Vaccine Safety & NEW Guidelines
If you are getting one of my puppies please read this entire page and let me know where you stand. It is from my heart and from years of experience with this tiny sensitive breed.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet though I have gleaned all my research from veterinarian experts and have provided many links as references at the bottom of the page. Since I am not a vet please do not take my advice over that of a veterinarian, but I urge you to do your own research and make INFORMED decisions for your pet. All vaccines and medicines your pet receives are 100% your choice, not mine and not your Veterinarian's choice, with exception of the rabies vaccine which is regulated by law. I hope you enjoy the reading below and continue researching these topics if you own one of my chihuahuas or plan to.
We are looking for puppy homes that believe the one size fits all vaccine and chemical medicine regiments are not in the best interest of your tiny pet. Chihuahuas are the smallest breed in the world. I have read case studies which prove small breeds are at much greater risk for side effects and death related to vaccines and chemical medicines that treat parasites. For over 5 years I have been raising my chihuahuas with a delicate balance of holistic and conventional care. We incorporate only certain vaccines and medicines as needed, but the greater majority of our health regimen is completely natural, and it has been proven effective by me and so many others.
We make sure all puppies after they are weaned get at least 1 parvo/distemper vaccine before going to their new home. That's usually around 10-11 weeks old that they receive their first shot versus the standard method of starting vaccines at 6-9 weeks. Chihuahuas are usually not more than a pound at that tender age and usually still nursing. Puppies who are nursing are receiving maternal antibodies through mother's milk. Those maternal antibodies actually seek and destroy the vaccines antibodies. The evidence is clear and there is a plethora of evidence to back this up. The reason puppies are often given so many "puppy shots" is because they are trying to catch the window where the mother's antibodies wear off and the vaccine can actually take effect. Knowing this, we can be more selective based on when the puppy is weaned and the lifestyle of the puppy during that window. It is completely pointless to start vaccinating until the puppies are completely weaned. Even then the antibodies can last up to a month after weaning, so any shots given during this time are null and void. Those vaccines are not harmless, though- they contain ingredients called adjuvants such as Mercury (aka thimerisol), aluminum, formaldehyde and many others than are known toxins. That is why we should limit the number of vaccines given and make each one count.
Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 dogs develop a tumor in their lifetime and that 50% of dogs over 10 years old get cancer? Over-vaccination can also lead to neurological issues like seizures, shock, death, inflammatory diseases and many more symptoms that are not always linked to the vaccines as they should be. Ivermectin, which is the main ingredient in heartworm medicines is also known for causing neurological issues, liver failure, and death. The sad part is that often if you choose not to give all the vaccines and medicines your veterinarian suggests that you will be pressured or even bullied into doing so. The best way to avoid this is to prepare yourself with knowledge. Education creates a sense a purpose which can not easily be swayed. I am always reading new research and recommendations by leading excepts on vaccines and canine health. The best research I have found is done by Dr. Jean Dodds DVM and Dr. Ronald Schultz DVM. Both are veterinarians that are committed to the study of canine health and immunity (serology). I follow Dr. Jean Dodds vaccine protocol listed below. Note that she only recommends 2 puppy parvo shots as a puppy spaced apart by about 4-6 weeks but no sooner than 9-10 weeks old. Some vets recommend the puppy shots to be started much sooner and spaced out every 3-4 weeks. In my experience and in Dr Dodds expertise this is not necessary. My dogs have never once contracted any of the diseases that I vaccinate for with this vaccine schedule. We recommend waiting until 15-16 weeks old to get just one final puppy shot after bringing your puppy home. We provide the first shot. During that time between bringing them home and getting that final shot it is recommended to keep them home mostly, though traveling in the car and to shops in your arms is fine. Treat them like a newborn baby as they adjust to their new home. Once they get that final shot wait a few days for their immune system to respond then start socializing!
