Without a doubt, dog vaccinations protect your furry from serious infectious diseases. But, what vaccinations for dogs are mandatory? When is the first vaccination done in puppies, and how often should immunization be updated to protect them for life?
Do I have to vaccinate my dog?
Vaccination has been widely criticized in recent years. The high price, the greed of some pharmaceutical companies, and the excessive revaccination, which some people believe causes more side effects than benefits, have caused the anger of many dog lovers to be greater than the fear that their animals will contract diseases.
It is important to point out that several infectious diseases have only been controlled thanks to strict vaccination protocols. Dog vaccines protect your friend from highly contagious bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of infection and the number of related fatal cases. In addition, each dog that has been vaccinated contributes to epidemics being avoided and controlled. So when you vaccinate your dog, you are not only saving the life of your own puppy but also that of other animals.
What vaccinations does a dog need?
The most reliable protection you can give your canine friend is vaccines. These prevent your best friend from dangerous diseases, such as canine distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, infectious canine hepatitis, rabies, kennel cough, babesiosis, or Lyme disease. The recommendation issued by the different regional authorities differentiates between compulsory and optional vaccines.
Optional and mandatory dog vaccinations
The mandatory vaccines are those that any dog should have at all times. They are necessary to protect the animal and, in part, its owners from pathogens that can endanger their lives. These are the vaccines that your faithful companion should not miss. Also, if you want to travel with your dog, keep in mind that, to enter many countries, you will need to show a vaccination card.
Regarding optional vaccines, the recommendation is relative. But just because they’re optional doesn’t mean they’re less important. It just doesn’t affect all dogs equally. The importance of these dog vaccines depends on several factors, such as age, build, and environment. Therefore, each case is considered individually, and it will be necessary to clarify if it is convenient to vaccinate. Before deciding whether you are for or against optional vaccines, it is recommended that you visit your vet to weigh the benefits and risks.
Mandatory dog vaccinations
These are the diseases against which it is obligatory to vaccinate your dog :
- Canine distemper:
Canine distemper, also called distemper, is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious gastrointestinal problems, respiratory disorders (such as a strong cough, pus in the eyes and nose), or seizures and paralysis (known as nervous distemper) .
- Chronic Canine Hepatitis (HCC):
Canine adenovirus, which causes infectious hepatitis, is usually acquired through water or food contaminated with urine. At first, it causes fever and kidney and eye inflammation. If the virus were to affect the liver, it would cause apathy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, chronic canine hepatitis can cause death, especially in young or weak dogs.
Parvovirus is caused by canine parvovirus, a highly contagious and resistant DNA virus. It is especially puppies who die from poisoning or dehydration from strong vomiting, high fever (up to 41.5 ° C), and bloody diarrhea. But even when an animal appears to have overcome the disease, it usually dies a couple of years later from immunodeficiency or heart problems, both long-term effects of the parvovirus.
Leptospirosis is spread by a spirochete bacteria called leptospira, which is found in soil and contaminated water. This contagious disease can cause organ failure in young dogs or with a weakened immune system and is often terminal. Leptospirosis has spread in recent years, and since it can be transmitted to humans, vaccination is highly recommended as it is a fairly dangerous disease.
- Rabies: Rabies, like leptospirosis, can spread to humans. In both cases, it is the so-called zoonoses, and it is mandatory to report them. In dogs, rabies is transmitted through the lyssavirus, and its symptoms are excessive salivation and a high level of aggressiveness. This disease is terminal.
* The rabies vaccine is not compulsory throughout the country. However, since the legislation is different in some autonomous communities, it is advisable to consult your vet.
Optional dog vaccinations
These are the diseases against which you can vaccinate your dog to complete its immunization :
- Kennel Cough
Kennel cough or parainfluenza virus affects mainly animals in kennels. This disease is highly contagious and causes serious respiratory problems (usually a dry, unpleasant cough). In those dogs that have a weakened immune system, it can lead to serious infections such as pneumonia, and in some cases, it can end with the death of the animal.
- Lyme Disease
This bacterial disease is usually transmitted by a tick bite. It is generally harmless, but in some cases, it can cause neurological seizures and paralysis, which can lead to the death of your quadruped. Dogs that have been infected are apathetic and refuse to eat.
- Canine BabesiosisBabesiosis (known as canine malaria) is also transmitted through a tick bite. This aggressive infectious disease is accompanied by a high fever and, if left untreated, hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells) that, in a matter of days, will kill the dog. In countries where babesiosis-infected ticks predominate, in addition to checking the dog for possible bites (after a walk in the field), it is recommended to provide a vaccine as additional protection.
- Fungal Infections
Fungi on the animal’s skin are quite frequent. The most common pathogen in dogs is the dermatophyte Microsporum canis, which causes crusting and dandruff and often hair loss in affected areas. This fungus can be transmitted through contact with animals or an infected environment (beds, rugs, or brushes). Vaccination is recommended for dogs in environments with a high risk of infection, such as kennels, since this significantly reduces symptoms.
- LeishmaniasisLeishmaniasis is one of the most common tropical diseases in dogs. It is transmitted mainly through sandflies that inhabit the sand south of parallel 45. These blood-sucking insects attack the cells and organs of the animal. If it is not treated, it will die in less than 12 months (due to kidney failure). Although the new vaccine that has been developed does not prevent infection, it does increase immunity to dangerous pathogens.
How much does it cost to vaccinate a dog?
The cost varies depending on the vet but is usually between $ 50 and $ 80. Veterinarians generally administer multipurpose vaccines, so one injection is sufficient to vaccinate various canine diseases (such as pentavalent against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and kennel cough).
Vaccination costs will always be less than what you will have to bear if your dog contracts an infectious disease. Your faithful companion’s health should be a priority.
When do I have to vaccinate my dog?
Despite many different opinions regarding the frequency and repetition with which a dog should be vaccinated, both veterinarians and owners agree on the importance of primary vaccination of puppies. Basic immunization should be started when the protection of the antibodies received from the mother disappears during the lactation period, which is usually at eight weeks.
Dog vaccines contain live or attenuated bacteria or viruses (or parts of them), to which the dog’s system reacts by producing antibodies that can fight dangerous germs and pathogens in future infections. However, the puppy will not receive a full immunization for the disease being vaccinated until the second or third injection. This is because the first vaccine, given between eight and twelve weeks of age, only activates the immune system. So there would be no point in administering the first vaccine alone.
The primary immunization would be complete with the administration of the third injection (between the age of sixteen weeks to fifteen months, depending on the vaccine). Over time, the body’s immune response is reduced again. To maintain protection against these infectious diseases for life, revaccination is necessary from time to time. Most vets claim that annual revaccination, as practiced a few years ago, is not necessary. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) believes that one update every three years is sufficient for most dog vaccines(such as rabies). Some even offer protection for six or seven years. However, kennel cough and leptospirosis vaccines need to be updated every year.
Puppy shot schedule
For your faithful friend to always be protected from possible infections, it is important to strictly follow the veterinary vaccination plan. Below you will see a general vaccination schedule. However, this is not to replace a conversation with your vet, who will advise you on the appropriate optional dog vaccines for your dog.
Dogs sick or at risk of infection
For puppies or dogs at risk of infection, such as kennel cough, a complete vaccination is necessary. To find out which optional vaccines are suitable for your quadruped, you should consult your vet.
In principle, dogs that are already sick cannot be vaccinated. To reduce side effects, they must be dewormed and in perfect health at the time of injection. If your puppy has a fever, diarrhea, or symptoms of illness, these should be treated first.
Side effects of vaccines
In general, dog vaccines are well tolerated. The most important thing is that your puppy is healthy and has reached the minimum age (eight weeks) to react appropriately to the active ingredients. Thus the possibility of strong reactions is minimized. The possible side effects, which usually disappear after two or three days and last at most a week, are the following:
- Swelling (painful) at the injection site
- Loss of appetite
If you detect these or other symptoms in your dog, you should always contact your vet.