UP DATED June 19th 2018
UP DATED June 19th 2018
UP DATED Sept 6th 2017
UP DATED Sept 6th 2017
The dogs below are all miniatures and toys they are 11 to 15 in tall and weigh 12 to 25 pounds they are our main breeding stock for minis and toys. we consider our ideal minis to be 13 to 15 in tall and weigh 15 to 20 pounds. we consider dogs 12in tall or less and weigh 15 pounds or less to be toy size minis. dogs 25 to 30 pounds we call mid size, they are a large mini or a small standard however you want to look at it.
We have raised Queensland Heelers since the 1960’s out of stock imported from Australia. The old style Heelers were not very large usually 25 to 40 pounds. My original female was very small she was only 20 pounds and was probably about 13 or 14 in tall, her parents were born in Australia, she was a true Queensland Heeler in a naturally small size. In every litter she would have a female or two that was her size or smaller, her daughters also produced some offspring that was smaller than themselves and so on. True miniatures are not the same as runts or dwarfs. they will produce genetically small offspring, some of the offspring will usually be smaller than the parents as long as the parents are near enough to the same size to be a good match. Even though our minis are little they are well balanced and are in all respects like the full size Heelers. We have developed the minis and the toys from the old style working dogs with out inbreeding them. we selected the smallest dogs from the litters and kept breeding smallest to smallest over many generations. When we select males to buy for breeding we look for dogs as much like ours as possible We prefer to buy pups out of small Australian stock. even then they do not always work out. Good full blood minis are hard to find. Our Charlie dog is an AKC dog that is genetically small and produces genetically small offspring in most of the litters no matter what size the female is. We have Standard, Miniature and toy size dogs sired by charlie. Spur is an old dog, he is 8 generations down from our original dogs from the 60’s he also produces pups of all sizes depending what the female is. His little females produce some offspring littler than themselves in most of there litters. Most of our minis and toys are registered as miniature Queensland Heelers. If you are looking to purchase a pup please call us at 541 280 1537 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. to see our background dogs of the past years that produced our stock go to our pages listed at the top under the horses and riders.
Most of our dogs are decedents of the original Queensland Blue Heelers imported to North Lake County Oregon from Australia in the 1960’s. most of the original dogs in that area at that time were 20 to 40 pounds. others are decedents of other imported dogs in the 70s 80s and 90s to other parts of Oregon and Washington, most of which were 25 to 50 pounds. Our standard dogs are 17 to 20 in tall and weighing 30 to 50 pounds. If they are less than 16in tall & weigh less than 30 pounds we consider them mid size or miniature. Most are registered with NAPR (North American Purebred Registry) Our dogs are of athletic working build rather than the over stocky compact show build. we try to keep the quality of the old foundation stock that can run, jump and work all day if needed and still be a good companion dog. Our dogs are very sound we have not had the genetic defects that many of the show breeders are experiencing. We guarantee our pups to be sound. if anyone gets a pup with a genetic defect we will give a new pup but not pay any vet bills, testing, shipping, ECT. To see our miniatures just scroll on down to the next blog.
Queensland Blue Heelers also known as Australian Cattle Dogs, Blue Heelers, Red Heelers, Blueies, Dingos and other names are a combination of various breeds done by the Australian Stock men of the 1800s and earlier 1900s to work cattle in all kinds of terrain and weather conditions. they are a very rugged and sound breed that are highly devoted to there owners, family’s and anything they consider belonging to there owners. Never try to pet a Heeler in a vehicle without the owners permeation for they think they own the vehicle and will guard it with there life. There are various opinions of the breeds used to make the Heeler. I have talked to many old timers some of which moved to America and brought there dogs with them and most all agree that Heelers have the old Collie (not the Lassie Collie) Wild Dingo, Dalmatian, Bull Terrier and Australian Kelpie fine tuned over many years of breeding.
Our policies & guarantees
Here is what our moms & pups get up to leaving, pup replacement .
We feed the Pregnant & nursing moms Pro Pac Ultimate Meadow Prime grain free kibble or Pro Pac Lamb & rice they also get fresh goat milk clabbered (like Yogurt) for a natural source of probiotics & calcium also farm fresh free range eggs from our chickens & fresh raw meat scraps. the puppies get Nutri Source small & medium breed puppy food made by KLN or Pro Pack Ultimate Medow Prime soaked in the clabber and water this boosts there natural immune system, Fresh water all the time. they are wormed 3 times by 6 weeks of age. They are wormed at 2 weeks of age with Pyratal Poamate, then at 3 weeks of age with Fenbendazole & SMZ for 5 days in a row and repeat again at 5 weeks for 5 days, one dose of praziquantel & Pyrantal Poamate in a few days, This covers most parasites known to the central & eastern Oregon area. Puppies get a shot of NeoPar at 6 weeks it is a Parvo only vaccine without the adjuvants & additives of extra stuff in it that the combination shots have. NeoPar is the top Parvo vaccine for young puppies. We do not give any Combination shots to puppies under 12 weeks unless requested. We prefer to wait until 16 weeks for our own pups. Puppies do not get much good out of combination shots until they are at least 12 weeks old & sometimes not until 16 weeks of age. the combination shots have a lot of harmful ingredients in them & the more times they are given to a young pup the more damage they do, combination shots have 5 or more diseases combined in one shot plus mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, antifreeze like ingredient & other harmful stuff. If the new owner wants to give shots at an early age it is there choice to so. Vaccinating for Distemper & Parvo are very important but should be done with caution & at the best age for the best results. Puppies & dogs need to be free of Parasites so there immune systems is strong & vibrant to get full effect out of vaccinations. There are links below that explain the harms of shots, spay & neuter being done to young puppies under 16 weeks (4 months) of age & are much more likely to have reactions to the shots. puppies should never be allowed to be around anyone’s shews that has walked out in public places for parvo & other diseases are carried on peoples shews, if the puppy chews on shews that have been walking where there is disease germs it can get a direct contact to disease, door knobs & handles are also a common way for disease to be contacted, if someone has handled a sick or contagious dog & used the door handle then you use it and your puppy licks your hands or even petting it can transfer disease to the puppy. puppies under 4 months (16 weeks) of age are highly susceptible to disease whether they have been vaccinated or not. they should not go to dog parks, rest areas, or any public parking lots or anywhere unknown peoples feet walk or unknown dogs have been. to read about shots, spay, neuter or most any common dog health issues go to page (9) at the top of our site where i have posted a list of links & some articles by the top research veterinarians. below are some of the links to dog health articles & info by the top research veterinarians as well. We do genetic testing on our parent dogs for PRA, PLL & DM the 3 most common defects known to the heeler breed.
