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 Over-vaccination of Dogs And Cats

Are veterinarians giving too many vaccinations

to dogs and cats?
Why so many different recommendations?
What's a booster shot? 
Why are some puppy or kitten vaccinations given one or two times and other pets get a shot four times? 
How long does vaccine protection last in a dog and cat?

Find out more about over-vaccinating dogs and cats.

Kitten and cat health care questions and answers, articles, videos and images


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If your pet is sick, call your local veterinarian immediately

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Question:
     My Lab is 5 years old and has had vaccinations every year for everything.  If I keep this up won't I be over-vaccinating him?  And what happens when a dog is over vaccinated?
Answer:  over vaccinating... too many shots... what is over-vaccinating
     The vaccination subject can be confusing and many dog and cat owners simply do as their veterinarian recommends.  Complicating the picture is the fact that in any animal or human one cannot simply look at the individual and determine their immune competence to any particular disease.  There are "titer tests" to measure quantity of circulating antibodies to disease but the results of these tests are not a significant assessor of overall immune strength.  There is much more to having a healthy immune function than circulating antibodies.  Read this article
     Because we can't simply examine a patient and determine what level of immunity is present it would be malpractice to simply shrug and say "Oh, he's probably still protected so let's not over vaccinate him".  If the doctor's guess is wrong and your dog or cat gets a preventable disease you won't be happy about the bad advice.
 WHAT DOES OVERVACCINATING MEAN?
       There are a number of different scenarios relative to using the term "over vaccinating".  It seems many people actually don't even have a definition, they just "know" too many are "harmful".  When queried about what a pet owner means by "too many vaccinations are harmful" the response usually goes something like these:  "My breeder says vets always give more vaccinations than are needed just to create revenue."  "My dog had a bad reaction once after one of those combo shots and I've heard vets give too many at once so I don't ever let them use a combo shot on my dogs." or "I know a holistic vet that says you should never vaccinate dogs or cats yearly because all that foreign material injected into their bodies ruins the immune system and that's what causes cancer, arthritis and immune diseases."

Image of a young dog dieing from canine distemper virus.

The following statements could apply to "over vaccinating"...

  the administration of a vaccine to an individual that already has a good level of protective immunity.
  vaccinating a patient for a disease for which the pet already has protective immunity (But how can we tell if it does or does not have protective immunity?)
  vaccinating a patient more frequently than the manufacturer recommends.
  administering a vaccine antigen toward which the dog or cat has previously shown an adverse reaction.  (Acting tired and slightly achy or sore for 8-12 hours after a vaccine administration is not considered a dangerous post vaccine reaction and may be a small price to pay if the vaccine prevents a deadly, untreatable disease.

Even specialists in veterinary immunology do not all agree what constitutes an over vaccinating event.  Just because a patient experiences an adverse event after a vaccination does not mean that it was "over vaccinated".  In other words, there is no such thing as having too much immunity to a disease or that too much immunity makes a dog or cat sick.  A post vaccine reaction can occur after a second exposure to any vaccine component... just like in humans a post consumption reaction can occur from eating peanuts or shellfish.

Many self-described experts in animal care assert vaccines are bad and are over-used by veterinarians just to increase income.  People and pets may have post exposure health problems due to consumption of aspirin, or from taking an antibiotic or from skin exposure to direct sunlight... none of which logically dictates that aspirin, antibiotics or sunlight are bad for people or pets.  And yet there are those who insist all vaccines are bad for one's health.  Interestingly we almost never hear of polio, small pox or whooping cough in humans. These diseases used to be common killers... their rarity is directly related to vaccination administration.

Veterinary medicine today respects the chance of a pet having an adverse reaction to any medication or vaccine and that's why there is so much research going on at this time, the goal of which is to define just how long any given vaccine protects dogs and cats against specific dangerous antigens.  Veterinarians balance the risks of exposure to a dangerous antigen against the rare chance of a serious post vaccine reaction.  Most vaccine manufacturers and veterinarians follow the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association VACCINATION GUIDELINES published by experts in immunology and clinical medicine.


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Vaccine induced urticarial skin reaction in a dog.. Rhinotracheitis in a cat; the sinus congestion can be permanent! Tailoring the vaccines to the individual pet. A cat with panleukopenia, feline distemper.
This pup developed "hives" in his skin.  Called a urticarial reaction it comes on rapidly after the vaccination but also goes away within hours.  Call your veterinarian if you notice these skin eruptions. Rhinotracheitis is a severe viral infection of the upper air passages and the nasal sinuses.  Rhinotracheitis does kill some cats, especially under-nourished kittens.  The kinds and number of vaccines administered are tailored to each pet's chances of exposure to one or more pet diseases. Panleukopenia, also called feline distemper, affects the small intestine and bone marrow and is almost invariably fatal.

FYI...  below are links to intelligent and credible sites about pet vaccines:

AAHA VACCINATION
 PROTOCOLS
VETERINARY
 IMMUNOLOGISTS
Research by Dr. Ronald Schultz, professor and chair of pathological sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine, U of Wisconsin ASPCA VACCINATION  GUIDELINES View an animal hospital's suggested vaccine
protocol

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