What is Lucky's Challenge?

What is Lucky's Challenge?

Lucky's Challenge was developed to share information and experiences related to adverse reactions caused by vaccines. Our goal is to provide easy access to valuable resources concerning the health and safety of our dogs. Over-vaccinating can lead to a variety of health problems so you should discuss lifestyle and risk factors with your veterinarian to determine a vaccine schedule that is best for your pet. A trusted vet should not believe in vaccinating every pet for every disease.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dog vaccinations - What not to do

By Lindsay Stordahl 

There are some things I would not do when it comes to vaccinating my dogs:
1. I would not give vaccines my dog doesn’t need or that don’t have a good record of being effective or safe.
With some vaccines it is a question of the lesser of two evils. For example, unless your live in an area highly infested with ticks, you’re probably not too concerned about vaccinating for lyme disease.
And some vaccines just don’t have a good enough track record to bother with, such as the rattlesnake, periodontal disease, giardia and coronavirus vaccines.
2. I would not repeat a vaccine to which my dog had a reaction to.
It is kind of a no-brainer when your dog experiences a severe reaction, but I would think twice even if she had mild adverse effects. I would rather titer instead, or insist on a different brand of vaccine at the very least. And sometimes antihistamine is given to mitigate a potential allergic reaction.
3. I would not have my dog given multiple vaccinations in one visit.
I believe that vaccines are safest if there are at least three weeks or a month in between them. The more vaccines your dog receives at once, the higher the risk of a negative reaction. It is also a huge strain on the immune system to deal with all those things at once.
The combination ParvovirusDistemper and Adenovirus would be an exception. But if your dog had a reaction to it in the past and you still want to vaccinate against these, you might want to consider splitting them up.
4. I would never vaccinate a dog that is ill.
That is just asking for trouble. Clearly a sick dog’s system already has enough to deal with; vaccinating would be adding oil to the fire. The immune system just might not be able to handle all that.
I never had our vet argue about this, but I also know people who brought in a sick dog and the vet was trying to vaccinate at the same time. Not a good idea. Plus, with the over-burdened immune system, the vaccine might not even be effective.
5. I would never allow my dog to be vaccinated for things I did not discuss with my vet first.
You think that doesn’t happen? Believe it or not, it does. This might be simply because of poor memory or bad organization, but it is not a good thing.
For example, our daughter brought her Chihuahua to be given a rabies booster. She specifically stressed that she wanted her dog to get only a rabies vaccine. Yet, they gave her the leptospirosis vaccine also, and as luck would have it, the dog had a severe reaction and almost died right there! After that happened the vet said that such a reaction to a lepto vaccine, particularly in small dogs, is not unusual!
6. I would not vaccinate during high-allergy season.
So many dogs suffer from allergies these days. The sense behind this decision is the same as the earlier points. Why add additional burden to an already agitated immune system? We vaccinate our dogs either in early spring or late fall when there is less potential for environmental allergies.
7. I would not vaccinate on a Friday afternoon.
Just as luck might have it, that’s when your dog might get an adverse reaction, just as the vet’s office is preparing to close or after it has already closed for the weekend. We had these things happen in the past, not with vaccines but with other disasters; we prefer to do all these things early in the week, early in the morning. And so far, as it often works with Murphy’s Law, when you’re prepared, the disaster doesn’t strike.
8. For the same reasons, I would not vaccinate before a trip.
Some reactions might strike quickly, but some of them take awhile. It’s just not worth the risk of your dog experiencing a medical emergency on the road or while she is at a boarding kennel and you are out of town.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is it safer to have my pet vaccinated for rabies by a trusted veterinarian rather than somone at a local Rabies clinic? That is a question we as pet owners have asked ourselves. My veterinarian was kind enough to share with me her opinion on the subject and I think it will be of great value to many pet owners.

"While I completely understand why the government supplies free or reduced rate rabies vaccines, I certainly would not vaccinate my pet this way. The government is trying to protect the public from rabies exposure and is targeting families who could not otherwise afford to give the vaccine. This is a good practice to keep many people and pets safe, BUT it is not intended for those who can afford the $20-25 given by their veterinarian. Vaccines are not a benign procedure...as you well know, and I strongly feel that it should be done with a physical exam including measuring vital signs. There are many times when I do a physical exam in preparation for a vaccination and elect to wait on it because of a fever or other medical issue. Once we get that under control, then it is a better and safer time to vaccinate. These crucial physical exams are not performed at the Rabies clinics. Also if your pet has a life threatening vaccine reaction, this can even be in the first few minutes after vaccination and doesn't matter how many times in the past the pet was vaccinated, the clinics are not prepared to handle such emergencies and this can have devastating results. Obviously these reactions are rare, but I wouldn't vaccinate my pets outside a medical facility for fear of such a reaction.  So Karen, that is my two cents worth. Hope it helps." 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vaccination Facts vs. Fiction

By Richard B. Ford, DVM

The latest iterations of both the canine and feline vaccine guidelines have been available since the end of 2006. Clearly these guidelines have affected how veterinarians select and use vaccines, but questions and controversies remain.
The guidelines are available at www.aahanet.org and www.aafponline.org.