We have a limited health guarantee on the pups that if a pup has genetic defect that was not noticeable as a young pup we will replace the pup with a new pup from our own dogs. we do not pay any vet bills, testing, medications, transportation, or any other expenses. only replace the pup. If you take the pup somewhere & it is exposed to any disease & gets sick it is not our fault, we would not replace it. Our adult dogs are vaccinated & non exposed to any outside dogs or outside people so they do not get exposed to any Disease’s, (does not include parasites). Keep all puppies under 4 months old whether they are vaccinated or not away from other dogs & peoples feet, where people walk, door knobs & handles you touch, or most anything that people or animals touch that has any disease on them can be a direct exposier to Diseases, places like public parking lots, parks, dog parks & especially shelters, vet clinics, boarding kennels, groomers, places of any kind of events are prime places for disease. we give them 1 or 2 shots of NeoPar the parvo only puppy shot without the adjuvants before leaving depending on what age they leave then pups should be vaccinated with a 5 way that has Parvo & Distemper for sure in them at 12 to 16 weeks of age to get immunity. up until the 16 week (4 month) old age do not depend on them being fully immune from shots for they are just babies & have to gain immunity from shots & on there own & it takes time, as long as they have there moms immunity they may not respond to shots earlier than 16 weeks & be vulnerable to disease. feeding good probiotics on a daily basis to strengthen there natural immunity is a good idea Solaray Multidophilus 12 20 Bil Supplement, 100 Count is what we use when we need to.
By Dr. Becker
A recent study raises even more questions about traditional spay/neuter practices for U.S. dogs.
The study, titled “Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas,”1 was conducted by a team of researchers with support from the Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation. It was published in the February 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Like previous research on Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers, the results of the Vizsla study are a call to action to take a closer look at current neutering recommendations.
The Vizsla study involved 2,505 dogs, and reported these results:
- Dogs neutered or spayed at any age were at significantly increased risk for developing mast cell cancer, lymphoma, all other cancers, all cancers combined, and fear of storms, compared with intact dogs.
- Females spayed at 12 months or younger, and both genders neutered or spayed at over 12 months had significantly increased odds of developing hemangiosarcoma, compared with intact dogs.
- Dogs of both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months or younger had significantly increased odds of developing a behavioral disorder, including separation anxiety, noise phobia, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and/or fear biting. When it came to thunderstorm phobia, all neutered or spayed Vizslas were at greater risk than intact Vizslas, regardless of age at neutering.
- The younger the age at neutering, the earlier the age at diagnosis with mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.
- Compared to intact dogs, neutered and spayed dogs had a 3.5 times higher risk of developing mast cell cancer, regardless of what age they were neutered.
- Spayed females had nine times higher incidence of hemangiosarcoma compared to intact females, regardless of when spaying was performed, however, no difference in incidence of this type of cancer was found for neutered vs. intact males.
- Neutered and spayed dogs had 4.3 times higher incidence of lymphoma (lymphosarcoma), regardless of age at time of neutering.
- Neutered and spayed dogs had five times higher incidence of other types of cancer, regardless of age of neutering.
- Spayed females had 6.5 times higher incidence of all cancers combined compared to intact females, and neutered males had 3.6 times higher incidence than intact males.
The Vizsla researchers concluded that:
“Additional studies are needed on the biological effects of removing gonadal hormones and on methods to render dogs infertile that do not involve gonadectomy. Veterinarians should discuss the benefits and possible adverse effects of gonadectomy with clients, giving consideration to the breed of dog, the owner’s circumstances, and the anticipated use of the dog.”
(The full Vizsla study can be downloaded here.)
I absolutely agree with the researchers’ conclusion that studies are needed on alternative methods of sterilizing dogs that do not involve removing the gonads. As I explained in an earlier video, over the years I’ve changed my view on spaying and neutering dogs, based not just on research like Vizsla study, but also on the health challenges faced by so many of my canine patients after I spayed or neutered them. These were primarily irreversible metabolic diseases that appeared within a few years of a dog’s surgery.
My current approach is far removed from the view I held in my early days as a vet, when I felt it was my duty and obligation to spay and neuter every dog at a young age. Nowadays, I work with each individual pet owner to make decisions that will provide the most health benefits for the dog.
Whenever possible, I prefer to leave dogs intact. However, this approach requires a highly responsible pet guardian who is fully committed to and capable of preventing the dog from mating (unless the owner is a responsible breeder and that’s the goal).
My second choice is to sterilize without desexing. This means performing a procedure that will prevent pregnancy while sparing the testes or ovaries so that they continue to produce hormones essential for the dog’s health and well-being. This typically involves a vasectomy for male dogs, and either a tubal ligation or modified spay for females. The modified spay removes the uterus while preserving the hormone-producing ovaries.
The cases in which I opt for a full spay or neuter usually involve an older dog who has developed a condition that is best resolved by the surgery, for example, pyometra (a uterine disease in female dogs), or moderate to severe benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate in male dogs) that is impeding urination and/or causing the animal discomfort. Generally speaking, mature intact dogs have had the benefit of a lifetime of sex hormone production, so the endocrine imbalances we see with spayed or neutered puppies don’t occur when dogs are desexed in their later years.
It’s important to understand that I’m not advocating the adoption of intact shelter animals to people who may or may not be responsible pet owners. Shelter veterinarians don’t have the time or resources available to build a relationship with every adoptive family, so all the animals in their care must be sterilized prior to adoption to prevent more litters of unwanted pets.
Would I prefer that shelter vets sterilize rather than desex homeless pets, so that those animals, too, retain their sex hormones? Absolutely I would. But for the time being, the U.S. shelter system isn’t up to that particular challenge, nor are DVMs in this country routinely trained in how to perform anything other than full spays and neuters.
So while I totally agree with the need to sterilize shelter pets, I don’t necessarily agree with the method of sterilization being used.
- A new study on the Vizsla breed adds to a growing body of evidence that there’s a need to rethink traditional spay/neuter procedures for dogs in the U.S. The study evaluated the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in spayed and neutered Vizslas.
- The Vizsla study involved over 2,500 dogs and found that in general, desexed (spayed or neutered) dogs had significantly increased risk for developing several types of cancer, and also behavioral disorders. Researchers concluded that “The younger the age at gonadectomy, the earlier the mean age at diagnosis of mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.”
- The researchers additionally stated, “Analysis of the present study suggested that gonadectomy does not inevitably result in a healthier, more temperamentally stable dog.”
- Dr. Becker’s view of spaying/neutering has evolved over her years in practice and aligns with the recommendations of the Vizsla researchers and others doing similar studies. Her current approach is to leave dogs intact whenever practical, or opt for a sterilization procedure rather than a desexing procedure like spaying/neutering.
- It’s important to distinguish the current approach to sterilizing homeless shelter animals in the U.S. vs. the individual pets of responsible dog owners. While Dr. Becker would also prefer to see shelter pets sterilized rather than desexed, she is in full agreement with the need to prevent pregnancy among the shelter population.
By Dr. Becker
Whenever I discuss scientific evidence related to the health risks of spaying and neutering here at Mercola Healthy Pets or on my Facebook page, I receive a lot of negative feedback from people who are absolutely certain I’m encouraging pet overpopulation and irresponsible pet ownership. So, I decided to make a video to explain to those who are standing in judgment why nothing could be further from the truth.
