In this article we are going to answer the frequently asked question: How often does my Labrador need vaccinating.
When I was a teenager, you took your dog to the vet once a year for his ‘jabs’.
And he got the lot!
Horrendous diseases like canine distemper were still a recent memory.
And you did not take any chances.
But opinions have changed in recent years.
Give me that vaccine!
My mother had nursed our dog Tim through distemper when I was a toddler and he never fully recovered.
Many families went through the same experience.
So, we were grateful to be free of these life threatening illnesses, and we certainly did not question whether or not our dog was getting too much vaccine.
It was more a case of “gimme that vaccine now!”
This is something that has changed over the years, at least in the UK, and North America.
Too much of a good thing?
For a long time, vaccinations were administered on an annual basis, for each of the ‘core’ diseases that we protect dogs against today.
More recently it has become clear that some of these vaccines are effective for much longer than a year, and that a certain amount of over-vaccination has been taking place
Does it matter?
Some vets feel that annual vaccination is still a good thing, because it gets people into the surgery for an annual check up.
However, most vets recognise that there are downsides to vaccinating more than is necessary.
Primarily because it increases the risks of vaccination to the individual patient.
Like almost all vaccination programmes, vaccinating your dog carries a very small risk.
And there is absolutely no point in increasing that risk unnecessarily.
In addition, vaccines, and your vet’s time, come at a cost. And there is no point in spending more than you need to.
So, how often does your dog need to be vaccinated?
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends that core vaccines are given once every three years.
These core diseases are Distemper, Parvovirus, and Hepatitis.
But there are two non-core vaccinations commonly given to dogs too. And these are Leptospirosis, and Kennel Cough.
And the catch is, that these two need to be administered annually. So we haven’t quite escaped from the ‘annual vaccination trip’ yet.
Is there are choice?
Ultimately of course whether, or against what, to vaccinate your dog, is your choice. The three core diseases are killers, and most people do chose to protect their dogs against them.
Kennel cough is relatively mild disease in a healthy dog, though boarding kennels may refuse a dog that has not been vaccinated.
However, Leptospirosis is a much more serious matter. And whether or not your dog needs this vaccination will depend to some extent on where you live.
You can download a pdf document from the WSAVA on vaccination, which is very informative.
Do check with your vet for the latest local advice on your own dog’s needs. And check out our other articles on vaccination for further information:
Don’t forget, if you are reading from overseas, that this information is written from a UK perspective. In some countries you will need to vaccinate against rabies and other local diseases.
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