If you have a pet, you most likely have received a postcard in the mail from your vet saying, “It’s time for your pet’s annual vaccinations! Call us today to schedule an appointment!” Those cards used to come yearly. Now, most vets send them every three years because studies have found that over-vaccination can cause canine cancer.
I’m not anti-vaccine. Vaccines have saved many human and animal lives, and there are some that are essential for keeping your pet safe from life-threatening diseases. But I don’t make appointments for routinely scheduled vaccines for my dogs. Instead, they get titer tests before I consider getting them vaccinated.
A titer test shows if they are already protected from the disease in which they had been once vaccinated. If the titer test comes back positive, then there is enough of the vaccine still in their system. If a titer test comes back negative, then it’s a good time to consider getting them vaccinated. Dogs Naturally Magazine reports that one vaccination of parvovirus and distemper as a puppy will usually protect a dog for their entire life.
As far back as 2010, The Whole Dog Journal told us, “Annual vaccination for most canine diseases is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Dog owners should avoid employing those old-fashioned veterinarians who recommend annual vaccines. Owners should also avoid those veterinary service providers who provide inexpensive vaccines and other routine care without the benefit of a relationship with you and your dog beyond a brief transaction in a parking lot or pet supply store. While the financial cost of vaccine clinics may be appealing, the fact is, your dog’s health may pay the price of unnecessary or inappropriate vaccines.”
However, rabies vaccines can get a little tricky, depending on your US county. I reside in one of the strictest. No matter what the titer test shows, and no matter the health of the dog, the county requires residents to get their dogs a rabies vaccine every three years. So, last fall, when Sanchez‘s license was due for renewal, the county required him to receive a rabies vaccine while he was recovering from E. Coli and his titer test showed that he was already protected from rabies. To make matters worse, his immune system was already compromised, which is not a good time to administer a vaccination. At that time, he just wanted to be home, and mostly indoors. There was no chance he was in danger of rabies. So, I chose to not renew his license, even though I received threats from the county. Sanchez has since passed on, and at the time I considered him to be in hospice care. But, there was no checkbox for “hospice” with my county. Above all else, I put his health first. I just wasn’t willing to compromise his health because of a county law.
Core and Non-Core Vaccines
Core vaccines are ones that most vets recommend as a puppy and include rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Non-core vaccines are not needed for every dog. It depends on their environment. If you have a city dog that is never exposed to ticks, she won’t be needing a lyme disease vaccine.
Likewise, if you have a dog who swims in nature’s water holes, leptospirosis vaccines could save his or her life. Because of the heavy rains this past winter in my area, my vet recommended one for Gina, and I agreed.
Dogs Naturally has an easy-read pdf on the core and non-core vaccines and the minimum duration of immunity.
Jean Dodds, DVM, is a world-renowned vaccine expert. Her video below explains why vaccines also come with way too much antigens that our pets can’t handle.
Personally, I’m very grateful that I was educated on this topic well before Sanchez became a 14-year-old Labrador. While I don’t know the cause of his death, I do know that he did not have cancer. In addition to his healthy diet, I believe this is one of the reasons he lived a long life for a 70 lb. dog.