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20 April 2010


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It's distressing to me how many clients at the vet clinic where I work get downright angry when they come in with their pet for their yearly visit only to find out the pet isn't due for any vaccines this year. Instead of being yay! no poking! they're upset that they're being forced to spend money for an exam when their pet "doesn't even need anything".


Thank you for your postings in the last few weeks on vaccinations, Pet Connection Crew. I just got the postcard reminder for my dog's yearly parvo/distemper vaccination. After reading the 2006 guidelines from the AAHA I will go to the three year minimum. It makes sense. I'm still immune to MMR nineteen years later. Why shouldn't she be immune to parvo for at least three?!? Of course she'll still get regular checkups, we just won't be vaccinating this year.

Erich Riesenberg

The confusing vaccines for me are lepto and lyme. This year we skipped the lyme and got a snap test instead, CDX4 I think it is called. Thank goodness, one came back positive. Hopefully treatment will solve it.

This stuff may be rare, but it is real.

Amy Suggars

Humans tend to get annual exams from their physicians even though we don't usually get a vaccination. I know that it is my PAP smear that gets me into see my doctor every year. I want my dogs to get their equivalent of a PAP smear - their annual heartworm test. I still want my dogs tested even though I keep them on HW prevention medication all year round. I also think vets should do more pro-active tests for tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme. I think the prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are under-reported in many areas and may be mis-diagnosed by general practitioner. There are tests out there (like the SNAP 3X and SNAP 4X) but a lot of private practice vets (at least in my area) are still using antigen tests just for heartworm disease.

Why not blood work? Humans get annual blood work done to make sure so many things are in the right range. It is getting pretty accepted to give senior dogs a baseline work up so that comparisons can be made as they grow older. Why should we wait until they are senior citizens?

Teeth cleaning...obesity screening...fitness assessment...

The point is that there are other things that vets can be doing in an annual exam that are valuable to their clients. There are many diagnostic tests on the market that weren't there 5 years ago. It's just that they have sold us on the annual vaccine routine for so long. Just like any other business, they need to move with the times.

Yes, many of these things are already being conducted during the annual exam but the average pet owner doesn't think about that. They are focused on the vaccinations. Vets just need to change their thinking because an annual health exam is not just a revenue stream, it really is important for the health of the pet!


Even though we don't to "Annual" vaccinations every year, My guys go in for a complete physical before hunting season starts. I want to know they are in peak condition when I ask them to work 4-5 even 6 hrs a day hunting ducks, geese or pheasant. My 9 yr old will be going in before our breed specialty in June to make sure he can run in field competition safely. That said, I have never been in to see if I'm in peak condition. I guess I worry more about their health than mine!

Gina Spadafori

I think both Amy and Alyce(Verde) are on the right track. I, too, make sure my dogs are seen regularly for preventive care -- not SHOTS.

Twice a year when they get to six or seven for the big dogs. When they're older, they get a complete work-up with diagnostics including an ultrasound.

When the late Heather was eight, that check-up with ultrasound found a tiny mass on her spleen (tiny=one-quarter the size of the fingernail on your pinky). That very afternoon, that spleen came out.

The tumor was malignant.

Instead of dying a few weeks or months later of cancer that went unnoticed until it spread and could not be treated, Heather lived to be almost 13 in spanking fine health.

The last six-eight years of her life she never had a SHOT except for rabies as required by law. But she had the best veterinary care possible, all the way to the day she died.


We do a blood panel with the well dog exam. I just want to make sure we're not missing any kidney or liver issues. My vet has never offered an ultrasound.


My vet advised me 20 years ago that I was wasting my money veccinating my cats annually so I stopped vaccinating them. Four years later they both got a cat flu.

The younger cat suffered worst with serious breathing difficulties and projectile vomiting like I've never seen before.

The attending vet tore me up for toilet paper for not vaccinating them annually and only backed off when I named the vet who advised me not to vaccinate.

She said that we should be vaccinating annually as these viruses mutate so our animal's immune systems need regular updating.

I've moved to 2 yearly shots since.

Gina Spadafori

Karen, even if it were true that the viruses were mutating, annual vaccinations don't change, and so would be of no use in addresses this alleged problem.

The veterinarian who told you that was either telling you a "white lie" to get you to bring your cat in more frequently or a complete and utter idiot.

Either way, a veterinarian who does not provide me with honest, accurate and up-to-date information on my pet's health-care choices is not one I'd EVER go back to.

The American Academy of Feline Practitioners does NOT recommend annual vaccines. No school or college of veterinary medicine recommends annual vaccines. The American Animal Hospital Association does NOT recommend annual vaccines.

Here's the UC Davis Protocol, which is pretty standard -- three year intervals.


One obvious thing is that the yearly vaccination ritual gets animals in to see the vet. This is good for the vet, of course, but it is also good for the animal to have a checkup. One thing too is that for dogs in many localities the yearly shots and tags are required by law. If you do not have up-to-date proof of vaccination your dog can be taken from you. Not a chance I'm willing to take if one happens to get out.

Gina Spadafori

You're confusing rabies, which is covered by law since it's a risk to humans, with other vaccines.

All states now recognize three-year rabies vaccines, although municipalities can and do mandate shorter intervals, or rabies for cats, etc.

No laws exist to mandate other shots. The government doesn't concern itself with protecting your dog from distemper.

Before putting your pet at higher risk (and wasting your money, besides) why don't you actually check into the law in your area instead of assuming you're better off over-vaccinating your pet?

There's nothing to prevent you from scheduling a regular check-up without getting shots. In fact, that's what well-informed pet-lovers generally do.


Fact checking is the key.

Just about all vaccinations (don't argue, just look it up, using a non-biased credible source)provide lifetime immunity. Rabies should be every three years at most, depending upon what vaccination your dog receives.

The truth is that natural prevention will always be the best medicine for your dog, but the worst news for most vets. REAL FOOD (not synthetic purina crap) clean filtered water, love, regular exersize and a few relativly inexpensive real food supplements will go miles longer than any useless vaccination.

(As with anything, there are of course exceptions, but they should be few and far between. That is why they are called exceptions)

The annual vaccinations for pets b.s. is a horrible lie that has been discredited by every state and national vetrinary associations as a ruse to increase fees and income.

If you love your pet, research, research, research will provide you with years of companionship and comfort.


My brothers dog had his first set of shots in early 2009, and just 8 months ago they gave hime his "annual shots". Ever since his 2end round of shots he has been in and out of the vet every 3-7days for the entire 8 months sick over and over again. They kept giving his steroids and sending him home, they made him feel better for about 3 days in a row at a time but now they say his illness is fatal. The dog is only 2-3 years of age and has been diagnosed with leukemia. I am trying to find out if his shots are responsible for this happening. He is really an amzing animal and is loved by many people. Now were all searching for answers as to why something like this would happen to such a energetic loving animal who before his shots was completly healthy and showing no signs of illness what so ever. Please help me

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