Vaccines are biological preparations that are intended to provide immunity to a dog from a particular disease. The vaccine contains an agent that stimulates the immune system to rise up and destroy a particular threat. Dogs can be protected against many diseases by proper vaccination and they do play an important part in ensuring that a dog lives a long and healthy life.
The important part that a pet owner needs to recognize here is that while vaccinations do provide immunity against certain diseases to dogs, not all dogs need to be vaccinated against every disease. So how do you go about it? The proper way would be to discuss with your vet and proceed as per his suggestions. A vet would be able to identify the relevant laws applicable and various factors involved in the selection of a vaccine for a dog. A vet would also educate you about the types of vaccines in the market today. These are categorized into core and non-core vaccines. The American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force also includes some vaccines into the ‘not recommended’ category.
While travelling abroad with your dog, it is essential to make a note of the vaccines required in the country of arrival and comply with it. A failure to do so would entail that the dog is not allowed to enter the country.
Core vaccines as the name itself suggests, includes those vaccines that are deemed to be essential for the health of a dog. This list includes rabies, canine distemper, canine hepatitis and canine parvovirus. Non-core vaccines are to be used based on the risk of exposure of the dog and include vaccines for Leptospira bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Borrelia burgdorferi. The not-recommended list includes some vaccines whose efficacy is not proven and the list includes canine coronavirus, Giardia vaccine and rattlesnake envenomation
Now that the type of vaccines to be given is clear, it is important for the pet owner to understand the vaccination schedule. The vet would arrange a schedule which would be approximately start at the age of six weeks and continue on till sixteen weeks. Booster doses are given after one year. The frequency of vaccination thereafter depends on the lifestyle and exposure risk of an individual dog. The only exception to this is the rabies vaccine that needs to be taken every year or every three years (depending on the applicable laws of the place where you reside).
While most dogs show no reactions to vaccinations, some dogs may exhibit minor and short-lived reactions that do not require a vet’s attention. However, rare instances occur, which require the immediate attention of the vet. The reactions may include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sluggishness, hair loss at the injection site, collapse and seizures. In very rare cases, the immune mediated disease develops after vaccination.
Vaccinations play an important part in continued good health of the dog. It also ensures that life-threatening diseases like rabies are not transmitted from dogs to humans.