Puppies first vaccination
I’m writing this post as a warning about your puppy and leptospirosis vaccine side effects. I’m off topic somewhat here but we had such a harrowing experience when we took our two little puppies to have their first vaccination, I wanted to warn you about this vaccine.
They were just 8 weeks old and weighed in at just 1.37kg and 1.49kg. We were to see our usual vet who we really trust and find very gentle with all her patients. We knew she would make our puppies’ first visit to the vet a positive one.
Our vet was on holiday
Unfortunately for us and the dogs, she was on holiday and we had another vet who we didn’t know. When we got to the surgery he quickly checked the puppies out and declared them healthy, which was good to know.
We were not informed!
We noticed he had already got vaccines lined up and we did think there were rather a lot. He started mixing one vaccine with another but we didn’t think too much of it, after all he’s the expert. He then got rather a large needle (these puppies were under 1.5kgs at this time) and before we knew it he had vaccinated the first puppy with 2ml of vaccine. This was strange because the vaccine is usually 1ml consisting of canine distemper, hepatitis and parvo virus. Unbeknowns to us, he also injected the two puppies with a Leptospira vaccine called L4, the L4 meaning it covers 4 different species of the bacterium.
What a horrible reaction
Well, I’ve had a few dogs vaccinated in my lifetime but I’ve never seen the reaction that our two puppies had EVER! The first one started screaming and I mean screaming and was thrashing around the large box we’d brought them in. Whilst we were trying to comfort the poor little puppy, the vet injected the other one and he reacted exactly the same way.
Pups were in agony
These two little pups were obviously in agony but the vet didn’t seem to be bothered at all. We took them home, with them still yelling and shouting and tried to pick them up but they screamed louder as soon as we touched them. It was horrendous.
Puppies first experience of a vet!
We wanted the puppies’ first visit to the vet to be a calm, happy and pleasant experience. Little did we know that they would be in agony and their first experience will probably taint them for life and future visits to the vet will likely be stressful for them and us. I’m hoping that, being so young, they may forget…
Reaction lasted for 48 hours
These little dogs were poorly for over two days with symptoms of hypersensitivity, high temperature, laboured breathing, shaking and lethargy. They went off their food and didn’t want to do anything. We did not take them back to the vet, after all what could he do, except make matters worse and anyway, it was painful for them if we touched them. We had to hope they got over their reaction and thought it best to keep them as calm and quiet as possible. They did start to recover after 48 hours.
We started researching immediately as to what had caused this dire reaction and found that this L4 vaccine produced by MSD (Merck, Sharp, Dohme) under the name of Nobivac, has been causing adverse effects for many puppies and dogs and there have actually been 120 deaths put down to this vaccine. The BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinarian Association) has responded to reports on when to vaccinate puppies. There seems to be controversy over how young a puppy should be when vaccinated with L4. It is my opinion that our puppies were vaccinated at too light a weight and too young an age. It seems ludicrous to me that the vaccine administered is the same in volume as that which is given to a great dane! This could amount to a great dane getting too little an amount and a yorkshire terrier getting too much, with an average sized dog getting just the right amount, (the story of goldilocks and the three bears comes to mind!)
L4 is not a core vaccine
I wanted to warn any of you who are having your puppies or dogs vaccinated, that this vaccine is actually not a core vaccine. In other words it is optional, but our vet failed to give us that option. We thought they were just having the normal core vaccines for distember, hepatitis and parvo. It would also seem to be the case that the worst affected dogs are those of toy breeds which would make sense. We would not have opted for the L4 if we’d been given the choice. We would prefer to check stuff out first. Vaccines are a bone of contention with us anyway. My husband has actually worked with vaccines and produced them and he knows plenty about how they work, what chemicals are used and whether the vaccine is viable.
Rubbish vaccine and with thiomersal (thimerosal)
Hubby Andy has checked all the data for this vaccine and found that it is very intrinsically variable which means you haven’t the foggiest how much antigen is being administered into the dog. On top of that it has 100mcg of thiomersal in it, which contains nearly 50% mercury. So that 1ml dose of L4 equates to 49.6mcg of mercury being pumped in a little body of just 1.35kg.
Back to see our usual vet
We contacted our normal vet once she was back off holiday and complained bitterly about what had happend. She was very upset and sympathetic and advised that we should not have the second L4 vaccine done as the reaction could be worse than before and the risk was too high. What’s more, she did say that this vaccine is only effective for 6 months! This leaves dogs unprotected until the yearly booster which will then give the dog another dose of 49.6mcg of mercury and again will only be viable for 6 months.
