Immunization For Dogs
The first health care decision you will make for your dog is establishing a vaccination schedule. Fortunately, many of the infectious canine diseases that ran rampant in the past can now be prevented with vaccinations or treated with medication. Infectious diseases are transmitted by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and internal parasites.
Annual vaccinations used to be the norm, but veterinarians now believe that too-frequent vaccinations can be linked to health problems. New vaccination recommendations include spacing out vaccinations and giving them less frequently.
What is a Vaccine?
Vaccines contain substances called antigens that stimulate a response in the immune system, protecting the dog against future exposure to a disease. The process of injecting vaccine into a dog is called vaccination.
Dogs receive vaccines that protect against distemper, viral hepatitis or adenovirus, leptospirosis, parainflueza, parvovirus, rabies, and corona virus. They used to receive one combination vaccine against all of those diseases. Now, because of concerns that too many vaccines at once can overload the immune system and be harmful, some owners and veterinarians are choosing to spread them out, giving only one or two at a time.
Most experts agree that so-called core vaccines-distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and rabies-are essential for all dogs. The administration of other vaccines such as those for leptospirosis, coronavirus, giardia, bordetella, parainfluenza, and Lyme disease should be limited to dogs who are realistically at risk of exposure to the specific infectious agent.
In the case of Lyme disease, for instance, tick control is more effective than vaccination. For a time, many veterinarians stopped giving the leptospirosis vaccine because a number of dogs had reactions to it, but a new vaccine has been developed that is expected to reduce these problems.
Vaccination Pros and Cones
While vaccinations are generally safe, they’re not without risk. Possible adverse effects include allergic reactions and, in rare cases, seizures. Among the breeds that have been reported to be at increased risk of such reactions are miniature dachshunds, West Highland white terriers, Old English sheepdogs, Akitas, choosing, and dogs with coat color dilutions such as double dilute Shetland sheepdogs or harlequin Great Danes. Instead of choosing not to vaccinate your dog at all, you may want to avoid unnecessary vaccines and consider going to a triennial (every three years) vaccination schedule after your dog is two years old.
How frequently vaccinations should be boosted after the first series is currently a matter of discussion in the veterinary community. Many veterinary schools now recommend a booster at one year of age, followed by boosters every three years thereafter. Some pet owners and veterinarians prefer to do titers (a type of blood test) to determine whether a booster shot is necessary. A titer measures the concentration of antibody in blood serum.
Titers have not always been cost effective, and their results may vary from lab to lab, but a reliable and affordable clinical test has been developed that allows veterinarians to measure distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus titers within 15 minutes. Check with your veterinarian to see whether this test is available.
Puppies and Vaccination
It’s important to understand that no vaccine is 100 percent effective all the time. Factors that can affect immune response in a puppy include his health and the level of maternal antibodies still circulating in his system. And if a puppy is exposed to a virus Shortly before or at approximately the same time a vaccination is given, the vaccine is likely to fail. This occurs for any number of reasons. Some puppies simply don’t have adequate immune function. Stress, poor nutrition, and other factors can interfere with immunity for short periods of time as well.
Puppies are born with some degree of natural immunity to disease, which thy receive from the rich colostral milk their mother produces the first two or three days of a pup’s life The colostrum contains antibodies to disease, which provide the pups with limited protection during the first few weeks of life. Called passive immunity, or sometimes maternal immunity, this protection gradually decrease and may diminish by as much as 75 percent by the time a pup is 2 weeks old. Most puppies completely lose passive immunity by the time they’re 14 to 16 weeks old.
Until it reaches a low threshold, passive immunity can interfere with immunization; the maternal antibodies destroy vaccine viruses. For this reason, puppies are given a series of vaccinations to ensure that the immune system responds to the vaccine. Otherwise, a virus can sneak in during the window of opportunity that arises when the level of maternal antibodies is low enough to make a pup susceptible to infection, yet high enough to interfere with immunization. Veterinarians generally recommend that puppies be immunized at three to four week intervals, beginning at 8 weeks of age and ending around 18 weeks of age. The final vaccine is the most important of the immunization series.
How frequently vaccinations should be boosted after the first series is currently a matter of discussion in the veterinary and dog-owning communities. Many veterinary schools now recommend a booster vaccine at one year of age, followed by additional boosters every three years thereafter, instead of previous recommendations of annual boosters. Some areas of the country have a higher incidence of certain infectious diseases, such as distemper and parvovirus, than others. Your veterinarian can advise you on the vaccination schedule that is appropriate for your area.
What I Believe
My belief is that whether you want to give your dog shots (excepting Rabies), depends on how often your dog is exposed to other dogs. With the exception of rabies, if your dogs rarely go out, the immunizations become less important. Of course I’m not a doctor, but keep in mind that the breeds mentioned above, including my beloved Shetland Sheepdogs, are more likely to get serious side effects. However, if your dogs are regularly exposing dogs to other dogs, than immunizations are a lot more important.
Today we have learned about the kinds of shots they are, how important they are, and what their side effects are. The choice, when it comes down to it, is up to you.
Please feel free to leave comments at the bottom, I will get back to you.