Our Take On:
Vaccines
 
 
Some of the most frequently asked questions at our office relate to vaccines. Many owners are unsure about which vaccines their pets are supposed to receive, and how often they should be vaccinated. Some owners are concerned about the risks associated with immunizations and are curious about alternatives.
 
Make no doggie bones about it: vaccination is a medical procedure, and so the recommendations can and should differ based on factors like age, breed and medical history.
 
Vaccine practices vary from place to place and doctor to doctor. Vaccine manufacturers and groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which govern veterinary medicine purposefully avoid imposing rigid vaccination standards. This is in part because there are different risks regionally for diseases, and so different needs for vaccination.
 
Because there is room for interpretation based on the veterinarian's individual preferences, it can be confusing for owners who are just trying to make the best decision for their pets because there are so many differing opinions.
 
Veterinary medicine can agree that vaccinations are important. Our ability to limit the spread of infectious diseases in pets has greatly lengthened their life span and improved their overall health. Early vaccines did not enjoy the same safety and effectiveness that our current vaccines do, so the recommendation for annual boosters reflected this.
 
There was a general "better safe than sorry" approach, because the diseases we were protecting against were both widespread and devastating. Now, deaths due to those illnesses have been largely preventable thanks in part to vaccines. Since the status-quo for so many years has included annual boosters, many veterinarians have elected to stick with this program, simply for the sake of continuity.
 
Additionally, recommending annual vaccines gives veterinarians a chance to examine their patients every 12 months. Doctors are concerned that pet owners will forgo yearly check-ups if they recommend vaccination every three years. This is, in part, a problem of our own making.
 
For decades, the emphasis has been placed not on the physical examination, but on the vaccines. Therefore, owners have come to dismiss the importance of a veterinarian giving their dog or cat the once-over. It's imperative that you don't compromise this aspect of your pet's care. These visits allow the vet to detect small issues before they become very serious problems.

 

At Dancing Paws, we advocate a minimum vaccine protocol in puppies and kittens. This includes staggered vaccine administration beginning at 9-10 weeks of age, with boosters separated by 2-3 weeks.

In healthy adult dogs, we recommend checking protective immunity through vaccine titers, or boosters every three years for core vaccines.

Recently, titers for cat vaccines have become available! If owners elect to forego titers for regular immunization, we recommend boosters every three years for basic core vaccines.

 

 

Our Modified Vaccine Schedule

 

Many veterinary clinics offer combination vaccines, where four or five different individual boosters are co-mingled in a single dose to decrease the number of injections your pet has to receive. In theory, this sounds great! Fewer injection sites to monitor, less discomfort from needle pokes, and savings to you because you're only paying for one shot!

We wish it were that easy. The concept of administering multiple strains of vaccines in a single injection is virtually unheard of in human medicine, and the reason for this is simple: it is a significant tax on the immune system. The body is forced to process as many as seven different disease at one time.
 
Additionally, the more vaccines present in a single dose, the higher the risk for a vaccine reaction. And the worst part? It's impossible to identify which strain is the culprit so it can be avoided in the future.

At Dancing Paws, we schedule our patients to receive their individual core vaccines one at a time, spread over a series of weeks to limit the negative side effects. This allows the body sufficient time to metabolize each booster, and lower the risk of a serious vaccine reaction. Plus, it gives us a chance to spoil your dog or cat every time you come in for a visit!

 

 For more comprehensive information on vaccines, please check out the canine and feline vaccine handouts available for download!

 


 

Canine Vaccine Recommendations

Core vaccines (recommended for healthy dogs)

  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Adenovirus-2
  • Rabies Virus

 

Non-Core vaccines (optional, depending on risk of exposure)

  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough)
  • Leptospirosis

 
Not Generally Recommended vaccines (not advisable)
  • Canine Coronavirus
  • Canine Adenovirus-1
  • Giardia

 


 

Feline Vaccine Recommendations

Core vaccines (recommended for healthy cats)

  • Feline Panleukopenia
  • Feline Herpesvirus-1
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Rabies Virus
 
 
Non-Core vaccines (optional, depending on risk of exposure)
  • Feline Leukemia Virus
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Chlamydophilia Felis
  •  Bordatella Brochiseptica (Kennel Cough)
 
 
Not Generally Recommended vaccines (not advisable)
  • Feline Coronavirus
  • Giardia