For some dog lovers, this word is a general part of health care for a canine companion. For others, it is the root of a syndrome called “vaccinosis”. Vaccinosis is a made-up term is a term used by alternative vets to describe the cluster of side effects from vaccinations.
Like most issues in medicine, those surrounding vaccinations are not black and white. People who strongly believe that vaccines are evil and do not vaccinate their dogs at all should come watch the horror of a death due to parvovirus. Believe me, you will reconsider.
However, vaccination needs to be revisited in veterinary medicine in a big way. There are many reasons. One reason is that there is some evidence that, at least on a cellular level, vaccines may alter immunity in a direction that could favor cancer cell proliferation. For example, a study came out in November, 2008 that showed an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was seen in people who had received an influenza vaccine. The increase was by a pretty large margin (53%) too. In all fairness though, negative associations were seen as well, with other vaccine types.
I was recently doing some investigation about a new chemotherapy protocol, and called a highly regarded oncology center. I was sent the protocols, and on the bottom of the lymphosacoma protocol was the phrase, “No vaccinations ever again!” Hm. That caught my interest. Here was an allopathic center making sweeping recommendations to avoid vaccinations in dogs with lymphoma.
Another piece to the puzzle is that there is currently intense research to create vaccines that actually help the body fight cancer. For example, the canine melanoma vaccine was shown to increase median survival time in dogs with malignant melanoma by about three fold. That’s a large margin! (The canine melanoma vaccine is available only through oncologists.)
Routine vaccinations to boost immunity against common diseases such as parvovirus and distemper virus are, in my opinion, administered excessively. The main way in veterinary medicine to measure protection against an infectious disease is by doing a blood test called a titer test. If you do blood titer tests for the core infections in most dogs who have received regular vaccinations, even if given every 3 years after the first year, you find that almost all have protection later in life. This would imply the vaccine is not needed.
Putting all these pieces together, it makes a lot of sense to avoid vaccinating dogs with cancer for the common infections. It also makes a lot of sense to do blood titer tests for these dogs routinely, and adult healthy dogs at annual visits. If a treatment or other intervention is not needed, why do it?
All my best
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.