It used to be that you took your new puppy to your veterinarian and got all the recommended shots. They came in a series of three, plus rabies and often vaccines for Lyme disease, Bordetella (kennel cough) and Giardia, to name a few. We never questioned these vaccines and just trusted that our puppies needed to have them.
It wasn’t that our veterinarians were trying to take advantage of us. This was just how it was done and how the field of veterinary medicine worked. It’s the same with human vaccines. What we’ve learned is that even though there are vaccines for many different diseases and conditions out there, not all vaccines are necessary. And not all vaccines are proven effective.
For example, many veterinarians use to recommend the Giardia vaccine which was released in 1999. The problem was that it didn’t cure the disease but only stopped the spreading of the Giardia cysts into the environment, so it didn’t help the dog with Giardia, but did help to keep it from spreading in kennels. Due to its lack of effectiveness, it was discontinued in 2009, but this after it was recommended as a “cure” for Giardia.
Did you know that you should only give your dog the Bordetella shot approximately three days prior to boarding them at a kennel, and it only protects them against two of the possible eight types of kennel coughs currently out there? Kennel coughs are like the human cold. There are so many different variations that the vaccine is likely not to prevent what’s going around. If your dog is healthy and not immunocompromised, then there’s no sense in giving it this vaccination unless it’s required by the facility where you’re taking it.
When you get your new puppy, a good breeder will have already given your puppy the DAPPv series which prevents against Distemper, Adenovirus Type 1 (Hepatitis), Adenovirus Type 2 (respiratory disease), Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. The breeder will also provide you with a detailed list of recommended follow-up vaccines and when they should receive them.
Many breeders have their own dogs’ titer tested, which will test them to see the level of antibodies in their blood that protects them from diseases. These tests can tell whether or not your dog already has the antibodies it needs against certain diseases and therefore does not need a specific vaccine at that time. Why vaccinate if you don’t have to?
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends having a titer test done on your dog every three years. Some dogs may never need certain vaccines again.
There are some vaccines that many in the veterinary medical field are warning against using on your dogs. These are vaccines where the “efficacy of the vaccine is questionable” (see Dr. Jean Dodds’ Recommended Vaccination Schedule
A great deal of research is currently underway on unproven vaccines that have been on the market and used by veterinarians and low-cost clinics for decades with either questionable or no concrete studies to prove their potential benefits.
If you are concerned about a specific vaccine that isn’t part of the recommended regimen by your breeder, you should go to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website and put in “vaccinations” in the search bar. There you will find news and information on concerns, changes, regulations, etc. on the field of veterinary vaccines.