Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vaccines and Your Dog

While we've mentioned certain diseases on this blog previously, it occurred to me that we never really just plainly talked about them as a whole.  It can be confusing: what you need and when and why, what is required by law, or what kind of a schedule your dog should be on.  Please note that different veterinarians will make different recommendations for your dog's particular age and health status, and also based on their lifestyle.  During those "puppy" series, there may also be some differing recommendations.  Always bear in mind that medicine is a constantly evolving arena, when it comes to new studies and illnesses. This article is meant to be a general guideline to help you get a better understanding of the recommendation that I am most familiar with at this time.  *As with all things* when it comes to your dog, seek advice and guidance from your veterinarian and use all other sources of information as general guidelines.

This vaccine is required by law, and it is only viewed as legal if administered by a veterinarian. Our dogs get this vaccine for the first time around age 16 weeks.  If your puppy is on a schedule of visiting the vet 3 times for a vaccination series, this vaccine would occur at your last visit.  For vaccines in general, puppies get vaccinated at 6-8 weeks, then 10-12 weeks, then at about 16 weeks.  After their first shot, they will return in 1 year for another, that will be good for one more year.  After that, if they visit on time when each vaccine is due, it will turn into a 3 year vaccine.  It is the same vaccine given, but the theory is that after we build that initial immunity with those first 2, one-year shots, they will only need the shot every 3 years to maintain vaccinated status.  This is considered a "core" vaccine, meaning one you really must get, beside the fact it is illegal if you don't.
More on Rabies

This is referred to as the "Distemper Combo" vaccine.  It can be abbreviated many ways, one of them being DHLPP.  This vaccinates against Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo virus, and Parainfluenza.  It can also be just DHPP, as often Leptospirosis can be separated out from this vaccine and given separately.  This is also a core vaccine like Rabies, though not required by law.  Your puppy will get this shot 3 times, at each of those 3 puppy vaccine visits mentioned above.  After the last shot at 16 weeks, they will get the shot again in 1 year.  After that, they will get that vaccine every 3 years.
More on Distemper

If not included in your veterinarian's Distemper combo vaccine, this will stand alone as it's own shot.  Alone, it is not considered a core vaccine, though it makes a lot of sense, especially for dogs in Colorado who have such an active outdoors lifestyle.  This vaccine can be given as puppies over two visits with the other puppy visits, and then it is given annually.  It is only good for 1 year each time.  If your dog is an adult who never received it, they will get an initial shot which will need to be boostered a few weeks later.  From there, it becomes an annual visit.
More on Leptospirosis

This is commonly referred to as the "Kennel Cough" vaccine, and while it's not a core vaccine, it's the one that boarding and day care facilities will require.  Your pup may receive this twice during their puppy visits, and most facilities will ask for proof of vaccination every 6 months.  If you are not boarding or taking him to day care, your vet may just booster this once a year.  This vaccine can be given intranasally (liquid squirted into their nostrils) *or* via the typical injection.
More on Bordetella

Other vaccines:
Your veterinarian may make recommendations for others, such as Canine Influenza (a newer disease in dogs) or Lyme's disease, which is a very standard vaccine for dogs living in the Northeast. 

Vaccines are given, with the exception of intranasal Bordetella, as subcutaneous injections.  This means your vet or tech lifts their skin and injects the liquid just under the surface of their skin.  They use a very small needle, and it causes very little pain or discomfort. The injection itself is only about 1 milliliter of fluid.  They will often give each vaccine in different locations on your dogs body, so in the event of an allergic reaction, they will know which vaccine caused it.  Allergic reactions are possible, but on the whole vaccines are well-tolerated.  They all can cause some sleepiness afterwards, and this is normal.  What to look for to understand a potential allergic reaction would be things like extreme lethargy and/or face swelling.  If your dog acts anything other than "a little tired", call your clinic immediately. 

To dispel some myths I've heard from time to time, there is *no* vaccine that you give one time that works forever.  I've unfortunately met owners who thought that "they were vaccinated" meant it was done and over after one visit and shot.  There is also no vaccine against Heartworm Disease; you use your once monthly oral tablets for this.  Animals *can* get a sarcoma (tumor) from vaccinations, but this is the exception, not the rule.  If you are concerned about the risk factor to your pet, discuss all these concerns with your vet.  Your dog is *not* vaccinated the minute they get an injection.  If you vaccinate your pup for Leptospirosis today, and they drink from a contaminated puddle tomorrow, they may very well get the disease.  A body takes time to respond to the vaccine and build immunity.  Ask your veterinarian about the time frame they are comfortable with for your dog, before you expose them to contagions.  It is not wrong or uncommon for your doctor to hold off on vaccines if your dog is sick.  If their bodies are busy fighting something else off, it may make sense to let their bodies do just that, before introducing another job for it to do.  The last myth:  older dogs don't need vaccines.  It is potentially quite the contrary.  I've met owners who felt like their dog "lived all this time" and never got "anything", and they must be immune "by now".  Never mistake lack of previous exposure to immunity: they are not immune unless they are vaccinated.  We tend to think of Parvo and Distemper as puppy diseases, because they do get them the most.  They get them the most because their immune systems are not fully developed.  Just like in humans, as we age, our immune systems become weak.  Our older dogs are again at risk of diseases when they are immuno-compromised.  I once asked a vet what was the oldest dog he ever met with Distemper.  His answer: 10 years old.

Vaccines are not expensive, but treating the illness they get if they are not vaccinated is.  Even if you believe your animal to be one with little exposure to other animals, they are still at risk.  Believe your doctor when they explain that your puppy is "under-vaccinated" until they have received their 3rd and final round of "puppy shots".  I think it's important to understand how immunity works, and never take risks.  

1 comment:

  1. Such an amazing and interesting blog which i really appreciate it. That is the best information about dogs vaccines. You have made some very valid points, and I thank you for this informative post. Keep it up..

    Rabies Vaccine for Dogs


Please Leave Your Comments or Questions and we will get back to you as soon as possible! :)