Pet Wellness Mythbusters #6

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A 3 month old Weimaraner puppy closing his eyes as he gets his ears checked.We’re adding to our MythBuster series today and focusing on wellness myths since it’s Pet Wellness Month. What is Pet Wellness? It’s just what you think – keeping your pet fit, health and “well”. It’s preventative medicine for your pet. Many vets provide special  “wellness exams” and recommend a check-up at least once a year.

Is that a myth, or sound advice? According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) once a year is minimum and as a dog ages, they should be seen more often. Remember the post we did a few weeks ago about dog aging – remember dogs age much more quickly than humans, so getting a once a year check-up makes sense. It’s also necessary to keep up with their vaccinations. Of course, they aren’t all due every year, but you want to stay on top of them and keep your pets protected.

And what about those vaccinations – do they really need them every year? That seems a little excessive doesn’t it, especially with all of the controversy surrounding vaccination schedules for humans and the ill effects associated with that procedure. In 2011 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force updated their vaccination guidelines and determined that most vaccines no longer need to be given annually, but every three years would provide the necessary protection.

Here’s a chart outlining the new schedules published by Pet WebMD: Pet Vaccines: Schedules for Cats & Dogs (this is just the dog one, they have one for cats to – follow the link).

Dog Vaccine Initial Puppy Vaccination (at or under 16 weeks) Initial Adult Dog Vaccination (over 16 weeks) Booster Recommendation Comments
Rabies 1-year Can be administered in one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered. Single dose Annual boosters are recommended. Core dog vaccine. Rabies is 100% fatal to dogs, with no treatment available. Prevention is key.
Rabies 3-year Can be administered as one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered. Single dose A second vaccination is recommended after 1 year, then boosters every 3 years. Core dog vaccine.
Distemper At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age 2 doses, given 3-4 weeks apart Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing their initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more. Core dog vaccine. Caused by an airborne virus, distemper is a severe disease that, among other problems, may cause permanent brain damage. 
Parvovirus At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age 2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more. Core dog vaccine. Canine “parvo” is contagious, and can cause severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvo is usually fatal if untreated.
Adenovirus (canine hepatitis) At least 3 doses, between 6 and 16 weeks of age 2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more. Core dog vaccine. Spread via coughs and sneezes, canine hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage, and death.
Parainfluenza Administered at 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3-4 weeks until 12-14 weeks old 1 dose A booster may be necessary after 1 year, depending on manufacturer recommendations; revaccination every 3 years is considered protective. Non-core dog vaccine. Parainfluenza infection results in cough, fever. It may be associated with Bordetella infection.
Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough ) Depends on the vaccine type; 2 doses are usually needed for protection. 1 dose of the intranasal product or 2 doses of the injected product Annual or 6-month boosters may be recommended for dogs in high-risk environments. Non-core dog vaccine. Not usually a serious condition, although it can be dangerous in young puppies. It is usually seen after activities like boarding or showing.
Lyme disease 1 dose, administered as early as 9 weeks, with a second dose 2-4 weeks later 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart May be needed annually, prior to the start of tick season Non-core dog vaccine. Generally recommended only for dogs with a high risk for exposure to Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
Leptospirosis First dose at 12 weeks; second dose 4 weeks later 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart At least once yearly for dogs in high-risk areas Non-core dog vaccine. Vaccination is generally restricted to established risk areas. Exposure to rodents and standing water can lead to a leptospirosis infection.
Canine influenza First dose as early as 6 weeks; second dose 2-4 weeks later 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart Yearly Non-core dog vaccine. Similar to bordetella.

The decision – it’s not a myth that dogs needs an annual check up. Our dogs end up going even more frequently than that, but we have seniors, so more things tend to go wrong – just like with humans 🙂

Want to know more about Wellness exams? Here’s some additional reading:


We’re joining up with 2 Brown Dawgs for This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop!


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  1. Hi SlimDoggy! Thanks for linking up! I am joining with 2 Brown Dawgs to co-host the TNT. I love that chart. Will have to bookmark it for reference!
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…PSA: This ‘N That Thursday – Limiting where Canines Can Roam in San FranciscoMy Profile

  2. Thanks so much for participating in TNT!

    LOL the brown dawgs hate you for this post. 🙂 Our dogs make it to the vet more than once a year usually. In Spring they have heart worm checks and we also have them checked for internal parasites. They also get any immunizations they need. Then they usually go in Fall to get any other vaccines needed. But they also are in there for assorted other things…lol. Foot/pad injuries, stomach bug, etc. which can pop up especially during hunting season.

