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Originally published in June 2008, reposted June 2012
There is a lot of things to consider about pet vaccinations. Here I’ll cover 7 tips to consider BEFORE scheduling your pet to get a vaccination, schedule to let you know when to get vaccines, how long vaccine immunity lasts, and how your dog’s rabies vaccine ties into getting a dog license.
Are pet vaccines safe for Your pet?
One person that is making incredible strides in pet vaccines is Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM. Dr. Dodds is helping to 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.
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 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 and 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.
7 things you should know before giving you pet a vaccine
- 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 all in one shot to be administered.
- You can say NO to your vet: If your vet recommends more shots or vaccines, you have the right to say no!
Rabies and getting a dog license
A dog needs to be current on their 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. However, in some areas, your dog must be covered by their vaccination the entire time frame of your dog’s 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 in every state. However, 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 pet 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 your 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.
Dog Vaccine history and 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, chickenpox, 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 are required for pet care services?
Rabies is required in many states. This is the only vaccine I ask for proof of and only at your consultation. Any other vaccines are not mandatory.