Dogs are vulnerable to various diseases that threaten their overall health and well-being. These diseases come from enemies that are invisible to us, and they spread quickly and efficiently. Fortunately, modern medicine has become advanced to the point where our dogs can be completely immune from these diseases. The procedure is commonly available as vaccination, which is the usual process where the vet administers it through injections. As a dog owner, you will surely hear this one from the vet and various animal health care advocates. Today, we are going to learn about vaccination and dogs and what types of vaccinations they need. But firstly, you should know and familiarize yourself with the concept of vaccination in animals.
How Important Is Animal Vaccination?
✅ Animals, like humans, have chances to acquire different kinds of microbes every single day of their lives. Unfortunately, some of these microbes can cause potentially fatal diseases that can not stop the spread once the infection starts. A common culprit is the rabies virus, which has is almost indeed the reason to become fatal for an infected animal. Unfortunately, animals can’t get any of these vaccinations naturally unless they have gone through natural immunization. Even then, it is still a significant risk to take, considering that the majority of infected animals pass away due to diseases like rabies. This is why trained people, most commonly licensed vets, play a significant role in your pet’s overall health.
✅ Domesticated animals are especially susceptible due to their interaction with humans. A lot of the epidemics we have experienced are also shared among domesticated animals, especially livestock animals. It even reached the point where some pet dogs and cats are infected with the recent mass infection of the COVID-19. Speaking of interaction, an unvaccinated pet can infect its owner easily due to interaction. Rabies is very fatal to humans as much as it is fatal to animals. Therefore, vaccination does not only apply to your pet, but it applies to you and your house members as well.
Is Vaccination Really Safe? If So, How Does It Work?
✅ Vaccination in pets is absolutely safe as long as the vaccine we have is clinically available to administer by expert veterinarians. It is highly unlikely that you will encounter a vet that uses unauthorized vaccines because it is illegal. Some side effects rarely occur, and the procedure will only make your pet uneasy or uncomfortable. However, the mild to moderate pain your pet may experience does not compare to the benefits they will get.
✅ The vaccine works by introducing the microbe or specimen into the animal’s immune system. The pharmacologic process of vaccines to animals is the exact same science that can apply in human vaccination. For example, a rabies vaccine contains a weakened or inactive version of the rabies virus. Your pet’s immune system will see the virus from the vaccine as a threat and responds to it. After that, the immune system will produce antibodies that counter and destroy the virus in a very short amount of time.
✅ These antibodies, along with memory immune cells, are then preserved inside the body for a very long time. These memory cells and antibodies will instantly react the next time an actual rabies infection affects your pet. It is basically triggering the natural immunization that emulates in a harmless version of the same virus. Your pet is now immune to rabies, but they still need to eventually get another round of the same vaccine.
What Are Booster Shots?
Some diseases can make the immune system react differently, which also makes vaccination work differently. Passive immunity can occur, which means your dog is only resistant in a confined period of time. To ensure that your dog stays immune to a disease, booster shots are usually recommended. Booster shots are follow-up vaccinations after the primary shot. These booster shots are administered usually once every year or three years, depending on the type of disease. Some examples of booster shots are distemper, parvo, and five-in-one booster shots.
When Does Your Dog Must Have Its Vaccine?
✅ Your dog should have their vaccines when they were still a young puppy. This usually means they should be around six weeks old to have it and taken to a vet. After the first vet visit, you would usually have to return after a week or two for other vaccinations. Take note that it will become a routine that generally lasts until your puppy’s 18th week, depending on the week they started. After that, you will have to return after a few months and then annually for follow-up vaccinations.
✅ For older dogs that do to still have their vaccines, please consider doing so. It is usually the same procedure with a couple of tests inside the vet clinic. If the dog has been incompletely vaccinated as a puppy, they may have to restart the whole vaccination course. So it is essential to remember to take your puppy to the vet and let it have its vaccine as early as six weeks.
What Types of Vaccinations Do Dogs Need?
As mentioned earlier, your dog can acquire viruses or bacteria that can lead to a fatal situation. There are many vaccines that a dog needs, depending on the age, breed, and environment, but here are the most common types of vaccines for certain conditions that your dog needs.
