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Our Vaccination Protocol for Our Dogs #1800PetMeds

Our Vaccination Protocol for our Dogs

A fellow blogger reached out to me after listening to Episode 19 of my podcast where I discussed my thoughts on vaccinations.  To catch you up, I think an annual protocol is over kill.  Our dogs don’t need these chemicals pumped into their bodies annually, especially when titer tests (blood tests that reveal antibody levels in our dogs) show that the vaccinations last much longer than 12 months.

Our vaccination protocol…

Please note: I am not a veterinarian nor am I experienced in dog health beyond the searches I do for our dogs.  My choices regarding vaccinations should not be taken as medical advice.

Our dogs get their puppy series.  Then they get vaccinated every 3 years for rabies, because it’s the law (although no one is going door to door checking our dogs records).


I don’t vaccinate for bordatella (kennel cough), because we don’t kennel our dogs.  I know that our dogs can pick this up outside a kennel, but I believe it’s a rarity for our area.

“Kennel cough in dogs and cats is a contagious upper respiratory infection caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses. The syndrome most commonly occurs when pets are exposed to crowded, and/or poorly ventilated conditions found in many kennels and shelters. Pets that spend a lot of time at dog parks are also at increased risk of infection. Kennel cough often resolves on its own in 10-14 days, but pets with more serious infections might need antibiotics to clear the infection.” ~ 1-800-PetMeds


I don’t vaccinate for Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that’s transmitted through the urine and feces of wild animals and can be transmitted to humans.  I was told that this is a good idea if we planned to take our dogs hiking so I had the puppies vaccinated.  The adults won’t be vaccinated and I won’t repeat this one for the puppies.

“One of the most controversial topics in veterinary medicine is the questionable emergence of the infectious disease leptospirosis, as well as the development of supposedly newer and safer vaccinations. The concerns about this disease involve not only its supposed risk in dogs and cats, but also the potential transmission to people.” ~ 1-800-PetMeds

Our veterinarian offers this as an addition to our dogs’ vaccinations; it’s not a core vaccination that is given to all dogs.


I don’t vaccinate for heartworm, because it’s not an issue in Washington State.  This can change at anytime and should that happen, we’ll revisit this one; but I don’t believe that we should vaccinate just because, because reactions to these chemicals can be deadly.

“Heartworm disease is caused by a worm that is carried by mosquitoes. Protected within the heart and pulmonary vessels, the heartworm matures to adulthood and grows to be several inches long. As an adult, the heartworm is able to breed with other heartworms and produce microfilaria. These tiny microfilaria are picked up by blood-sucking mosquitoes and carried to other pets where they can be injected under the skin and migrate to the heart.” ~ 1-800-PetMeds


I don’t vaccinate for lyme disease, because I was told my our veterinarian that this isn’t something that we have to worry about in our state.  This is one of those things that I personally believe can change and choose to keep an eye on the news and should I hear instances of lyme disease in dogs rising, I will call our veterinarian.

“Lyme disease is an infection that causes arthritis and lameness and is transmitted to animals through the bite of infected ticks. If it is untreated, canine Lyme disease can cause heart, kidney, and neurological problems. It is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to humans. In this case, Lyme disease can be transmitted if an infected tick from a dog bites a human. ” ~ 1-800-PetMeds


So what’s your vaccination protocol?  Annually?  Every three years?  Are there vaccines that you avoid or  must have?


  1. I’ve gone through this struggle with my horses in particular, because my gelding has had some severe reactions to vaccines in the past. I’m very conservative with him and I get a lot of flack from my veterinarian for it.

    Rabies greatly concerns me, as here in Colorado we’ve had a few cases of it recently. It’s fatal and devastating, so that’s one I won’t compromise on.

  2. I am really only concerned about leptospirosis where I live. That’s it. Yes, parvo and distemper too for younger dogs, but not really for my 11 year old. And Rabies is the law. I just read an e-book by a veterinarian where she discusses vaccine protocols. She did a great job explaining everything. Is there a new vaccine for heartworms? I’ve never heard of one before.

    • There is! It’s not new, though. It was on the market years ago, pulled from the market out precaution, and now back on it. It’s trying to make a big comeback, but it seems like a lot of people are still on the fence about it.

      A lot of vet clinics are encouraging it because it’s done every 6 months, which means that the vets would be examining the dogs and administering this every 6 months instead of only seeing the dog once a year.

      Here is a link to it:

    • There is! It’s not new, though. It was on the market years ago, taken off for precautionary reasons, and just recently came back. A lot of people are still on the fence about it.

