Can Half Dose Vaccines Reduce The Risk Of Vaccine Reactions In Small Dogs?

half dose vaccine
Post At A Glance

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding vaccination these days — and rightly so.

That’s because vaccines differ from every other pharmaceutical product your vet prescribes in one important way …

… no matter what size your dog is, the dose he gets is exactly the same as every other dog.

A 150 pound Great Dane gets the same dose as a five pound Yorkshire Terrier.

If this seems outrageous, read on…

How Can This Be OK?

Well, there are some experts who defend the “one size fits all” standard for vaccines. They say that the amount of antigen needed to stimulate an immune response is the same for any size animal, so it shouldn’t matter if the dose is the same.

But they’re completely ignoring the fact that there are other toxic ingredients in vaccines (such as mercury, aluminum, MSG and formaldehyde). These toxins can cause health issues in any size dog, let alone a tiny one. It’s no wonder that small breed dogs get sick after vaccination at an alarmingly high rate.

So it’s not OK!  

Vaccines can cause life-threatening or incurable chronic disease, and this practice of giving small dogs full vaccine doses is putting their lives and health at serious risk.

Scientists are starting to learn that vaccines can cause life-threatening or incurable chronic disease … so it’s becoming vital to vaccinate only as much as necessary and not more.

Higher Risks For Smaller Dogs

There’s risk associated with every vaccine your dog gets … but for smaller dogs the risk is much greater. And it’s proven by research.

A 2005 study by Moore, Guptill et al  of over 1 million dogs showed that smaller dogs had a much greater risk for vaccine reactions. And the rate of adverse reactions decreased significantly as body weight increased.

It’s a fact that smaller dogs get sick after vaccination much more often than larger ones.

The Solution: Half Doses 

For core vaccines such as parvovirus and distemper, it’s thought that the dose of the vaccines can be reduced by half for dogs weighing 12 lbs or less and still be effective at protecting small dogs from these diseases.

Because there’s no legal requirement for these vaccines, some veterinarians are willing to give reduced doses for smaller dogs.

It’s a very good idea to ask your vet to give a half dose if you have a small dog … but you might find your vet resists, saying it’s too risky because the vaccine might not be effective at the lower dose.

But now, your vet can’t argue … because there’s a study to prove that in dogs weighing 12 lbs or less, the half dose vaccine is just as effective as a full dose.

The Half Dose Study

One of the experts who’s long believed that half doses are effective and much safer for small dogs is well-known veterinarian Dr Jean Dodds.

In January 2016, Dr Dodds announced the very strong results of her pilot study to determine whether a half dose distemper/parvovirus vaccine would protect small dogs against these diseases.

The study documented the results of giving half doses of a bivalent distemper-parvovirus vaccine to 13 small breed adult dogs who hadn’t been vaccinated in at least three years. The dogs were between three and nine years old, weighed 12 lbs or less and were all in good health.

Blood was drawn for titer tests to measure antibodies before the vaccination, and then again one month and six months after vaccination.

And the results are very convincing: every single dog in the study showed that the half dose vaccinations were effective!

What The Results Mean For Your Dog

The table below, kindly provided by Dr Dodds, shows the results of the study.

You’ll see that all of the titer tests at four weeks and six months showed increased antibody levels for both parvovirus and distemper compared to the pre-vaccination blood test.

This confirms that receiving a half dose of bivalent distemper-parvovirus vaccine was effective at protecting the dogs in the study.

2016 study results by Dr Dodds to determine whether a half dose distemper/parvovirus vaccine would protect small dogs against diseases

* Median ± SD (standard deviation) and Ranges

Reference: Dodds, W Jean. Study using a half-dose canine parvovirus and distemper vaccine in small breed adult dogs. AHVMA Journal 41:12-21, Winter 2015.

How Does This Help Your Small Dog?

The study confirms what has long been believed …

… that half doses of parvovirus-distemper vaccines can be given to small dogs and still provide protection against parvovirus and distemper.

When asked whether the titers accurately predict protection and for how long, Dr Dodds confirms that for canine parvo and distemper (as well as for adenovirus-2) adequate serum antibodies do predict protection from these diseases and that protection is probably lifelong.

So when your veterinarian tells you it’s time for your dog’s vaccination, now you have a very persuasive piece of information you can take to the clinic to support your insistence on only a half dose for your small dog.

But Better Yet …

Before giving even a half dose of a vaccine, make sure you ask your veterinarian for something called a titer test before you decide whether to vaccinate. The results may show that your dog is already protected – and probably for life. And then you won’t have to expose him to the risk of additional vaccinations – ever!

A Note About Rabies

You may be wondering why rabies wasn’t included in this study. Dr Dodds didn’t include rabies vaccines because the law requires the whole vial must be given for the dog to be considered vaccinated. So she can’t condone giving smaller doses. The Rabies Challenge Fund is already completing clinical trials with the goal of changing rabies laws.


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