June 22, 2012

Keep Walking When a Veterinarian Says These 5 Things

Like many pet owners, losing a beloved cat to complications that followed a "rabies booster shot" was the hard way I learned about the dangers of over-vaccination.

Since then, I have been extremely fortunate to find and work with a number of knowledgeable, ethical, compassionate veterinarians. They are aware of current vaccine science and careful to recommend a vaccination protocol tailored to the age, health status and proximity to risk of my dog.

And let's get real.

At some point, you're going to want a trustworthy veterinary professional and modern diagnostic tests on your side.

So I believe that it's important that we do not paint all the veterinary medical profession with the same broad brush. It's true that not all will put your animal's best interests first. By the same token, not all of them are shot jockeys only interested in the bottom line.

How do you discern the difference?

Dogs Naturally has pulled 5 snippets of pseudo-science from various veterinary websites. Hearing any one of these statements puts you on notice to challenge vaccination recommendations or find another veterinary clinic. For example:

2. Your puppy vaccination course should be started at 6 weeks of age. A primary vaccination is first given and a booster 2-4 weeks later. This course must be completed before your puppy is fully protected. Unfortunately the protection provided by vaccinating is not life-long and hence an annual booster is recommended. At ________ veterinary clinic we will send you out an annual reminder to ensure your pet is kept up to date and protected.

Vaccinating a puppy at 6 weeks?  According to veterinary vaccine researcher Dr. Jean Dodds, only 30% of puppies will be protected from a vaccine given at 6 weeks of age:  yet 100% of them will be exposed to disease when taken to the vet clinic for that shot.  Moreover, vaccines create immune suppression for 10 to 14 days.  So, choosing to vaccinate a puppy at 6 weeks means exposing him to the most disease ridden location he could possibly be in – the vet clinic, creating immune suppression so he is much more likely to get the disease he is being vaccinating for, and all in exchange for a 30% chance the vaccine will work.  That’s a pretty high gamble with a puppy’s life.

No one expects the average pet owner to be a walking compendium of current vaccine science; but there is sufficient information available that you can know when to ask more questions, get more information or politely say "no." And quite frankly, any suggestion of the need for annual "booster shots" is an automatic red flag.

The real test of a veterinarian's integrity is the grace with which he or she handles a firm, pleasant "no, thank you."



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