The Dangers of Over-Vaccinating Your Dog

The Dangers of Over-Vaccinating Your Dog

Making sure that your pup gets adequate veterinary care is super important, but a lot of pet owners don’t really know that over-vaccination can be pretty dangerous.  We all know the importance of vaccinations for diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, and distemper.  While these are definitely essential vaccines for your dog, vaccinating them more often than necessary can be pretty dangerous.

Dog vaccines

The problem is that more often than not, veterinarians do not adequately educate their clients on these dangers.  This is why you must be proactive when it comes to your dog’s veterinary care and vaccination schedule.  Don’t take everything your vet tells you at face value.  Do your research.  Know the proper recommended vaccination schedule.  Don’t opt for added vaccines just to make your veterinarian an extra few bucks. 

Potential Risks of Over-Vaccination

There are so many vaccinations out there that have a tendency to cause adverse reactions.  Here are some of the most common issues that dogs experience when they get too many vaccines. 

  • fever
  • lack of appetite
  • weakness
  • weak immune system
  • behavioral issues
  • allergies
  • respiratory issues
  • seizures
  • arthritis
  • cancers
  • digestive issues

These are just a few, but there are tons of other possible complications to be aware of as well. On top of these common reactions, too much of a vaccine can actually lead your dog to be more at risk of developing the diseases that the immunization is supposed to prevent. So, essentially, vaccines in excess can be counterproductive.

Great Dane Veterinary Check

Prevent Over-Vaccination in Dogs

To ensure that your dog is not vaccinated more than necessary, you should pay close attention to the timing.  In fact, timing is everything.  Many veterinarians will recommend annual vaccinations, and many of these vaccines are really just not necessary.  So, how can you time it to ensure that your dog gets just what they need as far as immunizations go? 

Talk to Your Veterinarian About Titering

Titering is a relatively common method of determining what your dog may be lacking in the form of antibodies.  This can give you a better idea as to what your dog actually needs so that you can skip over the vaccines that they really don’t need. It is definitely something worth mentioning to your veterinarian. 

Titering consists of your veterinarian doing a simple blood test that shows what antibodies are already present in your dog’s blood.  This can really be beneficial, but it is not always 100% accurate.  Try to stick to the normal schedule for regular vaccines for diseases such as parvovirus, rabies, and distemper.  Just consider that some of the others may not be as necessary.

Dachshund getting vaccinated

What About Annual Boosters?

Annual boosters are typically not necessary.  Sure, you may get the reminder card in the mail from your veterinarian, and you may feel a need to go ahead and book the appointment to get it taken care of.  Don’t be so quick to jump on it. For years now, pet owners have been giving their pet's vaccines each and every year without knowing it can cause problems.

A Guide to Necessary Puppy Vaccines

Vaccinating a new puppy is super important.  Most puppies get enough antibodies from their mother’s milk to last them until they are around four months old.  These are known as maternal antibodies.  They offer full protection in the beginning, so vaccinating before around 12 to 16 weeks is typically unnecessary. 

Puppies also build up their own antibodies when they are exposed to other dogs.  If you have other dogs in the home, then they may be able to pick up on some of these antibodies.  Dogs naturally build up immunity, so take your pup to a dog park, get them involved in your local dog community, or consider letting them go to doggie daycare. Just remember, many doggie daycares and kennels will require certain vaccines, so this is something to check into beforehand.

You will likely visit your veterinarian quite a few times during the first few months of your pup’s life. Typically, the distemper and parvovirus vaccine is included in the same vaccine.  This is known as the DHPP.  It covers diseases such as canine distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. 

Your dog will need to have this vaccine at around 10 to 12 weeks of age, and again between 14 and 16 weeks of age, and again around 12 to 16 months old.  They will also get their first rabies vaccine by around 24 weeks of age.  This will be repeated at a year old, and again every three years or so.  The rabies vaccine is typically required by law and should be adhered to.  Don’t think that an annual rabies shot is necessary, however, because typically this is just overdoing it.

Are Optional Vaccines Necessary?

There are some recommended and required vaccines, but what about all of the optional vaccines?  Optional vaccines include vaccines for the following (along with others your veterinarian may discuss with you):

  • Coronavirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Bordetella
  • Lyme disease

While these are all severe conditions, they are not typically that common in dogs.  Some of them, specifically Lyme disease, are also more prevalent in certain areas than others. It is also only something that is contracted through ticks, so indoor dogs may not even be at risk.  Bordetella, for example, is usually something that is only passed around in kennels.  It is known as kennel cough and happens most often in kennels that don’t have adequate ventilation.  This means that you may not need to vaccinate against these diseases (especially not repetitively). 

Make sure that you do your research ahead of time, so that you know the importance of all of the different vaccines, and whether or not your dog actually needs them.  This is one way that you can ensure that you do not over-vaccinate.  Just stay on top of it, and don’t stress out every time you get a vaccination reminder card in the mail!


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