Adopting a pet brings a lot of joy, but it also brings a lot of responsibility.
Health care is perhaps the most important and expensive obligation, especially when you’re paying for a preventable mistake like unneeded vaccinations.
Adrienne Magcalas learned that the hard way when she took her dog, Todd, to the vet for a digestive problem.
"He had a parasite so they treated him for that, and while I was there they recommended some additional vaccinations because of his age," Magcalas said.
Todd had already received vaccinations before his adoption, but his medical records never made it to his vet. The booster shots based on Todd’s age nearly killed him.
"Literally that afternoon he hit the floor," said Magcalas. "He ended up getting an autoimmune deficiency because of the vaccination."
According to veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a dog’s immune system, rather than age, determines whether they need booster shot vaccinations.
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"If your pet is sufficiently immune, giving them a vaccine doesn’t make them more immune. It could be harmful to the body," said Mahaney.
Now Todd requires a special diet, antibiotics and steroids, all of which have cost Magcalas about $7,000.
"In this case, he’ll he sick forever," she said.
Dr. Mahaney said this vaccination mistake could have been avoided with a new test called VacciCheck, a blood test that visually illustrates a dog’s immunity for the three major booster shots. Results that show a dark dot means the pet has a strong immunity, and does not need a specific shot.
"We’re immunizing patients with vaccines they probably don’t need at that time," said Mahaney.
The test costs about $75 for dogs, and a test for cats is in the works.
Keeping accurate health records of your pet’s history is critical to ensuring your pet’s safety.
If your pet does need a vaccine, it is recommended to space out needed shots over a period of time.