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Can you over-vaccinate your pet? 'It was very shocking and scary'

Annual vaccinations used to be recommended. But pet vaccine standards have changed. Watch #LiveOnKVAL at 6 p.m. Monday, October 30, to learn about the emerging consensus among veterinarians. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - 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 the medical scare, but they agree - by current veterinarian standards, giving a pet the same five vaccines every year is way too much.

“It used to be every animal was vaccinated every year with every vaccination," said Jason Kimball from Edgewood Animal Clinic in South Eugene, "but over the years it’s definitely been changed as far as how often we vaccinate and the intervals are getting longer and longer between vaccinations.”

Once your cat or dog has had their initial vaccine series and booster shots - starting no earlier than 9 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 amounts to over-vaccination - whicih can over-stimulate your pet's immune system.

"Over-stimulation of the immune system can be problematic," said veterinarian Deborah Wolf. "There are 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.

“At least several times a year I review the protocols to make sure we’re up to date,” Kimball said.

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

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

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