Vaccines

Most, if not all, schools of veterinary medicine in the United States have changed their vaccine protocols to no longer recommend annual vaccines.  Dr. Jean Dodds, a nationally known research veterinarian in the fields of immunology and vaccination, and Dr. Ronald Schultze, a research veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin, have been instrumental in changing canine vaccination protocol.  We believe that the over-vaccination of America’s pets has been a large contributor to the high cancer rates and other diseases in the American pet population.  With fewer vaccinations, we have high hopes that this will change.  We recommend that our puppies not receive annual vaccinations, but instead follow one of four plans.  We have links at the bottom of this page with information to back up our reasons for these recommendations. This page is very detailed. Click on our Vaccine Summary page if you are filling out our puppy questionnaire and want a quick summary without reading this entire page right now.

We've listed below 4 different protocols that we feel are all good choices. Click on our new Vaccine Protocol #1 to see a word document of our protocol that we most highly recommended. This document is printer friendly whereas what is below is not. Scroll below the four protocols for a discussion of individual vaccines and why we do or do not recommend them.

Vaccine Protocol #1

Age of Dog Vaccine Needed Notes
Seven weeks of age Parvo Only Only for those dogs leaving us because of possible exposure during 2 vet visits and travel. If keeping a puppy for ourselves, we don't do this one. Dr. Jean Dodds, (well-known research vet in the field of immunology) recommends first vaccines at 9-10 weeks. We do not do Distemper at 7 weeks for any puppies because there is a greater risk of side effects from a Distemper Vaccine than a Parvo vaccine in puppies under 8 weeks and because there isn't near the prevalence of Distemper as there is Parvo in the U.S.

For puppies that have had a Parvo vaccine at 7 weeks and changed homes just before 8 weeks, give when puppy is at least 8 weeks of age AND been in new home for at least 4 days, AND is showing no signs of stress from the change in homes such as loose stools or low appetite

Distemper only

If your vet doesn't carry, individual vaccines of Distemper, see below for how to order.

Read our Puppy Vaccine page for more information on why we recommend late vaccinations.
Four weeks from last vaccines at around 11 or 12 weeks and again at around 15 or 16 weeks

Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus-2

We only give our dogs the Parvo and Distemper vaccines. We do not give our dogs the Adenovirus-2 vaccine but if I were going to, I'd only give at 15 or 16 weeks. See below for explanations as to why.

If your vet doesn't carry these vaccines in any other form besides a vaccine with 5 or more vaccines in one, see below for how to order.

 

As late as legally possible

Rabies

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines

One year of age Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus  
One year of age and every three years after that Three year Rabies vaccine if legal in your state

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines.

Starting at 4 years of age and every year after that Have the dog's blood tested with titers to see if he/she needs a booster vaccine.  If his/her titers show that he/she has a low antibody level then have vet give the particular vaccine with low titers.  

Vaccine Protocol #2

Age of Dog Vaccine Needed Notes
Seven weeks of age Parvo Only Only for those dogs leaving us because of possible exposure during 2 vet visits and travel. If keeping a puppy for ourselves, we don't do this one. Dr. Jean Dodds, (well-known research vet in the field of immunology) recommends first vaccines at 9-10 weeks. We do not do Distemper at 7 weeks for any puppies because there is a greater risk of side effects from a Distemper Vaccine than a Parvo vaccine in puppies under 8 weeks and because there isn't near the prevalence of Distemper as there is Parvo in the U.S.
Eight weeks of age Distemper only - See comments at the end of this article if your vet does not carry this. Read our Puppy Vaccine page for more information on why we recommend late vaccinations.
Four weeks after first vaccines at about 11 or 12 weeks and then again in four more weeks at about 15 or 16 weeks Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus-2. We don't give an Adenovirus vaccine but if we did, we'd only give at 16 weeks. See comments at the end of this article if your vet doesn't carry these vaccines.  

As late as legally possible

Rabies

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines

One year of age Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus  
One year of age and every three years after that Three year Rabies vaccine if legal in your state

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines.

Starting at 4 years of age and every year after that Have the dog's blood tested with titers to see if he/she needs a booster vaccine.  If his/her titers shows that he/she has a low antibody level then have vet give Parvo, Distemper, or possibly Adenovirus vaccines depending on what is low  

Vaccine Protocol #3

Age of Dog Vaccine Needed Notes
Seven weeks of age Parvo Only Only for those dogs leaving us because of possible exposure during 2 vet visits and travel. If keeping a puppy for ourselves, we don't do this one. Dr. Jean Dodds, (well-known research vet in the field of immunology) recommends first vaccines at 9-10 weeks. We do not do Distemper at 7 weeks for any puppies because there is a greater risk of side effects from a Distemper Vaccine than a Parvo vaccine in puppies under 8 weeks and because there isn't near the prevalence of Distemper as there is Parvo in the U.S.

