Ever heard of the term ‘over-vaccination’? Many are quick to schedule their routine jabs at the behest of a reminder in the mail that usually reads “It’s time for your dog’s annual vaccinations!” While vaccinations remain crucial to protect our dogs against various diseases, vaccination failures do happen - so here’s what to look out for before going in for the shot.
Core Vaccines vs. Non-core Vaccines
There are 2 types of vaccines you should familiarise yourself with:Core vaccines, andOptional (non-core) vaccines. Core vaccines are typically considered to be essential to protect our pets from diseases based on (1) the risk of exposure, (2) seriousness of disease, and/or (3) transmissibility to humans. The 3 core vaccines are: Parvovirus, Distemper, and Adenovirus. Re-vaccination intervals stand at the recommended 3 years, although it’s been scientifically proven to be able to protect our dogs well over 3 years.
On the other hand, optional vaccines aren’t always necessary and should be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your dog’s lifestyle and environment. These vaccines don’t last as long and require yearly booster shots to keep your dog protected. If you do decide to get these shots, it’s advised that they are administered in a separate session from the core vaccines. Vaccines include (but not limited to):kennel cough, parainﬂuenza, lyme, and leptospirosis.
If there are guidelines put in place, then why is over-vaccination still an issue? Over-vaccination happens when pet parents are swayed by the numerous ‘repercussions’ presented to them should they choose to skip the many optional vaccines. What many do not know is that over-vaccinating can weaken your dog’s immune system instead. This begs the question: are annual (or even triennial) booster shots then truly necessary?
A simple way to find out is to request for a titer test before going in for the jab. These tests check for existing antibodies from your dog’s previous vaccination shot. If the results come back positive, it means that the immune protection is still in place and a re-vaccination shot is not required, and vice versa.
Here are some ways you can avoid encountering an over-vaccination situation in between vet visits:
1. Be educated and well-informed
Before you can make informed decisions on which shots to get or whether to even get them, you first need a good understanding of what you’re going into. Educate yourself by reading up so that you’re able to engage in a proper discussion with your vet to decide if a revaccination is really necessary. But that’s not enough, you should also be very familiar with your dog’s health needs, current medications & supplements, and his vaccination history. All of which will enable you to assess the necessity of another vaccination well.
2. Yearly wellness check ups
Replace your annual vaccinations with annual wellness checks instead. Yearly health assessments help both you and your vet to keep up with your dog’s wellbeing. It also has the benefit of catching any ailments early.
3. General healthy wellbeing
A healthy dog drastically reduces the need for many non-core vaccines. Some ways to get you started on that healthy lifestyle: (1) a natural diet loaded with vital nutrients like Stella & Chewy's checks the nutrition box, (2) regular exercise keeps them active which boosts the immune system. Try KONG Wubba Comet Dog Toy for perfect fetch fun!
It goes without saying that supplements contribute to the maintenance of your dog’s health as well. There are many great multi-functional supplements around like NaturVet that do a good job at supporting your dog’s general well-being. A vaccination can also temporarily disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut, so pop some Dr. Mercola Whole Food Digestive Probiotic Supplements in to restore the ideal balance.
Remember that every dog is different and so are their needs. Ultimately the decision lies in your hands, so be extremely sure of your dog’s health needs and make your judgement accordingly. Oh! And always remember to reward them with yummy Bugsy Cordy Kang (Kangaroo with Cordyceps) Dog Treats after they endure a shot - because nobody likes injections!
Kim is an avid dog lover, serial guac and chips eater, and thrill seeker - all in one body. Currently chillin’ with her dogs.