I believe in a limited vaccination protocol for my own dogs.
This is an information page to help you decide what vaccination protocol is best for you and your dog. No one can force
you to do something you're not completely comfortable with. You should be well informed and make decisions based on
what you and your family are most comfortable with.   

There is an incredible amount of information out there about vaccines and their side effects. Once considered to be
harmless, we are now learning that we were very wrong. Vaccines can have very serious side effects, including autoimmune
disorders, epilepsy, encephalitis, allergies, behavior problems, digestive disorders, cancer and even death! These risks
MUST be weighed against their usefulness and we must do what is best for our pets.

One option is to not give combination vaccines (a vaccine that contains more than one virus). The vast majority of vets
nly offer these combination vaccines, so you will likely have to ask your vet to special-order your puppies vaccines for you.
They may tell you its not possible to get a single-virus vaccine, don't believe them. Many don't want to order it in because it
is more work for them. Galaxy makes the "Galaxy-D" single distemper vaccine; Intervet (Proguard), Vanguard and Duramune
all make single Parvo vaccines.

The multi-virus vaccines usually confuse the immune system rather than stimulate it. Many of these combo-vaccines
contain anywhere from 5-8 different diseases. Where in nature would your dog be exposed to that many diseases all
at the same time? I can only imagine that the dog would have a very difficult time effectively fighting off that many diseases
all at once. Just think about the stress on the dog's immune system, and especially on a young puppy who's immune system
is still developing. Excessive vaccination can actually cause the immune system to cease working altogether. So talk to
your vet about the option of single vaccines as opposed to combinations.

Another guide I personally like is to limit the total number of vaccinations. There is no valid reason for giving the same
vaccine over and over again to a puppy. The reason this practice was started is because puppies receive natural maternal
antibodies from their dam while they are nursing, and these gradually wear off after weaning. But they wear off at different
rates in different puppies, so we have no way of knowing for sure when they have worn off without doing tire can
be anywhere from 5-16 weeks when the maternal antibodies wear off, although the average is 6-10. Giving a puppy shots  
while it still has maternal antibodies is useless, as the maternal antibodies will "block" the vaccine and prevent immunity
from being established. So someone in their infinite wisdom decided to give puppies vaccines over and over again so
that eventually one will be given after the maternal antibodies are worn down. But since we don't know when they were down,
if we opted to not vaccinate at all until the dog was 16 weeks, it could leave  pups unprotected for several weeks, which is
why many vets will tell you to keep your young puppy off the streets and away from strange dogs until it "has had all its
shots" at 12-16 weeks.

If by that advice we have to keep our puppy isolated, even if we are giving all these most-likely useless shots, then why
do we bother putting all that extra stress on the poor puppy's system? Doesn't it make more sense to not give those shots
(since they likely won't work anyway) and just be careful with puppy until he is a little older? Stay away from dog parks, pet
stores and other areas frequented by large numbers of dogs until after 4 months old. Do your public socializing outside the
grocery store, library, Home Depot, any place you can think about that has lots of people, but few dogs. Invite people over
o your house to play with the puppy, they can bring their adult, healthy dogs with them for playtime. Socialization is important
but doesn't have to be dangerous.

Another option is choosing to only use vaccines that are actually needed in your area. Don’t give a vaccine simply because
it exists. Every vaccine given to your dog places stress on the animal’s immune system and increases the risk of an unwanted
autoimmune reaction. Parvo virus is an example of a disease that is very common and widespread and effects mainly puppies
– therefore we may consider it to be a vaccine worth vaccinating puppies for. Also, the Parvo vaccine rarely seems to cause
vaccinosis. On the other hand, Distemper is another vaccine that always seems to be recommended – yet if you actually
look into things, Distemper is essentially an unknown disease in many areas. I have talked to many vets that have never
seen an actual case of Distemper in their practice. If the disease is not an issue in your area, then why vaccinate for it?  
Common side effects to this vaccine include temperament issues (fearfulness), belly rash, chronic itchy skin, and cystitis.
Some of these are temporary problems, others have life-long effects.

Another personal guideline is no annual boosters! The practice of giving annual vaccinations is a practice developed by
the vaccine manufacturers, so that they will sell more vaccines. Vaccines don't suddenly "expire" after a year, that's just
when the manufacturer's stopped testing the immunity. ONCE IMMUNITY TO A VIRUS EXISTS, IT PERSISTS FOR YEARS
OR LIFE. There is no need to keep rechecking titers and re-vaccinating every 3 years or whatever. You cannot add more
immunity to an already immune dog. It is not immunologically possible. All you are doing is increasing the risk of chronic
disease....there is no benefit.

The duration of immunity to infectious disease agents is controlled by memory cells, B & T lymphocytes. Once programmed,
memory cells persist for life. Even in the absence of an antibody titer, memory cells are capable of mounting an adequate
immune response in an immunized patient. A negative titer does not accurately indicate lack of immunity, or the ability of
a vaccine to significantly enhance the immune status of a patient.

The USDA Center for Biologic and Therapeutic Agents asserts that there is no scientific data to support label claims for  
annual re-administration of modified live vaccines, and label claims must be backed by scientific data.

It is the consensus of immunologists that a modified live virus vaccine must replicate in order to stimulate the immune
system, and antibodies from a previous vaccination will block the replication of the new vaccinate virus. The immune status
of the dog is not enhanced in any way. There is no benefit to the dog. You will be paying for something with insignificant or
no effect, except that your dog is being exposed to unnecessary risk of an adverse reaction.

