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Posted by on November 22, 2009

I have had pets most of my adult life. I am a cat and dog lover. We have laws that require us to vaccinate our pets. Our veterinarians remind us yearly that our pets are coming due again for these vaccinations. I have now had two very bad experiences with pets and vaccinations. One was years ago and it cost my cat his life. One is on-going right now with my puppy, Buffy, currently, and suddenly after having her second set of vaccinations at just 12 weeks of age (as recommended) she became lame, was running a fever, with all four paws swollen – diagnosis – Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD). In Buffy’s case it is highly suspected, even by my Vet, that Buffy’s HOD (or HOD-like illness) is a reaction to her last set of vaccinations. Are vaccinations, as recommended by most vets helpful or harmful?

Buffy at 2 months old
Buffy at 2 months old

This most recent experience of mine with my now 3 1/2 month-old puppy, Buffy, a German Shepherd/Border Collie Mix.  Since researching HOD to understand more about it I have found out that German Shepherds are one of the breeds more prone to this health issue. There are as many books and websites, professionals as well as people like myself with their own personal stories to tell who will report HOD as being (though it isn’t always) related to (likely caused by) a reaction to vaccinations. This is what my vet suspects with my puppy and given all the evidence and timing of this, it is also what I believe to be the cause, or the factor that set this in motion if Buffy has any genetic or breed disposition to this.

2 months old and playful
2 months old and playful

 Buffy was perfectly healthy and joyful in greeting life until the day she had her second set of vaccinations, Wednesday November 4, 2009 at 2:30 or so in the afternoon.

 She was very tired the rest of that day. Okay, well, we are told sometimes a pet will be tired or more sleepy and quiet after the shots. By the next day, after yelping while trying to play with my other two dogs, Lucy and Tyler, who didn’t do anything to hurt her, she began to limp. The limp, at first was mild. I thought, well, she’s hurt her paw and she’ll shake it off like most dogs do.

That was not to be the case. Later that day she was limping worse. I was getting concerned. Then, what followed was very shocking and distressing. The following morning, on Friday November 6, 2009, Buffy was very reluctant to even try to walk. She was laying down mostly and not able to get up for long. She’d struggle to get to her feet only to fall right over.

Saturday November 7, 2009, she is was even worse. She couldn’t even struggle to get up. She didn’t want to eat. She didn’t seem at all herself. She was in pain. I took her to my vet. I was fit it as an emergency so I had to wait while the vet carried on with regular appointments in between seeing Buffy and then deciding to an x-ray. I paced as I waited for a total of 2 hours, not knowing if I’d have to put Buffy down or not. Not knowing what was wrong.

In the last week or so, along with taking care of Buffy, I have read quite a bit about just how much debate and dissenting opinion there is on this whole issue of vaccinations and pets. Many say that this type of reaction or occurence of HOD is apparently rare. This experience, I believe, has awakened me to what is an important issue for all pet owners to know more about. Not only HOD, but the reality that it is time for each pet owner to get more facts than our vets share with us about the entire picture and risks of vaccinations.

How did I get here – to what I now think?

Finally, the vet came back, after the x-rays and after taking her temperature, she had a fever, and after a 20 minute wait while he saw his next scheduled clients. The verdict, he said he was pretty sure, (which has since been confirmed) was that Buffy has Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) or HOD-like illness that is a vaccine reaction – no one has given me a name for that because according to my vet there’s no way, yet, apparently (according to many) to absoultely correlate the vaccines and illness even though there is growing speculation, belief, and research about this.

Up-date on Buffy January 2, 2010

Buffy Onset of HOD
Buffy Onset of HOD

Buffy, after getting progressively more lame less than 24 hours after her vaccinations, on Monday November 9, 2009, a few days post second round of vaccinations, feeling very ill, in pain, and unable to walk at all, before we went to the vet where she got some medication. This picture is Buffy when she was most ill and in pain in what is HOD or an HOD-like illness that is likely a reaction to vaccinations.

Here is a picture of Buffy’s font paws with the HOD. Her back paws were a little swollen and sore but not as bad as the front ones.

Buffy's Front Paws November 14, 2009

Here’s video of Buffy, unable to walk, November 10, 2009, but still showing her incredible tenacity and her spiritied determined personality. Just after catching her playing when she shouldn’t have been as I took this video she was put back in her cage to rest.

Up-date on Buffy January 2, 2010

For the first week of this ordeal, so far, for Buffy, she wasn’t able to walk at all at first. Toward the end of that first week (just one week ago at time I’m writing this) she began to slowly stand up and walk around. This was after being on medication to reduce the inflammation in her paws – growth plates of her paws to be specific. In the second week she was feeling less pain. The swelling noticeably went down. However, the vet said she needed to be on cage-rest for at least 2 weeks.

