Are you playing games with your dog's health
Do you know anyone whose healthy dog has suffered an inexplicable illness shortly after a routine vaccination? Does your club insist on annual boosters? Following his request on the Desperately seeking... page to find 'single vaccinations,' Keith Powell set out to find the right vet to help him. His search makes interesting reading.
I know of many people, including myself, whose healthy dogs have suffered an inexplicable illness shortly following regular vaccinations. Our dogs do not become ill from the vaccination itself but, after attending a lecture in 2000 given by Dr. John Angles (1), I do hold the view that certain breeds and certain dogs are more susceptible to immune-medicated diseases than others.
However, Dr Angles has the view that, at present, the benefit of vaccination outweighs the problems but for those dogs who are susceptible to 'the problems,' there is no way of identifying particular individuals, and vaccinating these dogs is a bit like playing Russian Roulette. In the Akita population, he has found there is a 9.3% prevalence of a dog falling foul to one of the serious immune-mediated diseases and this prevalence does not follow particular breed lines.
He believes that, if a dog is susceptible, one of the booster jabs sets up a hypersensitivity and the following vaccination sets up the auto-immune system to react in some unpredictable way! This could present as a blood disease, particular organ failure or joint problem. The number of possibilities is too long to list.
I also strongly believe in the benefits of vaccination, but I refuse to play Russian Routlette with the health of my dogs. Instead I have the necessary full puppy vaccinations and, at yearly intervals, have a blood test to indicate my dog’s antibody status, costing about £40/dog. Canine parainfluenza and leptospira vaccinations are short lived, should be repeated annually and not detected by the tests used by my vet but canine parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus are detectable. My dog's immune status is then recorded on its individual caccination record card should a dog club or kennel wish to see it.
The record of my dog’s antibody levels are attached and it makes fascinating reading. Why these levels fluctuate is difficult to say, as is the reason for some levels going off the scale – I’ll leave that for the vets to debate.
My recent note on the Agilitynet (February 2006) was to find a vet or a supplier of single vaccines. Although one vaccine company is now recommending the canine parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus vaccinations together once every three years, with annual jabs for parainfluenza and leptospira. However, I am led to believe most vets continue follow the routine of annual boosters for all five common viruses.
It was very exasperating to find that very few vets could supply single vaccines. I now know that parvo, parainfluenza and lepto can be obtained singly but adenovirus and distemper usually come as a joint combination. However, the suppliers only sell any of these in multiple packs of ten or more for each vaccine.
Following numerous fruitless calls to local vets, I was beginning to feel very despondent as no one was able - or willing - to supply single doses of vaccine. But, thanks to an enterprising vet, David Bradbury, from the Beacon Hill Veterinary Centre, Hindhead, Surrey GU26 6NR (tel. 01428 606396) and his professional contacts, he managed to source the single vaccinations that I require. This means that I can continue to blood test my dogs and remove the need to play Russian roulette with their 'vaccination' health.
I hope that this article will provide those worried about canine vaccinations with an alternative route to follow.
Vaccination Levels of Keith Powell’s Dogs
In 2000 he bought a Finnish Lapphund, mainly to be a companion to his Akita. His Akita did agility so from the end of 2001 onwards, he consumed himself in agility with his Lapphund who has gained much respect, success and interest, competing in Midi competitions. Magic, his Lapphund, an early holder of the Agility Warrant, is a Senior dog looking for that elusive second agility win to make her Advanced. She has won her class twice at Crufts. The pinnacle of their success was finishing fourth in the British Open in 2005, being selected for England B at the Kennel Club International and finishing second in the inaugural KC Nations (Midi) Cup representing England, their team beating England A!
Keith has another Akita now, from Italy and is training a Border Collie for next season (2007). He has just taken on a Kromfohrlander puppy from Holland to be his next Medium dog for the 2007-2008 season.
Keith is now looking forward to training his two newest dogs, the first he has bought specifically for agility, He plans to reduce his weekends away competing, picking those events where he can enjoy his new 'second hand' caravan and anticipating the luxury of accessories that work – his previous caravan being 29 years old and showing its age!
From Mike Afia...