Spring is here and all of the postcards from your veterinarian start showing up with vaccine reminders. As your pet’s advocate it is important for you to understand vaccines. There is an incredible amount of information and research about vaccines and their side effects. Once considered harmless, benign, and the right thing to do for our pets every year, now we are aware of just the opposite. There is great research that supports limiting vaccines with new guidelines designed to protect our animal companions. Not all veterinarians will agree with limiting vaccines. It is difficult for people to change, even in the face of good information and research. Profit and established beliefs can get in the way of what is best for pets.

Vaccine reactions do occur and are not as uncommon as your veterinarian might lead you to believe. Here is a partial list of vaccine reactions:

  • Fever, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Anaphylactic reactions such as: swellings, respiratory distress, hives
  • Lethargy
  • Vaccine site swellings, abscesses, granulomas
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Vaccine site cancers
  • Seizures
  • Post vaccine induced encephalitis and/or meningitis
  • Paralysis
  • Lymphoma
  • Deterioration of existing illnesses either known or unknown at the time of the vaccinating.

How do you sort through all the information about what vaccines are really necessary? It really is fairly straight forward. As determined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are three core vaccines.

Core Vaccines

  • Distemper
  • Parvo virus
  • Rabies

The following vaccines are considered non core vaccines by the American Veterinary Medical Associations. The incidence of the diseases is generally low, and some of these are treatable diseases. The Lyme vaccine is highly controversial. Several are generally not protective or only offer a limited amount of protection for only a few strains of the disease.

Non-Core Vaccines

  • Leptospirosis
  • Adenovirus
  • Para
  • LymeGiardia
  • Corona
  • Bordetella

Vaccine Guidelines

  • Only vaccinate a HEALTHY pet. Never vaccinate a pet when they are about to undergo surgery. Never vaccinate a pet that is fighting cancer. Never vaccinate a pet that is still recovering from an illness or surgery. Any pet with allergies should be considered compromised and should not be vaccinated.
  • Consider the age of the pet – vaccines are especially hard on senior animals.
  • What is your pet’s previous medical and vaccine history?
  • Consider your lifestyle and the possibility of your pet’s exposure to disease.

There is no doubt that modern vaccine technology has improved the quality of pet’s lives. Today, with new research and information, the old approach of annual vaccines needs to be questioned and new regimens that offer safe and effective alternatives, needs to be adopted. For many veterinarians, annual vaccinations have been the main reason their clients bring their pets into the practice. Adopting more “wellness visit” programs could take the emphasis off over vaccination; and contribute to our pet’s living longer, healthier lives.

The following link offers vaccine protocols for dogs, cats, kittens and puppies:


~ Cynthia