Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Part 8


Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272

Dog Getting Vaccinated


Now, believe it or not, we’re going to talk specifically about rabies.  I chose two doctors – Dr. Jean Dodds and Dr. Linda Breitman (their CVs appear at the end of this article) with differing viewpoints so this could be a balanced article.  I first contacted the Rabies Challenge Fund, hoping to reach Dr. Dodds, but she was traveling.  Kris Christine, co-trustee Fund, answered my initial questions.  What follows are the questions I asked each of them and their responses.  I am including their answers in their entirety because I think all their answers are important and I do not want to misinterpret what they say.

So I could ask intelligent questions, I looked at many articles on the Internet (which is a very quick way to insanity!) written by veterinarians and lay people, read the many guidelines issued by veterinarians and governmental entities, and listened to a lecture given by Dr. Emily Beeler, noted previously.

Initial Correspondence with Kris Christine

 What follows is the initial pertinent correspondence with Kris Christine, the co-trustee with Dr. Dodds of the Rabies Challenge Fund. My questions are in black.   Ms. Christine’s answers are in this color, and in some cases, she asked questions within her answers. ( My comments are in brackets [ ].)

I do have some questions for you.  Please understand that I have had concerns to giving rabies vaccines at the same time as the other puppy vaccines, especially since reading Dr. Goldstein’s book some years ago stating that the same amount of vaccine is given to a horse as to a Chihuahua.  Is this still the case or is it given proportional to the weight of the animal?

I believe horses are given 2 mL of rabies vaccine, while all dogs, from full-grown Irish Wolfhounds to 3 month old Chihuahua puppies, are given the same 1 mL dose of rabies vaccine.

The following comment was in response to my posting.  I would like to respond to it with some scientifically-based evidence and also am hoping to interview both Dr. Breitman and her husband, Nicholas Dodman.  I took one of Dr. Dodman’s seminars regarding medical conditions which present as behavioral problems.  During that seminar, I discovered that one of my dogs had epilepsy, which no other doctor had diagnosed.  (Interestingly, I was sitting next to a vet and told her as well as Dr. Dodman that the seizures had stopped with the addition of some raw food to his diet.  Neither could explain why that occurred.)  Could Dr. Dodds offer an explanation?

I can’t answer for Dr. Dodds & she is leaving for Europe at 5 a.m., you can e-mail her at hemopet@hotmail.com with your questions )

Linda Breitman –This discussion between two “holistic vets” is not supported by the majority of the veterinary and scientific community. All vaccines can cause adverse reactions, but they are less common and less severe than the diseases that they prevent (hence the recommendation to vaccinate). While many states do not require vaccination for Rabies at 12 weeks of age, this is the age at which the majority of vets do vaccinate for Rabies.

What source states that 12 weeks is the age at which the majority of vets vaccinate against rabies & is that based on a national survey of all veterinarians? 

Dr. Breitman: This practice has been shown to be effective and safe. Other vaccines are given as early as 5 weeks of age. While maternal antibodies will interfere with effective vaccination (if present in sufficient amounts), these maternal antibodies are unlikely to cause adverse vaccine reactions. Rabies is fatal to us and our dog and cat companions and decisions about protecting us against it with vaccination should be made by considering valid SCIENTIFiCally proven information.”

[This was my response to Dr. Breitman, which went unanswered.  However, I want to stress that Dr. Breitman did answer subsequent questions.

Thank you for your comments. Please understand that I am not opposed to giving vaccines, but I am questioning whether California’s mandating giving another vaccine when a puppy’s immune system is still developing is warranted. But then I’m only a trainer (http://www.DoggieManners.com), not a vet, and I’m just trying to get some facts straight. In fact, I have been asked to write an article on the effects of vaccines and will do my utmost to present a balanced approached. I hope that I can set up an appointment with both you and your husband Nicholas Dodman (whose seminar I attended on the behavioral issues that result from undetected medical issues, at which I learned that my dog had epilepsy) after I’ve done a bit more research so I can ask more intelligent questions.

But for now, I would appreciate your answering some questions about a few of the points you mentioned.
*What vaccines are given at 5 weeks, and do veterinarians consider those to be effective?
*What source states that 12 weeks is the age that the majority of vets vaccinate against rabies, and is that based on a national survey of all vets?
*Please refer me to the studies that have scientifically proven that the age that the rabies vaccine is given either does or does not have any effects on either the long-term medical or behavioral health of dogs.
*Regarding antibodies, it’s my understanding — and, again, please correct me if I’m wrong –if the maternal antibodies may interfere with and delay effective immunization, wouldn’t that result in the puppy being more susceptible for a longer period of time?

Could you provide the material for this statement, “Scientific data reflect that the later a puppy can be vaccinated, the more likely the vaccine will have the desired immunological response due to reduced interference of maternal antibodies, which are still present in 3 month old puppies.”

 (1) In an August 1, 2008 article in DVM360 entitled Vaccination: An Overview, http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/avhc/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=568351 Dr. Melissa Kennedy states: “Vaccination of the young begins at 6-8 weeks of age. Multiple boosters are given because maternal immunity interferes with vaccinal response. Because one doesn’t know the level in each animal for each pathogen at each time point (and it is not feasible nor cost-effective to measure this), repeated boosters are given until the point when maternal immunity has likely decreased sufficiently to allow induction of immunity, usually at 16-18 weeks of age.”

