Pet lovers know that it is very important to vaccinate their dogs, but how early and how often are two questions that are currently much on their minds as well as on the minds of the veterinary community at large. While vets agree that it is still vital to vaccinate puppies at 6 weeks for distemper and measles if they did not nurse during the first few hours after they were born and again at 8, 12, and 16 weeks for Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus (DHLPPC), there have been questions as to whether the traditionally recommended (and in some states required) annual vaccinations are necessary. Puppies are also vaccinated for rabies at six months and this, too, is repeated annually.
The concerns that some dog owners have is whether the repeated dog vaccinations are really necessary and whether they are, in fact, doing more harm than good. Vaccinations work by stimulating the dog’s immune system, encouraging it to readily produce antibodies to fight against specific types of bacteria and viruses. Stimulating the immune system this way comes at a price – the actual introduction of the offending agent in some form to the dog’s system, leading to the concerns of dog lovers and vets alike.
The questions on the minds of those concerned are “is it dangerous to repeatedly vaccinate my dog each year” and “how much vaccine should a dog receive and how often?” Fortunately, the experts do agree that the answer to the first question is a resounding “no.” While there are rare cases of dogs that have become very ill or even died as a result of vaccination, there is no evidence to suggest that this practice poses any real danger to the dog. The animals adversely affected may have already been sick unbeknownst to their owners or had some form of allergy to a specific part of the vaccine. The answer to the second question is less encouraging because the truth is; no one knows for sure how much vaccine is really necessary and how often it really should be given. This is currently a topic of much discussion and debate in veterinary circles.
The best advice that dog owners can take is to continue vaccinating their dogs according to local laws and the recommendations of their vets. Since the annual vaccines are not harming the dogs in any evident way, there is no cause for alarm and no harm in continuing the same routine until the veterinary community makes up its collective mind that a change is in order with regard to dog vaccinations.