For puppies that have had a Parvo vaccine at 7 weeks and changed homes just before 8 weeks, give when puppy is at least 8 weeks of age AND been in new home for at least 4 days, AND is showing no signs of stress from the change in homes such as loose stools or low appetite

Distemper only

If your vet doesn't carry, individual vaccines of Distemper, see below for how to order.

Read our Puppy Vaccine page for more information on why we recommend late vaccinations.
Four weeks from last vaccines at around 11 or 12 weeks and again at around 15 or 16 weeks

Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus-2

We only give our dogs the Parvo and Distemper vaccines. We do not give our dogs the Adenovirus-2 vaccine but if I were going to, I'd only give at 15 or 16 weeks. See below for explanations as to why.

If your vet doesn't carry these vaccines in any other form besides a vaccine with 5 or more vaccines in one, see below for how to order.

 

As late as legally possible

Rabies

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines

One year of age Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus  
One year of age and every three years after that Three year Rabies vaccine if legal in your state

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines.

Starting at 4 years of age and every 3 years after that Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus  

Vaccine Protocol #4

Age of Dog Vaccine Needed Notes
Seven weeks of age Parvo Only Only for those dogs leaving us because of possible exposure during 2 vet visits and travel. If keeping a puppy for ourselves, we don't do this one. Dr. Jean Dodds, (well-known research vet in the field of immunology) recommends first vaccines at 9-10 weeks. We do not do Distemper at 7 weeks for any puppies because there is a greater risk of side effects from a Distemper Vaccine than a Parvo vaccine in puppies under 8 weeks and because there isn't near the prevalence of Distemper as there is Parvo in the U.S.
Ten weeks of age Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus Dr. Jean Dodds, (well-known research vet in the field of immunology) recommends first vaccines at 9-10 weeks which is what we do if we are keeping a puppy for ourselves but because of the possible exposure during two vet visits and travel we add a Parvo vaccine at 7 weeks for those leaving us. Then we require that our puppies wait until they are 10 weeks to get their second vaccines unless families choose to follow protocol 1. Read our Puppy Vaccine page for more information on why we recommend late vaccinations.
14-16 Weeks of Age Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus third set of vaccines

As late as legally possible

Rabies

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines

One year of age and every three years after that Parvo, Distemper, and possibly Adenovirus  
One year of age and every three years after that Three year Rabies vaccine if legal in your state

The rabies shot should be given at least 3-4 weeks separate from the other vaccines.

Discussion of Individual Vaccines

I only recommend the vaccines that are referred to as “core vaccines” and rabies.  The core vaccines are Parvovirus, Distemper, and Adenovirus-2.  Though Adenovirus-2 is a core vaccine, Dr. Jean Dodds (the most respected canine immunologist in the country) does not recommend it so we don’t give it to our dogs. However, I have a discussion below about why it might should be considered.

Parvovirus is often referred to simply as Parvo.  It is a deadly and fairly common disease which is why I give it before sending puppies home.   It causes severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting along with fever and often dehydration.  It can cause damage to the muscles including permanent damage to the heart.  The virus is extremely virulent and can live for many months in the environment.  It often attacks puppies.  Though I’ve never experienced a case of Parvo myself, I’ve heard of breeders loosing entire litters from it.

Though not as common today as in past years nor as prevalent as Parvovirus, Canine Distemper is a dangerous disease.  It affects a dog’s intestinal tract, respiratory system, and the conjunctival membranes of the eyes.  It is often deadly. Though it can be a dangerous disease, Dr. Jean Dodds recommends that it is never given to a puppy under 8 weeks of age and also not when a puppy is under stress.  There are greater side effects from the Distemper vaccine than from the Parvo vaccine.  Therefore we at Summer Brook have decided to not give it to our puppies before they leave our home.  Studies have also shown that it is in a dog’s best interest to have vaccines given separately.  Because with decreasing age, there are increasing chances of a vaccine causing problems, we’ve decided to separate our puppyies first Parvo vaccines from their first Distemper vaccine.

