Autism Symptoms in Pets Rise as Pet Vaccination Rates Rise
by Kate Raines
April 8, 2017
Just as the incidence of Autism-Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) has risen alarmingly in children over the last half century, there is evidence that similar behavioral disorders have been observed in pets, most widely reported among pet dogs. It is too early for mainstream veterinary authorities to confidently confirm that dogs can develop autism, but there are numerous reports of behavior patterns in pets that mirror autism behavior in children. Studies are underway to evaluate the possibility that animals can become autistic.1
Autistic Behaviors Recognized in Dogs
Though the appearance of autism-like behaviors has been observed in dogs since the mid 1960s, the first researcher to specifically relate some of those behaviors to autism was Nicholas Dodman, DVM, who initially set out in 2011 to look for a genetic cause of obsessive tail chasing in bull terriers. This behavioral characteristic has been observed in as many as 85 per cent of a bull terrier litter and often results in self-maiming.
Presenting the evidence from his study at the 2015 American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, Dr. Dodman reported an autism-like condition, noting that “the vast majority of affected dogs were males, and many had other strange behaviors or physical conditions that accompanied the tail chasing, such as explosive aggression, partial seizures, phobias, skin conditions, gastrointestinal issues, object fixation and a tendency to shy away from people and other dogs.”2 He and his associates were further able to establish that two biomarkers common to children with autism were also present in the affected dogs.3
Referencing diagnostic criteria from the American Academy of Pediatrics, some of the most commonly recognized features of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children include challenges associated with social interactions and communication, and “restrictive and repetitive interests and activities;”4 boys are five times more likely than girls to have ASDs; and autism in humans also is frequently associated with aggression, gastrointestinal and skin disorders, and object fixation.5 6
Solid research is lacking in the field of canine autism, but a collaborative study called “Canines, Kids and Autism: Decoding Obsessive Behaviors in Canines and Autism in Children” is currently underway in hopes of shedding light on the condition as it occurs in children and pets.7 Funded by The American Humane Association, researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School are hoping to develop a genetic test for autism that will benefit both humans and animals.8
“Canine Dysfunctional Behavior” May Be Autism
Though most animal behaviorists still prefer to categorize animals with these traits as having “canine dysfunctional behavior” rather than “autism,”9 those who concede the condition may in fact be autism describe the condition as both “idiopathic,” meaning the cause is unknown, and congenital,” meaning the puppies are born with autism behaviors rather than developing autism sometime after birth. Theorizing that the syndrome may be caused by a “lack of mirroring neurons in the brain,” studies also suggest that autism may appear in puppies as a result of parental exposure to toxins or unnecessary vaccines.10
Adverse Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs
From paralysis to seizures, and from immune-mediated hemolytic anemia to injection-site fibrosarcomas, adverse reactions to vaccination are not uncommon in pets. Often attributable to annual vaccinations that some veterinarians consider totally unnecessary, vaccine reactions also may lead to allergies, skin problems, behavioral changes, and autoimmune diseases.11
Behavioral Changes Following Vaccination
Some of the most common behavioral changes are associated with the rabies vaccine, which is the only vaccine federally mandated for pets and must be re-administered at least every three years if not annually, depending on how the vaccine is labeled. Usually the two vaccines are identical, but a vaccine labeled for one year must be given annually, even if it is exactly the same dosage and formulation as one labeled as a three-year vaccine.12
Many veterinarians now agree that, as a general rule, dogs who have been vaccinated once tend to retain immunity for the rest of their lives, as can be confirmed through titer testing,13. However, no such testing is considered acceptable proof for opting out of the required rabies vaccine,14 so the immune systems of pets are artificially manipulated with the rabies vaccine time and again throughout their lives.
Reported changes following rabies vaccination may include those that mimic early symptoms of rabies itself such as increased aggression toward humans and other pets, loss of affectionate behaviors, excessive barking, and destructiveness.15 Such behavioral changes are often attributed to “Rabies Miasm,” a term used to describe an underlying disease process, in this case a condition akin to a mild form of “chronic rabies.”16
Could There Be Another Explanation?
