How many and what type of vaccinations should my dog receive?

April 13, 2012

Dogs are susceptible to disease-carrying viruses and bacteria. Dog owners know that vaccinations are the first line of defense against these canine diseases that can have fatal consequences to the life of the dog. Some of these diseases can be transmitted by the pet to the human family thus having the pet vaccinated will benefit the family as well. This is why a responsible owner would ensure that a visit to the vet is included in the new dog’s activities.

A new dog owner may wonder what canine vaccinations are. Are these shots really necessary? Vaccination is an important part of preventive health care for the dog. When a dog is vaccinated, a dead or attenuated bacterium or virus is introduced to the immune system to stimulate the production of antibodies that will fight potential diseases. Vaccinations increase the immunity and allow the dog to cope better with diseases. Because you would want to protect the pet from all these diseases you would ask the vet to give the dog the vaccines. That can be a lot of shots!

There are eight important diseases that a dog must be vaccinated against. Most dog owners are aware that the pet must be vaccinated against rabies. But there are other common canine diseases that a dog has to be protected against. The dog has to be protected from canine distemper, canine parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, kennel cough and Lyme disease. Vaccinations against bordetella bronchiseptica, adenoviruses, giardia and corona virus are recommended by vets as well. Distemper is a highly contagious disease as the airborne virus can easily contaminate objects. The disease can seriously affect the dog and can even cause death. Adult dogs and puppies can become infected with parvovirus by getting in contact with an infected dog’s stool or a contaminated environment. Severe vomiting and diarrhea can be fatal to unprotected puppies. A dog vaccinated against adenovirus will be protected against infectious canine hepatitis. The virus attacks the liver and other vital organs often leading to the death of the dog if treatment is not promptly administered. The adenovirus vaccine also protects the dog from kennel cough, another highly infectious disease that is characterized by dry hacking cough.

Vaccinations though like any other medical procedures are not without risks. The procedure that is aimed at giving the dog protection against diseases is noted to have adverse reactions too. The veterinary community has realized in recent years the need to change vaccination protocols. Vaccines are customarily given to dogs yearly. These shots though can have side effects that range from minor to long term and chronic diseases. Localized pain and swelling will be gone after a while but an allergic reaction has to have prompt medical attention as it can have potentially fatal effect on the dog. Autoimmune diseases, seizures and epilepsy are life threatening conditions that can develop through the administration of vaccines.

The veterinary community has classified vaccines into two groups – the core and the non-core vaccines. Core vaccinations are those that will protect the dog from potentially fatal diseases. Rabies, distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus are classified as core vaccines. Non-core vaccines will be recommended only for dogs with high risk of infection due to the environment or due to lifestyle. For instance in areas where there is a high incidence of tick infestation, Lyme disease vaccine will be necessary. Leptospirosis vaccination will be recommended as well if the disease is common in the area. Vaccinations will protect the dog from diseases but these preventive care have side effects that can endanger the life of the pet as well. It is important to balance the benefits with the risks. If it is not necessary there is no reason why the dog must be exposed to these dangers.

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