Loss of trust in pet vaccines: why has this has happened and what do pet owners need to do? Audio podcast plus Ireland AM video

Some pet owners have lost their trust in vaccinations, and as a consequence, they are refusing to have their pets vaccinated according to their vets’ recommendations. As a result, epidemics of diseases like Parvovirus are starting to happen again. The podcast runs over the history and background to this topic, and the video discusses this further.

An outbreak of the killer disease Parvovirus was reported in Limerick last week, and this week, major epidemics are also being reported across the UK.

Vaccination against Parvovirus is highly effective, but if dogs are not vaccinated properly, they may not be immune to this viral disease, and if they pick it up, it almost invariably kills them after a severe bout of bloody vomiting and diarrhoea. Even intensive treatment is often not enough to save them. Dogs of all ages can be affected.

Recent unfounded scepticism about vaccines – in human and animals – has lead to an increase in the populations of unprotected people and animals, which is why we are seeing disease outbreaks like this. In Australia, a similar trend has been happening, and there have been multiple epidemics of parvovirus in different towns, affecting all ages of dogs from puppies to elderly animals. This is a risk in Ireland if people don’t cop on and make sure that their pets are properly vaccinated.

  • Parvovirus is a killer viral disease
  • If dogs are not vaccinated and boosted against this, they are at risk
  • Dogs of all ages need to be properly vaccinated against Parvovirus, as well as Distemper & Hepatitis (DHP) as well as Leptospirosis in most cases
  • All pups need a full course of injections
  • They are not safe till a week after the last one
  • All dogs need a booster vaccine one year later
  • After that, talk to your vet about further boosters, with the precise protocol depending on your pet’s situation
  • Most dogs (and cats) do still need a once yearly visit to the vet for this to be discussed in detail

+ The vaccine needs of every dog are different.

+ A city apartment dog is not the same as a pet in a small town who goes out on walks.

+ Best answer: talk to your local vet about your pet

Listen to the podcast, or watch the Ireland AM video.

For the latest scientific advice on vaccine protocols for pets, read the WSAVA Guidelines.

See below for a helpful infographic, courtesy of Rachel Malkani of Veterinary Voices UK..


Listen to the podcast:


  • Casie Wood says:

    I am disappointed to see you recommending “courses” of puppy injections and annual boosters in contradiction of the manufacturers’ SPC as registered with the European Medicines Agency who licence the use of these vaccines in the EU.

    Both the major manufacturers, Canigen and Nobivac state that a single injection at 10 weeks or older should confer immunity. That is not a course. I would have thought that an educated person such as yourself would know about maternally derived antibodies and why it is better to vaccinate later rather than earlier.

    The only reason for giving a “booster” at 12 months is to catch the puppies whose maternal antibodies were too strong for an early vaccine to take effect.

    Equally with Nobivac L4 they suggest starting at 9 weeks or older. So why is it that so many vets insist on doing both DHP and Lepto together from 6 weeks of age? Why is it also that vets do not tell their pet owners about titre testing or the fact that, in the U.K. at least, your dog is more likely to have an adverse reaction to the lepto vaccine than to get lepto. Also in the L4 SPC it states on numerous occasions that the vaccine “reduces” the risk. It does not remove it completely.

    Many of the so called “antivaxxers” are people like myself who have spent more than twenty years researching the scientific evidence around vaccinations because they have had horrendous experiences with vaccines in their dogs. Frankly I think that we have probably done a great deal more research than some vets!

    • petethevet says:

      Thanks for the comment Casie. As you know, the reason a “course” of vaccinations is needed is because the Lepto vaccine is a killed vaccine, so two injections are needed, 2 – 4 weeks apart. And yes, I could have gone into more detail about all of this, but I would lose people’s attention on breakfast tv. And yes, I do, of course, know that this is the reason for giving a vaccination at 15 months of age. Ideally it should be given sooner (perhaps 12 months of age) but changes in habits and routines like this only happen gradually.
      The reason some vets give DHP sooner than 10 (or 12) weeks is to catch that small number of pups who may not have maternal antibodies.
      The rationale for titre testing is that it is an alternative to vaccines that suits some people but not all. It takes time (and therefore money) to explain the details to people. In the absence of documented, evidence-based, serious reactions to a vaccination booster every 3 years, most vets (and most people) are happy to just give the vaccination rather than titre test. The risks of side effects are minimal, and it is cheaper.
      I am sorry that you had a bad experience linked to vaccines in your dog, but you are absolutely in the minority. That doesn’t help, I’m sure, but it’s the reason why the veterinary profession is not 100% wholeheartedly recommending the actions that you support and endorse.

  • Alex says:

    The reason dogs are more likely to have a vaccine reaction to Lepto than get Lepto is that most dogs are vaccinated. I’m far more likely to die in a car accident than while walking down the motorway, doesn’t mean it’s safer or sensible.

  • Casie Wood says:

    So what you are saying is that you recommend two shots for DHP at 6 and 8 weeks or so “to catch the small number of pups who may not have maternal antibodies” and then do a “booster” at 12 or 15 months to catch those whose maternal antibodies are too high for the initial “course” to give immunity? That means that instead of one shot at 10 weeks of age or older as per the manufacturer’s guidelines and then every three years, the poor soul will have had at least three shots between birth and 15 months instead of one!

