Vaccinations for Your Dog
Drop the risk of disease by keeping your dog up-to-date on her vaccinations.
Immunizations keep dogs healthy just like they do people. Vaccinations stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies and prevent disease. Some vaccines are complete with only one injection, but others take a series of shots or boosters to provide adequate protection.
Types of Vaccines
As a puppy, your dog probably received a combination vaccine (DHPP) to protect her from four dangerous diseases: canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus infection.
Every year at your dog's annual examination, she'll get a booster shot for DHPP, and for coronavirus infection, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and kennel cough, depending on her risk factors for those diseases. And every one to three years, depending on your local health ordinances, she'll get a booster shot for rabies.
If your adult dog never received shots, see your veterinarian immediately - your pet needs these vaccinations to stay healthy and disease-free.
Vaccines Protect Against These Diseases
- Canine distemper is a viral disease that usually begins like an upper respiratory infection or cold but soon progresses to seizures and often death. It is usually transmitted by foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and dogs.
- Infectious hepatitis is another serious viral disease. The virus responsible for the disease is passed in the urine and it causes liver and kidney infections.
- Parainfluenza is a viral disease that contributes to kennel cough. The disease is spread when tiny droplets of nasal secretions fly through the air and are inhaled by other dogs. It causes upper respiratory infection and coughing.
The injectable form of the vaccine protects against disease but doesn't prevent dogs from being contagious. A nasal spray vaccination that combines parainfluenza virus and bordetella (a bacteria that contributes to kennel cough) vaccines protects from both infection and transmission.
- Parvovirus infection is a viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea because of an intestinal tract infection. The virus is passed in the feces and can remain infectious in contaminated soil for one to two years. Untreated infections may lead to death.
- Coronavirus infection is a viral disease of the intestinal tract and is characterized by diarrhea that can last three to four weeks. Some veterinarians choose not to vaccinate against this disease, because it's a fairly mild condition; most dogs recover with minimal treatment. If your veterinarian recommends it, the vaccine may be combined with the DHPP vaccination.
- Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that's usually spread when infected urine contaminates water or soil and the bacteria is then ingested or inhaled. This disease can cause severe or fatal liver or kidney infections in dogs and also can be transmitted to humans.
Sometimes veterinarians give the leptospirosis vaccine in conjunction with the DHPP combination vaccination. This vaccine is somewhat controversial because it may not protect against the most common leptospira bacteria, and yet it may be the cause of many pets' adverse reactions to the combination vaccination. Newly developed vaccines address this problem and will likely become more common in the vaccination series.
- Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial disease. Dogs can't transmit the disease to humans, but they can bring ticks that carry the bacteria into your home. The infection causes fever and lameness in affected dogs. Experts disagree about the effectiveness of the vaccine, but it's still recommended for dogs who are exposed to ticks in areas where the disease is prevalent.
- Kennel cough, an infection of the upper respiratory tract, causes a persistent hacking cough and a now-and-again runny nose. Every cough sends infected particles of drool and mucus flying through the air, which makes the condition highly contagious to other dogs - one cough and they all get it. Kennel cough can be caused by several viruses and bacteria, which may act individually or as a group to cause disease.
The fastest and most complete protection is a form of the vaccine that's delivered as a nasal spray. High-risk groups like show dogs and working dogs, who are regularly exposed to other dogs, may need the kennel cough vaccination more than once a year.
- Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. The infection is fatal, and it's passed in the saliva via a bite from an infected animal. Skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats are the most common sources.
Humans are also at risk for rabies, of course, which is why this vaccine is always required.
Is your dog up-to-date on her vaccinations? Call your veterinarian right away and protect her health!