Pet vaccinations - pros & cons?

Hello - I get conflicting info/advice re: getting booster shots for my doggie this fall. (She’s 2 years old).

What types of experience have YOU had with pet vaccines? Any side effects, ill effects, etc?

I can’t find an impartial source of info that compares traditional vaccines & boosters with homeopathic methods.

Thanks for any help you can give.


I do not think I have ever heard of a negative effect coming from a booster or vaccination in a dog. Our 2 yo Rhodesian Ridgeback get’s his booster and vaccines and is absolutley fine. As for the homeopathic stuff. When it comes to serious health risks, I do not use them. When it comes to warding off a common cold, or general health, I think they are just fine.

Homeopathic methods? Against fatal, contagious diseases like rabies and canine distemper?

I’d really advise you to go with the vaccinations. Those are solidly proven to work, and to risk the lives of your pets and other animals (and even yourself and other humans, in the case of rabies) over this isn’t worth it.

Even if you never let your dog outside, you can track in and transmit canine distemper from contaminated grass outside to your dog. And if your dog happens to nip someone, I wager that even protesting your dog never goes out will save the animal from (at the very least) a long time being locked up and watched for rabies symptoms. My ferrets don’t go outside, and I get them their rabies vaccinations to protect them from being killed and tested if they nip someone playfully.

I’ve never seen an allergic reaction in a dog personally, but I’ve had a couple ferrets who were allergic to their canine distemper vaccine. The vet administered Benadryl and we watched the ferret for about 20 minutes before heading home.

Gah. That should have been “I wager that even protesting your dog never goes out will not save the animal…”

For a bit more info: this is the link from the page I was “directed to” for homeopathic stuff. I visit a doggie message board, and the advice etc seems very reputable and very helpful. But I question the “holistic” aspects.


Also where I buy dog food, they are VERY against vaccines. When I google for vaccinosis I find such biased info.

What I’d like is a list or something of true pros and cons so I can make an informed decision. We love our dog and want to do what’s best for her, but many kennels, obedience classes, etc insist on vaccinations being up to date.

I guess this falls into the similar debate, about vaccinations for children.

I’m sure I will end up vaccinating her, but I’m also curious about what is ABSOLUTELY necessary and what can be left out.



You have a few options on your hands.

Above all, it is important that your animal be protected against certain nasty diseases. No one’s gonna argue against that! I’ve seen what parvo can do to a puppy, and trust me, it ain’t pretty. The key is keeping your animal protected without overtaxing its system. Some breeds are more prone to issues than others.

Because of this, I follow the Dodds protocol for vaccination for my puppies. I follow her schedule for the first year shots and such. After a year of age, I run blood titres to see if they still have the antibodies necessary to protect them. This is pricy ($75 for the test). I do vaccinate if I feel my dogs are at risk - I would for lyme, for example, if I lived in Iowa and my dogs were out in the brush a lot- but not if the titres show they’re doing just fine. I do rabies every 3 years as required by law.

It is a matter of opinion. Some breeds are more sensitive to vaccinations than others. As per Dodds’ stuff:

Owning a Toller and an Aussie, yep, we’re in those higher risk breeds.

Talk to your vet. Decide what you feel comfortable with. I do minimal vaccines (i.e. only vaccinate when we need to) and my guys have done well with that. I’ve not had any adverse reactions, or problems.

I may be opening myself up to a can of worms here, but here it is anyway.
If you look around the web, there is a world of hysteria out there from the anti-vaccine crowd, look up “vaccinosis” and you’ll see what I mean. A lot of those people blame vaccines for every single ailment, mental and physical, that you could possibly imagine. I really, really don’t subscribe to that level, but I do choose to minimally vaccinate my pets, meaning I give them one or two shots for the biggies (parvo, distemper, and rabies) and do not vaccinate against things like lepto, canine hepatitis, brucellosis, etc.
For the ArmadilloHound, I gave him one single-antigen parvo and one single antigen distemper shot at eleven and fifteen weeks, respectively. I’ll repeat the same when he’s a year, along with a rabies shot. Then, he’s done for life.
From what I’ve read, much like humans, dogs and cats are pretty much immune for life with a single shot if given at the right time. That is, late enough for the maternal immunity to have passed and their own immune system to have taken over. As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support yearly boosters, other than the vet and vaccine company’s profit margin.
My cats, well one of them has a full set of vaccines due to the fact that he was a lab research animal prior to me taking him home. The other is sixteen weeks and hasn’t been vaccinated at all. I’ll likely do FELV and feline distemper on the off chance that they get out accidentally, but as they’re 100% indoor cats who never come into contact with other cats, there’s not much reason to load them up.
Anyway, until I see some sort of conclusive evidence that more often is necessary, I won’t insult my pets’ immune systems with “boosters” that do absolutely nothing in the way of preventing disease.
Anyway with a strong immune system, good nutrition and such, I’m not too worried about him picking anything up. He gets added immunity too from picking it up from other dogs–after vaccination they actively shed the virus and he’ll pick it up from the dog park, etc, futher boosting his immunity.
As far as the other things, lepto, canine hep, kennel cough, and such, there is either a very small chance of picking them up, or in the case of kennel cough, no big deal. In any case, I would never use the 5-way vaccines because there’s just no reason to load your dog’s system up with so many things at once. They would rarely, if ever encounter something like that in the real world.
I’ve really gotta run to work now, but here’s a nice article: puppy vaccines
Also, the vaccine protocol is being revamped, I think the new recommendation by vet schools is going to be three-year cycles rather than yearly. I’m a lot more comfy with that.

