days later, bruising, petechia–platelets too low to count on CBC. This from not vaccinating a little fluffy dog. I cheekily offer this anecdote as proof that not vaccinating for rabies can lead to ITP. I did tell the owners how glad I was to not vaccinate, as this case would have left us all indelibly persuaded that the episode was vaccine-related, when it was very clearly not. I remain not inclined to booster this dog, he remains “lapsed” on his rabies in the eyes of the law.

  4. Val says:

    I recently adopted a 10-year-old dog who had never been vaccinated. Before I could get her her shots, she was diagnosed with SLO and my vet didn’t want to vaccinate her. I don’t know if I should second-guess this decision or not.

  5. skeptvet says:

    If the dogs has truly never been vaccinated, then there is some significant risk from several infectious diseases, and vaccination makes sense. That said, it is very rare to see a dog that age who has never had vaccines, and often they have them as puppies and the records aren’t there. You could get titers checked which would at least indicate past vaccination if positive.

  6. Joan Cumisky says:

    I adopted a dog and found she has ITP and cardiac disease. She is on 20 mg Doxycycline and 5 mg of Enalapril. Is it safe for her to get a rabies vaccine?

  7. skeptvet says:

    As you can see from this article, there is no simple right answer. There is some evidence vaccination might be a risk factor for ITP, but it is weak and inconsistent. Rabies risk is also probably pretty low for most dogs who have been properly vaccinated in the past, but it is generally legally required. I often recommend asking the relevant authority for a medical exemption from rabies vaccination for dogs with a history of autoimmune disease as a precaution, unless there is some clear reason to think they may be at risk (dogs who regularly encounter wildlife that can carry rabies, such as raccoons, skunks, bats, or others depending on your area). However, I have also seen dogs with a history of ITP who subsequently received rabies vaccination with no recurrence or other ill effects. So while I think it is reasonable to avoid the vaccine if you can, there is not strong evidence to support claims that it would be harmful.

  8. Deborah Cottrell says:

    We’ve been using the L4 for several years, and I can still count on one hand the number of cases of AIHA. The incidence has not changed, and we’re talking about several thousand doses. If Dog’s Mum’s vet really thinks the data is there, he should certainly publish it. Why isn’t he doing that? Does he not want to help other dogs avoid AIHA? Or is it because the data is not really there?

  9. The Other Science Guy says:

    As a scientist I agree with and understand SkepVet.

    As someone who lost his healthy happy dog Spanky (Australian Shepherd mix) to IMHA in 2003 after an unnecessary vaccine as a requirement for boarding, I agree with DogsMum (except the thermiserol parts)

    I still vaccinate my dog GMO (female rat terrier mix). But I am careful to find a vet who agrees that the vaccine requirements for dogs might be a bit overzealoused and I never board her because of their vaccine mandates. For example, my dog is rarely around other dogs so I don’t vaccinate her against kennel cough. But we do live in the forest so definitely vaccinate against Lyme.

    SkepVet: My experience with IMHA happened in 2003 in your area of California. I would be glad to speak with you privately and give testimony of my account. And I will keep my scientist hat on when I do. However, I do have a tiny bit of resentment towards the staff of the facility in question but I don’t believe they are completely negligent. Spanky had been vaccinated many times before without incident so I believe he just got a bad batch of 6 in 1

  10. The Other Science Guy says:

    2 out of 21. That’s 30%

    Ok, let’s have a little fun.
    I think we can all agree, having unprotected sex with a member of the opposite sex has been show to cause pregnancy in pre-menopausal women. This research has been peer reviewed ?

    But is that every encounter? No. In fact, only about 1 out of 104 encounters between heterosexual monogamous couples will result in pregnancy. Yet our species is spitting out babies like ice cubes in the dispenser. And I haven’t even provided the data on the number of pregnancies that don’t make it to full term!

    I happen to work for one of those “big evil pharma conglomerates” who make the vaccines for dogs. I’ll have to look and see if there is any data that correlates directly to acute IMHA within 3 days of receiving a vaccine(s)

    With respect, it doesn’t mean vaccines never cause IMHA, it just means that the direct correlations between vaccinations and IMHA are so low that the risk of not vaccinating outweighs the risk of vaccinating.

    Also, I must add, I agree with those findings. Even though I believe I experienced the small end of the percentile, and believe I lost an otherwise healthy and asymptomatic dog to IMHA days after receiving the 6 in 1 vaccine, I will still choose to vaccinate my dogs rather than not because the risks of declining outweigh the risks of vaccinating.

  11. skeptvet says:

    I’m sorry that happened to your pet! Of course, serious adverse reactions can happen, and it seems likely that rare cases of IMHA can be triggered by vaccines (though it has been very difficult to prove since it is so uncommon and since dogs are exposed to many potential triggers every day in the course of ordinary life). I don’t know about a “bad batch” since IMHA appears to be triggered by any antigen if the genetics and circumstances are aligned in just the wrong way, but there is a lot we still don’t understand about the disease. In any case, unnecessary vaccinations given due to rigid boarding policies rather than a considered evaluation of risks and benefits in consultation with your vet is certainly never appropriate.

  12. Math Guy says:

    2 out of 21 is actually 9.5%, not 30%. (Responding to The Other Science Guy’s second 9-4-17 post.)

    I’d say the basic mechanism of mammalian reproduction has been studied enough to qualify it as having been peer reviewed, and yet I still agree with your implication that, clearly, there is more work to be done by diligent researchers in the field.

  13. Jennifer says:

    There is little evidence because vets are not required to report adverse reactions. Even the AAHA website states this. https://www.aaha.org/guidelines/canine_vaccination_guidelines/vaccine_adverse_reactions.aspx

  14. skeptvet says:

    Perhaps, though as I said below

    1. We can’t assume more reactions are occurring than we know about any more than we can assume there are no unreported reactions. Guessing doesn’t make us any better informed or safer.
    2. If reactions are this mild and self-limiting, should they affect our vaccination practices? Does worrying about them, or even counting them if they actually occur, make us safer, or does it make us more afraid of vaccines, which can lead us to choosing vulnerability to serious disease over mild, self-limiting reactions to vaccines?

    Reporting without followup investigation has been shown to be a real problem since it creates the impression of risk even when most reported reactions turn out not to be related to vaccination. VAERS, for example, contains an enormous collection of anecdotes about adverse reactions. These are never investigated to identify any real connection to vaccination, regardless of what the people reporting them believe. And when controlled studies on vaccines are done, they show far fewer reactions, suggesting most reports don’t represent real adverse events. It does no good to collect anecdotes without properly vetting them because much of the time they don’t mean what people believe they mean, and the impression of risk they create is inaccurate.

  15. James says:

    Please help me. Out of sheer ignorance, stupidity, and frugality to save money, I took my dog, age 11, to Petco for 4 vaccinations for 7 different things all at once – rabies (was past due), DHPP, bordetella, and lepto. She was fine until 6 months later when she manifested a softball-sized tumor in her abdomen that was wrapped around the root of the mesentery and as such was deemed non-resectable. There were also multiple jejunal perforations and septic peritonitis. Please inform me what causal role an autoimmune reaction from these vaccines and adjuvants might have played in the development of this tumor. Also, the surgeon said the tumor showed what appeared to be collagenous fibers. What could this be? (mesenteric fibromatosis, sclerosing mesenteritis, fibrosarcoma, adenocarcinoma, extraskeletal osteosarcoma)?

  16. skeptvet says:

    I’m sorry that you went through this experience. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way I can determine the cause or type of your dog’s cancer or what role, if any, vaccines might have played in it. Sadly, older dogs often develop cancer. There is no evidence to suggest vaccines are a significant risk factor for this regardless of the timing, but no one has all the answers for these awful situations.

