There has been a lot of discussion lately about vaccines for your dog.

  • What’s the RIGHT time to vaccinate?
  • How MANY vaccines does my dog need?
  • Am I missing IMPORTANT vaccinations because I’ve moved to a new area and didn’t know the risks?
  • What is this I hear about “over vaccination”?

Well, we’re here to help with some of those questions and get your dog on the road to a healthy, happy, life!

First of all, canine vaccines, as well as human vaccines work by stimulating the immune system (the natural disease-fighting system of the body) to produce defenses against certain disease-causing agents.

The dog is injected with a very small (minuscule) amount of the actual disease agent. As a result of this injection the dog is protected because the immune system has reacted to the introduction of the microbe.  Therefore the disease is prevented, or the severity reduced.

Let’s Break Down the Two Categories:

“Core” vaccines are the vaccines that EVERY DOG should have.
The essential vaccines for all dogs are the Core vaccines because they shield against diseases that pose a high risk of infection, that are very severe (sometimes fatal) and may also be transmitted to humans (e.g. rabies). Immunization against these diseases are necessary:

Canine parvovirus
Canine distemper virus
Canine hepatitis virus

“Non-core” vaccines are different vaccines available for dogs, but not every dog needs to receive every vaccine. The vaccines listed below are optional depending on the risk of a dog to become infected with a given disease. These include vaccines against:

Bordetella bronchiseptica
Borrelia burgdorferi
Leptospira bacteria

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Therefore, we recommend that you discuss your dog’s needs with your veterinarian to determine what vaccines are beneficial. The Veterinarian will take into consideration: your geographical area, your dog’s age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle to determine the best regimen.

On a personal note, we moved to an acreage with a lot of trees, fields, and wildlife (we moved from a very crowded suburban lifestyle). I had never heard of, or encountered “Leptospira.” I had to research myself to ensure the benefits outweighed the risks.  Research and listen to your veterinarian’s recommendations based on your dog and your circumstances.
Learn more about Leptospirosis here: Leptospirosis by Merck
Another Excellent Resource is the New guidelines by UCDavis:    UC Davis Vaccine Protocol

When Should Dogs Receive Their First Vaccine?  Vaccines for your dog
Dogs need to receive various vaccines throughout their lives to prevent life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus infection. The first vaccine is usually administered between 6 and eight weeks of age.

After this initial vaccines 2-3 boosters are given at 3-4 week intervals until the puppy is 4 months old.
After that, your dog will need yearly boosters (or talk to your veterinarian about the new three yr boosters)

What Vaccines are Required by Law?
Each state has their regulations regarding the administration of the rabies vaccine. Proof of rabies vaccination every one to three years is mandatory in most jurisdictions. Puppies cannot receive the  Rabies Vaccine until they are four months old.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Vaccines?
A vaccine will stimulate a dog’s immune system to produce antibodies against the disease. Most dogs will not show any sign of illness after being vaccinated. However, some dogs will show minor illness signs such as:

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Allergic reactions are not uncommon with some vaccines. Facial swelling and difficulty breathing are two symptoms of a reaction. Return to your veterinarian immediately if an allergic reaction occurs.In the case of an allergic reaction, you should bring your dog back to the vets’ office immediately.

Observe your dog for 24 hrs after a vaccine to ensure there is no reaction.

Overall, dog vaccines are safe, and they can prevent severe, life-threatening disease. In conclusion, we need to ensure that our beloved friends have an up-to-date vaccination schedule to keep them healthy and disease free.