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Vaccinations - Safe or Not?

Written by T.M Heath - January 1999

The month was August, time for our dogs annual boosters, so as usual the vet came in as we had twelve dogs which required doing. I had done this every year so had no qualms at all.

Within a month one of the bitches began to show signs of a skin condition akin to atopy (allergic dermatitis) which I thought unusual at the time since this was one of our older bitches who had one of the best coats I had ever seen, thick and shiny and without blemish. At the age of four it was unusual for her to go down with atopy since the condition is usually diagnosed at a much earlier age, twelve to eighteen months.

At about the same time the Colonel (CH Holloville Ard T Match ) developed an eye infection which was not responding to chloromycetin so an appointment was arranged for him to see the vet Mr Alistair Lawrie. It was while he was in the surgery that I noticed the look in his eye - it was lifeless! I asked Alistair to give him a good going over as I was very worried that the mischievous glint was missing from his eye, not a good sign in a dog like the colonel. Examination revealed an enlarged liver and all his glands were like golf balls. Straight away he was put on antibiotics with instructions that if there was not a marked improvement in two days he would need to go in for biopsies to be taken of his liver and lymph glands. These were duly done and the results came back, Colonel had hepatitis and lymphadinitis and was very seriously ill. Three times he nearly died and if it was not for the fact we had such excellent veterinary care and that he was such a strong dog he certainly would not be with us now for he went on to develop autoimmune disease, demodectic mange and hypothyroid. These conditions were brought under control with conventional medicines and steady progress was maintained with the use of homeopathic treatment. Today he is almost back to normal but not quite as we have to be constantly on our guard to avoid a relapse.

Why did it happen and why did Edie develop atopy at four years of age? Our vet suspected vaccine reaction in both cases but there was no way of proving it and the pharmaceutical company who manufactured the vaccine denied there could be any connection. However I started to pay more attention to vaccine reactions and being in the boarding kennel business I had not only the bull terrier breed to draw on for information as I was seeing it happen in other breeds. A friends great dane was seriously ill to the point of death with gastro enteritis after her first vaccine and her other dog, a huge two year old great dane went into anaphalactic shock within twenty minutes of getting his annual booster, hitting the floor with a ground shaking thud, no prior warning whatsoever. More and more I was hearing of similar reactions to vaccines At dog shows people were talking about illness of unknown origin developing in their stock from pups up to oldies. Gentle enquiries usually reveal the dogs have been vaccinated or boostered in the three month prior to the onset of illness. Reactions were ranging from mild diarrhoea to chronic conditions which often resulted in euthanasia when the dogs quality of life deteriorated to an unacceptable level.

After reading the book 'Who Killed The Darling Buds Of May' by Catherine O'Driscoll I was getting seriously worried. Although bull terriers were not specifically mentioned in her book I was hearing enough from the bull terrier fraternity to convince me that bull terriers were most certainly susceptible to vaccine reaction. After attending the Canine Health Concern seminar, where I had the opportunity to listen to other peoples first hand experience of known vaccine reactions and how they coped and also listen to Chris Day (Homeopathic Vet) who only uses homeopathic nosodes on his own dogs and they seem to live to ripe old ages. It set me thinking back to the first dog I had as a child and he only ever had one vaccination in his life as a twelve week old puppy and I cannot remember him ever being ill. Certainly he was never near the vets and he lived to a ripe old age.

I now had to consider possible alternatives to conventional vaccines. This was difficult and a bit scary. As an animal nurse it was ingrained in me the necessity for vaccination. With the homeopathic vaccines no one has proved conclusively that they work. On the other hand no one has proved conclusively that they do not work. I reasoned it out that we could always cure an infection but I had personal experience that I could not cure a vaccine reaction. The two latest pups, Brian and Daisy, have been given the homeopathic nosodes and at five months of age appear happy healthy dogs. Our insurance stipulates that all boarders must be vaccinated with conventional vaccines but there is absolutely nothing to stop these vaccinated dogs carrying the disease and we can also carry the infection for kennel cough on our clothes. Recently our pups Brian and Daisy developed kennel cough and the response was exactly the same as a dog vaccinated with Intrac, one dose of benylin and the cough was gone. In effect the kennel cough element of the homeopathic vaccine was challenged and withstood the test.

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