10 Reasons Why NOT to Administer Over the Counter Vaccines to Your Pet

Vaccinations are one of the safest and most important aspects of your pet’s health. In today’s age, there is readily available information on the internet that may be inaccurate or have false claims. Your veterinarian team have the knowledge and training to discuss the risks and benefits of each vaccine and to recommend individualized vaccines for your pet.

1) Are purchasing over the counter vaccines stored safely? When purchasing over the counter vaccines, you have to think about how they are stored. The recommended storage temperature for most vaccines is between 35.6°F to 44.6°F. Not meeting the required temperature, means that the vaccines can become inactive and will not provide protection to your pet. When purchasing over the counter vaccines, you have to ask yourself, Are the vaccines being stored properly?, Are the fridge temperatures monitored regularly?, How long were they on a shipping truck or storage shelf before they arrive at the location? At a veterinarian office, the vaccines are shipped directly to the clinic overnight and opened immediately, placed into a temperature monitored refrigerator and administered via professionals.

2) Where are vaccines given? Veterinarian technicians and veterinarians are trained to administer vaccinations. Most vaccines for dogs and cats are given in the subcutaneous space (region between the skin and the muscle layer). Also, each vaccine is given in a specific location on the body and is recorded at a vet clinic to monitor for any reactions and not to give more than one vaccine in a location. Administering a vaccine in the wrong location, can cause a reaction under the skin, infections, or can be very painful for your pet. Fear- free veterinarians, like those at Petplex, use the smallest gauge needles to administer vaccines. This prevents your pet from feeling too much of the “pinch.”

3) How often should I vaccinate my pet? In puppies and kittens, the proper vaccine protocol is essential to building their young immune system. Between 6-8 weeks pets should begin forming their own immune system, therefore needing vaccines at that time. We administer vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks (4 months) of age. At this time, the immune system has enough antibodies to fight off an infection or a deadly virus. Yearly administration is usually recommended thereafter.

“Puppy shots” are not truly effective unless they were given at a proper time period with a reliable & safe vaccine. If your pet has only received their “puppy shots” not from a licensed veterinarian clinic, your older dog, may still develop diseases like, Parvovirus, kennel cough, distemper, and influenza!!

4) What are the recommendation for the rabies vaccine? Rabies is the only vaccine that is REQUIRED by law. Many pet owners assume that a multi-way vaccines include a rabies vaccine in them. A rabies vaccine is a separate vaccine and is not included in other vaccines. Rabies is a FATAL and preventable disease that is spread primarily through wild animals like bats, opossums, and raccoons. Rabies can also be spread to humans by being bitten by an affected animal. If an unvaccinated pet is exposed to or bitten by a wild animal, they can be quarantined or even worse, euthanized and tested for rabies. Each state and individual county can have their own specific rabies regulations, your veterinarian team will be familiar with your local rabies laws and can make recommends based on your pets lifestyle.

5) Why are you recommending these vaccines for my dog? Like you, your veterinarian team want the best possible care for your pet. Vaccines are one of the safest and easiest way to protect your pet from preventable diseases. Petplex Animal Hospital is an AAHA accredited practice, and follows the AAHA Vaccine Guidelines that have been through a formal and extensive review process by multiple reviewers and veterinarians. By following these guidelines, you can be sure that your veterinarian team are following the most current information to keep your pet protected.

6) What if I did give vaccines at home? Now what do you do with the syringe and needle? By throwing them in the trash, you are creating a dangerous biohazard! Disposing of these materials properly are essential, so dangerous medical supplies do not reach the wrong hands.

7) Do all pets need every vaccine? Not all cats and dogs need every vaccine. There are “core” and “non-core” vaccines. “Core” vaccines are recommended for all pets regardless of environment or lifestyle. “Non-core” vaccines are recommend for pets that may be more susceptible to certain diseases like Lyme disease or Canine influenza or Feline Leukemia. Your veterinarian team have the knowledge to make vaccine recommends based on your pets lifestyle, environment, and other exposure factors, to develop an individualized vaccination plan for your pet.

8) Which vaccines need to be boostered? Vaccines need to be given to dogs and cats every 3-4 weeks starting at 8 weeks old and boostered until about 16 weeks. After their initial “puppy shots”, your pet still needs to be vaccinated against diseases like kennel cough, influenza, and Lepto, EVERY YEAR to ensure that they do not get those diseases.

However, the distemper combo vaccine (a combination of distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus) and Rabies vaccine, may be given every three years AFTER a dog has completed their initial series of vaccines. Check with your veterinarian team to see if your pet needs a vaccine booster to be fully protected against diseases.

9) What if my pet has a vaccine reaction? Vaccines reactions can occur and can be scary! The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks of being unvaccinated. The most common vaccine reactions are vomiting, bumps (hives), facial swelling, or difficulty breathing, and are usually seen within 24 hrs. Smaller pets (less than 20 pounds) tend to have a higher risk of vaccine reactions, especially when given multiple vaccines at once. If your pet is prone to vaccine reactions, your veterinarian team can administer pre-medications to prevent or lessen the symptoms of vaccines reactions.

On very rare occasions, cats can develop Feline Injection Site Sarcomas or FISS (cancerous skin tumors). FISS can develop at the locations following injections, including vaccines injections. That is why it is especially important to have your cat vaccinated at a veterinarian office to ensure that the vaccines are given at the appropriate locations and to address any concerns you may have.

10) Can I avoid the cost of going to the veterinarian? If your pet is sick or has underlying health problems, your veterinarian team want to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to tolerate vaccines before administering them. Your veterinarian team annually monitors health markers like weight, cardiovascular abnormalities, lungs and airway problems, skin issues, dental disease, and more to make ensure that your pet is healthy and happy.

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to keep your pet healthy and happy. Vaccines can prevent your pet from developing deadly diseases and/or viruses. It can be difficult to determine if you are under or over vaccinating your pet, your veterinarian team have the knowledge and training to give your pet individual vaccine recommendations and to address any concerns about vaccine that you may have. Preventative care is the best care!