Pet Vaccination: Risks and Benefits

pet vaccination risks
Post At A Glance

For those who wish to vaccinate less and decrease the risk of vaccine related diseases, it’s important to understand what vaccines are available for your dog and the risks and benefits of each.  What follows is a brief outline of the most common vaccines your vet will advocate and the associated risks and benefits of each one.  Hopefully this list will help you decide which vaccines your dog should receive, if any, and which ones you should decline.


The Disease

Distemper is a rare but serious viral disease that dogs are still considered at risk from in many developed countries. It affects all aspects of a dog’s health eventually attacking the central nervous system causing spasm, seizures and paralysis. The wide variety of symptoms found under this disease classification is said to be due to the distemper virus’ lowering of the overall immune system which in turn allows for secondary opportunistic infections that produce the diverse clinical symptoms. The virus is thought to be transmitted through the air via infected animal’s breath, although E. H Ruddock DVM states that “all dogs appear to carry the seeds of distemper in their system”.

Treatment Options

Canine distemper is a serious disease and, when treated conventionally, 50% of dogs with distemper will die.  Homeopathic vets see much better results however, thanks to Distemperinum.  Due to the vast array of clinical symptoms produced by this disease, an experienced veterinary homeopath should be consulted immediately to determine the most appropriate remedy. “If the disease is noticed in the early stages, use of the potentised virus by itself may achieve spectacular results” (Macleod). Treatment of dogs who have survived distemper but exhibit ongoing symptoms of paralysis and seizure has been found affective and may include the use of such common remedies as Belladonna, Gelsemium, Conium and Causticum.

Reasons to Vaccinate

  • Distemper can have a high mortality rate, without access to a homeopathic vet.
  • The distemper vaccine is relatively effective. One dose given to a puppy over 12 weeks of age will protect him within hours and last a lifetime.
  • Although no vaccine is safe, distemper is one of the less controversial vaccines.

Reasons not to Vaccinate

  • Distemper is a relatively rare disease.
  • Like many modified live vaccines, the distemper vaccine has been known to create the disease it was intended to prevent.
  • The distemper vaccine has been strongly linked to joint disease and arthritis – two increasingly common chronic diseases in dogs.
  • The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease is greater than the risk of distemper.
  • The distemper vaccine likely caused the parvovirus outbreaks in the 1970s.
  • The distemper vaccine may cause parvo in young puppies.
  • Maternal antibodies are likely to block the vaccine until 12 weeks of age.
  • Post Vaccinal Encephalitis is a recognized complication of the vaccine.
  • Vaccination suppresses the immune system for several days, increasing the puppy’s risk of developing disease.
  • The vaccine can cause persistent skin problems and allergies.
  • Distemper vaccination can create a chronic form of the disease, the symptoms of which include watery eyes and nose, chronic gastritis, hepatitis and pancreatitis, chronic diarrhea, food sensitivities, epilepsy and rear leg paralysis, spondylitis, lip fold dermatitis, allergic eruptions on the face, eruptions between the toes and a habit of licking the feet, interdigital dermatitis, kennel cough and bronchitis, lack of appetite and failure to thrive.

The Distemper Nosode

The nosode is generally thought to be the most effective and safe manner of prevention by qualified homeopathic vets. John Saxton MRCV presented research showing the distemper nosode’s ability to reduce an outbreak by around 65% in only five days with a reduction from 11.67% infected to 4.36%. When the entire population of the kennels’ results were analysed, an even higher success rate was reported with a drop from 8.05% to 2.81%  (IJVH, Vol.5, 1, 1991).


The Disease

Parvovirus is a common disease that appeared throughout the developed world in the 1970’s as a direct result of vaccination. Being a canine form of Feline Viral Enteritis, it is thought that the virus ‘jumped’ through dogs coming in contact with vaccinated cat’s infectious stool, or mutated during the production of the distemper vaccine which was cultivated on infected cats kidneys, (very similar reports have been made regarding the polio vaccine in humans). The disease is only of real concern in puppies, as 90% of dogs over the age of 8 weeks will survive infection without complication, with death in mature healthy dogs being almost unheard of. While mature dogs usually only experience a type of diarrhea and enteritis, young puppies are at serious risk of heart failure and chronic cardiac problems.

