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CBS12 Investigates: Vaccinating for Profit?

A little shot could turn into big problems for your pet.

CBS12 found some veterinarians are vaccinating too much, too often.

Ox is happy and healthy six-year-old Maltese, but that wasn't the case a month ago.

"It was very shocking and scary not knowing what is going on," said Matt Rysavy, Ox's owner after Ox's vet gave him five core vaccinations recommended as part of his annual wellness plan.

Two weeks later during a scheduled teeth cleaning, Rysavy got a call that something was wrong with Ox's liver.

"The next thing I know his liver enzymes are through the roof and I am following up to do a bunch of tests to make sure he is ok," said Rysavy.

The five pound dog had the same five vaccines he received last year and the year before, at least four times altogether.

We checked with all three of the major veterinary groups, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, The American Animal

Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association and they all agree, annual vaccinations are unnecessary and can be harmful. Instead, they recommend vaccinating every three years.

So then why are vets recommending so many vaccinations?

We took our questions to Dr. Dale Porcher of Shores Animal Clinic.

He says over-vaccinating can have a serious impact on your pet's health.

"Repetitive vaccination over the years can definitely trigger an autoimmune reactions, which can be harmful if not fatal to your pet," said Porcher.

Dr. Porcher added, make sure your vet's primary concern is your pet's health and not their profit margin.

"A lot of people do what they told," Dr. Porcher said. "I think a lot of people have not stood back and questioned why are we doing this."

In part, because it's big business.

According to market research, in 2016, pet vaccinations reached $5.81 billion.

And in another five years, its expected to top $7.68 billion.

Which is frustrating for pet owners like Rysavy who thought his vet had Ox's best interests at heart.

"It seems like something you are doing a lot of that can put your dog at harm," said Rysavy.

Experts advise having a firm discussion with your vet about their vaccination schedule and don't get pushed into annual shots for your dog.

Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs or cats: http://www.wsava.org/sites/default/files/WSAVA%20Vaccination%20Guidelines%202015%20Full%20Version.pdf

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