Distemper is a contagious disease that can spread among unvaccinated dogs. It is transmitted through the air and other body fluids such as saliva. One sign that a dog is infected with a distemper is having sticky liquid secretions in the eyes. It can cause severe respiratory, nervous, and digestive complications, which can be dangerous to your dog. In addition, it can cause seizures, paralysis, difficulty breathing which eventually leads to a high chance of death. Dogs can get distemper as early as two months, but it can be resolved by vaccination. Survivors of distemper would often show signs of stiffness and complications with their motor capabilities. To avoid the case of infection, you must clean any surfaces with disinfectants, or you can just let the sunlight pass through your windows.
The parvovirus usually affects unvaccinated puppies below four months old. It can cause a slow but painful death to a dog once it becomes infected, and it can also cause loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and bloody stool or diarrhea. One type of parvovirus is an intestinal infection. This virus has a sign if your dog is bloating and has abdominal pain leading to vomiting. You must also observe the color of their waste secretions, like having yellow or brown vomit, to know if your dog has the virus. This virus can be acquired if your dog has contact with contaminated feces or trash. Eventually, the dog can die from dehydration due to the loss of bodily fluids. Unfortunately, there is no known direct cure once the infection starts, and maintaining the dog’s health will be very difficult.
The virus causes canine hepatitis in dogs and has similar symptoms to human hepatitis. Its symptoms include pain and vomiting, discoloration of the skin, and stomach enlargement. For other cases, Adenovirus may affect the dog’s respiratory tract that causes dry cough and nasal discharge. Severe cases of this disease can be potentially fatal to a dog, although mild cases can be overcome. Like other viruses, a dog can acquire Adenovirus from contacting contaminated feces or by the infected dog’s secretions. The Type 1 Adenovirus still has no reported cure, but some medicines can lessen the severity of the symptoms. The respiratory type of Adenovirus may be mistaken as simple flu. The signs symptoms are the same, but dogs with Adenovirus last for several weeks. To know if your dog has the flu or Adeno, go to the vet immediately and have your dog Adenovirus shot.
Parainfluenza is the equivalent of the flu in dogs that is sometimes known as race flu or canine influenza virus. Similar symptoms to the flu include fever and nasal discharge. Dogs can overcome it, but it can contribute to the development of other diseases if left untreated. In addition, the parainfluenza virus can lead to inflammation of the airways in dogs that causes wheezing cough with yellow phlegm secretions. Parainfluenza is one of the fastest viruses in dogs through contact with a dog’s cough or sneeze. Therefore, it is advisable to have your dog vaccinated for Parainfluenza once every year for complete protection against the virus.
Rabies is the most known type of virus for dogs, and it is one of the most dangerous viruses for pets. If left unvaccinated, a dog can eventually die from a rabies infection. Rabies is almost always fatal, and chances for survival are very small. Symptoms include drooling, paralysis, unusual behavior, hallucinations, and hydrophobia. Rabies can also be passed to humans through dog bites and the entry of saliva through an open skin. Once rabies infects a human, they should be vaccinated before the symptoms occur, or else they will be likely to die. In addition, rabies targets the dog’s brain, which is why an infected dog may experience seizures, drooling, paralysis, and rejection of water. With these signs, rabies is also called hydrophobia.
Dogs with rabies are hydrophobic because of difficulty swallowing because the virus has reached the part of the brain responsible for swallowing. That’s why if a dog or person has rabies, it is better to cover all the water containers to prevent aggressiveness because of fear. Being the leading cause of death, there is an available anti-rabies vaccine for pets and humans (when they get bitten). The first dose of the vaccine lasts only for a year, but the following doses are suitable for three years. So take note of the schedule of the doses to avoid missed doses leading to infection.
This condition is not a virus but a parasite that is also common to dogs. Although there is not available direct vaccine, there are preventive measures specific for the heartworm disease. The procedure is similar to deworming, which is also recommended along with vaccination. Heartworms are parasitic worms that can affect a dog’s heart. Eventually, they can cause significant damage to the organs, which can lead to death. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, and difficulty breathing, as heartworms affect the lungs as well. The procedure can be done yearly and be monitored closely by a vet.
Meanwhile, deworming is usually common every three months for a dog starting two weeks of age. Heartworm is not a communicable condition, but a mosquito bite acquires it. It targets the heart, but it can also travel to organs like the liver and lungs. There are many available deworming medicines that you can get from the vet to avoid infestation spread.
