How Often Should Dogs and Cats Be Vaccinated?

Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
Every day across the country, puppies and kittens, as well as adult dogs are massively vaccinated with multiple viral and bacterial antigens with the hope of enhancing their health and preventing potential future infectious disease.  While vaccinations can certainly be an important component of a comprehensive preventative medical program, this “one shot fits all” approach has been taken way too far in quite a nonscientific fashion. Vaccinating pets has become a controversial topic for many pet owners and vets as research suggests over vaccinating can cause health problems

According to Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy, a text taught in many veterinary schools, yearly vaccination was a practice that was started many years ago that was not based on evidence or science, but on a standard of practice to bring pets in for physical exams.  And while in the past we used to feel that boosting vaccinations could only enhance health, in recent years there has been increasing evidence that over vaccination may be involved with an epidemic of chronic diseases in our pets from chronic skin allergies, hormonal disorders, digestive tract diseases, behavioral disorders, neurological diseases, autoimmune diseases, as well as potentially certain cancers.

It is for these reasons that I strongly urge that pet owners specifically request and demand from their veterinarians whether a particular vaccination is absolutely necessary in their pets, and/or whether the option of measuring vaccination titers is a viable alternative to the routine jabbing of our pets with multiple vaccinations.

Vaccination titers are blood tests that can document protective immunity in most pets, and we are now finding that viral immunity to most core viruses like parvo and distemper in dogs, as well as panleukopenia in cats can last for many years to the life of the pet. Rabies vaccination should not be given more frequently than needed either, usually every three years to most adult pets in most states. Vaccination has certainly helped prevent many infectious diseases in our pets, however, the overuse and misuse of vaccinations has become a major problem for our pets today, and this is an issue I feel pet owners need to become fully aware of to make informed decisions regarding your pet’s health.


  1. Lori
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Is is necessary for house cats to have heart worm prevention meds & vaccination?

  2. Caroline Garay
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    How often should cats get a rabies shot?

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Most vaccines are good for at least 3 years. If your cat is strictly indoors and/or has a chronic disease ailment check with your local vet if necessary as I will sometimes skip in in these circumstances.

  4. Virginia Carreras
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Where can I take my rescued pekingnese for a free rabies shot? I live in Newport NC 28570.

  5. Dee Craft
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Our Vet said our puppy doesn’t need heartworm medicine until he is at least 1yr old. We are very uneasy with this. Please, advise. Thank you.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I usually start puppies on heartworm medication at 3 to 4months of age. I am not sure where your vet got this information from.

  7. Catherine Rogers
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I hate the necessity of vaccinating my dog every year especially as she reacts badly, but kennels demand this practice as do insurance companies which puts me over a barrel.
    In the past I was able to have a pet sitter when I went away and chose to give my cats and dogs just the first lot of vaccinations and never boosted them, with absolutely no ill effects whatsoever.

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Try working with a homeopathic vet like myself who also do phone consultations, as many times you can get these kennels to accept medical exemption letters written by veterinarians. Vaccinating dogs who have histories of reactions is criminal in my opinion and can cause long term chronic health problems. To learn more about my homeopathic practice see Good luck.

  9. Myra Cosgrove
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    My Ragdoll kitty has never had rabies vaccine as he is indoor only and breeder told us rabies vaccine will kill him. We are now going on cross country RV trip bringing him with us . What can we do?

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I try not to give un necessary shots particularly with sensitive pure breeds like this, but you may have to follow state laws on rabies vaccination, depending on where you are moving to

  11. Kim Phillips
    Posted April 23, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Another way we are put over a barrel is grooming. If you have a long hair breed you cannot even get it groomed without annual vaccinations. The first thing they asked is he up to date and some request to see proof. I wished they could change to every 2 years at least.

  12. Bev Kerwn
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I have two cats, brother and sister, about 1 1/2 years old. they were born outside to a stray we were feeding. They’ve been inside with us for over a year. I took them initially to the vet when they were about 4 months old; they had the usual battery of vaccines and blood work. All tested out OK and at the time, they had rabies shots. I now feel that there is no need for further vaccinations; they are 100% indoor cats. Am I right in this?

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