No Vaccines At All?
By Christie Keith

I don’t have my standard disclaimer on this article, because I’m not giving you any advice. The purpose of this article is to explain why it is that some holistic dog breeders don’t give any vaccines, including puppy shots, to their dogs. If you are unfamiliar with homeopathy and holistic medicine, most of this article will not be very meaningful to you. In fact, you may well decide that anyone who doesn’t give vaccines to their puppies is insane. That’s fine. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable! They are your puppies and their care is in your hands.

Breeders give vaccinations to their puppies in order to protect them from diseases. They do this out of love and concern. They do it because they believe that the dangers of these diseases outweigh the risks of the vaccinations, or because they have never really questioned the practice. Even most breeders questioning vaccination really just want to make sure their puppies won’t get parvo or distemper or anything else they can prevent, and also want to avoid harming them by giving vaccines too soon or too often or in any way that will damage their puppy. They would use nosodes or herbs or stand chanting in the moonlight of a deserted field at midnight if it would guarantee their pets would be healthy. They want to be sure that the puppy will be safe from disease, and they want to immunize their puppy. They just want to find a safe way to do it.

But there is another way of looking at all of this, one that not everyone is ready for, or interested in. Some of us actually question the very act of immunization. We question the effect of injecting a disease into our dogs, thus putting a virus directly into the bloodstream that normally enters only through the mouth, respiratory system, etc., thus bypassing the entire primary immune response that occurs in the mucous membranes.

We question putting cells of other animals into our dogs – because modified live virus vaccines are made from viruses grown in the cells of another species, to “inactivate” the vaccine so it cannot cause disease in canines anymore; that’s what “modified live” means.

We worry about research that shows that vaccinated dogs have antibodies against THEIR OWN CELLS, while a control group of unvaccinated dogs does not. (Larry T. Glickman, DVM, “Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Vaccination,” Advances in Veterinary Medicine, Vol. 41, 2001)

We worry about the effect on the “vital force,” or life energy, of an animal, to inject them with a disease that has been changed and modified so it cannot cause symptoms; symptoms are, after all, the way a body “discharges” the disruptive forces of a disease in the first place. Vomiting and diarrhea and coughing and sneezing and running noses and increased urination and rashes and the sweat of a fever, all these discharges serve to move the disease energy out of the body.

What does that life energy do with a virus that sets up housekeeping in its cells but causes no acute symptoms? It does what it must do, what it has been given no other choice but to do: Those suppressed acute symptoms become chronic disease. And by its nature, chronic disease is deeper and more serious than acute disease (although yes, acute disease can kill you).

So there is an argument to be made, although not everyone will be willing or ready to hear it, and many will disagree violently with it, that immunizing your puppy against parvo or distemper or other diseases, no matter how wisely and moderately and scientifically you do it, isn’t such a good thing after all. However, I have no studies and statistics and web links to give you that will “prove” that. I cannot prove it. I just know it.

Ultimately we each make up our own minds on this issue. I try to give people who are questioning vaccination some information they might find useful in designing a rational and safer vaccine program, instead of the hodgepodge of superstition and illogic that passes for “vaccine recommendations” in so many veterinary offices and with so many breeders. But that doesn’t mean I am recommending vaccinations or telling you what I think you should do. Everyone has to decide for himself or herself, just as I have.

But What If They Get Sick?
I think the “missing piece” of a lot of people’s comfort with not vaccinating is that they are not prepared for their dog or cat to actually get a disease for which a vaccine exists. This is a big step.

Some people dismiss that fear and say if you only feed this way or use this herb or this substance or use homeopathy or get a puppy from a BARF breeder or light candles in the field at the full moon, your pet won’t ever get sick. DON’T BELIEVE IT!

Let me be perfectly clear: DISEASE HAPPENS! Healthy, multi-generation unvaccinated, naturally raised dogs can and do get infectious diseases.

Half the puppies in an unvaccinated, raw-fed litter I bred in 1993 got parvovirus. (Of course, not every unvaccinated dog will get every disease they are exposed to; half my puppies were fine.)

If someone’s comfort zone is dependent on some kind of guarantee, or use of a substitute product like nosodes or colloidal silver, which will guarantee that their puppies won’t get parvo or distemper, then I sincerely believe they are not ready to not vaccinate.

