Talking about dog vaccinations to colleagues and online forums has revealed two important things to us:
1) Nobody agrees on everything
2) It’s a hot topic!
So we’re writing this blog, and any comments here or on our FB page, as a safe space where we can all discuss what we personally do to vaccinate our dogs - if at all - so we can really start to understand what’s important, what’s optional and what experts are saying about them.
Standard Vaccination Procedures
Up until 2017, we always vaccinated our resident dog Sprocket each year. Like many other dogs, as a puppy Sprocket got a full round of the necessary vaccinations. Yearly afterwards this was topped up by the annual booster vaccination.
Every 3 years after that, the full round of puppy vaccinations were given to him again. It’s only recently we began to think about all the chemicals getting pumped into our wee dug, and found out that more puppy vaccinations shouldn't be required as the puppy vaccs should set them up for life.
Your dog is unlikely to require these additional chemicals injected into their systems which ironically may do more harm than good.
Titer Testing for Dogs
This year, however, we took him for titer (pronounced "tighter") testing at our local lovely vets who we just can’t recommend highly enough, ICR Vets in Loanhead.
Titer testing is a way to check that the puppy vaccs worked first time, and if they are still working it means your dog does not require a full vaccination again.
Your vet will take a blood sample from your dog and then send it to the lab to test that the immunity/resistance levels given via the puppy vaccs remain high. When your vet calls you with the results, which will be a number between 1 and 6 with 6 being the highest immunisation level, 0 the lowest. You can at that point discuss if your dog's immune system requires the full vaccinations again.
Sprocket, aged 8, was recently titer tested for the first time. His immunity is still very high, our vet was happy that he did not require the full round of vaccs again. Going forward we agreed to titer test again in three years to check if his immunity levels have remained strong.
The yearly booster vaccination is to protect your dog against Lepto, or Leptospirosis, and this is where you should start paying attention because Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning you can get it too. It’s a type of bacteria from animals’ urine, and can survive in streams and rivers meaning if your dog is a swimmer, like ours, it’s possible it could catch the infection.
In short if, like our dogs, yours enjoys playing in the water this is a very important vaccination to get. Although Sprocket did not require his full vaccinations again we did get his Lepto 2 booster, and we will continue with this annually because he’s a water baby.
It is important to be aware of the dangers with the Lepto 4 booster, which has been reported to cause more harm than good. Our dogs have only ever received Lepto 2, and our vets do not use Lepto 4. Always check with your vet which Lepto vaccination they use prior to your dog being vaccinated.
If your vet is unsupportive of titer testing, find a vet who is! We have experienced negativity with a vet practice before and would never wish that on anyone. Always follow your instincts, and remember that this is private healthcare for which you pay a premium and your dog deserves the best. You always have the right to disagree and walk away to get a second opinion.
If your dog is insured, always check your insurance policy before you begin a new vaccination regime. If you are unsure about anything, it is best to call them to confirm.
Overall the majority of cover is not affected unless your dog was to become ill with one of the diseases which the booster protects against.
But remember, if your dog's immunity remains high due to already receiving the vaccs as a puppy, you are not leaving them vulnerable, you are merely not adding further chemicals to your dog's system where they are not required.
Kennel Cough Vaccination
Kennel cough is a common and contagious condition found in dogs. It is as life threatening to dogs as the common cold is to humans, which is to say it is dangerous only in very extreme conditions. Outbreaks tend to happen when many dogs are kept together in enclosed spaces, like kennels. You can see where the name came from.
The kennel cough vaccination (a scoosh up the nose) only protects against two strains and ironically can be accused of helping to spread those two strains due to inappropriate vaccination of dogs.
Many owners don’t realise that kennel cough vaccinated dogs are themselves contagious for several weeks afterwards by sneezing out doses of the virus everywhere they go, including on walks, when socialising with other dogs and when boarding either in kennels or home boarding.
Yup, that's right. Your newly kennel cough-vaccinated dog is actually spreading the disease for two weeks afterwards to all the other dogs he meets.
This is why we now insist that dogs who have been kennel cough vaccinated must not board with us until at least two weeks afterwards, for the safety of all our other boarders and our resident dogs. For this reason, we do not insist on dogs receiving the kennel cough vaccine before they come to board with us.
Kennel cough can only be fatal to the very young, very old or ill. Fit and healthy dogs do not require vaccinating as they have incredibly strong immune systems. If you decide your healthy dog should have it, you may in fact be adding to the endemic because the more healthy dogs who receive it, the further the virus will be spread via these dogs.
As mentioned, the Kennel Cough vaccine only claims to protect against two strains and this illness, like all viruses, continue to mutate and multiply into many different strains - we feel that the vaccine (when given to fit and healthy dogs) is really doing more harm than good.
Appropriate vaccinating is the future!
If you are concerned about dog vaccinations, take it up with your vet. They should have the time to listen and respond to your concerns, and we’d love it if you could pass on your advice to us so we can share with everyone.
