To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question plaguing a lot of pet owners.  For years now, we’ve heard the news about human vaccinations and the side effects on our children.  However, there hasn’t been much reported on immunization issues concerning our four-legged friends.  From distemper to rabies, our veterinarians have led us to believe that everything injected into our dogs has been thoroughly researched and deemed safe.  Unfortunately, the latest information suggests that may not always be the truth.  This week Wisconsin Pet Care will uncover the latest pet epidemic: over-vaccination.


It isn’t that vaccinations are all bad.  Many lives have been saved, and even more have been improved with the invention of vaccinations. Most of the research on vaccinations suggests that the risks associated with vaccinating your pet are far outweighed by the benefits that these vaccines provide.  On the same hand, vaccinations are one instance where more is not the merrier.  Scientists(a) have discovered that the most important element to consider when vaccinating your pet is timing.  When you give your pet their core immunizations, has shown to be more important than how many they receive during their lifespan.


So when is the best time for a dog to receive their core vaccinations?  Studies have shown that anytime after four months old is an optimal time to vaccinate your dog.  The reason is because up until then, your puppy benefits from the antibodies provided for him in his mother’s milk.  These antibodies can oftentimes counteract the properties of a vaccination, rendering them less effective in the fight against the disease they are supposed to be protecting your dog from.  When a vaccine is administered after four months of age, it has been proven that dogs can experience sustained immunity.  Simply put, longer lasting immunity means less vaccination — which also means less risk for your dog.


Before the days of hydro-therapy, MRI scans and advanced surgery, dogs rarely visited the veterinarian.  In fact, a lot of dogs never received a vaccination in their lifetime.  Even today, besides the rabies vaccination (which is required by law), you have the right to choose if (and when) your dog receives additional vaccinations.  But most of us rely on our veterinarians to help us decide the best course of care for our dogs.  So if they say we should vaccinate, that is typically what we do.  The thing is that we know our dog’s lifestyle, and not every vaccination needs to be considered for every dog.  Just because a vaccination exists doesn’t mean it needs to be administered. One great example is, my dogs will never be boarded, therefore, they simply don’t need bordatella vaccines. My vet respects my wishes.


The key is to create a good relationship with your veterinarian.  Do not be afraid to ask questions or refuse care that doesn’t align with your health beliefs.  As a pet parent, you are the first line of defense in the health and well-being of your pup.  Educate yourself on the risk factors that are associated with each of the core vaccinations and determine which ones will be necessary for your dog to receive.