According to Dr. Ronald D Schultz, head of pathobiology at Wisconsin University and arguably the world expert on this
subject, once immunity to a virus exists, it persists for years or life. I am told that he vaccinated his own Golden Retrievers
as puppies, and then didn't vaccinate them again. He took yearly blood tests. His Goldens are reported to have died naturally
at around 15 years of age, and showed good antibody levels from the first booster until they died. Moral of the story: This and
other research shows that annual shots are not necessary in every animal. We should test titer levels and only vaccinate
dogs as it becomes necessary.  

Research by Dr. Ronald D Schultz, shows that a vaccine received at or after 12 weeks of age provides immunity in over
95% of dogs. He also states that the less than 5% which did not have immunity would never get immunity regardless of
how many vaccinations they received. Dr. Schultz is the author of this paragraph in Kirk's "Current Veterinary Therapy XI",
the conventional medicine textbook: "A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or
verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual
revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most
bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a
protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins
requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years), and no toxin vaccines
are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic
(secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The
practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism
to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (i.e., certain states require annual revaccination for rabies)."

Another interesting point on the vaccination issue is that your dog will in fact essentially be "vaccinated" on a regular basis by
being exposed to other dogs that have been vaccinated recently. You see, for a several week period after vaccination with
a modified live virus vaccine, dogs will actually "shed" particles of the virus into their environment. When another dog is
exposed to the shed virus, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, just the same as if it was exposed to
the actual disease. Only this is much safer, since it is through a more natural means of exposure (inhaled or ingested
rather than injected) and with a much smaller dosage. This vaccination through shed virus is known as the "herd immunity effect".
So as long as you keep taking your dog (over 16 weeks) out and about and expose it to other dogs regularly (parks, training
classes, dog shows) it will regularly receive low-level stimulation of its immunity, which is safe and effective.

For additional information, I highly recommend checking out the following web pages:

Now for the recommended vaccine schedule....

At this time due to a combination of public misinformation we will still be doing the combination vaccine because thats
what the general public expects of me. Even though by all accounts it is 100% useless, a waste of money and a shock
to the puppies system. Until more people ( buyers and their vet's) are on board with minimal vaccinations I have no
choice but to provide that service to my buyers but hopefully as people get educated we can limit this vaccination.  

At 14 weeks, according to your vet, your puppy should get a vaccination of MLV Parvo only. You must ask specifically for
this vaccine, and then double check before it is given that it is indeed only Parvo in the shot. Most vets only stock combo
vaccinations, so if you just ask for a “parvo shot”, they will assume you meant the combo! Since that is NOT what you want,
be very sure to insist the correct vaccine is being used. Although more vets are starting to carry them, your vet might well
have to special-order this vaccine!

2 weeks after the Parvo vaccine, have the vet draw some blood and have it sent to Antech Labs for a Parvo Titer test...
this will show if the previously given Parvo vaccine has worked. If the Parvo titer comes back at zero or very low, it means
that the puppy still had maternal antibodies at the time of vaccination, and the vaccine didn't take. In that case, you give
another Parvo only at 18-20 weeks. 95% of the time, the titer will come back moderate to high, meaning the vaccine
worked and the puppy established immunity to the disease. Do not repeat this Parvo vaccine if you had a good immune
response to the vaccine – you can not make an immune animal more immune!

At 18 weeks or older (older if you had to give the parvo vaccine again), your puppy possibly may get a vaccination of
Distemper only. Only give this vaccine if Distemper is an issue in your area – check with local vet clinics for the prevalence
of this disease in your area. The Distemper vaccine is well known for causing long-term side effects (vaccinosis).
Common side effects to this vaccine include temperament issues (fearfulness), belly rash, chronic itchy skin, and cystitis.
Some of these are temporary problems, others have life-long effects.

At 2 weeks after the Distemper (if given), you can optionally have the vet draw blood again, and send off for a Distemper Titer.
This titer is optional because by this age and for this disease it would be exceptionally rare for a dog to not have formed a titer.

If you have ended up giving a Parvo at 18-20 weeks, you may opt to do another Parvo titer 2 weeks later (20-22 weeks) to
make sure that one took, although it almost certainly will be effective by that age. But if it makes you feel better, go ahead
and test it!

Rabies is given after the age of 6 months (8-12 months is much better), if required by law in your province/state. Do not ever
give the Rabies shot (or any vaccine for that matter) within a 30 day period before or after any surgery (such as spay/neuter)
or within 30 days of any other vaccine.

That is it for the vaccinations! If it makes you feel better, you can run titers at a year old, and every 1-3 years after that,
but it is not necessary, and doesn't really tell all that much, since titer levels will rise and fall through the dogs lifetime in
accordance to their frequency of exposure. Remember, a low titer does not equal low immunity, as it is the memory
cells that are the important part, and we have no way to measure those. So you can pretty safely consider any measurable
titer to be proof of current immunity.

Any puppy I keep from my litters gets the 8 week shot and then does not go back to the vets until at least 6 months for a
Parvo booster. I then go back at 12 months for rabies and thats it. We then test Titer levels every couple of years to make
sure things are working properly.

So you as an owner will have to decide what is best for your dog, the above is information to help you make an educated
decision for your dog and your family. Do not be afraid to question your veterinarian. You pay them good money to provide
medical advice so use your money's worth and ask lots of questions.  

*Thanks to Tollwest for much of the above information*