Weimaraner Puppies and Potential Concerns with Vaccination:

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A small percentage of Weimaraners have a tendency to develop Vaccine related disease:
Many Weimaraners are vaccinated and never develop any form of disease related to their vaccination. However, it appears that Weimaraners as a breed may have an increased risk of developing problems related to vaccination. Unfortunately, puppies that are not vaccinated face the very real potential of becoming infected with canine distemper virus or canine parvo virus and potentially dying from the infection. So the goal is to vaccinate Weimaraner puppies but attempt to do so safely.

Known information about this subject is still limited. The current thought is that these puppies may become sick based on one of 2 theories:

  • 1. The affected Weimaraners have a weaker immune system which actually allows them to become infected by the vaccines (modified live vaccines) and develop an active infection.
  • 2. The affected Weimaraners are developing a type of inappropriate immune reaction to the vaccines much like an allergy and becoming sick as a result of an over active immune

Of the two theories #1 seems to be the most accepted, but research is still ongoing with this condition.

What Happens?
Again, most Weimaraner pups are safely vaccinated and never develop illness. But, some Weimaraner pups will become ill shortly after a vaccination. The length of time to develop illness will vary from a few days to a week or more. Affected puppies can develop a variety of problems including gastroenteritis, pneumonia and bone/joint pain and swelling. Symptoms can be very mild and self limiting to sever and life threatening.

What is the treatment?
Supportive care based on the clinical signs is the most accepted means of care. Glucocorticoids are also recommended by some clinicians but their use is controversial because they may actually decrease the immune system further and could potentially worsen the disease.

How do we avoid this?
With the current types of vaccines available prevention may not be possible
A few options are to try to give the fewest number of vaccines possible to your puppy at each visit and use killed and monovalent vaccines when/if available.

This can actually be very difficult because most widely available vaccines are multi-component and are modified live vaccines. As an example, distemper, parvo, parainfluenza and hepatitis vaccines are typically combined into one multi-component vaccine. All are important and provide needed immunity but attempting to find individual vaccines and/or killed vaccines for each is often not possible.

  • -Only give those vaccines that are absolutely necessary.
  • -Often lepto, bordetella and lyme vaccines can be avoided all together.
  • -After 1 year of age do blood testing to check your pet’s level of immunity and the need for additional vaccines.

Under no condition should you skip the vaccines. The likelihood that your pet will become ill with a virus is very high and certainly MUCH higher than the potential for vaccine induced disease.

Summary:

  1. Weimaraners as a breed may develop post vaccine induced HOD and gastroenteritis <
  2. They are most likely to develop this as puppies
  3. They are most likely to have problems with multiple antigen vaccines
  4. The reactions occur when modified live vaccines are used
  5. The thought is that weimaraners have a inherited tendency towards a poor immune system and in some of these dogs when they are vaccinated with a modified live vaccine the vaccine reverts to a virulent (infectious) state and causes disease.
  6. Weimaraner dogs may present with multisystemic inflammatory/infectious disease at 12-15 weeks of age that can become chronic and recurrent in nature
  7. There is no cure for this condition, affected animals are treated symptomatically and may improve with glucocorticoid therapy.
  8. Vaccine protocols for affected and at-risk dogs may be modified
  9. The underlying pathogenesis may involve a primary congenital immunodeficiency state (failure to produce normal concentrations of immunoglobulin, particularly IgG and IgA), with an additional trigger being provided by the administration of multicomponent, modified live viral vaccines
  10. In one study of 11/13 dogs, disease onset was within days to weeks of receiving a vaccine booster

Recommendations:
The most important thing you can do is to discuss this issue with your veterinarian. He or she will be in the best position to advise you of what you pet is most likely to be exposed to and which vaccines are the most needed in your area. Some general guide lines include:

  • – Use a monovalent vaccine when available
  • – Avoid giving a weimaraner pup multiple vaccines if possible
  • – Don’t vaccinate weimar pups for lepto (or vaccines known to be of higher risk of reactions) unless there is a high risk of exposure
  • – Attempt to use killed virus vaccines when available
  • -After their first yearly vaccines check titers yearly and vaccinate only when

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By: Jill M. Patt, DVM


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