Are we over-vaccinating our pets?
We talked earlier about vaccine overuse in humans. See post here There is a concern of the same in our pets. When I was in college earning my degree as a Veterinary Nurse, I was taught that after their initial puppy/kitten series, pets should get vaccines every year until death. Thank goodness these protocols are evaluated regularly.
I recently attended an Essential Oils for Animals Conference where several Holistic Veterinarians and a prominent Veterinary Immunologist presented their thoughts, findings, and research in treating our pets using more natural treatments and fewer pharmaceuticals. Ah, you knew I was going to get to that, right?
Dr Ron Schultz PhD’s research suggests that we ARE over vaccinating.
Vaccines DO save lives.
Meet my rescue kitten “Olie”.
Born to a feral mother, he was found at around 6 weeks old with eye damage due to Herpes Virus.
He likely contracted the disease from his unvaccinated mother.
Olie after $800 surgery to remove the infected eye.
He is blind in the other eye. But he doesn’t know he’s blind 😉
Cost of annual vaccination
Vaccines save lives, don’t get me wrong, but over vaccinating is unnecessary and costly in dollars and our pets health. Vaccines introduce the virus it is providing immunity for each time it is injected into our pets.
- Puppy series approximate cost including and exam – $200
- Adult yearly – $100
- Kittens series – $200
- Adult yearly – $100
Some wellness plans can cost as much as $325 yearly. They include blood, urine and fecal lab tests as well. It is a good idea to have baseline labs on our pets for comparison throughout their lives.
For a dog that lives to 15 years old, (many live longer), for vaccines ALONE would be around $1700. Not to say they shouldn’t have a wellness exam every year, but that is only around $30-$40.
World Small Animal Veterinary Association
(WSAVA) is an association of associations. Membership is made up of veterinary organizations from all over the world, which are concerned with companion animals. Currently, there are 96 member and affiliate associations, representing over 158,000 individual veterinarians from around the globe.
2015 WSAVA Canine Vaccination Guidelines
We really don’t want to begin the puppy series until their maternally-derived antibody, (or immunity) from the mother has dropped to a point where vaccinating will be effective, at about 8 weeks old.
Puppies: CORE vaccines, Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus (NO coronavirus) series beginning at 6–8 weeks of age, then every 3–4 weeks until 16 weeks of age or older. Then at 1 year and no more often than 3 years thereafter.
Rabies at 12 weeks, then 1 year and if your state allows, every 3 years thereafter.
Your veterinarian may suggest NON-core vaccines as well, such as Bordetella (Kennel Cough) especially if your dogs go to boarding, daycare, or dog parks. Leptospira and Canine Influenza in at-risk dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s risk.
Dr. Schultz suggests no Corona Virus. The low prevalence of the disease does not justify the use and the disease itself is usually mild and there is no evidence that current vaccines are protective.
Kittens: CORE vaccines, Feline Parvo (or Pan Leukopenia), Herpes, and Calicivirus beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks or older. Then at 1 year and no more often than 3 years thereafter.
Rabies at 12 weeks, then 1 year and if your state allows every 3 years thereafter.
NON-core vaccines, Feline Leukemia (FeLV) should be given only after being tested negative for the virus. And Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) should not generally be given because the cat if lost and found by animal control may be tested and read positive for FIV even though it never actually had the disease, and subsequently euthanized for fear of spreading the disease.
Rabies vaccines are by law mandatory and must be administered at intervals prescribed by local law. However, a rabies waiver may be acquired from the state for ill and possibly very old pets.
So where does the money savings come into play?
Dr Schultz and the WSAVA recommend having our pets titer tested after the 3-year vaccination to check protection levels because the minimum protection of the core vaccines has been shown to be effective up to 7 years at 99% efficacy.
What’s the “take home”?
Over-vaccination can actually jeopardize a dog’s health and even life. Side effects can cause skin problems, allergic reactions, and autoimmune disease. For some years in cats, and now in dogs, tumors have been reported at the site of vaccine injections.
Titer tests can cost around $70, so you may choose to test every 3 to 5 years (ask your Vet), or if your pets will be boarding or socializing with those who’s vaccine history is unknown, such as a dog park.
UPDATE: There are many boarding facilities that will now accept Titers as proof of vaccines.
“Vaccinate more animals but less often”, Dr Ron Schultz
For the full WSAVA report go here.
For Dr Schultz very detailed and quite clinical 70-minute presentation on using titer testing to save lives go here.
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