Our little dachshund seemed to be allergic to everything, and we were constantly running to the vet for Depo Medrol shots to help with the itching. We thought he was allergic to every dog food on the market and kept switching to other types of higher quality, anti-allergenic formulas.
That wasn’t enough. We finally had allergy testing done. Results: He is allergic to house dust (!), grasses (!!), and barley. Barley is easy to avoid; house dust can be greatly reduced with an air filter and frequent vacuuming; but for a dog to completely avoid grass is much harder.
The vet’s office had a lab make up anti-allergenic vaccines to help desensitize our dog to all 3 items. We took the dog to the vet several times for injections, which were spaced close together at first, and were gradually spaced further apart. The trips were becoming time-consuming and expensive. The quantities were also gradually increased and the shots were given in the fold of the neck. Although we had no particular experience in giving shots, we asked if we could do it ourselves. The vet showed my husband how to do it while I held the dog and the vet seemed pleased and said we could do it ourselves.
We gave monthly injections for four years. Our 12-year-old dachshund seems less sensitive to those items, but he still goes to the vet for Depo shots when he seems especially itchy. Our vet says those are trickier shots to give and he must give them.
So, why can’t pet owners give many of the “required” shots to their own pets? It seemed so easy and obviously saved us money.
Dr. Jon Rappaport, the CEO of Petplace.com, the “definitive web destination for PetCrazy people,” has created a site for 85 vets to publish over 10,000 vet-approved articles. Among them are invaluable topics written by one of the vets under the pseudonym of the “Irreverent Vet.” This gives him/her the opportunity to speak openly about controversial or touchy topics. One of these is on “Owners That Want to Give Their Own Shots.”
The Vet says he readily understands why owners want to do this and they would certainly save money, but he frankly does not recommend it. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t recommend cutting corners on health care; he says if people can’t afford to get a dog shots at the vet’s, they probably can’t afford the pet.
He said one nurse thought she could easily do this herself because she was experienced with giving people shots. The vet says giving shots to uncooperative animals is a completely different interaction. Even stressed people understand what you are doing to them and why. Stressed, frightened animals will bite, no matter how friendly they are in normal situations.
Vaccines must be given by the “proper route,” i.e., intramuscularly, subcutaneously, or intranasal. Placement on the body is also important. He saw a client give the vaccine incorrectly through the skin so it came out on the other side, making the shot useless.
Vaccines must be stored properly. Vets know storage protocol for the different types; they know quality, temperatures, expiration dates, changes in color, and when vaccines might no longer be effective. Some stores and some owners do not follow correct storage guidelines.
Many boarding facilities will not honor vaccinations given at home. They simply don’t know if the pet is properly protected to prevent contagious infections in their licensed facilities.
Virtually all states require that a vet give the rabies vaccine – with a date and legal rabies tag – for the public and animal control to know if an animal is “rabies-free” in the event of a bite.
The Vet also warns of the possibility of an allergic reaction. Of course, a vet’s office is prepared to deal with that possibility; the majority of pet owners are not.
Vet records will also confirm when an animal received which vaccination, how long it is expected to be effective, and when a booster is due. Few people keep detailed records, and they wouldn’t be legally useful anyway. Pets that go to doggy day care, dog shows, puppy classes, dog parks, and other interactive group situations may not actually be protected. Liability issues become problematic.
One of our vets also told me they find that many breeders will give “puppy shots” at home, but often give too many vaccines or give them too close together before selling the pups. They try to be overly cautious, but may be creating other health problems that result from over-vaccination.
According to vets on the PetPlace staff, in an article on “Are Veterinarians Over-vaccinating?”, beyond the minor allergic reactions – such as facial swelling and itching – vaccines have also been linked to “autoimmune diseases in dogs such as anemia, platelet problems and joint disease.”
Pups have a natural immunity to some illnesses from the mother; shots given too soon are useless and unnecessary.
Your vet should have the responsibility of deciding what is best for your dog’s age, size, breed, and medical history. One-size schedule does not fit all.
Use your vet visit to get an update on your dog’s overall state of health. Your vet is going to note the pet’s overall condition and look for signs of illness you might not have detected. He should offer suggestions for ongoing care, like a change in diet or the need for dental cleaning. Take a notebook of questions and make the visit worthwhile. Your vet’s basic concern is for your pet, and the visits should go beyond a single vaccination. Visits should be a bonding experience for all, along with preventive health care measures for your pet’s future well-being.
Trust your vet with your pet’s health care; don’t put your pocketbook first in this important area.
“The Irreverent Vet Speaks on Owners That Want to Give Their Own Shots.” Http://www.petplace.com/dogs/the-irreverent-vet-speaks-on-owners-that-want-to-give-their-own-shots/page1.aspx. Retrieved 9-8-10. From the PetPlace.com site overseen by practicing vet, Dr. Jon Rappaport.
“Are Veterinarians Over-vaccinating?” PetPlace.com Staff. http://www.petplace.com/dogs/are-veterinarians-over-vaccinating/page1.aspx. Retrieved 8-19-10.