Interestingly, many of those same “rabies-like symptoms” also mimic the ones described in discussions of canine autism.
Globally, the animal vaccine industry has been valued at $6.27 billion in 2015 and, at a calculated annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9 per cent, it is expected to rise to $11.40 billion by 2024.17 North America and, particularly, the United States remains the lead market for animal vaccines, accounting for 37 percent of the total. Much of that market is fueled by the human companion (pet) animal segment. There are more pets in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world and, coupled with strict regulations on vaccination of companion animals in this country, the pet vaccine market is not expected to decrease.
Given the current laws requiring annual or three-year repeat rabies vaccinations, and the routine veterinary practice of vaccinating pets annually, it may come as no surprise that we are seeing an increase of autoimmune disorders and autism-like behaviors in pets.
1 Coates J. Can Dogs Have Autism? PetMD C 2017.
2 Rajewski G. Like Minds. Tufts, Cummings Veterinary Medicine. Summer 2015.
3 Dodson N. Can Dogs Have Autism? Psychology Today July 6, 2016.
4 Autism Fast Facts. CNN May 31, 2016.
5 What Are the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? National Institutes of Health.
6 Medical Comorbidities in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Treating Autism March 2013.
7 See Footnote 1.
8 See Footnote 2.
9 Soukiasian KA. Could My Dog Have Canine Autism? Dog’s Best Life Aug. 15, 2016.
10 Dog Autism Symptoms. VetInfo.com.
11 National Vaccine Information Center. Pet Vaccination Adverse Events. C 2017.
12 EnlightenMe.com. Is the 3 Year Rabies Vaccine for Pets Different From the Yearly Vaccine? DexMedia 2015.
13 Burns K. To Titer or to Revaccinate. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association June 15, 2016.
14 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies Vaccination. Apr. 22, 2011.
15 Dog Behaviors After evidence Rabies Vaccine. C 2016.
16 Kabler R. Rabies Miasm: The Rabies Vaccine Side Effect That Can Harm Your Dog. Dogs Naturally September 2012.
17 Veterinary Vaccines Market Size, Share, Development, Growth and Demand Forecast to 2024. Transparency Market Research Mar. 16, 2017.
Dark Side of Pet Vaccines
Are Vaccines As Harmful To Pets As They Are To Our Children?
Although PAVE’s focus is on human vaccines, we do agree that animal vaccines can cause serious adverse effects in animals. Check out the links and following information below to find information on animal vaccines.
Vaccine manufacturers warn, in their data sheets, that the following factors can render vaccines harmful (they use the phrase, “immunocompetence may be compromised” ):
1. if the dog is genetically defective
2. if there is something wrong with the dog’s diet
3. if the dog was unhealthy when vaccinated
4. if the dog is stressed at time of injection
5. if the dog’s immune system is incompetent
6. if the dog is exposed to a virus shortly after vaccination
7. if the dog is taking immune suppressant drugs such as steroids
8. if the vet stores and handles the vaccine inappropriately
9. if the dog is incubating disease at the time of vaccination
Catherine O’Driscoll’s book called “What Vets Don’t Tell You about Vaccines”
Kensington Veterinary Hospital
3817 Adams Avenue San Diego, CA 92116 (619) 584-8616
Vaccination in Animals
© 1996, International Vaccination Newsletter
Oxford Centre For Animals Ethics
Pioneering ethical perspectives on animals through academic research, teaching and publication.
Lab Tests Again Find Acetaminophen in Pet Food
Vaccination Newsflash: Crossposting from: Dr. Ihor Basko
VACCINATION NEWSFLASH Re: J Dodd’s vaccine protocol
I would like to make you aware that all 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats. Some of this information will present an ethical & economic challenge to vets, and there will be sceptics. Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or the doctor’s economic well-being should not be a factor in medical decision.
NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY “Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (ie: 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 haemolytic anaemia. “There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines “Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers 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.”
Giant Regards, Deb Stover G.I.A.N.T. Schnauzer Rescue Network.
Contributed to the Sheltie Classifieds by Sharonmarie Jansen and Lourie Gregory.
Spare Fido The Shots
Page 180 January 2003 Reader’s Digest
If you dutifully take your dog or cat for yearly shots, you may be overprotecting him, and could be causing harm. Recent studies have linked excessive vaccines to a range of problems: from allergies to cancer between the shoulders (where shots are given).
“Most vaccines last at least three years, and giving them too often can cause reactions”, says Ron Schultz, a University of
Wisconsin vaccine specialist. Many vets have already cut back to every three years for rabies, distemper, and parvovirus in dogs and panleukopenia in cats. If you feel your pet is overvaccinated, talk to your vet about customizing a plan.
Host of “The Pet Stop” on News 12 New Jersey, Voynick says excessive vaccinations in adult dogs and cats “may tip the immune system over the edge and thus make pets more prone to skin conditions, allergies, tumors in cats and someimmune mediated diseases. In mature dogs and cats, Voynick suggests blood testing for vaccinal titers (levels of protection).
I work against animal testing for drugs and vaccines in the Research and Investigations department at PETA. I am a Harvard- and Cambridge-educated molecular biologist.
Unfortunately, PETA does not have ready-made literature specifically addressing vaccines.
Animals are used/abused in the production and testing of vaccines. I only recently learned the extent of this testing myself: vaccine quality control testing accounts for 10% of all biomedical research on animals, an estimated 10 million animals/year. This is because, unlike drugs, animal testing is required not only for the licensing of a vaccine, but for every batch of vaccine, so the numbers of animals killed is massive.
Furthermore, testing of vaccines on animals accounts for a very significant portion of the unrelieved pain & suffering experienced by animals in labs. For example, 17% of animals used in Netherlands for vaccine testing experience “severe pain & distress”. Pain relief is withheld because it is believed to interfere with the results of testing. The worst suffering is usually inflicted when they give a disease to “control” animals who have not received the vaccine being
tested. These animals will almost definitely develop the disease and die painful drawn-out deaths from the disease.
Experimenters almost never euthanize them even when it’s clear that they are dying and in pain. Even in the group of animals who receive the vaccine, only 80% must live for the vaccine to be considered adequately protective.
I was recently at a conference on alternatives to testing vaccines in animals, where scientists openly acknowledged that many animal vaccine tests are of terribly bad quality (they don’t predict well) and they would never be approved today. They are only in use because they have already been used for so long. We need to force the government to change its regulations, for our health as well as the animals.
And there are alternatives. Nobody is saying “just stop testing vaccines”. But we don’t need to make animals sick to prove that a vaccine works. Instead, we can measure the active ingredient in the vaccine directly. If you know what component of the vaccine will cause a protective immune response in humans, then just measure how much of that component is present in the vaccine to ensure that you have the right amount of the right stuff. Another thing that
people can do if they don’t quite understand what the active ingredient in the vaccine is, is give the vaccine to the animal and measure its immune response. If it develops antibodies against the vaccine, that should be good enough. You shouldn’t need to go that extra painful step and give animals a deadly disease to prove that the immune response has been activated.
Animal testing of vaccines is not only extremely cruel and unnecessary, but affects the quality of the vaccine, since a poor quality test means that bad vaccine gets through to the public. And testing products for humans on animals is always a poor quality test because animals are so different from us. Whatever happens in animals doesn’t mean that it’s going to be safe for humans.
As an example, a virulent rabies virus vaccine was recalled recently — this batch of vaccines had been through the federally required animal testing, but still contained live non-inactivated virus that was not detected by the animal test. The lot was not distributed, but if it were, it would likely have given people rabies! The animal test for rabies is called the “NIH test” and was especially despised by scientists at the conference I attended, for its poor predictiveness. Not to mention the cruelty of injecting rabies directly into a mouse’s brain, which is never how anyone gets rabies!
