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How Often Should You Vaccinate Your Dog?


I would like you to be aware that all 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats. Some of this information will present an ethical and economic challenge to veterinarians and there will also be skeptics.

Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every three years to appease those who fear loss of income versus those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or the doctor's economic well-being should not be a factor in medical decisions.


New Principles of Immunology

Dogs and cats' immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age it produces immunity that is good for the life of the pet (i.e.: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little to no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced.


Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.


Puppies receive antibodies through their mother's milk. This natural protection can last 8 to 14 weeks. Puppies and kittens should not be vaccinated at less than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given two weeks apart "suppress" rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3 to 4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year), will provide lifetime immunity.



2013 and 2014 Vaccination Protocol


Note: The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable.

The schedule is one Dr. Dodds recommends and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.


9-10 Weeks Old:Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)


14-16 Weeks:Same as above


20 Weeks or Older (if allowable by law):Rabies


1 Year:Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)


1 Year:Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)



Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. 




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