Notice in the vaccine schedule below Dr Jean Dodds says to booster the parvo shot at 1 year old, but next to it says optional with a titer test. A titer test is a simple blood test to measure the amount of antibodies currently in the blood. If the pet has a sufficient number of antibodies than you know the vaccine worked and no further booster is needed ever. If you're worried that it could wear off you can get titer tests every 3-7 years to confirm. The parvo distemper vaccine has been proven to last their lifetime (see lifetime immunity studies below). Therefore, any vet suggesting to re-vaccinate every year or every few should be questioned and you should possibly seek out another vet if they do not respect your point of view. This every year theory of vaccinating was established not because of any science but to encourage pet owners to actually take their pet to the vet more often for health exams. Years ago people would only take their pet to the vet if they were very sick, which meant the vet did not get to catch disease early in life. Then it just became routine to get your pet vaccinated every year. See article below labeled Why Vets are Pushing Back. Now that vets are used to doing this for decades they believe it is the right way, but not all vets.
Some vets are seeing the light on this issue and recommending less vaccines. A Holistic Veterinarian is more likely to embrace the less is more viewpoint but I have been to some Holistic vets that still push more vaccines than necessary. So the key is to be armed with knowledge and only get what you believe is best for your pet. The rabies shot is a tricky one, as it is the only vaccine required by law. Luckily, the chances of your chihuahua getting rabies is virtually zero percent! The downside is that you have to give it to your chihuahua anyway to be in compliance with the law. However, most vets will understand your desire to hold off on giving it until your puppy reaches a larger size. I think chihuahuas should be at least 6 months and at least 3 pounds before getting this vaccine. I have seen and heard of some pretty bad reactions from this vaccine as it is one of the stronger ones. Ideally your chi should be 1 year old before getting this but we understand that is not always an option unless you have a wonderful holistic vet willing to write you an exemption based on size. After the first rabies shot you have to booster in one year and no later, but after the initial 1 year booster you can opt, and should opt, for the 3 year rabies shot. Not every vet carries this vaccine but call around and you will find one. The rabies shot is proven to last 7 plus years by Dr Ronald Schultz's research, which he is using to work on getting the laws changed to every 7 years (I am praying for this!). As I mentioned before vets will pressure you to vaccinate their way. Read this article to find out why vets are really pushing back on the these new and proven protocols. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/lifelong-immunity-vets/
See below the vaccine protocol for information on safer Heartworm, Flea and parasite prevention.
9-10 Weeks Old:
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)
Same as above
20 Weeks or Older (if allowable by law):
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)
1 Year after the initial dose:
Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)
Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. See the Rabies Challenge Fund website. (The above protocol is taken directly from Dr. Jean Dodds website).
A few more precautions on vaccines before we talk about parasites next. It is important to never give two vaccine injections in the same month. Always space out vaccines. For instance it is not uncommon for a vet to suggest getting the rabies shot and the final parvo shot on the same day and that would be a GREAT RISK to your puppy. Get the parvo shot and come back a month later for the rabies. Be firm and they will comply. Please note that when I say Parvo shot or Parvo/distemper shot that it is never just the parvo virus in the vaccine. Commonly these parvo vaccines contain at least 3 different viruses though more commonly they contain 4-7 different viruses. Here is a something you want to call ahead to your vet and other local vets to find out which shots they carry, as each vet has different preferences. I personally prefer the NOBIVAC PUPPY-DPv which is one of the very few brands that does not contain mercury or thimerosol which are known neurotoxins. This vaccine only contains the two most prevelant viruses which are Parvo and Distemper. Other vaccines can also contain the adnovirus, Corona Virus, Parainfluenza, and Leptospirosis which is bacterial. The latter which are all easily treated and not so common. By including too many of them into the vaccine the immune system is overwhelmed. Below are some quotes from vets on vaccine combo shots and their dangers. In a combo vaccine less is definitely more! Especially at all costs avoid the parvo combo that includes LEPTO (short and known nickname for Leptospirosis). Also read the Bortdatella link at the bottom of the page as this vaccine is trouble no matter how safe they promise you it is. We NEVER use Bordatella aka the common cold, which is very rare in healthy dogs and easy to treat!
"Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM wrote in DVM360 on-line magazine: “The likelihood of adverse reactions in dogs has been found to correlate with the size of the dog and the number of inoculations given, with higher risk associated with small size and multiple inoculations.”
