I was recently asked if there was a holistic alternative to vaccinations for dogs. After much thought, I decided the answer was both no and yes. Let me explain.
In order to be protected against a specific fatal virus-like distemper or parvovirus, dogs must be exposed to the virus. This programs the immune cells to recognize the threat and produce more killer cells if the virus tries to invade the body later. Vaccines do this. They offer a safe exposure to the virus so the immune system can program the cells for future protection. To my knowledge, this is the only way to make sure a puppy or dog is safe from these nasty diseases.
But dogs do not need vaccines as frequently as they are presently being given by most veterinary hospitals. Protection has been shown to last at least 3 years for vaccines licensed as 1-year vaccines. A good diet, with immune-boosting supplements and a good exercise program, can help the immunity in your dog last longer than 3 years.
We recommend yearly blood testing (vaccine titer tests) after 3 years to check your dog’s immunity and vaccinate only when the test shows that your dog’s antibodies against distemper and parvo are below protective levels. Many dogs show protection for 5-6 years.
That way dogs are not over-vaccinated which is also unhealthy and may cause problems in later life. But just because your dog doesn’t need yearly vaccinations your dog does need yearly or ideally, twice yearly, exams by your veterinarian. This way other potential health problems can be prevented or successfully treated if spotted early.