I Was Once a Huge Advocate of Spaying or Neutering Every Dog at an Early Age
I started volunteering at an animal shelter when I was 13 years old. I started working there when I was 14. I cleaned cages. By the time I was 17, I had become certified as a euthanasia technician by the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine. The ten years I spent working at a kill shelter and the exposure to certain clients and cases in my veterinary practice over the years have taught me more than I ever wanted to know or could share in this video about abused, neglected, and unwanted pets.
When I first opened my animal hospital, I was so adamant about my clients spaying their female pets before the first heat cycle, that if they didn’t follow my advice, I really became upset. I tried not to show it outwardly, but I suggested that those clients might be more ethically aligned with another veterinarian who didn’t feel as strongly about the subject as I did.
That was my politically correct way of saying, “Maybe you should go to another vet,” because I would literally lose sleep over having intact patients in my practice. I spayed and neutered thousands of my patients when they were very, very young, assuming I was completing my moral task as an ethical veterinarian.
Five Years into Private Practice, Many of My Canine Patients Began to Develop Endocrine Imbalances and Related Diseases
About five years after my practice opened, many of my patients started to develop endocrine issues. This was obviously very concerning to me, as these animals were not over-vaccinated. They were all eating biologically appropriate, fresh food diets.
The first light bulb went off in my head when I started researching why up to 90 percent of ferrets die of endocrine imbalance, specifically adrenal disease or Cushing’s disease. Mass-bred ferrets that enter the pet trade are desexed at about three weeks of age. The theory behind why most ferrets develop endocrine imbalance is that juvenile desexing creates a sex hormone deficiency, which ultimately taxes the last remaining tissues of the body capable of producing a small amount of sex hormone – the adrenal glands. So I began to wonder… could the same phenomenon be happening with my dog patients?
By 2006, the number of dogs I was diagnosing with hypothyroidism was at an all-time high. Diagnosing low thyroid levels is very easy compared to the complex adrenal testing required to show that a dog has adrenal disease. I started to wonder if hypothyroidism was just a symptom of a deeper hormonal imbalance in many of my patients. Because even after we got those thyroid levels balanced, the dogs still didn’t appear to be vibrantly healthy or entirely well.
I contacted Dr. Jack Oliver, who ran the University of Tennessee’s adrenal lab, and posed my theory to him. I was stunned when he told me that indeed adrenal disease was occurring at epidemic proportions in dogs in the U.S. and was certainly tied to sex hormone imbalance. Now, whether veterinarians were testing and identifying the epidemic was a whole different story.
In a Flash of Recognition, I Knew My Insistence on Desexing All My Patients at a Young Age Had Created Serious Health Problems for Many of Them
At this point, I became overwhelmed with guilt. For many years, I insisted my clients follow my advice to spay or neuter their pets at or before six months of age. It hit me like a lightning bolt that I was making this suggestion not based on what was physiologically best for my patients, but rather what I felt was morally best for their owners.
As all of the patients that I desexed at a young age cycled through, many of them with irreversible metabolic diseases, I started apologizing to my clients. I apologized to my patients as well. Through my blanket recommendation that all pets be desexed because humans may be irresponsible with an intact animal, I had inadvertently made many of my patients very ill. As a doctor, this revelation was devastating.
I began changing my recommendations on spaying and neutering. I advised my clients to leave their pets intact. Now, you must realize my veterinary practice is filled with wildly committed owners. I am not dealing with uneducated, uncaring, or unreliable clients.
Of course, there were and are exceptions to my advice against desexing. But in general, my recommendation as a holistic vet is to perform any surgery – including spaying and neutering – only when it’s a medical necessity and not an elective procedure.
I recently adopted a stray Dachshund who is intact, and I plan to leave him intact. I am an intact female myself. I am proud to say that I have not experienced a single unplanned pregnancy in my personal life or in my career at my practice as a holistic vet catering to thousands of intact animals.
If you are an irresponsible pet owner who allows your intact pet outside without a leash and direct supervision, this video is not for you. Please sterilize your pet before allowing him or her outside again, as you are contributing to the overpopulation problem. Please rethink how you care for your pet, or consider not having pets.
My Views on Sterilization of Shelter Pets
The subject of spay/neuter is a huge one, and if I were to attempt to cover every aspect of it, this video would be three hours long. Suffice it to say that until we get our nation’s shelter systems revamped, animals will continue to be spayed as juveniles. For now, that’s that. We won’t change anything with this video. Are we pushing for shelter vets to learn ovary-sparing techniques that allow for sterilization without sex hormone obliteration? Yes. But for now, that isn’t happening.
I could have made a dozen different choices in my professional career that would have been satisfying, including being a shelter vet. If I were a shelter vet right now, I would be pushing for sterilization techniques that preserve normal endocrine function. I chose the path of a wellness veterinarian because that resonated the most with my personal goals in life. As I’ve explained, I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve apologized directly to the owners and the dogs that I desexed as puppies before I knew any better.
I am as committed as ever to preventing and treating illness in individual family pets. I’m not, however, advocating the adoption of intact animals to people who may or may not be responsible pet owners. Shelter vets don’t have the luxury of building relationships with their adoptive families, so all the animals in their care must be sterilized prior to adoption. I totally agree with this. I don’t necessarily agree with the method of sterilization being used.
Why I Believe Sterilization, Not Desexing, Is the Better Option
As a proactive veterinarian, I have dedicated my life to keeping animals well. I have learned and continue to learn the best ways to help pets stay healthy and the reasons disease occurs. I am also a holistically oriented vet, which means I view animals as a whole – not just a collection of body parts or symptoms.
I believe there is a purpose for each organ we are born with, and that organ systems are interdependent. I believe removing any organ – certainly including all the organs of reproduction – will have health consequences. It’s inevitable. It’s simply common sense.
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that desexing dogs, especially at an early age, can create health and behavior problems. When I use the term “desexing,” I’m referring to the traditional spay and neuter surgery where all the sex hormone-secreting tissues are removed. When I use the term “sterilization,” I’m referring to animals that can no longer reproduce, but maintain their sex hormone-secreting tissues.
In my view, I would not be fulfilling my obligation as an animal healthcare professional if I chose to ignore the scientific evidence and not pass it on to Healthy Pets readers and the clients at my practice who entrust me with the well being of their animals.
Health Issues Linked to Spaying and Neutering Dogs
Before I discuss some of the health issues now associated with desexing dogs, first let me point out that there are two medical conditions that actually can be totally eliminated by desexing: benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH (enlarged prostate), and pyometra (a disease of the uterus). However, a wealth of information is mounting that preserving innate sex hormones, especially in the first years of life, may be beneficial to pets, whereas the risk of pyometra or BPH in an animal’s first year of life is incredibly low.
