And so Chili, my last Golden Retriever, did.
 
As each one who has chosen to be in my life has.
 
Hurts my heart each time they leave. 
 
Why do dogs live such short lives>
 
So we can learn the minutes of life can be counted though we don’t know how many we will have together … and maybe … learn something about making them count.
 
So, we might learn something about Appreciation and Gratitude and Love.
 
So, we might learn something about the meaning of life.
 
They do all this without saying a word.
 
Amazing.

 

Eric (youngest son) and Chili, grouse hunting in upper Michigan

Well, decided to cave on my original intention of trying to create my own limited vaccination protocol for my puppy, Spirit.

I wanted only parvo, distemper  and canine hepatitis done but am going to allow the standard 5 way vaccine to be used for Spirit, which also includes para influenza (would exclude this if I could but not a big deal because reactions to it are uncommon and not severe) and canine coronavirus (often referred to as a vaccine searching for a disease).

Why?

All the vets in my area use only the 5 way (or even more) and they would have to special order my preferred 3 way in a 25 dose package costing ~ $400+. Since I would need but a small portion of the order, basically the rest would be wasted.

 Of course, I will also have to do the rabies vaccine (will do this at 20 weeks of age to keep it 4 weeks away from all the other vaccinations completed at 16 weeks).

I  will also do the lepto vaccines annually unless Spirit reacts adversely to it, in which case I will forgo it permanently – but, as mentioned in a previous post, will not do the first lepto until next spring.

 What I am not giving in on is my plan to not vaccinate my dog again in his lifetime unless the periodic blood tests I will have done show antibody levels indicate he needs to be re- vaccinated.

End of story

For those of you with dogs, it is worth thinking about vaccinations.

Without impugning anyone – companies who produce the vaccines or the vets that administer them – it is worth thinking about what is best for your dog.

I will be getting a puppy soon, already named Spirit, so I am evaluating all this and want to share my conclusions with you.

To begin with, the way I look at it is Spirit is my dog, in my care and no one else will ever care as much about him as I will. Since he gets no say in the matter, it is up to me to figure it out and do what is best for him, us.

No doubt in my mind, he needs to be protected from the usual – parvo, distemper and rabies (by law) but what about the other vaccines and how often does he need any of them?

As for the unintended negative side effects of vaccines, Spirit isn’t talking – at least not until it is too late – not until after the vaccine has been given and he reacts to it – maybe acutely, visibly, maybe in some unknown chronic way I, at least, will never notice, maybe not at all.

So, what I am going to do is follow the advice given at the website given here. Makes sense to me:

http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/09/combination-shot-for-dogs/ 

This is a terrific website for pet owners, by the way!

So, I am going to seek a vet that will give Spirit just four vaccines: the parvo and distemper vaccines separately or at least those two together with no other vaccines combined with them. When he gets his booster for those two after 16 weeks of age (so he will be certainly past his mother’s immunity influence and the vaccines are sure to take) I will also add in the adenovirus-2 vaccine, not because he is likely to get this disease (has become rare in US due to widespread vaccination) but to prevent the disease from resurfacing for others in the future. Then, waiting until at least 20 weeks of age, give him his first rabies vaccine.

What about all the other vaccines?

For Spirit, I plan on giving none of the others except a vaccine for the bacterial disease called leptospirosis. I struggled with this one because adverse reactions are more common, especially in small dogs and puppies, it is often unnecessary, does not last long (because it is preventing a bacterial infection not a viral one), and it protects against some strains of the bacteria but not others.  

On the other hand, this bacteria is transmitted via soil and water contaminated by urine of typical wild animals like rodents, etc. Hmmmm.

I talked with the world expert reseacher on this disease at Michigan State University, Carole Bolin, who highly recommends doing it. She pointed out there are safer, more effective lepto vaccines available now so the liklihood of adverse reactions is much less and their effectiveness has increased. However, they still last only 6-12 months so must be given annually.

I lean toward doing it because I live in the country, sprinkled with swamps, streams, ponds and my golden retriever (a water loving dog) is, no doubt, going to want to lay in every single one of them and drink out of a lot of them – and we live in an area populated with tons of raccoons, possums, muskrats, etc. so he is going to be much more at risk than, say, a house or city dog. So, after much hand wringing (because this vaccine has more negative reactions than most), I have decided to do this one each spring

However, I am also not going to give him the first one until spring, 2013 since I am not getting this puppy till almost July, 2012, will be training him mostly around home for the first few months anyway. This will give him time to get bigger, better able to handle the vaccine, hopefully. I will definitely have it given to him as a separate vaccine – both to reduce the potential for side effects and to be able to discern such effects if they occur. And, if he does react very negatively, I will just not do them anymore and chance it.

Down the road, once I have proven Spirit has good immunity to parvo, distemper and adenovirious with blood titers, which I will do in spring, 2013, I will likely never vaccinate him for these diseases again but simply check his immunity with blood tests every 3 years or so.

So, this is my game plan.

Wonder if I can find a vet who will cooperate with it?

Next step: interview local vets to see if I can find one on the same page.