  17. Julie says:

    Hi there, as the owner of a now deceased puppy due to autoimmune disease, and having seen the system, I’m wondering if these diseases are being reported or studied at all. My dog got sick one week after his last round of puppy shots. He’d had a reaction to his first lot of shots and so the breeder requested I do a “killed parvo” shot at 12 weeks. I rang around 4 different local vets who either didn’t know what I was talking about, or said that the killed parvo didn’t work. The last vet I spoke to said he could do that shot but it would cost me $500 and convinced me all would be fine and just to go ahead with the normal schedule. He received anti-inflammatories and antihistamines with his 12 week shots. We just went ahead with the 16 week shots as normal. One week later he was at death’s door from meningitis and immune-mediated polyarthritis and he also had signs of immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. We kept him alive for a couple of months until we realised he would never be the same dog, and he was not happy or responding to the medication properly and had relapses often. All but one vet discounted my questioning of the vaccines as a cause. I asked the specialist if she’d report it anyway and her answer was, and I quote, “I don’t have to.” My thoughts are these.. these vets would have been more than happy to attribute the cause or trigger of these diseases to an infection or bacteria or parasite (all tests came back clear), but were not willing to say that injected disease components could also do the same thing. Also, aren’t vaccines designed to ‘trigger’ the immune system? His immune system was certainly triggered by something. Also, if no one is reporting these events, how do we know for certain? I suspect there are many, many people who would not consider vaccines to be the cause if it’s happening a week or more after the shots. I since heard a friend say their puppy dropped dead one week after his 12 week visit of unknown cause. No one questioned this. The vets I met all certainly would not have questioned if I hadn’t have. I have also been in contact with people who have received financial compensation to help pay for the vet bills due to autoimmune disease from the vaccine manufacturers. I’ve also read reports of adverse reactions stating that the autoimmune diseases my dog had were listed as “probable” or “possible” as the cause under certain vaccines. Heck, whilst doing research I came across a youtube video of a greyhound that entered rescue and then shortly after developed SLE/lupus. Of course, this dog would have entered rescue and had every medication and vaccination that was required. My point is, no one is asking the questions. No one is making the links. No one is reporting these events.

  18. skeptvet says:

    Unfortunately, the fact that you believe the vaccine is responsible for what happened to your pup doesn’t mean it is true. The problem is not that people haven’t studied the question, it is that studies haven’t turned out consistent with the idea that vaccines are a common cause of immune disease. When faced with a conflict between what seems like the case to us as individuals or what is consistent with the scientific evidence, most of the time it turns out we as individuals are mistaken not the evidence. This is understandably hard to accept, but it has proven true so many times, and much suffering has been eliminated by relying on science that we never succeeding in eliminating when we relied on anecdotes. I’m sorry for your loss, but I don’t believe it means what you think it means.

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  20. Pat says:

    My female chihuahua had a three year DAPV on Feb 17, 2018. Up to that point, she was healthy. She got regular exams and vaccinations. She was never ill. She began to be less active, eat less, and drink less. In less than a month, my Kiki died of IMHA. I question whether the vaccination caused the IMHA and her death. Wondering why did this happen?

  21. skeptvet says:

    The problem is that we are all exposed to a thousand things a day that trigger activity in our immune system. When something bad happens, we tend to want to blame the one thing we remember, like a vaccine, a medication, and change in diet etc. But unless there is a consistent pattern for many dogs in which that thing happens right before the disease, we can’t really say something is the cause just because we think of it. It’s like saying that the fact it seems to rain every time I wash my car must mean washing my car makes it rain. Lots of other things I can’t see or don’t know about are really making it rain, even though the only thing I see happening right beforehand is me washing my car.

    So I can’t say why this happened to your poor girl, only that the evidence doesn’t give much support to the idea that the vaccine was the likely cause.

  22. Pat says:

    She was never sick until after she got that shot. I have read story, after story, about small dogs dying of IHMA after getting the DAPV shot. Chihuahuas are given the same dosage as a Mastiff would be given. This is ridiculous. It makes no sense to give a 6 lb dog the same dose as a 150 lb dog. No link, are you kidding me? Kiki was well and healthy before that 3 year vaccine. The evidence is clear, except you won’t see the truth. I’ve read the studies how in a test group of 100 small dogs 27% died after receiving the same dose as a Mastiff. For the Mastiffs, 12$ died. This amounts to thousands of dogs yearly. As to it not being a “consistent pattern,’ My friend lost 2 cats in two weeks after getting vaccinated. Either Vets are hiding the truth, or big Pharma is paying someone to keep their mouths shut.

