Board-Certified Integrative Medicine
Concierge Menopause & Integrative Medicine Doctor
Newport Beach, California

My veterinarian is a friendly young woman, but this week she made me cry. I will admit that I’m not the average dog mom. As an integrative medicine physician I know the benefits of nutrition, lifestyle, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for humans and that old traditions die hard, so when I got my cocker spaniel puppy, Daphne, I did my due diligence to find the best diet, surgery, and vaccines for her. What I learned was drastically different from the recommendations of conventional veterinary medicine, similar in essence to when I started researching outside the box of conventional internal medicine.

One of the best E-books I read was “How to Protect Your Dog From a Vaccine Junkie,” by holistic vet Dr. Paula Terifaj. I discovered that:

  1. Dog vaccinations can have side-effects.
  2. There is overwhelming evidence that vaccinations given after the age of six months protect dogs for up to seven years, and possibly for life.
  3. Some vaccines are recommended, some are optional, and some are NOT recommended for any reason.
  4. All vaccine recommendations need to be individualized.
  5. There is NO evidence that dog vaccines need to be administered every year.

I was shocked to read that after your dog’s one year booster shots, in most cases, the American Animal Hospital Association’s 2006 Canine Vaccine Guidelines strongly recommend to revaccinate only every three years or longer, unless mandated by state statutes. What? This knowledge has been around since 2006? That’s certainly not the impression we would get from the annual vaccine reminder postcards we get from our veterinary clinics.

When I received my postcard, I took my little pooch and drove almost an hour from home to see Dr. Terifaj. We did a blood titer test on Daphne to measure her antibody levels and determine if she had already mounted an immune response to her previous vaccines. She passed the test with flying colors and received a document stating she didn’t need to be revaccinated for the time being. Yeah! I had this piece of paper placed in Daphne’s chart and was very happy to be able to protect my dog from unnecessarily being shot with vaccines.

So what happened this week? Daphne had a mild ear infection and my husband took her to the veterinarian for some basic antibiotics. When the doctor told him she was also due for her vaccines, there was an unfortunate miscommunication, and she was shot in the back office with 5 unnecessary vaccines! All this from a DVM who knows we make alternative choices, has evidence of the dog’s immunity in the chart, and has a sick dog in front of her (not a good time to administer vaccines anyway.) Luckily, Daphne hasn’t suffered any side-effects, but since I have taken so many measures to protect my dog from unnecessary treatments the incident broke my heart. So much so that although I am not a veterinarian, I wanted to share my experience with all you dog lovers out there so that you may have the intellectual ammunition to be able to protect your dog…as much as possible.

To you and your dog’s good health.

“Which vaccines and how often to vaccinate your dog are crucial questions requiring the acceptance of new medical findings, careful thought, and a departure from medical traditions. And don’t think that your veterinarian should be trusted to make all your dog’s healthcare decisions while you simply nod along. Your nodding is not the action of taking responsibility for your dog’s health.”  Dr. Paula Terifaj in “How to Protect Your Dog From A Vaccine Junkie

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