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Thursday, April 5, 2012

More on Vaccine Related Head Tremors

Irish at 4 1/2 mos

Misquah at 4 1/2 mos

I sure hope that this is the last time I post about one of our puppies having head tremors within a week after a vaccination. With the new information I've uncovered, it very well could be!

We've posted previously of our very first introduction to this phenomena when White Feather was nine weeks old and began having head tremors a week after her first puppy shot. Of course, we were shocked, bewildered and frustrated when our vet, at the time, told us that there was nothing that could be done and we should just hope that they go away. Really? Is that all you can give me after years and years of study in the veterinary field? Not good enough.

There is very little information out there about this topic and with the internet, if it was out there, we should certainly find something. We ended up speaking with someone in our Hedlund Husky Preservation Project whose partner had some information for us on the topic! We were delighted to receive anything at all and the information and direction was reasonable and made complete sense. We were to administer 500mg (starting much lower and working our way up) of Ester C to boost the immune system and a dose of Melatonin to calm the brain as stress appeared to make the tremors worse. Within a month, the tremors were gone. Thank goodness!

We had thoughts that White Feather may have still had maternal immunity at the time of her first shot, causing an autoimmune reaction to it that expressed itself in the form of head tremors. Our solution was to give the first puppy shot later than 8 weeks next time around.

Illy was our second pup that experienced the head tremors. She was given her first shot later than White Feather with no issues. It was the second shot that created the problem. Within a week of that shot, she was having the tremors to the point of almost knocking her off balance. This time around we were provided with new information to administer 5HTP in place of the Melatonin and continue with the 500mg of Ester C. Her tremors went away within a month. Now having had two pups with this issue, we were at a loss as to what to do when the next group of puppies required shots.

Both White Feather and Illy had siblings here at Points Unknown and elsewhere that did not have tremors. The mystery continued.

Now on to the third and fourth, and hopefully last, cases of head tremors in our kennel. The Topa/Oken breeding produced seven beautiful pups. Three stayed at Points Unknown, two went to a nearby kennel and two went to a kennel in Alaska. One week after their first shot at 9 weeks, Irish began having head tremors. She also experienced agitation and two situational bouts of aggression during this time. She was immediately put on the Ester C and 5HTP. After a month she was still having tremors. She did not receive a second shot when they were due but her sister, Misquah did. One week after the second shot, Misquah began having head tremors. I can't tell you how defeated and helpless I felt at the moment I saw Misquah's first tremor. She was immediately put on the supplements as well. Her tremors intensified and were more frequent and Irish's weren't going away or lessening.

After the passing of a couple of weeks, both girls did appear to have fewer tremors.

While speaking with a friend on the phone about the issue during a road trip, she went online and up popped some new information that was linked to low calcium levels and low protein absorption in females. All of those pups affected were females. Our friend received two pups from the litter that White Feather was in and I received two pups from the litter that Illy was in. She had no issues with tremors and gave the same shots that were given at Points Unknown. We began to brainstorm to find the differences with this new information she had found.

Bingo! She gives all of her puppies cottage cheese as a supplement until they are 4 months old - there's the extra calcium and protein that mine weren't getting.

I had scheduled 19 dogs to have heartworm testing done at the vet the following day. I decided to bring the three puppies along to get an extensive blood analysis. Arrow, the male who was not experiencing the tremors would be our "normal". After the tests, I began feeding cottage cheese to the girls and within 2 days, the tremors stopped completely and have not returned.

The blood work from the three current puppies provided some interesting information about this litter as all three puppies were high in some things and low in others, together as a group. The only item that differed between the three was ionized calcium. The girls were low and Arrow was not. Ionized calcium is a free flowing calcium that is not attached to proteins.  More interesting connections to add to the analysis! 

More investigating found that the two females that went to a nearby kennel were being fed the same food and had been given the same shots supplied by us. The difference was that they were receiving about 4 dog treats daily that contained dehydrated milk. Could that have made the difference? Interesting to ponder.

The two females sent to Alaska were given the same first shot and a different second shot that contained only parvo and distemper. Ours is a 5 way shot that also contained Adenovirus and Hepatitis. It is reported that they have had no head tremor issues.

Although the head tremors still remain somewhat a mystery. We do have more information to combat the issue than we did previously.

Our new protocol will be as follows:

First shot at 9 weeks containing only Parvo/Distemper.
Second shot at 13 weeks containing only Parvo/Distemper.
No Third puppy shot.
Cottage Cheese Supplementation from the time of weening until 4 months old.

This is not in anyway a scientific study but just a dog lover's attempts at piecing together a complicated puzzle that affects the health of her beloved canine family. Let's hope we've seen the last of this horrifying issue. If you have experienced anything remotely similar, please don't hesitate to contact me via email to share your story at


  1. im so pleased i found this! our 11 week old lab had her second injections on saturday and within 2 hours she was falling over and unsteady, we noticed the forst head tremors on the sunday and although she is no longer falling over the head tremors have remained. Our vet called the vaccine manafacturers who denied any knowledge of issues after their vaccine but we walked in to the vets with a fit healthy puppy who 2 hours later couldnt even walk without falling over. I dont think i can face getting her vaccinated again in the future!

    1. Sorry to hear about your puppy's reaction to the shots! Here's some more information for you. We had another litter within the Hedlund Husky Preservation Project. All puppies were given their first shot at 7 weeks, which is earlier than I like to see, but they were given the 2 Way shot that includes ONLY Parvo and Distemper. The second shot was the same and was given after 4 weeks. We've seen NO head tremors or other vaccination related reactions in this litter.

      Our most recent litter will be given vaccinations the first weekend in November and we're anxious to see if the 2 Way shot is the trick. Please check back for the results.

      I wish you the best with your puppy. I suggest trying the 2 Way for her next.

  2. My Olde english bulldog pup is now 7 months old and having head tremors.

    He had them once when he was smaller (can't remember what stage) and then never had them again until about a month ago. Now they are more frequent, usually he does it when he's tired. They go away easily, but what would you suggest for making them go away permantly?

    Thanks for your help and opinions.


    1. Hello Nicole - When I did my research, I recall coming across an article about these head tremors being prevalent in some Bulldogs. I can't seem to find that information now. I would suggest googling Bulldogs and head tremors and see what you find. Best of luck! I really hope you find the answers you need and please keep me posted.