Question e-mailed to me:
“We found a stray dog and so we have no idea what her vaccination history is or even if she has been spayed. She is probably about a year old at the most…looks like a small yellow lab.
I want to just have her vaccinated for parvo and distemper only and of course we have to have her vaccinated for rabies. But my question for you is how long to wait between the spaying and the vaccinations? And how long between before she gets her rabies shot? And which order do you recommend having all of this done? I know I have seen this information somewhere on the Internet before but it was a long time ago and I just can’t seem to find it now.
I would really appreciate any advice. At this point I don’t even know which thing should be done first, the spaying or the vaccinations.
Note: I got this question from Kat after she watched one of our K9Author YouTube Videos on vaccinating dogs.
Response: Hi Kat. I’m no fan of the rabies vaccine because of its many adverse reactions. Neither do I like the idea of vaccinating a stressed dog; the vaccine may not “take” and the chance of side effects increases.
However … because most people wouldn’t be comfortable handling a strange dog with no shot history, I’d either have a titer test done to test immunity for rabies (which would prove immunity and not harm the dog, but would cost $150 or so and not allow you to get a license) … or I’d vaccinate. If you do vaccinate, wait 3 or more weeks before spaying (or neutering) or giving another shot. If you can have a holistic vet or homeopathic vet give the shot, that would be great. A homeopathic remedy given with the rabies shot can help prevent a reaction.
I would never vaccinate against anything else at the same time as the rabies shot. Instead, I’d have the vet do a titer test for parvovirus and distemper (the two most important diseases) to see if vaccination is even necessary. (This simple blood test should cost $60 – 80 total.) This is the safest route. Because the dog is an adult, she may well be immune to both diseases.
If you decide to vaccinate against parvo and distemper, do NOT do it at the same time as rabies or surgery. And do not vaccinate with a combo shot containing other, probably unnecessary vaccines. Wait 3 weeks or more after rabies or spaying. Surgery and vaccination are major assaults to the immune system and should be spread out. Specifically tell your vet to never vaccinate during, or within a week or two, of surgery. If your vet does vaccinate without your permission, file a complaint with your local veterinary board. This is a violation of the legal doctrine of informed consent.
As to whether you should spay or vaccinate first, it depends on what you perceive the risks to be: pregnancy or disease. If you can keep the female away from males, go ahead and vaccinate first.
Note: I’m not a vet, but this is what I would do.
Here’s a second question from Kat:
I had actually called a vet earlier today to see how much they charge to titer test for parvo and distemper. At this particular vet’s it was $82.00 plus $43.00 for the office call. I had also called a spay and neuter clinic to see how much they charge to spay and they told me they could give her the vaccinations at the same time. I said, nope! I told them I would not have it done all at one time because I don’t think it’s healthy for the dog. I like your advice of having the rabies shot given first. So I think I will go ahead with that this Saturday then the spay and then the parvo/distemper all spaced 3 weeks apart.
I already ordered her a breakaway dog collar which is also a life saver. Thanks for all of your work in educating people and thus helping dogs to live happier, healthier lives. — Kat
Kat, you might try having the blood for the titer test tested at hemopet.com. It’s a nonprofit blood bank and testing facility run by renowned vaccine expert Dr. Jean Dodds. Her prices are usually better. Re the blood draw, it should cost no more than $25. It’s just a draw, done by a tech, not an office visit. Try negotiating with your vet … or try another clinic.
Good luck with your new girl and congrats on being such a good guardian to a stranger!
Another question from Kat:
Anyway, on to phase two of this whole thing. I am going to be setting up a spay appointment for about 3 1/2 weeks from now. And also I’m going to be searching to find out about the titer testing for parvo and distemper.
Sorry for getting so wordy with this but I just wanted to let you know how we are doing and also to reinforce the fact that people really need to stand their ground about the vaccinations. Because they have innovative ways to try to convince you that your dog needs all of them and right now!
So finally we got up to the veterinarians. I told them we had found her two weeks ago and knew nothing about her history. So one of them asked if I wanted them to scan her for a chip. I said, sure. He said they are supposed to scan in that circumstance anyway. But I had the feeling he wouldn’t have if I had asked him not to. Anyway, he scanned and found nothing and told me I have a dog. 😉 I also asked them if they could tell if she’s been spayed.
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