I will confess that one of the things that makes me angry is vets over-vaccinating dogs, particularly older ones. No dog needs to be vaccinated yearly for core vaccines like parvovirus, distemper, or rabies. (Your local laws may require an annual rabies vaccination, however.)
You received many vaccinations as a child for measles, mumps, etc. And if you are a parent, you probably had your child vaccinated against many things. While you may need a booster at some point in your life, you certainly don’t go in for annual or even multiple vaccinations throughout the course of your life (we will see what happens with COVID vaccines). The same should be true for your dog.
The current guidance from the American Animal Hospital Association is that dogs don’t need to be vaccinated any sooner than every three years for core vaccines (such as the ones listed above), and not necessarily every three years either. In fact, over-vaccinating your dog can cause health problems such as auto-immune disorders or vaccine reactions and it is a risk that you simply do not need to take.
Most older dogs have received multiple vaccines in their life. All you need to ask your vet to do is to run a “titer test” – a blood test that identifies the amount of antibodies your dog has to a specific disease. If your dog has sufficient immunity, another vaccine will not help and may in fact harm your dog. This test is far more affordable than it used to be, and could save your dog from the immune system stress of a vaccine.
So next time you get a card in the mail from your vet telling you that it is time to vaccinate your dog, have a discussion with your vet. No dog needs to be vaccinated yearly for the core illnesses. Most dogs don’t need to be vaccinated even every three years. If you want to know how much immunity your dog has, just ask for a titer test. That will guide your decision making and be of great benefit to your dog.
But please DO take your dog for a check-up yearly. Part of that check up doesn’t have to be a vaccine.