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Vaccinations! Which Ones? How Often?

How do we prevent our dogs from contracting infectious diseases that can often be fatal, while also protecting them from the equally serious health consequences of too many shots?  The best strategy is to learn which vaccines are absolutely necessary (referred to as core vaccines), why they’re needed, and what the minimum requirements are for each to ensure protection from disease without over-vaccinating.  The following information appeared in the Animal Wellness Magazine: 

“Core vaccines are those that every dog should receive, regardless of geographic location or lifestyle,” says Dr. Ron Schultz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathological Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine. For dogs, the four core vaccines are canine distemper (CDV), canine parvovirus-2 (CPV-2), canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) and rabies. These are considered core because the diseases they protect against are distributed over a wide area and have a high mortality rate. “These vaccinations are absolutely necessary,” says Dr. Schultz. “You want the vaccine to be the first antigens to prime the immune system. You don’t want to leave it up to natural immunization or exposure.”

Dr. Schultz advocates that puppies should be vaccinated at 12 weeks.  He indicates that he only gives that one vaccine at 12 weeks and no others.  “To be honest, although canine distemper is a core vaccine, I think a dog only needs to receive it once in his life,” says Dr. Schultz. “The same goes for canine parvo and adenovirus-2.  That’s the vaccination program I’ve been practicing on my own dogs without any difficulty whatsoever.  We’ve never had a vaccine-preventable disease occur.”

Vaccinations definitely have their place in disease prevention, but knowing where to draw the line is key.  While experts stress that vaccines are vital to the health of pets, mounting research indicates vaccines can no longer be considered harmless. Research shows they can cause adverse health effects - everything from lower immunity against viruses, bacteria and parasites, to cancer - and that some vaccines do not have to be given as frequently as once thought.  The American Animal Hospital Association in 2003 began recommending less frequent vaccinations for cats and dogs. 

At present, several states are working on legislation to require veterinarians to provide vaccine disclosure forms.  Many vets oppose this practice.

AAHA Guidelines state on Page 18 that:  “We now know that booster injections are of no value in dogs already immune, and immunity from distemper infection and vaccination lasts for a minimum of 7 years based on challenge studies and up to 15 years (a lifetime) based on antibody titer.”  They further state that hepatitis and parvovirus vaccines have been proven to protect for a minimum of 7 years by challenge and up to 9 and 10 years based on antibody count. 

Bob Rogers, DVM, in Spring, TX, has a very informative site related to vaccines. He also quotes studies from Dr. Schultz that I quote above.  Click here to go to his Critter Fixer Pet Hospital site for more info.

Another informative site is:  www.critteradvocacy.org