What Are the Ingredients of Vaccines?

Since our dogs are injected with these ingredients quite frequently, it is a wise idea to learn what exactly is in their vaccines and what risks might accompany the ingredients.

There is a significant risk of an allergic reaction to some vaccine ingredients. Some dogs have an anaphylactic reaction, which is a state of allergic shock that can be fatal without prompt treatment.

Dr. Martin Goldstein says that while the link between anaphylactic shock and vaccines is easy to see because of the immediacy of the reaction, there are reactions that we don’t quickly link to the vaccination.

“More subtly, after a week or two, a pet may show other serious symptoms: bleeding gums, enhanced allergies, seizures, and hemorrhages.”

Vaccines contain many chemicals and additional ingredients that serve different purposes. Preservatives like thimerosal help to prevent contamination, adjuvants like aluminum salts increase the immune response, and stabilizers like sugars and gelatin keep the vaccine potent during transportation and storage.

Vaccines often contain trace amounts of culture material from manufacturing processes such as egg protein. Formaldehyde is used to inactive viruses and toxins, and antibiotics like neomycin prevent bacterial contamination.

“Nowadays vaccines include dangerous metals like mercury (thimerosal or ethylmercury) and aluminum. They also contain toxic ingredients like formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), and cytotoxic ingredients like phenol red.” 


Suspension Fluid

The suspension fluid is the home for the antigen and its neighbors (adjuvants, preservatives, and stabilizers). The vaccine antigen (disease factor) is often freeze-dried into a powder that is reconstituted in a suspension fluid before use. Suspension fluids can be sterile water, a saline solution, or protein-containing fluids.

These protein-containing fluids pose a risk of causing hypersensitivity reactions that may progress to autoimmune disease.

To learn more about vaccines and allergic reactions you can read here: Understanding Canine Allergies Part 3: Do Vaccines Cause Allergies? 


Preservatives and Stabilizers

There are many stabilizers used in vaccines (including human vaccines) and a few common preservatives.

Stabilizers keep vaccines active for some time during transportation and storage. Preservatives act similarly but help prevent contamination of the vaccine that could spoil it or cause potential harm upon injection.

Stabilizers May Include Bovine Serum Albumin, Fetal Bovine Serum Albumin, Bovine Extract, Bovine Casamino Acid, Hydrolyzed Gelatin, Hydrolyzed Porcine Gelatin, Lactose, Monosodium L-glutamate (MSG), Sodium Borate, Sodium metabisulphite, Sorbitol, and Sucrose.

Unfortunately, many of these ingredients are toxic, elicit allergic reactions, and confuse the immune system.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogena cancer-causing agent. Carcinogens are not something you want to introduce to your dog’s body often. Formaldehyde, like some other vaccine ingredients, has multiple jobs including both stabilizing the vaccine and inactivating bacterial and viral products for use in vaccines.

“Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines, (these are vaccines that use an inactive bacterial toxin to produce immunity.) It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. Most formaldehyde is removed from the vaccine before it is packaged.”

“Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol which are used as stabilizers in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain unchanged when the vaccine is exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity.”


Preservatives may include Thimerosal, Benzethonium chloride, EDTA, Formaldehyde, and Phenol.

“Thimerosal: vaccines still contain this ingredient despite the extreme neurotoxicity of mercury proven repeatedly in studies for decades. Some vaccines claim to be thimerosal free, but they may not be.”


Continuing Risk Factors

Although vaccines should only contain small amounts of chemical preservatives, stabilizers, culture materials and Viral/Bacterial Inactivators (such as formaldehyde), they have historically included enough to cause adverse reactions in dogs. Some breeds and individual dogs are more at risk than others, including double merle shepherds and dogs prone to seizures. Any dog with a compromised immune system is also at risk for having an adverse reaction.

After several years of continued vaccination, the amount of damage these toxins cause builds up in the immune system, gut, and nervous system. The build-up causes the dog to become symptomatic, resulting in common degenerative diseases.



