Canine Vaccinations

Every year you receive the “Reminder” postcard from your veterinarian, your dog needs his annual booster shots. Dog vaccinations are very important for the long term health of your puppy or dog. Vaccinating every year is not only unnecessary, these annual vaccines can actually be harming, and in some cases killing, our dogs. Our pets are over-vaccinated. So are our children, but at least we stop at puberty. Our dogs are vaccinated every year for their entire lives!!

The only vaccine required by law is the rabies vaccine. Over-vaccinating can suppress the immune system causing such conditions as arthritis, skin diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, spondylosis, epileptic seizures, loss of motor control and cancer. Changes in behavior are also possible following vaccines.

Have you ever noticed changes in your dog after receiving his vaccinations? Perhaps a fever, swelling, rashes or loss of appetite? These are all indications that your dog may be having an adverse reaction to the vaccines. Imagine what this does to your dog’s health when continued year after year!!

Good news! The American Animal Hospital Association, AAHA, has set new guidelines and recommendations for the United States and Canada.

The 3 core vaccines, Parvo, Distemper and Adenovirus are no longer recommended annually. Parvo and Distemper vaccines last a minimum of 5 years. Adenovirus lasts at least 7 years. The Rabies vaccine is recommended once every 3 years.

All the other vaccines your veterinarian administers are not always necessary. They should be given as needed, taking each individual dog and circumstances into consideration. Be aware that some of these vaccines offer protection for a very short time period.

Dr. Ronald Schultz is a professor and chair of pathobiological sciences at the Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Schultz has been studying and researching canine vaccines since the 1970s. He is part of a community of canine vaccine experts that have made recommendations that have been adopted and used as guidelines by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Dr. Schultz recommends starting a core vaccination program from 6 – 8 weeks old, no earlier. Re-vaccinations should be administered no less than 4 weeks apart. So, if your puppy’s first core vaccines are administered at 7 weeks, the next re-vaccination would be at 11 weeks old and the 3rd would be at 15 weeks old. 2 weeks after the 3rd re-vaccination, Dr. Schultz titers to confirm immunity. I personally titered for immunity every year as part of my annual veterinary visit. My dogs always tested for sufficient immunity so re-vaccination was never necessary.

For rabies, Dr. Schultz administers the first vaccine after the puppy is 4 months old. The next rabies vaccine is given at 1 year and every 3 years thereafter. Your dog would probably titer for rabies immunity, but most states require re-vaccination at least every 3 years.

Most traditional veterinarians do not administer single vaccines, your puppy may be receiving vaccines that are not necessary. To ensure that your puppy/dog is receiving only the core vaccines, ask to see the vial.

As always, I suggest that you consult with your veterinarian to determine the correct vaccine program for your individual puppy or dog.