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Yearly vaccines for dogs: explained

Golden retriever getting a vaccine advice © Shutterstock

They’ve had their puppy vaccinations and your new family member has settled in perfectly. A year later, you’re called for booster jabs - but with a healthy, happy pup, are yearly vaccines for dogs really necessary?

By Alice Lang

Let’s face it. Nobody wants their cute little pooch to get sick with a horrible disease.

And considering many vaccinated diseases can be fatal, it makes sense to protect your pooch. But are dog vaccinations actually necessary on a yearly basis?

It’s a difficult question, and really, there is no right or wrong answer. While we’d urge you to go ahead and get your pup vaccinated, whether you get this done yearly is a decision you’ll have to make with your vet.

To help you out, we’re going to be answering the most common questions about yearly vaccines for dogs. Let’s go!

What’s the purpose of yearly vaccines for dogs?

You’ll probably have already had your dog vaccinated back when they were a tiny little puppy. Now, you’ve had a call or a letter saying it’s time for a booster - but why?

Well, dogs actually need booster vaccinations throughout their life. This ensures that immunity is completely topped up and that they’re fully protected from fatal diseases. 

If you don’t get your puppy’s vaccinations topped up at all, they’re likely to be at higher risk of fatal diseases.

Are yearly vaccines for dogs really necessary?

Yearly vaccines for dogs are a heavily debated subject. Many people believe a yearly booster is completely unnecessary. Some even believe such regular jabs could actually harm a dog’s long-term health and increase their risk of various conditions and diseases.

It’s also believed that booster jabs, in some dogs, could be pointless. If existing antibodies are present, they could ‘neutralise’ the new injection - making it a pointless, and somewhat uncomfortable, task.

In response to these concerns, many vets have developed less intensive vaccination regimes. Now, you’ll most likely be offered full vaccinations every 2-5 years - unless, of course, your dog is particularly susceptible to a certain disease. When you’re called in for a booster,  do open up the conversation and ask your vet if a yearly vaccination for your dog is actually neccesary.

If you’re particularly concerned about the issue, vets can carry out a blood test called a ‘titre test’ to check the antibody levels in the bloodstream, and therefore distinguish the level of immunity left in your dog’s body. This will give you a better idea of whether your pooch actually needs a further vaccination - however, they will be pricey!

Still unsure about yearly vaccines for dogs? We’d recommend speaking to your trusted, reliable vet about your concerns. They’ll be able to discuss your options based on your dog's individual needs and share their own personal experiences/opinions, allowing you to make an informed decision.

Why should you regularly vaccinate your dog?

  • The diseases which dogs are vaccinated against can be fatal
  • The diseases which dogs are vaccinated are life-limiting and difficult to treat
  • Vaccinations are vigorously and continuously tested for safety & efficacy
  • Vaccinating your dog protects other animals in the community, too
  • The cost of vaccinations is far less than the cost of treating a serious disease

Side-effects and risks of yearly vaccines for dogs

While the benefits of yearly vaccines for dogs (or every 2-3 years, depending on your personal decision) are clear, it’s important to understand the risks and side-effects, too.

“In rare cases, animals react adversely to vaccinations. The most serious reaction, an anaphylactic reaction, usually occurs in the first 15 to 60 minutes. This can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, so keep a close eye on your puppy for the first hour after vaccination,” says Eve Adamson, author of Daschund for Dummies.

“Other less severe reactions can happen later, from general fatigue, discomfort, and loss of appetite, to a local infection at the site of the vaccination.”

Truth be told, the likelihood that your dog will experience an anaphylactic reaction are extremely slim, while the other side-effects are fairly uncommon but easily manageable. While it’s important to do your research and keep a close eye on your pooch following an injection, most vets agree that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks by miles.

Yearly vaccines for dogs - the choice is in your hands

Ultimately, we believe that every dog owner has the right to get their dog vaccinated when they feel it’s right to do so. 

And while we’d recommend getting your dog vaccinated regularly, it’s quite possible that it’s necessary to do it every single year. 

However, this all depends on your dog’s individual lifestyle, age and health - so it really needs to be discussed on a case-by-case basis with a reputable vet.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope we’ve helped you understand yearly vaccines for dogs a little better - good luck!