Don’t Over-Vaccinate Your Dog!

written by Eric Powell, edited by Robyn Jacobs

Is your dog being over-vaccinated? Many vet practices, especially smaller ones, continue to recommend annual vaccinations in part because they’re dependent on the money it brings in. However, receiving vaccinations this often is not in the best interests of your dog – the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that adult dogs be vaccinated only once every three years.

Many dogs have an adverse reaction to vaccinations (one study showed that this happens to 1 in 10 dogs). Side effects include allergic reactions, skin problems and autoimmune diseases. For many milder and less common diseases such as Lyme Disease, it’s not worth risking such side effects based on the slight chance of your dog contracting the disease. Kennel cough is often given as well and vets don’t even ask if your dog will be staying in a kennel. Although Kennel cough is highly contagious, it is like a human cold or bronchitis and usually clears up on its own. Get just a few baby shots, then only rabies as needed to be legal. The insert in vaccine packages says “Give only to healthy animals”, so if your animal is ill in any way, or undergoing treatment, they should not be vaccinated. Vaccinated animals have been known to develop chronic illnesses.

When it comes to life-threatening diseases like rabies, parvovirus, and distemper—vaccination is essential, but not on an annual basis. Tests have shown that the rabies vaccine is effective for about three years, and the vaccines for the other two diseases last around seven years. Some studies show that vaccine antibodies are high 10 and 16 years later for parvo, distemper and panleukemia. The better choice to keep your animals healthy is to get them a titer test.

A titer test, which is a simple blood test to measure the level of antibodies to disease in blood, is a good way to test your dog’s immunity to life-threatening diseases without administering unnecessary vaccines. A positive result for a disease, also known as a strong titer, means that your dog is protected from the disease and doesn’t need vaccinating. Some vets recommend an annual titer test but this can be expensive, so once every three years is sufficient.

If you take your dog to a vet that recommends annual vaccinations, then you should either talk to your vet about vaccinating less frequently or find a new vet altogether. With that being said, it’s still essential that you take your dog to the vet for an annual checkup. By vaccinating your dog only when necessary and continuing with regular checkups, you’re giving your dog the best chance to live a healthy and happy life.

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