The 4 Most Important Dog Vaccines

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Vaccination is an important aspect of caring for a pet. With proper vaccination, your pet becomes resistant to common diseases.

Essentially, vaccines are designed to fool the immune system into thinking that it is being invaded by pathogens. And when this happens, the immune system will develop the proper response to fight infection. When a vaccinated dog is exposed to the real disease, the immune system can recognize and fight the offending pathogens more effectively.

Vaccines come in different types and are designed for different diseases. These drugs contain antigens that prepare your dog’s body for the invasion of disease-causing microbes. And with so many vaccine types to choose from, it is hard to distinguish the essential from the non-essential shots.

Core and Non-Core Vaccination in Dogs

For dogs, there are two types of vaccines, core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are shots that are recommended for all dogs, regardless of lifestyle, age, and breed. One core vaccine (rabies) is required by law.

On the other hand, non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk to a certain disease. These vaccines protect from Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

Types of Core Vaccines for Dogs

1. Parvovirus Vaccine

Parvovirus causes serious – often-fatal – infection among puppies and adult dogs alike. It is spread through exposure to objects or environments contaminated with feces infected with the parvovirus.

The virus affects the lining of the animal’s intestinal wall. Although puppies get a protective boost against parvovirus through their mother’s milk, it is not enough to protect the pups from this devastating disease. Symptoms of parvovirus infection are severe diarrhea, vomiting, depression, and chronic fatigue. There is no cure for this condition but supportive care could increase the likelihood of survival among puppies.

Your puppy will need three additional vaccinations to combat this infection given between  6 to 16 weeks of its life. The drug is administered through injection. For adult dogs, two vaccines have to be administered three to four weeks apart.

2. Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous system of the dog. Symptoms of canine distemper include high fever, eye and nose infection, vomiting, diarrhea, and hardening of the nose and footpads. If left untreated, bacterial infections could lead to neurological problems. Eventually, the disease causes brain swelling , leading to death.

Vaccine for this disease should be administered to dogs age 4 to 20 weeks old. A booster shot could be administered based on your vet’s recommendations.

3. Canine Hepatitis or Adenovirus type 1

Canine hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver, kidneys, lungs, and eyes of dogs. This disease could be deadly when left untreated. Signs and symptoms of canine hepatitis include an enlarged liver, coughing, fever, and respiratory tract illnesses. Ideally, the shot for canine hepatitis should be administered in dogs no less than one-year-old.

4. Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain of warm-blooded animals, including human beings and dogs. This virus is transferable to human beings bit by an infected dog. Symptoms of this disease include violent movements, fear of water, uncontrolled excitement, and seizures, aggression, and frothing at the mouth. Because rabies virus affects the central nervous system, time is of the essence when treating an infected human patient. Infected animals are compelled to bite and spread the virus.

Rabies is always fatal in dogs. An animal will die a slow, painful, and horrid death when infected with rabies. A one-year shot of rabies vaccine should be administered to a dog. Follow up vaccinations should be administered every three years.