Each year about 2000 humans visit Noah’s Ark with their beloved companion dogs and cats. Some are here year round and we see them for all their veterinary care; some are here just for the warm spring and summer months and have most of their vet work done in Florida. Some believe that all their pet needs to stay healthy are some vaccines from the feed store, and a drive through the county’s rabies clinic every year—we only see this group when something really goes wrong.
Those of you who use us year round for all your veterinary needs are hopefully familiar with our philosophy, and aware that we don’t load your pet with vaccines when you bring them for their recommended yearly examinations.
We call those visits “Wellness” visits, but they are actually prevention / early intervention visits – a time for us to catch things before they pose a real threat to your pet’s health.
But what about all those “shots” many veterinarians still routinely give? I see lots of medical records forwarded from other vets for lots of different reasons – one thing almost ALL of them have in common is LOTS of annual vaccinations.
I spend many hours a week educating Noah’s Ark clients about why we don’t need to give all the vaccines they’ve come to expect other places. Discussing the science of immunology fully is not something that’s easy to do in a 20 minute visit. But ultimately you’ll hear me say “Look, we make more money if I just give this vaccine and don’t bother to explain this to you – what other reason would I have for not giving it – if not having your pet’s well being as my first concern?”. That argument seems to make the most sense to folks.
What’s the big deal you might ask? If I can get you to remember one thing from this post, it’s that over vaccination of your pets is not just an unnecessary waste of money, but can be potentially harmful.
None of this information is new. Immunologists have been studying the effects of vaccines, and how long they last, for as long as we’ve had vaccines.
As a client of Noah’s Ark, you probably already know that we’re accredited and inspected by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Since 2003 AAHA has recommended rotating vaccines and boosting no more frequently than every three years. I’ve been prudently vaccinating my patients since about the year 2000 when the evidence really began coming out linking over vaccination with a number of serious issues.
It’s not just AAHA that recommends prudently vaccinating, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), and leading veterinary immunologists all recommend customized vaccination plans for dogs and cats.
Here’s this month’s guidelines for responsible pet parents:
Do not vaccinate your own pets. I’ve observed that people who vaccinate their own pets virtually always over vaccinate. Proper vaccination is a matter of timing, correct handling of the vaccines, proper administration, and knowing what to vaccinate for.
Understand that the importance of yearly full physical examinations is to catch problems while they’re still quite treatable. The purpose of annual visits is not to bring your pets in for “shots”. Remember, unlike children, your pets can’t really tell you when something hurts. Our vets do a thorough nose to tail, hands on, physical exam. The most common things I find during exams are: broken teeth, ear infections, suspicious lumps, arthritis, and obesity. It’s always easier to fix a problem while it’s still small, and caught early.
We like to see our senior citizens every six months. By the time dogs and cats are eight years old, six months is the equivalent of 4-5 years of our life. For giant breed dogs, the senior years start even earlier.
Learn more about our preventative services by clicking here.