Our puppies will not have the 2nd L4 dose
If the vet we saw had anything to do with it, he would insist we get the second vaccine of L4 administered 4 weeks hence from the first. I can tell you that won’t happen. I will not risk the lives of my puppies for an optional vaccine which will only protect the dog for half the year anyway. As well as that he was suggesting we had them chipped at the same time! I personally think that chipping such little dogs with such a large needle is not a good idea, especially after the trauma of this vaccination and trying to make our puppies’ first vet visit a pleasant one.
Two pristine puppies now contaminated
Here we have two little pristine puppies, both healthy, lively and full of spirit and then we inject them with a compound that has a serious poison in it, namely mercury. 49.6mcg of mercury is a horrendous burden on their little bodies and with another dose 4 weeks later, it’s ridiculous and unnecessary. Why thiomersal has to be used in this vaccine is a mystery to my husband Andy. He says there are much better and less harmful preservatives to use. Freeze drying the vaccine is one way or using formaldehyde which isn’t ideal but better than mercury.
Survey indicates Lepto is not common
Its interesting to note that a survey was sent out for vets to fill in about this vaccine. Of all the vets contacted which was 472 if I remember correctly, only a few came back with a report about cases they had encountered of leptospirosis. I think the number was around 13 vets. Of those that reported cases of the disease, some dogs succumbed to lepto, despite being vaccinated against it!
What gets me is that most vets will administer this L4 without even checking its viability. This is probably because they trust MSD who make Nobivac to have done all the trials and tests before the vaccine was rubber stamped by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Perfunctory rubber stamped
The EMA assessment report which is from the ‘Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) states: “The applicant (MSD) developed an in vitro antigenic mass ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay) test [sic] to determine the antigen content in the active substance batches and final vaccine batches as well as to establish potency. The ELISA test shows an intrinsic variability but the test is considered suitable for its intended use.” Doesn’t sound like too much testing and trialing to me, just a perfunctory rubber stamp for a vaccine that is sub standard with immense variability, 50mcg of mercury per dose and contra-indications which include death!
Is this vaccine worth the risk?
This variability is a nonsense and makes this particular vaccine with its contra-indications, of which MSD say there are none, not worth the risk IMHO. You must, of course, make your own mind up but I think it would be a good idea to let your vet know that you are informed and concerned about contra-indications and discuss the options. A good compromise is to vaccinate a dog at particular risk like farm dogs and those that come into contact with wild animals and stagnant water. Dogs that spend the majority of their time in a home environment would perhaps be best served not having the vaccination at all.
Not one but both puppies reacted!
Both our puppies reacted to this vaccine which would indicate that this type of reaction is quite common. If it was rare, you would expect just one of them to be ill not both. We are now left wondering if this reaction has left our puppies weakened with the possibility of harbouring diseases in their future. If only we had been told about this L4 and been given the option not to have it done. Make sure you know your options and make a considered choice about your pup’s vaccinations.
Lepto is totally treatable
For those worried about the outcome of your pet possibly getting this disease, lepto is a totally treatable bacterial infection. It’s only when a diagnosis isn’t made early enough that dogs suffer unnecessarily. Keep an eye out for symptoms in your dog such as fever, lethargy, excessive urination or blood in the urine and call your veterinarian immediately to get your dog tested for lepto. It is easily treated with an early diagnosis.
Dr Jean Dodds’ ½ dose pilot study for dogs under 12lbs
Dr Jean Dodds, has done a pilot study of ½ dose vaccines for small dogs weighing less than 12lbs. All dogs were given a titer test at 4 weeks and again at 6 months after the half dose. The tests demonstrated that antibody levels for the canine distemper and parvovirus diseases had a sustained increase in all of the study’s dogs compared to the pre-vaccination blood sample. You can see the full report here.
What we will do
As well as not having the second Nobivac L4 vaccine administered, we will also be asking our vet to give our two puppies a half dose of the DHP vaccine. The pups will be nearly 12 weeks old when this is administered.
Are boosters necessary?
Please note, it is not necessary for your dog to be boosted every year for DHP. Every three years is ample with some experts, like Dr Ronald Schultz, stating that dogs are likely immune for life, just as we are after we’ve had our innoculations! Is this continual boosting just a wheeze for getting extra money from the poor unsuspecting customer and to the detriment of our dogs’ health! What do you think?
Thanks for reading and keep yourself informed for the sake of your dog’s health and your peace of mind!