Do you ever worry if you're getting the right amount of vaccinations for your dog? Vaccinations for dogs can sometimes be confusing, and often a bit controversial for some pet parents. 

Don't Over Vaccinate or Under Vaccinate Your Dog

There are so many articles, videos, and podcasts that argue for more, or less vaccinations for dogs.  How can you be sure you don't over-vaccinate OR under-vaccinate your dog?

To alleviate my own worry about whether or not my dogs are getting too many or too few vaccinations, I rely on my Veterinarian to advise me on what "core" vaccinations dogs should receive, and we have a discussion about non-core vaccinations like the Bordetella vaccine, which is usually recommended if you board dogs at a kennel or if the dog attends doggy daycamp.

If you have a Veterinarian you trust and can have an honest conversation with, you should feel confident your pet is getting the proper amount and type of vaccines to stay healthy and happy.  I wanted to share a disturbing conversation we witnessed while at PetSmart with our dogs.

The Dog Vaccination Debate

While  shopping in PetSmart I overheard a woman at the Banfield Pet Hospital desk.  She was asking if one of the staff would trim her Chihuahua's nails.  The dog's nails had gotten extremely long and were starting to grow into the dog's paw pads. 

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I trust our Vet to ensure Phoebe and Icy get the right amount and type of vaccinations

Since the dog wasn't a patient of theirs, the dutiful staff member asked for proof of Rabies vaccination.  That's when something happened that shocked me!

The Banfield Veterinarian explained to the woman that she was unable to trim the dog's nails, or perform any other services on the dog unless the woman could provide proof of Rabies vaccination.  I silently thanked this Veterinarian for the sake of my own dogs and myself!

The woman proceeded to tell the Banfield Veterinarian that she did not vaccinate her dog - for anything!   She explained that they had a Veterinarian who didn't believe in vaccinations at all, so her 3 year old dog had never been vaccinated against rabies or anything else!  Well knock me over with a feather - Seriously?  No vaccinations whatsoever??  That adorable little Chi suddenly seemed like a giant petri dish of rabid plague to me!

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I moved a little closer to eavesdrop hear more.  The Banfield Veterinarian explained that Rabies vaccination is required by state law as well as by Banfield (it's required in every state, with some states offering a medical waiver), and that she would not be able to trim the dog's nails, or provide other veterinary services without it.

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Do you worry about your dog being over vaccinated or under vaccinated?

It really freaked me out knowing that this woman brought her totally un-vaccinated dog into a very public place and asked a Veterinarian to trim his nails!  The woman also admitted that they were unable to trim their dog's nails themselves without being snapped at and nearly bitten, which is why she brought him to the Vet.  Oh sure, let the poor Veterinarian and Vet Techs get bitten by your snapping, UN-vaccinated dog!

I weaseled my way in and expressed to the woman how appalled surprised I was at her dog not being vaccinated for Rabies and asked wasn't she worried that her dog would bite someone?  She looked at me like I had 5 heads and said that her dog's teeth were so tiny, they could never do any damage.  Really? I guess she's never been bitten by a very small dog.  I was once bitten at the animal shelter where I volunteered by a.... you guessed it, a Chihuahua!  Not the dog's fault, it was my fault for not recognizing his subtle warning signs that indicated he was terrified.  He bit me out of fear, not aggression.  Hey, Shi Tzu happens and sometimes terrified dogs bite!  Any dog's teeth can cut through skin and cause an infection or other health issue.

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I trust our Veterinarian to advise on which vaccinations are recommended Core vaccinations, and which are optional

I know the subject of not over-vaccinating our pets has become a sensitive issue and is talked about a lot.  I agree that pets shouldn't be over-vaccinated but I'm not sure what's worse, a dog that's over-vaccinated or one that is under-vaccinated and a potential risk to himself or to others, both human and canine.  I started to think more myself about whether or not my dogs are receiving more vaccinations than they really need, but I decided to put my trust in my carefully chosen Veterinarian and follow her advice on what vaccinations my dogs should have.

Where do you stand on the subject of over-vaccinating vs. under-vaccinating your pet?  Leave us a comment and share your thoughts, we love hearing from you!


