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This blog post was originally published in 2014; it has been updated with new information and republished. Please note that I'm not a veterinarian or a nutritionist. Keep the Tail Wagging is a blog that shares my individual experience raising dogs naturally.

According to Dr. Ron Schultz, vaccinations against diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus offer lifetime immunity. There is no need to vaccinate for these annually or every three years. Canine rabies offers protection for 3 to 7 years.

Last year, someone on Facebook called me an anti-vaxxer, which made me laugh because it was the first time someone had lobbied that insult in my direction. Usually, this is a label assigned to moms that question vaccinations for their kids. Not pet parents. But I didn't get insulted because instead of seeing this as an insult, I saw it as insight. I asked the person why they thought I was an anti-vaxxer and they came across a post where I stated that I do minimal vaccinations. Ummmm, yeah, minimal vaccinations. Not NO vaccinations. The conversation went downhill fast, but it stayed with me.

We have four dogs, Rodrigo is 10-1/2 years old. Scout and Zoey are nearly 7 years old, and Apollo will be two years old in January. I've approached diet, training, health, and vaccinations differently with each dog because I'm constantly learning new things. Rodrigo and his sister Sydney were vaccinated as puppies, at the one year mark, and annually until they were three years old. I stopped with the annual vaccinations because I began to learn about possible side effects due to over-vaccination and people began questioning the life of each vaccine. Instead of the protection lasting a year, some felt that vaccinations last up to seven years.

Over the years, based on what I've learned, I've decided that my dogs will receive their puppy vaccinations and one year booster and that's it.

How Long do Vaccinations Last?

When Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies, I believed our vet when he said that they needed annual vaccinations. I also believed that kibble was species-appropriate, that dog parks were great for socialization, and that I needed to become a pack leader. My point is that we all have beliefs and they change as we get new information.

I've been reading articles online by veterinarians and walked away with the understanding that vaccinations last anywhere between three to seven years. Dr. Ronald Schultz and many others question how humans can receive one vaccination and be protected for life while dogs need annual vaccinations. This question prompted veterinarians to look into vaccinations with the goal of reducing the number and frequency of vaccinations and produce lifetime immunity in our dogs.

Why I No Longer Vaccinate My Dogs

When I began learning about the side effects other pet parents were seeing after their dogs were vaccinated, I began to get scared. I found the following list of side effects on The Drake Center website, but this isn't the only list you can find online. The worst are the videos showing puppies having seizures after receiving a vaccination or stories of tumors developing at the vaccination injection site. Scary!

  • Fever.
  • Sluggishness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Facial or paw swelling and/or hives.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Pain or swelling around the injection site.
  • Collapse, difficulty breathing, and seizures (anaphylactic shock)

Looking back, I remember that Rodrigo was the friendliest dog; he became reactive after receiving vaccinations at 4 months of age. Coincidence? Maybe.

Given how long a vaccination lasts, I decided to stop vaccinating my dogs working from the belief that my dogs are still protected. I don't know this definitively, but I can confirm through titer testing. For now, I'm comfortable forgoing vaccinations because my dogs don't go to the dog park, doggy daycare, the groomers, kennels, or any other event or place where they're coming into contact with dogs they don't know. We live on five acres and our dogs spend the bulk of their lives here on our property combined with car rides and trips to walking trails with little to no interaction with other dogs or people.

My dogs' veterinarian doesn't pressure me about vaccinations and if something should change in the future where vaccinations are back on the table, then I'll have a discussion with our veterinarian at that time. If pushed, I will have my dogs vaccinated for rabies every five years, but given what I know about vaccinations, I don't feel comfortable going beyond that with the current information we have.

Why Not Get a Titer Test?

I thought about titer testing my dogs, however, the cost is too much. It's over $600 per dog where I live. I can have blood samples sent to Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet for a lower cost, but I haven't taken this step yet because it would only be a personal confirmation. Washington State doesn't currently accept titer test results in lieu of a rabies vaccination despite the fact that we don't have an issue with rabies in our state.

So, What's the Point of this Blog Post?

I'm not a veterinarian or a nutritionist. I don't feel that it's appropriate for me to tell others what they do. The purpose of my blog is to share what I'm learning and encourage you to do more homework and share you experience. In this post, I'm sharing information that I've read that helped me make the decision to be conservative about vaccinations. I don't expect to change anyone's mind about how often they vaccinate their dogs. I simply want to share information.

Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Ron Schultz on Vaccinations

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