Afraid to Vaccinate Your Pets? Vaccines, Adverse Reactions, Answers

by Mary Haight on May 23, 2014

vaccinate your dogVaccinate your pets, it’s a mantra you’ve heard for decades. The yearly vet visit has come and gone for many, but maybe you’re still waiting, because every time you think about making an appointment, a little bead of perspiration forms on your forehead.

There’s a knot in your stomach twisting tighter as you recall the adverse reaction your dog had the last time you had to vaccinate. You recall a friend whose dog’s health spiraled out of control after being vaccinated and you’re hesitant, unsure — your dog is a senior and has some health issues — what’s the right thing to do for your pet? What would you do if you had to make these choices?

Vaccinate Your Pets Wisely

Did you know that you should never allow your pets to be vaccinated if they are sick, have chronic illness, are stressed. say, from a recent move, or have just had surgery? There’s a warning label from the pharmaceutical company that states only “healthy” pets should be given the vaccine. If there is any sniffle or slight fever, do not take a chance.

Vaccines are not benign agents, they are serious compounds intended to jump-start the immune system. If your pet is ill, not only can a reaction occur, but also the vaccine’s ability to provide immunity can be cancelled out. You will think your dog or cat is safe and it will not be true.

Thoughtful Choices Are Vital to Pets’ Health, Avoid Unnecessary Vaccines

There are many questions on how you might help yourself make the best health choices for your dog, some of which are discussed in the podcast below.

Dr. Apryl Steele, DVM, Founder, Tender Touch Animal Hospital in Denver, and here in her role as National SpokesVet for Partners for Healthy Pets, is back to sort out the recent changes in vaccination protocols, use of titers, and help you establish careful oversight and advocacy when you vaccinate your pets.

Advocating for your pet can mean switching vets if your relationship is not one of a partnership or team working for the optimal health of your pet. It might also mean you pull your dog out of that daycare center or groomers that requires your dog be vaccinated every 6 months for bordatella (that’s not the science, bordatella is good for 1 year — why inflict more health risks on your dog).

We have some questions from a particularly frustrated listener (thanks Kim Thomas) that might be of interest, so listen in. If you have questions, Dr Steele is happy to answer them in the comments.

(Photo:CDC/ Debora Cartagena)

Other Posts In This Series:

Heartworm News

Affordable Health Care

31 comments
MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Jeffybridge Thanks for stopping by! I hope this podcast with Dr Steele helped allay some unjustified fears, but also made people aware of safety issues regarding frequency, appropriate use of titers, and the importance state of the individual dog's state of health.

Latest blog post: 3554942794_c8d268ab8e_m

quintrent13
quintrent13

You really do need to know what kind of vaccinations you are getting for your pet when they get them. That way you can be careful as to what it is that is getting injected into them. You need to make sure that you keep their best interests at heart. Vaccinations are here to help them out and keep them healthy.
 http://www.cherokeevet.com/services/

correysmith321
correysmith321

It would seem like a wise counsel to have thoughtful choices when deciding on vaccinating your pet. Mary, in what way do you mean to vaccinate your pets wisely? The reason why I ask that is because of my friends and neighbors telling me to better take  care the health of my dog. http://www.loop494vet.com/kingwood-tx-veterinary-clinic.htm 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@correysmith321 Hi, and thanks for stopping by -- what I meant by "wisely" was taking the cautionary note that Dr Steele mentioned, don't vaccinate a sick dog, and don't get other shots along with a Rabies shot in sensitive dogs, be especially vigilant with dogs who have shown bad reactions to those 4 or 5 in one vaccines by not chancing another, possibly more severe, reaction. All are mentioned in the podcast =)

Latest blog post: 3554942794_c8d268ab8e_m

tedsmith575
tedsmith575

I am not afraid to vaccinate my pet. However, I do agree that you should vaccinate your pets wisely. Just like in humans, pets may have allergies to certain ingredients in vaccines. Although they are rare, it is important to find out if your pet is allergic to anything contained in a vaccine. If they aren't allergic to anything, I would assume that it is safe to vaccinate your pet.
http://mysouthbayvet.com/veterinary-services/pet-vaccinations/

KentClark1
KentClark1

Thank taking a nonbiased approach to this topic. It seems to be a hot button for many pet owners. While I do support vaccinations, I think that it is important to learn about when it is appropriate to vaccinate your animal. As you said, it isn't very wise to do it while the animal is sick. http://www.ivanhoevet.com.au/vaccination.html 

KimT
KimT

I could have sworn I left a comment days ago...I just wanted to thank you, Mary, for including my questions in your discussion with Dr. Steele. And a big thank you as well to Dr. Steele - for providing such a concise, thorough discussion of this gnarly topic! Many of us are better informed about vaccinations now, thanks to you!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@KimT It's possible you did, Kim -- been having a struggle with the comment system, but thanks so much for coming back to check on that =)  I'm so glad we spoke before this podcast was recorded so your concerns -- the concerns of so many really -- could be answered! Dr Steele is such a great SpokesVet!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

(Comment system lagging) Dr Apryl Steele, National SpokesVet for Partners for Healthy Pets responds to the Schultz study Sarah Wilson @MySmartPuppy, kindly provided on vaccine efficacy and revaccination timeframe..


