All vaccine labels and inserts state that vaccines are for use in “healthy dogs only.” Unfortunately, no one defines “healthy.”
Most knowledgeable vets agree that certain animals should NOT be vaccinated (absent proven, urgent need such as inevitable exposure to a life-threatening disease). These include, but aren’t limited to, pets with autoimmune disease … pets undergoing chemo, radiation or surgery (even dental cleaning or neutering) … pets with autoimmune disease, cancer, severe allergies and skin diseases … pets fighting an illness or parasites … pets stressed from shipment or a move to a new home … malnourished pets … and dying housebound pets. Assaulting the immune systems of these animals with vaccination has been likened to throwing gas on a raging fire.
Vaccination is big business and an old habit. Dogs and cats need an advocate with common sense (and a strong backbone) to stand up for their pets. That means you!
So why shouldn’t you vaccinate a sick, stressed or geriatric pet?
For one thing, the pet may develop adverse reactions ranging from fever to seizures to autoimmune disease to anaphylactic shock and even death. Furthermore, shots administered to an unhealthy animal may fail to provide immunity while giving you the false security that your dog is protected. On top of that, the animal’s immune system, which should be fighting illness, may be diverted to handle the shot.
Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer states, regarding precautions when using their rabies vaccine:
A protective immune response may not be elicited if animals are incubating an infectious disease, are malnourished or parasitized, are stressed due to shipment or environmental conditions, are otherwise immuno compromised….
According to the University of Nebraska’s “Understanding Vaccines”:
While it is common to vaccinate stressed animals, these animals are more susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions and frequently do not develop an adequate immune response. Immune stressed animals develop limited protection from vaccination.
the Rabies Vaccine Precautions: … level of performance may be affected by conditions of use such as stress, weather, nutrition, disease, parasitism, other treatments, individual idiosyncrasies or impaired immunological competency. These factors should be considered by the user when evaluating product performance or freedom from reactions.
Even humans are at risk if a rabies shot fails and the animal becomes infected with rabies. So great is the danger of vaccinating sick and chronically-ill pets that many, if not most, state and local health authorities allow a temporary or permanent exemption from rabies vaccination for these pets. Click to learn how to apply for a rabies vaccination exemption.
I asked some veterinarian friends to share their opinions on this issue. (Note: bold blue type was done by me to emphasize important points.) Special thanks to over-vaccination activist Dr. Patricia Jordan for her help in rounding up responses and references.
From Tamara Hebbler, DVM, holistic consulting vet (San Diego):
The most disturbing, relatively routine, veterinary practice is vaccinating ill or compromised animals. I am appalled that this is still happening yet I hear from my clients that it is more the norm than the exception.
Vaccinating a stressed or ill dog violates our Hippocratic Oath: Above All Do No Harm. When an animal is going in for surgery or chemo, or has an autoimmune disease or neoplastic condition [a tumor], or even a chronic immune challenge such as allergies or endocrine/metabolic diseases, they are at a high increased risk to an adverse reaction to any vaccine. I liken such vaccination to playing Russian Roulette with an animal’s immune system — with 5 of the 6 barrels loaded, not just 1.
If negative reactions are severe enough, and immediate, most people will connect the reaction to the shot. However, if the reaction develops over a few weeks or months, you may not tie it to the shot – and your vet probably won’t either. In standard veterinary practice, we have brief appointments and are very busy, I regret to say, treating many of the dis-ease states that we as a profession, with the help of the pet food industry, have created. It is only through laborious record review that I made the connection.
Be bold and stand up for your pet especially when he or she is not feeling well. Just say NO to vaccinations and start researching and titer testing.
From Jean Hofve, DVM www.littlebigcat.com and www.spiritessence.com
Former Editor-in-Chief of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Journal :
Vaccination puts a tremendous burden on the immune system to mount a protective response. If the response is to be adequate and provide protection against disease, there shouldn’t be any other immune-compromising stresses present. Clearly, an animal already fighting an infection, injury, or other illness is not going to have adequate resources to devote to the vaccine–and it could take away from its ability to fight what’s already there. Chemotherapy and steroids suppress the immune system and deplete its ability to produce a good vaccine response. Even something as seemingly benign as a bath or an elective surgery or dental procedure will reduce body temperature, a stress which can also inhibit the immune system. These are some of the reasons why the directions on every vial of vaccine say “for use in healthy animals only.”