Treatment Options

Vaccinated puppies don’t respond as well to treatment as unvaccinated puppies.  Due to the seriousness of symptoms produced by this disease in young pups, an experienced veterinary homeopath should be consulted quickly to determine the most appropriate remedy. While awaiting a consultation, Aconite 30C can be given orally every two hours. It is critical to avoid dehydration, and if this is feared, China 6C or 30C may be given every hour in a little filtered water.

Reasons to Vaccinate

  • The parvo vaccine is effective if given after 12 to 16 weeks.  If given before this age, the maternal antibodies are likely to block the vaccine.

Reasons not to Vaccinate

  • Vaccinating for parvo keep the disease in the environment.  There is no vaccine for the original strain of parvovirus, CAV-1 yet dogs no longer get sick from it.  The newer strains, which do cause illness in dogs, are the result of mutation due to vaccination.  The same issue is happening worldwide with the polio vaccine.
  • Like other modified live vaccines, the parvo vaccine has been known to create the disease it was intended to prevent.
  • Puppies are likely to be exposed to parvo when brought to the vet’s office for their parvo vaccination.  It takes two weeks for the vaccine to protect the puppy, so not only can the vaccine cause parvo in puppies, the trip to the vet’s office can.
  • Parvo is more treatable in unvaccinated puppies, especially over the age of 8 weeks.  Vaccinating before that age is just as likely to not protect the puppy as it is to protect him.
  • The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease is greater than the risk of parvo.
  • The parvo vaccine has been linked to heart disease.
  • Vaccination suppresses the immune system for several days, increasing the puppy’s risk of developing disease.
  • Parvovirus vaccination can create a chronic form of the disease, the symptoms of which include chronic gastritis, hepatitis and pancreatitis, chronic diarrhea and food sensitivities.

The Parvo Nosode

It may be wise to avoid the unnecessary use of the distemper vaccine until it is proven not to be the cause of parvovirus in young puppies. The nosode is generally thought to be the most effective and safe manner of prevention by homeopathic vets. Due to the comparatively risk free nature of nosodes, they can be given  at a very early age in susceptible dogs ie, 10 to 14 days old. “Experience in practice has shown that this Nosode has given consistently good results and no breakdowns have been reported”. (George Macleod)  Christopher Day reported a single failure of the nosode in his vast experience in the field with this disease, and even that case, the disease was non fatal and mild.

Kennel Cough

The Disease

As the name suggests ,this disease is thought to be a result of the over crowding and stress produced by boarding many dogs together in close proximity. In addition to stress, the bordetella bacteria is commonly associated with infection, but as with the human influenza, a broad range of microorganisms and mutations appear to be involved. An irritated, dry and persistent cough are the typical symptoms of this condition.  Kennel cough is almost always self limiting.

Treatment Options

Normally no intervention is necessary, due to the mild symptoms of kennel cough.

Reasons to Vaccinate

  • Anecdotal evidence the vaccine is effective
  • Dog owners choose the vaccination so they can use boarding kennels or daycares

Reasons not to Vaccinate

  • Because of the various environmental and microbial causes of this disease, the kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable disease. (Ronald Schultz)
  • The disease is mild and self limiting.
  • There are alternatives to boarding kennels and training centers that require kennel cough.  Pet sitters are often inexpensive and in-home training is always available.  There are also many progressive facilities that will accept pets without kennel cough vaccination.
  • Like other modified live vaccines, the kennel cough vaccine has been known to create the disease it was intended to prevent.
  • The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease and the severity of its symptoms are greater than the risk and severity of kennel cough.
  • The kennel cough vaccine can pneumonia.

The Kennel Cough Nosode

Although a range of remedies have been successfully employed in the prevention of this condition such as Drosera and Ignatia, the kennel cough nosode has been shown to be very effective and has impressive results, as obtained by DVM Christopher Day in his clinical trials measuring the use of the nosode during a kennel cough outbreak.  The results shows minor symptoms were expressed by 42.5% of the dogs, with 59.7% of vaccinated dogs showing minor symptoms, compared to 26.7% of unvaccinated dogs. This study shows that nosodes can be effective in disease prevention, and when dogs do contract disease, the severity of symptoms can be reduced with their use.


The Disease

Although given a single name, this disease is comprised of over 230 serovars, eight of which can infect cats and dogs.  Leptospira are passed in urine and penetrate mucous membranes or abraded skin and multiply rapidly upon entering the blood. The bacterium continues to spread within the body and replicates further in many tissues including the kidney, liver, spleen, central nervous system (CNS), eyes, and genital tract. Thereafter, increases in serum antibodies clear the spirochetes from most organs, but bacteria may persist in the kidneys and be shed in urine for weeks to months. The extent of damage to internal organs is variable depending on the virulence of the organism and host susceptibility.

