Puppies are commonly vaccinated when they are young, usually a first dose will be issued at around 8 weeks old, then a second dose around 12 weeks old. When puppies are born, they inherit maternally derived antibodies (MDA) from their mother’s milk which will provide a level of passive immunity against disease.

This can obviously be compromised if the mother rejects her pups or if the mother is in poor health. MDA levels are thought to protect the puppy until around 16 weeks old. When a puppy with high levels of MDA is vaccinated, the antibodies can inactivate the vaccine as it would a real virus, rendering the vaccine useless and so another dose will be given around 4 weeks later to ensure the puppy is adequately protected. In an ideal world, a single dose of core vaccinations would take place at around 16 weeks old, but as we are aware that socialisation is very important at an early age, it is more common to have multiple vaccines early on, to give peace of mind that our puppies are protected when they first venture out into the world.

After this, we have been led to believe that booster injections should then be given annually to top up our dogs immunity.

The CORE vaccinations in the UK based on potential morbidity/mortality, provide immunity against Canine Distemper virus (CDV), infectious canine hepatitis/canine adenovirus (CAV) and parvovirus infection (CPV) this is commonly known as DHP and used in polyvalent form to save money.

Canine Leptospirosis (lepto2/ Lepto4) is also considered to be a CORE vaccine in the UK and is usually used in monovalent form. NON CORE vaccines in the UK that are recommended based on risk due to geographical location/ lifestyle include bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough)

Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPiV) and Rabies (in travelling dogs).

Another commonly used vaccine in the UK is DHPPi, which provides protection against CDV CPV CAV and CpiV) another polyvalent vaccine.


These vaccines are proven to be very long lasting with a DOI (duration of immunity) of minimum 3 years as per each manufacturer’s guidelines. It is also reported that vaccines with a long lasting DOI are likely to provide lifelong immunity.


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection, meaning it can be spread from animals to humans. With roughly 50-60 human cases reported per year in the UK, leptospirosis is not considered to be a big enough threat to warrant a core vaccine in humans.

According to the Lepto website the map of canine Lepto cases in the UK remains empty. Not a single case has been reported. I think it would be safe to presume that vets in the UK are aware of the importance of recording this information. This leads me to believe that either UK vets are not recording their confirmed cases correctly, or leptospirosis is no longer prevalent in the UK.

Leptospirosis has many different strains (200+), currently the vaccinations available lepto2 (which protects against 2 strains of the infection) and more recently lepto4 (which protects against 4 strains of the infection) meaning if your dog was to contract the infection, they would only be covered for 2 or 4 strains depending on the vaccine received, rendering this vaccine completely pointless in my opinion.

Manufacturers suggest that the DOI for the Lepto2/4 vaccine is 1 year. There have been many suspected adverse reactions associated with the lepto4 vaccine, many that have been dismissed by vets and many who have gone unreported.

It’s worth mentioning that according to WSAVA (world small animal veterinary association) vaccination guidelines are open to interpretation but vaccines should not be given needlessly.

Vets should consider the prevalence of the disease/risks/location/lifestyle as well as following manufacturer guidelines to make an informed decision with the dog owner about the best vaccination schedule for each individual dog.

What ingredients are in our dog’s vaccine?

Transparency seems to be a huge issue in the pharmaceutical industry. Gone are the days when we could see a clear list of ingredients that have been used to create medications and vaccines. Although we don’t know every ingredient for each vaccine, we do know the sorts of ingredients that are commonly used in vaccines.

Here are some examples:

ADJUVANTS -aluminium (linked to chronic stimulation of the immune system, chronic inflammation, chronic autoimmune disease)

PRESERVATIVES – mercury (linked to decreased motor function)

ATTENUATING AGENTS – formaldehyde (a known carcinogen)

GROWTH MEDIUM – human fetal lung tissue, monkey kidney tissue (linked to anaphylaxis)

FUNGICIDES & ANTIMICROBIALS – phenol, formaldehyde

BUFFERING AGENTS – borax (associated with increased fetal mortality & infant malformation)

ENHANCER – polysorbate 80 (which can be found in low quality salad dressing)

STABILISERS – formaldehyde

PARTICLES of VIRUSES – one to one vaccines (altered alive or dead)

CONTAMINATIONS – glyphosate as used in Weed killer from GMO supplied animals

What are the risks of over vaccination?

