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neurotoxin78 posted:
I vaccinate my animals myself with Spectra 7-1 from Tractor Supply. 2 Questions: 1) Are they as effective as the ones at the vet?
2) I attempted to vaccinate, but I'm not sure I actually punctured the skin. Don't know if I missed or needle was nice and sharp.
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
How a vaccine is handled (kept cold, mixed appropriately, administered correctly) is very important to how good a response the animal can make. I NEVER trust vaccines that are mail ordered or gotten from local companies because I don't know if they were kept on a shelf in the back and then put in the refrigerator when the current upfront-stock needs replacing. The worst breaks of disease in "vaccinated" animals I have seen are in dogs that owners vaccinated.

There is no way for you to know if the dog got vaccine and if it did, was the vaccine appropriate and effective. Sorry.
srstephanie responded:
Hi neurotoxin78,

I'd strongly encourage you to take your dogs to a vet to be vaccinated. Vaccination is a complex topic and something that is best discussed with and done by a vet.

Here is a little info.

I would not recommend the Spectra-7 for multiple reasons.

1) Buying vaccines at a Tractor or Farm supply store is always risky. Not only may they carry obscure, non-tested products, but you can't be sure that the vaccines were properly shipped to or stored by them. Thus, the vaccines may not work.

2) There is a much higher risk of adverse reactions to the vaccination when giving multiple vaccines at the same time, particularly with small dogs. I would not give that many vaccines at one time.

3) The Spectra-7 vaccine contains both Killed Virus and Modified Live Virus vaccines in a single injection. The new AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines (about to be published ... my info comes from one of the co-authors of the Guidelines) will recommend against giving both KV and MLV vaccines at the same time in the same location on the dog. The immune system responds differently to each type and can end up interfering with the response, so that the dog is not fully immunized.

4) The Spectra-7 vaccine contains Lepto ... which is a Non Core vaccine and not needed by most dogs unless you know there is a risk of exposure in your area (something to discuss with your vet).

5) IF you have a risk of Lepto ... the Spectra7 is NOT the vaccine to give. There are four common strains of Lepto in the US (Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Grippotyphosa, and Pomona ... and possibly a couple more) ... and the Spectra-7 has only two (Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae). The most common is Grippotyphosa which is not covered in the Spectra-7. Dr Richard Ford (one of the new Guidelines co-authors) said recently that the new Guidelines will STRONGLY recommend only using the 4-way Lepto vaccines when vaccinating for Lepto.

6) Lepto is a bacteria rather than virus ... and is a VERY reactive vaccine. For that reason, the experts often recommend giving it separately from other vaccinations ... at least two weeks apart and preferably 4 weeks. It is another reason to have vets give vaccinations ... in case there is a severe allergic reaction.

7) I don't know if this is your dog/puppy's first vaccination series or an adult booster. If it is the initial vaccination ... the Lepto is a KV vaccine and requires TWO doses, a minimum of two weeks apart (pref 4 weeks) in order to give immunity. Whereas the other vaccines that are MLV, if given at 16 weeks or later, only need one dose to immunize.

8) If you are giving Lepto because it is considered zoonotic (transmittable to humans) ... be aware that most Lepto vaccines (including Spectra-7) only give "non-sterile" immunity. That means that it will not always protect against either infection or shedding the virus ... but will only minimize or eliminate symptoms. So it will not protect humans from getting Lepto. The exception is the Merial Lepto vaccine which has recently been shown to prevent infection and shedding, and is the only one with a USDA label for sterile immunity.

9) The Spectra-7 contains Parainfluenza as part of the injectable vaccine. The new Canine Guidelines will STRONGLY recommend against giving Parainfluenza by injection because it does not give protection. Rather, if one wants to give it (it is non-core), it should be given as an intranasal vaccine (which is always combined with Bordetella). Thus most recommend giving only a 3-way vaccine: Distemper, Adenovirus-2, Parvovirus (and Rabies) as Core vaccines. Then if desired, give the intranasal Parainfluenza/Bordetella (pref 2-4 weeks later). Only give the Lepto if there is a significant risk of exposure.

And lastly, vaccines should only be given to healthy dogs, and a vet check is important.

Hope that helps.

Stephanie in Montreal


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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