? Kennel Cough
The Kennel Cough in dogs is a very contagious disease that is caused by various microbes. The symptoms usually include dry cough along with appetite problems. However, it is generally mild, and the fatality rates are pretty low. Boosters are typically administered to dogs every year due to the changing types of microbes that cause this disease. There is no specific vaccine for Kennel Cough, but a bordetella vaccine may help minimize the cough’s severity. Though the fatality is really low, boosters and some antibiotics are still advisable to avoid building pneumonia. Treating kennel cough is like treating flu. It would be best if you kept your dog hydrated to relieve its persistent cough.
? Canine Coronavirus
Not to be confused with COVID-19, this type of coronavirus has been present in dogs for a long time. The symptoms are quite different from the COVID-19, as they usually only include nausea and lack of appetite. They can be fatal if the dog becomes dehydrated or deprived of nutrition due to the disease. However, the vaccine does exist even though no medication for this disease does.
A type of bacteria that usually causes symptoms of kennel cough. As mentioned earlier, the Bordetella vaccine can minimize the symptoms of kennel cough. But specific Bordetella species can cause severe coughing and vomiting for a dog which can be fatal and highly contagious. Therefore, this bacteria is identified in most vaccinations because it is the common culprit for canine respiratory infections.
Another disease that is also present in humans. Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that live in stagnant waters or moist areas. The bacteria enter the body through skin penetration or any open wound. Symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, and temporary paralysis. It can spread from dogs to humans, but it is treatable in both with antibiotics. There are cases that leptospirosis is treatable as long as there is specific medication as quickly as possible. The success rate for the treatment of leptospirosis in dogs is high. But, it is common that some of their organs, like the liver, will have damage. Leptospirosis vaccine is advisable by vets if your dog has a high risk of acquiring the disease and should have its vaccine from their 12th month.
? Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria from ticks which are usually found in dog fur. It can cause fever and loss of appetite. Although treatable with antibiotics, it can eventually affect the dog again, with the tick still being present. The best choice to prevent this disease is, of course, vaccination along with proper hygiene and grooming. If left untreated, dogs may feel numbness of the feet, damaged organs, weakness, and death. There are three stages of Lyme infection, starting from early localized to late dissemination. The signs of illness are only visible at least two months after the tick bite so, if you know that your dog is at risk of acquiring Lyme disease, better to go to the vet and have your dog antibodies for protection.
Are There Any Exceptions To These Vaccinations?
It depends on your location, lifestyle, and the conclusion of your vet. Some dogs may not take certain vaccinations because they are not common in their area. It is heavily based on the owner’s background, the dog, and the veterinarian’s decision. Some vaccines can be delayed, and some can be prioritized over others. However, the common conclusion will usually be no; there are usually no exceptions to these vaccinations. Your dog will need all the protection they can get, especially since zoonotic diseases are unpredictable. They can spread from you to your dog, even if they stay the whole time indoors. In order to protect you and your dog, an entire vaccination course is often the most recommended choice.
How Much Do These Vaccinations Cost?
✅ It actually depends on the vet and the clinic that you are going to. Some clinics have funds from the government and offer cheaper vaccinations. But, at the same time, some private clinics may show a higher price for those same vaccinations.
✅ However, the general costs of vaccines can reach up to $100 for the whole complete course. Take note that these do not include significantly cheaper boosters. Some more specific vaccinations, such as rabies, can go up to $20, although you can get some for free by the government. Dogs from shelters, however, only offer a small fee for vaccinations. Dog shelters vaccinate the dogs they rescued before you even get them, and often vaccinations are entirely free. Please take note that getting dogs from shelters can be a different experience due to their mature age. But that does not mean it should discourage you if you plan on getting a dog from a shelter.
Most Government Offices That Focus On Animals Promote Vaccinations
In many countries, especially for those with high cases of dog bites and rabies, vaccinations are part of the preventive steps. There are even programs where government offices offer free vaccinations for both dogs and cats. They also provide a variety of beneficial procedures, such as spaying or neutering. This goes to show how much vaccinations can benefit both an individual animal and a whole society. Because zoonotic diseases are common nowadays, we need to be mindful of how we interact with our animals.
Vaccinations are necessary if you want to give your dog and long and happy life. Even if they are indoor pets, you may have stepped on some microbes outside that they can encounter later on. Like humans, they deserve the same healthcare procedures that we have access to. Thanks to vets, we are able to have somewhat of an equality when it comes to healthcare services for all species. A hundred dollars is a pretty good investment considering your health and life are also on the line. Prevention is better than cure, and it may sound repetitive, but because it is important enough to repeat.