Over vaccinating our dogs comes with many potential risks and side effects ranging from mild to fatal.

Dr Ronald Schultz (Veterinary immunologist) has conducted extensive research over many years to determine how long vaccinations last and also the risks involved with over vaccination.

There is currently no scientific evidence to support the need to revaccinate dogs annually and a single core vaccine could offer protection for many years if not for life, just as we experience as humans.

Here is a list of potential risks and side effects associated with vaccination.


Hair loss at injection site immunosuppression anaphylaxis lethargy behavioural changes arthritis fever weight loss vaccine injection site.

Sarcomas soreness lameness autoimmune hemolytic anemia stiffness hives thyroid issues loss of appetite abscesses seizures oral ulcers respiratory disease myocarditis (heart disease) conjunctivitis facial edema (swelling) postvaccinal encephalitis (neurological condition) sneezing vitiligo glomerulonephritis (kidney disease).

Through my own experience and from conducting my own research, I have found that in most cases, vets are vaccinating dogs un necessarily every year and the above risks are RARELY discussed.

I conducted a survey where I asked 50 dog owners a number of questions relating to vaccination. I was saddened by my results.


YES – 70%

NO – 30%







YES – 30%

NO – 70%


YES – 37%

NO – 63%


Titre testing is a blood test used to determine the levels of antibodies your dog has against a certain disease. Used correctly, a titre test is an easy way to work out if in fact, your dog requires revaccination.

According to DR Ronald Schultz, if a dog shows a strong positive titre, you need not test again and your dog will be more than likely protected for life.

As with all modern testing, there may be a time where a false negative test is presented. This does not necessarily mean your dog will need re-vaccination especially if it has presented a strong positive test previously.

If a successful vaccination has been carried out in early life and your dog later provides a negative titre test, it is more than likely that the dog has not come into contact with the pathogen associated with the disease in question. If/when faced with the disease, the immune system will have produced ‘memory cells’ which will then produce antibodies when needed. It is thought that the perfect time to have your dog titre tested is 4 weeks after the last course of vaccinations at around 16 weeks old.

This will then tell you if the vaccination has been successful and has not been interfered with by MDA. At this point you need not vaccinate your dog again.


We are currently living in a world where we look to vets to provide us with the best knowledge to keep our pets healthy and safe.

As pet owners we expect our vets to give us reliable/ unbiased information to be able to make informed decisions when treating our pets. unfortunately, it would seem that most vets are indeed, advising unnecessary vaccination, without discussing the risks or even following vaccine manufacturer guidelines as well as leading us to believe that these vaccines are perfectly safe for our dogs.

But why would vets advise us to re-vaccinate if it’s not safe? In short and simple terms, MONEY.

Annual vaccinations are a way to keep your dog coming to the surgery at least once a year. With high profit margins on vaccines, it is a huge income for most veterinary surgeries that I would assume they can’t afford to let go of.

There is no proven or scientific data to show that vaccines need to be repeated annually or even triennially after a successful first dose of each core vaccine. As with humans, dogs require a healthy nutritious diet to keep their immune system in tip top condition.

From all the research I have conducted, in my opinion, it would seem that the majority of dogs are being vaccinated unnecessarily and are at risk of some serious health implications because of it. Some will go unnoticed for years to come and some will be dismissed as caused by other factors.

My advice to all dog owners is to do your own research and make your own informed decision as to whether you need to re vaccinate your dog.

Disclaimer: Please either undertake your own research or consult a professional veterinary expert before making ANY changes to your animals medication and yearly vaccinations. This article is for information purposes only and may not be up to date, accurate or current.

Copyright – Katie Andrews. Open College UK Ltd student.

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