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Canine Vaccination

The instinctual social behavior in dogs increases their exposure to other animals.  This, in turn, increases the risk of disease.  Many diseases that dogs can get from other dogs are serious.  Some are fatal or can seriously jeopardize good health.  Fortunately, there are vaccines made available that can greatly decrease the risk of contracting disease.  The best way to treat disease is to prevent it altogether.  Along with a full physical exam, vaccinating your pet is an effective way of preventing disease and illness.


The following is a list recommended vaccines that help prevent infectious diseases.   

Canine Respiratory Infections:

Canine respiratory diseases are highly contagious and widespread within the canine community.  Symptoms of these diseases include respiratory signs (sneezing, fever, nasal discharges, runny nose, coughing), and general depression.

Direct contact or droplets in the air from coughing, sneezing or barking pass these diseases from one dog to another.  What this means is that even an unfamiliar dog that outwardly seems healthy may be a 'carrier' infecting your pet, therefore it is very important to that all dogs are protected.

Fortunately, protection from the most common respiratory diseases is included in one injection.  A series of the initial injections is necessary to build the antibody protection needed to help your dog develop a high degree of immunity against these diseases.

The most prevalent and common of the canine respiratory infections are:

Canine Parainfluenza Virus

Canine Adenovirus

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Typically known as 'Canine Cough'.  It is an upper respiratory infection with the major symptom being a persistent, dry, hacking cough.  This disease is highly contagious, and is transmitted easily from dog to dog!  This is why it is strongly recommended that all dogs that come into regular contact with other dogs be vaccinated yearly.  High-risk situations include Boarding Facilities, Grooming Facilities, Dog Parks, and other situations that yield to a higher degree of social contact between dogs.  Please note that most grooming and boarding facilities will only provide service to dogs up to date of their Bordetella Vaccine.

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a widespread virus.  Typical symptoms include diarrhea, fever, coughing, sneezing, eye and nose discharge, as well as muscular twitches.  Canine Distemper can be fatal.  It is spread through all bodily secretions and is highly contagious.   Puppies are vaccinated against this disease in a series of boosters.  It is then boostered once yearly.

Canine Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animals.  Because Rabies is also a threat to humans, it is the only vaccine required by law.

Rabies is transmitted though the bite of an infected animal.  Infected animals tend to become withdrawn and avoid contact with humans and other animals.  Some become unnaturally aggressive and may attack.  Death always occurs once clinical signs appear.  Even indoor dogs may become infected if contacted with an   infected animal in the basement, garage or attic.   There is no cure for rabies.  Vaccination is extremely important.  Dogs are vaccinated with rabies at 16 weeks of age, boosted 1 year later, then every 3 years.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is an intestinal infection that is transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog's feces.  Symptoms include vomiting, fever, depression, and diarrhea (which contains blood).  The chance of death is increased with younger dogs.   Parvovirus is one of the most serious and fatal diseases seen in puppies.  It is essential that all puppies be vaccinated against this disease starting at 6-8 weeks of age.    After this initial set of puppy boosters, all dogs are vaccinated once yearly.

Canine Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys.  Once infected, the infection can remain undetected for a large period of time.  Leptospirosis can be controlled with vaccination.  Discuss with your veterinarian if your dog is at high risk.

How Do Vaccines Work:

Vaccines work by preventing infection and decreasing the physical symptoms of disease.  Vaccines contain altered viruses or bacteria (these altered states don't cause disease).   At the time of vaccination, your pet's body will produce antibodies in response to the introduction of these altered viruses.  These antibodies will destroy any disease causing viruses or bacteria that are subsequently exposed to your pet.

The protection provided by the vaccine will gradually decrease over time.  This is why your pet will need boosters at regular intervals.

Puppy Vaccination Schedules:

In their first year of life, puppies require a lot of care and attention.  A series of vaccinations is given in the first year to help ensure a healthy beginning.  At every vaccination appointment, a full physical examination is performed by the doctor to make sure that your puppy is growing and developing properly.

8 wk - Full Examination + distemper, adenovirus, , parainfluenza & parvovirus

12 wk - Full Examination + distemper, adenovirus,  parainfluenza, parvovirus, bordetella & leptosporsis for high risk pets

16 wk - Full Examination + distemper, adenovirus,  parainfluenza, parvovirus & rabies (1yr vaccine) & leptosporsis for high risk pets

1 yr  - Full Examination + distemper, adenovirus,  parainfluenza, parvovirus & rabies (3yr vaccine) & leptosporsis for high risk pets

Why do Puppies Require Boosters?

 A puppy that is nursing will receive maternal antibodies passed through its mother's milk.  These maternal antibodies will protect the puppy from disease during its first few months, gradually declining in efficacy over time.  These maternal antibodies will interfere with any vaccinations given and make them ineffective.  Puppies need to be given a series of boosters within their first 4 months of life to gradually stimulate the production of the puppy's own antibodies while minimizing the interference of its maternal antibodies.

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