Dog Vaccination Schedule :
Holistic Vs. Conventional Approach

The right dog vaccinations, and just as importantly the right dog vaccination schedule, will boost your best friend's immune system to better fight and prevent infection.

But the vaccinations enforced by many veterinarians have been shown to actually hurt dogs.

This page will help you make the vaccination decisions that are appropriate for your dog...

Are Dog Vaccinations Safe?

Any foreign substance introduced to your dog’s body carries a risk of an allergic reaction, but most dogs respond well, at least initially, to dog vaccinations as long as you use an appropriate dog vaccination schedule... IF your dog is currently healthy.  Weak or unhealthy animals may actually become sick from the vaccines themselves. 

The 10 second speed talker’s disclaimer at the end of a dog vaccine commercial would go something like this:

“Uncommon mild and short-term reactions include:

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Temporary pain and swelling where the dog was injected
In the extremely rare case that your dog experiences repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, difficulty breathing, collapse or swelling of the face or legs, consult with your veterinarian immediately.”

While conventional vets would call side effects uncommon, many holistic veterinarians believe that vaccinations can have significant long-term effects on your dog. 

Rabies vaccines for dogs are usually required to protect humans, so even though many holistic vets feel that they can be harmful, you may not have a choice depending on local laws.

If you are like most dog owners, you have probably heard about vaccinating your dog so many times that you are afraid to not use them. Rabies vaccines are even required by law, for crying out loud!  

So is there a middle-of-the-road option?

Yes, but first let's discuss the different viewpoints of conventional and holistic veterinarians a little further...

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Which Dog Vaccinations are Most Common?

The right vaccinations for your dog depend on their age, breed, diet, exercise, surroundings and interactions with wild and domestic animals.

There are two types of vaccines: Core and Non-Core. Core vaccines are administered to most pets in a certain area, while non-core vaccines vary based on each dog’s situation. Work with your vet to determine what’s best. 

Following are the most common Core vaccines along with brief information about the disease they attempt to prevent (along with which may be required by law):

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  • Adenovirus type-1 causes infectious hepatitis (often required by law).
  • Adenovirus type-2 causes respiratory infection (often required by law).
  • Bordetella (B. bronchiseptica) may contribute to kennel cough in dogs.
  • Coronavirus is a highly contagious intestinal disease causing dog vomiting and dog diarrhea.
  • Distemper in dogs is a widespread and often fatal disease.
  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection which may lead to kidney damage.
  • Parainfluenza is another cause of canine kennel cough.
  • Parvovirus is an often fatal disease of the intestinal tract (vaccination is often required by law). See Parvo Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention & Parvo in Puppies for more information.
  • Dog rabies is almost always fatal  (often required by law).
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Vaccinations Stance: Conventional Vs. Holistic Veterinarians

While the prevalence of many diseases has decreased over the last 100 years, the conventional vet consensus is to have your dog vaccinated as several serious diseases are still common. 

According to them, young puppies are at especially high risk since the disease fighting properties of their mothers’ milk starts to wane as puppies age.

Holistic veterinarians, however, question the effectiveness of vaccines.  They argue that vaccines can actually have a negative effect in several situations, such as:

  • Vaccinating when your dog is too young, sick, weak or malnourished
  • Using the wrong dog vaccination schedule
  • Giving a vaccine to a dog whose immune system is weak due to genetics, drugs or a previous disease
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Holistic vets also argue that there is no guarantee that vaccines will work and that their effectiveness relies on several factors such as health, diet and overall lifestyle.

They suggest establishing a solid foundation of health through proper diet, exercise and overall lifestyle and addressing problems as they arise by adjusting these foundations and implementing one of many natural dog treatment options as appropriate.

If you do decide to vaccinate your dog, holistic veterinarians generally recommend the following:

  • Use single vaccines instead of complex vaccines. To avoid the hassle, discomfort and cost of several injections, it is common practice to combine vaccinations into a single shot such as DHLP-P (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus). Holistic vets recommend administering each vaccine one at a time.  Single vaccines may or may not be available in your area, so reach out to a holistic veterinarian if necessary.
  • Only use “inactivated” or “killed” vaccines instead of “modified live.”  They are usually safer since they are certain not to grow inside your dog’s body.
  • If you own a puppy, use a reduced vaccination schedule (see schedules further down the page).  Immunized puppies may be good to go for several years or even their entire lives.
  • Do not vaccinate before 16 weeks of age.
  • Avoid annual boosters.  While this is a common practice, there is no scientific evidence that it is necessary.  And don’t be surprised if your conventional vet disagrees – reach out to a holistic vet for verification as this is the latest official veterinarian opinion from the experts in the field of veterinary immunology.

Below we have some great veterinarian-approved dog vaccination schedule guidelines for you to follow if you choose to take that route, but you should always consult with your vet first as each dog’s needs can be different.

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What is the Best Dog Vaccination Schedule?

There are several variations of a good dog vaccination schedule, and your holistic veterinarian will be best suited to make the determination for your dog. Some vaccines work for life and others last less than a year.

To give you an idea about how veterinarian-recommended dog vaccination schedules can differ, the chart below reviews what a typical holistic and conventional vet are likely to recommend along with what an integrated approach might look like.

Most Holistic Dog Vaccination Schedule Holistic/Conventional Compromise Conventional Dog Vaccination Schedule
Keep your puppy isolated from other dogs until they are 22 weeks old.
16 Weeks

First distemper vaccine (hepatitis)
5 Weeks

Parvovirus: For puppies at high risk. Check with your veterinarian.
22 Weeks

Distemper vaccine (may be forced to get this together with hepatitis as the single vaccine may not be available in your area)
20 Weeks

First parvovirus
6 & 9 Weeks

Combination vaccine (i.e. DHLP-P) without leptospirosis.
Coronavirus: where coronavirus is a concern.
26 Weeks

Parvovirus vaccine
24 Weeks

Second distemper shot (hepatitis)
12 Weeks or Older
Rabies*: Given by your local veterinarian (age at vaccination may vary according to local law).
30 Weeks

28 Weeks

Second parvovirus vaccine
12 and 15 Weeks
Combination vaccine Leptospirosis: include leptospirosis in the combination vaccine where leptospirosis is a concern, or if traveling to an area where it occurs. Coronavirus: where coronavirus is a concern. Lyme: where dog Lyme disease is a concern or if traveling to an area where it occurs. Some puppies may need additional vaccinations against parvovirus after 15 weeks of age.
32 Weeks

Combination vaccine Leptospirosis: include leptospirosis in the combination vaccine where leptospirosis is a concern, or if traveling to an area where it occurs. Coronavirus: where coronavirus is a concern. Lyme: where Lyme disease in dogs is a concern or if traveling to an area where it occurs. Rabies*: Given by your local veterinarian (time interval between vaccinations may vary according to local law).
Note:  Holistic veterinarians feel that the dog rabies vaccine can have negative effects on your dog, but unfortunately they are often required by law.  If so, it is best to administer the rabies vaccine last. You should follow local law for the rabies vaccine requirements (ask a  local vet).  State law often requires that the vaccine be administered at 16 weeks.  

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dog vaccination schedule

If you would like to run your dog's situation by our Holistic & Conventionally trained and licensed veterinarians to get their feedback before (or after) you take your dog into your vet, you can click here to ask a veterinarian via My Online Vet.

One of our vets will get back to you right away with feedback specific to your dog.

You can also review pictures and questions submitted by other visitors in our My Online Vet Ask-A-Vet Library section on Dog Vaccinations.

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