Originally published June 2008, reposted June 2012

Vaccines: Are they safe & how often are they really needed?

One person that is making incredible strides in pet vaccines is Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM.  Dr. Dodds is helping change vaccine protocols by giving us a revised pet vaccine schedule.  I have seen many websites with these protocols but they were all slightly different.

In efforts to provide the most accurate information, I contacted Dr. Dodds and have received her consent to use her minimal use Dog Vaccine Schedule and Cat Vaccine Schedule 

She is also participating in a research study called the Rabies Challenge Fund.  This study is hoping to determine the duration of immunity conveyed by the rabies vaccines. The goal is to extend the required interval for rabies boosters from 3 years to 5 years and then to 7 years.  To learn more & support this worthy study, visit  The Rabies Challenge Fund today.

Another person is Jan Rasmusen, author of Scared Poopless.  View Jan’s video about vaccines, Stand up to your vet.  Until our vaccines are safer and the schedules are changed, it is up to the pet owners to do our homework in order to protect our pets.  Below you will find some information that may help guide you in making your vaccine decisions.

What things should I know before giving my pets vaccines?

  • Immunity Duration:  Some vaccines may be protecting your pet 1, 3, 5 to 9+ years!
  • Titer testing: A simple blood test from your Vet will tell you whether your pet has enough antibodies to be protected. Please note:  Most areas will not accept this for rabies.
  • Access your dog lifestyle:  Depending on where you live and the lifestyle your dog leads (i.e.indoor, outdoor, both and exposure to other animals), this may determine how many vaccines are needed for your pet.
  • NEVER give vaccines to a sick pet!
  • Check for any recent Vaccine RECALLS.
  • Give SINGLE shots:  Keep vaccines separate, do not allow 3, 5 or 7 in one shots to be administered.
  • You can say NO to your vet:  If your vet recommends more shots just because they are a vaccine junkie you have the right to say no.

Rabies & getting a dog license?
A dog needs to be current on rabies when registering/licensing your pet.  In some areas, as long as your dog has a few months left on their current vaccination you can register them.  BUT in some areas, your dog must be covered by their vaccination the entire time frame of your dog license.  The problem with this is it contributes to over-vaccinating our pets.  This hurts our pets, it does not help them as we have been duped into thinking.  With that said, you might want to consider this before moving to a new area!

Rabies Exemptions and Waivers

Rabies Vaccination is required by law. It may be possible to secure a written waiver for exemption from rabies booster vaccination. You will need a letter from your veterinarian justifying the medical reason for such an exemption. Accompanying the exemption letter should be a rabies serum antibody titer. Adequate serum rabies titers are at least 1:5 by the RFFIT method. Waiver requests are not generally accepted based on serum antibody titers alone but may be granted on a case-by-case basis with justification.

Reactions to vaccines

If your pet does have an adverse reaction it is most common to happen within 24-48 hours.  Although some research suggests that your pet could experience a reaction or illness in response to a vaccination up to 6 months from the time the vaccine was administered.  If this happens it is important to seek help from your Vet.  When speaking with the Vet make sure to have it noted in your dog’s file and ask if they will report it to USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics and the vaccine manufacturer.

Vaccine history & where we are today

According to, Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, Ph.D., D.V.M. Chair of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and of Rabies Challenge fund writes:

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual re-vaccinations. Almost without exception, there is no immunologic requirement for annual re-vaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years.

It is up to us to pose the question of booster vaccinations to our veterinarians and find out what their protocol is given each animal’s situation. The vaccination schedule you and your vet choose for your pet should be individualized based on many factors (e.g., indoor only, indoor and outdoor, geographical location, age, and health).

A growing population of concerned pet owners and holistic veterinarians began to question this yearly re-vaccination protocol and found that there is no clear evidence to prove its efficacy.  People do not get re-vaccinated every year for polio, chicken pox, and the like, yet we do the equivalent of that to our pets.

In the last 5 years, all 27 veterinary schools have come on board, admitting that yearly vaccinations are not required, and are more likely to be causing health problems.

Which vaccines do we require to perform services?

Escondido, San Marcos CA & Carlsbad CA follow California state law which requires rabies.  This is the only vaccine I ask for proof of at your consultation.  Any other vaccines are not mandatory to get started with pet care services.


If you enjoyed this post:

Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet has a medical problem, please seek medical attention from your veterinarian. Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails will do our best to ensure that information presented is accurate and up-to-date. Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails does not accept any responsibility for damages, loss or illness which may arise in connection with the use of the information published on this website. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Opinions expressed here are those of individual contributors. © Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails, 2006-2019. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Responses to “Pet Vaccines: Safety info, schedule & when to say NO”

  1. Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My husband and I recently got our first dog, and we’d like to learn more about when and if we should take her to the vet for vaccines. Your article had some great information about pet vaccines, and I liked how you said to make sure we only get one vaccine for our dog at a time, and to keep an eye out for adverse reactions that will happen within 24-48 hours of the administration. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when taking our dog to the vet to get vaccinated.

  2. Ridley says:

    Thanks for the vaccination information. We want to get our dogs the necessary shots, so this is great to know. I’ll make sure that my dog is not sick when we take her in for her shots.

  3. Jenna Hunter says:

    I appreciate your advice on accessing your dog’s lifestyle to see how long or how many vaccinations it might need. I am thinking about getting a dog for my kids this summer. I live in a more rural area, so if I were to get a dog, I would want to make sure that it has current rabies vaccines so that it would be protected against any potential wild animals.

  4. Max Jones says:

    My wife and I just got our first dog, and I think that it would be good for us to get his pet vaccinations done soon. I didn’t realize that vaccinations for pet could protect them for varied amounts of time, even up to 9 years or more! I’m going to have to ask our veterinarian about how long the vaccinations we’re getting our dog will last and make sure that we keep him protected! Thank you!

  5. Annika Larson says:

    I love my puppy, and I want to make sure he is getting the right vaccinations to stay healthy. It can be hard to know exactly which ones are required and when they should be administered. Choosing a trusted vet that can share this information could be very helpful. As you said, the vaccination schedule is something that is individualized and determined by a variety of factors.

  6. Loves Dogs#5 says:

    My first few dogs paid the price for my ignorance…they were fed kibble and re-vaccinated every 3 years. They ended up with numerous, severe health conditions and all died or had to be euthanized by age 10-12 years old; they were all small dogs, under 12 lbs. My husband and I changed to a naturopathic vet (Dr. Jeannie Thomason, http://www.wholedog.com) who taught us about naturally raising our dogs. We fed them a raw diet..yes, raw meat with bones. Stopped vaccinating them with anything. Our next group lived with no health problems, no disease, full of life and energy and died of old age at 20-21 years.
    There is no safe vaccine and the best thing for our pets is to give them amazing health with a strong immune system that fights off the “bad junk.” Don’t give in to a vaccine junkie vet – run out of there as fast as you can and find yourself a true natural vet. Here is CA, we have Dr. Thomason and Dr. Stephen Blake. If your pet doesn’t have to be physically seen by them, they can even do phone or internet consultations. You’ll love the end result and so will you beloved pets.
    Now we need to get the stupid government to stop this rabies vaccine nonsense; it’s all done to make money for the vets and big pharma.


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