Special Report: Pet Threat
Pets are like children to many owners, so when they vaccinate their dog or cat they expect it to keep them healthy.
But some animal experts believe that too many shots could be a ‘pet threat.’
To Kris Christine from Maine, her dogs are members of the family.
That's why she makes sure her beloved lab meadow gets plenty of exercise, eats a healthy diet, and sees the vet regularly.
"We thought we were doing everything we needed to do to keep them healthy," Christine said.
Just over a year ago a cancerous tumor developed at the very spot meadow had received a rabies shot.
"I was floored, I was so stunned," Christine said. "He was a young dog with an aggressive form of cancer and I really didn't think he would survive."
Some animal experts believe vaccinations meant to keep your pet healthy could be making them sick.
The most common vaccines include rabies, distemper and parvovirus.
A booster shot is an additional dose of the vaccine.
While side effects are rare, critics say over vaccinating a pet increase suspected risks like rashes, tumors and immune disorders.
"You do not need to vaccinate animals every year and it may not be safe to do so," Dr. W. Jean Dodds said.
A California vet surveyed animal clinics across the country that vaccinated more than 100,000 dogs for parvovirus and distemper.
He found the preventative effects of the initial shot lasted anywhere from two years to more than ten years.
"The vaccine was doing what we wanted it to do without causing increased illness from overuse," veterinarian Dr. Rick Palmquist said.
Some vets are taking an individualized approach, looking at everything from breed to lifestyle when deciding how often and what kinds of vaccines to give to your pet.
At the Paxton animal hospital, vets get to know each dog and cat before making this crucial decision.
"Especially depends on the age the health, situation of the animal. You have to think about that. You have to put that factor into the considerations when you give the vaccines," Dr. Hui Wang of the Paxton Animal Hospital said.
But many vets point to research showing the benefits of vaccinations outweigh the risks.
"If you can prevent because of the fact the animal might be exposed by boosting their immunity and getting it up to a slightly higher level by doing it annually, you're not doing any harm you are probably protecting your patients better," Dr. John de Jong of the Neponset Animal Hospital said.
After nearly losing her dog, Christine plans to be more cautious when it comes to vaccines.
"Our dogs are family members," Christine said. "They're like our furry children."
The one thing all vets agree on is that they don't want this to scare people away from vaccinating their pets. It's important to keep them protected.
If you're concerned about potential risks, talk with your vet about what's the best way to vaccinate your cat or dog.
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