"The attached document is refreshingly supportive of the information we discussed in the podcast. It took years to get three year duration of immunity studies from vaccine manufacturers.  There are studies suggesting some viral vaccines provide immunity for longer than three years, however there are a couple reasons why three year revaccination is recommended. First, there are host factors (animals have different abilities to respond to vaccines) and immunity varies between patients.  I have checked titers on vaccinated dogs three years after vaccination and discovered they do not have protective levels of antibodies. Secondly, by vaccinating in longer intervals a veterinarian is doing so off label. If one if these dogs develops the infectious disease for which we are vaccinating all liability falls on the veterinarian. Most veterinarians try to do what is best for their patients, but are not willing to take chances on their patient's protection. This interval may change over time as we learn more every day. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Dr. Apryl Steele"

SkinnyXS
SkinnyXS

Over vaccinating is a problem 

Harley
Harley

This is a question that confuses a lot of dog owners, I know several people who lost their dog to a vaccine and it can be devastating for everyone involved. Solid piece of writing, thanks for sharing. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Harley It's heartbreaking when you believe you are doing your best to protect your dog only to find you've cost him his life -- happened to me, not with vaccines, but with heartworm meds decades ago. Thanks for your comment.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@MySmartPuppy finally, the comment system works again! Thanks for popping by with this nugget, Sarah =) Looks like an excellent read.

MySmartPuppy
MySmartPuppy

@MaryEHaight That annual vaccines are NOT needed in most cases is not opinion but well established science. Every 3 years is a compromise, the science clearly shows that for the distemper and parvo vaccines it is, at minimum, 7 years and very probably for our dogs lives. Dog folks must educate themselves and you are helping with this blog.


MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@MySmartPuppy I agree -- people need straight-forward, easy to understand facts, where they exist, to make informed choices for their pets' health. I know resurgence is a fear and  leaving this responsibility to disease vector control programs for whatever local critters bring in bacteria and viruses may be one of the arguments against lengthening the time between vaccinations. Just guessing.

Perhaps Dr Steele will see this and comment. BTW, she is open to questions and concerns and is refreshingly forthright in her responses, so if you'd like her to address this specifically, I am certain she will.


Thanks Sarah!

Apryls
Apryls

The attached document is refreshingly supportive of the information we discussed in the podcast. It took years to get three year duration of immunity studies from vaccine manufacturers. There are studies suggesting some viral vaccines provide immunity for longer than three years, however there are a couple reasons why three year revaccination is recommended. First, there are host factors (animals have different abilities to respond to vaccines) and immunity varies between patients. I have checked titers on vaccinated dogs three years after vaccination and discovered they do not have protective levels of antibodies. Secondly, by vaccinating in longer intervals a veterinarian is doing so off label. If one if these dogs develops the infectious disease for which we are vaccinating all liability falls on the veterinarian. Most veterinarians try to do what is best for their patients, but are not willing to take chances on their patient's protection. This interval may change over time as we learn more every day. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Dr. Apryl Steele

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Apryls Thanks so much Dr Steele and sorry the comment system went a bit wacky! Your comment just showed up minutes ago. Sarah Wilson did see your response at the top of this page.

HeartLikeADog
HeartLikeADog

I love how more and more vets are on board with the limited vaccine schedule.  I have my dogs vaccinated for Rabies and Leptos.  I discuss it twice a year (the dogs are six months apart in annual exams) with my vet and we decide what vaccines they need.


I get one vaccine per visit and will take my dog back for a second visit to get the second vaccine if it is the year they are due for both.  Since they are both now considered seniors I will also be discussing this. 


One year Sampson was having an allergic reaction to something and one of the vets told me he'd be fine for the vaccination.  I told her we'd pass and I'd bring him back when he was feeling better and I spoke to my vet who agreed.  


This year they are both due for Rabies.....and Leptos.  I made Delilah's annual exam where she will get the rabies and will bring her back two weeks later for the leptos.  I also absolutely will not do combination vaccines.   Thankfully most of the training places I go now, are easing up on their vaccine protocols, my vet told me if they ask to respond with, "My dog is up to date on all vaccines recommended by my vet."

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@HeartLikeADog Phew! Got your comment published finally! You might want to take a look at the pdf document Sarah Wilson kindly shared above. 


Thanks for outlining how you deal with your vaccine schedule. It is so important to be, as Dr Steele says, your dog's advocate. Speak up and say "no" -- just as you did when Sampson was under the weather, especially with seniors!


Glad you stopped in to share =)



painspeaks
painspeaks

Excellent info and happily shared all over the web!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@painspeaks Wow - you did, I saw that! Thanks so much Liz, glad you could pop in =)

Sheltie Times
Sheltie Times

I've never been afraid to change human doctors and if I didn't have such a great relationship with the dogs' Vet I'd not be afraid to move either.  She is great about listening to concerns, keeping up with the research, and talking about our options. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Sheltie Times I've had great vets too, and wouldn't hesitate to change if that were not the case.Some have trouble with confronting people or speaking up about what they want or expect. But sometimes people can get stuck not knowing what to do or how to decide, and that's a tough place to be in especially if you don't communicate well with your Vet. 


Thanks for stopping by =) Have a good Memorial Day weekend!

Previous post:

Next post: