Are you over-vaccinating your pet?

    When it comes to the core vaccines for most dogs and cats, the standard is once every three years, not annually (WPEC photo)

    Matt Rysavy says his 6-year-old Maltese named Ox has had the same five core vaccines every year for at least four years.

    Two weeks after his last series, Rysavy said the dog's liver enzymes were through the roof.

    "It was very shocking ans scary," said Mysavy. "Not knowing what's going on."

    Most vets said it's impossible to say for sure that the vaccines caused Ox' medical scare, but they agree - by current veterinarian standards, giving a pet the same five vaccines every year is way too much.

    Annual vaccinations used to be recommended. But, pet vaccine standards have changed.

    Once your cat or dog has had their initial vaccine series and booster shots - starting no earlier than nice weeks of age - major veterinary organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, now say pets should only receive the traditional "core" vaccines against distemper, Parvovirus and other common dog and cat diseases every three years, not annually.

    Vets say getting core vaccines every year- is over vaccination. Not good, because it can over-stimulate your pet's immune system.

    "Over-stimulation of the immune system can be problematic," said Veterinarian Deborah Wolf. "There are (also) potentials for - especially in cats - injection site cancers. We want to protect them without over-stimulating the immune system, and running them down and creating new problems."

    Animal experts say some pets may need certain specialized vaccines more frequently- depending on their health, breed or environment. And certain vaccines are only good for one year, which means they must be administered annually.

    However, if your vet is pushing for the same core vaccines year after year don't automatically comply. Find out why.

    "Always question," urged Dr. Wolf. "I think that's important."

    Fortunately for Matt Rysavy his dog Ox is just fine now.

    But, experts warn some vets may not be aware that dog and cat vaccine protocols changed starting in 2010.

    If your vet keeps up with the latest pet veterinary developments and medicine protocols, they should know that.

    Bottom line: at the cost of $20 to $40 a pop, over-vaccination can not only harm your pet, it can be a serious pain for your budget.

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