Recent research has also discredited a couple of myths about the supposed benefits of early spays and neuters, including:
- A study from the U.K. suggests there isn’t much scientific evidence at all to support the idea that early spaying of female dogs decreases or eliminates future risk of mammary tumors or breast cancer. This has been a much promoted supposed benefit of early spays for decades. But as it turns out, it’s based on theory rather than scientific evidence.
- Similar to the situation with early spaying and mammary tumors, there’s a common belief that neutering a male dog prevents prostate cancer. However, a small study conducted at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that neutering – no matter the age – has no effect on the development of prostate cancer.
And now for some of the disorders and diseases linked to spaying/neutering:
Shortened lifespan. A study conducted and published in 2009 by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation established a link between the age at which female Rottweilers are spayed and how long they live. Researchers compared long-lived Rotties that lived for 13 years or more with those who lived a normal lifespan of about 9 years. They discovered that while females live longer than males, removing the ovaries of female Rottweilers before five years of age evened the score. Females who kept their ovaries until at least 6 years of age were four times more likely to reach an exceptional age compared to Rotties who were spayed at a younger age.
I spayed my rescued Rottie, Isabelle, when I adopted her at seven years of age. She lived to be 17, and she was still unbelievably vibrant at 17. She slipped on the floor in a freak accident and became paralyzed, which ultimately led to her euthanasia. But she was the oldest and healthiest Rottweiler I have ever met.
With Isabelle, I provided literally no medical care because she didn’t need it. Her body naturally thrived throughout her life. I fed her a balanced raw diet. I checked her bloodwork every six months, which was perfect until the day she died. Isabelle was a great example of a thriving pet that lived above the level of disease. I believe her sex hormones greatly contributed to her longevity and her abundantly healthy life.
Atypical Cushing’s disease. It’s my professional opinion that early spaying and neutering plays a role in the development of atypical Cushing’s disease as well. Typical Cushing’s means the middle layer of the adrenal gland is over-secreting cortisol. Atypical Cushing’s involves the outer and innermost layers of the adrenal glands and occurs when other types of hormones are over-produced, usually estrogen and progesterone.
When a dog is spayed or neutered before puberty, the endocrine, glandular and hormonal systems have not yet fully developed. A complete removal of the gonads, resulting in stopping production of all the body’s sex hormones (which is what happens during castration or the traditional spay), can force the adrenal glands to produce sex hormones because they’re the only remaining tissue in the body that can secrete them.
Over time, the adrenal glands become taxed from doing their own work plus the work of the missing gonads. It’s very difficult for these tiny little glands to keep up with the body’s demand for sex hormones. This is the condition of atypical Cushing’s. Hormone disruption is a central feature in Cushing’s disease. Any substance or procedure that affects the body’s hormonal balance should be absolutely evaluated as a potential root cause.
Cardiac tumors. A Veterinary Medical Database search of the years 1982 to 1985 revealed that in dogs with tumors of the heart, the relative risk for spayed females was over four times that of intact females. For the most common type of cardiac tumor, hemangiosarcoma, spayed females had a greater than five times risk vs. their intact counterparts. Neutered males had a slightly higher risk than intact males as well.
Bone cancer. In another Rottweiler study published 10 years ago for both males and females spayed or neutered before one year of age, there was a one in four lifetime risk of developing bone cancer. Desexed Rotties were significantly more likely to acquire the disease than intact dogs. In another study using the Veterinary Medical Database for 1980 to 1984, the risk of bone cancer in large-breed, purebred dogs increased two-fold for those dogs that were also desexed.
Abnormal bone growth and development. Studies done in the 1990s concluded dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age grew significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those dogs spayed or neutered after puberty. The earlier the spay or neuter procedure, the taller the dog. Research published in 2000 may explain why: it appears that the removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs – both females and males – can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure. This results in irregular body proportions, possible cartilage issues, and joint conformation issues.
Higher rate of CCL ruptures. A study conducted at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on cranial cruciate ligament injuries concluded that spayed and neutered dogs had a significantly higher incidence of rupture than their intact counterparts. While large-breed dogs had more CCL injuries, sterilized or desexed dogs of all breeds and sizes had an increased rupture rate.
Hip dysplasia. In a retrospective cohort study conducted at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, results showed that both male and female dogs sterilized at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia.
Breed-specific effects of spay/neuter. A recent study conducted at the University of California Davis involving several hundred Golden Retrievers revealed that for the incidence of hip dysplasia, CCL tears, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumors, the rates were significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered or spayed compared with intact dogs.
Other health concerns. Early spaying or neutering is commonly associated with urinary incontinence in female dogs and has been linked to increased incidence of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.
Spayed or neutered Golden Retrievers are much more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
A cohort study of shelter dogs conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University concluded that infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were spayed and neutered at under 24 weeks of age.
The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation issued a report pointing to higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in spayed and neutered dogs as well.
Among the reports and studies pointing to health concerns associated with early spaying and neutering, we also find mention of increased incidence of behavior problems, including noise phobias, fear behavior, aggression, and undesirable sexual behaviors.
Options to Traditional Spaying and Neutering
Veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada are trained only to spay and neuter, which is unfortunate since there are less invasive alternatives, such as tubal ligation, hysterectomy, and vasectomy. These techniques are quick and easy and certainly effective. In fact, commonly, once the technique is mastered, they’re faster, less risky and potentially less costly than a full spay or neuter.
But unfortunately, nobody knows how to do them in this country. The reason they’re hard to come by is because U.S. veterinary schools simply don’t teach these alternative procedures. They’ve never had a reason to. And until pet owners start demanding sterilization options beyond spaying and neutering, the status quo will remain.
As author Ted Kerasote and I have discussed on numerous occasions, in many European countries, there are intact free-roaming dogs running about under voice control of their owners. When female dogs go into heat, owners simply manage the situation by removing them from group social events until their heat cycle is complete. They’re kept at home, sequestered away from males. They’re walked on a leash.
Ted tells the story of a British veterinarian he interviewed who said most of the requests he gets to neuter dogs come from U.S. and Canadian citizens who are living in London. Rather than immediately complying with the request, the veterinarian talks with the pet owner about the actual necessity to desex the dog. For example, if the dog is always on a leash and always under the owner’s control, then how exactly would the dog become pregnant (or mate with a female) if it’s constantly with the owner and never off leash? The veterinarian says that he rarely has a British pet owner request a spay or neuter procedure.
Most Americans can’t even comprehend that it’s possible to keep intact pet dogs and not have millions of litters of unwanted puppies. That’s because we’ve been conditioned to believe that a responsible pet owner means spaying and neutering your dog. I was taught to believe the same thing — that keeping an intact pet was considered irresponsible even if the owner is meticulously careful about not allowing the pet to breed.
Of course, our dependence on spaying and neutering as the only form of birth control is the result of generations of irresponsible pet owners and millions of unwanted dogs and cats that are killed annually in our animal shelters.
It is a vicious cycle, and it’s a very frustrating cycle to witness. Irresponsible people need to have sterilized pets. No one’s going to argue that point. Unfortunately, spaying and neutering responsible people’s pets doesn’t make irresponsible people any more responsible. They remain the root cause of the overpopulation crisis in this country.
My problem with the spaying and neutering issue is it’s the only current solution to the overpopulation problem. We’re not just halting the animal’s ability to reproduce, we are also removing incredibly valuable sex hormone-secreting tissues like the ovaries and the testes. These organs serve a purpose.
We’re slowly waking up to the fact that in our rush to spay or neuter every possible animal we can get our hands on – the younger, the better – we are creating health problems, sometimes life-threatening health problems, that are non-existent or significantly less prevalent in intact pets.
Responsible Ownership of an Intact Female Dog
First of all, you should know that not everyone is cut out to be the owner of an intact male or female dog. Part of the popularity of full spays and neuters vs. other means of sterilization is that it’s just plain convenient for pet owners. Not only do spays and neuters render the animal unable to reproduce, but they also remove all of the messiness of female heat cycles and most of the pet’s key mating behaviors for both sexes.
Female dogs don’t have monthly periods like humans do. They have one, or usually two heats a year. You can typically tell a female heat cycle is on its way when your intact female’s vulva begins to enlarge. Just like humans there’s bleeding involved, but unlike human females who are not fertile during menstruation, dogs are just the opposite. Female dogs can get pregnant only during heats for about three to four days as unfertilized eggs ripen in their bodies.
Some dogs will signal during this time by flagging, which means lifting the tail base up and to the side. Some females will stand and can be mounted at any time during their heat cycle, including before and after they’re pregnant or fertile. Others show no behavior signs whatsoever. Owners of intact female dogs must be certain of the signs of heat in their pets, so that they can separate them from male dogs during this important time.
Never underestimate the determination of an intact male dog that wants to mate with a female dog in heat. I’m telling you, if you have a female dog, male dogs will come visit her from across a tri-state area because she’s putting out some very attractive pheromones.
With proper training, reinforcement, and constant supervision, however, male dogs can learn to be in the presence of a female while supervised, even when she’s in heat, without mating. Some people with both an intact male and female don’t want to put the effort into managing male dogs around cycling females and simply ship them off to a friend or relative’s house until the heat cycle is over.
If you have a female dog in heat, you should never leave her outside alone even for a second. It doesn’t matter if you have a fenced-in yard. If there’s an unsupervised male around, there’s absolutely a risk of impregnation through the fence (or over the fence, or under the fence).
The heat cycle of a female dog lasts about three weeks, but the menstrual bleeding can be unpredictable during that time. It’s neither consistently heavy nor is it every day, all day. Many owners of intact female dogs invest in special diapers or panties that can hold a sanitary napkin to contain the discharge.
At my house we just get a baby gate, and we gate our special lady of the month in the kitchen area. We put a dog bed in there, and then we just mop a couple of times a day. Typically, female dogs are incredibly good at keeping themselves very clean. Most of the time, there’s very little mess.
Responsible Ownership of an Intact Male Dog
Intact males should receive positive reinforcement behavior training to stop urine marking in the house as well as any humping behavior that may occur.
The intact, male, adult Dachsie we just rescued – his name is Lenny – became Lenny Loincloth after a few days in our house for obvious reasons. He acquired his last name because he marked absolutely every corner of every piece of furniture we own. To reduce this totally undesirable behavior and reinforce healthy housebreaking, we put a belly band on him. We call it his loincloth. It’s a little diaper that holds his penis to his abdomen. Dogs innately do not want to urinate on themselves; they want to pee and mark on objects. By belly banding him, we reinforce good behavior like going potty outside and not marking in the house. I’m proud to say that in one month’s time, we’ve really helped him kick his marking habit for the most part.
Constant positive reinforcement was really necessary with Lenny, as it is with all dogs. We also discovered the first day Lenny was in our house that he liked to hump everything in sight. He preferred humping pillows and dog beds. We simply picked those pillows and dog beds up. We didn’t give him access to objects that tempted his undesirable behavior. He hasn’t humped anything in three weeks. So there are ways to positively reinforce good behavior and extinguish negative intact male dog behaviors if you put in the effort.
Your unneutered male should never be off-leash unless you are absolutely sure you won’t run into an intact female dog or he’s under constant voice control around all dogs. You also need to be in control of your dog while he’s leashed. If your intact male or female dog is able to jerk away from you when he or she gets excited, then your dog is not under your control despite the leash.
I recommend positive reinforcement behavior training for all dogs, especially intact dogs. And it’s an absolute necessity for powerfully built, intact male dogs. Remaining in obedience class for a dog’s first 16 months of life is an excellent foundation for good manners for the rest of his life.
If your dog becomes assertive, desexing (a full neuter) can be an important part of managing long-term behavior issues. Again, in this instance, if you have an aggressive dog, we must evaluate the risks vs. benefits. The health benefits of leaving a temperamental dog intact do not outweigh the greater risk of this aggressive animal being re-homed, dumped, or abused – or hurting another animal or human. With behavior issues, spaying or neutering can be a logical choice. It’s better to have endocrine disease but be in a loving home, than be disease-free but dumped at a kill shelter for a behavior problem.
Keep in mind that out in the world, at least in North America, you and your intact dog will not have a whole lot of company in this day and age. You won’t be able to take your dog everywhere a spayed or neutered dog is allowed to go. If your dog is a male, prepare to deal with plenty of prying questions and even anger from people who will pre-judge you as totally irresponsible.
When Lenny sees people, he flops on his back and says, “Hello, hello, hello!” Everyone’s comment is, “What are those?” And then “When are those coming off,” pointing to his testicles.
What About My Cat?
Luckily, thus far, research has shown that our feline companions don’t have the same negative long-term physiologic consequences associated with desexing that plague our canine population. We may identify potential links in the future, but thus far, it appears our canine companions are more negatively affected by spaying or neutering.
I made this video so you could understand why I no longer take a cookie-cutter approach to desexing all juvenile pets. The decision to sterilize, spay, or neuter your pet, at what age, and with what technique is a very personal decision that is based on your dog’s breed, temperament, personality, and your commitment to training, lifestyle management, and responsible pet ownership.
Don’t Neuter Your Dog YET – Read This Life-Saving Information First!February 17, 2011 | 224,604 views
A very legitimate concern, pet overpopulation, has been the primary driving force behind 30 years of national and local spay/neuter campaigns.
When it comes to deciding at what age a companion animal should be sterilized, the standard for most spay/neuter campaigns has been sooner rather than later. This is especially true in the case of adoptable abandoned and rescued pets that wind up in shelters and foster care.
Recently, however, some animal health care experts have begun to question whether early sterilization is a good idea for every pet.
Dr. Alice Villalobos, a well-known pioneer in the field of cancer care for companion animals, asks the question:
“But what if large-scale studies found that early neutering jeopardizes the health of our pets?”
