Vaccine Failure in Dogs
Is a lot more common than most owners realize

Vaccine failure in dogs has three major issues; it is a lot more common than owners realize, it is a lot more complicated, and there are some dogs that cannot be vaccinated.

Most any dog owner naturally assumes that when your dog is vaccinated for a disease, it will be successful and there is nothing further to worry about.

However, what is not discussed about vaccine failure is how often they fail and why they fail.

There is also not a lot of discussion about why dogs cannot be vaccinated for any reason, and the risks that may be involved.


Vaccine failure in dogs should start not with the failure process, but rather why your dog should never be vaccinated, regardless of what the vaccination is for.

If the following groupings of dogs are vaccinated, the process may not only be subject to complete failure, your dog may have a very severe reaction.

This could do more harm than the disease the vaccinated is meant to prevent.

If your dog fits into any of the following categories, your veterinarian should automatically advise you that they should never be vaccinated.

If they do not, you should seek a second opinion or perhaps look for a different veterinarian.

This grouping includes dogs undergoing any type of chemo or radiation therapy, dog’s recovery from a surgery, and dogs that are affected with parasites.

It also includes any dog that is under a lot of stress, as well as any dog that is malnourished.

If the vaccinated in required by law, your veterinarian will advise you of the recovery time needed if they are sick, and then preform the vaccination.

However, the concern should be the safety of your dog, not the law as in most cases this can be worked around if recommended by a professional.


Cute PuppyVaccine failure in dogs may be the result of a vitamin deficiency

Maternal Antibody

The first major cause of vaccine failure in dogs is from what is referred to as an interfering level of material antibody.

All newborn puppies receive a natural form of disease protection from their mother via the transfer of antibodies form her body into the puppies.

This is done through both the placenta as well as colostrum. The colostrum is the critical milk that a puppy must receive in the first 36 hours of their life.

There are antibodies in this milk that are very small disease fighting proteins that are produced by what is referred to as B cells.

This is a natural function of any dog’s immune structure, and because puppies systems are only in the developing stages, they must get it from the mother.

It helps protect them immediately form invading agents like bacterial and viral infections. However, it can also have a real impact on vaccinations.

If there are still high levels of maternal antibodies that are present in a puppies system when they are vaccinated, it will do exactly what it intended to do; block what it thinks is an invasion.

As a result of this attack, the vaccination will be totally ineffective and can cause vaccine failure in dogs.

There are time tables that are used by most veterinarians to determine when your puppy is ready for a vaccination, and it rates the levels of maternal antibodies as they diminish in their strength.

There is also a window that veterinarians use called the widow of susceptibility, where their protection against disease is too low to protect them.

However this natural agent is still too high for the vaccination to work.

This is the time frame that if the puppy is vaccinated, they could still get the disease, despite the vaccination.

This window varies widely and it may be different in each individual puppy.

However it is estimated that by 18 weeks of age, over 95 percent of all puppies should be able to handle the vaccination without rejection.

The only problem with this window is that it may leave them wide open for attack from several diseases for a period of days or weeks.

Insufficient Time

The next major reason for vaccine failure in dogs is what is considered insufficient time. This takes into account the time between your dog’s vaccination and their exposure time.

It is a misconception that vaccinations provide immediate protection; they do not.

Depending on the type of vaccination, it can take several days to as long as a couple of weeks before your dogs’ body responds to the vaccine.

In fact, there are some vaccines, such as a Lyme vaccination, that can take as long as 3 weeks before it is effective.

Parvovirus is another example, as your dog may be exposed to it several days after their vaccination.

Even then their body has not yet fully accepted it.

As a result, they will become infected, despite the vaccination.

However, there are also cases where the exact opposite will take place; the time intervals are too long.

There are several vaccinations that will last for the life of your dog, but there are also several that will need what is referred to as booster shots.

If your dog is attacked by one of these diseases and it happens to hit this interval stage, they will still develop the disease as vaccine failure in dogs allows it.

Antibody Titer

The next potential cause of vaccine failure in dogs is referred to as the antibody titer.

This is a term that is used to describe how much protection your dog has from a disease by measuring the amounts of their natural antibodies in their blood.

For even the most experienced veterinarian, this can be a very complicated process, as it is measures only one part of your dog’s immune system; their antibody levels.

However, there are also other problems with this process.

Some veterinarians will suggest that these titer levels should be measured prior to any vaccination, but this is also very complicated.

Every disease can have different levels of protective tiers, and what makes this process very challenging, is that these levels are still not known.

It is also only a snapshot in time so to speak, and as such, it could provide a different reading if taken a week later.

As a result of this challenge, there are several diseases where the level of antibody protection in your dog cannot be measured successfully.


However, the list of potential causes of vaccine failure in dogs does not end here, as there are several other potential causes that may cause vaccine failure.

There are different strains of bacteria as well as viruses that can cause any disease.

An example of this that is most familiar to owners is the human flu virus.

You may get a flu shot that you think is protecting you for that season, but another strain of flu virus starts to circulate.

You were vaccinated, but only for that one strain, and as a result, you still get the flue. Vaccines can also become damaged, if they are not handled properly.

If this does occur, the modified live vaccine will become inactivated and therefor useless.

If your dog is not given the vaccine properly, it can also cause vaccine failure. Some vaccines must be given in very specific ways such as into the nostrils, under the skin, or into the muscle.

If for some reason it is not given properly, the vaccination that you think is protecting your dog is actually useless.

Do not be timid when taking your dog in for a vaccination about asking who will give it, how it should be given, and then ask to observe the process. You may be surprised at what you see.


Vaccine failure in dogs has even more potential causes of failure including not following the vaccination schedule properly, genetics, and immune deficiency of some kind in your dog.

It may also trigger diseases that may attack your dog in succession.

Nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin A or E, as well as Selenium deficiencies can also render some vaccinations ineffective.

However, even though vaccines will never provide 100 percent protection in every case, they are still very effective. But as a safe guard, ask the right questions.

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