Dogs Hunting Wolves is Just Another Name for DOG FIGHTING
September 10, 2013
AVMA FAILS PETS and PET OWNERS on Jerky Treats Warning
January 30, 2014
Show all

Why and How to STOP OVER-Vaccinating Your Dog

don't over-vaccinate your dog!

It was a long hard summer for us here at Riley’s Place but at least for the moment we are on in a good place with Riley’s SLO. The medications stopped him from losing all of his nails. He did lose all his back nails and his dew claws but kept several of his front nails. So far there is no new nail growth. The quicks from the nails he did lose are at this point covered in a cloudy crackly looking shell. People have asked me if his walk was affected. I don’t see any issues with his walking and he can even run now seemingly without any pain. Unless you’re really looking, you wouldn’t notice he doesn’t have any back nails nor missing any front nails.

Hopefully, the worst is over forever and we won’t see any recurrences but we’re not taking a passive road on this and just hoping his SLO won’t flare up ever again. We’re being pro-active and taking steps that will hopefully prevent any future episodes. At this point it’s expected he’ll remain on his medications for the rest of his life which really sucks. It’s not fun shoving pills down his throat but he managed to figure out every single food we tried hiding them in, launching the hidden pills across the room and then refusing to take the yummies we used to try to fool him with. Can you imagine a dog refusing liver sausage? He did!

Then there’s the cost of his medications. We have pet insurance that covers some of it, but every year there’s a $250.00 deductible before it kicks in and it doesn’t cover the office call check-ups. Lucky for us our vet looked into a program that Walgreens has which reduces the cost of his antibiotics from $600.00 a month down to just $40.00 a month! The insurance doesn’t cover the necessary over-the-counter meds either so we’re looking at about a $70.00 meds bill every month for the rest of his life.

I learned that summer seems to be a popular time for flare-ups to occur so there’s a little bit of breath-holding going on here until we see what happens next summer. As a result of my research, here are the steps we’ve taken in our attempt to prevent a recurrence for Riley and to hopefully prevent Nissa from ever having to go through this.

No More Leash Around My Neck

Pet owners tend to blindly follow the advice of their veterinarians. I’m not saying listening to one’s vet is a bad thing, we need to trust that our vets are doing their absolute best job for our furkids. I do believe that honest hard-working vets do everything they can for our dog’s health. The key phrase here is “blindly follow” and my comments should not be construed as vet-bashing. They are meant to urge people to be more involved in their dog’s health and veterinary care. We can and should learn to stop ourselves from being led around on a leash blindly doing the same-old thing for our dogs health that people have just simply done as a matter of routine for too many years.

Dog owners need to learn to be pro-active and do their homework no matter what condition or illness your dog displays. Whether your dog’s illness is rare like Riley’s SLO or a common ailment, it’s to yours and your dog’s advantage for you as the owner to know as much about their health issues as possible.

If a family member became ill, you’d want to know as much as possible about their illness so you can understand it and help them to your best ability. If it were a serious illness, you would not stop until you felt every rock was overturned and you had all the answers you could possibly find. People doctors and vets are human and as such they can’t possibly always know it all. Your dog deserves the same dedication to their health as you’d follow for your human family members.

Too Many Vaccinations Can Harm Your Dog

There is no doubt in my mind that over-vaccinating triggered Riley’s SLO nor is there any doubt that this entire country is over-vaccinating their dogs. It would not surprise me to learn that there are other conditions a dog could suffer from due to over-vaccinating including behavioral issues. Whether behavioral issues are a direct result of injecting too many chemicals into them and altering a dog’s brain or physical make-up or an indirect result due to the associated pain or discomfort causing an otherwise well-mannered gentle dog to display unwanted behaviors all the way up to aggression.

Think about it, drug use of any kind in people or animals has side effects. Prescription medications all contain warning labels, the tv ads for medicines speak of and scroll warnings on your tv screen of what can happen to you if you take Drug X, Y or Z. There is just no way around the fact that putting anything into the body that wasn’t there when we or our dogs were born is going to have some kind of consequence. Some of the side effects are worse than the illness you’re treating!

We Got Off the Vaccination Merry-Go-Round

Riley and Nissa will not get any more vaccinations. Any future dogs we bring into our home will receive their puppy shots and the usual vaccines that dogs normally receive in their first year or so. After that, we’re done, that’s it, there will be no more chemicals injected into our dogs.