Buffy Laying In Our Yard Nov 16 2009

Buffy was getting very frustrated and vocal about being caged. She was raring to go for a few days there. Then, yesterday, Saturday November 21, 2009, while walking in our yard, she stepped up on a small, not steep porch step, yelped, holding her right front paw in the air, shaking and very distressed, in obvious instant pain again. This is her first major set-back. According to all I’ve read this won’t be the last over the next, at least 2 months. She was fairly quiet last night and this morning, sore. Limping a bit when I took her out in the yard today on a leash this time. This time also, we did not leave the deck. No stairs today at all for Buffy. Her paw is still a little more swollen and she’s still sore but she also seems to be once again showing her fantastic I’m-raring-to-go-let-me-out-of-this-cage personality. Of course, I can’t let her out of the cage. Frustrating for her and I.

As for the question as to whether vaccinations are helpful or more harmful to pets, there are lots of dissenting opinions from professionals (Vets) and pet-owners alike. What seems to be missing is the smoking-gun proof. Do we need that smoking-gun irrefutable absolute proof? Or do we, when we go through the heartache of the experience of a perfectly healthy pet getting very ill and being caused terrible pain and astounding quality-of-life issues, just come to our own commonsense conclusions – and then trust those?

I, like countless others, no doubt, just went to the Vet with really what I’d call now,  ignorant, really, or naive blind-faith. Not any longer. No more. I am not going to think that just because a Vet says vaccinate this 8 week old puppy with a myriad of shots all at once and then again in a month that this is the best thing for any puppy of mine. I am also now more inclined to believe that our pets do not need as many shots as most Vets currently recommend they get yearly either. In my still unfolding research of all this apparently there are many vets who do believe, as I do, that vaccination protocols widely in practice today are more harmful than helpful.

In a book I just read today, (handy my new Kindle – finally made available to us in Canada, and a quick and timely download) which I’d highly recommend for pet lovers as a great start to read more about the actually known harmful reality of vaccinations called, “Stop The Shots”, (Kindle Editon) by John Clifton, a vet, Charles E. Loops, DVM, Pittsboro, North Carolina, is quoted as saying, “The first thing that must change with routine vaccinations is the myth that vaccines are not harmful. Veterinarians and animal guardians need to come to realize that they are not protecting animals from disease by animal vaccinations, but, in fact, are destroying the health and immune systems of these same animals they love and care for.”


Also noteworthy from this book, the following quote, which is why it can be difficult to get the answers we really need to get, as pet owners, from our vets, Clifton writes, “Remember that 50% of the practice of most veterinarians is in giving shots.”

Sobering isn’t it? This reality alone makes it clear that each and every one of us needs to embark on learning more and that we can’t count on our vets telling us what it is we really need to know about vaccinations.

I don’t mean to disparage anyone. But, in all honesty, I am angry at my vet for not even mentioning the endless list of what can go wrong when these vaccines are given to our pets. These vaccines are now being tied to everything from cancer, HOD-like illness, breakdowns in pet’s immune systems, itching, allergies, and more often than vets will ever tell you, death. Vets are giving shots that are known to last 3 years, some 5 years, some even the life of your pet, and they are giving them yearly. It is crazy when you stop to learn about the facts. In all I’ve been awakened to through Buffy’s unfortunate and likely unnecessary suffering I have come to discover there are vets out there whose practice of animal care and medicine is holistic in nature. I am going to be looking for a holistic vet in my community. I don’t know if there is one, but we’ll see.

How can we trust vets, generally, when they simply aren’t telling us what we really need to know?

It is very emotionally difficult to watch such a wonderful spirited innocent young dog go through so much. Even when she is having a better day, as she has had more of lately, she cannot understand why she has to be alone more and be kept at rest. She doesn’t understand why she can’t run and play with my other two dogs. I know she doesn’t reason about this. This part is likely the toll its taking on me.

Right now, we have our next vet appointment tomorrow. The vet seems to think that she will recover and heal from this and out-grow it. For this I pray many times a day as I sit half-way in her (large) cage with her to cuddle and nurture and let her know how much she is loved. I sit half-way in the cage with her trying to engage her in play that doesn’t make her stand up or bounce on her paws. We play tuggy and fool around with various toys. I long really to just walk this dog and have her be able to race around the yard with my other two dogs. She needs her quality of life back.

I just wish I knew now all the risks and information out there about HOD as a reaction to vaccines, which is likely not “HOD” exactly? The hope is that Buffy will recover. Jury is out on how long this could take or how it will go. However, my vet says that the growth plates in dogs’ paws don’t close until 6 months of age. That gives me a hint right there. It will be a long slow road that will take a lot of patience on my part and during which I have to figure out how to keep an active dog inactive to protect her chances to heal and recover.

I will not be vaccinating my pets every year as I used to ever again. I will not ever vaccinate a young dog or cat at 2 months or 3 months of age or allow them to get all those shots at once. It doesn’t make sense anymore. In retrospect, it likely never really was the safest of risks. So many of us learn the hard way. Our dogs suffer for what we didn’t know and what no vet wants to tell us.

If you have pets, even older ones, read up on what is going on with these vaccinations and not only puppies and HOD-like symptoms and suffering but older dogs and breakdowns in their immune systems.