From Michael Dym, VMD:
[Re should you vaccinate sick pets?]: That would depend upon definition of what “sick” is……..Dogs with chronic autoimmune diseases (most of chronic diseases seen in today’s pets) would go under that definition of ill health to me………Most vets ROUTINELY give shots to epileptic pets, dogs with prior histories of mast cell tumors, cats with autoimmune based diabetes, IBD patients, asthmatic animals, severe skin allergic pets, etc……….They are not healthy in my opinion and should not be vaccinated……….The vaccine companies have themselves legally protected by placing inserts with all vaccines saying “for use in healthy animals only” leaving that legal definition up to often ignorant vets on this topic……. Follow the dollar signs!!!!…….THAT is the tragedy………
From Stephen R. Blake, DVM (San Diego) Author of The Pet Whisperer:
All vaccines come with a label warning from the manufacturer, advising the practitioner to not vaccinate animals who are not healthy. The sad part about this story is the veterinary community has set the bar so low for our animals, that as long as the animal is breathing, you can vaccinate them. I see records with pets who had ear infections, low grade fevers, eye and ear discharges, ear infections, allergic dermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, abscessed teeth, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, auto immune disease, chronic arthritis, lameness, abscesses, Etc ., when they came to the veterinarian to evaluate their health issues and they were vaccinated in spite of having one or more of these issues. Not only are they vaccinated but for up to 10 different diseases simultaneously.
Learn more about combination shots here!
The clients are not being informed about the potential danger to their pets and are also being told their pets need these vaccinations, when there is no science to support such recommendations. This is not good medical practice and endangers the health of our animal patients…. Supply and demand are the driving forces in any economy for the success or failure of any product. As the public becomes more educated as to the truth about vaccinations, this practice will go the way of the dinosaur.
From Patricia Monahan Jordan, DVM, CVA, CTCVH & Herbology, co-author of Mark of the Beast:
An Australian study found most of the animals undergoing vaccination were not healthy and should not have been receiving vaccines; it is criminal in my book. … So many of our animals are now sick and diseased with autoimmune disease or cancer and yet again get the big jab under the guise that “he is due for rabies.” …. so many stressed animals, malnourished animals, animals with any health issues should not be just jabbed…….especially with rabies, due to what this vaccination while stressed or immune-compromised means to endangering both the animal and especially the public’s health and exposure risk.
I am sitting on pulled research, each and every one of these cases should be addressed in a court of law and culpable responsibility assigned on the basis of the research already available that these medical disasters are predictable effects of the vaccines….
So what should you do if your dog is unhealthy but “due for shots”?
Unless you know that your dog is 100% well and free of even allergies or dental disease, do NOT go to a shot clinic or give a shot yourself. An Australian study, reported in ”Prevalence of intercurrent disease in dogs and cats presented for vaccination at a veterinary practice,” found: ”Fifty-two percent of animals were found to suffer from intercurrent disease and 3% had severe debilitating disease. A thorough clinical examination conducted at the time of routine vaccination appears to be an important element in maintaining companion animal health and welfare.” Failure to determine health, and to put off vaccinating a comprised dog, may well endanger the dog ‘s health or cause the vaccination to fail.
Forearmed with knowledge about vaccine duration of immunity, speak to your vet about postponing shots until your dog is well. You might even print this article for your vet if you find resistance. If you still find resistance, find another vet.
I hope you’ll bookmark this article and share it with friends. Don’t let them make a mistake they may never be able to undo.
For additional information, please read my article Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots Your pet may not even need the recommended shots. (For cat shot info, please visit LittleBigCat and Cat Shots.com.) Also read Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily. And if your dog needs vaccination for licensing, ask your vet to apply for a temporary or permanent exemption to the rabies shot.