Rabies and Vaccine Research

Rabies and Vaccine Research

Research shows that the management of dogs and cats exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal should be the same for pets with current and with out-of-date rabies vaccination status.

Current recommendations in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control state that unvaccinated dogs and cats be quarantined for 6 months or euthanized if exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal, while those with current in-date rabies vaccination status should be administered a rabies booster and observed for 45 days, usually under the owner’s supervision. Recommendations for dogs and cats with out-of-date rabies status (i.e., overdue for rabies vaccination) is evaluated on a case by case basis. However, out of an overabundance of caution, the recommendations for unvaccinated dogs and cats are usually followed in animals with out-of-date vaccination status.  Thus, many of these animals are euthanized.

Research conducted at the Kansas State University demonstrates that the immune response to a rabies vaccine booster in dogs and cats with out-of-date vaccination status is no worse than the response in dogs and cats with a current rabies vaccination status. In fact, dogs and cats with an out-of-date rabies vaccination status often had a higher median titer (i.e., better response) following booster vaccination compared with dogs whose rabies vaccination status was current!

It is hoped that this new information will lead to a change in recommendations for the management of dogs and cats with out-of-date rabies status who are exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.

There is an interesting aside to this research. When queried, the rabies vaccine manufacturer confirmed that the 1- and 3-year rabies vaccines are identical. Therefore, in this study dogs and cats who had received either the 1- or 3-year rabies vaccine where classified as having current vaccination status if the vaccine was administered <3 years prior to enrollment in the study.

Nobivac Rabies_tcm91-133700

You can read the entire study (Moore, et al. Comparison of anamnestic responses to rabies vaccination in dogs and cats with current and out-of-date vaccination status. JAVMA. 2015;246(2):205-211)  at http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf/10.2460/javma.246.2.205

Many pet owners have concerns with the required frequency of rabies vaccine administration. The Rabies Challenge fund is a charitable trust that is conducting research to document the duration of protection for the rabies vaccine, with the goal of extending the legally required interval for rabies boosters. Click here for more information.  http://abbeyrosefoundation.org/what-is-the-rabies-challenge-fund/


Rabies Vaccine – What are the Most Common Short-Term Adverse Events?

Rabies Vaccine – What are the Most Common Short-Term Adverse Events?

Adverse events to the rabies vaccine are probably more common than you think. An article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association summarized reported adverse events for rabies vaccine given to dogs between April 1 2004 and March 31, 2007.

A total of 217 adverse event reports were submitted during this time, but remember, these are just the adverse events that were reported and therefore only a fraction of those that actually occurred. All of the reported events appear to be short-term events, or those that occurred immediately after of within a day or so of vaccine administration. Long-term adverse events leading to chronic health conditions were not included in this review. The percentages reported in the paper are the number of each adverse event divided by the total number of adverse events and DO NOT reflect the incidence in all vaccinated dogs. So as not to be misleading, I will not report those numbers here. If you are interested in seeing them, they can be found in the original publication (https://admin.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_232_7_1000.pdf ). The only value of the percentage reported by the authors is to show the relative frequency of each type of event. The next time your dog receives the rabies vaccine, look for these types of reactions and report them to your vet if they occur. They should also be reported to federal agencies (eg, the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/banner/help?1dmy&urile=wcm%3Apath%3A/APHIS_Content_Library/SA_Our_Focus/SA_Animal_Health/SA_Vet_Biologics/SA-Adverse_Events ) and the vaccine manufacturer. If reported to the manufacturer only, the report may not be passed on to federal regulatory agencies.

The most commonly reported adverse event are shown here in decreasing order.


Also of note, the article reported that 2 rabies vaccinated dogs developed confirmed rabies during this period. Other studies have also reported failure of the rabies vaccine, but the failure rate is unknown.


2013 and 2014 Feline Vaccination Protocol – W Jean Dodds, DVM

2013 and 2014 Feline Vaccination Protocol – W Jean Dodds, DVM

Many dog lovers also have felines in their lives. We are happy to reblog a recent post from Dr. Jean Dodd’s summarizing her recommendations for feline vaccine administration.

