More Than 2,000 Reports of UK Dogs Having Suspected Adverse or Fatal Reactions to the Leptospirosis Vaccine NOBIVAK L4 in the Last Three Years…

Quite the headline in the Daily Telegraph, isn’t it?! Just another annual booster that we are told is “perfectly safe to be given each year”, which is sadly killing hundreds if not thousands of dogs in the UK recently.

This one’s for leptospirosis which is not recommended as a “core” vaccine to be given routinely to your dog unless in a leptospirosis area, though it has course of course become the norm for all dogs today.

As well as the hundreds dead other owners are reporting swollen glands, epileptic fits and blindness.

….in the last two years, regulators have received 2,000 reports of dogs having suspected adverse or fatal reactions…reports made to the Government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) indicate more than 120 dogs are feared to have died…in the three years the product has been on the market…

The article goes on to tell us:

…the vaccine, which is manufactured by MSD Animal Health, a subsidiary of American conglomerate Merck Sharp & Dohme, is currently being monitored by the VMD…However the regulator has refused to reveal the total number of animals that had been affected since the product came onto the market…

Imagine. The “regulator” not playing ball. Best continue to “monitor” the situation, at least until a few more euro’s are made by the struggling drug company.

There are numerous Facebook groups set up to document the harmful effects of this vaccine, such as “Nobivac Lepto 4 – our experiences” which has 9000 members and growing. Below is the latest post from their page. It is about Julia Tompsett’s dog, one week after his Nobivac Lepto 4 vaccination.


side effects of the nobivak 4 leptospirosis vaccine in dogs

Asides Being Potentially Harmful the Leptospirosis jab has Always Been Ineffective…

Soon this drug will be taken off the market, another one will pop up, your vet will listen to the drug rep’s nonsense about the drug’s safety and efficacy, cross reference the information they’ve just heard with the pamphlet inside the box which verifies, using in-house trials (studies and results produced by the manufacturers themselves, not some over-seeing regulator, as would be the norm in human drugs), just how unlikely side effects are. And on we go.

The interesting thing about the Leptospirosis jab is it’s inefficiency, at least up until recently. The problem being leptospirosis is a bacteria.

When you get vaccinated for a virus, eg the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) given to human babies, they provide life long immunity, hence you do not receive boosters every year for it. As Edward Jenner roles in his grave 19th Century grave, for some reason dogs now need to be boosted EVERY YEAR for their core viruses (Parvo, Distemper, Adenovirus) even though not a SINGLE STUDY supports such a need and AGAINST the advice of the worlds top veterinary immunologists. For more on this needless and potentially harmful check out our “why are we boosting dogs every year for viruses?“.

So annually “boosting” an already vaccinated dog for viruses is absolutely unnecessary and a complete waste of money. While we are often reassured that they are “perfectly safe” (as we see from the above article they absolutely are not) and better give it “just in case” (you shouldn’t, I’ve source many studies to show the practice in dogs has always been littered with severe side effects).

As we said though, Leptospirosis is a bacteria, not a virus. Immunity for these does wear off. Up until a couple of years ago the leptospirosis “vaccine” only guaranteed immunity for 6mths, only now has it has been “improved” to last a year. As vets have always only given this jab every year to all our dogs, how come all these unprotected dogs didn’t get lepto?

The reason is, and as with most things that can harm your dog, that it’s not a rampant issue, certainly not in city / town dogs. It’s a well advertised one. Lepto is a baddie that can be picked up from rat or livestock urine or a stagnant body of water that rats or livestock urine could percolate into, hence farm or country dogs being more susceptible.

Furthermore there are a great number serovars (types) 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.

The ideal would be for your to find out from your local vet of the actual incidence of Lepto in your area, not his / hers’ friends’ clinic. What’s happening in your home town. If under threat you can discuss your options with them then.

What is the Incidence of Leptospirosis / How Likely is my dog to Pick it up?

On their website “Future of Vaccination“, MSD (the manufacturers of Nobivak 2 and 4 amongst others vaccination drugs), amongst others) state clearly on their front page that

exposure to leptospirosis is relatively common…

In May 2014, Christopher Ball from the University of Liverpool presented a thesis about leptospirosis in dogs. He thanked “MSD Animal Health for funding the project, without which none of this work would be possible”.

They contacted 472 veterinary practices from all around the UK in 2013, specifically asking them about the incidence of leptospirosis infections in their clinic. 89 clinics returned the survey. 13 clinics reported possible cases of leptospirosis. Only 3 of these 13 were diagnosed in a laboratory, the rest were suspected. No practice reported more than one case.

It was interesting to note that of the 13 suspected cases in 2013, one was in a dog “vaccinated” for one type of leptospirosis (there are many types, hence you have to hope your dog gets the right one, damn bacteria and their rapid evolution).

So, 13 suspected cases, hardly “relatively common” that MSD state on the front of their website, unless its relative to the incidence of bubonic plague in the same year.

And yet the company who sponsored this study and makes the drug didn’t come out and admit that incidence of this disease appears too low to support the need to vaccinate 15million UK dogs. Funny that!

Nor did any other veterinary group, which is less funny.

It’s worth noting here that the only way Leptospirosis can be identified is by blood tests or post-mortem which is rarely conducted by owners of deceased pets, largely for financial reasons, so there may well be a lack of reporting on the disease.

But the fact remains that all our dogs are being vaccinated based on the ANECDOTAL evidence of a drug company and a few vets. There were only 3 diagnosed cases of leptospirosis in 89 UK vet clinics in 2013.

Ball goes on to mention two key bits in his study:

Due to the perceived low rates of infection in the UK, the canine leptospirosis vaccine is not currently considered a ‘core’ vaccine in the UK (unlike the vaccines for parvovirus, para-influenza virus, canine distemper and infectious hepatitis)


In the UK, the human vaccine is not routinely administered due to the low incidence of cases (between 50-60 a year) (HPA, 2012)

So 50-60 human cases is not enough but a study revealing a mere 13 suspected cases (3 by a laboratory), one where the dog was supposed to have been “vaccinated”, is enough to warrant the annual vaccination of 16million UK and Irish dogs with a drug known to have killed 120 dogs in three years, not to mention the thousands documented to have suffered very serious side effects?!!

Best Advice Regarding Annual Boosters and Leptospirosis Jabs…

The ideal regarding Leptospirosis would be for your to find out from your local vet of the actual incidence of Lepto in your area, not his / hers’ friends’ clinic somewhere else. How many cases in your area have they treated this year?

You can take this information and now armed with the potential risks you can make a better decision on whether to do it or not.

I personally don’t, but I can’t tell you not to. The facts are though that the incidence of leptospirosis is clearly very low, infection rates anyway. The vaccines are not fully effective as there are so many different types out there, varying from town to town. There are questions over how long this “vaccine” lasts and massive questions over it’s safety.

The risk-benefit analysis does not support this jab. Rather the tiny risk of a baddie than the chemicals used to prevent them in this case.

What About Their Other Jabs?!

Best practice for their core virus vaccines (Parvo, Distemper, Adeon) is to vaccinate them properly as pups (as you would a human baby with MMR) and then at a maximum check their bloods for the antibodies every 3-5 years via a blood titre test.

I recommend the Dublin Holistic Vet in Portmarnock, Dublin, Emily Mc Atteer, or see our list of more natural vets and holisitc vets in Ireland to see if there’s a more natural minded vet nearby to you. They will be more open to checking if they need a booster (which they won’t) rather than blindly jabbing, to the detriment of your pet’s health and your pocket.

By |August 10th, 2016|Dog Health|

About the Author:

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.