Cavalier King Charles SpanielI’ve got to make some decisions about which vaccines I’ll be subjecting Wink to and whether or not he’ll be neutered.

It’s been several years since I’ve had to deal with puppy vaccine and neutering schedules, and there’s been a considerable amount of new information regarding these procedures since Kiera was a puppy. So I’ve been getting myself back up to speed on current knowledge.

Although many vets are up on the latest research coming out against annual vaccines and automatic neutering, some are not. It pays for each of us to do our own homework. Following is some of the most up-to-date information available.

Dr. Jean Dodds’ article, Recommended Vaccination Schedule, gives helpful and specific information. You should read it especially if you have breeds or families of dogs susceptible to 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.).

One of the key points in Dodds’ article that merits consideration is the use of titers rather than automatic vaccination.

This article on Vaccinations by Catherine O’Driscoll is also a real eye-opener.

Because Wink’s breed (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) is known for sensitivity to vaccines, we will prepare for the necessary shots by giving him a Benadryl dose appropriate for his weight beforehand to help with the potential reaction and then Thuja (a homeopathic remedy) for 3 days after to help with relieving the unwanted side-effects. Once we’re through with the mandatory shots, we’ll titer from then on.

The Natural Canine is a great on-line resource for health supplements and supplies.

This article on Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs by Laura J. Sanborn, M.S. (May 14, 2007) gives a good overview. The full article is well worth the read. Following, are the conclusions:

“An objective reading of the veterinary medical literature reveals a complex situation with respect to the longterm health risks and benefits associated with spay/neuter in dogs. The evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive AND adverse health effects in dogs. It also suggests how much we really do not yet understand about this subject.On balance, it appears that no compelling case can be made for neutering most male dogs to prevent future health problems, especially immature male dogs. The number of health problems associated with neutering may exceed the associated health benefits in most cases.

For female dogs, the situation is more complex. The number of health benefits associated with spaying may exceed the associated health problems in many (not all) cases. On balance, whether spaying improves the odds of overall good health or degrades them probably depends on the age of the dog and the relative risk of various diseases in the different breeds.

The traditional spay/neuter age of six months as well as the modern practice of pediatric spay/neuter appear to predispose dogs to health risks that could otherwise be avoided by waiting until the dog is physically mature, or perhaps in the case of many male dogs, foregoing it altogether unless medically necessary. The balance of long-term health risks and benefits of spay/neuter will vary from one dog to the next. Breed, age, and gender are variables that must be taken into consideration in conjunction with non-medical factors for each individual dog. Across-the-board recommendations for all dogs do not appear to be supportable from findings in the veterinary medical literature.”

Once Wink is fully grown, he’ll be getting a vasectomy. The surgery risks are minimal and the benefits of maintaining his hormones are substantial.