Post by Dr. Jean Dodd (original post): http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/66885321280/dodds-cat-vaccination-protocol-2013-2014#.UrNW_NJDua9

Dr Dodd1Approximately seven years ago, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) sponsored and conducted a groundbreaking study on feline vaccines. The panel – which included Dr. Dodds’ colleague, Dr. Ron Schultz – divided the vaccines into core and non-core. Just this year, the AAFP published updated feline vaccination guidelines. Dr. Dodds agrees with the panel’s findings, with the exception of giving feline leukemia vaccine to kittens that will be kept strictly indoors. She also prefers a more minimal and delayed vaccination schedule to offset potential adverse vaccine reactions and feline vaccine injection site-associated sarcomas. Additionally, Dr. Dodds considers factors such as presence of maternal immunity, prevalence of viruses or other infectious agents in the region, number of reported occurrences of the viruses and other infectious agents, how these agents are spread, and the typical environmental conditions and exposure risk activities of companion animals.

2013-2014 Feline Vaccination Protocol
 The following vaccine protocol is offered for those cats where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one Dr. Dodds recommends and should not interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

8-9 Weeks Old:
Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus), Calicivirus, Rhinopneumonitits Virus (feline herpesvirus-1)

12-13 Weeks Old:
Same as above

24 Weeks or Older (if required by law):
Rabies (e.g. Merial Purevax™, recombinant)

1 Year:
FVRCP booster (optional = titer)

1+ Year:
Rabies, same as above but separated by 2-3 weeks from FVRCP

Perform vaccine antibody titers for panleukopenia virus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian.  In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit Rabies Challenge Fund.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Re-blogged with permission from Dr. Jean Dodd


What is the Rabies Challenge Fund?

What is the Rabies Challenge Fund?

RCF13Protection against the rabies virus is an important part of US public health policy. However, the vaccine is not without risks. The rabies vaccine is associated with a high rate of adverse reactions that can lead to substantial illness and even death in some of our pets.  Because the risk of adverse reactions increases with each dose of rabies vaccine administered, the Rabies Challenge Fund is working to scientifically demonstrate that fewer life-time doses of the vaccine will provide at least equivalent protection compared with current immunization schedules.  Fewer rabies doses over a pet’s lifetime will reduce the risk of adverse reactions and reduce costs to pet owners.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is a Charitable Trust whose goal is to extend the legally required interval for rabies boosters to 5 years and then to 7 years based on the results of rabies challenge studies being conducted at the University of Wisconsin. Two well-known and respected individuals are guiding this project – Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopet and Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin.

This research is important because of the high potency of the rabies vaccine and its association with a number of serious adverse effects. These include damage to the nervous system, leading to muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of the nervous system  control of tissue and organ function, lack of coordination, and weakness; a variety of autoimmune diseases (an autoimmune disease is an abnormal immune response causing the body to attack its own healthy tissue) such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia and autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; serious allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and tumors called fibrosarcomas at the injection site. Because most of these are delayed reactions occurring months or years after administration of the rabies vaccine and because these reactions can have multiple causes, their association with the rabies vaccine is often missed.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is a grassroots effort. They need your financial support to continue their important work. Visit http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/ to learn more about the Rabies Challenge Fund and click here to donate – every penny helps!


Canine Parvo and Distemper Titers

Canine Parvo and Distemper Titers

Dog with shotTiters for parvo and distemper are obtained using a blood test to measure immunity. While titers are an excellent way to determine if your dog has immunity against distemper and parvo, some might argue that neither repeat vaccine administration nor canine parvo and distemper titers are necessary if your dog was properly vaccinated in the past. Some people claim that a titer level is merely a ‘snapshot in time’ of what is happening in the body. That just isn’t correct. Research shows that 90 to 98% of dogs who have been properly vaccinated, have measurable titers to these viruses and are protected against the diseases for many years. The only time titers might be expected to drop off suddenly is in an animal whose immune system is suppressed by disease (eg, cancer) or drugs. Keep in mind, however, that an immunosuppressed dog is not a candidate for vaccine administration, as vaccines can further compromise the immune system.

While some veterinarians challenge the validity of basing decisions on the results of titers, this concern is not justified. Dr. Ronald Schultz, noted animal vaccine expert, puts it this way. Parvo and distemper vaccine titer tests “show that an animal with a positive titer test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would NOT RESPOND with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components. Furthermore, the animal doesn’t need to be revaccinated and should not be revaccinated since the vaccine could cause an adverse reaction. You should avoid vaccinating animals that are already protected.”

