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The Irreverent Vet Speaks out on What Vaccines Does Your Dog Really Need?

What vaccines does your dog really need?

This is a question commonly asked by dog lovers everywhere. Dog lovers want to do the right thing, protect their dog but at the same time minimize risk of problems to their dog and avoid unnecessary expenses.

In this article, I’d like to address this question. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian. I give you my opinion and speak the truth regardless of if pet owners or other veterinarians like it or not.

The question that I’ll address today is…What Vaccines to Dogs Really Need?

Are Vaccines Safe?

Vaccines have a low rate of reactions but there are problems. Some of the problems can be life-threatening. Because there are issues with vaccine safety, it is ideal to give only what a dog really needs. I do not believe in OVER vaccinating.

What Vaccines do Dogs Really Need?

This is the answer. It depends upon the age and risk factors of a dog. I’ll tell you what I think and even tell you how I vaccinate my own dogs.

Puppies should receive a full series of vaccines beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age and repeated every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 to 20 weeks of age to protect them against all the common diseases.

Unvaccinated adult dogs should also receive two full sets of vaccines spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

Adult dogs should received vaccines as required by law (rabies) and other vaccines at least every 3 years.

Vaccine Recommendations

Should You do Vaccine Titers?

A vaccine titer is a blood test that determines the presence of antibodies that develop in response to the vaccine. Since varying amounts of antibodies can be detected in different animals, titers are expressed in terms of ratios. Adequate levels of vaccine titers indicate that the pet does not need a booster vaccination at that time. Low titers indicate that vaccination will be necessary to provide immune protection. This is a method to determine if a dog needs vaccines.

Historically, the cost of doing this test is far greater than giving the vaccine and therefore most veterinarians and pet owners did not do them. However, with the increased risk of vaccine complications, this is a reasonable option.

How I Vaccinate My Dogs?

This is what I do. I understand the needs, benefits, and risks of vaccines.

My Final Thoughts – What Vaccines Do Dogs Really Need?

You should discuss all vaccination programs with your veterinarian. Follow their recommendations based on your dogs risk. If you are not sure what your dog needs, consider vaccine titers. There is no real disadvantage of doing the titers other than the expense of doing them.


The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can’t say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another view. All opinions are those of the Politically Incorrect Vet and not the views of and are not endorsed by