There are only Three Core Puppy Vaccinations Required in Ireland…

Not even the vets agree which puppy vaccinations are required in Irish dogs. However the heavy weights in the field are in general agreement (Pitcairn, Dodds, Goldstein, Schultz). I follow their recommendations which are based on the sound, sensible and independent studies mentioned above. They state that your dog needs to be vaccinated against any disease that is serious or life threatening. Moreover the dog needs to have a chance of exposure (there’s no need to take malaria pills in Leitrim).

Thus in Ireland this would include for your dog vaccinations for Parvovirus, Distemper and Adenovirus, adenovirus being hepatitis, a disease so rare now here and abroad (thanks to vaccinations) that not one case has been reported in the US in 20 years. It’s now like jabbing for small pox.

Unlike the others, Leptospirosis is a bacteria. IF you are in a lepto area (you should be able to get this information from your vet) then you will need that every year as this “vaccination” does wear off as your immune system isn’t so good with bacteria. Rabies is not required in Ireland or the UK but, get this, if they are travelling from Ireland to the UK they need to be given it. Go figure.

a young lab getting his puppy vaccinations

Ideal Age to Begin Puppy Vaccinations

It is recommended you begin puppy vaccinations at 11 weeks at the earliest. Many products say on their packets that administration can safely begin at 6 weeks, thus many vets begin at this age. This is absolutely not recommended by the highest authorities on the matter (Schultz 2006).

A second puppy jab for these diseases is required and it normally administered around two months following the first though this all depends on your vet. Booster jabs at one year of age is recommended to establish base immunisation (Horzinek 2006; Schultz 2006). It’s also a great time for a vet health check, make sure pup has come along as hoped!

While he will have limited protection from his first jab (the jury is out on how much) your vet may advise you to keep your pup in and away from dogs until his second jab but unfortunately this jeopardises his key socialisation period (6-16ks). If you want your pup well socialised to other people and animals he actually needs to be out and about before 12wks. Thus you need to put in place safe meetings (litter mates, puppy classes, meetings with friends without dogs or dogs you know to be properly vaccinated to Parvo and Distemper). He also needs to be out and about but do keep him away from strange dogs and don’t him lick dirty spots or lampposts or the likes.

puppies playing before their second vaccination

Do Not Use 7 in 1 Puppy Vaccinations

Vitally, the above authors (Dodds, Goldstein and Schultz) advise that vaccinations should be given one at a time. This is not always possible as manufacturers often couple some diseases together. The real problem is with 7 in 1. First of all your dog does not need vaccination from all these baddies. More is not always better. They are not all required and we know that if it’s not absolutely needed then don’t give them. Moore et al. (2005) studied data from 1.2 million dogs in over 360 veterinary hospitals and concluded that multiple vaccine doses per visit significantly increases the risk of vaccine-associated adverse events.

Thus multiple puppy vaccinations (such as 7 in 1) are not recommended at any time. If your vet feels this is the best way to proceed as they are “perfectly harmless” then please copy the abstract to Moore’s paper below and submit it to them for review.

Nobody seems to be a fan of MLV (modified live virus) vaccines either. They stimulate the immune system far more rigourously. The increased antigenic load has been linked to delayed hypersensitivity reactions (Phillips et al. 1989Tizard 1990). Best steer clear if at all possible so talk to your vet about your concerns here.

Blood Titre Tests

Until more data on duration of immunity become available, vaccination at 3 year intervals after this point is the agreed best practice. To determine immunity levels you can ask your vet for a “titre tests” (blood test) every three years to determine immunity levels. Cheaper than a booster shot and actually tests for (and therefore gurantees) immunity, unlike a booster jab which can only assume it.  The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) now advocates this approach over unnecessary boosters after the initial 12-month booster.

With blood titres there is no unnecessary antigen, adjuvant, and preservatives by blindly administering booster vaccines. By titering every three years, you can assess if your dog’s immune response has fallen below levels of adequate immune memory.

What About Leptospirosis in Dogs?

A large number of vets, certainly in Ireland, recommend vaccinating for Leptospirosis (a bacteria that can be picked up from rat / livestock urine or any stagnant body of water that rat / livestock urine could percolate into). If you are concerned with Leptospirosis you need to be aware that immunity here, as with most vaccinations for bacterial disease, does not last. You will need to repeat the vaccinations at certain intervals, at least every year (Schultz 2006). In the opinion of every author mentioned above, you would want to be walking by stagnant ponds every day, or living in Shrek’s house by a marsh for this jab to be considered.

