Vaccinations – What is one to do?

VaccineThe subject of vaccinations for our pets is complicated by the fact that there is no universally accepted recommendation for every pet. Pet parents, veterinarians, and others in the pet care industry are all trying to do the right things, but the fact is vaccinations are complicated.

Green Acres Kennel Shop recommends that all pet parents have a discussion with their pet's veterinarian about vaccines on an annual basis at their pet's annual wellness exam. New vaccines are being developed, old ones are being withdrawn from the market, and researchers are learning more about vaccines and immunity (the body's defense system) on a regular basis.

Vaccinations are now broken down into two categories; core and non-core. Core vaccinations are recommended for most pets, but usually each pet and its lifestyle is evaluated individually by their veterinarian so that they can determine the appropriateness of a particular vaccine for a specific pet. For example, a dog that does not live in an area where Lyme disease is a problem or that does not go outdoors in areas where ticks are usually found, might not benefit from the Lyme vaccine. Different individual veterinarians may interpret vaccine guidelines differently, so it is beneficial for pet parents to take some time to educate themselves in this area.

As a pet care facility, Green Acres Kennel Shop does require that pets be vaccinated or titer tested, for their protection and the protection of the other pets that come here for boarding, daycare, grooming or training. We work closely with all of the veterinarians in our area and look to them to recommend the specific vaccinations that your pet receives and how frequently they are administered.

While Green Acres Kennel Shop does not recommend which vaccinations a client should get for their pet, we do want to provide clients with information to assist them in talking to their veterinarian about vaccinations.

It used to be that vaccinations for our pets were relatively simple –even, black and white. All dogs and cats would get vaccines for a, b, and c, at specified intervals of x, y, and z. Vaccines were so simple that most pet parents didn’t even think about what vaccines were being given, they just brought their pet in to the veterinarian for their annual shots. That all changed In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when the concept of annual vaccines was questioned, by experts in the field, as being a potential cause for increases in chronic disease. In some cases the need for revaccinations were suspected as being medically unnecessary.

Evidence is building that annual vaccination of dogs and cats performed for diseases such as rabies, distemper and parvovirus may not be necessary and could even be harmful. Vaccines licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are tested to ensure they protect pets against disease, usually for one year. But the tests don't detect long-term side effects, or measure the duration of a vaccines effectiveness. Recent and continuing studies at several universities suggest that protection from vaccines may last for years, which would make annual shots for some diseases a waste of money at the very least.” – Rhonda L. Rundle, The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2001

 “A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years in the life of the animal.” - Veterinary immunologist Ronald Schultz and Tom Phillips, Current Veterinary Therapy, volume XI, pp202-206, 1992

As a result of these concerns, the American Animal Hospital Association convened a panel of experts to review the state of vaccines and to develop guidelines for their use.  This panel published the first edition of the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines in 2003, with subsequent updates being published in 2006, 2007, and 2011. You can read the latest version by clicking here: 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has published a similar document addressing vaccination requirements for cats. You can read their 2006 report by clicking here: 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccine Panel Advisory Report.

The vaccination issue is important to us, more so because we have seen with our own pets how adverse reactions to vaccines can negatively impact their lives. Our Golden Retriever Tikken had a severe reaction to a Rabies vaccination which had a great impact on her life. In our next newsletter we’ll discuss that in more detail when we announce a fundraiser we will be doing in Tikken’s memory.

Last month Kate and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Ronald Schultz for four episodes of The Woof Meow Show. Dr. Schultz is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was one of the experts on the panels that developed the 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines and the 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccine Panel Advisory Report.

In these four shows, Kate and I ask Dr. Schultz specifically about: the importance of vaccines, core vaccines, the frequency with which vaccines are given, titer testing, non-core vaccines, adverse reactions to vaccines and The Rabies Challenge Fund. You can find the schedule for these shows later in this newsletter or at our website ( Each show will also be available as a podcast, after the Sunday broadcast, at the Apple iTunes store and our podcast page ( Additionally, we will be posting notes from each show in the articles sections of our web page. If you want to educate yourself about your pet’s vaccinations, please check out these resources.

Other Woof Meow Show’s that address vaccines:

  •     Vaccinations with Dr. David Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic  <click to listen>
  •     Annual Health Checks & Vaccines w/ Dr. David Cloutier from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic <click to listen>

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