Vaccine Information and Protocols

We recommend vaccine protocols that are created specifically for each animal. Animals that are living indoors are less likely to need certain vaccines. Animals that have had repeated vaccines are less likely to need certain vaccines. ALL animals that have acute or chronic diseases should not be vaccinated. This includes animals with disorders such as food allergies, skin allergies, chronic bouts of diarrhea, chronic eye and ear infections, and any immune or autoimmune associated disorder. vaccine protocols will remain a matter of professional judgment and choice.

General Vaccine Guidelines For All Animals:

  1. When possible, give individual vaccines, not combinations (some vaccines only come as combinations, and there is no option to give separately)
  2. Never give a vaccination while other procedures are being performed, such as dentistry, surgery, grooming and boarding (these situations are already creating stress to the immune system)
  3. Never vaccinate a sick animal, no matter how mild the illness
  4. Never vaccinate a pregnant animal
  5. Do not vaccinate at too young an age as they still have maternal immunity which prevents the vaccine from working



Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (i. e.: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced.

Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.

There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of vaccines.

Puppies and kittens receive antibodies through their mothers's milk. This natural protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 mo) will provide lifetime immunity.

"Core" Vaccines *



Feline Parvovirus (panleukopenia)







* Vaccines that every dog and cat should have

There is less risk associated with taking a blood sample for a titer test than giving an unnecessary vaccination.

While difficult to prove, risks associated with overvaccination are an increasing concern among veterinarians. These experts say antibody titer testing may prove to be a valuable tool in determining your patients’ vaccination needs.

Research shows that once an animal’s titer stabilizes, it is likely to remain constant for many years.


Rabies vaccine is licensed by the Federal Government to be effective for at least three years. We recommend that you always keep your animal's rabies vaccine current as required by law. In most states, rabies vaccines are required in dogs and cats. The first vaccine should be given after twelve weeks of age and before six months of age. One year after the first rabies vaccine is given, a second rabies vaccine is required. Thereafter, rabies vaccines should be given as required by the laws in the state in which you reside (generally every three years).


Feline Panleukopenia virus vaccine (Feline Distemper)

Also called feline distemper, it is a highly contagious and deadly disease of kittens. The virus is spread in saliva, urine and feces. Although somewhat controversial among conventional doctors, a considerable body of evidence has led researchers to believe that feline distemper vaccine, once given as a kitten, provides lifelong protection in almost all cats.

We recommend a series of two shots for kittens. The first vaccine is at 8-9 weeks of age, and the second is given at 12-13 weeks of age.

We do not recommend yearly Feline Distemper vaccines. The Association of Feline Practitioners recommends Panleukopenia every three years. For cats in high-risk situations, we recommend a Blood Titer Test to check levels of immunity every three years.

An interesting side note about the virus itself: this virus is similar in nature to the dog's parvo virus; however, it is only infectious to cats. Most cats affected are young and unvaccinated. In vaccinated cats, the disease is virtually non-existent. When it is thought a kitten or cat may have panleukopenia the parvo test (for dogs) is used for confirmation.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Vaccine is controversial in that the vaccine is extremely ineffective, especially when compared to the effectiveness of other vaccines. Kittens are at greatest risk, and the best protection you can give a kitten is to keep the kitten indoors for the first year of its life.

The reported vaccine effective rate varies from 0% of vaccinated cats protected to 67%. One of the more interesting studies involving natural infection (as compared to a lab setting) showed no protection.

Feline Leukemia was first recognized as a disease in the late 1970's. It was not around before then. Since then, the incidence of Leukemia in cats has rapidly decreased. Today, the disease can be considered to be rare. What is the reason? Naturally acquired immunity! It is well known that almost all cats that are immune competent (their immune system is working at normal levels) and are over 10 months of age, once exposed to the Feline Leukemia Virus, develop resistance, remove the virus from their body, and become immune to future infection. Since the vaccine has such a poor rate of success, and since natural immunity protects almost all cats, there are few cats with leukemia now, entirely due to natural immunity.

Other than a few instances where the risk of contracting feline leukemia is at a very high level, we do not recommend leukemia vaccines. The individuals most at risk of infection are young outdoor cats, indoor/outdoor cats and cats exposed to such individuals. Indoor only cats with no exposure to potentially infected cats are unlikely to become infected. All cats should be tested prior to using the FeLV vaccination.

Cats over one year of age are naturally immune to FeLV whether they are vaccinated or not, so annual vaccination of adult cats is not necessary.

The incubation period of Feline leukemia can be over 3 years, so if your cat is in the incubation state of the disease prior to vaccination, the vaccine will not prevent the disease.

The reasons we do not recommend this vaccine are:

  1. The vaccine does not protect cats well
  2. Repeated vaccines do not improve its effectiveness
  3. The vaccine causes incurable cancers (fibrosarcoma) in roughly 1 in every 2,000 - 5,000 cats
  4. The vaccine can cause vaccinosis (a homeopathic term that means the animal develops a relatively permanent degradation of their vital health)
  5. All vaccines can degrade health, so any vaccine is a risk vs. benefit assessment
  6. Use of the vaccine gives the caretaker a false sense of security, when the caretaker should instead be aware of the more important methods they can employ to protect their cats (keeping the kitten indoors for the first year of life)

Feline Upper Respiratory Diseases

In general, feline upper respiratory diseases are relatively mild and self-limiting. The potential vaccines include:

  1. Calici/Herpes Virus Vaccine - Comes as a component of the feline distemper vaccine (injectable), and is highly effective, probably lasting for the life of the cat. It is responsible for 80-90% of infectious feline upper respiratory tract diseases. Intranasal vaccines are more effective at preventing the disease entirely. But because intranasal vaccines produce an immunity of shorter durations, annual vaccination is then recommended.
  2. Rhinotraceitis Virus Vaccine - Comes as a component of the feline distemper vaccine, but it is important to understand that it does not prevent infection; however, it may lessen the severity of the disease.
  3. Chlamydia or pneumonitis Vaccine - We do not recommend this vaccine in almost all situations.
  4. Bordetella Vaccine - We do not recommend this vaccine in any situation. (Dr. Wolfe of Texas A&M says that bordetella is a normal flora and does not cause disease in adult cats. Dr. Lappin of Colorado State says that a review of the Colorado State medical records reveals not one case diagnosed in 10 years.)
  5. Feline Infectious Peritonitis Vaccine - This vaccine has not been shown in any study to be effective, so we do not use it. It is a controversial vaccine. Most kittens that contract FIP become infected during the first 3 months of life. The vaccine is labeled for use at 16 weeks. All 27 vet schools do not recommend the vaccine.
  6. No sick cat should receive any vaccines.
  7. No pregnant or lactating cat should receive any vaccines.
  8. There is no evidence to support a repeated vaccine prior to breeding.
  9. Multiple vaccines should not be given at the same time. We recommend that the rabies vaccine be given at a different time than the distemper/calici/ rhinotracheitis vaccine.

Before revaccination, a blood titer can be taken to check if the original vaccine is still protecting your cat.

Remember, Rabies is the only vaccine required by law and we recommend keeping your cat current on its Rabies vaccine.


Feline vaccine related Fibrosarcoma is a type of terminal cancer related in inflammation caused by rabies & leukemia vaccines. This cancer is thought to affect 1 in 10,000 cats vaccinated. Vaccines with aluminum adjuvant, an ingredient included to stimulate the immune system, have been implicated as a higher risk.

We now recommend a non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine for cats. Testing by Dr. Macy, Colorado State, has shown this vaccine to have the lowest tissue reaction and although there is no guarantee that a vaccine induced sarcoma will not develop, the risk will be much lower than with other vaccines.

Program injectable 6 month flea prevention for cats has been shown to be very tissue reactive & therefore has the potential of inducing an injection site fiborsarcoma. If your cats develops a lump at the site of a vaccination, we recommend that it be removed ASAP, within 3-12 weeks.


  1. Rabies - Keep the dog current with state requirements.
  2. Canine Distemper/Parvo Vaccines - For most animals, we recommend vaccinating for the two most serious diseases, Distemper and Parvovirus. Most vaccines come in combinations of several diseases in the same shot. If you select a combination vaccine, we recommend the one with the least number of diseases in the vaccine; that would include Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Adenovirus ("Hepatitis").

    9 weeks MLV Distemper/Parvovirus only.

    Less than 12 weeks MLV Distemper/Parvovirus only.

    16-20 weeks MLV Distemper/Parvovirus only.

    One year later, we recommend serum titers preferably, or repeat these vaccines.

    From then on, we do not believe dogs need further Distemper/Parvovirus Vaccines; however, high-risk animals should have titer checks every 1-3 years.
  3. We do NOT recommend Bordetella, Corona virus, Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines. In rare situations, one or more of these vaccines might provide limited benefits.
  4. Giardia Vaccine - Studies show that their mother and/or the kennel environment have exposed essentially 100% of all dogs to Giardia, almost always from birth. It makes no sense to use a vaccine when the primary infectious agent has already been seen by the dog's immune system (the Giardia). Thus, we never use this vaccine.
  5. No dog with any acute or chronic disease should be vaccinated.

The following is Dr. Jean Dodds' latest dog vaccination protocol
(Rev. 2007)

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Phone 310/ 828-4804 --Pacific Time
Fax: 310/ 828-8251
938 Stanford St.
Santa Monica, CA 90403 USA


Titer Test Forms That You Can Print Out

Note: The following vaccine protocol is recommended and offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable.  The schedule is one I recommend and should NOT be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by another veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It's a matter of professional judgement and choice.

For breeds or families of dogs (such as the weimaraner) susceptible to or effected with immune dysfunction, immune-mediated disease, immune-reactions associated with vaccinations, or autoimmune endocrine disease (e.g., thyroiditis, Addison's or Cushing's disease, diabetes, etc.), the following protocol is recommended:


Note: The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one I recommend and should not interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It's a matter of professional judgment and choice.



9 - 10 weeks

Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Intervet Progard Puppy DPV)

14 weeks

Same as above

16 -18 weeks (optional)

Same as above

20 weeks or older, if allowable by law


1 year

Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV

1 year

Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter or more often as desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request.

Only use killed 3 year rabies vaccine for adults and give it separated from other vaccines by 3-4 weeks. In some states, they may be able to give titer test result in lieu of booster.

Do NOT use Bordetella, corona virus, leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines unless these diseases are endemic in the local area per specific kennel. Futhermore, the currently licensed leptospira bacterins do not contain the serovars causing the majority of clinical leptospirosis today. I Do NOT recommend vaccinating bitches during estrus, pregnancy or lactation. Do not vaccinate during times of stress such as: surgery, travel, illness or infection.


ONLY a vet may submit blood for the titers. Antech Lab, (who does our Combo Titers), and also through Hemopet who will also do the Rabies titer.

Antech Lab, NYC 1-800-872-1001

W. Jean Dodds, DVM, is an internationally recognized authority on thyroid issues in dogs and blood diseases in animals. In the mid-1980's she founded Hemopet, the first nonprofit blood bank for animals. Dr. Dodds is a grantee of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and author of over 150 research publications. Through Hemopet she provides canine blood components and blood-bank supplies throughout North America, consults in clinical pathology, and lectures worldwide.