How to avoid over vaccinating dogs?
The development of vaccines has revolutionised the health of our dogs and our lives in general. Vaccinating dogs against distemper and parvovirus is an essential part of dog ownership and absolutely must be done as a puppy.
But there is now evidence that suggests that we are being encouraged to over vaccinate dogs and this practice is having major health implications for our pets. Research suggests that over 60% of vets are encouraging over vaccinating dogs. Ask yourself how many times have you had to be re-vaccinated for measles or mumps? Probably never. This is because human vaccines generally last a lifetime or the length of time the illness is a risk. I know we have had 3 or 4 COVID ‘vaccinations’ but were they vaccinations in the true sense?
What do we vaccinate against?
In the UK we vaccinate dogs against Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus type 2. These are known as the core vaccines and must be given as a puppy. All dogs will be given these. Your dog may be given other vaccines depending on your local environment. These are non-core vaccines. For example rabies is a non core vaccine in the UK but is needed for traveling to certain countries.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by introducing an altered version of the disease, your body thinks it is the disease and generates antibodies to deal with the germs. If you then come into contact with the full version of the disease, then your body has already generated the antibodies to deal with it and can swing into action before you get ill. DOI is the ‘duration of immunity’ or how long the vaccine will last and protect your dog from the illness.
DOI for distemper is seven to nine years or more. It is similar for the other core illnesses.
What are the recommendations?
So why are we being recalled to the vets to have ‘annual boosters’ There is no need for annual boosters of these vaccines. At an average price of £48.00 you can draw your own conclusions as to why some vets administer them. The BVA (British Veterinary Association) recommendation to vets is to re-call every three to four years, but why is this even necessary when the DOI is twice that?
Better be safe than sorry right? Wrong
Over vaccinating dogs does not improve your dog’s immunity to the disease. But it can cause a whole host of vaccine related illnesses, from a moderate tiredness and hair loss to severe reactions like anaphylactic shock, foetal defects, seizures and death. Chihuahuas can be at risk because of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ idea. This may work for cats who are in general the same size, but dogs have a huge variety of sizes.
Your chi does not need the same dose as St Bernard. It is essential that you make sure any vaccine dose has been moderated to fit the patient.
*Rabies vaccines must be administered in full. So, it is extremely important to make sure your dog is not over vaccinated. The issues with vaccinating small dogs like chihuahuas in the US is a matter of contention. Rabies is a legal requirement but pet parents are getting organised. Take a look at Dr Robbs Protect the Pets Campaign.
How to prevent your dog being over vaccinated
It takes a lot of guts to argue with your vet when they suggest that your dog needs a booster vaccination. After all they are the professionals and it is easy to be intimidated and feel like a trouble maker. But there is another way. Ask your vet to perform a titer test. A titer test is a simple blood test that can determine if your dog has immunity. Some vets have the means to perform this in house, others may have to send it off to a lab. It will cost you some money. But it is worth it. If your vet is not interested in performing this test, then I would find another vet.
Long time health
Over the cause of a lifetime, we put our pet’s immune system under a huge strain, vaccinations, chemical flea and worm treatments VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from cleaning and household products and poor over processed diets. This can lead to a host of ailments resulting in allergies, cancer and inflammatory conditions. Your dog should get some time off from these treatments and needs to have their immune system supported with good diet and possibly supplements. Try to move towards a more natural way to manage their everyday needs.