Vaccination is one of the nowaday's top controversies.
Take a look at the full range of responses to this one. 23.81% checked vaccination as extremely important, 40.48% as important, 19.05% as somewhat important, 4.76% as not important, 2.38% didn't know, and 9.52% opted for alternate answers.
The other answers include opting for titers, the importance of not over-vaccinating, and considerations for exposure. These notes are all correct and essential, though not addressing the question of initial vaccinations.
Where do you stand on the subject of vaccination?
Vaccinations do save lives.
I believe that every puppy should receive the core vaccines. Rabies is always fatal. Parvo is potentially fatal, and I would not take a chance with that. Distemper is potentially fatal, and it's a debilitating disease I would never want to risk my dog getting. Canine adenovirus vaccine protects against hepatitis and respiratory disease (part of the kennel cough complex).
Almost all experts agree that all puppies should receive initial core vaccinations.
Only a very few voices are against vaccinating altogether. The lack of cure and the morbidity with these diseases is something I would not want to risk. That is not to say that if your dog got parvo, for example, you shouldn't treat. But the treatment is costly and supportive only.
I believe that the risks of the diseases themselves vastly outweigh the risk of the vaccines. Have you ever seen a puppy sick with parvo or distemper?
That said, once immunity is acquired, there is no reason to keep revaccinating.
Except for rabies, which is regulated by legislation. Unless something changes, this vaccine is mandatory.
With parvo and distemper, all you need to do is to run a titer test to see the level of your dog's immunity. We just did titers for Cookie couple months ago, because it's been three years since her last vaccination. And it is entirely possible that the last booster was indeed the last and she won't need one for the rest of her life. We'll continue to titer to confirm she's protected.
Should any veterinarian insist on annual boosters, just say no.
It seems that many of them use vaccine reminders as the means of getting you to show up in the clinic for an exam. I imagine there are people who wouldn't come otherwise. I assume there are plenty of such people. Our present clinic came up with a creative solution. They give only one vaccine at the time, meaning that even though they honor the minimum of three years between boosters, you get to come one year for parvo, next year for distemper ...
Good for the dogs too, I guess, as the immune system needs to deal only with one at a time. When we moved up here, with Cookie's vaccination history not known, we gave her both parvo and distemper but with a month apart.
When it comes to vaccinations, I consider Dr. Dodds' guidelines the most discriminate source. But if your vet insists on annual boosters, you can also refer them to the AAHA guidelines. There is not a single reliable source recommending yearly boosters anymore.
That applies to core vaccines only, though, because the elective vaccines are mostly against bacterial infections and they do not last longer than a year.
What about the non-core vaccines?
Non-core vaccines are absolutely a judgment call for each individual dog given their lifestyle and potential exposure. There are areas where vaccinating against things such as leptospirosis, Lyme or even rattlesnake bites might make sense. When we lived down South, we did do lepto vaccine. As the time passes, we might need to start doing that up here as well.
Always vaccinate a healthy dog only.
It is mindboggling that you can still bring your dog to a vet because they're sick and they might tell you to vaccinate as well since you're there already. That just does not make any sense. Do not allow your dog being given boosters if they are ill.
At the end of the day, everybody needs to do what they believe is best.
While there are antivaccination voices out there, there is enough consensus to support initial immunization for all dogs. The risks of not vaccinating at all outweigh those of potential vaccine reactions.
What say you?
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Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
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