Do Dogs Need Annual Vaccines?

The very thought that vaccines are anything but life-saving may come as a surprise – and not a very pleasant one.  At Stray from the Heart, we believe that annual vaccinations are not only unnecessary, but also could be detrimental to your dog’s health.  That is why it’s important to educate yourself on canine vaccination practices, the different schools of thought in veterinary medicine and how to control your dog’s healthcare by finding a veterinarian who allows you to participate in the decision of when to vaccinate your dog.

Wellness Exam – The Alternative to Annual Vaccines

As dogs reach the age of two and are in good health, more veterinarians agree that yearly vaccines may not be warranted, unless there is specific medical evidence to justify them. To learn more, read this article on the dangers of over-vaccinating your dog.

There is a growing trend toward less vaccination and more “wellness exam” visits.  A wellness exam is much more comprehensive and allows you to participate in important medical decisions that affect your dog’s health. Rather than making an appointment to inject your dog with unnecessary and potentially dangerous vaccines, you should consider that appointment for a “wellness exam.”  A wellness exam includes a very important antibody “titer” test, which measures the protective level of antibodies to specific canine diseases from past vaccinations. Depending on the results of the test, you and your vet can decide if your dog needs a booster shot. An annual wellness exam is also an important time to check your dog’s health and detect early stages of chronic conditions that may have nothing to do with vaccines. Overall, a wellness exam makes you part of the decision making process, and it empowers you to control the health of your beloved dog.

What to Expect after Your Dog’s Vaccination

Your dog may experience mild side effects, such as discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site, a low fever, decreased appetite and activity, and sneezing, mild coughing or other respiratory signs. If these side effects last for more than one to two days, contact your veterinarian. You should seek immediate medical attention if your dog experiences any of the following side effects:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Itchy skin that may seem bumpy (“hives”)
  • Swelling off the muzzle and around the face, neck or eyes
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Collapsing

It’s very important to tell your veterinarian if your dog has had prior reactions to any vaccine or medication. You may also want to wait 30-60 minutes after your dog has received a vaccination before taking him or her home.

Please view our Recommended Reading list for additional resources.

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