Should I Vaccinate My Dog? Vaccine Secrets and Safeguards

Should I vaccinate my dog? If so, how often? These are common questions dog owners ask.

With all the recent controversy about vaccines for children, it is easy to understand why pet owners might question standard veterinary vaccination practices.

Nevertheless, it’s still the best, safest choice to vaccinate. In fact—when it comes to rabies, it’s the only option. 

But the question remains, are yearly vaccinations really necessary? Isn’t over-vaccination potentially dangerous?

In this post, I will give you helpful vaccine secrets and safeguards.

Why Vaccinate?

First, most states in the US require that dogs get rabies shots. This is not an option! For information regarding your state’s laws, go here

Rabies can kill both dogs and humans. Vaccinating safeguards against unnecessary deaths. As a matter of fact, US vaccination laws have helped reduce the rabies death rate to about 3 people per year.

Second, if you plan to travel, most boarding facilities require that your dog be up to date on his vaccinations. Exposure while boarding is the primary reason.

Third, public places pose risky conditions for your dog. Parvo and other diseases are so contagious that even a trip to the park or stroll down the street puts your dog at risk.

Psst… it’s a well-kept secret that a visit to your veterinarian also exposes Fido to disease. After all, the vet is where sick dogs go for treatment, right? Please, be aware.

What Vaccinations Does My Dog Need?

Most dogs need rabies plus the canine 5-in-1 vaccine.

That being said, if your dog will be boarding or going to daycare, he will also need a bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine. Kennel cough, though usually mild, spreads easily in confined spaces where dogs share airspace.

The canine 5-in-1 shot includes protection against distemper (indicated by the letter D), two types of adenovirus, aka hepatitis and kennel cough (named A, A2, or H), parainfluenza (P), and parvovirus (P). The kennel cough portion is a different variety than the one mentioned above.

All of these diseases are highly contagious and have no known cure. Thus, vaccinating your dog is the best safeguard. Dogs of all ages are susceptible to these viruses, but especially puppies and older pets.

Just to reiterate, your dog needs two shots—the combo shot, plus rabies—unless he will be boarded/sent to daycare. Then he will need three.

A Small Tidbit about the Rabies Vaccine

The rabies shot only needs administered every three years. Most state laws now reflect this truth.

There is absolutely no difference between the 1 and 3 year shots other than labeling. Most pet owners don’t know this little secret.

With this in mind, you’ll have to ask your vet to administer the shot labeled for 3 years if it’s what you want.

Again, be sure to ask for it! He cannot administer the 1 year shot and then tell you to return in three years. Despite the fact that the vaccines are identical in nature, he must follow the label.

Crazy, but true!

Rabies Risks

In reality, vaccinations have essentially eradicated the spread of rabies by pets. However, raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes are the number one rabies carriers in the United States. Exposure to these animals puts domesticated animals and you at risk.

Bat exposure is currently the number one cause of infection in people.

Your Choice

With the exception of the rabies vaccine due to state laws, it remains your choice whether to vaccinate your dog year after year. You have the freedom to choose what’s best for your pet. I encourage you to do your own research, then decide.

Yes, there are standards in the industry for 5-way and kennel cough shots. But these are just standards, not laws. Yearly shots are likely unnecessary according to studies.

This is why the rabies vaccine has been approved for three-year administration. Immunity has proven to last that long. In fact, studies are being conducted to see if administration can be stretched to seven years, rather than three.

(Truthfully, testing indicates that immunity provided by all shots likely lasts a lifetime. See

I believe we will see further changes in vaccination schedules as animal rights advocates keep pushing for more testing.

Summing Things Up

The rabies vaccination is still required by US law, with a booster to be administered a minimum of every 1-3 years, depending upon which shot is given.

Neither the 5-way canine nor bordetella vaccination is required by law but is recommended due to the highly contagious nature of the covered diseases. Vets still recommend follow-up boosters, although they’re likely unnecessary and bad for your pet.

I’m crossing my fingers that we will see changes to the vaccination schedule in coming years. Yes, I believe vaccines safeguard both us and our pets from some terrible diseases. But we must also consider the consequences to our pets’ health and safety caused by over-vaccination.

Questions or concerns about vaccinations? Leave them below in the comments!



2 thoughts on “Should I Vaccinate My Dog? Vaccine Secrets and Safeguards”

    1. It pays to read a lot! I’m not sure how the vaccine companies, vets, etc justify vaxxing animals year after year when it’s wholly unnecessary. Money, unfortunately, is the answer to such questions the majority of the time.

      Again, I am FOR getting pets their initial vaccinations. But a lifetime of yearly vaccinations is not healthy for your pet.

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