When it comes to vaccinations, I admit my knowledge base is pretty empty. To be perfectly honest, I’m not very good at keeping up with my own schedule. I can’t remember the last time I received a shot for something. Maybe meningitis back in 2004? That may not even be accurate. I’m not scared of needles and I’ve always felt a little poke is worth avoiding a major disease, but I am essentially lazy and never remember to ask my doctor during my yearly check-up.
That doesn’t mean I am as negligent with my pets. Shiva and The Cat both receive their vaccinations on a strict and regular rotation.
Looking at her medical records, I see that Shiva is inoculated against the standard rabies, distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus. I am fully aware of the horrors of parvo and I know rabies is practically mandated by law. The other two I know less about but every vet seems to think they are necessary. She also receives shots for canine kennel cough – Shiva had this when we first adopted her and we continue to vaccinate due to her frequent encounters with dogs at agility. This year, we also gave her the leptospirosis vaccine. Our previous vet didn’t seem to think it was important and never mentioned it. But our new vet thinks it is essential. She says she sees many dogs every year with the disease, dogs who barely leave their houses, so Shiva got one more jab with the needle.
I know there is some controversy regarding over-vaccinating our dogs. Since I am not a vet I’ve never considered myself knowledgeable enough to question. If a veterinarian says we should inoculate, then we inoculate. Isn’t the possible reaction still better than contracting the actual virus?
I’ve always thought so. And then I read articles like this that make me unsure. Surely a little kennel cough is better than liver failure!
But how likely are such reactions to occur? So far, Shiva seems to have handled them all without any trouble. I was a little worried the day after she received the leptospirosis shot. I came home from work and she promptly vomited on the floor. Commence freaking out. Luckily, Dog is God in Reverse was on Twitter and reassured me it could have just been something she ate. Which it was considering she showed no other signs after the initial up-chucking. Whew! Of course, that doesn’t mean it will always be so easy for us.
Like everything else relating to dogs, there is so much information out there but almost all of it contradicts something else. One person says, trust your vet. Another, says vets are just pawns of pharmaceutical companies. One person believes there is no such thing as over-vaccination. Another, refuses to vaccinate anything and seeks more natural forms of prevention.
I guess I stand somewhere in the middle. I trust my vet to a point. If she suggests a schedule of vaccinations that makes sense and explains the reasons behind each needle, then I will probably go along with her plan. But if she was to start telling us we need something crazy – like a rattlesnake vaccine when we live in a province that barely homes garter snakes – I may raise an eyebrow. However, that hasn’t been the case thus far. In fact, I am a little concerned that Shiva hasn’t been vaccinated for Lyme disease, something that is becoming more common in areas south of here. The vet says we don’t need it but it’s always on my mind when we travel through tick country.
How do you feel about pet vaccinations? Do you worry about over-vaccinating? Are you as confused by the controversy as I am? Have you sought a more natural approach to virus prevention? Please share your thoughts in the comments!