If your eyeballs are popping right now you can put them back in your head. I didn’t make this decision without first researching it and as a result being absolutely convinced I unknowingly allowed Riley to suffer from SLO simply because I had not educated myself enough. I can’t change what I didn’t do but I can work towards never letting something like this ever happen again. I have the satisfaction that educating myself will help Nissa to never have to go through what Riley did.

Studies have shown that in most cases dogs are protected for life from the illnesses we immunize them for as youngsters. If your dog is already protected why then would you re-vaccinate every year? Because the drug companies tell us our dogs need this? Stop right there! The drug companies stay in business by making money. They make their money by pimping their drugs to unsuspecting dog owners. My dogs are no longer going to be victims of drug company greed.

In case you don’t read the labels on the vaccines your vet injects into your dog (who does?) … did you know that these labels warn that vaccines should only be administered to healthy dogs? I have two dogs with hypothyroidism and now Riley also has SLO which is an auto-immune disease. At least one study mentions that hypothyroidism may be linked to SLO. Generally speaking our dogs are very healthy, however, when it comes to administering vaccines they fall into the “unhealthy” category and therefore should not be vaccinated.

What About Rabies?

You’ve all heard that rabies are fatal to humans and I get that, it’s serious stuff. But there are newer studies showing that Untreated Rabies May Not Be Lethal for All, Study Says. The incidents of rabies killing humans has decreased dramatically. Did you know that as of September 2013 only 28 people have died from rabies in the past 10 years? That’s less than 3 people per year nationwide and that most rabies infections come from bats not dogs or wild animals? Less than 3 people per year … wow! That’s far less than the number of people dying in car accidents, shootings, stabbings and other diseases. I’m not minimizing the human deaths from rabies, but these statistics can’t be ignored. There are many other things killing people than rabies and many of these killers are at the hands of other humans!

I’m not saying our dogs should not be vaccinated against rabies, what I am saying is that we are over-vaccinating our dogs against rabies. The Rabies Challenge Fund is involved in studies that are showing that rabies vaccines are effective for much longer than originally thought. In fact it is now thought that the rabies vaccine is effective for up to seven years! Consider having your dog titered for rabies before vaccinating them. If your dog’s blood titer shows they are protected there is no need to inject them with another rabies vaccine!

But the Law Says

All states have a rabies requirement and with good reason. For the sake of humans and pets alike we certainly want to keep a good handle on the spread of rabies. However, there are a number of states that have implemented medical waiver laws that allow for unhealthy dogs to not be vaccinated for rabies and lucky for us, Wisconsin is one of these states. Our city requires a letter from our vet stating that we are not vaccinating our dog(s) against rabies due to a health condition and when presented to the city clerk, they will still license our dogs minus the rabies vaccine. Because our city re-licenses dogs yearly, I will simply get a letter every year.

Getting your vet to agree to not administering the rabies vaccine to your dog could be difficult. I found this with our vet who refused to comply with the medical waiver option. My solution to this was to change vets. We were going to do this anyway because our vet was almost a half hour away and I wanted to have a vet much closer to home. The fact that our vet would require the rabies vaccine to be administered to a dog considered not 100% healthy (for the purpose of receiving any vaccines) which put Riley in danger of SLO flare-ups and Nissa in danger of contracting SLO prompted me to make the change before Nissa’s annual exam where she was due for her 3-year rabies shot. We now have a vet close to home who agrees that for their health our dogs should not be vaccinated and was willing to write letters for the purpose of licensing them legally.

Aside from rabies, all other vaccines are optional (I believe this is true in every state) and since they are protected from other illnesses for life due to previous vaccinations and there is no need to re-vaccinate for these diseases, our dogs will no longer be receiving vaccines of any kind.

Take Into Consideration Your Dog’s Lifestyle

Our dogs are homebodies, they are always with me and leashed when we go out. They’re in the house 90% of the time, our back yard is fully fenced and we don’t go to the dog park. The chances of them contracting rabies or any other dog-to-dog illness are slim and next to none. Our dogs are extremely low risk for contracting any of the illness people vaccinate their dogs for.

