Are Vaccinations Safe for my Puppy?
Core vaccinations like DA2PP and the rabies vaccine are considered safe for the vast majority of puppies, Vogelsang says. For these diseases, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh their risks, and all dogs should have them as they protect against very serious diseases. Noncore vaccines are also very safe, but if your pet has little chance of coming in contact with the disease, there is probably little need for the vaccine.
“Since the original canine vaccines were developed and licensed over 50 years ago, there has been continuing effort to make them safer and more efficacious,” Wessels says. “Today, it is generally agreed that canine vaccines have an excellent safety record.”
However, vaccines are biologic products and can cause adverse reactions and unpredictable side effects in dogs, regardless of age. Most reactions are minor, however, and easily managed, Vogelsang says.
Regardless of his age, if your dog is sick, vaccinations may not be recommended during his veterinary visit, Werber says. The idea of a vaccine is to stimulate antibody production from a healthy immune system, so if that is compromised, the vaccine may not only be ineffective, but harmful as well, he adds.
How Much do Puppy Vaccines Cost?
The cost of shots for your puppy will vary greatly from place to place and what exactly your veterinarian is vaccinating your puppy for. According to Vogelsang, vaccinations can also be combined with other important puppy preventative care, such as a physical examination and deworming, which can impact the cost of your vet visit.
“In our area, vaccine prices can range anywhere from $10 to $25, depending on where, and by whom they are administered,” says Werber. “Some of the specialized vaccines, like Lyme disease, rattlesnake, and the multivalent leptospirosis vaccines may be as high as $35 to $45.”
Can I Skip Any Vaccinations for My Puppy?
Puppy vaccinations should be administered on a veterinarian-recommended schedule and none in the core series should be skipped, Wessels says. The shots give as a part of this series are to prevent diseases that can be deadly to puppies or cause significant illness, which is why it’s important to follow the advice of your veterinarian when it comes to your puppy’s vaccination schedule. Maternal antibodies disappear by the age of 14 to 16 weeks, and the reason for the series is to give the puppy protection for each disease as the maternal antibodies weaken and disappear, she adds.
If you have concerns about the safety of any particular vaccine, or if your puppy has an allergic reaction to a vaccine, you should talk to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits associated with that particular shot for your puppy and decide where to go from there, Vogelsang says.
“People are understandably confused about vaccines, because there are so many out there,” she says. “There are many factors that come into play…and it’s imperative to take each individual into account when making those recommendations. Not all vaccines are created equal, and not all of them are as effective as the core vaccines or protect against diseases that are as widespread and severe.”
For adult dogs, if you have concerns about routine booster shot administration, you can request that your vet complete a titer test to measure for existing antibodies, Weber says. If the level of antibody is protective, that vaccine can be safely skipped. Vaccine titer tests are available for canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus, and rabies virus, although rabies vaccine titers may not be recognized by law in lieu of a current vaccination status.
Additional writing and reporting for this article provided by Jessica Remitz and John Gilpatrick.
A condition in which the liver becomes inflamed
A protein in the body that is designed to fight disease; antibodies are brought on by the presence of certain antigens in the system.