Is Your Pet Dying From Over-Vaccination Due to Vet Economics?
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Nationally and internationally, companion animals (pets) are being over-vaccinated - a practice that is resulting in vaccine related deaths, severe illnesses, reduced longevity and large monetary costs to guardians (pet owners).

The most common practice is the annual administration of rabies vaccine, based upon the oft-stated supposition that an annual booster is necessary to maintain the vaccine's effectiveness. In reality, there is no research substantiating that practice, and veterinary schools and professional associations increasingly are embracing a triennial administration standard.

A study of more than 1,000 cats and 1,000 dogs in the United Kingdom by Canine Health Concern in March 2001 showed a 1 in 10 risk of adverse reaction from vaccines! The study, which tracked over a seven-month period the health of cats and dogs vaccinated by one UK veterinarian, found that 7.54% to 12.42% of the dogs had adverse reactions within a 45-day period post-vaccination. An almost-identical number of cats - from 7.56% to 12.44% -- also suffered adverse reactions within 45 days. This is quite contradictory to the vaccine-manufacturers' claim that less than 15 adverse reactions occur out of 100,000 companion animals vaccinated. The UK study results were reported at the 99% confidence level. Vaccine manufacturers rely on adverse-reaction statistics from the vets themselves.

In our opinion many vets continue to cling to the annual rabies shot has less to do with a cautious standard of care and more to do with their economic dependence on vaccinations for fiscal solvency. This is especially true of a substantial - if not vast - majority of small vet practices (1-3 people, non-specialty, non-emergency practice).

A vial of rabies vaccine costs the veterinarian about 61 cents and is typically administered at a cost to the guardian of from $15 to $38 - not including the $35 office visit. In perspective, an 18-oz. package of Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes® is $2.20 to the grocer and approximately $2.75 retail. If the grocer's mark-up were comparable to that of rabies vaccine, Frosted Flakes would cost $137 without the office visit and more than $260 with it. To borrow Tony the Tiger's expression, that size of a mark-up is "Gr-r-reat!"

Take out 1 year of rabies vaccination and the consequential office visit-- just for dogs -- and the average small-practice vet's income drops from approximately $87,000 to $25,000 -- and this doesn't include cats or other vaccinations!

The Veterinarian "Shot-based Practice" Model is a systemically flawed economic approach and potentially detrimental to companion animals. Bad practice-management becomes bad medicine, resulting in unnecessary -- and widespread -- death, illness, reduced longevity of companion animals and unnecessary cost to owners.

Shot Based Practice Analysis

The vast majority of dog owners vaccinate yearly. There is an arguably safer choice --the three year rabies vaccination option -- but many, many in the veterinarian community are not informing the guardians (pet owners) to the potential detriment of their animal companions’ (pets’) life, health, and longevity.

Could economics be a factor in this lethargic effort on the part of many vets to provide their clients with an opportunity for informed consent?

Yearly rabies vaccination is big business and materially impacts the small-animal vet practice!

We can make these assumptions based upon various surveys and studies printed by animal association groups and trade associations.

· Average vet has 2,500 dogs and cats (45% dogs).

· Cost of vial of rabies vaccine is 61 cents.

· Cost of inoculation is between $15 and $38 yearly not including office visit.

· Cost of office visit is approximately $35.

· Price markup on rabies vaccine: 2400% to 6200% and again, this does not include the office visit.

If 100% of the dogs in the average one-vet practice are annually given the rabies vaccine= 2,500*.45 (dogs per practice) or 1,125 dogs.

The gross operating profit (after cost of goods, 61cents per shot) equals:

@$15 per shot, a net of $14.39 = $16,189.

@$38 per shot, a net of $37.39 = $42,064.

If the three year option is exercised (versus a yearly vaccination for rabies), then each vet loses between $32,000 ($16,000 x 2 years) and $84,000 ($42,000 x 2 years) of operating profit in each three-year vaccination period.

Adding office visits (1 a year for 2 years x 1,125 dogs x $35 per visit) = $78,800 of potential lost revenue.

(Note: The guardian should see that his/her companion animal receives a wellness exam at least yearly, which would extinguish this loss.)

Now, consider these figures. The:

· Median number of transactions per vet per year in 1997 was 5,102.

· Median gross income per vet in 1997 was $305,000 for a one- person practice.

· Net-income median for a one-vet practice before owner's compensation as a percentage of gross income was 26.8%. Assuming $305,000, that would be$87,300 for the average 1-vet practice.

· Average transaction charge is $58.41 per vet in a one-vet operation.

 If 1,125 transactions for rabies vaccine would be lost here is the impact on the one-vet practice for the two years the dog doesn't get a rabies vaccine (assuming no replacement revenue).

· Transactions go from 5,102 to 3,887 or a 22% decline.

· Gross income falls (at $20 per shot plus $35 for an office visit) by $62,000 from $305,000 to $243,000.

· Net median-income per vet in a one-vet situation could drop from $87,000 to $25,000 or by 71%!