The clinical signs of Lepto in dogs depend on the age and immunity of the host, environmental factors affecting the bacteria, and the virulence of the infecting serovar. Young animals are more severely affected than adults.  The majority of lepto infections are chronic or subclinical however lepto can present as a serious, acute condition with

a fever of 103-104°, shivering, and muscle tenderness are the first signs. Then vomiting and rapid dehydration may develop. Severely infected dogs may develop hypothermia and kidney or liver failure can develop.

In subacute infections, the animal usually develops a fever, anorexia, vomiting of bile, dehydration, and increased thirst. Animals with liver involvement may develop jaundice. The dog will also be in pain and be reluctant to move. Dogs that develop kidney or liver involvement may begin to show improvement in organ function after 2 to 3 weeks or they may develop chronic renal failure.

Treatment Options

This disease is normally quite progressed when symptoms are noticed so it is important that a homeopathic vet is quickly consulted. While awaiting treatment, the following remedies can be selected based on the symptoms or given alternately every 30 minutes for 4 hrs and then every hour while acute symptoms persist: Aconitum N. 12x and Arsenicum A. 30C. (In the event of an emergency any potency can be attempted, although higher potencies should be used with caution.  More treatment options are available in this article.

Reasons to Vaccinate

  • Lepto can be a serious disease.
  • Some (but not all) of the serovars are covered by vaccines.

Reasons not to Vaccinate

  • The vaccine may or may not protect against the serovar the dog is exposed to. Most of the clinical cases of leptospirosis reported in dogs in the US are caused by serovars L. grippotyphosa, L. pomona and L. bratislava.  Vaccines do not protect against all of these serovars.
  • Lepto is not pevalent in many regions.
  • The severity of the disease increases with each vaccine given.
  • Vaccine protection against lepto is short lived (6 months).
  • Every lepto vaccine contains an aluminum adjuvant which causes cancer.
  • The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease is greater than the risk of lepto and the lepto vaccine carries a higher risk than most other vaccines.
  • The lepto vaccine can cause lepto.  In the Canine Health Concern vaccine survey, 100% of dogs with lepto contracted it just after being vaccinated.
  • The lepto vaccine is very immunosuppressive.  Reactions are common.

The Lepto Nosode

The effectiveness of the lepto nosode has been proven in a breakthrough human study.  The Cuban government experimented with using nosodes to protect Cuban citizens against leptospirosis in 2007 and found a much greater a rate of effectiveness at a small fraction of the cost of vaccines.  They subsequently switched the entire country over to nosodes in place of vaccination by 2010, dosing every Cuban annually.  They are now experimenting with homeopathic prevention of other diseases and offering their anti-leptospirosis program to other countries, mostly in Africa.


When considering the relative risks and benefits of vaccination, pet owners should consider the words of Judith DeCava in her book, “Vaccination Examining The Record”, “a person not vaccinated has one risk, catching the disease, where a vaccinated person has two risks; catching the disease and damage from the vaccine”

Many of the diseases routinely vaccinated against can be quite serious and pet owners are understandably anxious to avoid them.  Homeopathic nosodes, or homeoprophylaxis, has garnered significant results and attention amongst homeopathic vets and do not carry the dangerous risks associated with vaccination.

In reference to his clinical trials on kennel cough, Dr Christopher Day states, “What appears to emerge from the study is: a)  Nosodes can effectively stop, in its tracks, an outbreak of a highly transmissible disease (viz kennel cough).   b) That it does so, in this case, more effectively than the presently available vaccines.  c)  That vaccination impairs the ability of the animal to respond to the nosode.”

Thousands upon thousands of pets suffer from vaccine related diseases each and every year, ranging from skin eruptions to cancer and sudden death.  Additionally, the effectiveness of vaccination is questionable.  Dr Richard Pitcain DVM, homeopath vet, concludes, “vaccines do not actually protect populations from disease in the way most people assume –though they do seem to modify the pattern in which the acute disease manifests.”

“What I have observed is that if one can look at this question with an open mind, one will be surprised at the amount of evidence that is actually there. If you look at the larger perspective of disease incidence (of any type) in the weeks and months following vaccination, you will soon see confirmations of what I am presenting to you today. And once this is seen, the way is open for you to question the whole edifice.”


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