  23. Brian Cullen says:

    Pat , do you have a link to this study please .
    I’ve read the studies how in a test group of 100 small dogs 27% died after receiving the same dose as a Mastiff.

  24. Pat says:

    For News showed a conference of vets in Connecticut. He had a pile of studies, one from UK in particular, big phbarma “can’t” be sued because the FDA says so. The vets at the conference WOILD NOT read his studies, not the stack of reports he had. They laughed at that man. Why? Common sense says that the dose for a large dog is very harmful to a small dog or cat. Why are HW and flea meds given in proportion to weight. To not do the same with rabies and DAPV does not make sense. Makes me wonder if there is a plot to get rid of the small breeds? Something is very wrong. I simply asked the question ” Do all dogs have to receive the same dose of DAPV>. Try that/.

  25. Brian Cullen says:

    Fox news is your source ? .
    There is a very explanation on here as to why all breeds and all sizes receive the same dose , im sure someone will link to it shortly .

  26. dogowner says:

    Pat- you said you’d read the studies. Have you a link to these studies?

    Or are you now saying you had lied about reading the studies, and you actually saw a guy on Fox News who claimed he had studies but you didn’t check?

  27. Pat says:

    Dr. John Robb, who was the presenting vet. The conference was Feb. 22, 2017 in Connecticut.

  28. L says:

    This must be what Pat is referring to, http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/john-robb-banfield-petsmart-rabies/ Jean Dodds is mentioned. Sounds like fear mongering stuff from the homeopathic crowd. He has a website mentioned in the article.
    Excerpt below

    “The vaccination scandal has entered the veterinary world. Popular veterinarian Dr John Robb is facing loss of his license and legal action for using half doses of the rabies vaccine on his clients”.

  29. L says:

    I just checked out his website.

    He’s dangerous (imo)

  30. Brian Cullen says:

    Pay why is that you have chosen to ignore the consensus if the vast majority of Vets but decide to believe in one guy you saw on Fox News , what is it about his evidence that outweighs the rest ?

  31. L says:

    Oh, but for a fee/donation, this vet (mentioned in prior posts) will issue a “Rabies Immunity Certificate”
    Providing you provide the results of a titer, etc.

    The thing is, who would accept it in lieu of a rabies vaccination as required by law?

  32. dogowner says:

    So Pat, you did not in fact do any research, had not read any papers like you had claimed you had, and do not have any evidence that what this guy you saw on TV said is correct?

    ” I’ve read the studies how in a test group of 100 small dogs 27% died after receiving the same dose as a Mastiff. For the Mastiffs, 12$ died. “

  33. Cate says:

    Dr.Robb is a scary quack, even Dr. Dodds was hesitant to back him up when his fraud was exposed. That was why his license was threatened- not for doing half doses but because he gave out rabies certificates, a legal record that a rabies vaccine as accepted by common practice was given, for half doses. He also did not tell his clients he was not providing them with the dose accepted by the medical community, so the clients getting these half doses were not giving informed consent for these unproven minimized doses. He turned himself into a martyr over this when he was found out, acting like the state was asking him to kill his patients, but Connecticut allows vet waivers for rabies so he had an option for his clients outside of traditional vax/certificates if he had wanted anyways! And either way his clients were not necessarily given that choice. I cannot understand why some people stand behind him as a figurehead, when if a conventional care vet had decided to give double doses of vaccines without client consent to thousands they would expect their head on a platter.


  34. skeptvet says:

    Feel free to share all the evidence you believe exists. I have looked at the literature, and I do not see “a pile of studies” to prove what Dr. Robb claims. and “common sense” is just a way of saying “what seems like it should be true to me,” and that’s not a reliable way to understand something as complex as health and disease.

  35. Pat says:

    Excuse me. Why are antibiotics based on weight? Why are flea and tick medicines based on weight? Why are heart worm medications based on weight? The body organs can only process so much. The tiny organs in a chihuahua cannot process the same level of dosage as a bull Mastiff! What is so difficult to understand? It is called poisoning the smaller animal. It is called damaging the smaller animal’s liver and spleen. It is a way to make Moree money for a pharmaceutical company at the expense of small animals dying. My chihuahua did die.