On the other hand, hunting (and other outside dogs like farm dogs for example) are another story. Hunting dogs are out in the woods and have every opportunity to meet up with a rabid animal whereby they could be bitten and contract rabies or some other disease. Dogs in this category are at a higher risk and owners should act accordingly. I had one person tell me that hunting dogs get rabies vaccines every year! I urge dog owners to act with caution when it comes to vaccines. Before just routinely vaccinating your dogs against any illnesses, have your vets do a blood titer to see if they’re already protected. If they are, common sense says you don’t need to and should not re-vaccinate them. There is no point to it especially since re-vaccinating a protected dog could do him more harm than good.

Be an Individual Pro-Active Dog Owner

It’s very easy to just fall into the common vet protocol of vaccinating our dogs regularly. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Research and education can make us better dog owners with healthier dogs. Listen to your vet, but don’t take everything they tell you at face value. If you have doubts, if something just doesn’t seem right — get a second or even a third opinion. If your vet can’t find the answer to a puzzling health issue — YOU find it! You have every right to bring your concerns and your research to your vet’s attention and you have the right to have them listen to you!

Doing Right for Our Dogs Saves Money

A substantial side bonus we got from my learning adventure into Riley’s SLO and doggie vaccinations? I saved about a $150.00 on Nissa’s annual last week because there were no vaccinations! I will no longer help the dog drug companies keep their wallets full by paying for unnecessary, do-more-harm-than-good vaccines and better yet? I feel confident that I’ve done right by my dogs and that alone is worth millions to my heart!


  1. Jackie Dougherty says:

    I feel my Irish Terrier’s SLO was directly caused by too many vaccines given all at once, along with Heartgard, and my dermatology vet believes it is very likely.

    My dog was 9 years old, when trying to save money I asked the vet to give him all his vaccinations at once, rather than scheduling two different appointments for them. To make matters worse, close to this very same time I gave him his dose of Heartguard, not really thinking about it as I was going through a bitter divorce.

    About a month later, I noticed one nail on his back foot lifting like the hood of a car. It was horribly painful, and the vet discovered another nail was starting to lift as well. We chalked it up to possible injury.

    A couple weeks later, I finally took him to the groomer (after putting it off trying to save money!). One of Kirby’s toenails came off in the groomer’s hand, much to her shock! And she found several other nails with problems. I hadn’t realized how bad they were, due to the fur having grown over the nails. Luckily the groomer had heard of SLO, and sure enough, that’s what it turned out to be.

    Fortunately, Kirby hasn’t had too much agony with his SLO. With the same sort of treatment Riley had, ALL of Kirby’s nails fell off and have now grown back in, although they are not pretty. It looks like they may be starting on another round of sloughing off, though. The dermatology vet says they often fall off twice.

    Anyway, for me, lesson learned—even in a mean, bitter divorce, spend what you need to on your faithful friend!! And, lesson two, Kirby’s not going to be vaccinated ever again. Prior to this, I had always gotten him his vaccinations exactly when they were due.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Jackie,

      I’m sorry to hear about Kirby and his SLO and I’m right there with you that the vaccines triggered the SLO and my heart goes out to Kirby for what appears to be another round of it. Oh that’s so sad! I’m grateful that so far Riley has had just the one bout with it. His nails have grown back as well but not normal either. They aren’t disfigured or anything but they are kind of a medium to light brownish color rather than black they way they used to be. We do think they are sensitive to cold temperatures, too, and winter is on it’s way in here.

      I agree, sometimes we just have to bite the bullet when going through unhappy human experiences and find our outlet in other things, like taking good care of our furkids! As a side benefit to humans — finding a furry outlet for our emotional pain will help us get through it a bit easier.

      It was so heartbreaking for me to learn I could have prevented Riley’s SLO if I’d just read up on vaccinations like I should have so I know where you’re coming from there. That darn 20/20 hindsight is emotionally painful for us. I too, just went with the flow of the “vaccination norm” that is law and vet recommended. I wish more vets would be pro-active in teaching people about things like what vaccines can do to harm our pets. We are no longer following the leader when it comes to vaccinations and our other three will be protected from what too many vaccines can do to a dog. We’ll titer them before vaccinating and I’m fairly certain that the titer testing will show they’re already protected so there will be no need to vaccinate.

      Thumbs up to you for learning now and taking strong pro-active steps to keep Kirby from suffering any more. Give him a big hug from us! Best of luck to both of you.


We're sorry but Riley's Place is Not Accepting Help Requests or Blog Comments at This Time. Help Can be Found by Reading Existing Posts and Comments.