Why Vaccine Guidelines?

One of the most significant reasons for publishing vaccine guidelines is the fact that an unprecedented number of vaccines are available to veterinarians today. 

There are approximately 23 vaccine antigen types for the dog and 18 types for the cat.  Combined, there are over 180 proprietary (trade name) vaccines used in companion animal practices throughout the U.S.

But it’s not just the number of vaccines that drives the need for vaccine guidelines. 

With so many vaccines to choose from, veterinarians continue to express concern over the frequency of vaccination, the duration of immunity of the various vaccines in use, the important changes in vaccine technology (recombinant and DNA), vaccine safety, medical, legal, and ethical responsibilities associated with implementing a rational vaccination program, and much more.

Core Vaccines

Neither the American Animal Hospital Assn. Canine Vaccine Guidelines nor the American Assn. of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Guidelines were written to define immunization standards for dogs and cats. Furthermore, they were never intended to represent a “universal vaccination protocol” applicable to all dogs and all cats in all practices.  

They are, simply, recommendations based on the most current, reputable science available today. Objectively, the vaccine guidelines provide reliable information with which veterinarians can develop a rational vaccination program that addresses realistic levels of risk for individual patients. 

There are two key points regarding implementation of core vaccines into a protocol for any practice.

First, it is the veterinarian’s prerogative as to which vaccines should be designated “core.” 

For example, although the AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines recommend distemper-parvovirus-adenovirus-2 and rabies as core vaccines, many veterinarians practicing in New England include Lyme disease vaccine as core.

Second, every veterinarian in the practice should agree on which vaccines are “core” for that practice. This is critical in communicating a clear, consistent vaccine message to clientele.

The recommendation that modified-live and recombinant core vaccines (distemper, adenovirus-2, and parvovirus for dogs; panleukopenia, herpesvirus-1 and calicivirus for cats) can be administered every three years without loss of protective immunity continues to be challenged despite publication of several supporting studies.

Although most, if not all, veterinary schools follow triennial vaccination recommendations, most practices do not. The fact remains, whether recommending triennial or annual boosters, both recommendations represent a reasonable and acceptable standard of care in veterinary medicine today.

Non-Core Vaccines

Vaccines designated “non-core” are considered optional. Any recommendation for administering a non-core vaccine should be based on reasonable assessment of the patient’s risk of exposure and infection. Furthermore, there are no three-year booster recommendations for non-core vaccines, only annual.  

Not surprisingly, much of the controversy surrounding vaccine selection and administration is centered on non-core vaccines.  

Feline leukemia vaccine, although listed as non-core, is highly recommended for all kittens through the first year of life. This is based on the premise that susceptibility for infection is highest among kittens and that kittens, despite an owner’s insistence that their cat will strictly be a “house cat,” tend to escape.

But that, too, is only a recommendation that many veterinarians tend not to follow. Adult cats that spend time outside unsupervised should receive an annual FeLV vaccination. 

The virulent systemic (VS) feline calicivirus vaccine has received considerable attention since its introduction in 2007. While the disease is, in fact, serious, the risk of exposure among household cats is extremely low. Despite marketing claims, there are no studies documenting increased prevalence in the U.S. 

Infections are considered to be rare and typically limited to shelter-housed cats. Furthermore, this vaccine has never been subjected to a heterologous challenge. The VS feline calicivirus vaccine should not be recommended for use in all pet cats. 

Determining the merits of intranasal Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines versus the only parenteral vaccine has been challenging due to the lack of adequate challenge data. However, recent studies do give intranasal vaccines an edge. 

Dogs vaccinated with an intranasal vaccine and exposed to pathogenic B. bronchiseptica did not become clinically ill nor did they shed infectious bacteria.  

Parenteral vaccination, on the other hand, prevents development of clinical signs but does not appear to prevent shedding of virulent bacteria following exposure. 

The fact that all intranasal B. bronchiseptica vaccines also contain parainfluenza virus vaccine supports a role for use of the intranasal product.  Parainfluenza virus vaccine may be more immunogenic when given by the topical (intranasal) route. 

Whether to administer leptospirosis vaccine to an individual dog continues to be a challenging question. The obvious answer is, “It depends on the risk.”  

But risk for leptospirosis exposure and infection is difficult to define.  

Diagnostic testing is infrequently performed in practice and results can be difficult to interpret. Published demographic data on canine leptospirosis is limited. 

In addition, leptospirosis vaccines have the (probably justified) reputation of causing acute post-vaccination reactions, especially in small breeds. While current vaccines are generally regarded as protecting dogs from clinical illness subsequent to infection, they do not necessarily prevent infection or shedding of infectious spirochetes.


Today there is simply no room for complacency with respect to developing a rational vaccination protocol. 

It’s a fact: There are too many vaccines, too many issues and too much new information to ignore the changes affecting the selection and use of vaccines. 

The pace of change regarding vaccine technology along with new product introductions virtually mandate that veterinarians carefully assess the manner in which vaccines are selected and used in practice. The canine and feline vaccine guidelines represent an important educational resource for any veterinarian who administers vaccines to dogs and cats. 

Dr. Ford, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, (Hon) ACVPM, is a professor of medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.