Animal proteins are used to cultivate the vaccine antigen. The culture is usually egg or cow proteins. These proteins are not absent from the end product of vaccine manufacturing (known as a residual medium) and may be part of a protein-containing suspension fluid.

Upon the unusual route of injection into the body, the immune system recognizes the proteins as invaders and attacks them. After one or more shots, the dog’s immune cells become sensitive to these animal proteins which leads to food allergies and autoimmune disease.



Adjuvants are ingredients that promote a stronger response to vaccines. Their use is to improve the effectiveness of killed vaccines.

Modified-live vaccines (MLVs) elicit a stronger response in the body but carry the risk of causing infection by the antigen in the vaccine. Dogs who are young or elderly, sick or recovering from a recent injury or illness are more at risk for a modified-live vaccine to cause disease.

Killed-vaccines might be the preference since they lack the chance to cause disease, but they also induce a smaller immune response. So manufacturers add adjuvants to make them more provocative.

Manufacturers use aluminum in the form of gels and salts in vaccines as adjuvants.

“Aluminum is a grade 3 (out of 4) carcinogen. It opens up the blood-brain barrier, allowing neurotoxins into the brain. It also up-regulates IgE, the allergy immunoglobulin, which makes your dog more susceptible to all kinds of allergies – skin issues, inhalant allergies, anaphylaxis and even death. “

“And when vaccines contain both aluminum and mercury, the risks increase. Aluminum reduces the body’s ability to eliminate mercury, making the mercury even more toxic.”

Thimerosal, a preservative used to prevent contamination in vaccines, contains mercury which we know to be toxic. Many vaccines contain both Thimerosal and Aluminum ingredients, making a very potent mix – if you are hoping for brain and nervous system inflammation.


Other Ingredients

Actual vaccine formulas are proprietary information. Meaning the company has no interest in sharing the ingredients with us most of the time. So it’s tough to know what is in each vaccine or combination of vaccines.

However, we can take a look at some known human-vaccine ingredients that are standard to vaccine production and get a fair picture of what might be in our dog’s vaccines.

Some other ingredients in canine vaccines might include:

Antibiotics: neomycin sulfate, phenol.

“Antibiotics which are added to some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs (bacteria) during production and storage of the vaccine. No vaccine produced in the United States contains penicillin.”

Antimicrobials: Amphotericin B, Polymyxin B, Kanamycin, Gentamicin Sulfate, Chlortetracycline.

Protein purifiers: ammonium sulfates, Hexadecyltrimethylammonium Bromide.

Medium nutrients: amino acids from bovine and egg proteins, calcium chloride, carbohydrates, dextrose, ferric nitrate, soy peptone, Magnesium Sulfate, L-tyrosine, L-histidine, L-cystine, Lactalbumin Hydrolysate, hydrocortisone, histidine, glutamate, galactose, Dimethyl-beta-cyclodextrin, D-glucose.

Buffers: calcium carbonate, phosphate buffer.

Surfactants: Octylphenol Ethoxylate.

pH indicator dyes: phenol red indicator.

pH Adjusters: Sodium citrate. *See also Buffers and Tonicity adjusters.

Tonicity adjusters: mineral salts.

Viral Inactivators/Inactivating Agents: Beta-Propiolactone, formaldehyde, Glutaraldehyde.

Thickening agents: xanthan.


Vaccine Ingredients and Brain Inflammation

When a vaccine contains aluminum, it opens the blood-brain barrier and allows toxins to reach the brain, resulting in inflammation. When aluminum combines with other toxins in the vaccine such as mercury, it increases the toxicity of the mercury. So not only is the aluminum allowing the toxins to reach the brain, it is super-charging them as they enter.

MSG has many potential side effects after consumption, but it may also cause brain inflammation and damage upon injection into the bloodstream via vaccinations.

“It’s scary to think that MSG might damage your dog’s brain.”

“Dr Russell Blaylock, author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills” says that it can cause brain damage (in humans) and may trigger or aggravate learning disabilities as well as diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s.”

Certain vaccines, like canine distemper, have a recorded history of encephalitisbrain inflammation caused by infection or allergic reaction after injection.

“Encephalitis has been shown to appear in dogs after vaccination. (Grene, CE, ed, Appel MJ, Canine Distemper in Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat, 2nd edition, Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1998: 9-22).”

“Writing in the Veterinary Record during 1992 (130, 27-30), AIP McCandlish et al state: “Post-vaccinal encephalitis is a recognised complication of the administration of certain strains of live attenuated canine distemper vaccine (Hartley 1974, Bestetti and others 1978, Cornwell and others 1988)”.”

Prevent Over-Vaccination Risks

Preventing over-vaccination also prevents over-stimulation of the immune system and future disease.

Only vaccinate healthy dogs. Ask your veterinarian what health concerns are valid reasons for choosing not to vaccinate. If your dog is sick at the time of regular revaccination, you can get your vet to write an exemption from vaccination until your dog is healthy again.

Vaccinate for area risks. If your dog doesn’t live in a high-risk area for a non-core disease (lepto, bordetella, canine flu, Lyme, and others), then your dog most likely doesn’t need the vaccine. Core vaccines include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis.

Ask for single vaccines instead of combos. This way you can spread the doses out and let your dog’s immune system deal with each vaccination more efficiently.

Ask Your Vet to… Simple as it is, this question can help you make an educated choice when your vet advises a vaccine or drug:

“Ask your veterinarian to explain to you the side effects.”

“I’m not suggesting you to refuse the drug or vaccine for your pet or yourself, I’m suggesting you get all the information and then make your decision.  Ask and then decide.”

Use A Titer Test First. After your puppy’s first round of vaccines, use a titer test, which measures active antibodies in the bloodstream, to check current immunity levels.

Learn more about titer testing at Rodney Habib’s vlog: Planet Paws. 

Ask for 3-year Rabies. Law requires rabies vaccination in the United States, so asking for the three-year rabies is a legal way to reduce over-vaccination risks.

Reduce Inflammation with Diet. Your dog’s body best utilizes healing substances through his diet. Using some Healthy Additions before and after vaccinations will help stimulate a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation. We especially recommend this easy Turmeric Gravy recipe!



– Cassy Kay


dogs, annual vaccines, over vaccination, disease, veterinarians, vaccinosis








Alinovi, Cathy DVM. “What are the ingredients of vaccines?” truthaboutpetfood.com. June 27, 2016. Web. Accessed May 14, 2018. http://truthaboutpetfood.com/what-are-the-ingredients-of-vaccines/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ingredients of Vaccines – Fact Sheet.” cdc.gov. Web. Accessed May 14, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm

Goldstein, Martin D.V.M. The Nature of Animal Healing. Toronto, Canada: Random House, Inc. 1999. Print. Chapter 4 pg. 71.

Henriques, Julia. “5 Unexpected Dangers in Vaccines” dogsnaturallymagazine.com.  Web. May 11, 2018. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/5-unexpected-dangers-in-vaccines/

Henriques, Julia. “How Mystery Ingredients In Vaccines Cam Harm Your Dog” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. May 11, 2018. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/mystery-ingredients-in-dog-vaccines/

Khalsa, Deva DVM. “Villians in Vaccines” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. May 11, 2018. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/villains-in-vaccines/

O’Driscoll, Catherine. “Vaccines and Brain Damage” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/vaccines-and-brain-damage/

Thixton, Susan. “If Your Pet is Prescribed a Drug or a Vaccine is Given” truthabotpetfood.com. Sept. 30, 2012. Web. Accessed May 14, 2018. http://truthaboutpetfood.com/if-your-pet-is-prescribed-a-drug-or-a-vaccine-is-given/


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