Less is Better!
Although yearly vaccination for dogs has long been the standard of care for most of the canine vaccinations, studies have shown that in some cases annual vaccination confers no immunologic benefit and may actually pose unnecessary health risks. This finding has led the veterinary schools and veterinary medical organizations to recommend extended vaccination intervals for certain vaccines.
It has long been known that vaccine immunity lasts more than one year. Up until recently, all the vaccines were only licensed for yearly revaccination. Intervet, an animal health research and manufacturing company, has recently received a three year approval by the USDA for Continuum DAP, a vaccine that protects a dog for at least three years against canine distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. The company has impressive challenge data to back the three year duration of immunity claim.
This does not mean that dogs only need to visit the veterinarian every three years! After a dog reaches one year of age, it is equivalent to about 15 years in a human’s life. For each year after that, add 4 years to compare a dog’s age to a person’s equivalent age. Twice yearly visits are still recommended for health examinations, parasite tests, and the other vaccines that need to be administered more frequently. For example, rabies vaccination is required by state law to be given yearly. Examining a dog every six months is comparable to a person having a check up every two years. Routine examinations allow us to detect changes in a dog’s health status early as well as incorporate the necessary vaccinations and lab tests appropriate for their life stage.