A dog has immunity to these diseases as long as any measurable titer is detected. Dogs with negative or zero titers are not protected against canine parvovirus and likely not protected against canine distemper virus. Moreover, dogs with no measurable titer to canine distemper following vaccine administration may have an inheritable trait making them non or low responders; these dogs should not be used for breeding.

photo credit: picasa


The Only Difference is What Their Mother Ate!

The Only Difference is What Their Mother Ate!

MiceIt takes more than good genes for good health. This point is dramatically demonstrated in this short video showing two mice from the same mother, but different litters. The two mice are genetically identical, have eaten the same diet since birth, and were raised in exactly the same environment. The only difference is the diet the mother ate during her pregnancy! Not only do these mice look different, but along with being obese, the yellow one is at higher risk of developing diabetes and cancer. In contrast, the brown mouse is leaner and less likely to develop these diseases.

The effect of environment on gene expression is called epigenetics. Genes can be likened to computer hardware and epigenetics to the software. Put another way, DNA has the instructions; epigenetics is how those instructions are read.

The importance of epigenetics goes beyond diet. Chemicals from our environment as well as chemicals produced by our bodies bind to our DNA every second of every day and affect how our genes are read. These chemicals determine if the gene is turned on or off – they even determine how much it is turned on. This is why we at arf think that good nutrition, minimizing exposure to potential toxins (including vaccines, medications, and environmental toxins) and joyful living are so important to achieving and maintaining good health.


Case Study – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

Case Study – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

Maggie2CASE STUDY – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

By Wendy Volhard

This 8-year-old Westie rescue suffered from numerous health problems, including listlessness, recurring cysts, and itchy, greasy skin. These conditions were a result of inadequate nutrition, over vaccination, over medication, and having been bred too young and too often. In this report, Wendy Volhard describes her step by step approach to helping this dog regain her health.

Maggie, an 8-year-old Westie, belonged to an obedience student of mine.  She always accompanied a younger Westie, Brody, who was training in the beginner’s class.  I couldn’t help noticing Maggie – head down, tail down and shuffling along as she made her way to her crate to wait for Brody to finish class.

One day I asked her owner Rita what was wrong with Maggie and if she needed help.  The flood gates opened!  It appeared that every 10 days or so, Maggie developed an elevated temperature along with a nasty cyst on her right front paw which was so painful she couldn’t walk until it burst.  The poor girl had only a few days between episodes when her foot was not painful.  Rita had been to numerous vets and tried almost everything — continuous antibiotics, prednisone, and various creams and jellies.  Surgery was suggested next.  Nothing worked and Rita was desperate.

My first and most important suggestion was a diet change from kibble to a natural whole diet.  While this was scary for Rita, she was willing to try anything to give Maggie some relief.


  •   Maggie was overweight
  •   She was lethargic, moving only a few steps at a time
  •   She had horrible greasy skin on her back, with extreme itching (suspected epidermal dysplasia)
  •   She held her head down. She could not look up into our eyes
  •   A cyst appeared every 10 days on her right front foot
  •   Maggie was miserable

This photo shows a cyst on Maggie’s foot

Maggies cyst


  •   Adopted at 5 years from rescue organization
  •   Used as a breeding female in a puppy mill prior to rescue
  •   While with rescue, vaccinated with the 5 in 1 vaccine plus Bordetella and rabies, all on the same day.  She also had been put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning
  •   Vaccinated yearly since being rescued
  •   Lived on steroids and antibiotics
  •   Fed a kibble diet

Initial Assessment:

  •        Over weight
  •        Inadequate nutrition
  •        Over vaccinated
  •        Over medicated
  •        Bred too early and too often

Where to start?

I suggested complete blood work (on a 12 hour fast).  This included CBC, chemistry screen, urinalysis, complete thyroid panel, and panel for tick-borne diseases.  Maggie was also checked for parasites.  Results showed that Maggie was negative for parasites.  Her cholesterol was high, sodium/potassium ratios not good, and all other values were on the high side of normal.  Her thyroid was extremely low.

Using kinesiology we did a diagnostic protocol (which goes through all the systems of the body) to determine Maggie’s ‘weak’ areas.  This showed she had a structural imbalance and that her lymph system was stressed.  We used the following treatment program for Maggie who weighed 17lbs.

