We realize that this is a hot-button for a lot of customers and while we firmly believe in the very wise old saying, “The Customer Is Always Right”, when it comes to vaccinations, the customer is not always right. We require that your dog has the following vaccinations, scheduled as shown, if he or she is to be a customer at Barks and Medication. Now, before you read the list, and before you repeat the common accusation that “Vets are just trying to sell something”, please understand that vaccinations are not a profit center for any veterinary clinic. There’s just no margin, so no clinics are pushing vaccinations for monetary reasons. After you read the list, please go to our Home Page and when the VACCINATIONS page appears, click on it and read what you absolutely have to protect your pet against and why. Here’s our list:
Rabies. Every twelve months thru 6 years of age. After 6 years of age, we will give the three year vaccine if you request it, but only because after 6 years, your dog has a level of “accumulated immunity” that is the combined result of having been vaccinated yearly and a totally mature immune system. There are no savings when you purchase a three year vaccine and you must follow state laws on rabies. No matter your personal feelings, the efficacy of rabies vaccinations is clear: in the United States we generally have fewer than 3 deaths per year caused by rabies and those almost always caused by contact with a wild animal. The rest of the world and in particular, those areas where vaccinations are not required by law, suffer tens of thousands of deaths caused by rabies every year.
Distemper. Exactly the same as Rabies. Every twelve months thru 6 years of age. Distemper is one of four “Core” vaccines- those that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease”. Rabies is number one on that list.
Canine Parvovirus. Another of the Core vaccines and like Distemper, it must be vaccinated against every twelve months thru 6 years of age.
Hepatitis (Adenovirus). Another Core vaccine. Every twelve months thru 6 years of age.
Leptospirosis. This bacterial based disease has recently been elevated to Core status because it is spreading, is deadly in a high percentage of cases in spite of aggressive treatment and can be spread to humans. Again, vaccinate every 12 months thru 6 years of age.
Parainfluenza. While not a Core vaccine, this virus is one of the main causes of Kennel Cough. Wisely, this vaccine has been included in a combo vaccine known as DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza). Usually included as part of your dog’s yearly exam, the DHLPP vaccine addresses all four of the Core group infections.
Bordatella bronchiseptica. The other major cause of Kennel Cough.
Canine Influenza. (H3N2 & H3N8) Highly contagious, both strains jumped from other animals to dogs and are now spread dog-to-dog. H3N8 had been known to infect horses for more than 40 years but was first detected in dogs in 2005. H3N2 jumped from birds to dogs and was found in dogs in southeast Asia as early as 2005, but the first cases in the United States came in 2015. Since dogs in the U.S. had never been exposed to either of these strains, they had no natural immunity to them. Additionally, since we have very little experience with this disease, annual boosters (after the initial vaccination which is followed by a booster in two weeks) are required.
Heartworms. In the Mid-South, if you do not protect your dog against heartworms, it is a virtual certainty your dog will become infected. And while we do understand that heartworm prevention medicines are not technically vaccines, we include them on this list because they produce the same desired result- the prevention of infection.
So, there you have it- the list of vaccinations and their schedules we require of every customer at Barks and Medication.
- Canine Parvovirus
- Canine Influenza
We will gladly accept a vaccination report from any licensed vet clinic as proof of vaccination. We will not accept statements or receipts showing that any of the required vaccinations were administered by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian, including the owner, any Rescue Group or shelter.
And while we are on the subject of vaccinations, let’s cover one more area that sounds reasonable, but is not based on science or extensive studies. We’re talking about 1/2 doses for small dogs, or carried further, vaccinations doses calculated on the size of your dog. This seems to make sense because logic would dictate that a 5 lb. Dachshund should not be given the same dose that a 125 lb. Great Dane would receive. And, we’re all accustomed to doses of other medicines based on weight- particularly antibiotics. This is a great comparison- vaccines and antibiotics- used by those who don’t like vaccinations in general, but this argument is not even close to apples and oranges, much less apples to apples. Put simply, antibiotic dosages are designed to give a desired concentration level of the drug in the patient’s bloodstream or tissues. So, the larger the patient, the larger the dose that is required to get the same amount of drug throughout the patient’s body. A 100 pound dog would need ten times as much of a drug as a 10 pound dog. The medical and scientific reality is much more complicated than that, but vaccines do not work by getting to or maintaining a level of a vaccine throughout the body. Vaccines work by eliciting an all-out response from the patient’s immune system. There is no response to less than the required amount of vaccine and there is no over-response to giving more than the amount that is required. There is, however, a minimum dose required to fully stimulate the patient’s immune system and achieve the desired level of protection. Somewhere comfortably above the minimum immunization dose (MID) is where you want to be. Vaccines are tested on “average” sized dogs. No one knows exactly what size an “average” dog is except the manufacturer, but it is very safe to assume that it is somewhere between the 5 lb Dachshund and the 125 lb Great Dane. Maybe the MID for your small dog can be achieved with a smaller dose, but there is no data to support that line of thought. Here’s the obvious danger: you follow Dr. Alternative and demand a 1/2 dose because your dog is very small- now, you have to hope that you gave enough to get the desired result. You’re gambling with your pet’s life when hoping is what you’re relying on. The more likely bad outcome of giving a small dog what you think is a dose that is too large is an injection site reaction. The vast majority of injection site reactions are not caused by the actual vaccine, but by adjuvants- chemicals and biologicals that are added to the vaccine to illicit more of a response from the immune system in an attempt to enhance the overall effect of the vaccine, increasing the chances of achieving the desired result: immunity. We absolutely agree that injection site reactions are undesirable- regardless of whether they’re a little redness or tenderness, or a good-sized knot just under the skin. Many people look at injection site reactions in small dogs and decide that the answer to solving that problem is to give smaller doses. We think a much better answer is to split the dose over two or even three injection sites. Yes, your dog will be stuck 2 or 3 times instead of once, but that’s over in a few seconds and you get the satisfaction of knowing that your pet has been given the proper dose.
None of this is easy, but everyone’s only goal should be keeping your dog safe from as many threats as possible. If you have any questions about our vaccination policies, we will be glad to discuss them with you in person.