Consider the following:
· There are currently 14 canine vaccinations to choose from!
· During the past decade we learned that, for some vaccines, the duration of protection is longer than previously recognized. In the past, we vaccinated for the core diseases (distemper, parvovirus, and rabies) annually. We now know these vaccinations, when given to adult dogs, provide protection a minimum of three years and, in some cases life-long protection.
· There are no set of rules veterinarians must follow when determining which vaccines to give and how frequently they are administered, except for state-mandated rabies shots.
· Vaccines have the potential to cause many side effects and can be life threatening.
What you can do:
1. Educate yourself about available canine vaccinations, durations and potential side effects. In some cases, treating the disease might be preferable to the risks and expense of a vaccine.
2. Determine to which diseases your dog has potential exposure. A miniature poodle who rarely leaves the house likely has no exposure to Lyme disease (spread by ticks); however, a Lab that goes camping and duck hunting may have significant exposure.
3. Alert your veterinarian to any symptoms or medical issues your dog is experiencing. It is almost always best to avoid vaccinating a sick dog–better to let his immune system concentrate on getting rid of a current illness rather than creating a vaccine “distraction”.
4. Consider vaccine serology. This involves testing a blood sample to determine if adequate vaccine protection still exists (remember, vaccine protection can last for years).
5. Ask your veterinarian about the potential side effects of proposed vaccinations, what you should be watching for, and whether or not there are any restrictions for your dog in the days immediately following vaccination.
By Sarah Zumhofe