There is universal agreement among experts that vaccines have controlled and prevented infectious disease in millions of animals. There is also agreement among a variety of veterinary associations that not all dogs should be vaccinated with all available vaccines1 (see links below).The "one size fits all" approach is thankfully, gone!
Disagreements may rise between veterinarians, however, about which vaccines and how often dogs should be vaccinated and this leads to confusion for dog owners. Traditionally, annual vaccinations were considered necessary, however, there is increasing evidence that duration of immunity for some vaccines is up to seven years7.
At Cedar Valley K9, we believe strongly that all dog owners should educate themselves about vaccinations so that they can make informed choices. We also believe strongly that you must have a comfortable veterinarian-client relationship so that you can discuss your individual dog's preventative health care program, which may or may not include vaccinations. As a medical procedure, vaccine administration involves risk that needs to be weighed against the disease protection that is required. Vaccine types and frequency are going to differ depending on the general health of your dog, the breed, the age, environment, lifestyle, travel habits, risk of exposure and more.3
In lieu of regular vaccinations, serum antibody titers can be measured and may provide information as to the level of immunity against some infectious diseases. However, even serum antibody tests cannot be considered 100% fool-proof.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Vaccination Guidelines (supported by the British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association2) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats both recommend that core vaccines should be administered at intervals of every three years or longer 7,8. They both acknowledge that studies have shown that duration of immunity is up to seven years for some vaccines. 7,8
Every action has risk. There is a possible risk for your dog to become infected with a disease, even while walking outside in public, or from you unknowingly tracking in infected feces into your own house or backyard.
At Cedar Valley K9, our student dogs are attending a single workshop with their owners present and with no active play between dogs… some dogs may not even greet each other. We are also extremely particular about hygiene and follow a strict cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
As a result, we consider our dogs-are-welcome workshops to be a low risk for the transmission of infectious disease. We consider our workshop to be even a lower risk than meeting strange dogs out in the general public (who you do not request vaccination papers from!).
We have found that Cedar Valley K9 students are highly responsible dog owners who consider their dog’s health and well-being as top priorities. We trust that they have discussed their dog’s individual vaccinations needs with their veterinarian and have chosen a vaccination protocol (or none) that is best for their dog.
CEDAR VALLEY K9 VACCINATION POLICY
In order to attend a dogs-are-welcome workshop, we request, if you choose to vaccinate your dog, that the core vaccinations of canine distemper, canine parvovirus and rabies administered within the last three years. We will also accept serum antibody titer tests. If you choose not to vaccinate your dog based on an informed decision after discussion with your veterinarian, we want to support your informed decision and after discussing this with you, will most likely permit your dog, as long as your dog has had one full set of core vaccinations in the past. As a result, please note that for a variety of responsible reasons, some non-vaccinated dogs may be in attendance.
A special note about puppies: for the health of young puppies, we do require that all puppies have proof of a minimum of their first set of core vaccines…no exceptions. We emphasize that we are highly particular about hygiene for the safety of the puppies. There is a risk of your puppy becoming infected even at home or during a walk (even in your yard), and you can further reduce the risk at our workshops by bringing your own mat, own water dish, avoiding dog-dog greetings and carrying your puppy to and from our training facility.
Please read Dr R.K. Anderson’s letter below discussing why puppy vaccination and socialization should go together. 9
* Please note that if you choose not to do annual vaccinations, we still recommend annual health checks with your veterinarian.