Getting annual boosters for your dog is just part of being a good owner, right? Well, some veterinary scientists asked why dogs have annual boosters when people's vaccines lasted a lifetime, and new research has shown surprising results! Read on to learn about the latest studies and find out how often your dog really needs his booster shots.In the old days, dogs died of all sorts of contagious diseases. Then came a variety of vaccinations, and dogs lived. As time went on, getting annual boosters was just part of being a good dog owner. Then veterinary scientists started asking questions. Questions such as why dogs had to have annual boosters when people's vaccines lasted a lifetime.
Dr. Ronald Schultz, a researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, didn't only ask questions; he looked for answers. And he found that for most core vaccines (the ones every dog should have), dogs did not need yearly boosters for. The minimum duration of immunity for core vaccines (except rabies) is at least seven years, as long as immunity was achieved with the initial vaccination boosters. Revaccination before then will not improve immunity, given that immunity was accomplished with the initial vaccination.
So much evidence was accumulated that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) changed the vaccination guidelines in 2003, modifying them in 2006. The AAHA stressed that vaccination is not as harmless a procedure as once thought, and even though adverse reactions are rare, it's foolish to give unnecessary vaccinations. Nor are vaccinations a "one shot fits all" situation. The right vaccinations for your dog depend on its age, breed, health status, environment, life style and where your pet lives or travels.
So which vaccination(s) does your pet need? Vaccines are divided into core and noncore types. Core vaccines are those almost all dogs need, those against distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and rabies.
Noncore vaccines are only needed by dogs in certain areas or with certain lifestyles. They include vaccines for kennel cough, Lyme disease and leptospirosis. Other vaccines, such as those for corona virus, are generally considered unnecessary.
Puppies should receive core vaccines in a series of shots, with the last shot administered at approximately 16 weeks of age. The shots should be given no more frequently than every two weeks. After this, they should receive a booster shot at one year old, and then every three years. Note that some municipalities require a rabies booster to be given every year; however, there is no valid medical reason for this and many municipalities are changing to a three-year requirement.
Just because your dog doesn't have to go to the veterinarian every year for vaccinations doesn't mean she doesn't need an annual wellness examination. Because dogs age faster than humans, a yearly physical in a dog is like a person only having one every five years or so.
All dogs need vaccinations. Just not as often as we once thought.