Why Do We Give All Those Vaccines to Dogs?

Vaccinations are essential in establishing a healthy puppy and dog! Let’s talk about the vaccines and the diseases they vaccinate against.

CORE VACCINES are a number of vaccines, including DAPP and RABIES, which are required, no matter your dog’s lifestyle. No matter how many other pets or people your dog interacts with within a given month, these vaccines are fundamental to establishing and maintaining health.

We’ve all heard of the RABIES virus. It is almost always fatal in any animal that contracts it – dog, human, cat, fox, coyote, or rodent. Rabies has lost much of its power to create fear in the developed world because we can effectively prevent transmission to our pets and ourselves. Vaccination against RABIES is governed by state law. If you don’t bring your records demonstrating your vaccination is up-to-date, we may have to re-vaccinate your pet. Ask your veterinarian if your dog qualifies for a 3-year rabies vaccine. The RABIES vaccination is MANDATORY for all pets.

DAPP stands for Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. This vaccination is given 3-4 times over the first four months of your puppy’s life or twice if your dog is an adult and receiving it for the first time. I call this group of diseases “viral diseases that kill dogs quickly,” – and they terrify veterinarians and owners alike due to the brutality of the illnesses. The most famous of these viruses is Parvovirus, which typically affects unvaccinated, young dogs (or puppies who have not been fully-vaccinated), and attacks fast-growing cells in the body – meaning gastrointestinal tract (intestines) are robbed of their ability to absorb nutrients. With veterinary care, dogs who acquire Parvovirus have about a 50% chance of survival. Due to the high cost of this supportive care and low rate of success (even with 24-hour care), getting your puppy or dog vaccinated is vital to his or her health. DAPP vaccine is boostered once a year.

Vaccines for Dogs

NONCORE VACCINES are considered “lifestyle” vaccines and may be necessary depending on your pet’s risk factors. These include Bordetella, Leptospirosis, Lyme, and Canine Influenza.

BORDETELLA protects your dog against Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough may be acquired by dogs who have interactions with other dogs in their environment – such as those who go for grooming or boarding and go into pet stores or dog parks. The BORDETELLA vaccine may not stop your dog from getting Kennel Cough, but it can prevent disease worsening to pneumonia. Interestingly, this vaccine is typically given by dripping the vaccine into your dog’s nose (no needles here!). This application method best replicates the transmission of the disease itself and provides the highest level of protection. The vaccine is frequently required by grooming and boarding facilities, and we recommend that almost all dogs receive this vaccine once annually.

An increasingly important disease in Southeast Pennsylvania is LEPTOSPIROSIS (“LEPTO”). In the past, LEPTOSPIROSIS was only important for hunting dogs. This bacterial disease has recently traveled via its mammal hosts into the suburbs and urban areas, elevating more pets’ risk levels! LEPTO is transmitted in standing water, where urine containing the bacteria can be absorbed via the nose or mouth and causes kidney and liver failure. The disease can also be transmitted to people and cause kidney and liver failure. I have my dog vaccinated for LEPTO, and recommend all my doggy clients do the same.

LYME disease in dogs is not similar to the disease in human beings. In dogs, symptoms of LYME disease include waxing/waning lameness of different limbs (it may move from one leg to another), malaise (feeling tired), inappetence (not eating well), or fever. Due to these symptoms’ generic nature, they are often missed, and the disease can go on to produce kidney failure and death. Considering how common ticks are, how easy it is to miss a tick or two, the nature of the LYME symptoms, and how serious the disease can be, not only do we recommend year-round flea and tick control, but the annual LYME vaccine for every pet.

Finally, the CANINE INFLUENZA virus and vaccine are a new addition to our line-up! CANINE INFLUENZA, much like the human flu, can be spread easily and range from mild to life-threatening. Also, like the human flu vaccine, the CANINE INFLUENZA vaccine’s ability to protect against the flu varies from outbreak to outbreak. Boarding, training, or grooming facilities may require the CANINE INFLUENZA vaccine – remember it needs two shots, two to four weeks removed from one another to give reliable immunity. The shot should be boostered annually—plan to protect your pet from CANINE INFLUENZA.