We all know that vaccinations are highly effective in protecting your pet dog in preventing serious transmittable canine diseases. However, vaccine administration is a one size fits all situation. Your veterinarian or veterinary clinic will help you determine the vaccines that your dog requires based upon the dog’s age, way of life and health status. Even though your dog may not have to have vaccines very often, your pet dog still should have a checkup by your veterinarian at least every 6 to 12 months.
Core Vaccines for Dogs
Core vaccines are those vaccinations that are recommended for just about every pet dog. The Core vaccinations for dogs include:
- Canine Distemper
- Canine Adenovirus-2
The first three mentioned are usually combined in a simple single injection that is administered to puppies starting at six to eight weeks of age. They are then administered as booster shots every three to four weeks until your pet is 16 weeks of age. After that time, the combo vaccine is repeated every one to three years. Rabies inoculation is initially administered the first time at twelve to sixteen weeks of age. It is then boostered one year later. Afterwards, depending on the laws in your area, vaccination for Rabies is repeated every 1 to 3 years.
Unfortunately, Canine Distemper is a very severe, highly infectious disease of dogs. It primarily weakens the animal’s immune system. This leaves the infected dogs vunerable to other potential infections. Common signs of infection include such things as having a fever, deep chest cough, nasal discharge that is green in color, discharge from the eyes, diarrhea, vomiting which leads to dehydration. Obviously the dog will have a loss of appetite. Neurological signs can occur also and include muscle twitching (ticks), seizures, and even blindness. Because of a lack of immunity, pups are more susceptible. Distemper is catastrophic and can a mortality rate of up to 90 %. The vaccination is extremely successful if administered prior to the dogs being exposed.
There are two classifications of Canine Adenovirus, which are CAV-1 and CAV-2. When vaccinated with CAV-2 the dog is protected against both forms. CAV-1 is the agent that causes Infectious Canine Hepatitis, which harms the liver. The second form, the CAV-2 virus, is among the group of organisms that can cause Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis or more commonly called Kennel Cough. Just as one would expect from the name, the principal symptom owners complain about is a hacking constant cough. The disease is transmitted primarily in places and locations where dogs are held as a group, such as kennels, humane shelters, day-care, grooming or boarding facilities, dog shoes and even veterinary hospitals.
Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly transmittable disease impacting the gastro-intestinal (digestive) system. The virus also weakens the immune system and can even cause heart damage. Symptoms consist of lethargy, fever, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration due to the GI involvement and a loss of appetite. Parvovirus can be deadly, especially in young puppies born to mothers that have not been vaccinated prior to getting pregnant. Treating Parvovirus normally needs hospitalization.
Rabies is a disease that is incurable and attaches the nervous system. Without immediate treatment, Rabies is virtually always fatal. Very few people have survived Rabies. Even worse yet, the disease can be transmitted between most mammal animal species which also includes humans. To get Rabies direct contact body fluid is needed, usually through saliva from a bite. Indoor pets are still at risk if any rabid animal enters the homes or attacks the dog while outside in their own yard. Because of the association of pets with humans and the disease is basically fatal, rabies vaccination is required by law in most states.
Dog Non-Core Vaccines
There are several other vaccines that can be given to your dog. Your vet can help you determine the appropriate vaccinations needed for your speicific dog.
Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) is a disease that affects the respiratory system and is a treatable infection. The following three infectious agents, CAV-2, Canine Para influenza, and Bordetella bronchiseptica, have all been associated with Kennel Cough. The combo vaccine that is produced and given to dogs has both CAV-2 and Para influenza included in the vaccine. Dogs that are considered high risk to exposure to kennel cough may be given a different vaccine that protects against Bordetella and is administered intra-nasally (nose drops). The Bordetella vaccine is usually reserved for those dogs which are being boarded, groomed frequently or professionally, or involved in dog shows.
Leptospirosis is one of those more serious diseases that attacks and damages the kidneys and liver. It can also be transmitted to humans. The Lepto vaccine provides limited or moderate protection. It has also been associated with allergic reactions after vaccination. Because of these factors, some veterinarians hold off vaccinating for this disease in many dogs. However, there are dogs more at risk to exposure. These dogs are exposed to water that could be contaminated with urinary excretions from wild animals or even farm animals. Obviously, hunting dogs would be at higher risk.
Lyme Disease can cause swollen lymph nodes, fever and painful joints. It is transmitted to other animals by ticks ,, especially the deer tick, and is a disease that can also infect humans. Lyme disease is a treatable disease using antibiotics if it is caught in the early stages. Vaccinating dogs for Lyme Disease is recommended in tick-exposed areas of the country where the disease is common. One of the primary areas is the northeastern United States.
Canine Coronavirus is another gastrointestinal viral disease that is similar to parvovirus, but is a lot milder on the patient. Due too it’s more mild affects, generally the vaccine is not recommended for all dogs.
A parasitic organism, Giardia, is a common cause of diarrhea in dogs. The organism can infect other animals and even humans. Drinking water contaminated by the feces of wild animal is the most commonly way a dog is infected. However, vaccination with the Giardia vaccine only provides some partial protection. Also, Giardia infection is a disease that can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Preventive Canine Health Care Beyond Vaccinations
A good preventative health care program for your dog requires much more than just providing proper vaccinations. Physical examinations and checkups should be given every six to twelve months. These wellness exams can detect many health problems while they are still easily treatable. Other areas for good preventive pet health care include parasite monitoring, healthy nutrition and regularly scheduled dental care. These steps will keeep your dog healthy for many years.