Why is Vaccination important?
Vaccination is the most important tool in the control and prevention of animal infectious diseases that are life threatening or the cause of severe clinical signs. Frontier Veterinary Services recommends vaccination against parvovirus, canine infectious hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, leptospirosis and kennel cough. Vaccination against rabies is only required for dogs travelling abroad.
• Parvovirus Parvovirus is characterised by severe bloody vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs, especially puppies, dehydrate quickly and die due to dehydration and blood loss. In puppies under the age of eight weeks the virus can also damage the heart muscle. Parvovirus is a very resistant virus and can survive for several months in the environment. It can therefore be picked up by a dog just out for a walk in the park. Certain breeds of dogs such as Dobermanns and Rottweilers seem particularly susceptible to parvovirus. Intensive treatment in isolation is necessary for dogs with parvovirus infection.
• Canine hepatitis (adenovirus) Adenovirus typically attacks the liver and can be fatal. Infected dogs shed the virus with all their bodily secretions, especially urine and faeces, and may continue to be infectious for some time, even after they have survived the disease. As the virus can live in the environment for several months, it can be picked up by a dog without necessarily being in direct contact with an infected animal.
• DistemperDistemper virus can attack almost every organ, so affected dogs can develop a variety of clinical signs including fever, conjunctivitis, coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Infected dogs shed the virus with all their bodily secretions and can continue shedding the virus for a long time after surviving the acute disease. Virus particles can also be transmitted through the air.
• Leptospirosis Leptospirosis is the only bacterial disease included in routine dog vaccinations. Several forms of Leptospira exist, but all cause liver and kidney failure. This virus can affect humans. Many dogs can survive with intensive treatment, but may be left with liver or kidney damage.
• Kennel cough (Parainfluenza and Bordetella) Kennel cough is group of viruses and bacteria that cause coughing. Kennel cough is spread from dog to dog through the air; therefore dogs can be infected by going to parks, kennels, dog shows and training classes. In many cases kennel cough is a mild disease, although the cough can last for several weeks. In some dogs especially those with pre-existing heart or lung problems the condition can be more serious.
• Rabies Rabies vaccination is only indicated for animals travelling abroad, as rabies is not endemic in Ireland.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THESE DISEASES CAN BE PREVENTED BY PROPERLY TIMED AND ADMINISTERED VACCINATION.
When should puppies be vaccinated?
At Frontier Veterinary Services we recommend puppies be vaccinated from eight weeks of age and again 3-4 weeks later. Puppies can be given a temporary vaccination at 6 weeks of age. The vaccinations are timed to ensure a good immune response. It also makes sure that maternal antibodies (antibodies received by the puppy from the mother’s first milk) do not stop the vaccination working. The maternal antibodies give the puppy some protection during the first few weeks of life until its immune system has matured, but unfortunately they also interfere with the response to vaccination.
IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOUR DOG RECEIVES ITS BOOSTER VACCINATION 12 MONTHS AFTER COMPLETING ITS PUPPY COURSE OF VACCINATIONS.
How often should a dog be vaccinated?
Dogs should be vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis during puppyhood, then at one year of age and every three years thereafter. Leptospirosis, parainfluenza and kennel cough have to be vaccinated against every year.
Why is a health check necessary before vaccination?
A dog can only respond successfully to a vaccination if they are healthy at the time of vaccination. The health check prior to vaccination plays a vital role in ensuring your dog is healthy enough for the vaccination to be successful. In case of any illness, the vaccination will likely be postponed. The annual health check itself is also important as your dog is fully examined so any developing problems can be detected early.
What are the risks of vaccination?
Vaccines given to dogs are very safe and have been through rigorous safety testing before licensing. However no vaccine can be guaranteed 100% safe. The risks of not vaccinating are far greater than the rare adverse reactions to vaccination.