  36. Brian Cullen says:

    Here Pat , this is why vaccines arent given based on weight .

  37. Julie says:

    Ok here’s an excerpt from Pub Med stating that vaccines can indeed cause autoimmunity. The studies I have read state that the research is inconclusive. Just as you say Skeptvet, that I cannot say for sure that vaccines caused my dog’s autoimmune disease, you cannot say with 100% assurity that they didn’t. Even the studies I’ve read say that more research needs to be done.

    If you believe the experts know everything there is to know about the human body and the immune system, then sure, make your claims. I know that science is never done, and we have much more to discover and learn about the immune system.

    I’m sorry, but a perfectly healthy puppy does not just wake up one day on his death bed for no reason. I even have had various vets saying it’s possible that the vaccines were likely the cause. (3 so far.)


  38. skeptvet says:

    Right, so what you are saying is the research is inconclusive, so you choose to believe the vaccines are the cause rather than any of the thousands of other things your dog was exposed to in the world. Unfortunately, that is the kind of thinking that has led to the resurgence of preventable infectious diseases due to declining vaccination rates. I understand your logic, but I think it ultimately does more harm than good. Of course science isn’t perfect, but neither is your intuition or best guess about the cause, or that of those who agree with you, and yet that is what you choose to go with.

  39. John1948 says:

    Our 12 year old Whippet became very ill soon after applying Stronghold, our vet treated her with antibiotics,steriods & anti sickness injections, and carried out blood & fetal tests & an ultra sound scan. After about 2 weeks she began to improve & after another 4 weeks she was almost back to normal weight & fitness. She still had fleas so we gave her a second dose of Stronghold. Again within days she was not eating, & had the same sickness & diarrhea, we tried tempting her with chicken, fish & even prawns but nothing stayed in her. I asked my vet about vaccine induced autoimmune disease & he said he was already treating her with steriods & didn’t know what else he could do. She lost so much weight we had to have her put to sleep, has anybody else had this effect after treating with Stronghold? This is the first time we have used it on her as we don’t treat our dogs with anything for fleas unless we have a problem.

  40. Robin Spear says:

    I am very interested in this topic as we have a 10 week old miniature schnauzer how will be getting her second set of immunizations…
    That said:
    1. I have been wondering if all cabin vaccines are preserved with thimerisol? As I became sensitive to this preservative, which is mercury base, I’m no longer able to receive immunizations with it as a preservation due to the fact that it caused a huge reaction in myself and it brought out underlying immune/sensitivity problems that I had no idea I had..
    2. I was wondering do they tirrate the dose by weight for each dog or it it a standard unit dose that all digs get no matter what weight?

  41. skeptvet says:

    1. I’ve written about thimerosal before. Bottom line is there isn’t evidence showing any harm to dogs or people from levels in vaccines. It has been removed from most va cines for humans with no apparent changes in any of the conditions people feared it was causing., Most canine vaccines do contain thimerosal. There is a rabies vaccine without it, and possibly some others, but they are rarely used because there is no evidence they are any safer than ordinary vaccines.

    2. I have also written about the concept of “vaccine dose.” The bottom line is that vaccines work differently than drugs, so the concept of a dose is not really appropriate. Drugs are distrubuted throughout the boyd, and the bigger a body is the more is needed to get the same amount everywhere. Drugs are like a dimmer switch on a light, the higher the dose/tissue concentration, the more effect, just as turning the switch farther generates more light. Vaccines are more like a regular light switch. There is a critical threshold at which a complete immune response is triggered. Below this, there is no immunization, and above this no “extra” effect. The immune response is, like the light, either on or off. So the amount of vaccine antigen needed to turn the immune response on doesn’t depend very much on weight. Horses get about twice as much as dogs, though they are a hundred times bigger, and elephants get about four times as much as a dog. The difference between small and large dogs in size isn’t enough for them to need different amounts of vaccine. Smaller dogs do have a slightly higher risk of allergic reactins to vaccines, but this is base d on breed, not on size per se.

