Can I Give My Dog Shots at Home or Should I Take Him to the Vet?
Is It Possible to Self-Administer Dog Vaccine?
You may be wondering: “Can I give my dog shots at home?” While the short answer is yes, most people can give their dogs a shot, other questions to ask are: “Should I give my dog shots?” or "What shots does my dog really need, and what shots should we avoid?"
How Much Do Dog Vaccinations Cost?
One major reason for giving dog shots at home is to save money. However, what is the cost savings? Let’s compare a recent vet bill for two common canine vaccinations.
This cost comparison is based on purchasing the vaccines online from Doctors Foster and Smith and includes shipping and handling charges. (Vaccines must be shipped by one or two-day air; costs were calculated using the one-day air rate of $14.99.)
The prices for the veterinary services were verified at Vinton Veterinary Hospital in Vinton, Virginia on December 15, 2011 and are the usual and customary charges for having our dogs vaccinated at their facility.
The vaccines in this example ship to Virginia and so a prescription is not required for needles and syringes. Be aware that other states could require a prescription.
- Cost of canine DHLPP vaccine booster shot
- Vet = $51.50 (includes office visit)
- Self-administered = $18.98 (includes needle and syringe)
- Savings = $32.52
- Cost of Bordetella Booster
- Vet = $20.00 (does not include office visit)
- Self-administered = $18.18 (includes purchasing a needle and syringe)
- Savings = $1.82
- Office visit to consult with vet: $49.00
For a net savings of around $34, you have to decide for yourself if it is cost effective to administer the shots, especially if you are squeamish, or own a large animal that might be difficult to inject.
In addition, since the canine DHLPP vaccine (at least at our veterinarian's office) includes an office visit, we know our dog also gets a complete checkup and the vet will let us know if he sees any warning signs of potential trouble. For us, that peace of mind is worth the extra cost.
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Can I Give My Dog Shots At Home?
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List of Basic Dog Shots
Veterinary medicine, like other branches of medicine, evolves based on new research about animal health, and one recent change concerns canine immunizations.
Here we'll discuss current vaccination guidelines and give you a list of dog shots. You need this information to select the proper medicines if you decide to give your dog shots at home instead of taking it to the vet.
Consult your vet for advice about which vaccinations to give your dogs, as needs vary in individual dogs depending on age, weight, health, and so forth.
According to the UC Davis VMTH Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines, appropriate vaccines for canines are separated into core, noncore, and not recommended groups.
The core vaccinations for “all puppies and dogs with an unknown vaccination history” 1 are rabies, canine adenovirus (CAV), canine distemper (CDV), and canine parvovirus (CPV).
Noncore vaccinations are canine influenza virus (CIV), canine parainfluenza, canine distemper-measles combination vaccine, canine leptospira spp. vaccine, bordetella bronchiseptica, and canine borrelia burgdorfer (Lyme) vaccine.
Vaccines not recommended because “evidence for the efficacy of these vaccines is minimal and they may “produce adverse events with limited benefit’” 2 are: canine corona virus, canine giardia ssp., canine adenovirus-1, canine rattlesnake vaccine, and canine Porphyromonas vaccine.
Now that you know the types of shots dogs should receive, let’s talk about why you might avoid having your dog take those shots.
Reasons to Not Self-Administer Dog Vaccine
Certain dog populations should not receive canine vaccinations unless a veterinarian recommends it. If your dog is in one of the following groups, please consult your vet prior to giving them vaccines:
- Puppies younger than six to eight weeks
- Dogs with a history of an adverse reaction to vaccines
- Nursing or pregnant bitches
- Dogs that are recovering from surgery or ill
- Dogs that are being treated with glucocorticoids
Also, many vets are now recommending that senior dogs stop receiving routine immunizations after they reach a certain age. Be sure to ask your vet's advice about this matter and follow his or her recommendations.
Pros of Self-Administering Canine Vaccinations
Here are some common advantages of doing canine shots yourself instead of taking your dog to the vet.
1. No need to transport the animal to the vet or restrain it in the waiting room.
2. Dogs that receive an injection in a familiar environment are less stressed.
3. Administering shots yourself saves money because no office call fees or transportation costs are incurred.
4. Buying the vaccines and other supplies may be more cost-effective than paying for a shot at the vets.
5. Shots can be given at your convenience, so you can plan them around your schedule.
Now that we know the pros, let's take a look at the cons.
Cons of Self-Administered Dog Vaccine
Here are some of the drawbacks of home-injected canine shots.
- Vaccines may expire before they are used up, wasting money.
- Some vaccinations, like rabies shots, cannot be self-administered by owners.
- Dogs may have a severe reaction to the shots; are you prepared to react to an emergency?
- It is difficult to be assured of the quality and freshness of the vaccines; how do you know how long they have been sitting on a shelf?
- Additives, called adjuvants, may cause cancer or immunological diseases.
- Vaccines may accidentally get into the dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth and cause an adverse reaction.
- Vaccines can exacerbate canine allergies.
- Large dogs can be difficult to restrain during injections.
- Your pet misses out on a routine checkup by your vet, who might notice an illness or condition that is starting to develop such as canine arthritis.
- Do you need a prescription for needles and syringes for dog vaccine? According to the Doctors Foster and Smith website, you will need one if you live in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois or New Jersey.
We’ve covered a lot of information, but now you can make an informed decision on the question: “Can I give my dog shots myself?”
Additionally, should you choose to go that route, you learned that you can buy supplies online from companies like Doctors Foster and Smith. Another resource to check are the local farm supplies stores.
No matter whether you decide to administer the shots yourself, or rely on your vet, you can be assured that you have acted in the best interests of your pet.
Expert Tips: Give Dog Shots at Home
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References & Resources
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis VMTH Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines (Revised 11/2009)
Doctors Foster and Smith, http://www.drsfostersmith.com/
Vinton Veterinary Hospital, http://www.vintonvethosp.com/
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