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Herbal Help For Vaccinations

Learn how to help your pet through the vaccination process

| July/August 2001

  • Use immune-boosting herbs to help your pet through vaccinations.
  • Use immune-boosting herbs to help your pet through vaccinations.
    Photo courtesy of R. Mayfield

The use of vaccines in veterinary medicine is a controversial and often-emotional subject. Ask a group of veterinarians whether vaccines are safe and/or effective, ask them which vaccines to use, how often to use them and when, or ask them which vaccines they use for their own pets, and you’ll get a whole spectrum of answers.

On the one side are the practitioners who feel that vaccines are totally safe to use and that they are extremely effective in preventing disease. Typically, these are the practitioners who recommend the use of annual vaccinations for every disease that has an available vaccine. At the other extreme are those who feel vaccines are evil incarnate, and will try to convince their clients to use as few vaccines as possible.

Then, there are the veterinarians who have studied both sides of the vaccine question and have come to several realizations. First, vaccines are grossly overused in veterinary medicine. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the annual use of vaccines, and over-vaccination has been cited as the culprit for many vaccine-induced problems. Also, the overall efficacy of vaccines is overrated. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, and even the best will only protect a percentage of the population truly at risk. Third, animals experience far more vaccine-related problems than are reported, meaning that vaccines are not as safe as most people believe. And last, some practitioners believe that the overuse of vaccines is related to an increased incidence of chronic diseases such as thyroid imbalances, arthritis, and cancers. The collection of these diseases is often referred to as vaccinosis—the most controversial of all vaccine-related topics.

My position on vaccines

When it comes to vaccines, for once in my life I am not an extremist; I am more of a “compassionately conservative” vaccinator. I think the safety and efficacy of giving appropriate vaccines to puppies and kittens outweighs their potential for harm. After the “kids” get their vaccines, however, all good science points to a re-vaccination regime of every third to fifth year, depending on the vaccine, or possibly no further vaccines for the animal (again, depending on the vaccine and the animal’s risk of exposure). Note that rabies is the exception here: Dogs (and in some states, cats) will need a rabies vaccine annually or every third year, depending on where you live. This legal requirement is to protect the human population.

Finally, after studying both sides of the vaccine question and observing my patients, I am personally convinced that overzealous vaccinating predisposes our pets to many of the chronic diseases that are so prevalent today. I am one who believes that vaccinosis is a very real problem, and thus I try to minimize vaccines as much as possible.

Help your pet through vaccinations

Whichever side of the vaccine controversy you are on, it just makes sense to me to help your pet along during vaccination periods. This help should be a three-pronged approach: first, assisting the immune system and helping it to rebalance after the vaccine; second, helping your pet eliminate any possible toxins that may be contained in the vaccines; and third, helping to prevent vaccinosis.

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