  42. art malernee dvm says:

    Most canine vaccines do contain thimerosal. >>>
    secrete sauce problem. No one seems to care. Can you imaging a mother asking her physician what’s in the vaccine and the pediatrician cannot get on google to find the answer how the vaccines are different. Cats get cancer from vaccines right at the injections site. Some boarded vets think in some brands of vaccine it occurs 1 out of 750 vaccines. I cannot compare what’s in the vaccines to see if it might have something to do with what the vaccine makers are putting in their secret sauce.

  43. Roy and Dianne Francis says:

    We have a papillon that has been diagnose with an autoimmune disease that essentially forms benign tumors in the fat cells. They are also coincidently located in the areas of vaccination. She had no problems with vaccines for 7 years, then we moved to PA and had her vaccinated for Lyme. Within six months she developed these tumors, but we were unsure of their origin. She is currently on cyclosporine, but it does not seem to be working well. We have already increased the dose to 40mg. (16 lb weight of dog). We are wondering if this is the best course of action as our Vet seems to be baffled. She did respond well to predisone, but we couldn’t keep her on it for long. The tumors swell, then burst and then continue to ooze and not heal. What can we do to help her?

  44. skeptvet says:

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. Unfortunately, I cannot give medical advice online, so I would strongly recommend finding a local veterinarian you trust. If you don’t feel like you are having good results with your regular vet, consider a specialist or the nearest veterinary college.

    Good luck!

  45. Marcia says:

    I just had 2 of my dogs in to get vaccinations and it started a conversation with the tech about my dog that passed from imha. I mentioned that in looking back on the situation that I believe the rabies vaccination she had gotten had triggered the imha. She asked if that could happen and I said “I” believe it did. That would be the end of my scientific research to it. That said I have wondered about it and came across this page. The 12 pound dach had vaccine reactions all her life so she received only what was necessary. We did titres yearly and she was always good to go. Rabies was the only one as it was a legal req. When she was 8 I decided that we would do one more rabies and then we would waiver after that. After her death at the hands of some particularly inept vets (the specialist not my normal vets) I brought up the timing of the shot but I was so angry at a situation with the vet that i didnt think too much into it. As for the decision to do the vaccine she seem so healthy I had no concerns for her getting through the reaction. We noticed her slowing down and tired soon after. I am not pointing the finger as the vaccine being to ‘blame’, her immune system was the problem. I dont see how anyone could accurately predict the cascade of whatever happened in her body but if it helps some vet to hear that i truly believe it was the trigger then that is what I’m saying. Nothing is as simple as cause= effect for something like this. I am pro vaccine and have enjoyed not have measles or polio myself. I hope someday some immunologist or whoever can piece it together so we can have better protocol to handle a dog like mine. If I had known about the possibility I would have been having her blood checked after the vaccine but I didnt. I miss her every day.

  46. Rhonda says:

    Why don’t veterinarians receive a rabies vaccination every year or every three years? When I was working in the Infectious Disease department of the hospital where I was employed as a registered nurse, I read the WHO (World Health Organization) requirements for rabies vaccination and found that even people employed in labs handling live rabies virus are vaccinated once then have titers drawn every six months but they are only revaccinated for rabies if their titers fall below a certain level. I understand from my animals’ vets that veterinarians are vaccinated then have titers drawn every few years.
    I assume that most vets consider their lives of more value than any animal’s life. Yet they believe they are adequately protected with one vaccination and titers checking their immunity. There is also a protocol for treatment for a known or suspected rabies exposure which is readily available in our country and most others in case of exposure.
    It is equally as wearisome to see the rhetoric of those sneering at people who dare question the traditional wisdom of vaccinating animals every year or three as it is to see other people trying to sell homeopathic remedies while denouncing western medicine as money driven “big pharma” lackeys.
    As to adverse reactions, it is simply unacceptable that suspected adverse reactions are not reported. Every hospital has required reporting of adverse events. That is an important method for determining causes and prevention. The mantra regarding continuing current vaccine protocols seems to be that we don’t have statistics to show that there is a problem, yet few professionals are willing to even encourage let alone ask that suspected adverse reactions be reported. Wouldn’t that be a reasonable beginning point for honest discussion?

