top of page

 Please Read... This Could Save Your Boxer's Life!!!!

There is one drug commonly used in anesthetic protocols that should not be used in the Boxer. The drug is Acepromazine, a tranquilizer, which is often used as a pre-anesthetic agent. In the Boxer, it tends to cause a problem called first degree heart block, a potentially serious arrhythmia of the heart. It also causes a profound hypotension (severe lowering of the blood pressure) in many Boxers that receive the drug.

Recently, on the Veterinary Information Network, a computer network for practicing veterinarians, an announcement was placed in the cardiology section entitled "Acepromazine and Boxers." This described several adverse reactions to the drug in a very short time span at a veterinary teaching hospital. All the adverse reactions were in Boxers. The reactions included collapse, respiratory arrest, and profound bradycardia (slow heart rate, less than 60 beats per minute). The announcement suggested that Acepromazine should not be used in dogs of the Boxer breed because of a breed related sensitivity to the drug.

This drug is the most commonly prescribed tranquilizer in veterinary medicine. It is also used orally and is prescribed for owners who want to tranquilize their dogs for air or car travel. I strongly recommend that Boxer owners avoid the use of this drug, especially when the dog will be unattended and/or unable to receive emergency medical care if it is needed.

Submitted by & : Wendy Wallner, DVM July, 1997

The "Handbook of Veterinary Drugs" has a section on ACEPROMAZINE, which states:

    Prolonged effects of the drug may be seen in older animals. Giant breeds, as well as greyhounds, appear quite sensitive to the clinical effects of the drug, yet terrier breeds appear more resistant. Boxer dogs, on the other hand, are predisposed to hypotensive and bradycardic effects of the drug.

For added measure, I have the veterinary staff put a notice on my dogs' charts stating that I do not want Acepromazine to be used.


Leptospirosis Vaccination

By Christie Keith

Lepto is, for a variety of reasons, a vaccine where the risk vs benefit analysis changes tremendously from case to case.

First, lepto vaccine causes more adverse reactions than any other canine vaccine.

Second, there are many, many strains of lepto, known as "serovars," but there is no cross-protection among lepto serovars (as there is among parvo strains, for instance). A dog can be immune to one serovar of lepto and have no protection at all from another.

To make that worse, there are only four available vaccine serovars of leptospirosis: L. Canicola, L. Gripophytosa, L. Icterohemorrhagiae, and L.Pomona. However, there are two more that are causing disease in dogs, L.Autumnalis and L. Bratislava, for which we have no vaccines.

Fourth (and this is a problem that lepto immunity shares with all bacterial immunity, natural or from vaccines), immunity to bacteria is only temporary. This is why you can get strep throat (a bacteria) over and over, but only get measles (a virus) once. So the immunity will always wear off over time, sometimes in less than a year. This means that you have to repeatedly vaccinate for leptospirosis in order to maintain immunity. Repeated vaccination of course increases the chances there will be an adverse reaction.

Fifth, while vaccination can prevent clinical disease in a vaccinated dog, it does not prevent the dog from becoming a carrier.

Which brings me to my sixth and biggest problem with lepto vaccination. Since there is no cross-protection among serovars, and immunity is temporary, you always have to assume that a dog, vaccinated or not, might have lepto if the symptoms indicate it. It takes a couple of weeks to get the results of a lepto test, so you have to treat the dog based on symptoms and can't just test first. So even if you vaccinate your dog, you may end up having to treat him or her for lepto anyway, and the dog may or may not have it. It kind of takes away the main reason that we vaccinate our dogs, ie, peace of mind and freedom from worry about a certain disease.

People need to be extremely aware of the symptoms of lepto and treat it aggressively from the very first suspicion that it's lepto, regardless of the vaccination status of the dog, and long before the diagnostic test results are known - if you wait that long, it may well be too late. Caught early, nearly all lepto can be treated with antibiotics. Caught late, many dogs will die, or require costly and mostly unavailable dialysis to survive.

I don't think that routinely vaccinating a dog for those four serovars of lepto annually or even more often makes a great deal of sense for most dogs. However, if there is a known outbreak, you know the serovar, and there's a vaccine for it, then you may want to consider it. Lepto does infect humans, so it's often a reportable disease, so your local public health department might be able to tell you if there is an outbreak. Beyond that, word of mouth among dog owners and at the vet's office is your best early warning system.

