Over Vaccinating Dogs: Is it Possible?

You know how important it is to vaccinate your dogs to keep them healthy and protected against viruses and illnesses, but recently there’s been news about how people are said to be over-vaccinating their pets.

This might seem strange because you want to vaccinate your dogs against potentially harmful conditions and when you bring your dog for his or her yearly vaccinations you probably feel that you’re doing a good thing for their health.

Should you be vaccinating your dogs every year?

While this used to be the standard for dog vaccines, back in 2003 the American Animal Hospital Association changed the dog vaccination guidelines, stating that adult dogs should only be vaccinated every three years.

In some cases, annual vaccination is said to be unnecessary and sometimes can even be harmful. Here’s what you need to know about over-vaccinating your dogs.

Your Dog’s Immunity Plays An Important Role

Vaccinating your dog on a yearly basis seems to be outdated. The reason?

Dog immunity. NBC News has reported that after being vaccinated, your dog could remain protected against health dangers, such as viruses, for many years, which shows that annual vaccines for conditions could sometimes be unnecessary.

An example can be seen with the parvovirus. This is a virus that has high mortality rates in dogs, which is why getting your dog vaccinated against it is so important.

However, a dog’s immunity against this virus is a minimum of five years but can go up to nine years, meaning that your dog doesn’t have to be vaccinated against it very often.   

But this is not always the case with every vaccine, of course. Even if you’re worried that you could be over-vaccinating your dog, you still need to ensure that you’re giving your dog the vaccines it needs to remain healthy.

The question is just whether you should give your dog a yearly vaccine or not, and what vaccines are the most important ones to get. 

What Are The Most Important Vaccines?

What Are The Most Important Vaccines?

You want to ensure that you give your dog the vaccines it needs so that it will be protected against the most common as well as serious illnesses. In dogs, these essential vaccines are those for hepatitis, rabies, parvovirus, and distemper.

It’s said that once puppies have had their vaccines, which should be given around the age of eight weeks, they can be given a booster shot when they’re one year old and then this will be repeated every three years. Titers should also be done.

What Are Titers?

Titers are blood tests that can measure how many antibodies are in the blood. Titers will show the vet if your dog is still immune to that health concern or if it needs to be vaccinated.

These tests aren’t expensive. You might pay around $39 for a titer test to see if your dog’s still immune to the parvovirus, for example, but it’s worth it. Titers can make you feel better because if your dog is no longer immune then you’ll feel more confident about giving him or her the necessary vaccine.

What About Combination Vaccines?

What About Combination Vaccines?

If your dog gets combination, instead of single, vaccines, this could result in more side effects for them. It could be a better idea to separate the vaccines.

This enables your vet to see which vaccine could be giving your dog side effects. If the vaccine isn’t really necessary for your pet, then your vet might be able to give it a miss altogether. 

Vaccines Should Be Customized To Pets

Some vaccines can be avoided if they’re not the essential ones we’ve already outlined. As ABC reports, it’s good to consider your pet’s lifestyle before you vaccinate them.

If your pet stays inside all day then maybe it could go for a longer time before requiring a booster shot for the flu virus or Lyme disease.

You should always chat to your vet about the vaccines that are necessary and see if you can skip others that your dog might not need annually. Tailoring vaccines to the individual animal can also help to ward against potential side effects of vaccines.

Don’t Skip Your Dog’s Annual Check-Up!

Don’t Skip Your Dog’s Annual Check-Up!

If your vet has decided not to give your dog annual vaccinations, that doesn’t mean you can completely miss your dog’s annual check-up.

This is probably even more important than the vaccines because your vet will be able to see symptoms of any underlying diseases or problems in your pet and nip them in the bud before they get worse.

Remember That Vaccines Are Still Valuable

While your dog might not need every annual vaccine under the sun, it’s important to realize that many vaccines are still very important.

While you might worry about giving your dog too many vaccines, it’s important to bear in mind that vaccines that are essential for your dog will prevent dangerous and potentially deadly health conditions.

The risks associated with giving your dog vaccines is often not nearly as dangerous as risking the health conditions that could strike and be extremely harmful to your pet if he or she is not protected against them. 

Related Questions

What are serious vaccine side effects?

Although uncommon, extreme vaccine reactions can include facial swelling, collapse, and anaphylactic shock. Most side effects are mild.

Can your dog get autism?

Anti-vaxxers worry about a possible link between vaccines and autism, but it’s good to know that pets can’t be diagnosed with autism, so this shouldn’t be a concern for you.


You know your pet’s vaccines are very important. But you might be giving your dog unnecessary vaccines, such as if your dog’s still immune to whatever you’re trying to protect it against.

In this article, we’ve looked at the issue of dog vaccines and if it’s possible to over-vaccinate your pet. The best course of action if you’re worried about over-vaccinating your dog is to chat to your vet and see if there are some vaccines that your dog doesn’t need to get annually.

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