  47. skeptvet says:

    I don’t think we really disagree here. The requirement for triennial rabies vaccination is a legal one, not a standard dictated by veterinarians. Because there is good evidence that titers indicate immunity based on challenge studies for rabies, I think following a protocol in dogs for rabies vaccination similar to that used in humans would be reasonable if the law were changed, and I know there are efforts ongoing to accomplish that.

    That is a rather different issue from the question of adverse effects. Most of the adverse effects attributed to rabies vaccination, other than acute allergic reactions and vaccine granulomas, may or may not be real, and without appropriate scientific evidence to establish a causal relationship, it is not useful to claim these as a reason to vaccinate less. Not giving unnecessary treatments is a medical practice I support, but I also believe in not encouraging unjustified fear about the negative effects of such treatments.

  48. art malernee says:

    Usda needs disbanded and pet vaccine labelling regulations given to another government agency like the fda . If the pet vaccine labels did not say booster every 1-3
    years we would not be vaccinating with the same vaccine every 1-3 years or waiting a full year in a 12week old pup to give a second rabies vaccine to pick up the non responders.

  49. L says:

    I go along with the every 3 year rabies shot as required by law.

    I do have concerns for seniors, especially dogs over 10 years old, under 10 pounds.

    I wish more vets would be willing to sign the rabies vaccine waiver, especially for dogs with allergies that require the expertise of a specialist.
    Other medical conditions apply also.
    It does say on the vaccine package to give to healthy dogs only.

  50. art malernee dvm says:

    Epidemiologic Factors, Clinical Findings, And Vaccination Status Of Rabies In Cats And Dogs In The United States In 1988. National Study Group On Rabies.

    Abstract: Despite the availability of rabies vaccination through private veterinarians and govemment-sponsored rabies control programs, rabies was reported in an average of 338 cats and dogs per year from 1980 through 1987 in the United States. Information was collected on 90% of the 183 cats and 97% of the 119 dogs that were reported to have rabies in the continental United States in 1988. The median age of rabid cats and dogs was 1 year, and 81% were from rural areas. Compared with rabid cats, rabid dogs were more likely to have been male (66 vs 42%, odds ratio = 2.6), to have been kept as pets (84 vs 43%, odds ratio = 6.8), and to have had reported contact with wildlife before onset of illness (3 8 vs 14%, odds ratio @ 3.8). Rabid cats accounted for a greater proportion of human rabies postexposure prophylaxis, bites to people, and exposures to other animals than did rabid dogs. Although the clinical signs of rabies varied, rabid cats were more likely than dogs to have had aggressive behavior (55 vs 31%, odds ratio = 2.8). In contrast, rabid dogs were more likely than cats to have had an illness consistent with a paralytic process. The median period between onset of illness and death was 3 days (range, less than 1 to 10) in rabid cats and dogs that were allowed to die of rabies. Vaccine failures were documented in 3 (1%) rabid animals (2 cats and I dog). All animals had received only a single dose of vaccine in their lifetime and were vaccinated when they were between 3 and 6 months old.
    Stankov S, Lalosevic D, Pavlovic R, Lalosevic V, Knezevic N, Budincevic I
    Pasterov zavod, Novi Sad.

    In this study we analyzed 36 cases of dog rabies diagnosed at the Pasteur Institute in Novi Sad during the last 10 years as well as the quality of postvaccination immunity. Most dogs had the paralytic form, more common in sylvatic rabies than furious clinical picture. 11% of dogs were aggressive, whereas 44% had injured humans, including their owners. Postvaccination immunity was examined in a group of dogs vaccinated with three domestic and one vaccine imported from abroad. Vaccination was successful in more than 70% of dogs and it is a sufficient percentage of seroconversion in dog rabies eradication. However, in dogs vaccinated only once during lifetime, the immunity was not satisfactory. That is why in primary vaccination of dogs compulsory revaccination 30 days after the first vaccine dose is suggested.

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