Sr. Scientific Research Specialist
Research & Investigations Dept.
People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Lincoln County News July 22, 2004
Sen. Hall Pushes for Full Disclosure on Pet Vaccines
by Kay Liss
The canine rabies overvaccination issue has taken on a new aspect recently with State Senator Chris Hall’s advocacy that full disclosure information on vaccines be provided to pet owners. The Bristol Democrat says he hopes to introduce such a bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Hall has been following the issue, which first arose in May in Lincoln County when an Alna couple drew attention to the confusing state law governing canine rabies vaccinations. Since then, state lawmakers from the Bureau of Health have sent out clarification letters to veterinarians in the state and also convened a task force to study changing the language of the law.
Confusion has arisen as a result of two seemingly conflicting components of the law, 10-144, Chapter 260, one which says canine rabies vaccines are good for three years and another that requires proof of a rabies booster vaccine within two years to obtain a dog license. Vets have been routinely sending out reminders on a two-year basis.
National veterinarian organizations, as well as manufacturers of canine rabies vaccines, recommend they be given no more than every three years. Maine is one of the few states that routinely administers them on a two-year cycle.
While state officials are finalizing the rewriting of the law to conform clearly with national recommendations, readying it for public review in the fall, they have also been receiving feedback from the letter they sent out, indicating continued confusion by vets as to how often to vaccinate dogs for rabies. This confusion has led to Deputy Director of the Bureau of Health Dr. Phillip W. Haines, State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Gholson and State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer agreeing to send out a second letter attempting again to clarify the issue.
The Alna family, Peter and Kris Christine, and other citizens have raised additional concerns over the possible over-vaccination for other diseases, in particular distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis. This combined booster shot is routinely given every year. Last year, an American Animal Hospital Association task force recommended the shot be given no more than every three years. Some studies have determined this shot is actually good for up to seven years. Some studies have also linked excessive vaccination of this and rabies to various immune disorder problems, and in the case of rabies vaccines, even to cancer.
The Christines first began looking into the issue when their Labrador retriever had developed a cancerous tumor on the site of a recent rabies immunization, which they, as most other Maine dog owners, had been getting for him every two years.
In an op-ed piece published in the Portland Press Herald on July 16, Hall says “Too many veterinary practices are financially dependent upon annual vaccinations….over thousands of animals, this regular stream of vaccination income forms the foundation of many veterinarian practices…Either because of this, or out of professional conservatism, there is resistance to the medical evidence favoring reduced frequency of vaccination.”
He points out that there are vets who have adopted the less-frequent standard, but there are still those who continue to recommend an annual DHLP-PV shot. He goes on to say that a more informed public could make better decisions for pets, thus his advocacy of a disclosure statement by veterinarians about “the risks, potential side effects and nationally recommended frequency of booster shots,” in the same manner pharmacists are required to give out such information for prescription drugs.
Hall concludes by adding that annual check-ups are important for pets, and that tit is important to move from a “vaccines-based model to a check-up based model” for animal care. “Full disclosure will mean that the market…moves veterinarians away from automatic annual vaccinations towards a more thoughtful and cautious approach to preventative medicine in which the pet’s owner is a full partner.”
“The last thing I want to do,” Hall said in a recent interview, “is impose another complex set of regulations. That’s why I think disclosing the best information to pet owners is the best way to approach this.”
Please let us know about any side effects you have witnessed after your pet’s vaccination or booster shot. We’d like to know the name of the breed of your pet and also which vaccinations he or she received. Once we gather more information around this subject, we can assess whether first-time vaccinations or follow-up booster shots are responsible for causing deadly complications in certain breeds of dogs and cats. As of December 1, 2008, over 315 people have reported side effects from pet vaccinations!
400 Attendees at Professor Richard Ford’s lecture that Discussed VacciCheck at NAVC Conference: