YOU Are Your Dog’s Advocate!


While visiting my own dog, post-surgery, at a large specialty & emergency veterinary clinic recently, I met a woman and her very sick dog. He had been a patient at the clinic for two days: He was lethargic, not eating, and running a high fever.  The diagnosis? An adverse reaction to vaccination.

It turns out the woman had adopted the dog, who was probably two or three years old, a year prior. With a year gone by, it was time to take her dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. The veterinarian wanted to vaccinate the dog; she inquired about running antibody titers instead, and was told “no.”

The clinic proceeded to vaccinate her dog with a 5-in-1 vaccine (distemper, adenovirus, Leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus), the influenza vaccine, and the rabies vaccine, all at the same visit. As the woman related this information to me, she crinkled her nose.

Clearly, her instinct had been that this was unnecessary… that perhaps this was too much. And she did try: she inquired about running an antibody titer test in lieu of vaccinations. But the vet said no.

I don’t know what happened to her dog, whether he made a recovery or not. What I do know is this woman learned a costly lesson, and I can only hope that her dog didn’t pay the ultimate price. It is up to us to advocate for our dogs. If we are uncomfortable about the care a veterinarian proposes, we need to speak up. Particularly in the case of vaccinations, we have lots of leeway in terms of their timing; in most cases, there is no harm in postponing an adult vaccination for a short while.

I am not against vaccinations. But I am against a one-size-fits-all approach to veterinary care. And as long as that attitude exists, it’s more important than ever that we are advocates for our dogs’ health.

See the August 2010 Issue on Over-Vaccination – Dog Owners Beware.