Vaccinations for your dog

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Dr. Bob’s Of Dogs and Cats

Vaccinations for your dog

                There has been much controversy about vaccinating children in the last few years. Much of the issue came about due to an article published in a British medical journal concerning vaccination and a link to autism. A thorough review of this hypothesis has been done, and the supposed link has been discounted. Many children have not been vaccinated due to these fears, and also due to the fact that their parents have no experience with these diseases. Vaccination is a modern miracle that we take for granted. Just like any medical procedure benefit vs. risk needs to be weighed.

                This brings up the points of when should we vaccinate our pets, how often should we vaccinate, and what vaccines are necessary. It is really best to consider pets on an individual basis in making recommendations.

                Looking at dogs, the American Animal Hospital Association considers two vaccines as core vaccinations for all dogs. These are the combination vaccine for distemper, parvo virus, hepatitis, and parainfluenza plus rabies vaccination. Rabies is required by law to not only protect your dog, but also to protect anyone around the dog. The virus is present in the wildlife population, especially raccoons and bats. Pups are vaccinated at 3-4 months of age, boostered 1 year later, and then every 3 years. The vaccines are very safe and effective.

                Distemper is a viral disease of dogs that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, and neurologic symptoms. Many dogs die or are euthanized if they have the disease. Vaccination is very effective, and the number of distemper infected dogs has gone down dramatically since I have been in practice. Parvo virus is a very serious disease causing severe gastrointestinal signs. It is a major problem in puppies, and many have to be hospitalized in ICU to save their lives. Again vaccination is safe and very effective. Infectious canine hepatitis is rare in our area, but it has made a comeback in Canada. Until the disease is eliminated in North America it is prudent to vaccinate. Parainfluenza is one of the factors that causes kennel cough, and this inactivated virus is part of the combination vaccine. This combination vaccine is frequently abbreviated DA2PP or DHPP. Puppies are given a series of vaccines usually at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. The vaccine is boostered 1 year later, and then every 3 years.

Some people argue that the combination vaccine lasts longer than 3 years. The truth is we really do not know. A titer test can be taken on your dog to check to see if immunity is still adequate, if follow up vaccination is an issue for you.

                I have recently added leptospirosis as a recommended core vaccine in our practice. In the last few years the number of dogs testing positive for this bacteria has sky rocketed. The disease is spread through the urine of wild animals. For years I have recommended the vaccine for dogs that swim or are in the woods. Recently we have seen several cases in small dogs living in the city. The disease can cause acute kidney or liver failure, and is also communicable to people through the urine. Dogs are vaccinated twice when they are young, and then they are boostered yearly.

                If dogs go to a boarding kennel or day care facility, they will require a specific vaccine for kennel cough. This is an optional vaccine depending on your dog’s situation. Some kennels also require vaccination for canine influenza. This is a relatively new disease in dogs, but some kennels have had severe outbreaks that required them to close and disinfect the premises. Both of these vaccinations we administer based on circumstances.

                This brings us to Lyme vaccination. This vaccine is controversial in the profession, but most of us in the north-east United States believe it is needed to reduce the disease incidence. Tick prevention is the best method of control of this disease, but the problem becomes preventing all of the ticks. Spot-on products and tick prevention collars can be used, but I recommend the vaccine as another layer of prevention.

                I do not vaccinate dogs for corona virus or giardia. There is also a vaccine for periodontal disease which I do not use at this point. The opinions in this article are mine alone.

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