Skip to content
Previous article
Now Reading:
Safer vaccination protocol in adult dogs and puppies

Safer vaccination protocol in adult dogs and puppies

Your dog's immunity can be achieved without excessive vaccinations

Once in a while, my cup of patience overflows and I feel compelled to candidly disclose what is going on within the veterinary industry. Today, I want to write about vaccines but before I start, I want to emphasize that this article is not directed at my colleagues but is a result of clear disconnect between the science of immunology,  veterinary education and vaccination guidelines. For years, I have seen vaccination recommendations that do not follow basic principles of immunology. This disconnect leads me back to digging deep into natural immunity and exploring how animals build antibodies in their natural environment, a form of “natural vaccination”.


Natural immunity in a nutshell


Immunity in nature is a result of a process that starts even before birth. If the pregnant mother has been in contact with a virus, let’s say canine distemper or parvovirus, she passes on the ready-to-act antibodies in the uterus and in colostrum and milk postpartum. This generates an ingenious state of maternal immunity where puppies are protected until their own immune system is capable of producing antibodies at around 12 - 18 weeks of age.


What happens when a puppy is vaccinated depends upon when it is done:


Vaccines at 6 - 8 weeks

Many vaccine protocols still recommend early vaccination at 6 - 8 weeks, when a puppy’s immune system is too young to produce an antibody response. What happens instead is that the vaccine antigen (a modified or dead virus from the vaccine) binds to and “uses up” the maternal antibodies which leaves some puppies with no protection. How do I know that? I have seen this many times in puppies that came to my practice after early vaccination. When I took their titer tests, they had zero antibodies against distemper and parvovirus. 

Vaccines at 12 weeks

There is a much better chance of seeing a good immune response when the first vaccines are given at 12 weeks. However, this may or may not be necessary. The approach that makes the most sense is to measure the level of antibodies in your puppy by performing a simple blood test that any veterinary clinic can offer, it's called a parvovirus and distemper titer. You can also add other titers such as leptospirosis if it is prevalent in your region. 

If your dog’s titer test comes back positive, meaning antibodies are detected, any positive titer is, in my opinion, good. The reality is that no vaccine or titer test results will give you a 100% guarantee of protection, but I have never seen a dog with a positive titer become ill in my thirty years of practice. 


How to reduce the need for future boosters


Generally, I recommend repeating the titer test at five months and then again at one and two years of age. After two years, it is very unlikely your dog will get parvovirus or distemper because the natural immunity usually persists for a lifetime. You can always repeat your dog's test for extra reassurance. I generally do not do so because of the very low risk of infection in adult dogs.

If your dog’s titer test comes back negative, meaning there are no antibodies against distemper and parvovirus, one vaccine at twelve weeks is enough. You can take an antibody titer a month later to confirm a proper immune response. 


How do I know all this?


I am a naturally curious person and when something does not make sense, I do my best to find out why. Thanks to thirty years of veterinary practice, I have had the chance to see that puppies vaccinated early often have zero protection and that dogs maintain good antibody levels for a lifetime, sometimes even without a single distemper or parvovirus vaccine!

I am not suggesting that you should not give a vaccine when antibodies are absent at 12 weeks, the vulnerable time. What I am saying is that vaccines are not necessary for dogs that have antibodies.

How have I approached immunity in my own dogs?


Skai’s immunity history

Skai was never vaccinated against distemper or parvovirus in his lifetime and the only vaccine he received was rabies in order to travel internationally. His first titer test was taken at twelve weeks and his parvovirus titer was positive, however, he was negative for distemper.

Based on my experience with distemper, it was very rare in our region and I decided to wait for a few more weeks to repeat his titer test. To my surprise, both of his titers against parvovirus and distemper were positive despite getting no vaccines! It appeared that he mounted a good immune response when he apparently came in contact with the virus. From that test on, he continued to have positive antibodies until the time I stopped testing when he was around five years of age.

Note: If your dog’s titer is negative, generally, I do recommend giving one vaccine and checking titers one month later. If Skai’s titer had been negative the second time around, I would have done the same.

Pax’s immunity

Before we adopted Pax, our second dog, I convinced the owner of his mother not to vaccinate him (the other siblings were vaccinated at six weeks). I did his titer test at twelve weeks of age and as you can see from the results below, both his distemper and parvovirus titers were positive - showing good antibody response!

titer testing as a alternative to over vaccination

The next step was to check his antibody levels two months later.

Like Skai, the only vaccine that Pax needs is rabies for international travel.

Click here for my holistic approach to the rabies vaccine.


Why do most veterinarians suggest boosters?


There are many examples in human history and medicine where what was done then makes no sense today: The flat Earth paradigm, blood-letting , mercury purging, the use of arsenic in medicine or DDT use as an insecticide.

This idea of boosters is much more common in veterinary medicine and one can only suspect it has a lot to do with ignoring the basics of immunology for the sake of “increasing vaccine sales and profits”. As a young vet, I was taught that annual boosters are “a good way” to ensure that clients come back with their dogs for an annual examination, which to me is a flawed argument. 

The AAHA stated in 2017 that they no longer support annual boosters and suggested boosters every three years. However, based on the fact that most dogs maintain antibodies against the most common diseases for a lifetime, boosters every three years do not seem to be necessary either.


Why am I in favour of reducing the number of vaccines in dogs?