“What if we found enough epidemiological evidence that early neutering of pet dogs may open them to orthopedic, behavioral, immunologic and oncologic issues?”
Back in 1977, Dr. Villalobos founded a rescue organization called the Peter Zippi Fund for Animals, which has to date rescued and re-homed nearly 12,000 pets. Her organization was one of thousands that looked at the tragic situation in U.S. shelters and determined early spay/neuter was the best way to lessen the suffering and ultimate euthanasia of so many feral and abandoned animals.
As a veterinary oncologist and founder of the pet hospice program Pawspice, Dr. Villalobos concedes, “It is earth shattering to consider that some of the cancers we have been battling may have been enhanced by early neutering instead of the reverse.”
Dr. Becker’s Comments:
It’s unfortunately true that a growing body of research is pointing to early sterilization as the common denominator for development of several debilitating and life-threatening canine diseases.
On one hand, we certainly want to know what’s causing our precious canine companions to develop disease. On the other hand, it’s troubling to learn a procedure we’ve historically viewed as life-saving and of value to the pet community as a whole, has likely played a role in harming the health of some of the very animals we set out to protect.
The same amount of evidence has not been compiled for early spay/neuter of cats, but it’s not clear how well the subject is being studied for kitties. Funding for research into feline health issues falls well below dollars allocated for their canine counterparts.
A Veterinary Medical Database search of the years 1982 to 1995 revealed that in dogs with tumors of the heart, the relative risk for spayed females was over four times that of intact females.
For the most common type of cardiac tumor, hemangiosarcoma (HAS), spayed females had a greater than five times risk vs. their intact counterparts. Neutered male dogs had a slightly higher risk than intact males.
The study concluded that, “… neutering appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumor in both sexes. Intact females were least likely to develop a cardiac tumor, whereas spayed females were most likely to develop a tumor. Twelve breeds had greater than average risk of developing a cardiac tumor, whereas 17 had lower risk.”
In a study of Rottweilers published in 2002, it was established the risk for bone sarcoma was significantly influenced by the age at which the dogs were sterilized.
For both male and female Rotties spayed or neutered before one year of age, there was a one in four lifetime risk for bone cancer, and the sterilized animals were significantly more likely to develop the disease than intact dogs of the same breed.
In another study using the Veterinary Medical Database for the period 1980 through 1994, it was concluded the risk for bone cancer in large breed, purebred dogs increased twofold for those dogs that were also sterilized.
It’s commonly believed that neutering a male dog will prevent prostatic carcinoma (PC) – cancer of the prostate gland.
But worthy of note is that according to one study conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, “…castration at any age showed no sparing effect on the risk of development of PC in the dog.”
This was a small study of just 43 animals, however. And researchers conceded the development of prostate cancer in dogs may not be exclusively related to the hormones produced by the testicles. Preliminary work indicates non-testicular androgens exert a significant influence on the canine prostate.
Abnormal Bone Growth and Development
Studies done in the 1990’s concluded dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age grew significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those not spayed/neutered until after puberty. And the earlier the spay/neuter procedure, the taller the dog.
Research published in 2000 in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism may explain why dogs sterilized before puberty are inclined to grow abnormally:
At puberty, estrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual, progressive closure of the epiphyseal growth plate, possibly as a consequence of both estrogen-induced vascular and osteoblastic invasion and the termination of chondrogenesis.
In addition, during puberty and into the third decade, estrogen has an anabolic effect on the osteoblast and an apoptotic effect on the osteoclast, increasing bone mineral acquisition in axial and appendicular bone.
It appears the removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs, female and male, can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure. This results in irregular body proportions.
According to Chris Zink, DVM:
“For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament.”
Higher Rate of ACL Ruptures
A study conducted at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on canine anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries concluded that spayed and neutered dogs had a significantly higher incidence of ACL rupture than their intact counterparts. And while large breed dogs had more ACL injuries, sterilized dogs of all breeds and sizes had increased rupture rates.
In a retrospective cohort study conducted at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, results showed that both male and female dogs sterilized at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia.
Other Early-Age Spay/Neuter Health Concerns
Early gonad removal is commonly associated with urinary incontinence in female dogs and has been linked to increased incidence of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.
Spayed and neutered Golden Retrievers are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
A cohort study of shelter dogs conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University concluded that infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were sterilized at less than 24 weeks of age.
The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation issued a report pointing to a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in sterilized dogs.
Among the reports and studies pointing to health concerns associated with early spaying and neutering, you can also find mention of increased incidence of behavioral problems including:
- Noise phobias
- Fearful behavior
- Undesirable sexual behaviors
Risks versus Benefits of Early Sterilization
Every important decision in life comes with risks as well as benefits.
As responsible animal guardians, I believe we owe it to our pets to make the best health choices we can for them.
As responsible members of society, we owe it to our communities to proactively protect our intact pets from unplanned breeding at all costs. We must hold ourselves to the highest standard of reproductive control over the intact animals we are responsible for.
Clearly, there are health benefits to be derived from waiting until after puberty to spay or neuter your dog.
However, there are also significant risks associated with owning an intact, maturing pet.
- How seriously you take your responsibility as a pet owner is the biggest determining factor in how risky it is to leave your dog intact until he or she matures. If you are responsible enough to absolutely guarantee your unsterilized pet will not have the opportunity to mate, I would encourage you to wait until your pet is past puberty to spay or neuter.
- If you are unable to absolutely guarantee you can prevent your dog from mating and adding to the shameful, tragic problem of pet overpopulation, then I strongly encourage you to get your animal sterilized as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Please note: I’m not advocating pet owners keep their dogs intact indefinitely (see below). I’m also not suggesting that shelters and rescues stop sterilizing young animals before re-homing them. Shelter organizations can’t determine how responsible adoptive pet owners will be. In this situation, the risk of leaving adoptable animals intact is simply unacceptable. Shelters and rescues must immediately spay/neuter pets coming into their care.
If you’ve adopted or rescued a dog sterilized at an early age, I encourage you to talk with your holistic veterinarian about any concerns you have for your pet’s future well-being, and what steps you can take now to optimize her health throughout her life.
There is no one perfect answer to the spay/neuter question that fits every pet, and each situation should be handled individually.
For Responsible Pet Owners, Decisions About When to Spay or Neuter Should be Part of a Holistic Approach to Your Pet’s Health and Quality of Life
If you own an intact pet, I can offer a general guideline for timing a spay/neuter procedure.
Your dog should be old enough to be a balanced individual both physically and mentally. This balance isn’t achieved until a dog has reached at least one year of age. Although some breeds reach maturity faster than others, many giant breed dogs are still developing at two years of age.
Other considerations include your dog’s diet, level of exercise, behavioral habits, previous physical or emotional trauma, existing health concerns, and overall lifestyle.
