Pet Vaccinations: How often should I vaccinate my dog/puppy or cat?
Our quick guide to pet vaccinations for puppies
We typically suggest that new dog owners read about vaccination protocols. This is due to our experience with Shinji who developed allergies after being overvaccinated according to the holistic vet who helped us diagnose his allergies after our initial vet. Here are a few things to keep in mind for pet vaccinations based on the research of Dr Schultz (his work prompted changes in vaccine schedules in 2011 although he proposed this in 1978!):
- Core Vaccines are for Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvo (CPV- 2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) and Rabies. These are highly contagious viral diseases with some being fatal. Transmission is different but may be spread directly through contaminated feces, urine or indirectly through the air for the first three diseases. Rabies is primarily through a bite.
- Non-Core Vaccines are for things like Bordetella, Measles, Parainfluenza etc. Consequently named non-core vaccines for the reason that they are not essential and you should think really long and hard about whether to get these vaccines…
- Do not start a puppy or kitten core vaccination before 6 to 8 weeks of age with revaccinations no more frequent than every 4 weeks.The reason is that puppies still have maternal antibodies which are compromised by pet vaccinations at that early age.
- After the 2nd round of core vaccines (maybe 12th week depending on when you started), you could titer test (measures antibodies) approx. 14 days after vaccine to see if you need a third round of core vaccines. It may not be necessary if the titer shows ‘strong’ titer to have a third round.
- Rabies vaccine could be administered between 4 to 6 months and then depending on the law (every 3 years although all the core vaccines may provide immunity for a minimum of 5 years i.e. annual revaccinations are complete overkill and probably dangerous).
- Ensure that non-core vaccines are not bundled with the core vaccines. This may be taxing on your furry kid’s system.
What is the minimum duration of immunity?
Here is a snapshot of Dr. Schultz’s research results
How about vaccinating adult dogs?
Other than rabies, none of the other vaccines are required by law in the US and most Canadian provinces. So what should you do?
- Since rabies is the only required vaccine, talk to your vet about having the rabies shots done every 3 years or alternatively having titer tests done.
- Note that rabies titers are expensive with a vet quoting it at around $250, which is about twice the cost of just having the rabies shot on its own (includes vet consultation fees in both prices).
- Below are the number of cases of rabies in Canada and the cause of rabies in each province. Humans are just as at much risk from being bitten by any of these animals as our pets are. However, we’d need a whole blog to explain why a vast majority of humans are not vaccinated regularly prior to being bitten as a preventative. 🙂 (sarcasm)
Calendar Year 2015
Samples Submitted BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NU NT YT Samples Submitted 97 347 225 127 1124 196 85 6 8 48 26 6 0 Rabies Cases Rabies Cases BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NU NT YT Arctic Fox 1 12 1 Bat 10 4 9 1 13 13 Bovine 2 1 Cat 1 1 Dog 2 1 2 2 2 Equine 1 Raccoon 10 1 23 Red Fox 1 7 3 Skunk 12 12 1 Wolf 2 Total 10 4 23 18 24 18 24 0 0 12 17 1 0
Calendar Year 2017
Samples Submitted BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NU NT YT Samples Submitted 122 368 237 130 1619 151 82 13 7 17 24 4 1 Rabies Cases Rabies Cases BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NU NT YT Arctic Fox 3 10 1 Bat 11 7 3 20 8 7 Bovine 1 2 4 Cat 2 1 1 Dog 1 1 2 3 Raccoon 86 1 Red Fox 1 1 Skunk 13 9 37 3 Total 11 7 18 14 149 14 11 0 0 0 13 2 0
- The trend in 2017 for BC still seems to be holding the same. Not many more animals are infected with Rabies in BC.
- How about the other core vaccines? We’d recommend titer testing for Parvo, Distemper and Adenovirus. The titer cost would be about $70 for all of them. However, you probably could get a package of shots including Bordetella for about $125.
- Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and a vaccine would be about $30.
- Bordetella is similar to a cold. Even with your dog vaccinated for Bordetella, it may still get kennel cough since a wide variety of bacteria and virus can cause it. We’ve got a blog on how to resolve kennel cough.
- So what if you did the titer testing just to find out that you need the shot anyway. That is a question that pet owners would have to wrestle with. We prefer the safety of titering before administering any vaccine.
- On a side note, fecal tests are a good idea during annual examinations to test for intestinal parasites instead of giving vaccines that may include additional dewormers which may be unnecessary.
Here’s why we’d pay for a titer test before vaccinating
There is always the likelihood that there are adverse effects when your pet gets vaccinated.
Vaccines can cause adverse reactions from hair loss, lethargy, allergies, to seizures and chronic issues in some cases.
Here is the direct quote on adverse reactions from Dr. Schultz’s website
“While there may be immediate hypersensitivity reactions, other acute events tend to occur 24-72 hours afterwards, or up to 45 days later in the case of delayed reactions.”
- Behavior changes such as aggression and separation anxiety
- Obsessive behavior,self-mutilation, tail chewing
- Pica – eating wood, stones, earth, stool
- Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
- Seizures, epilepsy
- Fibrosarcomas at injection site
- Autoimmune diseases such as those affecting bone marrow and blood cells, joints, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system
- Muscular weakness and or atrophy
- Chronic digestive problems”
For more information on Dr. Schultz study, you can read it here.