  • Homeopathic detox for her lymph system administered upon awakening  for 5 consecutive days.
  • Diet
    • A detoxifying diet was fed twice a day for 2 weeks only. This was a mixture of cooked chicken, a small amount of sweet brown rice, lightly cooked vegetables together with vitamins and minerals. I advised Rita to make up her food in bulk without the vitamins, put it into ice cube trays and freeze.  Food was defrosted twice daily and supplements added before feeding.  This worked well for such a small dog.
    • At the end of the 2 week detoxifying diet, Maggie was transferred to Volhard NDF2 (http://www.volharddognutrition.com/ )
  • Chiropractic consultation:  During the initial 2 weeks, our chiropractic veterinarian worked with Maggie.  She found that her neck needed adjustment and that she had a sore shoulder.  The veterinarian chiropractor also gave Maggie an acupuncture treatment for her greasy skin.  During her examination, she noted that some of Maggie’s teeth lacked enamel.  Her thought was that this condition resulted from being bred too young, when Maggie herself was not mature.
  • After consultation with our chiropractic veterinarian, a small dose of thyroid medication was given.
  • Blueberries and raspberries were fed for between meal snacks
  • Before bedtime one dose of homeopathic Thuja was administered to counteract vaccine damage. This was continued for 10 nights.


After about 2 weeks, Maggie could walk without her head down and she was making eye contact on a regular basis.  Rita was shown how to massage her neck daily.  However, 20 days into her new program, her foot swelled again and she began to limp.  Maggie was given the homeopathic Silicea 30c, to help push out any toxins in her body.  The cyst immediately came to a head and burst and she could once again walk without pain.

While Maggie was improving, Rita began to express concern about the cost.  Up until now she had spent $2,716.29 at the regular veterinarian. The current treatment protocol (food, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and blood work) cost an additional $500.  However, Rita became convinced we were on the right track when, after only 6 weeks on her new regime, repeat blood work demonstrated substantial improvement.

This second set of blood work (again done on a 12 hour fast), showed that all of Maggie’s values were now within normal range.  Laboratory values for liver and kidney function, as well as cholesterol levels were lower than before and her thyroid function tests were normal.  Six months later more blood was drawn.  All of Maggie’s laboratory results were perfect and she had not had a cyst for over 4 months.

One year later, we did blood work yet again.  Thyroid was still normal and she had had no cysts for 10 months.  Hair had grown over the affected area of her back, but the skin remained somewhat greasy; this was managed with massage.  Maggie continues to get chiropractic check-ups every couple of months, and she is lively and happy.

A Note About Blood Work

It is essential when working on cases like this, to have blood drawn on a 12 hour fast and to use the same laboratory each time blood is drawn.  Rita had wanted to try a new veterinarian closer to her home, and had blood drawn there a year after Maggie started her new regime.  A different Laboratory was used, it was not done on a fast (once food is in the system, values can change), and the normal readings were not the same as the original Lab used.  For comparative purposes, these results were useless.  So, Rita took Maggie back to her original veterinarian for blood draws, which should be done annually.

(Case study provided by Wendy Volhard, www.volharddognutriton.com and www.volhard.com )

Download PDF version HERE


Welcome to the Healthy Dog Blog!

Welcome to the Healthy Dog Blog!

Welcome to the Healthy Dog Blog, devoted to helping our dogs reach their highest potentials and live healthier, happier, longer lives!  Three principles support this objective and will be explored in more depth in our future posts: good parentage, following the four basic rearing guidelines outlined below, and the use of holistic modalities.

Parentage, meaning the dog’s parents or ancestors, is at the core of our dog’s health. However parentage does not provide a rigid blueprint for the future. The effects of parentage can be modified or strengthened by applying the four rearing guidelines and by the use of holistic modalities. These rearing guidelines are:

  • Nutrition – Feed a high-quality, whole-foods, species appropriate diet
  • Vaccines –  Administer only essential vaccines on a reasonable schedule
  • Toxins  – Minimize exposure to toxins
  • Joyful living – Engage your dog, both mentally and physically, in activities that enrich his life

The final principle is the use of holistic modalities when appropriate. Compared with conventional allopathic medicine, holistic modalities often offer a safer and gentler approach to supporting, strengthening, and healing our dogs.

Thank you for visiting the Healthy Dog Blog! Please return often to review new posts. You may also want to sign-up for email notification of our latest tips and information.

How to Raise a Healthier, Happier, Longer-Lived Dog

HDB March diagram