Beware of over vaccinating your dog

KJ Mullins-Toronto: What would you think if your doctor demanded that you have a yellow fever vaccine if you lived in Toronto and were not about to travel? Most likely you would question the doctor and refuse the shot. Many pet owners however allow their vet to give their dogs vaccines that may not be needed without question.

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Vaccines are a part of human life. Our children get their ‘shots’ during childhood to prevent serious diseases. For human children there is a clear scheduling of these vaccines because doctors know that once vaccinated most vaccines provide immunity for many years. We still take our children to the doctor once a year for a physical, regardless if they need a vaccine or not.

The same is true for our pet ‘children’ but it has become the norm for vets to give dogs vaccines year after year regardless if their body has immunity to the virus they are being protected from. Every year pet owners take their dogs to their veterinarian for vaccinations. While certain vaccines are important, many dogs are being over vaccinated. This ‘normal’ practice can be life threatening.

Some vets and animal activists are starting to speak out against over-vaccination. The main message that is being stressed is that just because their dog doesn’t require a vaccine they still need a yearly exam.

Animal activist Denise Angus said that it’s important to be aware of “when to vaccinate your pet, how to test for vaccination levels before vaccinating for certain vaccines including  Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus. Titer testing  is an important step for vets to know what vaccines are necessary and which are not for your dog.”

The size of your dog is an important factor. Smaller animals often have more side effects related to vaccines which makes it very important that if they need shots to space them out instead of having a combination shot. The concern of over vaccinating dogs does not come into play with puppies. Young dogs need those booster vaccines for their health. The concern only begins after the age of 2 or 3.

The most important advice is to have an open dialogue with your vet. Your pet’s overall health is in your hands so listen to your instincts. If your vet is not open to listen to your thoughts or concerns it’s a warning flag that it is time to find a doctor that will.

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What are your thoughts on pet vaccinations?

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