    It is unbelievably arrogant to say that titre testing “suits some people but not all”! It should be about the animal not people! I am sure that if vets took the small amount of time necessary to explain titre testing most people who really cared for their animals would do that in preference to filling them with possibly unecessary chemicals. How many vets take the time to explain that the manufacturers of the DHP vaccines RECCOMEND a single booster every three years to maintain protection? I know that many in the UK certainly don’t!

    Should vets and people be happy to vaccinate because it is cheaper? What about the best interests of the animal? Where do they feature in that scenario? Anyway it isn’t cheaper to vaccinate than titre test where I live and shouldn’t be an excuse for vets to ramp up the charges for titre tests because they are “happy to vaccinate”!

    I am only one of many thousands of people whose animals have had adverse, and sometimes fatal, reactions to vaccines. The cost to owners of a dog with a compromised immune system, or other issue, as a result of vaccination is huge. Insurance companies will not help with these and vaccine manufacturers deny responsibility so it is hardly surprising that people are doing their own research and demanding better care from the veterinary profession.

    Surely a short leaflet could be produced that explains titre testing and the choices that people have? Personally I would go for £30for titre testing over a lifetime of vaccination every time.

    • petethevet says:

      I am not sure what you mean by “poor wee soul” having three shots between birth and 15 months.
      What about those “poor wee souls” who do not get an early vax at 6 weeks and die from Parvovirus at 10 weeks of age because they did not have any maternal antibodies?
      What about those “poor wee souls” who do not get a late vax at 15 months and die from Parvovirus at 18 months because their puppy vaccines didn’t take due to maternal antibodies?
      Why is it arrogant to say that titre testing suits some people but not all? I think it is arrogant to say that everyone should do what you happen to believe is correct! I would never be so arrogant as to dictate what a pet owner should do. It is their choice, once they have the facts.
      How many vets take time to explain about DHP every three years? Well a recent survey showed that over 95% of UK vets do exactly this. Where do you get your information?
      Titre tests can be cheap if you do many of them (you can buy in-house kits) but if you only have a few owners requesting these, the kits soon go out of date, so many vets use external labs, and they are pricier. It’s nothing to do with “ramping up the charges”.
      Show me the evidence for “thousands” of dogs having “sometimes fatal” reactions to vaccines.
      I can certainly show you evidence for thousands of dogs dying horrible deaths from Parvovirus.

  • Casie Wood says:

    Some puppies end up getting three injections before they are three months old because the new owner’s vet doesn’t use the same brand of vaccine so they start the course again. Why vaccinate all puppies early in order to catch the few that might not have maternal antibodies? I had three puppies in a litter who got parvo from the injection – the vet admitted so. They then went on to have problems for the rest of their lives. Did the manufacturers pay for that? No they didn’t. How many unvaccinated puppies contract parvo in the first three months? Yes it is horrendous if your puppy gets parvo, as I know, but to vaccinate them all early to catch the few who don’t have maternal antibodies and then again at 12 or 15 months to catch those few who did have maternal antibodies is over vaccinating.

    A responsible vet would follow the guidelines and vaccinate for DHP at 10 weeks or older and then titre test at 24 weeks or so. That way you would know at 6 months whether the puppy had antibodies or not and could do a further vaccination at that point rather than waiting until they are a year old or more and run the risk of getting parvo if their maternal antibodies were too high for the vaccine to be effective. By the way, do you tell people where canine parvo came from in the first place? That it was created accidentally in a laboratory?

    On the one hand you say that “It is their choice, once they have the facts.” while on the other hand you say that it takes too long and costs to much to give them the facts! At no point did I suggest that everyone had to do things the way I think is corrrect, but I do think they should be given the opportunity to decide, just as you say, when in full possession of the facts.

    You ask where I get my information about vets not informing clients that they do not need to do DHP annually – I do my own research by email and phone. There are thousands of vet practices offering “health care” packages for people to pay monthly and these include annual vaccination! Every time I see a vet offering this package I email or call them and virtually without exception they say they do annual vaccinations for both DHP and Lepto. Even my own vet, for whom I have the greatest respect and a good relationship, routinely vaccinates annually because their clients have been taught to expect it. I imagine that this will reduce now since the RCVS’ reminder to vets to discuss vaccination with owners (May 2018).

    Vaccicheck is available all over the U.K. at around £30 – £50 per check. If vets don’t want to buy a kit and have it go out of date perhaps they could suggest it to owners when discussing vaccination, per the RCVS’s reminder, rather than waiting for them to request it? Alternatively, they could refer people to another vet that does offer it as my vet did for me.

    Perhaps you would like to look at the statistics provided by the EMA in regards to Nobivac’s L4 vaccine? These are only the ones that have been reported. You only have to look at social media to see the tragic stories of people who have had pets affected by adverse reactions. Yes it is anecdotal since most people aren’t aware that they can report these themselves and rely on vets to do it who mostly deny that the vaccine caused the problem.

    I would certainly be most interested to see the data that you have on parvo killing thousands and whether or not the dogs that contracted it were vaccinated. Please could you add a link?

    I would also refer you to two links. One is an open letter to the WHO about vaccination in humans but the same applies to animals. bit.ly/2190qQu. The second is a warning from the US FDA about flea and tick treatments for dogs. bit.ly/2xvZEIZ

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