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Are Vaccine Clinics Bad for Pets?

August 13, 2010
chihuahua mask face

Vaccine Clinics: Bad for Pets?

Answer: Probably.  Sometimes deadly.  Sometimes MORE Expensive.  Sometimes save a few bucks.  Never healthy.

Pet parent calls VirtuaVet.  “Doc, did you know they’re vaccinating pets at the pharmacy down the street?  I mean, is that even legal?”

“Yes, I know about the pet vaccine clinics,” says Doc Truli. (It’s legal if they have their state and local permits to run a vaccine clinic.)

“Well, aren’t they bad for pets?” asks concerned pet parent. Hmmm…good question.

Are vaccine clinics bad for pets?

Probably, if you read VirtuaVet, you like to research your decisions.  So this post is most likely not for you, because you seek competent veterinary advice.  This post provides you with information to help someone you know, maybe a son or daughter, neighbor, or coworker.

The Argument for Vaccine Clinics

1) Save money: do not have to pay for veterinary examination and advice.

2) Prevent disease by vaccinating larger population of animals because people who cannot afford the vet can still get their “shots.”

The Reality About “Shots”

1) There are “core” and “non-core” vaccines.

Core vaccines are:

1) Rabies vaccine for cats, dogs, and ferrets.  Must have.  Huge public health hazard.  Deadly,  Awful.  Period.

2) Distemper, parvovirus vaccine for dogs and ferrets and panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis virus vaccine for cats.  Deadly, spread easily, totally preventable with inexpensive shots.

That’s it.

Rabies Vaccine Details

The rabies vaccine needs to be given to  a pet older than 12 weeks old, and then a booster 9-12 months later.  Then a three-year vaccine every three years (unless a law in your area requires you to get the vaccine more often).

“Distemper” Details

Tabby cat stares with big, dilated pupils

"How much is my bill?"

The distemper (or panleukopenia for cats) is two solid injections when your puppy or kitten is 12 weeks or older and they must be 2-6 weeks apart.  No closer or farther. or you need to ask your veterinarian what to do.  Then one year later, then once every three years.  (If your puppy or kitten is under 12 weeks, get vaccines every 3-4 weeks to prevent perinatal disease and death.)

Non-Core Vaccines

Non-core vaccines can protect your family from disease, help your pet be a little healthier, prevent illness and expense, or just waste your money.  A veterinarian with the training in epidemiology (pronounced eh-peh-dee-mee-ah-low-jee), public health, zoonotic disease, disease prevalence and morbidity can guide you to the right vaccine protocol for your family and your pet.  Doc Truli spends years thinking and researching and updating knowledge in order to tailor your vaccines to your life situation.

1) Coronavirus for dogs

2) Leptospirosis vaccine for dogs

3) Feline leukemia vaccine for cats

4) Lyme disease vaccine for dogs

5) Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines for cats and dogs

6) Canine H3N8 Influenza Vaccine

Many, many others!

Vaccine Clinics Do Not Save Money

miniature pinscher snarls at the idea of unnecessary vaccines

"I disapprove of unnecessary vaccines!"

You Pay for Extra Unnecessary Shots at Vaccine Clinics

What happens at vaccine clinics, and at the humane low-cost places is this: you are not paying for the time to screen you and ask what lifestyle your pet has.  They give the core vaccines, every year.  So after the puppy and kitten vaccines, you’re actually paying ever year for shots your pet might not need every year.

What Happens When You Need Heartworm Preventative

Then, when you need heartworm preventative, which every cat and dog in America should take, you  need a prescription form a licensed veterinarian, who must EXAMINE your pet to write or fill a prescription.  So you end up paying for a physical examination anyway!

Sometimes the Actual Prices Are Higher than a Private Hospital!

Plus, check your prices!  If you are truly price-shopping, then BEWARE!  Some shot clinics and shelters actually charge the same or more than your veterinarian for the shots.  Then they give them too often because you are not paying for the interview screening process to see if you even need the vaccines in the first place.  You might be better off with the $45 office call and your veterinarian than the vaccine clinic, even if you are a frugal cheapo price shopper! How does the saying go?  Oh Yes! “Penny wise and pound foolish.”

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish Rant

Ever notice how food companies have started making the “economy” and “family size” containers of certain items cost more per ounce than the smaller sizes?  VirtuaVet reads the tags on the shelves.  Some supermarkets give you the cost breakdown comparing pounds or ounces or 100-count (whatever fits).  Or you can freakishly calculate the comparisons for yourself — the iPhone calculator makes you look suave while you’re looking for cheap deals! —  By comparing equal units of an exact product, you can tell how much each item costs on an equal footing with the other sizes of its kind.

You always assume the “Family Size” is cheaper because of bulk cost savings, right?  Well, the food companies know that you don’t really check! So sometimes, they sneak that price per…pound (or whatever) up over the smaller sizes of the same item. So sometimes, when you buy the enormous ketchup or cereal, you might be paying even more to have the item sit on the pantry shelf.  (Don’t even get me started on the time value of money, or the “rent” that food costs you in electricity, air-conditioning, or just sheer space on the shelf while it waits for you to consume it…how many people pay extra mortgage for a huge kitchen and pantry to hold all of this “economy” food?)

Those food companies know that they have your money today.  They can invest that money and use it to make more money.  By the time you eat that econo cereal, someone has gotten richer off of your purchasing decision.

Humane Societies and Vaccine Clinics across the United States have figured out that they, too, have a “brand.”  You assume they are keeping costs down, right?  You assume it’s cheaper there than anywhere, right?  Did you check?  I see many people a month who pay the same cost out-of-pocket for the vaccine clinic to give their dog extra shots they did not need.  If you really want to save money, check!!!

The Best Reason to See Your Veterinarian for Vaccines

Administering vaccines to a sick or compromised animal can injure or kill the pet.  Are you qualified to know if your pet has hidden disease?  The vaccine clinic is not being hired to check!  What if your pet is showing signs of illness, and you do not know it?  The vaccine will tax his or her immune system, possibly be unnecessary, possibly more expensive than you think, and possibly trigger an underlying disease to become virulent and awful.

chihuahua with ears down and black and tan mask face

"Please don't give me extra cheap vaccines!"

That’s exactly what happened to Linda’s dog Charlie….read more next time on VirtuaVet!

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