Our Riverside County vets believe that vaccinations play an essential role in keeping your dog healthy throughout its lifetime. While we recommend core vaccinations for all dogs there are a number of lifestyle vaccines that are only given to specific animals based on their level of risk for contracting particular conditions.
The Importance of Vaccinating Your Dog
As with the vaccinations that have been designed for people, dog vaccines protect your companion animal against a variety of serious conditions that could threaten the overall health or longevity of your dog.
While getting your dog vaccinated may seem like an unnecessary expense at the time, especially if money is tight, the shots are likely to be far less expensive than treatment for the illnesses that vaccines protect against.
How Dog Vaccines Work
Vaccines give your dog a defensive level of antibodies, allowing its body to develop immunity to certain highly contagious, serious diseases. Following vaccination, the body receives a disease-enabling organism to stimulate the immune system and teach it how to fight those diseases in the future.
Although dog vaccines aren't 100% effective, they can help your dog fight off illnesses or recover much more quickly if they do become infected.
Not All Dogs Need All Vaccines
All vaccines available will not be required for all dogs. Consult your veterinarian about your dog's lifestyle to determine which vaccines are best for him. Based on factors such as your dog's age, lifestyle, and where you live, your veterinarian can advise you on which ones will be most beneficial to him. Rabies vaccinations are required by law for dogs over the age of six months in most parts of the United States and Canada. This vaccination must be kept up to date, and dog owners will receive a certificate once their dog has been vaccinated.
Why should I vaccinate my dog?
By proactively vaccinating your dog and keeping your dog up-to-date on its booster shots, you can preserve and protect your dog's health from dangerous, deadly diseases.
Many vaccinations are mandated across the United States, such as rabies for both dogs. Residents require vaccination records in many areas to obtain a dog license.
If you travel with your dog, stay in dog-friendly hotels, go to dog parks, or have your dog groomed, vaccinations may be required and can prevent your furry friend from contracting contagious diseases from other animals, in addition to inadvertently spreading infection. This is also true for dog-sitting services, doggy daycares, and other businesses.
Even if you keep your dog on a leash when he's outside, he's still vulnerable to illness. Because many bacteria and viruses can live for long periods of time on surfaces, your dog could contract a serious disease without ever coming into contact with another dog. Other diseases are spread through the air and can easily infect dogs who come into contact with infected dogs while out walking.
Core Vaccines for Dogs
Most dogs in the United States are recommended to receive core vaccines, which are designed to protect your dog by preventing diseases that are common in your area. These diseases have a high fatality rate and are easily transmitted between animals (and, in some cases, between animals and humans).
Core Vaccinations for Dogs
- Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. Parvovirus can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Dogs that are not vaccinated are at risk of contracting the virus. Vaccinating your puppy or dog against parvovirus could save their life.
Canine distemper is caused by a virus that affects a dog's respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, and conjunctival membranes. Contact with fresh urine from an infected animal spreads distemper. This virus has the ability to enter the brain and cause seizures, shaking, and trembling. Having your dog vaccinated will protect them from distemper.
- Canine Hepatitis
Dogs suffering from canine hepatitis experience swelling and cell damage in the liver, which may result in hemorrhage and death. This virus is spread through contact with the feces and urine of infected dogs. Simply by having your dog vaccinated, you can protect your dog against canine hepatitis.
Rabies is typically transmitted through a bite from the infected animal and is one of the few diseases that can be transmitted to people from their dogs. The rabies virus causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and will gradually infect the entire nervous system of the animal or person causing death.
Canine lifestyle vaccines protect dogs from diseases that they may be exposed to if they follow certain lifestyles, such as attending doggie daycare. Here are some lifestyle vaccines to think about for your four-legged friend.
Lifestyle Vaccines for Dogs:
- Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
Bordetella bronchoseptica is the bacteria that causes "kennel cough," a respiratory disease. This respiratory illness is known as kennel cough because it spreads easily when dogs share indoor spaces, such as kennels. Dogs who go to dog parks or doggie daycares, on the other hand, might be at risk of contracting this disease. The Bordetella vaccination, like the human flu vaccine, will not prevent your dog from becoming ill, but it will help to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. If your dog interacts with other dogs, consult your veterinarian about the Bordatella vaccine.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is spread in water contaminated with urine from infected wildlife. While most cases of leptospirosis are mild and easily treated with antibiotics, some dogs get very sick and may even suffer kidney failure. Leptospirosis can also be transmitted from animals to people in some cases. If your dog is fond of drinking from puddles, ponds, or rivers in your neighborhood, speak to your vet about vaccinating your canine companion against leptospirosis.
- Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)
Symptoms of the dog flu often begin as kennel cough then become increasingly more severe, and in some cases require hospitalization. There are two strains of dog flu that are widely spread throughout the country. Speak to your vet to find out if this vaccination is right for your pooch. If your dog spends time with other dogs in daycares, kennels, or dog parks you may wish to vaccinate them against dog flu. Short-faced dogs with an increased risk of respiratory illness should also be vaccinated against this condition.
- Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
Because of the high prevalence of the disease in those areas, the Lyme vaccine is considered a core vaccine in some parts of the United States. If you live in an area where the black-legged tick (deer tick) is prevalent, our veterinarians may recommend tick-preventive medications for your dog all year, and the Lyme disease vaccination for dogs who spend time in wooded areas, parks, or farmlands. Consult your veterinarian to determine whether the Lyme disease vaccine is appropriate for your dog.
Depending on the vaccine, adult dogs should receive booster shots either annually or every three years. When it is time for your dog to receive booster shots, your veterinarian will notify you. Booster shots are required to maintain your dog's immunity.
It's important to note that your puppy won't be fully protected by vaccines until they've received all of them, which should happen between 12 and 16 weeks of age. After your veterinarian has administered all of your puppy's initial vaccinations, he or she will be protected against the conditions or diseases covered by the vaccines.
We recommend keeping your puppy restricted to low-risk areas (such as your own backyard) if you plan to allow them outdoors before they have been fully vaccinated against the diseases listed above.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding dogs. For an accurate diagnosis of your dog's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.