      The injection lasts for 6 months. A lot of vet clinics do like it since it would require physical exams every 6 months to administer the injection. That way, the vet is examining the dog twice a year instead of once a year.

      Here is a link:

      Which e-book did you read? As you can tell from my comment below, I am researching this topic as well! :)

      • Oh yea the ProHeart. That’s not really a vaccine I don’t think. I don’t think there are many vets who probably want to use it again. I know about it though. I’ll be talking about the ebook at my blog on Saturday, but it’s written by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD.

  3. My vaccine protocol is almost identical to yours. I am taking my dog to the vet tomorrow actually. He’s due for rabies (the three year one) so I’ll be vaccinating him for that only because it’s the law. I have always vaccinated him for parvo every 2-3 years as well, whenever the vet says it’s due. I would like to do a titer test for that one, but I can’t afford it. So I’m not sure what I’ll do when he’s up for that vaccine again. I don’t do bordetella unless I happen to board him, which is about once every two years or so.

    My indoor cats have had several rounds of vaccines over the years, and I do not plan to vaccinate them again for anything, unless I happen to board them (and vaccines would be required). I may end up boarding them this summer.

  4. Is there a vaccination for heartworm? I did not know that. I know there are preventative medications and treats, but I was unaware of a vaccine?

    • Yes, there is one that was said to cause a lot of deaths in dogs and was taken off the market, but it’s back again. Every now and then I see an article about it.

  5. Great post! Glad I could be of some inspiration! :)

    I’m still not sure what to do about the Lyme and Lepto vaccines for my pups. This is why I started researching now, because I still probably won’t have come to a conclusion I feel comfortable with until August, haha!

    I think I’m going to look up some safety and longterm studies and vaccination protocols of more holistic minded vets and see where that lands me.

  6. We vaccinate every 3 years or titer. We do vaccinate for lepto. Still not sure how good of an idea it is but given our guys’ lifestyle I feel it’s better to err on side of caution.

  7. I think vaccine protocols are so all over the place and it really depends on what the dog is exposed too.
    We vaccinate for rabies every 3 years and lepto yearly because there has been confirmed cases of it in our area over the last 2 years and I would rather try to be safe. We use to vaccinate for bordetella when the dogs were in training classes but we don’t anymore.

    • Does your vet share the cases with you, the news or both? Locally, we had a parvo outbreak and it was reported on the news, but our vet was very good at spreading the information too.

      • Yes, especially with the lepto vaccine vaccine because there has been cases of it in the area. They don’t push the vaccine, just educate why they are recommending it.

  8. I titer my dogs, with the exception of Rabies which is given every three years. I do give lepto because my dogs are out and about hiking in Colorado quite a bit, and sometimes that means they drink from a stream. Though not as prevalent here as it is on the east coast, we do have heartworm concerns in the state. I don’t do the six month vaccine, but instead use the once-a-month chewable. After working at a vet hospital for years and seeing what happens to dogs that have heartworms (and how incredibly expensive it is to treat if the vet can get a hold of the medicine) I just won’t risk it.

  9. We’re lucky to live in an area where we are free to vaccinate according to our beliefs. Canada has been certified rabies-free for as long as I can remember and our heartworm incidence in bc is less than 1 case per clinic (and all cases were in the hotter interior region of the Province.) I do maintain titers on both dogs, but unless those titers give me cause for concern, I won’t be likely to vaccinate either again.

  10. I am conservative after having reactions in both a kitten (12 years ago) and a dog (3 years ago), and because of it, rather opinionated. It is possible that a vaccination even was the trigger for my dog’s fatal disease, IMHA/AIHA. As a result, I have studied each vaccine carefully and have chosen to avoid bordatella (here is a great article from Dogs Naturally on how useless that vaccine typically is:, and won’t touch lepto with a 10 foot pole despite hiking with my dog (my dog had a poor reaction, it’s not as common as some say in our area, plus it’s a risky one as you mention – the risk WAY outweighs the benefit in my opinion and research). I regret the day I listened to my vet about lepto… greatly, with an extremely guilty and heavy heart. I should have known better, slowed down and not felt as flustered with my new dog, and done my research as I had done in the past with my cats. I didn’t, and my dog may have paid the price because of that (or Frontline – yep, error number 2, a much worse error of mine, in my opinion).

    So the dogs got their original set at the shelters they came from, and titers thus forward for DHLPP and Rabies. Anyone who rejects titers doesn’t get our business or registration (the only exception is rabies IF we must cross a border with our dogs, obviously). Luckily rabies is a safer vaccine. When their titers get low, we’ll vaccinate only at that time and with non combo shots. None of the dogs will get any shot once quite senior and/or ill for any reason. Anyway, that’s my protocol :)


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