    Great point about tailoring vaccines to the area. For example, brown dawgs do not get canine influenza because our vet does not know of any cases in Michigan. But if they were to present with something looking like botadella, he will treat it aggressively if he thinks it could be CI. I guess the conformation test for CI takes too long and by the time it is confirmed the dog is too sick. Lepto is a big one we need because they are out hunting and that standing water is sometimes very tempting for them to drink, (much as we discourage it). They also don’t get Lymes. We do tick preventative instead.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • That’s great to have a vet who really focuses on what they need rather than what the rule book says – particularly for your dogs who probably are more susceptible to some things because of their activities. Sorry guys, just want to keep you healthy 😉
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  3. We go once a year for the big tune up but then six months later for a quick check and heart worm test. It never fails that some of us end up at the vet once or twice more for small issues that come up. Our vet is great because she tells us what we have to have, what is optional and how often so we can decide. Vaccinations are very important but over vaccinating is not good either.
    emma recently posted…Shelter Snoopy | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • Sometimes it seems like I’m at the vet once a month – especially as your pets hit 12, 13, 14… Jack & Maggie seem to be a little healthier, or myabe it’s just they are younger. Same happens with puppies too though as they seem to get into all sorts of mischief – how is Bailie doing?
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  4. What a great post! I will have to pin it for the vaccine info. I take my kids to the vet at least once a year. I do want to find a more thorough vet though. My current vet is nice, but he only checks what you ask about. He doesn’t look at the ears or check the heart beat, for example. I feel that an annual exam should be more thorough to catch anything before it becomes a problem. Have a great day!
    Laura recently posted…Sharing Saves LivesMy Profile

    • You are right – you want a good full physical each year – practice preventative medicine!
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  5. Mine go for checks annually. But you are right, it is not to good to overdo these checks either!
    MichelleLiew recently posted…Tail chasing and other compulsive odditiesMy Profile

  6. Interesting. I love the chart – thank you.
    Flea recently posted…TBT – Throw Back Thursday, Dog StyleMy Profile

  7. great post! A proper diet, regular exercise and grooming, and routine check-ups at the veterinarian will help keep your dog in top form.i have a business of pet grooming,boarding,veterinary etc. in case you have any problem then feel free to contact us on here:

  8. That’s a chart to keep! Sage goes in annually for her checkup, but vaccinations are ‘as needed’.
    Sage recently posted…Stormy DreamsMy Profile

  9. Funny I was just speaking with a trainer about these things this morning…For Gizmo to be certified as a therapy dog (something we’re currently training for) will require vet visits, tests and shots that I would not ordinarily do…I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do about it all…But I am glad that vets are finally realizing that annual vaccinations for everything are just not necessary (thank you Dr. Jean Dodds)
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Dogs in Court on This & That Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

    • Yeah – their rules are going to be stricter. We have a boarding ‘spa’ close by where we can take the dogs swimming, but they require an annual series of vaccines. Not sure I want to do that.
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  10. It does seem as all the animals get older that we spend more time at the vet’s office! But annual is definitely the minimum. We used to take the cats only every 3 years because they are indoor cats and don’t need as many vaccines, but now we will take them annually since they are older. Vaccines have been a big issue in our household because Cricket has had reactions so many times. Nothing serious but concerning. Our vet has been pretty good at working with us, and I have been doing a lot of research on the subject. Lyme is prevalent in our area but will probably be the only annual one we get ongoing, and Cricket isn’t getting anything she doesn’t absolutely need.
    Jan K recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday – StoriesMy Profile

    • That’s the thing to do – do your own research and do what makes sense for your dog, your environment. It can’t be a one size fits all type of deal.
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  11. We usually end up at the vet more than twice a year for one reason or another. In fact, we just had a vet visit on Monday for a minor issue.
    I’m SO glad that most… MOST vets are starting to follow the new vaccine protocols, but some still aren’t. I know that people are still getting hassled to get some non-core vaccines every year, even though it’s not necessary. My main concern is with the combo shots and having too many vaccinations at once. It’s much safer to spread them out. Most vets don’t even carry monovalent vaccines, which also really bothers me. For example, getting a single shot for Parvo or Distemper is really tough.
    Pam recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday: Darned AllergiesMy Profile

    • Good point – they roll them all into one and you get stuff you don’t necessarily need. Hopefully we will see some changes.
      mkob recently posted…Pet Wellness MythbustersMy Profile

  12. I have been doing vaccines every three years for Ace. I really don’t believe that is even necessary, but since I do board him every now and then I don’t have much choice. I would rather not do the bordetella vaccine at all, but …

    But I definitely agree a yearly checkup is important. Maybe every six months once they are hitting their senior years. Of course, it’s frustrating when they veterinary exam is basically just the vet listening to the dog’s heart and maybe glancing at his teeth and ears. I think more pet owners would take their dogs in for checkups more often if they thought the dogs were getting a good exam. Especially since a “senior exam” is often more expensive. It’s all about finding the right vet.
    Lindsay recently posted…Is Pitbull Awareness Month still necessary?My Profile

  13. With our last vet, I rebelled against the annual check ups after our last visit there. With our new vet, I like to take our dogs in; even if it’s only for a weigh in and to have questions answered. Our vet is very accommodating and helpful.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Being a Dog Mom Is Helping Me Survive DepressionMy Profile

  14. With our current vet, once a year is enough for my two. Back when we lived the other side of London, we had the most amazing vet. He really was great. He listened to our concerns (as ridiculous as they may have been), he was even available on the phone if we ever needed advice. Oh an the treats, his surgery was like a sweet shop for dogs! Oh how we miss him!!
    The Stately Hound recently posted…Lily’s Kitchen Diet Plan & Hamper GiveawayMy Profile

  15. That looks like a pretty standard chart and is about the same as what most vets I’ve worked with recommend. Although, I’m not really too keen on some of them. I am just not worried about my 10 year old dog getting Parvo really.
    Ann “Paws” Staub recently posted…Get Into the Halloween Spirit! | Social Pet SaturdayMy Profile

    • I agree – I think some adjustments when they get older are reasonable too – I kind of stopped most of these when my guys hit 10-11.
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