There is more information on leptospirosis on


 Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP

Educational Director,

 Vaccination Options

Vaccination against at least two of the four serovars mentioned is commonly included in the basic distemper shot (DHLPP - the “L” stands for leptospirosis). The vaccine can be made up to omit the leptospirosis portion. Of all the sera in this basic vaccine, it seems to be the leptospirosis portion that has been associated with hives, facial swelling, and even life-threatening vaccination reactions much more than any of the other fractions.


PLEASE RESEARCH BEFORE GIVING THIS VACCINE - If you decide to have leptospirosis vaccine administered to your pet, have it given as an independent injection, and not in a combination vaccine or multiple vaccines given on the same day. First get your dog immunized against parvo and distemper virus. Then let several weeks pass before the leptospirosis vaccination.



This is a warning to everyone who owns Boxers or a (brachycephalic) short nosed breed. 

These dogs should never be given the Bordetella Intranasal Vaccine. It is a live, not a killed virus. It is administered up the nose as a spray. In short nosed breeds it tends to bring about kennel cough any where from 2 days, to up to 3 weeks after it is administered. It causes kennel cough in over 95% of these dogs. 

This vaccine is supposed to prevent Kennel Cough, but does quite the opposite in the short nosed breeds. If your dog will be kenneled at some point, there is a vaccine available, it is a Bordetella shot. This is a safe, effective vaccine and doesn't bring about Kennel Cough in these breeds. The vaccine is a killed virus that is administered underneath the skin.  

Dogs that get kennel cough from the live intranasal vaccine, if they are lucky, get treated with the proper antibiotic and do recover just fine. Those that don't get treated with the proper antibiotic may end up getting pneumonia and many do not survive.

So, please, do not allow your vet to give this very dangerous Bordetella Intranasal vaccine to your pets! It could cost them their life! Author: unknown, passed to me from another Boxer breeder.

I do not vaccinate for kennel cough, it is easily treated and side effects can be severe.


Taking blood for an annual titer test, to check a dog’s level of immune defenses, should replace the habit of vaccinating dogs annually whether or not they need it.

  Aspiration Pneumonia

Please read this article - it could save your Boxers life.

 Believe it or not, a quite common cause of aspiration pneumonia is faulty administration of liquid medication either administered by drench (drench is when a stomach tube is passed down the back of the throat), or by a dose syringe. Any liquid that's given via syringe, whether medication or food, must not be given any faster than the animal can swallow, or the risk of aspiration pneumonia becomes very real.


Risks of Too-Early Rabies Vaccinations

I asked Dr. Dodds to talk about her concerns about vaccinating puppies too early in life.

She explained that at 12 weeks, puppies are at a critical age for socialization. This is around the time they leave their litters and go to new homes. They are also receiving combination vaccines for core diseases like distemper and adenovirus, and in some regions they’re also receiving Lyme, leptospirosis and/or other non-core vaccines. They’re getting what are called “combo-wombo” vaccines at the critical age of 12 weeks when the immune system is just beginning to mature and may be unable to handle the immunological challenge of multiple vaccines.

Puppies at this age are getting lots of vaccinations, leaving their litters, going to new homes, adjusting to new environments including new food, and possibly the presence of children and other pets. Now we want to take these poor puppies and give them another very strong, neurogenic vaccine at the same time – a vaccine that can be affected and neutralized by residual maternal immunity. This is worrisome. This is not the time, in Dr. Dodds view or mine, to give an additional vaccination on top of the other vaccines and all the other changes puppies are dealing with.

Other Risks Associated with Too-Early Rabies Vaccination

I asked Dr. Dodds if she has any other concerns about rabies vaccines in puppies under 16 weeks of age. Her response was that vaccines are not “sterile water.” They’re full of adjuvants and other substances that stimulate the immune system. They contain fetal calf serum. They contain activators. The purpose of vaccines is to stimulate the immune system in a very powerful way so it will produce antibodies.

When we’ve got young puppies who are going through all kinds of life changes – physical and psychological – their immune systems will be suppressed to some degree by the stress of all they are experiencing for the first time. We don’t want to overdo vaccinations at this critical time if we don’t have to.

So it’s possible that a puppy with residual maternal immunity against rabies who receives a rabies vaccination too early may wind up unprotected against the disease. And if for some reason that dog doesn’t receive a follow-up vaccination a year later, he could live his whole life unprotected from rabies. Since the whole point of vaccinations is to provide protection against disease, it doesn’t make any sense to time vaccines such that immunity may not be achieved.