Furthermore there are a great number serovars of Leptospirosis, only a few of which are pathogenic. Leptospirosis vaccines are species-specific so you’re hoping your dog picks up the right one. Asides not lasting long the Leptospirosis vaccine has more adverse effects reported than all other canine vaccines combined, especially for smaller dogs (Dodds 2001). Finally even when it does give protection, it doesn’t stop the dog shedding Leptospirosis in its faeces (Schultz 2006), so you will not be protected if you eat dog poo.

Please discuss the matter with your vet. Ask them the incidence in your local area. If they know personally of an incident in their practice (not a “I heard of a case in…” story) then ask them the age and general health of the dog that picked it up and managed to die of it. It’s very, very rare.  In my opinion, should it happen to Dudley I reckon I’ll have time to get to the vets for the antibiotic. If I don’t have time my dog must have been very sick to begin with, or simply highly, highly unfortunate. I don’t recommend Lepto and neither does Emily par course.

What About Kennel Cough?

A personally say a big no to Bordetella vaccination (kennel cough, KC). It simply does not work and in many cases induces the cold symptoms you were desperately trying to avoid. Can someone tell me the danger associated with getting a cough?! My God it happens us all, it’s nothing to fear. Some may tell you “if allowed to progress they can…” but who lets their dog hack their guts up for much more than a day?

The truth, just like the common cold in humans, there are many servovars of KC about. This is why we don’t boost for it in humans.

I can testify to the uselessness of this one, having worked as a supervisor with guide dogs for five years both here and abroad. We’d have 50-70 dogs in kennels. All dogs received the KC vaccine up their nose, par course. Every now and again kennel cough would pass through the kennels. Then the vets would come in, give them all antibiotics and hand us a bill for the clean up! So what’s the point? Moreover baby Benelyn works as a fantastic expectorant in dogs.

If you are still unsure what to do with this one you absolutely will not do better than the Kennel Cough in dogs article by Dr. Karen Becker. It annihilates any argument in favour of kennel cough.

What About Guardia Vaccine?

The American Animal Hospital Association states that the Guardia vaccine does not prevent infection from the disease. It is rare, not threatening, easily treated and quickly recovered from. Does the risk of infection outweigh the cost (health and money) of getting the jab? In my opinion, absolutely not.

What About Coronavirus?

Most dogs have coronavirus in their intestine all their lives. Except in very young puppies, coronavirus does not seem to cause clinical disease in dogs. The disease can’t even be induced in dogs in the laboratory (Schultz, 1995). So again, personally speaking, what’s the point?

Puppy Vaccinations, In Conclusion

The bottom line is boosting dogs every year for viruses is recommended against by the highest authorities. Multiple vaccinations are proven to significantly increase the likelihood your dog will suffer negative consequences. Thus dogs receiving 7 in 1 every year are most at risk, certainly if they are smaller in size. Then you need to factor in your breeds susceptibility.Any owner of a dog with autoimmune disease or any major illness for that matter needs to have a serious talk with their vet on what is actually required here.

The only ones still recommending annual boosting is vaccine manufacturers. Remember it’s not up to your vet to check the effectiveness, efficacy, or safety of the drugs they inject into your dog. The sad truth is the pet chemical world is grossly under-regulated. A totally unacceptable level of chemicals are fed, injected and administered in levels far exceeding anything permitted in humans. Neurotoxic flea drops that we are advised to wear gloves for dropped on a pup’s skin. The trend in the dog chemical world is more, not less. This is completely against modern theory and holds no grounds but to profit manufacturers.

Don’t make it easy for them. Get informed and consider blood titres instead.

Don’t Insurance Companies or Kennels require them?!

A blood titre is actually more reliable than a shot. A jab is a shot in the dark. They don’t actually know your pet is immunised from it, it is only assumed. A blood titre by a vet on the other hand tests for immunity. In this way most insurance companies recognise a blood titre test as it a) proves the dog has the antibodies to the virus (whereas ironically a booster does not, it is only assumed after the jab is given), and b) it is overseen by a veterinarian. We have spoken to most and they agree that is acceptable protocol but you must let them know that is what you are doing so they can amend your policy accordingly, which is fair enough. Same with the useless kennel cough vaccination, and whatever else.

With your kennels it’s the very same. Print them out these three article on vaccinations so they can have a think. Let them know your plans and discuss the blood titres. The majority are fine as the majority of pet insurances are fine as long, certainly when waivers are signed (which you should be more than happy to do on the baddies discussed). But they need to be alerted and the kennel owner needs to talk to their insurance company. This is a matter of great importance and they will be more than happy and interested to do so.

If they are not find one that will. As with your vet, if you continue to use kennels or vets practicing arhaeic methods you will change nothing. Every time you hand over money you vote for that person. As with dry food and chemical flea control for parasite they don’t have, the change is happening from the bottom up. It’s up to you guys to force this information through to them for the sake of our dogs.

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I have spent a lot of time building up my knowledge. From a doctorate in animal behaviour and nutrition to years in guide dogs and the last seven year inside and out of the pet food industry, I have always provided all my information free to the public, articles that I spend a lot of time putting together. While it’s clearly a passion of mine the fact remains, I can’t do this and a steady job at the same time. Without a salary or fancy sponsorship, I am left trying to moentise my site as much as I can without pushing on you horrible adverts for car loans and crap pet products. One way I do this is by tracking some of the links to products I recommend (where Amazon will give me 7% of your first purchase). Now I’m going to put a donation button at the bottom of my longer articles. So, if this helped you in any way and you feel you’d like to give me the price of a cup of coffee (€3), please free to do exactly that. If you’re strapped and can’t afford it, I can totally sympathise, you’re free to read on, no questions asked. We’re glad to have you on board spreading the word regardless.

Many thanks and continued good health to you and your pets.

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References Used

Day MJ, Penhale WJ. Immune mediated disease in the old English sheepdog. Res Vet Sci 1992; 53: 8792.

Dodds W.J. (1983). Immune mediated diseases of the blood. Adv Vet Sci Comp Med, 27: 163-196.

Dodds WJ.(1995). Estimating disease prevalence with health surveys and genetic screening. Adv Vet Sci Comp Med, 39: 2996.

Dodds, W.J. (1999). More bumps on the vaccine road. Adv Vet Med; 41: 715732.

Dodds, W.J. (2001). Vaccination Protocols for Dogs Predisposed to Vaccine Reactions. Guest Editorial for the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association

Duval, D. and Giger, U. (1996). Vaccineassociated immunemediated hemolytic anemia in the dog. J Vet Intern Med; 10: 290-295.

Hogenescha, H., Azcona-Oliveraa, J., Scott-Moncrieffa, C., Snydera, P.W., Glickmana, L.T. (1999). Vaccine-induced autoimmunity in the dog. Advances in Veterinary Medicine, 41: 733–747

Horzinek, M. C. (2006). Vaccine use and disease prevalence in dogs and cats. Veterinary Microbiology, 117(1): 2

Moore, G.E., Guptill, L.F., Ward, M.P., Glickman, N.W., Faunt, K.K., Lewis, H.B., Glickman, L.T. 2005. Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs. JAVMA. Vol. 227, No. 7, October 1, 2005. 1102-1108.

Novak, W. 2007. Predicting the “unpredictable” vaccine reactions. Proceeding of the NAVC North American Veterinary Conference. Jan. 13-27, 2007, Orlando, Florida.

Paul, M.P., Carmichael, L.E. and Childers, H. (2010). “2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines Revised.”

Phillips TR, Jensen JL, Rubino MJ, Yang WC, Schultz RD. Effects of vaccines on the canine immune system. Can J Vet Res 1989; 53: 154 160.

Schultz R (2006). “Duration of immunity for canine and feline vaccines: a review”. Vet. Microbiol. 117 (1): 75–9

Scott-Moncrieff JC, Azcona-Olivera J, Glickman NW, et al. (2002) Evaluation of antithyroglobulin antibodies after routine vaccination in pet and research dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 221: 515-521.

Tizard, I. (1990). Risks associated with use of live vaccines. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1990; 196 Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) of the (WSAVA) (2010). “WSAVA guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats”. Retrieved 2012-06-24

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