If you own an intact animal and need to make a spay/neuter decision, I encourage you to first learn all you can about surgical sterilization options and the risks and benefits associated with the procedures.
Talk with reputable breeders and other experienced dog owners, and consult a holistic vet to understand what steps you can take to ensure the overall health and longevity of your pet.
Keep unvaccinated puppies and kittens out of contact with vet clinic surfaces:
Veterinary clinics see sick animals all the time. It only stands to reason that floors, weighing scales and table-tops in veterinary clinics might have been contaminated by nasty viruses and bacteria including parvovirus and kennel cough. The same applies to veterinary car parks, gardens and lawns. Placing an unvaccinated or not-fully vaccinated puppy or kitten in contact with these surfaces might expose your unprotected pet to these contaminants. My advice is to keep puppies and kittens off the floor (in your lap or in a pet carrier) and to have your vet or receptionist coat the weighing scales and consult table in fresh newspaper before your pet is place upon them.
When puppies are very young, they are protected from disease by ingesting their mother’s first milk, called colostrum. This rich milk contains maternal antibodies against infectious disease, which the mother passes down to her puppies. The puppy’s immune system is not fully mature, or active, until it is around six months of age, so the maternal antibodies provide passive immunity to each puppy.
When a puppy with a reasonable amount of maternal antibodies is vaccinated, the maternal antibodies will essentially inactivate the vaccine, just as they would a real virus. The maternal antibodies for distemper are fairly predictable and are usually low enough for vaccination to be effective at eight or nine weeks of age. In the case of parvovirus however, the maternal antibodies last a lot longer in most puppies so vaccinating at eight or nine weeks wouldn’t be all that effective.
In a study performed by Vanguard, it was found that a combination vaccine (which typically contains parvovirus, distemper and one to five other antigens), given to six week old puppies had only a 52% chance of protecting them against parvo. This means that the puppy has all of the risk of the vaccine but only half the potential benefit. At nine weeks of age, 88% of the puppies in the study showed a response to the vaccine. At 12 weeks, 100% of the puppies were protected. Some vaccines will provide protection earlier or later.
Vaccinating puppies under 12 weeks of age, and certainly under nine weeks of age, for parvovirus is a high risk, low reward approach. Not only is the parvovirus component of the combination vaccine not all that likely to be effective, it can actually work to block the effectiveness of the distemper component. It also makes the vaccine more dangerous, because the more antigens contained in the vaccine, the greater the risk of autoimmune disease (including allergies, joint disease and cancer).
Moreover, most vets haven’t seen a case of distemper in years, which begs the question: what is the big push to start vaccinating puppies at six to eight weeks of age when the parvovirus component is unlikely to work and it is very unlikely the puppy will come into contact with distemper?
Pfizer performed an interesting field study in 1996 where they split vaccinated puppies into two groups. Group A received a single vaccination at 12 weeks and Group B received a first vaccine between eight to 10 weeks and a second at 12 weeks. When titers were measured, 100% of the puppies vaccinated once at 12 weeks were protected whereas only 94% of the puppies in Group B were protected – despite receiving two vaccines as opposed to one. It appears that the first vaccine can interfere with the second vaccine. So vaccinating your puppy twice not only doubles his risk for adverse vaccine reactions, it appears to make vaccination less effective overall.
Most people – and many vets – believe that it takes more than one vaccine to create immunity in a puppy. This simply isn’t true. It only takes one vaccine to not only protect a puppy, but to protect him for life.
After more than 40 years of testing immunity in thousands of dogs, Dr. Ronald Schultz has come to the following conclusion: “Only one dose of the modified-live canine ‘core’ vaccine, when administered at 16 weeks or older, will provide long lasting (many years to a lifetime) immunity in a very high percentage of animals.” That very high percentage is nearly 100%.
The only reason vets give puppies more than one vaccine is that they are trying to catch the small window in time when the maternal antibodies are low enough that they will not block the vaccine, but the puppy is young enough that he is not exposed to viruses in the environment. The point in time when the maternal antibodies for parvovirus wane enough for vaccination to work can vary between eight weeks and 26 weeks. So vets dutifully and mindlessly vaccinate every two to four weeks – with a combination vaccine, not just with parvo – trying to get one of them to work.
Most vets also vaccinate once more at a year of age – just to be certain.
Nearly all vets vaccinate every year or three years after that – for some unknown reason because there is no scientific validity to this practice. As Dr. Schultz stated, there is no need for revaccination once a puppy is protected – and if a puppy receives a vaccination at 16 weeks, he is very, very likely to be protected.
The result of these errors in judgement is that puppies receive more vaccines than they need – lots more. They receive a parvovirus component in their first combination vaccine when that part of the vaccine has little chance of working. Most puppies are protected against distemper with the first vaccine if not given too early, yet most puppies are given a combination vaccine containing distemper at 12 to 16 weeks and older – when they really only need the parvovirus.
Most combination puppy vaccines also contain an adenovirus component. Adenovirus has been shown to suppress the immune system for ten days following vaccination. This means that puppies that receive needless vaccines not only suffer the risk of adverse events from the vaccine, but they are more at risk of picking up any other virus or bacterium that crosses their path because their immune system has been overloaded by the vaccine itself.
This is not a good proposition for a puppy taken to the vet clinic to receive his vaccines, because it exposes him to the riskiest possible environment, outside of perhaps an animal shelter, and his immune system will be suppressed while his body tries to fight four, five or even seven different diseases, all at the same time. It’s no wonder that puppies can succumb to vaccine-induced disease – their immune system is simply overloaded at a time when they are exposed to a pretty dangerous place for puppies to be.
Adenovirus is an upper respiratory disease that is self limiting – that hardly seems like a good trade off for immune protection when puppies need it most. The same applies to parainfluenza – and coronavirus which commonly occurs only in puppies too young to be vaccinated anyway. And that’s just the core vaccines.
Some puppies will also be vaccinated with other non-core vaccines including the particularly dangerous leptospirosis vaccine. Clearly, vets are very good at vaccination. The problem is, current puppy vaccination programs don’t adequately address immunity. Very few vets take a realistic and scientific look at the best time to vaccinate for distemper, followed by the best time to vaccinate for parvovirus, followed by asking why are we even vaccinating for self limiting diseases such as coronavirus and adenovirus, which are really only dangerous in puppies who are too young to effectively vaccinate anyway?
Taking the Guesswork out of Puppy Shots
Vaccines may seem technologically advanced, but when given randomly and for no good reason, they are at best useless and at worst dangerous. Vaccine manufacturers are constantly trying to improve the safety of vaccines, but there will always be an inherent danger when injecting pharmaceutical products, along with their toxic chemicals, into puppies.
Until the dubious time comes when vaccines are completely safe and completely effective, there are two proven, effective ways to reduce the number of unnecessary vaccines in puppies, thereby reducing the risk of puppies dying or suffering permanent illness from vaccines.
