Dr. Sheldon Says…

The truth about pet vaccinations

By Dr. Sheldon Jafine, Get Leashed Veterinarian-in-Residence


Are we still debating this? What gives? Jenna McCarthy can rant and warn all she wants about babies and vaccines but I’m here to tell you wavering on pet vaccinations is not an option, or at least it shouldn’t be.

First, let’s clear the air. Contrary to any rumor, vaccinations are very safe for your pets. They do not cause illness or disease but speaking of illness and disease, that is exactly what vaccinations help prevent. The majority of vaccinations are for either extremely contagious or fatal (or both) diseases. Rabies kills, and not just animals. The only thing that should prevent you from vaccinating your pet is if they have a medical condition that prevents it. Cough cough, and that’s a call for your vet to make, not your Internet research.


Here’s the thing, vaccinations do not hurt your pet anymore than a small needle prick hurts you. Considering the cost-benefit, the side effects are minimal at best. Some pets may be lethargic or lose their appetite a day or two following their shots. Only in rare cases does a fever result and only in extremely rare cases is there a severe allergic reaction. As with all severe allergic reactions they occur immediately and your vet will be there to help in the event this does happen.

Note, too, that one needle doesn’t immunize your pet for life. Like your Tetanus shot, your pet needs to re-up to keep their immunization stable. Your vet can help you with making a customized vaccination schedule that suits both the needs of you and your pet.

One final thought to keep in mind – training schools, boarders or walkers will not take dogs that are not fully immunized. Now let’s use some logic, if vaccines were a debatable issue, would this be the case? Remember that puppies are especially susceptible so don’t let them come into contact with dogs that aren’t fully immunized. Be as responsible as professional dog caretakers are.

Take care of yourself. Take care of your pet.