Sorry, I was composing my post when you put up yours so I didn’t see that you’d encounted the vaccinosis stuff.
Also, that last line should read “I’m a lot more comfy with that recommendation, but still don’t think it’s necessary”.

Thank you. I’m going to call the obedience school and see what they consider to be “up-to-date” for vaccines.

I’ll also ask if they’ll accept blood results from a blood test.

She has a lot of allergies etc and I don’t want to add to her problems by introducing stuff into her system that might overload her.

If vaccinating IS a must, well I’ve read a lot about something called Thula that you can give after vaccinations to counteract the negative effects. Also I will schedule the vaccinations several weeks apart even though that’s a pricey way to do it.

I THINK the rabies requirement here is every year, but I will look into it.

Lots of homework!!!


Stainz, I think this is what you are looking for:

Colorado State University Small Animal Vaccination Protocol

We follow this for our dogs, and more and more vet clinics are using it as their basis for how frequently the most common vaccines should be given - rabies of course is mandated by state law, and so the frequency of that is going to vary by what your state requires. There may also be other vaccines your vet may recommend based on your location.

romansperson … thanks but I’m in British Columbia, Canada … any ideas on how I could search for this for my area?

Definitely get your pet vaccinated, especially if you’re going to take your dog to obedience school. Your dog isn’t the only one at risk if you’re exposing her to other people’s dogs. Find a reputable vet and explain to him or her what allergies your pet has. He/she will be able to determine what vaccines are or aren’t right for your pet.

Also, you might also consider a wellness plan for your pet, especially if she has lots of allergies and is prone to illness. I know a lot of people think that pet insurance or similar plans are ridiculous, but I’ve found mine invaluable. My cat has herpes and often contracts upper respiratory infections, which makes the other cat sick, too, and translates to lots of vet appointments. Because of their wellness plan, all office visits are free and I get a discount on any medications. Also, their vaccinations and blood tests are all included in the plan, which costs less than a single check-up with vaccinations and blood tests. Just something to consider…

I don’t think your location matters for the frequency of basic vaccines (you’re still in North America), and you probably already know how often the law requires rabies to be done. Your vet would be the proper source for finding out what less common vaccines, if any, he/she recommends be given for your particular area.

Since vets are the ones perpetuating the yearly vaccine concept, I don’t want to rely solely on his information. That’s the purpose of this thread - to find out other views, experiences, etc.

Out of curiosity, who else provides medical services to pets besides vets? I’m not asking to be snarky - I’m asking because I’m geniunely curious about what sort of alternatives there are. I mean, I’m not sure I would trust my cats with someone who had no animal medical training.

I’m referring to what diseases other than the basic ones you need to vaccinate for (if anything) that might be unique to your area, not how often. A local vet is the best source for that, because they’ll know based on what they see come through their doors. After ascertaining that, you’ll have an easier time looking for info on how often those specific non-core vaccines can/should be given.

That’s all. I won’t muddy up your thread any more.

OverlyVerbose–I’m not sure what you mean. I give all vaccinations myself except rabies, which legally must be given by a vet. For all illnesses or injuries I take 'em to the vet, which conveniently happens to be PapaArmadillo, DVM. :slight_smile:
I’m not sure there is, or should be, alternatives to taking your pet to a veterinarian for health issues, unless you count animal homeopaths and such, which I don’t. :wink:
As far as sources for health information, there are plenty of places aside from the veterinarian to find good information with which to make informed choices about healh care for your pet, the same way there are plenty of resources for people besides calling your doctor. You might have to wade through a lot of biased material in the case of vaccines, but there’s plenty out there.

Thanks for the response. I think I must have misunderstood Stainz - I thought he/she was seeking someone other than a vet to care for his/her dog, but I see that the poster was just looking for information sources rather than an actual alternative to a vet. Sorry 'bout that, Stainz.

overlyverbose No worries - I have a hard time explaining myself!

I want to do what’s best for my dog and protect her (and any other dogs she might come into contact with) from any diseases.

Recently though I’ve heard varying opinions on what vaccines (if any besides rabies) are needed, and how often, etc etc.

I’ve been doing some more reading and I think I will definitely go with the separate vaccinations and give her the Thula stuff after each one.

I’m hopeful that will be the best way to go about it.

If anyone has other anecdotes/opinions etc, I’d love to hear them. This is all a few weeks’ away so I have plenty of time to keep changing my mind! :slight_smile:


:smack: :smack: :smack: