Our Poway vets believe that vaccinations play an essential role in keeping your dog healthy throughout their lifetime. While we recommend core vaccinations for all dogs there are a number of lifestyle vaccines that are only given to specific animals based on their level of risk for contracting particular conditions.
The Importance of Vaccinating Your dog
As with the vaccinations that have been designed for people, dog vaccines protect your companion animal against a variety of serious conditions that could threaten the overall health or longevity of your dog.
While getting your dog vaccinated may appear to be an unnecessary expense at the time, especially if money is tight, the shots are likely to cost far less than treatment for the illnesses that vaccines protect against.
How Dog Vaccines Work
Vaccines provide your dog with a defensive level of antibodies, allowing their body to develop immunity to specific highly contagious, serious diseases. After your dog is vaccinated, the body receives a disease-enabling organism to stimulate the immune system and instruct it on how to fight those diseases in the future.
Although dog vaccines aren't 100% effective, they can help your dog fight off illnesses or recover much more quickly if they do become infected.
Not All Dogs Need All Vaccines
Not all of the available vaccines will be required for all dogs. Speak with your veterinarian about your dog's lifestyle to determine which vaccines are best for your dog. Based on factors such as your dog's age, lifestyle, and where you live, your veterinarian can advise you on which ones will be most beneficial to him. Rabies vaccinations for dogs over the age of six months are required by law in most parts of the United States and Canada. This vaccination must be kept up to date, and dog owners will receive a certificate once their dog has been vaccinated.
Why should I vaccinate my dog?
By proactively vaccinating your dog and keeping your dog up-to-date on their booster shots, you can preserve and protect your dog's health from dangerous, deadly diseases.
Many vaccinations are mandated across the United States, such as rabies for both dogs. Residents require vaccination records in many areas to obtain a dog license.
If you travel with your dog, stay in dog-friendly hotels, go to dog parks or have your dog groomed, vaccinations may be required and can prevent your furry friend from contracting contagious diseases from other animals, in addition to inadvertently spreading infection. This is also true for dog sitting services, doggy daycares, and other businesses.
Even if your dog is always on a leash when outside, he is still at risk of becoming ill. Many bacteria and viruses can survive for long periods of time on surfaces, so your dog could contract a serious disease without even coming into contact with another dog. Other diseases are airborne and can be easily contracted by dogs who come into contact with infected dogs while out walking.
Core Vaccines for Dogs
Core vaccines are recommended for most dogs in the United States and are designed to help protect your dog by preventing diseases that are common in your area. These diseases are easily transmitted between animals (and, in some cases, between animals and humans) and have a high fatality rate.
Core Vaccinations for Dogs
- Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. Parvovirus can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Dogs that are not vaccinated are at risk of contracting the virus. Vaccinating your puppy or dog against parvovirus could save their life.
Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eyes. Distemper is spread through contact with the fresh urine of an infected animal. This virus can travel to the brain, causing seizures, shaking, and trembling. Protect your dog against distemper by having them vaccinated.
- Canine Hepatitis
Dogs suffering from canine hepatitis experience swelling and cell damage in the liver, which may result in hemorrhage and death. This virus is spread through contact with the feces and urine of infected dogs. Simply by having your dog vaccinated you can protect your dog against canine hepatitis.
Rabies is typically transmitted through a bite from the infected animal and is one of the few diseases that can be transmitted to people from their dogs. The rabies virus causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and will gradually infect the entire nervous system of the animal or person causing death.
Canine lifestyle vaccines protect dogs from diseases they may be exposed to if they live certain lifestyles, such as dogs who attend doggie daycares. The following are some lifestyle vaccines to consider for your four-legged friend.
Lifestyle Vaccines for Dogs:
- Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
Bordetella bronchoseptica is the bacteria that can lead to the respiratory disease known as “kennel cough.” This respiratory illness earned the name kennel cough because it is easily transmitted when dogs share indoor spaces, such as kennels. That said, dogs that attend dog parks or doggie daycares may also be at risk of contracting this disease. As with the human flu vaccine, the bordetella vaccination will not prevent your dog from getting sick, but it will help to decrease the severity and length of symptoms. Speak to your vet about the Bordatella vaccine if your dog spends time with other dogs.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is spread in water contaminated with urine from infected wildlife. While most cases of leptospirosis are mild and easily treated with antibiotics, some dogs get very sick and may even suffer kidney failure. Leptospirosis can also be transmitted from animals to people in some cases. If your dog is fond of drinking from puddles, ponds, or rivers in your neighborhood, speak to your vet about vaccinating your canine companion against leptospirosis.
- Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)
Symptoms of the dog flu often begin as kennel cough then become increasingly more severe, and in some cases require hospitalization. There are two strains of dog flu that are widely spread throughout the country. Speak to your vet to find out if this vaccination is right for your pooch. If your dog spends time with other dogs in daycares, kennels, or dog parks you may wish to vaccinate them against dog flu. Short-faced dogs with an increased risk of respiratory illness should also be vaccinated against this condition.
- Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
In some regions of the US, the Lyme vaccine is considered a core vaccine because of the high prevalence of the disease in that area. If you live in an area where the black-legged tick (deer tick) is present in large numbers, our vets may suggest tick preventive medications be given to your dog year-round, and the Lyme disease vaccination is given to dogs who spend time in wooded areas, parks, or farmlands. Speak to your vet to learn whether the Lyme disease vaccine is right for your dog.
Adult dogs should receive booster shots either annually or every three years, depending on the vaccine. Your veterinarian will notify you when it is time for your dog to receive booster shots. Booster shots are required to keep your dog's immunity up to date.
It's important to note that your puppy won't be fully protected by their vaccines until they've received all of them - around 12 to 16 weeks old. Your young dog will be protected against the conditions or diseases covered by the vaccines after your vet has administered all of their initial vaccinations.
We recommend keeping your puppy restricted to low-risk areas (such as your own backyard) if you plan to allow them outdoors before they have been fully vaccinated against the diseases listed above.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding dogs. For an accurate diagnosis of your dog's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.