The third core vaccine is Adenovirus-2.  I am on the fence with regard to the CAV-2 (Adenovirus-2) vaccine.  Dr. Jean Dodds currently doesn’t recommend it.  Dr. Ronald Schultz does.  These are the two most prominent immunologists in the country and I respect them both.  CAV-2 is considered a core vaccine by most schools of veterinary medicine.  This vaccine protects against a form of kennel cough, but it also provides cross protection for a form of canine hepatitis.  I would not recommend it if merely for the kennel cough protection and a few years ago, I wouldn’t have recommended it for hepatitis either.  Until recently, there had not been a case in the U.S. in 12 years.  However, with a few cases starting to creep in and the fact that Dr. Schultz is now recommending it, I wonder if it might be a good thing.  At this point, I do not give it to my dogs, but I think it is something that bears considering.

Leptospirosis is a disease contracted from contaminated water. Though it can be a serious disease, I do not recommend the Leptospirosis vaccine for several reasons.  First of all, it is rare. Most states have no reported cases or only a handful per year.   Second, it is a disease that is contracted through the urine of infected animals.  Most American pets do not frequent environments with dirty water that might be contaminated with the Lepto virus even if they did live in an area of the country with a higher prevalence of Lepto.   Thirdly, the Leptospirosis vaccine has the highest rate of side effects.  Fourthly, the vaccine doesn’t immunize against all the different strains of the virus.  There are about 200 different strains.  The current vaccine only protects against the 4 most common strains.  Fifthly, the vaccine doesn’t give protection that lasts for very long.  Studies have shown that it does not give protection for even a full year. In my opinion, the risks far outweigh the benefits. I wouldn't even consider this vaccine unless I lived in the area of the country with the highest incidence of the 4 strains of Leptospirosis that the vaccine covers and then only if my dog spent huge amount of time in water that could be contaminated. Even then, I'd tend to agree with those many vets who say that the benefits don't outweigh the risks ever.

If you do decide to give a Leptospirosis vaccine, we require waiting until your puppy is 12 weeks of age at the very minimum.  All immunologists and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have this same age recommendation.  Some vets are giving the Leptospirosis shot to young puppies.  Please don’t allow your vet to do this to your puppy.  Also, do not give this vaccine along with any other vaccine.  Give it either 3 weeks (or more) before or after other vaccines.

I also never recommend the Bordatella vaccine. Bordatella is nothing more than the canine equivalent of a cold and it is only one of many forms of what is commonly referred to as kennel cough.  None of my dogs have ever had a Bordatella vaccine and none of them have ever had Bordatella or any other kind of kennel cough in spite of going frequently to dog shows, training facilities, and parks.  I attribute the health of my dogs and their good immune systems partly to good genetics but mostly to the care I give them.  Limited vaccines is part of that good care. 
The Bordatella vaccine is sometimes required by boarding and training facilities, but if you will ask them if you could sign a waiver saying that you will not hold them accountable should your dog get Bordatella, most will waive this requirement.  The requirement is usually for their protection, not your dog’s. If you do get a Bordatella, get it on an "as needed" basis. It has limited protection and doesn't last for a full year.

A third vaccine that I never recommend is the Coronavirus vaccine which has been referred to by more than one immunology expert as the “vaccine looking for a virus”.  The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) also says that they never recommend it (so why is it even manufactured?).

A fourth vaccine that I recommend that dog lovers stay away from is the adenovirus type 1 vaccine (CAV-1).  The CAV-2 vaccine cross protects for CAV-1 without as many side effects.  The CAV-1 is another vaccine that the AAHA never recommends under any circumstance.

If your vet doesn't have the recommended vaccines in any other form besides a vaccine with 5 or more vaccines in one, you can order them yourself or ask your vet to order. Neopar (Parvo) vaccine and either a Neovac D (Distemper) or a Neovac DA2 (Distemper/Adenovirus-2 combination) can be ordered in single dose quantities. There is also a Parvo/Distemper combination vaccine called a Nobivac Puppy DPV if your vet was interested in ordering for several customers, but to my knowledge, you can only buy it in packages with 25 vaccines in it.

Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet in California and Dr. Ronald Schultze at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine are both research veterinarians who have done much research in the field of animal vaccinations.   See Dr. Dodds’s links www.itsfortheanimals.com/dodds-chg, and www.itsfortheanimals.com/HEMOPET.HTM for information on immunizations and her protocol using yearly titers.  Auburn University which is close to us recommends vaccines every three years.   See Auburn's vaccine protocol.  All of these websites are helpful.  You might want to print off some of this information to take to your veterinarian.  Many, if not most, vets are either unaware of the changes or are unwilling to make the change because of fear of the financial implications that might go along with fewer vaccines.

We believe that the over-vaccination of pets is a big contributor to the high cancer rates.  With the cancer rate of Golden Retrievers in the United States at 60%, we are sure that by changing vaccine protocols, we are making a big step toward giving our dogs longer, healthier lives.