I get this question all the time. Frustrated pet owners e-mail me asking how they might convince their veterinarian to go easy on their pets with the vaccines. After all, they tell me, everyone knows that every three years is more than enough. So why am I getting treated to the annual guilt trip?

What can I tell them? Some veterinarians — while they might be excellent practitioners in every other respect — are a little behind the times on the vaccine thing. But getting the guilt trip off your back is a no-brainer. All you have to do is the following:

Hand over the American Animal Hospital Association’s vaccination guidelines along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ vaccination guidelines. Both well-respected organizations recommend a limited selection of "core" vaccines at intervals no shorter than every three years (after the initial series).

(Btw, no other organizations I know of oppose these guidelines.)

These are your, "Get-out-of-guilt-free" cards anytime you’re feeling pressured to commit to a vaccination schedule you’re not too sure about.

That’s what I wish every pet owner knew so that (1) pets wouldn’t get over-vaccinated, (2) people wouldn’t get guilt-tripped, and (3) I wouldn’t have to field at least three e-mails a week on the subject.

Now, I do recognize that some veterinarians recommend annual vaccines by way of ensuring their clients don’t skimp on their pets’ annual trip to the veterinarian. And I will admit to having recognized that a larger percentage of owners no longer show up yearly now that "shots" are no longer on a regularly scheduled menu.

I get it. And I do agree that for some patients the risk of not getting examined on a yearly basis is higher than the risk of over-vaccinating him/her. But that’s no excuse to bend the truth. I don’t think so, anyway. But for some the ends do justify the means. And  if getting what’s best for the pet is the goal, they might well side with the risk of too many vaccines. But it’s ultimately your decision, right?

Which is why a well educated, responsible pet owner who comes bearing "what-about-this-Doc?" documents should be welcome at every well-intentioned, up-to-date hospital. But the truth is ... you don’t really need an excuse. It’s your job to educate yourself, take the medical advice and do with it what you will. And if anyone ever gives you a hard time about it … you’re always free to go elsewhere.

…and now that I’ve talked out of school I’ll sit back and wait for the hate mail.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: at the vet by pkingDesign

 dog at vet, puppy at vet, vaccines, annual vaccination schedule, black and white dog, red leash, red collar