The answer is very simple. Whenever I can reduce the number of foreign substances entering the body, I take that route because vaccines are not completely harmless. They contain mercury compounds and formaldehyde which are toxic cancer-causing substances. Also, most vaccines include combinations of pathogens which the immune system rarely needs to deal with in natural circumstances. There is also the risk of acute allergic reactions to vaccines and increased incidence of allergies and autoimmune disease. In short, it is better to minimize vaccines whenever possible.

Click here to learn more about vaccination safety for dogs.


Fear plays a big factor!


It is not easy for me to write this article because the idea of reducing the frequency of vaccination is usually met with huge resistance from a large majority of my peers. The purpose of this article is not to go against my colleagues but to focus on what should always be our priority: the health and well-being of our patients, your beloved pets.

I still see many people deciding to subject their dogs to excessive vaccination protocols out of fear that their dog could get sick and die. My hope is that after reading this article, you will feel empowered and strong enough to say no to unnecessary vaccines and help to create a much-needed paradigm shift. I also trust you know that I would never risk the life and wellbeing of Skai and Pax. I just did what made sense based on the sound principles of immunology.

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

Most Popular

  • Flying with dogs
    In my article, I share the personal story of how I'm able to fly with my dog, Pax, thanks to overcoming challenges with sleepwalking and night terrors. This unique experience not only allowed me to travel with my service dog but also serves as a reminder that even difficult situations can have positive outcomes.
  • dog and pony
    Successful communication is essential for building healthier and more fulfilling relationships and happier lives. In this article, I'll share with you 8 communication hacks to help you avoid unnecessary drama, prioritize active listening and address conflicts effectively.
  • Dalmatian eating fruit
    Can dogs eat bananas, apples, strawberries and other fruit? What about grapes? Find out what fruits are safe, toxic, and healthy for dogs. Learn about the potential health benefits and risks of feeding fruit to your canine companion, and get tips on the ideal time to feed it.
  • Illustration of the anatomy of a heart
    As dog lovers, we all want our beloved pups to live long and healthy lives. Protecting your dog's heart from potential health issues is important, and in this blog Dr. Dobias shares some key points that you might not yet be aware of, read on to find out what you can do to keep your dog's heart safe. 

Dog Health

  • Husky lying on blanket with heart toy
    Dogs have our hearts and that is why we need to protect their heart. Dog’s as they age often face muscle problems and spinal misalignment and you might be surprised to know how that can hurt their heart. Learn how to protect your dog’s spine and by extension their heart.
  • The secret ingredient for a perfect No. 2
    Dogs and humans have evolved side-by-side but they are still quite different when it comes to their digestive tracts and dietary habits. We have studied their original environments such as the soils of the African savanna and consulted with top experts in the field of probiotics and microbiology to come up with a combination that reflects healthy bacterial flora of canines.
  • Man being pointed at
    Criticism can hurt a brand, but constructive feedback can help it grow. In this blog Dr. Dobias talks about the differences between these approaches, and how to handle the power of influence and opinion with care. 
  • Broccoli with vitamins and minerals
    Are you worried that your and your dog's diet is missing something? Maybe you're worried about toxin levels in food, the environment, or flea and tick products. Let's face it; we can't remove ourselves entirely from our toxin-filled world, but we can do things to reduce our exposure to harmful substances. 

Human health

  • Dr. Dobias with Pax
    How do you navigate the seas of life? How do you deal with disappointment? Whatever life throws at us, we can always rely on our dogs to bring joy into our days. In this blog I share my thoughts on the support our dogs provide during the difficult moments in life. 
  • Why 1 in 4 Americans suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    Learn more about the alarming prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) affecting 1 in 4 Americans. Discover its main risk factors, diagnosis methods, and treatment options to better manage or prevent this silent yet severe condition. 
  • A new perspective on brain health, memory loss, Alzheimer's Disease, and dementia in people and dogs
    The Science of DHA and the Brain: Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily DHA, are the unsung heroes of brain health. They play crucial roles in brain physiology and biological activities, with exciting links between Omega-3 levels and cognitive function. Higher DHA levels have been shown to preserve the integrity of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), your brain's security system
  • Dr. Dobias and Pax
    It appears that most of the world is ready for change, but whenever I think about the solutions to any of the problems that plague our world, I can’t prevent myself from thinking that we humans are acting like little toddlers who have broken a toy and do not know how to fix it. Despite my generally optimistic attitude, I have had a hard time staying positive at times because I know how complex this all is. Read here for some tools that make me feel good about the world, which I would like to share with you.

News, stories and good life

  • Dr. Peter Dobias with his dog Pax on his lap
    Do you have trouble staying positive during difficult times? These days we are surrounded by a lot of negative messaging, and it's easy to let that get you down. Here are some of my tips for remaining positive, and don't forget to share your tips with me!
  • Man raising fist on a mountain
    Most of us have been exposed to panic-inducing information about the virus spread, however, I have noticed the general absence of one piece of information, how to make your immune system stronger and body more resilient. (It will definitely not happen by stockpiling toilet paper!) I have always loved immunology and the current situation has prompted me to put together two simple lists on how to increase your dog’s and your own immunity.
  • Man with dog wearing a collar
    Does your dog have ear problems, nasal or oral tumors, reverse sneezing or an  itchy head or hair loss on their head? Learn how you can address some of these problems and save thousands in vet care costs.
  • Terrier eating raw food
    Now there is no need to guess if there is something missing in your dogs diet.  The HairQ Test is a highly accurate test for mineral deficiencies, toxins and heavy metals in dogs to finely tune your dog’s diet and supplement schedule.



Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping