One of the big debates in the world of dog ownership is the subject of vaccines. Are they necessary? Are the dangerous?

There’s plenty of information out there but it all conflicts with one another and seems to change by the day. Although I am far from an expert on the topic I though I would give you my take on them since my dog, Hayley is due for her rabies shot this month and it’s fresh on my mind.

When I adopted Hayley ten years ago not only was I not a dog trainer, but I was a pretty inexperience dog person in general. And I did what most people who first get a dog do: make it up as you go along, hopefully learning from the many mistakes you make.

The first mistake I made was listening to whatever my vet said without much thought or research. This is something that I think most of us do. We trust that since they are wearing the white coat they must have all the right answers. However, veterinarians are exactly the same as every other profession – there are good ones and bad ones, some are well educated and some know the bare minimum to get their diploma.

Most of the time we just trust our vet is super knowledgeable about everything and that he always knows what’s best for us – even though he barely knows us. The problem is that many vets don’t keep up with current research and are making a nice profit with vaccines, which can make them a bit biased toward them.

The truth is that vaccines stay in the bloodstream for much longer than we originally believed, so vaccinating every year is totally not necessary. We’re discovering now that many vaccines are still fully functional and present in the dog’s blood for many years after the initial vaccine.

Over vaccinated your dog can be life threatening and I know of a few people who’s dog died after receiving a vaccine.

One of my big issues is that many vaccines are actually 4 or 5 vaccines in a single shot, which can be a lot for the body to handle at one time. Also, it’s quite common to give the same dosage to all dogs. Come on now, how can a 2 lb. Yorkie get the same dose as a Mastiff tipping the scales at over 150 lbs.???

After seeing Hayley react badly to a Lyme vaccine (her leg swelled up and she could barely walk) I opted out of every vaccine from that day on. The only vaccine I have done is rabies because it is required by law. And starting right now, I’ve opted out of that one as well.

Hayley is now 11 years old and after seeing her react badly to many vaccines and medications I don’t want to take any chances with her health. So asked my vet if it was possible to forgo the rabies shot. Luckily, I have a great vet, who not only keeps up with current research but also understands my personal beliefs and point of view and is considerate with opinions. He agreed with my concerns and wrote me a note for my town, excusing Hayley from the state regulated 4 year requirements.

I believe in giving puppies their full round of vaccines but after that I’m not a fan of giving any vaccines. I bet most of them are still in the dog’s blood stream well into adulthood. And now we don’t have to wonder because you can get a titer (which is a test to see how much of the vaccines is still in the bloodstream) before you vaccinate again to make sure you’re not overdosing your dog.

Now, if you board your dog or use doggie daycare you’re screwed and will have to get regular vaccines, and I believe that the benefits of using those facilities might outweigh the risks of the vaccines. That’s a decision you will have to make on your own.

The key thing I want you to take from this is that you don’ have to blindly listen to those little reminders you get at the bottom of every vet bill that say “it’s time for another vaccine.” Think first, do your research, weigh the benefits with the dangers and make an educated decision.

Our dogs deserve the extra thought and it’s up to us to be our dog’s biggest advocate.

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