Is it Safe for Dog Parents to Vaccinate Our Dogs at Home?

March 25, 2013

Dog Health

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Syringe, Is It Safe to Vaccinate Our Dogs at Home?

Someone in my world mentioned that she saves money by vaccinating her pets at home.  She picks up the vaccines she needs at the local feed supply store and was trained to administer the vaccinations when she worked as a vet assistant.  It’s an idea, but is it safe to vaccinate our dogs at home?

I look at my three dogs, I think of the money we’ll say each year.  Then, to answer my own question, I’ll say ABSOLUTELY NO!!!  First of all, I turn away when my dogs are getting their vaccinations, dying a little inside if they cry out in pain (or surprise).  I couldn’t imagine being the person on the other end of the syringe.  But I think this is an interesting topic and wanted to write about it today.

During my research, I spoke with two veterinarians and learned a few things…

The Cost of Vaccinating Multiple Dogs

At our house, vaccinations cost more than $200 for all three of our dogs.  Our dogs are being vaccinated against Rabies, Distemper, Parvo Virus, and Bordatella.  But the cost of vaccinating multiple dogs doesn’t stop there.  There’s a solid discussion about over vaccinating our dogs that makes me wary of marching our pups into the veterinarian’s office each year to pump them full of chemicals that some believe are making our dogs sick.

Things to Consider Before We Vaccinate Our Dogs at Home

I have never administered a vaccination and I shouldn’t have been surprised to read that it’s more complicated than grabbing a few syringes at the local feed store.  Over on Canine Journal, the writers share a few things that we have to consider, including:

The breed of our dogs

  • The age of our dogs
  • The size of our dogs
  • Any allergies our dogs may have

Good gravy!  I’ll pay the $200+.

What the Veterinarian (Dr. Cathy Alinovi) Has to Say

Buying vaccines from the feeds supply store is not a problem in itself, the following are problems…

  • The vaccinations aren’t properly stored.
  • The vaccinations are given too frequently; a puppy’s immune system takes 2-3 weeks to respond to a vaccine and overuse of vaccines is implicated in future health issues related to a stressed out immune system.
  • The vaccinations are given in the face of a parvo outbreak. The vaccines aren’t labeled to explain how long maternal antibody lasts (up to 16 weeks). They aren’t labeled to say don’t vaccinate when the dog is sick (some veterinarians still do that). They don’t say, once mixed the vaccine is only good for an hour.

Dr. Alinovi has worked  with breeders to show them how to properly store, mix and administer privately purchased vaccine – she’s not against it, but she does encourage being smart about it so that we keep our dogs safe.

What the Veterinarian (Dr. Jonathan Woodman) Has to Say

Wow! Another vet that has no issues with people giving vaccinations to their own pets – this is not what I expected.  Dr. Woodman brought up many of the points that Dr. Alinovi covered and also mentioned that if we’re administering our own vaccinations solely to save money, we may be risking our dogs’ health if we choose to use the cheapest vaccinations available and fail to understand what we’re vaccinating against.

As dog parents, we need to take the time to become properly educated and this starts with having a conversation with our veterinarian.  Our vet can keep us up to date on vaccines; help us determine what is needed, educate us on reaction rates.  Dr. Woodman shared that a vaccination appointment is a great way to get families in so that he can examine their pets on a regular basis and discuss any health or nutrition concerns with pet parents.

This is a perspective that I didn’t even consider and the reason why I love being a pet blogger.  Consider me happily enlightened.

What are your thoughts about vaccinating pets at home?

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17 Responses to “Is it Safe for Dog Parents to Vaccinate Our Dogs at Home?”

  1. SlimDoggy Says:

    I used to be squeamish about shots (stemming from having allergies as a kid and getting shots every week!) and like you, would turn away or cringe. But then our dog Sally’s arthritis became so bad, the vet recommended shots of Adequan every two weeks. I took her to the vets for the shots for awhile, but that 45 minute round trip got old real quick, so I made myself get over it and started administering them myself. Luckily they changed from being a muscle shot (in the muscle in her thigh = painful) to being administered in the ruff of her neck – not so painful. That helped ME a lot. Vaccinations are another matter, especially with some of the controversy out there about the frequency of vaccinations. I’d have to do some boning up on it.
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  2. Vickie Georges Says:

    Hi Kimberly! Vaccines, like dog nutrition, are another of my extreme interests. I no longer vaccinate Brodie for anything except the Rabies which is required at least every 3 years in Illinois and bordetella. Brodie has had a couple of seizures and his Holistic Vet firmly believes that over-vaccination had a role. Brodie’s regular Vet and the Neurologist are less certain but both agreed that it was ok to not give the other vaccinations assuming his titer levels are high. Titering can be expensive, but it is not the money I am concerned with as much as the needless pumping of poisons into his system.