Whatever you decide to do, it's important you are doing it fully armed with information, and not just following a crowd. We'd love to hear your thoughts, either below or on our Facebook page, on dog vaccinations.
Let’s talk about something we all know about, we all hate, but we all have to put up with.
The dog tax.
What is the dog tax?
Put simply, this is what we call it when you, as a dog owner, are charged extra for simply having a dog. You will probably have experienced this before if you stay in a dog “friendly” hotel, except it’s not that friendly as they will likely want to charge you an extra £10 per dog per night - sometimes more - just for the pleasure of taking your business to them.
It’s hard to justify this charge. We walk, feed and pick-up after our dogs, we even bring their bedding! Dogs aren’t going to be swigging mugs of weak tea with manky tubs of UHT milk, are they? Or spending hours basking in the glorious power shower with questionable full-body shower gel, surely? I mean, this extra charge can’t be because they’ll be calling up room service at 4am for some liver cake and a dog chew, right?
No, the most common reason, we are told, is that it is for all the extra cleaning that dogs bring with them. On the surface, this might sound fair - dogs do tend to be pretty hairy after all. But think this through - how much more work is it to vacuum a floor with dog hair than one without?
How much more work to polish a desk in a room that had a dog, compared to one that didn’t? Even if the dogs are allowed on the bed, I would still expect the covers to be washed to the same standard than if it were just humans using it before the next visitors arrive.
It takes no more work, and that’s our issue here. We don’t object to a doggy deposit, where you pay a reasonable returnable fee for any chew damage or copious mud shakes all over the walls. That’s only fair that if your dog causes damage, you pay for it. If your dog causes no damage, what is there to pay for? Are hotels really giving your room an extra £10 per dog-worth of cleaning each day?
We don’t get on many holidays any more, and that’s by choice. When we do go away however, we are selective about where we stay. We won’t pay extra to have our two stay with us - that, to our mind, is a dog tolerant hotel, not a dog friendly one.
If we were to stay somewhere for a week with our two, that’s an extra £140 we’d have to stump up. Now really, does it cost any hotel or B&B an extra £140 a week to clean up after two little well behaved dogs?
We object to this dog tax, and we think you should too by refusing to pay any extra for your dogs. Offer to make a refundable deposit instead - that’s much more fair.
By taking your business elsewhere to somewhere that truly welcomes dogs deserves your custom, we believe your stay will be made all the better for it. Just because we own and love dogs doesn’t mean we should be taxed for it.
And if you think that's bad...
These days, we tend to nip away for a couple of nights in our wonderful little caravan. Beautiful surroundings, peaceful countryside, starry nights in beautiful Scotland. Surely there can be no additional dog taxes here, right?
Well, obviously, wrong. Some sites, beleive it or not, do charge extra to take dogs with you in your own caravan. I mean...what? In what world does having a dog in your own caravan cost the campsite any more? As responsible dog owners - as we all should be and, if you are reading this, probably are - we pick up after our dogs and nobody would ever know they were there.
Why do some campsites charge extra? Well, you'll have to ask them and whilst we don't want to publicly shame anyone for this, the next time you come across this charge at a campsite why not ask them what it's for? It might make them think twice.
Technology Dog Taxes
It’s not just in holiday accommodation that we see such dog taxes arise.
Take, for example, the security cameras we use here at Happy Home Dog Boarding. They are from Motorola, and don’t get us wrong, they are very good and let us keep an eye on the dogs at night or when we pop out, but have a look at these, both taken from the UK Motorola website.
Spot the difference:
These two cameras are, other than their colour, completely identical in size, shape and function. Completely. Identical. So why would the one on the left cost more than the one on the right?
The dog tax, that’s why.
The Motorola Scout 85 is promoted as a pet cam, to keep an eye on your furry pals when you’re not around. As it says, it is to "...keep an eye on your pet". At time of writing, it costs £95 at Pets At Home and £95 at fetch.co.uk and £89.99 on Amazon (when not on sale, as it fortunately is now).
Compare this to the functionally identical Motorola Focus 85, available for £59.99 on Amazon, £79.99 at Argos and £79.99 from Maplin and marketed as a general household security camera, to "...keep an eye on your home".
Again, let me repeat - the only differences between them is the colour, and the fact the more expensive Scout is targeted towards pet owners. Seems a bit dodgy, right?
No more stealthy taxes for dog owners!
The worry is that the dog tax is a stealthy tax, where we don’t even realise we’re paying more than we should or, in the case of hotels, may not be able to refuse if it’s the only place available.
We’re fed up of being taken advantage of. We’ll happy pay more for a premium service, but businesses please - don’t try to fleece us for a few extra pounds. We’re onto you, and if there’s one thing you don’t do, it’s don’t upset dog owners!
We’d really love to hear any instances where you felt you have been taken advantage of, just because you own a dog. Let us know below, or over on our Facebook page.
And remember, if all else fails and you can't take your dog away with you...well...not to blow our own trumpet, but we do know two pretty awesome home dog boarders you could use. Yes, we're talking about ourselves.