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Vaccinating Your Dog - Should You Do It, and If So, When, and How Often?

- by Brigitte Smith

 
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Should Dogs Be Vaccinated?
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The majority of dog lovers believe that it is very important to vaccinate their dogs, but how early and how often are two questions that are currently much on their minds as well as on the minds of the veterinary community at large. 

While vets agree that it is still vital to vaccinate puppies at 6 weeks for distemper and measles if they did not nurse during the first few hours after they were born and again at 8, 12, and 16 weeks for Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus (DHLPPC), there have been questions as to whether the traditionally recommended (and in some states required) annual vaccinations are necessary.  Puppies are also vaccinated for rabies at six months and this, too, is repeated annually.

The concerns that some dog owners have is whether the repeated dog vaccinations are really necessary and whether they are, in fact, doing more harm than good.  Vaccinations work by stimulating the dog's immune system, encouraging it to readily produce antibodies to fight against specific types of bacteria and viruses. 

Stimulating the immune system this way comes at a price - the actual introduction of the offending agent in some form to the dog's system, leading to the concerns of dog lovers and vets alike.

The questions on the minds of those concerned are "is it dangerous to repeatedly vaccinate my dog each year" and "how much vaccine should a dog receive and how often?"  Fortunately the experts do agree that the answer to the first question is a resounding "no."  There are rare cases of dogs that have become very ill or even died as a result of vaccination, so the fact that many dogs show no particular adverse effects is certainly not a valid argument of itself to continue vaccinating our dogs on an annual basis.  There is no evidence that the vaccines need to be topped up in dogs, any more than is the case with humans.  Human babies are generally vaccinated for a variety of human serious illnesses.  But we're not re-vaccinated yearly!  And there are many insidious illnesses which are killing our dogs in modern times which they never used to be the case.  So the role of vaccinations in those immune system diseases is definitely questionable.

The animals adversely affected may have already been sick unbeknownst to their owners of had some form of allergy to a specific part of the vaccine.  In fact, current veterinary protocal (which is unfortunately not followed by a significant number of vets), is NOT to vaccinate a dog who is ill or whose immune system is compromised in any way.

The answer to the second question is less encouraging because, the truth is; no one knows for sure how much vaccine is really necessary and how often it really should be given.  This is currently a topic of much discussion and debate in veterinary circles.

The best advice that dog owners can therefore take is to continue vaccinating their dogs ONLY according to local laws.  If it's not a legal requirement, it's probably NOT a good idea.  Since there is evidence that annual vaccines may cause harm to our dogs, there is certainly cause for alarm, and unless your vet can give you a compelling reason to keep vaccinating, we should STOP vaccinating adult dogs.  

 

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