How often do dogs need rabies vaccinations?

 |  Nov 1st 2007  |   1 Contribution


Please address the vaccination debate. My dogs
are five, seven and eight years of age. South Carolina law
requires yearly rabies vaccination. If my dogs
have been yearly vaccinated for DHLPP and Rabies,
are they now immune for life? Thank you.

Cheryl
South Carolina

The vaccination debate has been raging for over a decade. It is still going strong, and no end is in sight. People continue to argue about which shots should be given to which pets, and how often pets should receive shots.

In this debate, only a couple of things are certain. One is that puppies and kittens have increased needs for vaccines relative to mature animals (which is not to say that older animals never need vaccines). Another is that every animal has unique vaccination needs.

In an ideal world, we would run tests on pets regularly to determine their individual vaccination needs. Sadly, these tests are not readily available. Some laboratories offer a measure of immunity called titers. However, titers frequently do not offer a definitive answer regarding a pet's vaccination needs.

So what is a concerned pet owner to do? My advice is to find a competent vet who is willing to discuss your pets' lifestyles and tailor their vaccines individually. And although I don't recommend following formulas, guidelines exist that can help with the process.

For instance, most experts recommend that mature animals receive their core vaccines (DHPP in dogs, FVRCP in cats) every three years. So talk to your vet about it, and see if you can back off on these shots.

If your state requires annual rabies vaccinations, then you will have no choice. Fighting city hall on that one is a losing proposition.

The most important thing to remember is that vaccines are controversial. Your best option is to find a good vet who is willing to take the time to discuss the matter with you.

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