Why Yearly Dog Vaccinations May Be Too Frequent

Dog vaccinations are necessary to prevent serious and common illnesses such as parvovirus, canine distemper and rabies. Local laws often require that adult dogs receive vaccinations yearly, especially against rabies. However, many veterinarians and dog vaccine manufacturers are concerned that yearly dog vaccinations may be both unnecessary and harmful.

When Dog Vaccinations are Needed

Puppies require a full vaccine regimen to protect against infection by rabies, canine distemper, parvovirus, and canine hepatitis. Puppies have underdeveloped immune systems, and this puts them at extra risk for contracting one of these common and deadly infections. Puppies should begin a vaccine regimen at about six weeks of age; the regimen should continue until your puppy is about three months of age, with boosters at ages six months and one year.

Adult dogs with unclear vaccination histories should also receive full vaccine regimens, as a precaution.

Why Annual Boosters are Given

For some time, veterinarians have believed that annual boosters against such viruses as rabies, distemper, parvo and canine hepatitis were necessary.  However, dog vaccine manufacturers are now creating vaccines that remain effective within an adult dog's body for up to three years.

Risks of Annual Dog Vaccinations

Over vaccination can put a great deal of stress on your dog's immune system, due to the large number of pathogenic agents that enter your dog's body at the same time. Most booster shots are given all at once raising the risk that over-vaccination could compromise your dog's immune system.  Immuno-compromise makes your dog vulnerable not only to developing the very illness you've vaccinated him against, but to succumbing to any other illness he may encounter as well.

Furthermore, vaccines carry risks of side effects, and there is also the possibility that your dog may have an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Annual dog vaccinations increase the risk of side effects and allergic reactions.

You can lower the risk associated with over-vaccination by administering dog vaccines separately over a period of several months rather than all at once. This can be difficult as vaccines against some illnesses are combined (multivalent). Furthermore, administering vaccines in this matter can be more costly, as it could result in multiple visits to the vet's office.

Home Dog Vaccinations

Home dog vaccinations enable you to stagger your dog's annual vaccinations yourself at home, avoiding the extra cost of unnecessary office visits.  Home dog vaccinations are easy to administer.
Some home dog vaccines are administered subcutaneously, or under the skin. Simply lift the skin, insert the needle, and inject the vaccine.

Some home dog vaccinations are given intranasally, or through the nose. The vaccine manufacturer will provide an adapter that allows you to spray intranasal vaccines out of the syringe and into your dog's nostrils. Your dog may sneeze and shake his head after receiving a dog vaccine in this manner.

Intramuscular vaccines are the most difficult to administer at home. These vaccines must be injected directly into your dog's muscle.  Your vet can show you how to properly inject intramuscular vaccines.