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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Vaccination frustration


I am the devoted pet of a six-year-old Springer Spaniel called Sadie.

We have an appointment at Sadie's vets today - for a check up and booster. I am not comfortable to vaccinate every year as I have read too many accounts of problems caused by over vaccinating an had decided to vaccinate every other year - I was somewhat shocked when the vet refused to give the booster shot and insisted on giving a full puppy course of vaccinations. I refused this and explained my concerns to no avail, and my request for titres was ignored.

I am now at a loss as to what is the best course of action for Sadie. Should I re-vaccinate and arrange an annual booster rather than give Sadie no protection? Or rely on her previous shots? Is there any alternative? Sadie never goes into kennels.

Any advice would be welcome.

Fiona James, by email


  1. Hi Fiona
    I share your concerns about annual boosters. Our puppy had a bad reaction to her first round of vaccines and we are now looking into alternatives including titer testing. Has anyone got any experience with this approach?

  2. Firstly Fiona, find another vet! How rude to ignore your request for titre tests! Is Sadie insured and what does your policy say about vaccinations. Most vets now agree once every 3 years is more than adequate, some say puppy plus first booster covers for life. My girls are just puppies but will NOT be vaccinated every year. Shame on your vet!

  3. I have a 5 year old lurcher X and two 3 year old whippets. I sympathise with your dilemma. One whippet had a full set of vaccinations last autumn when he arrived with us. Last year, after discussion with our Vet we opted to vaccinate yearly against Lepto with other vaccines to be administered every 3 years.

    Ours don't go into kennels and the Home Boarders we use are aware of our decision, as are the Insurers. I hope we've made the right decision. In your position I think I might change my Vet.

    1. I am guessing you were "out of date" for Sadie's booster, which is why they wanted to do the full course again...?
      I changed my vet cos they were stuck in the dark ages where vacs are concerned. They chose to ignore the vaccine manufacturers themselves, as well as the BVA guidelines.
      My new vet boosts 3 yearly.

  4. I would suggest that you take a look at Catherine O'Driscoll's website Canine Health Concern (, which will give you an insight into vaccines and the side effects that can be caused by them.

    There are some well known vets that have now come out and said that vaccines are not needed yearly and that after the core vaccines and a booster at one year old, it should cover them for life. I can't imagine that they would leave themselves open to possible litagation if something went wrong and they were blamed for this advice.

    Also titre testing is always thought of as showing what if any vaccines are needed for the dog, if the anti-body count is low for any of the diseases, when I have heard it suggested by the vets that have come out against yearly vaccination, that any reading is fine, and that a low count would just suggest that the dog has not recently come into contact with that disease but still has cover for it, a high reading would suggest that the dog has come into contact with the disease. As for Lepto, as far as I am aware the effects of the vaccine only last for 6 - 8 months, and there are several different strains about. How come then, that vets are happy to vaccinate for Lepto just once a year, if the pet is only protected for 6 - 8 months, and also how do they know that the strain used to vaccinate will be the one the dog is most likely to come into contact with. I think that the Lepto vaccines used to be manufactured in the USA, and if this is still the case, it makes it even more amazing that it would be given to dogs here.

    If you are worried about not vaccinating every year, or even three, you could try homoeopathic nosodes, which offer cover, but are unlikely to leave any side effects. There are plenty of on-line pharmacies that sell these for dogs. At least this way, you are not filling your dog full of chemicals, and comprising it's immune system.

    Regards Jan Lewandowski

  5. I echo Phillipa's view on finding another vet. If a vet is not doing the best for either your pet or you: they are not worth it. I am also a believer that we over-vaccinate - in both animals and humans - and have been thinking for a while about not vaccinating as much. We have been to our vet this morning and had a very open discussion with her. She agreed with our view that our 9year old collie would be covered enough by Parvo, Distemper, etc and we decided not to even do the Titre. She explained about the main vaccinations being effective for around 3 years these days, and they will do individual vaccinations if owners require. The Lepto is less effective: she does actually still recommend having that yearly. So, at present, we have decided to vaccinate our younger dog still with the annual Lepto, and full vacc in 3 years time but our 9year old will no longer have any vacc. Please ring around other vets to ask if they are open in how they treat your pet and if they are willing to have open discussions and tailor treatment to your wishes: I think a vet who does this is worth their weight in gold

  6. I don't vaccinate my dog at all (now 12 years old) as he has several health issues that are likely caused by his initial puppy shots - epilepsy, allergies, hypothyroidism (I got him through a breed rescue at 8 months old). What I do give him are homoeopathic nosodes for each of the diseases which are usually vaccinated against. These I get from Chris Day, my homoeopathic vet. There is a lot of info. re: vaccination on Chris's website that you might find useful to read: and if you decide to go down the route of giving nosodes I believe you can contact the surgery and they will supply these after a phone consult to ensure you are aware of all the facts. You can also purchase nosodes from homoeopathic pharmacies, such as Ainsworths.

  7. I would echo the feeling that if you are not happy with your vet you have a choice to move, especially if they will not even enter into discussion with you. Standard protocol according to vaccine manufacturers and the British Veterinary Association is now full Distemper, hepatitis, parvo, parainflueza and lepto twice as puppy, at year one and then every three years with only lepto needing to be boostered annually. This avoids the worries of "overvaccinating" and keeps your animal covered against possibly fatal diseses. I do not agree with homeopathic nosodes, no scientific evidence they work and as they are not regulated by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate you could be giving anything to your pet. If you want the best for your pet follow the standardised BVA protocols and don't believe everything you read online!

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