Not that many years ago, vets used something called a nomograph to tell breeders the best time to vaccinate their puppies. The nomograph examines antibody titers of the dam and determines almost exactly when her maternal antibodies will wear off in her puppies. The value in knowing this is that the breeder can provide the right vaccine at the right time, eliminating the need for, and risk of, unnecessary vaccinations.
Nomographs are perfect for breeders who are interested in using only monovalent (single virus), vaccines in place of the more dangerous combination or polyvalent vaccines. For example, the nomograph could predict that the maternal antibodies for distemper will wane at eight weeks, but that parvovirus might be at 14 weeks. The breeder would then vaccinate with the right vaccine at the right time and the vaccination schedule would be based on science instead of guesswork. Yet for some reason, nomographs have fallen out of favor.
For puppy owners without the advantage of a nomograph, titers can save puppies’ lives and protect their well being in the long run. Instead of guessing if vaccination is necessary, running a titer three weeks after a vaccination will indicate with nearly 100% certainty whether the puppy needs another vaccine or not.
Titers also allow vets to use the safer monovalent vaccines. A puppy can be vaccinated at an age when he is likely to respond to the vaccine – and if he comes back with a titer three weeks later, he is protected and very likely for life. If there is no titer for parvo at that time, a monovalent vaccine could be given and a titer run three weeks after that. If the titer is low, then the vaccine can be repeated but if it is high, the puppy is protected against parvovirus, very likely for life. And the good news is that, there is now a new and affordable in-house titer test.
Despite these two easily accessible options, many vets believe – and lead us to believe – that puppies must be subjected to a series of vaccinations. Many vets understand titers but don’t offer them as an option to vaccination. This may be because vaccines are cheap and titers are not. Whether that equates to less profit for the vets or they are assuming that puppy owners don’t want to invest in a safer vaccination program is unknown. Titers can be expensive – but so can the damage that results from vaccines. Unlike vaccines, titers are completely safe for puppies.
Many vets are also unwilling to stock monovalent vaccines because of the higher cost. The most likely scenario however, is that vets are simply vaccinating with the typical puppy schedule out of nothing more than habit and convenience.
In the end, the best way to avoid vaccine damage – and your puppy being the subject of another tragic story – is obviously to not vaccinate. This might increase the risk of acute disease, but domestic and wild animals – and people too – have been exposed to viruses for years and the immune system, when not suppressed with vaccinations, poor diet, toxins and drugs, has a profound ability to fight off exposure to viruses and bacteria. Simply supporting the immune system can go a long ways toward avoiding acute disease such as parvo – and will certainly reduce the severity of the symptoms.
The second option is to choose vaccines wisely and with a constant awareness that every vaccine has the potential to kill the patient. Nomographs and titers are useful tools that really aren’t that expensive in the long run when compared to the thousands of dollars pet owners spend on chronic, vaccine-induced diseases including but certainly not limited to, hypothyroidism, seizures, cancer, arthritis, allergies and gastrointestinal issues. They are very cheap insurance in many regards.
The worst option is to do nothing different and haphazardly vaccinate puppies every two to four weeks with a combination vaccine. Many vets fail to make the connection between chronic, debilitating disease and over-vaccination, so unless a puppy’s head swells to the size of a football immediately after vaccination, they are reluctant to blame vaccines for any of the adverse reactions that Dr. Schultz identified.
It’s important to understand that we pet owners can open vets’ eyes to safer and more effective puppy vaccination programs by paying for titer tests and investing in monovalent vaccines – even if that means having to buy a whole case of vaccine vials for one little puppy. Chances are that case of monovalent vaccines will disappear, one by one, and every one used means one less puppy who will be potentially harmed by needless or thoughtless vaccination.
Are you and your vet at odds about how often your dog should be vaccinated for the core vaccines? We’re here to help.
First, it is important to understand that the core vaccines are not required by law – only rabies can be. Nobody can force you to vaccinate your dog with any other vaccine. This is a decision best left up to you and your vet. Before that decision is made however, make certain that you are both aware of the duration of immunity of those vaccines and the potentially lethal consequences of giving just one vaccine too many.
When it comes to immunity and duration of immunity for vaccines, there is one clear expert. Dr Ronald D Schultz is one of perhaps three or four researchers doing challenge studies on veterinary vaccines – and he has been doing these studies for 40 years. It is Dr Schultz’s work that prompted the AAHA and AVMA to re-evaluate vaccine schedules. In 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce warned vets in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) that ‘Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination’; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.’
‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’
“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.” says Dr Schultz. “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”
He adds: “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated. Annual vaccination for diseases caused by CDV, CPV2, FPLP and FeLV has not been shown to provide a level of immunity any different from the immunity in an animal vaccinated and immunized at an early age and challenged years later. We have found that annual revaccination with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity provides no demonstrable benefit.”
Below is the result of duration of immunity testing on over 1,000 dogs. Both challenge (exposure to the real virus) and serology (antibody titer results) are shown below:
Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines
Minimum Duration of Immunity
Methods Used to Determine Immunity
|Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)|
|Rockbom Strain||7 yrs / 15 yrs||challenge / serology|
|Onderstepoort Strain||5 yrs / 9 yrs||challenge / serology|
|Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2)||7 yrs / 9 yrs||challenge-CAV-1 / serology|
|Canine Parvovirus-2 (CAV-2)||7 yrs||challenge / serology|
It is important to note that this is the MINIMUM duration of immunity. These ceilings reflect not the duration of immunity, rather the duration of the studies.
Dr Schultz explains “It is important to understand that these are minimum DOI’s and longer studies have not been done with certain of the above products. It is possible that some or all of these products will provide lifelong immunity.”
Dr Schultz has seen these results repeated over the years. In 2010, he published the following with newer generation, recombinant vaccines. It is important to note that not only did the vaccines provide protection for a minimum of 4 to 5 years, it did so in 100% of the dogs tested.
Why is it important to understand Dr Schultz’s work? Because vaccines can create very real health problems in dogs. It is important that vaccines are only given when necessary because every vaccine has the potential to kill the patient or create debilitating chronic diseases including cancer and allergies.
Below is a list of potential adverse vaccine reactions, according to Dr Schultz:
Severe Reactions triggered by Vaccines:
Dr Schultz summarizes his 40 years of research with the following:
“Only one dose of the modified-live canine ‘core’ vaccine (against CDV, CAV-2 and CPV-2) or modified-live feline ‘core’ vaccine (against FPV, FCV and FHV), when administered at 16 weeks or older, will provide long lasting (many years to a lifetime) immunity in a very high percentage of animals.”
We understand vets are frightened because they have seen animals die and suffer from preventable disease. Vaccine-induced diseases are also deadly and they are also preventable. Our companion animals rely on vets to make the right decisions when it comes to vaccines. We are begging vets to stand up and take notice – our pets’ lives depend on it.
Here is a printable download of this article you can share: More is not better
A Heeler for you, in red white or blue, Standards Miniatures and toys to.
puppies for sale are in the slide show above