Pet Vaccinations…..Oh My!
I’m not going to sit here and tell you how to care for your loved one. In no way am I a professional in pet care. Matter of fact after recently complementing my medical degree on Google (much like the one from the Acme corporation my parents got), I’m still fairly confused on the whole subject.
After reading countless articles on pet vaccinations I found myself wavering on my thoughts on what is right and wrong for my pets well being. One thing I did figure out real quick is that it isn’t much different then thinking about what is right for my own body. That subject alone can be mind bending. For my personal well being I decided not to be extreme. Go with what makes me feel healthy while following the guidelines that seem to be ideally accepted.
The question is how do I know if I’m giving my furry friends the best care? I have a choice and they don’t….I make that choice for them. Like I said I’m not gonna overload you with what’s right or wrong, I can’t give you that answer. What I did learn is that those answer aren’t so clear cut.
The reason of vaccinating is to to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen. This will help their immune system be prepared to properly react to certain diseases they might come in contact with. Even though there are no guarantee’s, vaccinating has helped reduce diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper and feline leukemia. It’s hard to argue these facts…right?
I wish, pet vaccines have been a hot debate for years now. There are multiple guideline on how many times your pet should be vaccinated. Then you have state guidelines. Oh wait….then you have private business (groomers, kennels etc) guidelines. For something so important I really feel cornered on my choices.
So What should I worry about
Does it matter that they get vaccinated more then what is called for?
- The 2010 vaccination guidelinespublished by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association reduce the number of vaccines which should be considered core for canines, as well as recommending less frequent vaccine administration. Specific adverse reactions and general consequences for long-term health and immunity are both being cited as reasons to reduce the frequency of pet vaccination.
- In 2010, the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners developed vaccination guidelines recommending that vaccinations generally be administered every 3 years, after completion of the kitten series of shots (which is needed due to maternal antibody interference).
Lets ask Professor Schultz….Who? Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an expert in companion animal vaccines. Besides being expert in the field he has written invaluable articles on this very subject.Before we start. Let me explain why professor Ron gets my nod. As I stated earlier I’m not an extreme person. Whether it be a pill pushing veterinarian or a berry popping holistic veterinarian I tend to question their motives. I do appreciate people who question their own industry, which Professor Schultz has done throughout his career. He is an advocate of stricter guidelines and has provide a wealth of knowledge for pet owners.
In a Q&A from “What Everyone needs know about Canine Vaccines and Vaccination Programs” Professor Schultz raises some concerns we should have. This is a very small excerpt from that article. Link on the bottom of the page
- “Dogs need to be revaccinated annually up to 5 to 7 years of age, then and only then would vaccination every three years be okay..” – Not True
- Is there a risk of over-vaccinating a pet (e.g. injecting it too often, or using vaccines that are not required for the specific pet)? Yes – Vaccines should not be given needlessly, as they may cause adverse reactions. Vaccines are medical products that should be tailored to the needs of the individual animal.
- Are there dogs and cats that cannot develop an immune response to vaccines? Yes –This is a genetic characteristic seen particularly in some breeds, and these animals are called ‘non-responders’. Genetically related (same family or same breed) animals will often share this non-responsiveness. If the animal is a non-responder to a highly pathogenic agent, like canine parvovirus or feline panleukopenia virus, the infected animal will die if infected. If it is a non-responder to a pathogen that rarely causes death, it may become very sick but will survive (e.g. after a Bordetella bronchiseptica infection).
- “Because boarding kennels require annual or more often (kennel cough every 3 to 6 months) vaccination, practitioners must continue vaccinating annually with all vaccines.” – Not True- help change the kennel rules through education and just use the vaccines that need to be given (eg Kennel Cough.)
Note: There are kennels that require every licensed vaccine and the vaccines must have been given within 1 year or less prior to admission – help change these rules! Those kennels that are members of the American Kennel Association should be following the AAHA Guidelines, but many kennels do not belong to this association.
- that if the revaccination “doesn’t help, it won’t hurt.” – Not True
- “there is gross under-reporting of vaccine-associated adverse events which impedes knowledge of the ongoing safety of these products”.
Are You Sure?
Are you positive that your getting the best advise when you visit your veterinarian, kennel, or groomer? I’m positive I wasn’t. I thought I did as much as possible to give my adopted family the best care. I did finally find a veterinarian who answered all my questions. He also follows Professor Schultz guidelines. I also found a local groomer who comes to the home. I will admit it’s not a clear cut decision and I’m sure some people will feel differently. One thing I learned a long time ago is when big business is involved there tends to be an overload of info out there. Don’t think for one minute Big Pharma hasn’t diluted the subject. I have enough pharmaceutical Rep. friends to know how the business model works. Also I have tried a few holistic remedies that were complete failures. There are no guarantees in vaccinating.
To quote Professor Schultz one last time
“Be wise and immunize, but immunize wisely!”