The Barkery’s Vet Vaccine Advice
We are typically told, as pet owners, how often to have our pets vaccinated by our vets. We naturally assume this is what’s best for our pet to keep it safe and healthy. But is it?
Some of the common vaccinations can actually be doing your pet more harm than good.
Current Vaccination Schedules
Many vets recommend both puppies and kittens get their “core vaccines” at ages 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks, 14 weeks, and 16 weeks. Then they get boosters at one year and annually thereafter. Have you ever wondered why your Chihuahua gets the same size vaccine as your Great Dane, and at the same frequency?
A study of more than 2,000 cats and dogs in the UK by Canine Health Concern showed a 1 in 10 risk of adverse reactions from vaccines, and it should come as no surprise that adverse reactions of small breeds are 10 times higher than large breeds, suggesting that the standard dose is much too high for smaller animals.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AHAA) updated their vaccination guidelines in 2011 from an annual 1-year core vaccine protocol to a 3-year protocol, with the exception of 1-year rabies shots. In many states, you can choose a 1 or 3-year rabies vaccine for your pet.
The AAHA also acknowledged that for distemper and parvovirus vaccine, immunity lasts at least five years, and for adenovirus at least seven years. This means that the updated 3-year protocol is still overkill. This means, as pet owners, we must be aware of our pet’s past vaccinations and current immunity before revaccinating our pets.
The Risks of Over-Vaccinating Your Pet
Since vaccinations stay in your pet’s body for much longer than the 1-year recommendation by vets, over-vaccinating is a common mistake made by pet owners. Giving your pet a vaccine when your pet is already immune doesn’t increase its immunity, but does increase unnecessary risk to your animal and can cause a variety of health risks and fatal diseases, including:
- Vaccine-induced sarcomas
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
- Thyroid disease
Why are 60 Percent of Vets Still Doing Annual Revaccinations?
Regrettably, six years after the change in protocol, and despite the fact that vet schools are now teaching the 3-year protocol, the majority of practicing veterinarians continue to recommend annual revaccinations.
Continued vaccinations are still given by vet offices because it is their best effort to encourage clients to bring pets in for wellness exams. The second and more disheartening excuse is that many vets simply do not want to give up the revenue earned by annual vaccination visits.
- Wellness visits are still important for your pet to check for heartworm, tumors, and assessing your pet’s overall health. We recommend annual checkups, although we do not recommend annual vaccines.
- Request a Vaccine Titer Test: This is a blood test that can be given by your vet in place of a revaccination. The test measures levels of previous vaccines that are still in your pet’s system. You can use these results to decide whether you want to revaccinate your pet.
- Discuss with your vet the risks versus benefits of diseases you are considering vaccinating for before assuming the vaccine is necessary.
- Do not vaccinate your dog or cat if it had a serious life-threatening vaccine reaction. Check with your vet before vaccinating if your pet has any other health issues.