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    Vaccinations are killing my dogs
    Midnighter67 posted:
    Our 6 year old Scottie got a Lepto shot a few weeks ago. The next day he became lethargic and eventually stopped eating. We took him back to the vet and he was diagnosed with IMHA. He was put on prednisone and imuran. His blood levels returned to normal but about 3 weeks after the shot he developed what appears to be a neurological issue. He has pain and weakness in his back legs and drags them as he walks. Our Westie was diagnosed with AIHA after getting a shot from the same vet and had to get blood tranfusions and needed imuran and prednisone. She recovered but the disease came back a few years later and we lost her. My question his how common is this? It seems extremely unlikely to have this happen to two dogs from the same family. We're afraid we will probably lose the Scottie as diagnosis and treatment of the neurological issue will run into the thousands of dollars. Is there a chance of recovery from this without treatment? Should I avoid this veterinarian? We are very frustrated.
    srstephanie responded:
    Hi Midnighter67,

    I'm really sorry that I didn't see your post four days ago. I was actually at a vet conference specifically to hear and spend some time with one of the top experts in vaccines/vaccinations for dogs and cats (Dr Richard Ford of NC State Univ). Dr Ford is a co-author of the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines (just updated last year) which has become a Standard of Care for vets to follow (though it is not a "protocol", just guidance for vets to develop a protocol). I would have liked to have asked him about your dog(s)'s reaction.

    I'm not a vet and have no formal training. Dr Ford has become my mentor and I try to learn from listening to talks at vet conferences and share, as accurately as I can, what the experts are teaching vets.

    There are no definitive scientific studies that show a direct connection between IMHA (immune mediated hemalytic anemia) and vaccines. But most of the experts have seen an increase of IMHA in general after vaccinating some dogs. Like many things, it may be that there is something in the genetic make up of an individual dog that causes an abnormal response to vaccines. I don't think the problem is "just" the vaccine because thousands (millions) of dogs are vaccinated with no problems and vaccines have certainly saved the lives of millions of dogs by preventing potentially lethal disease.

    I've heard another expert, Dr Ron Schultz (Univ of Wisc, who is a PhD in immunology and has spent his career researching vaccines for dogs and cats) ... say that he doesn't feel that vaccines "cause" IMHA ... but that they may be one "trigger" for it in some dogs. It is known that IMHA can be triggered by several things, including some types of drugs and medications, and I think other disease or health issues. So, vaccines are not the only trigger for IMHA in a genetically susceptible dog.

    That said ... and even though a direct link between vaccinations and IMHA has not been proven ... no matter what the initial cause of IMHA, all the experts have said that they would not give additional vaccinations to a dog that had developed IMHA and recovered from it (of course, Rabies law has to be followed, but some states give vets waiver authority for Rabies).

    What I don't know since I'm not a vet, is if the neurological issues your dog developed 3 weeks later is also related to the IMHA episode or vaccines. I don't recall hearing that suggested, but I don't have the medical knowledge to know. You may want to see a specialist to make sure it isn't a separate problem that needs treating. If you can't afford a specialist, you might want a second opinion from another vet. But without a definitive diagnosis, it is not possible to predict whether or not your dog will recover on his own.

    I wouldn't avoid a vet solely because of a bad vaccine reaction. Sometimes they can't be avoided. But another issue is what and how many vaccines were given at the same time? Lepto is a "non-core" vaccine and a Killed bacterial vaccine that is known to be very reactive. It is recommended that for small dogs, multiple vaccinations at the same office visit be avoided. Rather, give the core vaccines and then a MINIMUM of two weeks later, give a non-core vaccine like Lepto or Lyme. And, if giving a Killed vaccine at the same time as a Modified Live (the core vaccines) ... the two should be given at separate locations (that drain to different lymph nodes). That is new advice from the 2011 Vaccination Guidelines.

    I'm sorry you & your dogs have gone through this. Vaccines help many dogs, but it is a biological product that some do not handle well. I don't know if the neurological problem is related or not and without testing you probably won't know. I hope it works out.

    Stephanie in Montreal
    stillkicking00 replied to srstephanie's response:
    Both of my dogs have had reactions to vaccinations. The Maltese-Poodle has now been exempt from all vaccinations for life. The past few years, the Bichon-Poodle has had reactions to vaccinations even when rabies is given seperate from the others. I think that she will also be exempt for life also. Their reactions show up within a couple of hours of getting the shots. Also they were given Benedryl to help didn't work. How can I keep them healthy now?

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