|The issue of vaccinations used to seem fairly simple. Vaccinations prevent diseases, therefore
according to the conventional wisdom they were good and necessary. The label said they
should be given every year, so responsible pet owners brought their dogs in every year for
Well, it's not really that simple. Veterinarians and pet owners are recognizing that annual
vaccinations are not necessary and in fact can be harmful.
In some dogs, vaccinations cause the immune system to overreact, creating autoimmune
diseases, in which the body sees its own tissue as foreign and attacks it.
Unfortunately, poodles are among the breeds identified by prominent vaccine researcher Jean
Dodds, DVM, as being particularly prone to problems caused by vaccinations. As a result,
poodle owners should take care to educate themselves on the issue of vaccinations and see
to it that their poodles are not over vaccinated.
The various vaccines given to dogs are divided into two groups: core and noncore. The core
vaccines are given for the most serious illnesses. These include rabies, parvovirus (a
gastrointestinal disease that can be fatal to puppies), distemper (a deadly airborne virus that
affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems), and adenovirus 2
(which causes canine hepatitis, an infectious liver disease).
Annual re-vaccination is a practice based on tradition, as there is no scientific evidence to
show that it is necessary. However, evidence does exist to show that it is not necessary.
Duration-of-immunity research conducted by Ronald Schultz, Ph.D., a veterinary immunologist
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, shows that the parvo,
distemper, and adenovirus2 vaccines last a minimum of seven years, probably longer. The
rabies vaccine has been shown to last at least three years — no rabies duration of immunity
studies have been conducted longer than that.
According to Dr. Schultz's research, once immunity to a core disease has been attained,
additional “booster” shots for that disease provide no benefit. And since these shots affect the
immune system — as well as other systems in the body, such as the endocrine and the
nervous system — they are not benign.
In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) released guidelines for canine
vaccines. These guidelines recommend revaccination for the core diseases no more frequently
than every three years (unless a rabies vaccination is required more often by law). Many
responsible poodle owners choose to vaccinate their poodles for the nonrabies core
vaccinations even less often.
If you are unsure of whether your adult poodle needs a vaccination, ask your vet to run an
antibody titer, which measures the antibodies for a particular disease circulating in your
poodle's bloodstream at the time the blood is drawn. If the titer says he is protected against
the core diseases you're testing for, don't give the shot!
When you have blood drawn for titers, ask that it be sent to a laboratory that has quality-
assurance tests in place to ensure that the titers are actually protective. (Cornell, Colorado
State, and Michigan State universities are among those that have these tests in place.) An
alternative, if your vet has it, is an in-house titer-testing machine. Veterinarians can use these
to test blood and get quick and simple “yes” or “no” answer in terms of whether the animal is
While you can trust a titer that says your poodle is protected, it is possible to get a false
negative — a titer that indicates your poodle is not protected when he actually is. However, 90
to 95 percent of dogs that have already been vaccinated will have titers saying they're
Non-core vaccines are meant to prevent diseases that aren't that serious if contracted, like
bordetella (also known as kennel cough, a self-limiting disease similar to colds that humans
get), or are not considered completely effective, like the vaccines for leptospirosis and Lyme
The lepto vaccine carries only a few of the many strains of leptospirosis out there, so its
efficacy is very limited. In addition, it has caused more immediate adverse reactions than any
other vaccine. The efficacy of the Lyme vaccine — the same vaccine that has been recalled
for humans because of health concerns — has been called into question. Giving the Lyme
vaccine complicates efforts to test whether your dog has contracted the disease.
The duration of immunity of noncore vaccines is a year or less, so titers for them are not a
viable option. The AAHA recommends that veterinarians make individual decisions about these
vaccines based on a particular animal's lifestyle and risk factors. For example, both Lyme and
leptospirosis occur in only some parts of the country. If you live in an area that doesn't have
these diseases, there's no reason to give the vaccines to your poodle. Even if these diseases
do occur in your area, consider whether your poodle is actually at risk.
Think carefully before giving your poodle any non-core vaccines, weighing the risks of your dog
contracting the disease against the risk of chronic illness caused by the vaccination itself.
While annual re-vaccination has been called into question, not many veterinarians suggest that
vaccinations be eliminated completely. It is to your poodle's advantage, however, for your vet
to administer the minimum number of vaccines necessary to confer immunity against the core
Puppy vaccinations are complicated by maternal immunity, which is passed on through the
mother's milk. This immunity can prevent vaccinations from being effective. The problem is that
no one knows exactly when maternal immunity ends — it's different for every litter. After
maternal immunity is gone, the puppies are vulnerable to disease. In times past, breeders
would vaccinate early and often, hoping to keep puppies protected. Since veterinarians today
are recognizing that vaccinations are not benign, a more beneficial schedule for puppy
vaccinations includes fewer shots.
Dr. Dodds has developed a modified schedule that some poodle breeders have adopted. It
recommends that puppies be given a single shot that contains only the parvo and distemper
vaccines at nine weeks, twelve weeks, and sixteen to twenty weeks. Rabies should be given
at six months (or later, if the law will allow). Dr. Dodds recommends a booster at one year, to
ensure that immunity was conferred, and also a rabies booster at a year but separated from
the distemper/parvo shot by three to four weeks. Thereafter, her protocol calls for shots to be
given no more frequently than every three years, with noncore vaccines given to at-risk dogs
Paris Poodles Vaccine protocol:
We understand that some states require rabies vaccinations earlier and if that is the case you
must abide by the law. However, we do not suggest giving a rabies shot prior to 6 months old.
Always separate rabies vaccine from all other shots by 4 weeks.
We never vaccinate pregnant females or females in estrus!
|Vaccinations by Janine Adams
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