M. K. Clinton said...

I have always vaccinated my dogs but have recently considered opting out of some. My vet and I have discussed what is best for my dog's and their ages. Great post!

Dachshund Nola said...

I'm conservatively pro-vaccines, for humans and dogs. I absolutely think we're over vaccinating everything, but the idea of not utilizing some vaccines is appalling to me. You have to weigh the risk vs benefits, and I strongly disagree with yearly vaccines, or even 3 year.

My dogs receive the core puppy vaccines, 1 year booster, rabies every three years, and that's pretty much it. Nola did have her core vax updated (hadn't had them since 1yr, and she's nearly 5), but only because she'll be flying and vacationing with me this fall.
I'm especially careful with my dachshunds, as the breed is notorious for vaccine reactions.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Same here, I've always gone with whatever vaccinations were recommended but now I'd like to re-visit some of them, especially the frequency and combining of some vaccines. Thanks for stopping by M.K.!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I am also happy that we have important vaccines but I'm concerned that some vaccines, or the frequency of them, may be overkill. Until rabies is abolished the way it has been in Hawaii, I still think it's important. The thought of my dog getting rabies from a wild animal is unbearable to me (she has a strong prey drive & is always outdoors hiking & playing). For puppies especially, I think Parvo is a very important vaccine. I'd like to see more research and some better alternatives to so many and frequent vaccinations. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and providing your feedback!

jank1961 said...

I feel strongly on this subject,since our beagle Cricket has had reactions to vaccines. We no longer vaccinate her, but only after a discussion with our vet. But we did get Luke all of his puppy and first year vaccines. I wrote a whole series on the subject, and did a lot of research. But I tried to find the balance....not vaccinating at all is not the way to go either. I do think the initial vaccines last longer than they say, and that repeating the same vaccines over and over is probably not necessary.
Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

SlimDoggy said...

Wow, that's pretty scary that they would take such a risk. If her dog did bite someone, she could have a huge liability lawsuit on her hands!

Barbara Rivers said...

I'm beginning to think that our pups Missy & Buzz have received entirely too many vaccinations over the course of their lives (they just turned 4 years old). I've started looking into a healthier lifestyle for the pups, i.e. using less chemicals.

As a result, I've eliminated dryer sheets (contain quite a few chemicals and I wash and dry the pups' bedding once a week) and chemical pest preventatives such as K9 Adventix (I now use natural ones containing essential oils and they work fabulously!).

I believe that the rabies vaccine is a very important one, and should absolutely be given. On my quest of a more healthy, natural lifestyle, I started reading "Dogs Naturally" & Dr. Becker's wonderful, informative articles about the topic of vaccination.

As of now, I will start asking for titer tests measuring the anti-bodies in our pups' blood against a certain disease before having our vet administer any more vaccines (other than rabies, obviously).

Barbara Rivers said...

P.S. I would love to switch over to a holistic vet, but the closest one is over an hour away from our rural neck of the woods. Sigh.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I have since learned that initial vaccinations may last longer than we know, with repeat vaccinations not always needed. I can understand not wanting to vaccinate Cricket if he's had bad reactions as long as you and your Vet feel she is protected against the major diseases like Rabies, but if she's not you probably don't take her to public places like the dog park so as not to inadvertently transmit a serious disease that hasn't shown itself yet, to other dogs. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this! I appreciate it.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I mentioned that to her, which is when she said her dog's teeth were so tiny they couldn't do any harm. Ridiculous. This happened in New York, and I'll tell you there are more attorneys here than you can imagine! They'd be all too happy to initiate a lawsuit against her if an unvaccinated dog bit a child! I wasn't pleased that she brought her dog to such a public place, I felt pretty vulnerable knowing she didn't even have a rabies shot. If you need to opt out of critical vaccinations like rabies, at least don't take your dog to a very public place where unsuspecting people and their kids or dogs might interact with him. I understand opting out of some vaccines or lowering the frequency of vaccines but the dog's health and the health of others must be considered.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm going to start looking into titer testing as well, I really like that idea! I also don't think opting out of a rabies vaccination is the right choice, the last thing we need is to re-introduce rabies into our communities of domestic animals! Thanks for weighing in on this issue!

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