(2) According to a study published in the January 2010 issue of Journal of Comparative Pathology entitled, Age and Long-term Protective Immunity in Dogs and Cats by Dr. Ronald Schultz, et al., “Old dogs and cats rarely die from vaccine-preventable infectious disease, especially when they have been vaccinated and immunized as young adults (i.e. between 16 weeks and 1 year of age). However, young animals do die, often because vaccines were either not given or not given at an appropriate age (e.g. too early in life in the presence of maternally derived antibody [MDA]). ….The present study examines the DOI for core viral vaccines in dogs that had not been revaccinated for as long as 9 years. These animals had serum antibody to canine distemper virus (CDV), canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) and canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1) at levels considered protective and when challenged with these viruses, the dogs resisted infection and/or disease. Thus, even a single dose of modified live virus (MLV) canine core vaccines (against CDV, cav-2 and cpv-2) or MLV feline core vaccines (against feline parvovirus [FPV], feline calicivirus [FCV] and feline herpesvirus [FHV]), when administered at 16 weeks or older, could provide long-term immunity in a very high percentage of animals, while also increasing herd immunity.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021997509003338

On p. 12 of the 2011 American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Vaccine Guidelines https://www.aahanet.org/PublicDocuments/CanineVaccineGuidelines.pdf it reports that: “Because dogs older than 14-16 wk of age are not likely to have interfering levels of MDA [maternally derived antibodies], administration of a single initial dose of an infectious vaccine to an adult dog can be expected to induce a protective immune response. ….. MDA is the most common reason early vaccination fails to immunize.”  

On p. 34 of the 2011 AAHA Guidelines https://www.aahanet.org/PublicDocuments/CanineVaccineGuidelines.pdf : The vaccination protocol that includes the minimum number of vaccines yet still provides a reasonable opportunity to immunize the dog would be: a single dose of combined infectious (attenuated, avirulent, modified live, recombinant viral vectored) CDV, MLV CPV-2, with MLV CAV-2, administered at 16 wk of age or older, plus a rabies shot at the same time (but inoculated at a separate site on the body).”

On Page 16 of the American Animal Hospital Association’s 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines http://leerburg.com/special_report.htm, it states that: “When vaccinating an animal, the age of the animal, the animal’s immune status, and interference by maternal antibodies in the development of immunity must be considered. Research has demonstrated that the presence of passively acquired maternal antibodies interferes with the immune response to many canine vaccines, including CPV, CDV, CAV-2 and rabies vaccines.”

They further state on Page 17 that: Multiple vaccinations with MLV vaccines are required at various ages only to ensure that one dose of the vaccine reaches the puppy’s immune system without interference from passively acquired antibody. Two or more doses of killed vaccines (except rabies) and vectored vaccines are often required to induce an immune response, and both doses should be given at a time when the passively acquired antibody can no longer interfere. Thus, when puppies are first vaccinated at 16 weeks (or more) of age (an age when passively acquired antibodies generally don’t cause interference), one does of an MLV vaccine, or two doses of a killed vaccine, are adequate to stimulate an immune response.”

In Dr. Dodds’ interview with Dr. Beck, she states that two vaccines contain mercury.  Which vaccines contain mercury?  Why is it harmful?  (e-mail Dr. Dodds at hemopet@hotmail.com)

I found this information http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228#thi

“Thimerosal, which is approximately 50% mercury by weight, has been one of the most widely used preservatives in vaccines. It is metabolized or degraded to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate. Ethylmercury is an organomercurial that should be distinguished from methylmercury, a related substance that has been the focus of considerable study (see “Guidelines on Exposure to Organomercurials” and “Thimerosal Toxicity“, below).

At concentrations found in vaccines, thimerosal meets the requirements for a preservative as set forth by the United States Pharmacopeia; that is, it kills the specified challenge organisms and is able to prevent the growth of the challenge fungi (U.S. Pharmacopeia 2004). Thimerosal in concentrations of 0.001% (1 part in 100,000) to 0.01% (1 part in 10,000) has been shown to be effective in clearing a broad spectrum of pathogens. A vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosal as a preservative contains 50 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 mL dose or approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose.

Prior to its introduction in the 1930’s, data were available in several animal species and humans providing evidence for its safety and effectiveness as a preservative (Powell and Jamieson 1931). Since then, thimerosal has been the subject of several studies (see Bibliography) and has a long record of safe and effective use preventing bacterial and fungal contamination of vaccines, with no ill effects established other than minor local reactions at the site of injection.

While the use of mercury-containing preservatives has declined in recent years with the development of new products formulated with alternative or no preservatives, thimerosal has been used in some immune globulin preparations, anti-venins, skin test antigens, and ophthalmic and nasal products, in addition to certain vaccines. Under the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, the FDA compiled a list of regulated products containing mercury, including those with thimerosal (Federal Register 1999). It is important to note that this list was compiled in 1999; some products listed are no longer manufactured and many products have been reformulated without thimerosal. Updated lists of vaccines and their thimerosal content can be found in Table 1 (routinely recommended pediatric vaccines) and Table 3 (expanded list of vaccines).”

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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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