    Brodie’s Holistic Vet is Dr. Sara Ford who is a Veterinarian with the practice of Dr. Karen Becker who is nationally known for her holistic medicine. I learned much about vaccines from reading her protocols and also those of Dr. Ronald Schultz and the AAHA changed the vaccination protocol back in 2011, but the Veterinarian community has been slow to embrace these changes. http://www.aahanet.org/PublicDocuments/CanineVaccineGuidelines.pdf. Once my Vet knew that I would titer, she was ok with me not giving the vaccines. I don’t know how she’ll feel if his titer levels are not at the appropriate level. Dr. Becker and Dr. Jean Dodds have vaccine protocols as well, but I can’t remember whether they are identical to the AAHA protocols or not. If not identical they are quite similar.

    What bothers me most is the many Vets say vaccines are very safe but when Brodie had the DHLPP-C booster the last time he became quite ill. I was horrified when I realized that I’d given him 6 different vaccines all at one time. These are available separately but most Vets don’t stock them because they would be even more expensive than the combo shot.

    If a pet parent decides to give multiple vaccinations, I would at least advise that they are separated by a couple of weeks to the extent possible. In other words, if you decide to give the DHLPP-C, don’t get the rabies shot or any other boosters on the same day.

    I personally believe that Vets want to do the shots annually because they feel if they don’t, pet owners will not bring in the pets for an annual checkup. I guess pet parents needs to decide if cost should be the deciding factor in vaccinations. The cost does not motivate me at all.

    For what it’s worth!

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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thanks for this great information, Vickie

      You gave me something more to consider, because this summer is Blue’s annual and I’ll speak with the vet about breaking it out in a couple of visits. I checked Rodrigo and Sydney’s records and they aren’t due until 2014.

      What disturbs me are the requirements from boarding facilities to have our dogs vaccinated annually; this is one of a few things that will keep me from using such facilities. I understand their concerns, but my priority is always going to be our dogs at home.
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  3. Debbie Says:

    This is not something I would ever do, for the sake of the dogs. Also, it is true that over-vaccinating is harmful. My own dog suffered severe allergic reactions and we stopped vaccinating her altogether at the age of 9. There was enough in her system, built up over the years to keep her safe. For many vets, this is just a revenue source and not in the dog’s best interest. My own vet told me every three years for rabies was sufficient and if I wanted to stop altogether that was okay, too. BTW, I have a dog boarding business in my home and would never require anyone to get annual shots for their dogs, because I realize the detrimental effects.
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    • Kimberly Says:

      Locally, I believe that boarding facilities may be required to ask for up to date vaccinations. I was told once that veterinarians were required by law to vaccinate on a particular schedule; but now I question that, because I’ve met so many holistic veterinarians who don’t adhere to some “rule” about vaccination guidelines.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~ Kimberly
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  4. Ann "Paws" Staub Says:

    Before I became a vet tech, I vaccinated Shiner at home. It didn’t go to well lol. You only get ONE needle. You poke the needle through the diluent bottle (at least once, but if you were like me maybe a few times) which dulls the needle. Then you put the needle through the powder bottle and inject the liquid, mixing and taking the liquid back out into the syringe, dulling it again. I dulled my needle way to much and had to give Shiner a vaccine with it which was really hard lol. At work, we would get a fresh needle before poking the dogs.

    Only veterinarians can vaccinate for rabies so may as well just take them in once a year and pay $15 to get the DHLPP if you need it.
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  5. Dawn Says:

    I have done vaccines at home when I worked at the vet clinic, but I knew how the vaccines were stored and my dogs and cats went to work with me frequently for the vet to check. I’ve never bought vaccines online or from a feed store to give.

    In Pennsylvania, rabies vaccines can only be given by a veterinarian or your pet is considered not vaccinated. Something else to consider is that places that may do daycare, board or train dogs and require a vaccine history may consider a dog vaccinated at home as not being vaccinated.

    I’ve done limited vaccines for quite awhile now and I’m more than happy to let my vet do it. That way if there is a reaction, they know exactly what was given.
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  6. Vickie Georges Says:

    Kimberly, the good day care/boarding facilities will accept the titer as proof of vaccination.

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  7. Diane Says:

    I think it’s sick how much American veterinary care costs. If vaccinating at the vet was $20 a pop, would people still opt to vaccinate at home? Probably not. It’s one thing to have veterinary training or to administer insulin (which I did 2x/day for years for my childhood dog), but vaccines? I think I’d rather pay because too much can go wrong for the average Joe. At least if the vet messes up, you can be angry at the vet, but if you mess up, can you forgive yourself??

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  8. Riayn Says:

    It is possible for people to vaccinate their dogs at home. Giving dogs the vaccination shot is easy once you are taught how to do it. However, the most important thing about getting the vet to vaccinate your dog isn’t the shot itself, but the annual check-up. At the annual check-up the vet (and yourself) have the possibility to pick up any problems early. This check up is crucial since most people don’t take their dogs to the vets except for vaccinations.

    I agree that there is some debate about how often dogs should be vaccinated, but I believe that like us, an annual check-up is a good thing, whether they get the shot or not.
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