Friday, July 31, 2015

Don't Over-Vaccinate OR Under-Vaccinate Your Dog

Recently I was shopping in PetSmart when 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. 

Where do you stand on the great pet vaccinate debate?

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 medical waiver), and that she would not be able to trim the dog's nails, or provide other veterinary services without it.

What's worse, over-vaccinating or under-vaccinating your dog?

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 volunteer by a.... you guessed it, a Chihuahua!  Not the dog's fault, it was my fault for not recognizing his really 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 infection or other health issues.

How many vaccinations are needed to adequately vaccinate your dog without overdoing it?

I know the subject of not over-vaccinating our pets has become a sensitive issue and is being talking 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'm starting to think more myself about whether or not my dogs are receiving more vaccinations than they really need.  I'm not exactly sure how to strike the right balance, still trying to figure it all out.

Carol Bryant, author of the incredibly informative blog, Fidose of Reality did a great job in a recent post explaining why it's important not to over-vaccinate our dogs, but to ensure their health is protected with the right amount of vaccinations rather than over vaccinating your pet simply because that's what your Veterinarian recommends. 

Where do you stand on the subject of over-vaccinating vs. under-vaccinating your pet?  Do you feel it is an issue?  Do you feel certain your pets get the right amount of vaccinations?  Leave us a comment and share your thoughts, we love hearing from you!

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27 comments:

  1. Hi Cathy! You're right; it is def a charged issue! :-) As someone who is an alternative medicine person and also not a freak, here's my feeling on this. I don't like vaccines because both for children and pets, there's tons of literature and many holistic vets who have documented cases of the damage they've caused, both immediate and long term. However, I do vaccinate my pups for rabies because it's illegal not to. I also think that if you choose to not vaccinate your dog, you also have to be very knowledgable about diet, exercise and all of the things that make for a strong, healthy immune system, which is what's going to protect your dog from disease, just like us. There is a growing contingent of children who parents choose not to get them vaccinated because of the side effects that have been proven to be caused by them in some kids and they go to play care, nursery school, etc. I just dealt with this very issue in my recent post on leptospirosis and the L4 vaccine to partially protect your dog from getting it. I would never tell someone not to vaccinate their dog. What I would recommend, is to make sure you have all the facts, talk to your vet about whether your dog is a good candidate, based on lifestyle, where you live, etc and then make an informed decision. It's a tough one. We always want to do what's best for our pups to protect them across the board. Thanks for sharing this. It's such an important issue that needs more discussion and research.

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    1. Agreed, it really is a difficult decision and I'd like to see more research and more weighing of pros and cons. I do think it's important to vaccinate against rabies and parvo (especially for puppies) though, I don't see a good holistic alternative to those. Parvo kills so many puppies, I see it at the shelter too often. I'd like to also learn more about vaccinating through the nasal cavity which many Vets are doing for Bordetella. I LOVED your post on Leptospirosis it was excellent! Thanks for stopping by and for weighing in on this, Jodi! I appreciate your input.

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  2. Hi Cathy,
    This is a hot topic these days, but not having a rabies shot is just asking for trouble. Just like we have to be our own health care advocates we also take on the role of being our pets health care advocates. I don't like the idea of vaccinations, but there are diseases out there that I don't want my dog to get either. Until these diseases are eradicated (like polio was for humans and we no longer need vaccinations for it) then it is better to be safe than sorry. I have worked in shelter and have seen every dog there have to be put down because of a case of Parvo. It was one of the saddest things I had to deal with. Going from a shelter with barking dogs all day to complete silence for two weeks. This is preventable with vaccines. We do need to keep a balance and I understand that some dogs can have very adverse reactions to certain vaccinations. There is so much more research that needs to be done. Thanks for the great post - hopefully it will open some eyes to the reality of necessary vaccinations.

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    1. I totally agree, Rabies and Parvo can be so tragic - having to put down all the dogs is horrific! I don't know how you dealt with the impact of that, I'd be so devastated. I hope we can eradicate both of these and never need to vaccinate again. Hawaii is a non rabies state - they have NO rabies there! How wonderful. I do think there is some over-vaccination happening, and I'm trying to strike a good balance for my own dogs. We do need more research for sure. Thanks for stopping by the blog and for sharing your thoughts on this issue, much appreciated Suzanne!

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  3. I will be sharing your post on all my social media, people need to understand this situations.
    Thanks again

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    1. Thank you so much Suzanne, I really appreciate the shares!

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  4. 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!

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    1. 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.!

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  5. 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.

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    1. 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!

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  6. My guys have been vaccinated against everything from the day they came home - they have never missed a single vaccination, a dose of flea /worm treatment etc. I worked as a vet tech for quite a few years and watched way to many dogs die of parvo - I could not even comprehend anyone let alone a vet not recommending vaccinations. Even when we moved to Florida the vet here suggested the boys didn't need the leptospirosis vaccine as they haven't had much of that here....but they always had it so we continued with it - glad we did as 3 weeks later there was an outbreak of it in a town less then half an hour away!

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    1. Oh wow, there was a Lepto breakout in your town?! That is very scary, I'm glad you vaccinated your dog beforehand. In that scenario it was obviously a good call. I've opted out of Lepto because I live most of the year in Phoenix where Lepto isn't a concern. We do however, spend lots of time in the Northeast. I am pro rabies and parvo vaccinations, but am feeling some concern over some of the others and particularly the frequency of them. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this, and your story about the Lepto breakout!

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  7. WOW!!! That is shocking! I don't think I have ever heard of someone never vaccinating their dogs!!!!! And to bring the dog out in public??? WOW!
    I am very particular with what vaccines, and how often I get them for my dogs, but they are vaccinated regularly and couldn't imagine not ever having them done!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. I know, not having any vaccinations whatsoever, especially for Rabies really shocked me. I understand not wanting to over-vaccinate, that concerns me too, but none at all is scary. I didn't want to go near that adorable dog, nor would I want my dogs to go near him. Thanks for stopping by Jenna!

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  8. 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

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    1. 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.

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  9. 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!

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    1. 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.

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  10. 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).

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    1. 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.

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    2. 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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  11. That's good to know that it's a state law that animals get a rabies vaccine. Rabies is a scary thing and it seems easy enough to prevent it in our little furry friends. That's so weird that her dog hadn't had any vaccines ever. I would be surprised if I heard that, too. http://www.liverpoolvillagevets.com/faqs/368230

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  12. Are dog vaccinations really necessary?
    Dogs

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  13. I guess there's always an easier way ...
    Veterinarian

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  14. Very informative site, i must bookmark it, keep posting interesting articles.
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    Panther breakfast in Florida

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  16. I found this post very insightful on the importance of pet vaccinations. Thanks for the update you have nicely covered this topic. keep it up..

    Puppy Vaccination Schedule

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