Vaccinations help the dog's body make antibodies against the disease it is being vaccinated for. When they work correctly, they prevent the dog from developing the disease by teaching the immune system how to recognize and eliminate the disease should he encounter it. Most veterinarians recommend that dogs receive the Da2PPL and rabies vaccinations. The Da2PPL stands for the combination vaccine, which covers distemper, adenovirus type 2, parvovirus, parinfluenza, and leptosporosis. Puppies are vaccinated differently than adult dogs because the ideal timing of vaccine administration is not known.
You will find that the vaccination schedule varies from region to region, but only slightly. Depending on the region you live in and what diseases are prevalent in your area, your veterinarian may make recommendations for additional vaccinations. These might include Lyme disease or coronavirus.
Ideally the vaccinations should be given when the mother's immunity wears off, but no one knows exactly when that happens. Therefore, puppies are vaccinated monthly until they are sixteen weeks old. Once an adult dog has received his initial puppy vaccinations, he is normally vaccinated yearly or every other year for the distemper series, and every three years for rabies. In most states, in order for the rabies vaccinations to be good for three years, your dog must have received two vaccinations nine to twelve months apart. If you miss the cutoff by even one day, the rabies vaccine is considered good for only one year.
Vaccinating the puppy helps him develop immunity against the more common diseases that he might be exposed to during this critical time in his immune system's development. Most conventional veterinarians recommend two to three doses of Da2PPL combination vaccine. This is usually administered somewhere around eight, twelve, and sixteen weeks. A rabies vaccine is given somewhere between sixteen weeks and six months. The most life-threatening diseases for your dog are distemper, parvovirus, and rabies. Any additional vaccinations will vary depending on the region where you live.
No one knows exactly how long the effect of a vaccination lasts. The vaccine companies make recommendations to veterinarians as to how frequently they think that vaccines should be given, and most veterinarians pass this information on to their clients in good faith. The vaccine company — which profits from the administration of vaccines — is probably not the best source of that information. However, there has been very little study of how often vaccines are really needed.
Homeopathic veterinarians believe in vaccines for pets, but they do not recommend they be given quite so frequently. They also recommend the use of titers to determine just how much immunity a given animal has toward a disease. A vaccine titer is a blood test that is used to determine a ratio of immunity. The lab that performs the test usually comes up with a value that tells how much of a response the dog's body has had to that particular part of the vaccine. This provides the vet with information about whether revaccination is warranted or not.
Titers are usually checked every two years to determine whether the dog is still carrying immunity to that particular disease. Arguments among conventional and holistic veterinarians abound because no one can decide just how much immunity is enough. Most homeopathic vets say that any immunity is immunity and is enough to justify not revaccinating. Most conventional vets, on the other hand, say that the risk of contracting these diseases is real and probable without frequent (yearly or every other year) vaccination. Deciding the right approach for your Golden is tricky. Everyone wants to do the right thing and protect their Goldens from these awful diseases. No one can give you absolute answers, and no one wants to face the consequences of making the wrong decision.
Strong arguments exist for using vaccines sparingly. Many homeopathic veterinarians believe that the overvaccination of pets is the source of many of their chronic problems and development of cancers.
Do your homework. Read, research, and search for answers before you make a decision on how often to vaccinate. It is very important to be an informed consumer in today's world; the health and well-being of your beloved Golden depends upon it.
The Hazards of Overvaccination
Many homeopathic veterinarians believe that we are killing our pets and destroying their health by overvaccinating them. If your dog's body is constantly bombarded with a barrage of vaccines that it doesn't need, the results can manifest themselves in many ways. Too much of a good thing does have consequences, and those consequences often present themselves in ways that are detrimental to the health and well-being of your pet.
Problems that some people believe are related to overvaccination include chronic skin problems; hair loss; hot spots; excessive licking, scratching, and biting of feet, rump, and tail; ear infections and allergies; and temperament and behavior problems. No formal conclusive testing has been done to conclude that vaccinating pets too frequently causes these problems, and that is the problem.
Until there are conclusive studies, veterinarians will continue to recommend vaccinating dogs yearly or every other year. If you begin to read the research, a lot of evidence does suggest that these chronic problems are related to overvaccination and a poor diet. There is a lot of overlap between the quality of food we provide and the excessive use of vaccinations, medications, and steroids. Everything we do for our dogs has a consequence. The best you can do for your Golden is to arm yourself with knowledge, search for answers, and make the best decision you can.
Remember that what you find in your original research may lead you to the decisions you make now, but don't leave it at that. Medical technology is advancing rapidly. The more you keep on top of things, the better you will be able to make the right decision for your Golden. When it comes right down to it, no one is trying to harm your pet — it's just that everyone thinks they are right. It is up to you as your dog's caretaker and provider to make the best decision with as much information as you can gather.