Are Canine Immune Booster Products Effective?

Canine immune booster products and their effectiveness have been a cause of heated debate and controversy for the last several years. The jury is still out on their effectiveness. Proponents of the adult canine boosters feel that they prevent the spread of canine diseases between the pet and human population. Detractors claim that canine immune boosters have adverse effects, and the risks are too high to make them worthwhile.

Things to Consider

There are several factors to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to give your pet an immune booster. You should know the risk of infection from the disease and estimate how serious it will be if your dog contracts it. You should know if it is contagious, both to other dogs and to humans. Weigh the risk of infection against the safety, availability and effectiveness of the proposed booster. The booster should also ideally provide protection for a good length of time, long enough where the dog is no longer at risk.


Current booster guidelines recommend that canine adult booster products be administered every 3 years, as newer boosters provide 3-year protection. However, many people feel that dogs are being immunized too often, and that means increased exposure to risks involved in using immune boosters.

Minor Risks

One risk involves reactions to immunogens and adjuvants, the agents that provoke an immune response to the vaccine, rather than contracting the disease through the modified live virus. This makes the booster not only ineffective, but also harmful to your dog.

Allergies and Contagion

There is a possibility that other animals can contract the disease from reverting, modified live viruses in the boosters being sloughed off by the booster receiver. Ischemic Dermatopathy can occur around the booster site, resulting in lumps, scarring, hair loss, skin ulcers and lesions, scabs, skin pigmentation changes and fever. Allergic reactions can include Urticaria or hives, or more serious, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition where the body goes into shock, and major organs start to shut down.

Suppression of Immune System

The immune system may be suppressed, and some feel that there are a whole complex of immune disorders related to immune booster products. Yet others think that those animals that have immunosuppressive disorders such as canine diabetes, thyroid disease, skin diseases or circulatory problems should receive immune boosters as a precaution.

Neurological Disorders

Modified boosters are also thought to cause epilepsy and other neurological disorders in canines. Add this to possible orthopedic problems, autoimmune disease and acute adrenal insufficiency crisis, it's not surprising that some pet owners are refusing to use canine immune booster products. They are choosing to not have their pets receive boosters in order to prevent booster-induced complications, and to hopefully, give their pets longer, healthier lives-something that the booster immune products were supposed to do.

Before giving any immune booster products to your dog, make sure you ask your veterinarian about any potential health risks and the proper dosage.