Dr. Dodds explained that some animals don’t mount very good rabies immunity. That’s why two initial vaccinations are given within 12 months to insure that all pets are actually immunized – not just vaccinated. There’s a big difference between giving a vaccination and creating immunity. I think sometimes even veterinarians forget that distinction.

Another concern is that all but two types of rabies vaccines contain thimerosal, which is mercury, and we really don’t want to give mercury to animals with their vaccines.

Dangers of Adverse Rabies Vaccine Reactions

I asked Dr. Dodds to talk about what we are looking at in terms of potential vaccine reactions if California AB 272 is passed. Because most traditional veterinarians view vaccine reactions as either anaphylaxis (type I allergic reaction) or a type II reaction involving facial swelling, trouble breathing, hives, and other visible signs of an allergic response. But there are also delayed reactions that most vets don’t really think about, and don't often associate with vaccines.

If we’re vaccinating puppies with a very strong, adjuvanted vaccine at a younger age, what should pet owners look for in terms of potential vaccine reactions?

Dr. Dodds responded that she wishes she had a dollar for every frantic call she gets from a pet owner or veterinarian about an adverse reaction from a rabies vaccination. Many vets, including those at veterinary teaching hospitals, get confused about just what you described – the type I/type II more immediate reactions vs. delayed reactions.

In fact, according to Dr. Dodds there were two puppies in New Jersey that had severe rabies vaccine reactions seven days post-vaccination. Most delayed reactions occur between seven and 21 days after vaccination, but some don’t occur for up to 45 days. These two puppies were referred to a veterinary teaching hospital in the Northeast, and the owners were told the problem couldn’t be a rabies vaccine reaction because it was too long after the shots were given.

What you see very often with delayed reactions in young puppies are very disturbing symptoms like seizures or severe, adverse temperament changes such as irritability, snapping, or acting dazed. These puppies can exhibit odd behaviors like “fly-snapping” and staring at the ceiling. The seizures are of course very worrisome, because many people assume young puppies with seizures have congenital epilepsy. In fact, there have been instances where veterinarians have told owners they bought their dog from an irresponsible breeder who breeds epileptic dogs, when in fact the animal is having a delayed adverse reaction to a rabies vaccination. Dr. Dodds even knows of veterinary neurologists who don’t recognize the symptoms as an adverse vaccine reaction.

As Dr. Dodds explains, vaccine reactions can destroy joints, cause high fevers, and even cause the animal to scream out in pain when touched. They can destroy red blood cells and platelets. They can destroy the liver. But the scariest reactions involve neurological behavioral changes. Some of these puppies wind up abandoned or euthanized when all that was needed was detoxification support to address the rabies vaccinosis reaction.

Dr. Dodds feels very uncomfortable that veterinarians and pet owners are not being taught to recognize the adverse effects of rabies and other vaccines. Distemper vaccine reactions can also involve neurological signs, especially if the vaccine contains modified live virus -- the Rockborn strain of virus – that is known to produce post-vaccinal encephalitis. So we’re talking about post-vaccinal encephalitis from adjuvanted rabies vaccines with lots of immune system stimulants as well as from modified live distemper virus vaccines.

Pet Owners CAN Make a Difference!

Hopefully in states with this type of rabies vaccine legislation in the works, pet owners will get involved – because this will impact everyone’s pet. Another thing to keep in mind is if you’re forced to have your dog vaccinated for rabies at 12 weeks, you’ll want to be in touch with a holistic vet who can provide detoxification support.

Dr. Dodds also suggests visiting the Rabies Challenge Fund website. Dr. Dodds and Kris Christine are the co-trustees of the fund. Kris Christine has worked tirelessly to get uniform acceptance of a three-year booster requirement for rabies vaccines throughout the U.S. The site contains a wealth of information on pending and existing legislation and instructions on how to write to your congressional representatives to help them understand or learn more about the issue.


 Research has demonstrated that overvaccination can cause harmful adverse effects in dogs. Immunologically, the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions such as polyneuropathy resulting in muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, incoordination, and weakness, auto-immune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are all linked to the rabies vaccine. It is medically unsound for this vaccine to be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity, yet scientific research strongly indicates that the 3 year booster interval required by state laws may be unnecessary. French challenge study results published in 1992 showed that dogs were immune to rabies 5 years after vaccination and Dr. Ronald Schultz's serological studies proved that dogs have antibody titer counts at levels known to confer immunity to rabies 7 years after vaccination.

bottom of page