Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272
In preparation for this article, I read several vaccination guidelines from several different organizations and many, many, many articles on the Internet. So, here’s my opinion – Do I think dogs should be vaccinated against rabies as well as other diseases? Absolutely. It is because we vaccinate that we have fewer of these hideous diseases. Our dogs need *at the very least* initial puppy shots, and every state requires rabies vaccines. The risk of getting the disease outweighs the risks from the vaccines, especially with rabies. We need to prevent our dogs from getting rabies and not wait to see if they get it. If we wait for symptoms, we almost guarantee our dogs’ death.
Do I think this bill should be passed? Absolutely NOT. So I agree with Dr. Dodds – why is a law being written for something that may happen? At NO time did I find anyone state anywhere that ANY puppy between the age of three and four months had contracted rabies – zero, zilch, nothing, nada! I could understand the necessity for the law if three-month-old puppies were coming down with rabies, but there was nothing. This bill falls into the same category as we should be protecting ourselves against an asteroid hitting the earth.
Responsible owners are going to vaccinate their puppy against rabies (as well as other diseases). The law currently says the rabies vaccine should be given at four months. Irresponsible dog owners and people owning cats do not vaccinate. How is giving a vaccine earlier than necessary (and one that can affect a puppy the rest of his life both medically and behaviorally) going to help reduce the number of rabid bats? The County Health Department admits and the data prove that cats are not required to be vaccinated and that more cats contract rabies than dogs. Huh? Where’s the logic?
Because I am dog trainer and behavior consultant, I understand why socialization is so important because it affects how the puppy will perceive the world for the rest of his life – the more experiences he has, the better adjusted he will be. The socialization window closes at 14 weeks. After that, puppies and dogs can still be introduced to new things, but it is not as effective. Time is precious during this short period. If the puppy is ill or simply feels lousy because of the vaccine, his socialization is affected because he cannot go out to see the real world; or if he does, because he does not feel well, the encounter will be negative.
There are a whole host of vaccines being given to puppies at one time. Their immune system needs to build up a tolerance to each one of the diseases, and this takes time. Why subject a puppy to yet another vaccine when its body is in the process of building up immunity when they are being stressed from both the vaccines and changes in their environment? Is this bill making responsible owners any more responsible? Is this bill giving any more protection to the puppy?
But, at the same time, is there causality between vaccines and future medical and/or behavioral problems? We don’t know. It would be difficult if not impossible to design and fund a study showing direct link. Therefore, we rely on anecdotal evidence and the process of elimination. It takes many years for information to go from an observation to talking to colleagues to see if they are encountering the same thing, then to performing tests on the hypothesis, and finally to an article to a scientific journal.
The vaccine debate is generally between traditional vets who look for double-blind studies and the holistic or homeopathic vets who use their experience and nontraditional approaches. I think that nontraditional approaches are gaining ground – slowly – both in human and animal medicine. Several years ago, human insurance carriers refused to pay for chiropractors, and now they do.
To sum up, yes, I think all dogs should be vaccinated. No, I don’t think this bill should be passed. It is unnecessary, ridiculous, and stupid. However, these are my opinions. Please, please, please consult with your veterinarian for the best choices for your dog because your vet knows your dog, the local laws, and the risks involved.
What have I learned from writing this article?
- A lot more about medical terminology
- A lot more about vaccines
- That it is difficult to change perceptions and opinions
- There is so much more to learn
- The quickest way to insanity is to believe everything I read on the Internet
- That I don’t know how to edit myself
- That I have trouble estimating the time a project is going to take (This one took well over 60 hours.)
- That progress does not happen by maintaining the status quo.
- That I have many, many, many more questions, but for now, this is THE END!
P.S. Well, almost the end. Just as I was finishing this article, I learned of a new study by Dr. Ronald Schultz that said that distemper vaccines were effective if given to well-cared-for and healthy dogs the same day as the dogs were exposed to distemper and up to three days afterwards. I have not had an opportunity go investigate.
Disclaimers – this is a *very* long article (almost 17,000 words) which I have loosely broken up into segments. This is the unedited final draft of the article in its entirety that I wrote in 2013 for a website that is no longer in existence. Not only is the final article no longer available, but I have had computer and Internet issues where some data may have been lost. I have spent several hours trying to piece it together and reformatting.
The article does not reflect current research as of 2018. However, a good portion of the discussion is still applicable. If there is something that you believe was not true in 2013 or if I have made a mistake in reformatting, please let me know and I will do my best to fix it.
The reason it is posted here is because I was hosting a discussion on DogRead DogRead@yahoogroups.com about my book Doggie Dangers ( Kindle http://tinyurl.com/y8uc4gtc Paperback http://tinyurl.com/y7vhce9t ), and the subject of rabies vaccines came up when we were talking about wildlife concerns for family dogs. We were discussing how to keep the yard safe from wildlife, but one person mentioned she had a bat fly into her house! Some of the participants requested that I post the article since it is no longer published.
And the final disclaimer – I am a dog trainer, not a veterinarian or medical researcher. Therefore, this article is for information only and not a substitute for any veterinary, medical, or other advice.
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