I am now going to get involved in trying to advocate the changing of laws where I live. Vaccinations last way longer than one year. Yet laws and vets tell us we need to keep re-vaccinating them every year. Why?

© A.J. Mahari, Sunday November 22, 2009 – All right reserved. Below © of the respective named people.

Up-date on Buffy January 2, 2010

Some information on Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD):

According to, by Fred Lanting, at

“Once thought to be strictly a problem in giant breeds, HOD is also seen in large and medium size breeds, including Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Pointers, German Shepherd Dogs, Collies, Boxers, Basset Hounds, Great Danes, and Borzoi.”

“HOD’s clinical signs (symptoms) can include a clear discharge at the eyes, bowing of the foreleg below the elbow, and turned-out (“east-west”) front feet. There may be depression, pain (even in the jaws), lameness, reluctance to stand, and anorexia (loss of appetite and weight), with painful joint swelling at the distal metaphyseal regions of the long bones. Although most physical signs are in the distal radius/ulna (pastern area), they are also seen in the distal tibia (hock area). Fever might not be manifest in the early stages of the disease. Diarrhea often, but not always, precedes the joint episodes by a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Usually the severe pain in the lower area of the leg, where either the pastern or the hock begins, typically gives the dog anything from a stiff gait to slight or severe.”

HOD and Vaccination Reactions – HOD-like Symptoms:

According to Linda Arndt, known online, The Great Dane Lady owner of Blackwatch Great Dane Kennels and Blackwatch Canine Nutritional Consulting LLC, who has been involved in exhibiting, breeding, and training in conformation and obedience for 36 years:

Fact: “Vaccine reactions, from combo shots, can produce the same symptoms as HOD and therefore the problem is misdiagnosed as HOD. The Purdue research shows it is the carrier in the vaccine that is a problem. It is important to detoxify the dog when vaccinating.”

“Post-Vaccine Syndrome, a reaction to inoculations. Yes, this will frequently throw them into a H.O.D.-like symptom, which get misdiagnosed as actual nutritional HOD.”

“Certain breeds or families of dogs appear to be more susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions, particularly post-vaccinal seizures, high fevers, and painful episodes of hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD).” – Source –

“This condition [HOD] primarily affects puppies and is associated with vaccine reactions, especially in Weimaraners. It is swelling around the growth plates, usually involving the carpus (wrist) of the front leg and often other growth plates, as well.” – Source –

 Adverse Effects of Vaccines

According to W. Jean Dodds, DVM – Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association May 1, 2001:

“As the most commonly recognized adverse effect of vaccination is an immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reaction, practitioners are less familiar with the more rare but equally serious acute or chronic immune mediated syndromes that can occur. The veterinary profession and vaccine industry have traditionally emphasized the importance of giving a series of vaccinations to young animals to prevent infectious diseases, to the extent that this practice is considered routine and is generally safe for the majority of animals. Few clinicians are prepared, therefore, for encountering an adverse event and may overlook or even deny the possibility.”

“If, as a profession, we conclude that we are over vaccinating, other issues come to bare, such as the needless client dollars spent on vaccines, despite the well intentioned solicitation of clients to encourage annual booster vaccinations so that pets also can receive a wellness examination. 5 Giving annual boosters when they are not necessary has the client paying for a service which is likely to be of little benefit to the pet’s existing level of protection against these infectious diseases.”

Predisposed Breeds

“Twenty years ago, this author began studying families of dogs with an apparent increased frequency of immune mediated hematological disease (i. e., AIHA, ITP, or both). 1,2  Among the more commonly recognized predisposed breeds were the Akita, American cocker spaniel, German shepherd dog, golden retriever, Irish setter, Great Dane, Kerry blue terrier, and all dachshund and poodle varieties; but predisposition was found especially in the standard poodle, longhaired dachshund, Old English sheepdog, Scottish terrier, Shetland sheepdog, shih tzu, vizsla, and Weimaraner, as well as breeds of white or predominantly white coat color or with coat color dilution (e. g., blue and fawn Doberman pinschers, the merle collie, Australian shepherd, Shetland sheepdog, and harlequin Great Dane). 13 Recently, other investigators have noted the relatively high frequency of AIHA, ITP, or both in American cocker spaniels 10 and Old English sheepdogs. 13 A significant proportion of these animals had been vaccinated with monovalent or polyvalent vaccines within the 30 to 45day period prior to the onset of their autoimmune disease. 1,2,10 Furthermore, the same breeds listed above appear to be more susceptible to other adverse vaccine reactions, particularly postvaccinal seizures, high fevers, and painful episodes of hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). 3 For animals that have experienced an adverse vaccine reaction, the recommendation is often to refrain from vaccinating these animals until at least after puberty, and instead to measure serological antibody titers against the various diseases for which vaccination has been given. This recommendation raises an issue with the legal requirement for rabies vaccination.”

Pets and Vaccinations – Helpful or Harmful?