If, however, you are truly committed to principles of natural rearing, have easy access to a truly excellent holistic vet, preferably an experienced classical homeopath, have the financial and emotional resources to deal with a sick puppy (and with the inevitable guilt you will feel if a puppy comes down with something for which you could have vaccinated them), if you really understand the nature of acute disease and the risks of suppression, then you are ready to consider this step.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy, founder of Natural Rearing, wrote that after three generations of raw-feeding and not vaccinating, her dogs never again knew any kind of disease, and after five generations they knew “unbroken good health.” Very few of us, certainly not me, can claim to have achieved that. Nonetheless, I do have confidence that my dogs will handle most challenges easily, and if they do get sick with an infectious disease, that it will be fairly easily treated with homeopathy. I don’t, though, take that risk lightly. I accept it and prepare for it.

How Do I Prepare?
I wish I had a dollar for every late night email I’ve gotten from a breeder who opted not to vaccinate her or his puppies, who now have parvo. None of these breeders ever seems to have anything on hand to use to help their puppies: No nosodes for the puppies and dogs who are not sick but have been exposed, few or no homeopathic remedies that are commonly used to treat parvo, no books on selecting remedies for acute diseases, no relationship with an experienced holistic breeder or, better yet, a homeopath, who can be reached during non-business hours (or any relationship with a homeopath or holistic vet at all!), no access to good emergency veterinary care, no herbs or products that can help with parvo and other forms of gastroenteritis, such as Parvaid.(I have no commercial interest in Parvaid and have never used it; I only mention it here as a possible resource.)

If you are going to go down this road, be ready. Strike up a relationship with a holistic veterinarian, preferably a classical homeopath. Buy all the common parvo remedies in a 1M potency; you will probably have to order these from a company such as Homeopathy Overnight, as health food stores usually only sell low potencies such as 30C. (I have no commercial interest in this company and only mention them as a resource. I am a customer and have always been satisfied with their service, but your mileage may vary.) Educate yourself in how to prescribe homeopathic remedies for acute disease by taking a class or reading books. (A reading list will follow at the end of this article.) Also have herbal products on hand, in case you cannot find or don’t have the correct homeopathic remedy, or the puppy fails to respond to it.

Be financially ready to pay for hospitalization of puppies who don’t respond to treatment at home. IV fluids have saved many a puppy’s life.

Probably most importantly, be psychologically prepared for your puppies to get sick. They may not, but they very well might. You will feel guilt. You will question your commitment to holistic practices. You may well find that this path is not for you. It’s best to think about these things before, rather than after, infectious disease strikes your puppies.

If all this seems daunting, remember it’s a cosmic law that the more you prepare for something, the less likely it is to happen.

Thoughts from my Experience
When a litter I bred, unvaccinated, raw-fed puppies, came down with parvo, only half the puppies got sick. The others just formed a parvo titer, but never had any symptoms at all. The ones who got sick who were treated with homeopathy recovered easily and well. Two had conventional care (they had already gone to their new home; I paid the vet bills) and actually, they both recovered easily and well also. One puppy got very ill and had to be hospitalized, and while he fully recovered, it was a struggle. But they all lived. And their unaffected littermates just kept playing, eating, and being healthy puppies! None of my unvaccinated adults got sick, either.

It has been my personal observation that healthy animals who recover from an acute disease with homeopathic treatment bounce back very fast and very clean, while animals who are suppressed with powerful drugs often have very lingering convalescences and suffer from chronic problems later on. I have also seen that healthy unvaccinated animals have a vigor and disease resistance that is quite astonishing, and which until you’ve really seen multiple generations of unvaccinated, unsuppressed animals, you might not believe.

Is this path right for you? I don’t know. But don’t make this decision lightly, or without a full understanding of the historical and theoretical basis for the decision. Read. Question. Educate yourself. Then decide.

Good luck and blessings to you and your puppies on your journey.

Recommended Reading on Homeopathy:
When you purchase books through these links, I receive a small commission on the sale, which is used to defray the costs of maintaining this site.

Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals by Don Hamilton, DVM.
The first, best place to start in researching this issue.

The Complete Homeopathy Handbook: A Guide to Everyday Health Care by Miranda Castro.
An excellent guide to help you familiarize yourself with prescribing for acute conditions and first aid.

Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants by Dana Ullman.
Written for humans, but very useful for breeders, too! I use it often.

Organon of the Medical Art (Sixth Edition) by Samuel Hahnemann.
The last edition of his great work by the founder of homeopathy. Written in the 1800s in German, Wenda Brewster O’Reilly has done an incredible job editing the Steven Decker translation. This book is for anyone truly serious about the study of homeopathy. Homeopathic veterinarian Christina Chambreau, DVM, says all homeopaths should read it at least once a year.

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