Renowned pet vaccination expert Dr. Jean Dodds has written about combo shots (she calls them combo whombos) that they: “can overwhelm the immunocompromised or even a healthy host…. The recently weaned young puppy or kitten being placed in a new environment may be at particular risk.”
This means: no combo shots for small dogs — or any other dog for that matter. And NEVER EVER GIVE ANY OTHER SHOT — ESPECIALLY A RABIES SHOT — WITHIN 3 WEEKS OF A COMBO. This also means no Bordetella given nasally. Giving rabies and Bordetella with a combo as well could mean as many as 9 shots in one day. Some dogs don’t survive this." (reference article below labeled Combonation Shots for Dogs: Weapons of Over-Vaccination GREAT ARTICLE!).
Heartworm is a touchy subject especially here in FL. First off lets dispel a few myths that are often said that create fear on this topic. A dog left untreated who is positive for heartworm can potentially die, but the chances of a well cared for indoor pet dying from heartworm, let alone testing positive, is extremely rare. Less rare are the number of small dogs that have side effects from the medication. Chihuahuas specifically I have heard countless stories over the years of chihuahuas that have died, gone into shock, had seizures, and gotten extremely sick from the medication. It is not worth the risk when a chihuahua is an indoor dog, or at least should be an indoor dog. If you plan to keep your chihuahua living outdoors than you should rethink the breed that is right for your life. For instance my neighborhood is sprayed so we do not have many mosquitoes in the first place. My dogs only go outside for short walks, dog shows, and rides in the car. When I know they have the potential to be exposed to fleas or mosquitoes I use a natural citronella spray on them to repel the pests. If you are worried that they could have heartworm there is a simple bloodtest you can get that costs only 30-40 at most vets. You can do this test every 6-12 months to stay on top of the issue. When caught early Heartworm is completely treatable! There is a holistic veterinarian in Summerfield, FL with heartworm info on his website. He has a treatment for heartworm positive pets that is very effective and safe (http://www.holisticvetclinic.net/pages/heartworm_treatment). I have never heard of a chihuahua with heartworm, but for those of you reading who have bigger outside dogs take note. There are many natural products on the market for the prevention of heartworm. They have been in use for a long time are safe to use. We use food grade Diatomaceous Earth in their food at least several times a week but daily use is safe as well. The Diatomaceous Earth (DE for short) must be labeled food grade in order to be taken internally or used around the home. DE can be used internally by people and dogs as well as externally for fleas. DE also serves as a natural dewormer, so using it as a supplement is twofold, for heartworm and worms. Now on the topic of dewormers, note that chemical dewormers DO NOT PREVENT PARASITES, they ONLY cure existing parasites. So, why fix something that is not broken??? If your dog were to test positive then by all means administer the chemical medicine or the natural medicine of your choice to cure them. If you have an indoor chihuahua that only goes outside occasionally the chances of getting a parasite is very slim to none. So what we do instead is routine fecal exams every year at the vet to rule out any parasites. If we go somewhere where there are lots of dogs like a dog show we do a fecal check shortly after to make sure we did not bring anything home with us. Over the years of showing and raising dogs we have only had 1 single issue with a single parasite which was rectified very quickly. This was contracted from a dog show and now we have more precautions in place for when we do attend. For this reason and other reasons, we do not recommend dog parks to our customers. Dog parks are a breeding ground for parasite and disease. Also, no matter how nice other dogs appear there have been so many surprise attacks on chihuahuas. So, it is not a safe place for socializing your chihuahua.
I will be trying to update this page with even more information and hopefully edit all my errors :) Below are a number of links to the Veterinarian Experts that i have mentioned as well as Holistic newsletters you can subscribe to and links to great articles from those sites. I encourage everyone who wants to own a chihuahua and be their health advocate to do your research! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this page!!
Dr Jean Dodds DVM
Dr Ronald Shultz DVM
Why Vets Are Pushing Back
Video on Vaccines with Dr. Karen Becker DVM and Dr. Ronald Shultz
Dr. Jean Dodds Vaccine Protocol
Combination Shots for Dogs: Weapons of Over-Vaccination
BORDATELLA Fraud and Fallacy written by Dr. Patricia Jordan DVM
Article written by Dr Dodds on Changing Vaccine Protocol