There’s been a lot of discussion about dog vaccinations recently. Some veterinarians believe booster shots are over done and should only be given every three years. Other are adamant that annual shots are needed to adequately protect a dog from disease.
Whichever side of the fence you stand on, the fact is that few experts dispute the need for vaccinations. Millions of dogs receive these every year, and only a miniscule percentage show any adverse side effects.
The current crop of vaccines we have available may not be perfect, but they do protect your dog against the major diseases. An unvaccinated dog on the other hand is almost certain to become ill at some time, so why risk it? Until there is evidence to support the view that vaccines are ineffective or dangerous, it is definitely a good idea to have your dog vaccinated.
Vaccines offer protection against the common communicable canine diseases. These include distemper, canine hepatitis and kennel cough. A puppy will normally get his first shots at age 6 to 8 weeks. Thereafter, there will be a follow up series of vaccinations lasting until the pup is 15 weeks old. After that there’ll be annual (or 3 yearly) boosters, depending on what your vet advises.
It is common practice to administer the core vaccines in combination. This is commonly referred to as a five-in-one and protects against the following diseases;
Canine Distemper: A highly infectious and often deadly disease that causes seizures, convulsions, respiratory and heart failure. It is spread by discharge from the eyes and nose of an infected dog coming into contact with a healthy dog.
Canine Hepatitis: Usually spread by the saliva, urine or faeces of an infected dog, this diseases attacks the abdominal organs and is usually fatal within 10 days.
Leptospirosis: This is a serious bacterial disease that is transmitted by coming into contact with the urine of an infected dog. It causes extensive damage to the digestive tract, the liver and kidneys, and has a very high mortality rate.
Parainfluenza: Spread through the air, or through physical contact, this is a common and highly infectuous form of kennel cough.
Canine Parvovirus: A viral disease that is often deadly to puppies and older dogs. It attacks multiple systems including the intestinal tract, lymph tissue and the immune system.
In addition, the dog will normally receive a rabies vaccine, which is normally administered bi-annually.
Why Dog Vaccinations Are Essential
Dog vaccinations are important for a number of reasons, chief of which is the health of your pet. But there are many other valid reasons for vaccinating your dog, some of them required by law.
Many city ordinances require it, and if you intend to travel with your dog, particularly abroad, you will need to provide proof of vaccination. If you want to take your dog to obedience classes, or put him into kennels, or doggy day care, you’ll need to provide a vaccination certificate. Ditto if you want to take your dog to a pet friendly hotel or resort.
While all of these are valid reasons to have your dog vaccinated, the most important of all remains the health and well-being of your pet.