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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vaccine Related Head Tremors in Puppies

White Feather as a puppy just before her first shot and when head tremors began

White Feather at 18 months old. No signs of head tremors since treatment.
Illy as a puppy prior to her second shot at which time the head tremors began.

Illy at 8 months old with no signs of head tremors after treatment.

There have been a few posts on this issue in our blog. The last time the head tremors occurred, there was a very informative email string with a friend also in the Hedlund Husky Preservation project. Instead of paraphrasing or trying to rewrite the entire email string, I am publishing that particular string in its entirety with permission. As in any email string, you'll have to read from the bottom up. Special thanks and appreciation goes out to Thom Swan from Stardancer Kennels and his partner Janice Rollet, CCB.

---Original Message---
Subject: RE: Vaccine related head tremors
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2011 11:10:43-0900
From: Thomas Swan
To: Linda Newman

The 1 mg per pound recommendation is the MINIMUM recommendation for 5-HTP supplements.  It's better to go higher than to go lower.  If you can't find 50 mg capsules, 100 mg once each day will be OK and still preferable to Melatonin.

You'll need to continue the supplements for at least 1 month but you should not hesitate to continue it longer if  that feels like the right thing to do, based on your observations of her neurological status, development and behavior.

Also, you should delay her third round of vaccinations until at least 3 months of age.  It she were in my kennel I'd probably delay it even longer, but that needs to be weighed against the prevalence of the diseases in your area.

This morning Janece and I discussed the potential genetic link, and the reason I sent so much extra information was because we agree it is a concern that Hedlund owners and especially breeders should be aware of.  Hopefully we can avoid some of the issues by vaccinating late in the recommended schedules and vaccinating judiciously throughout or dog's lives.  We are fortunate that the Stardancers have vets who adopted the AAHA recommendations very early on and have no problem with us following our own schedule (Mark May and Melissa Rouge).  For example, I didn't vaccinate the Torus / Lucky pups against rabies until they were 1 year old, and that was with a 3-year product.  They'll get one more and then we'll most likely run titers rather than follow a systematic schedule.  Rather than vaccinate my "oldsters" Daisy, Gump and Sheenjek, I ran titers on them, filed the results in their health files with a grin, and never needed to stick a needle in them again.

For some kennels, race rules or local laws may demand more aggressive vaccination.

Obviously we can't recommend disobeying the law.   If you do want to consider reasonable acts of civil disobedience I'd suggest you be very cautious in managing your kennel(s) to ensure that strays or wild animals can't contact your dogs, and be very, very cautious when your dogs are interacting with strangers, especially children.  Keep copies of the recommendations you base your decisions on in case you need to defend those decisions in the courtroom/  Learn the potential legal consequences or disobedience and be prepared to accept those consequences should they arise.  That's the part of Ghandi's philosophy that is often ignored by activists


“A good dog is so much a nobler beast than an indifferent man that one sometimes gladly exchanges the society of one for that of the other.” William Francis Butler

On Feb 20, 2011, at 10:14 AM, Linda Newman wrote:

This is all excellent information, Swanny. I had forgotten about the link between neurological issues from vaccines and more primitive lines.

Interestingly enough, Illy and White Feather(head tremors after 1st shot at 8 weeks old) seem to be very similar in temperament which could suggest that they were dealt a similar set of genetics which are indeed more primitive than the other pups in each respective litter. WF is Tumac's sister. And, of course, Tumac is Illy's sire.

Clarification - The dosage of the 5-HTP doesn't seem to compute unless I am missing something. You mentioned 1mg per lb then said that it is alright to give them 100mg per day. Illy is now roughly 25lbs.

Then how long is each supplement given? I seem to recall a time frame of two weeks?

I will keep you all updated on Illy's progress.

Thanks again.


On 2/20/2011 12:28 PM, Thomas Swan wrote:
I've added to the address list to more widely share the information.  If I've missed any of our Hedlund group members, please forward it.

Linda wrote "Could you please give me the doses again for the Melatonin and Ester C for the head tremors we discussed over a year ago? I gave puppy shots a week and a half ago (the 2nd round) and began noticing head tremors over the weekend in Illy.  I didn't think we would be dealing with his again. I wonder if it is potentially growing pains in this line that will eventually go away even without the Ester C and Melatonin. I don't want to take the chance, however.

It's good that I was unable to remember the dosages, because it prompted me to ask my partner (certified canine behaviorist Janece Rollet).  It turns out there has been a relatively new scientific development that makes it possible to resolve vaccine related neuro issues a little more quickly.

If you can find 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), also known as oxitriptan, it can be administered rather than melatonin.  Like melatonin, 5-HTP is a precursor to seratonin, but because it is higher on the chain of conversion, its therapeutic effects occur more quickly.  You can learn the most important pharmacological details about 5-HTP at .

The doseage of 5-HTP for puppies is at least 1 mg per pound of weight.  It is better to give more rather than too little.  It is now widely available over the counter as a dietary supplement for humans.  Most commonly you'll find 100 mg capsules, which is fine.  The puppy can have one, 100 mg capsule per day.  If you can find it in 50 mg capsules, you can administer 1 capsule, twice each day to maintain a more consistent blood level.

If all you can find is melatonin, administer 9 mg (thee 3mg capsules) three times each day.

The dosage of Ester C starts at 150 mg per day, and is increased as the puppy's gastrointestinal system adapts to absorbing it.  EsterC is bowel intolerant, so start at 150 mg and watch her stool.  If her stool remains firm, you can increase the dosage in 2 days (or after her stool firms up again), observe again when if you are still seeing firm stool you can increase the dosage again...  and so forth to reach the dose of 500 mg per day.

Neither Janece nor I are veterinarians, but Janece has worked closely with Dr. Jean Dodds for many years and stays current on the related sciences regarding canine vaccinations.  Dr. Dodds has recently posted an updated recommended schedule for vaccinations, which you can see on-line at .  Dr. Dodds is recommending vaccination against distemper and parvovirus at 9 weeks, 12 weeks and between 16 - 20 weeks.  This is a bit later than the schedule recommended by many vets.  She recommend vaccination against rabies at 24 weeks or older (as much older as permissible by law), followed at 1 year of age with a killed, 3-year product and she stressed that rabies vax should be administered no earlier than three to four weeks before or after parvo/distemper vaccination.

She specifically does NOT recommend giving distemper & parvo vax prior to 6 weeks of age and does not recommend corona, leptospirosis, lyme, bretella or giardia at all.  This is consistent with current AAHA and AVMA vaccine recommendations.

All of us in the project need to be aware of vaccine related neuro issues.  Hedlund huskies, like most dogs of near-indigenous origins, are considered to be 'primitive' dogs (as opposed to dogs that are phenotypically removed from ancient genetic stock).  Current scientific evidence suggests the hypothesis that primitive breeds tend to have a more active response to vaccines than the more "sophisticated" types, which can result in a higher incidence of vaccine related neurological issues.

If your vet insists on a more aggressive vaccine schedule, please don't hesitate to remind him or her that the AVMA has adopted the vaccine recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association, which are available for download at .
Please don't hesitate to print a copy of the recommendation if your vet resists the idea of limiting vaccinations or vaccinating more aggressively than Dr. Dodd's recommendations.


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