|The Dangers of Vaccination
By Dr. Jeffrey Levy DVM PCH
The purpose of vaccination is to protect your pet from potentially fatal
infections by pathogenic (disease-causing) viruses such as distemper, rabies,
and others. The way this is done is to inject either a killed virus or a
'modified' (non-pathogenic) live virus, which sensitizes the immune system
to that particular virus. Thereafter, if your dog is exposed to, let's say,
parvovirus, s/he will be able to respond quickly and vigorously, producing
antibodies to overcome the infection. This sounds like a pretty good plan, on
the surface. However, as with any medical procedure, we must ask the
simple and direct questions, Is it safe? Is it effective? Do the benefits
outweigh the risks?
The Problems with Vaccination
'Routine' vaccination, as it is practiced today, is not always effective
(especially in the case of the feline leukemia vaccine), and frequently has
adverse side effects, either short term or long term. With the use of
multivalent (combination: 3-in-1, 6-in-1, etc.) vaccines that are repeated
year after year, the frequency and severity of these side effects in our pets
has increased dramatically.
Not surprisingly, most of the problems involve the immune system. After all,
the immune system is what vaccines are designed to stimulate. But they do
so in a very unnatural way that can overwhelm and confuse the immune
system. The body may overreact to normally harmless substances (allergies,
especially flea allergies and other skin problems), or even produce
antibodies to itself (auto-immune diseases).
At the same time, the body may be sluggish in responding to those things
that it should reject, such as common viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
This can result in increased susceptibility to acute infections (such as
parvovirus), chronic or recurring infections (such as ear infections in dogs,
bladder infections or feline leukemia in cats), or other chronic problems such
as arthritis, kidney disease, or even cancer.
In summary, there is a great deal of evidence implicating vaccination as the
cause of many serious chronic health problems. For this reason, I do not
recommend vaccination for dogs or cats. In particular, I strongly recommend
against vaccination for Feline Leukemia in cats, because (a) it is not very
effective, and (b) I have found that vaccinated cats that subsequently
contract the virus are much more likely to die from it. I also recommend
against vaccination for Lyme disease and kennel cough in dogs, again due to
lack of effectiveness, and the fact that these conditions are generally not
very serious. As such, the potential harm of the vaccine is not justified.
In all fairness, the choice to forgo vaccination for your pets does carry some
risk. Your puppy could contract parvovirus, for instance, which that
particular vaccine is effective in preventing. Fortunately, parvo is generally
quite easy to treat homeopathically. Distemper and infectious hepatitis are
rarely seen anymore.
Unfortunately, the law now requires rabies vaccination for dogs and cats.
This is for reasons of potential human exposure, not for the health of your
You should know, however, that all vaccines, including rabies, are medically
approved for use in healthy animals only. This is explicitly stated in the
package insert for every vaccine. So if your dog or cat is showing any signs
of acute or chronic disease, the manufacturers do not recommend
administration of the vaccine.
Finally, for some good news, rabies titers are being increasingly used to
demonstrate effective immunity and avoid unnecessary revaccination.
Rabies vaccination should be followed immediately by a single dose of the
Lyssin 30C, which is the rabies nosode. This should help to minimize the
harmful effects of the vaccine. However, if you see any symptoms or
reaction to the rabies vaccination, you should consult a veterinary
homeopath for treatment instructions.
As an alternative to vaccination, I sometimes recommend the use of
homeopathic nosodes. A nosode is simply a homeopathic remedy that is made
from a disease product. Nosodes are not in any way infectious, and can be
used to prevent viral infection. Under most circumstances, there is no need
for nosodes in adult animals, so their use is generally limited to puppies and
kittens. There is, however, a nosode for heartworms, which could be used in
adult dogs on an ongoing basis. I will discuss this further in the section on
heartworms. (See Dr. Levy's Article „Heartworms‰)
Limitations of Nosodes
There are some limitations to the use of nosodes. The law requires rabies
vaccination for dogs and cats. The rabies nosode, Lyssin, will not satisfy that
requirement. Many veterinary offices and kennels insist on current
vaccinations, and will not accept nosodes as an alternative. I suggest that
you find a local veterinarian that is more open-minded on the topic.
Most important, though, is that although nosodes are a safe and effective
alternative to vaccination, their use does not improve your pet's health.
They merely cover up a possible susceptibility to a particular pathogen.
Constitutional homeopathic treatment is far preferable, when possible, in
that it will reduce those susceptibilities at the source by improving the
overall health and immune function of your pet. As such, constitutional
treatment generally supersedes the administration of nosodes.
If You Choose to Vaccinate...
As I have said, being a veterinary homeopath, I do not recommend routine
vaccination for dogs or cats, except for rabies where required by law. If, for
whatever reason, you decide that you must vaccinate your pet, I would make
the following recommendations to minimize the damage to your pet's health:
Do not vaccinate an animal with symptoms of acute or chronic health
problems, or at the time of surgery or other physical or emotional stress.
As much as possible, vaccinate for one disease at a time, and avoid
multivalent (combination) vaccines. For cats, vaccinate for feline
panleukopenia alone. The vaccines for the two upper respiratory viruses,
calicivirus and rhinotracheitis, can be given together. I strongly recommend
against vaccination for feline leukemia virus. For dogs, give parvo
separately from distemper and hepatitis. Do not vaccinate for leptospirosis
or parainfluenza. Never give the rabies vaccine at the same time as any
For adult dogs and cats, vaccinate every 2-3 years, instead of yearly. Better
yet, just vaccinate puppies and kittens, and don't vaccinate adults at all
(except for rabies, since that is required by law).
After vaccination, give a single dose of the appropriate nosode in the 30C
Acute Homeopathic Treatment
Viral diseases such as feline infectious peritonitis, canine distemper and
canine parvovirus are usually not responsive to conventional medical
treatment such as antibiotics and steroids. (Supportive care, such as
intravenous fluids, can be critically important.) Fortunately, they usually
respond very quickly and favorably to homeopathic treatment, so the risk of
not vaccinating is greatly lessened.
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