And this is only if dogs were inoculated for rabies on a three-year cycle. The impact magnifies with cats going three years on the shot.

Source: "Financial and Productivity Pulsepoints: Comprehensive Survey and Analysis of Performance Benchmarks:Vital Statistics For Your Veterinary Practice," published by the American Animal Hospital Association, 1998.

The Small Vet (Non-emergency, non-specialist) Shot Model's Systemic Dependence on Transactions Assumptions:

- That a $25 rabies shot is eliminated for 1,000 dogs only in one year. (Cats are not considered and parvo virus and distemper shots would still be administered annually).

- Profit on the shot is $24.39 (the cost being 61 cents).

- 26% is the net profit margin.

Result: Instead of 1,000 transactions (shots) yielding $24,390, the vet would have to gross $93,807 from other areas of the practice to replace that net revenue. Furthermore, using a $54 average per transaction, the vet would have to conduct 70% more transactions - 1,737 instead of 1,000 - which would mean a 15% increase in workload (the average vet has 5,100 transactions annually) just to be at the same place. Then consider the loss of office-visit revenue and take out cats, and parvo and distemper annually, and the Small Vet Shot Model indicates red ink.

It appears that even at 20% of the gross revenue, rabies shots may constitute 100% of the net profits - or even worse, subsidize a net-deficit practice - of average small-vet practices. The loss of two years of shots, on which these practices seem dependent, would have a devastating economic impact if not replaced.

It appears that the small-vet economic model is a "shot model," based economically - by design or by evolution - on transactions rather than expertise. Such a model needs to be reexamined for validity of purpose and economic consequences.

· Vaccine-related cancer in cats: According to Colorado State University Professor Dennis Macey, "the incidence of this often fatal cancer (sarcoma-cancer development at the vaccine site) has been documented by several studies to be 1 to 3.2 per 10,000 cats receiving a rabies vaccine Š If all the cats in Denver (estimated to be 400,000) were to be vaccinated yearly for rabies, the unneeded additional vaccinations would result in an additional 26 to 84 vaccine cancer sites per year! Š I estimate 22,000 vaccine-associated tumors per year. Since surgery is usually unsuccessful, radiation treatment is necessary. Treating all these cats would cost $66 million per year."

-- "Are We Vaccinating Too Much," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1995

· And this doesn't even consider vaccine related prolonged illness or vaccine compounded deaths or reduced longevity for cats - and doesn't consider the impact on dogs at all!

Mere Property or Next-To-Kin?

How much money would it take to persuade you to give up your television set? $3,000? What's that? You say you have a 53" high-definition projection TV that costs more that $3,000? Okay, would you give it up for $30,000?

Well, the pet food manufacturer, Iams Co., a division of Proctor & Gamble, commissioned a Gallup poll, which found that 66% of the respondents would not trade their dog or cat for $1,000,000! (Dog Fancy, May 2002 issue)

Here are some more facts to chew on:

•An annual American Animal Hospital Survey found that 83% of companion-animal guardians (dog and cat owners) "were somewhat likely … likely … or very likely" to risk their life for their companion animal; 70% said they would spend $1,000 on treatment for a life-threatening illness or accident; 40% would spend any amount necessary.

•Two other studies found that between 44% and 76% of companion animals sleep in their person's bed.

• Midland National Life Insurance Company gives a discount on life insurance for senior citizens who have a dog, as it has been shown that dogs reduce stress (high blood pressure), routine visits to the doctor and, accordingly, medical expenses.

•In a study by Dr. Karen Allen, assistance dogs were able to substitute for paid-human assistance to the elderly or physically challenged in 68% of activities, saving a net-$13,000 a year in costs.

"Dogs aren't my whole life, but they make my life whole," wrote the late Roger A. Caras, noted broadcaster, writer and editor.

Yet, our laws still classify companion animals (domesticated non-farm animals) as "mere property." In Great Britain dogs and cats are considered sentient beings.

Constructively, we are moving to recognize domesticated non-farm animals as beyond mere property in law. Several states now allow dogs and cats effectively to be heirs – via trusts set up for their care after the primary guardian has passed away.

It is time to declare companion animals (dogs and cats) to be "beyond mere property" and recognize that they are not mere objects. The value of the animal-human bond, and the companionship generated by that bond, should be legally recognized beyond the depreciated value of the cat or dog. This is not "whack-o animal rights" but simple protection both for the companion animal and for the guardian.

By recognizing the value of companion animals to be "beyond mere property, Next-To-Kin," the law could establish significant civil economic penalties for the loss of that companionship through cruelty – be it of the gut-wrenching variety or the silent, systemic, willful acts of over-vaccination by smiling veterinarians. What else would one call economically driven acts that result in unnecessary suffering, illness, reduced healthy life span, and death?

As long as these $1,000,000 companion animals are legally considered mere property, there are no deterrents to over-vaccination and other types of self-serving, non-informed consent activities.