Last spring I received a newsletter from Gracie's veterinary office. One article is written from the viewpoint of a dog named Harry. The dog recounts his experience with periodontal disease. The article reads, in part:
"...when the infection spread from my mouth to my internal organs I spent days in intensive care and was so sick I could barely wag my tail... I could have prevented it by brushing and flossing but I don't have any thumbs so now I rely on my family to protect my health by having my teeth and periodontal tissues professionally cleaned on a regular basis...My dental health is maintained by the use of Pfizer's porphyromonas vaccine to help prevent periodontal bacteria. I now feel great and plan on telling all my friends about regular dental care."
Should anxious pet owners run out and buy yet another vaccination for their dogs? Of course periodontal disease is a serious issue, but do most dogs really need to get a vaccine to prevent it?
The Merck Veterinary Manual online states, "Mechanical control, in the form of toothbrushing and diets designed to remove tartar and calculus from teeth, can be used proactively to prevent periodontal disease."
Regular toothbrushing is really all it takes to prevent periodontal disease in most dogs.
I try to brush Gracie's teeth once or twice a week. Click here to see my post about Doggie Dental Care. Too often I've been lazy about doing it. Occasionally I've gone as long as two weeks without brushing her teeth. Even so, her vet has commented on how well her teeth and gums look. Her teeth aren't perfectly white and tartar-free, but they're healthy.
In most dogs, periodontal disease can be prevented with a little owner effort and common sense.
Pet dogs already receive too many vaccines. Most dog owners don't even think to ask questions or say, "No thank you," when their veterinary office staff tells them it's time for another vaccination.
According to the ASPCA's (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals) website, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force published a revised version of canine vaccination guidelines in 2006. The ASPCA's website states,
"The guidelines divide vaccines into three categories—core, non-core and not recommended.
Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans. Canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines by the Task Force.
Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria."
No mention is made about any "not recommended" vaccines.
I've read several sources describing core, non-core and not recommended vaccines for dogs and they're not always the same!
The most enlightening information I've read about canine vaccinations is in the 1999 book, "The Nature of Animal Healing," by Martin Goldstein, DVM. Click here to read my review of this book.
Better yet, click here for a link to Google Books where you can read most of Chapter Four, "The Dubious Legacy of Vaccines." It's worth reading if you're concerned about vaccinating your dog.
I'm sure Pfizer's porphyromonas vaccine is totally unnecessary for most dogs. Gracie won't be getting it any time soon.