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The Importance of Vaccinating Your Dog
by Sean Callahan | April 23, 2014
Just as we vaccinate our children against disease, we need to do the same for our dogs. Vaccinating your dog is an easy way to ensure they live a long, healthy and happy life.
There are many different types of vaccines that prevent various diseases, as well as many different combinations of vaccines used in veterinary medicine. While these vaccines will protect your dog against serious disease, they also come with risks. Your veterinarian will help you to determine what vaccines are best for your dog, give those vaccines at the appropriate age, and show you how the benefits out weigh the risks associated with it.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines work by preparing the body’s immune system to fight disease-causing organisms that may invade the body. The was this is done is by the vaccines containing antigens that look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system, however they do not cause disease. The immune system is stimulated once the vaccine is introduced to the body. If you dog is exposed to the real disease at some point, the immune system will be prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely.
Why are Vaccines Important to my Dogs Health?
Vaccinating your dog is key to his health, as they are preparing his body to fight off disease if he becomes exposed. Most veterinarians will recommend the core vaccinations for dogs, however there may be additional vaccinations you should use on your dog. What vaccines your dog will need is determined by your dogs age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force, core vaccines are considered to be vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans. Canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk, these often include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria. Your veterinarian will help you in determining which vaccinations will be best for your dog.
Vaccines Required By Law
Rabies vaccination is legally required, all dogs must be up to date on this vaccination according to state laws. Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Typically states require rabies vaccines are done by 6 months of age, repeated one year after the first vaccine and then done every three years. However there are some states that require yearly rabies vaccinations.
How Often Does My Dog Require Vaccinations?
Your veterinarian will help you in determining a vaccination schedule for your dog. Typically your dog will go to the veterinarian annually for an examination, at this time any vaccinations that require boosters will be given. However some vaccinations may only be required every 3 years but still should receive their annual physical examination.
Adverse Effects to Vaccinations
Vaccinations work by mildly stimulate the dog’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases, which can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. While the risk of vaccinating can be scary for some pet parents it is important to remember that these vaccines are fighting against canine infectious disease, helping to increase your dogs life span and allow them to live a happy and healthy life. Just as with an medical procedure there is a risk, some greater than others, your veterinarian will help you in determining which vaccines are right for your dog.
Common minor and short lived adverse effects to vaccinations include:
- Loss of appetite
- Facial swelling and/or hives
- Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
- Difficulty breathing
If you are concerned at any point that your dog may be having an allergic reaction after being vaccinated contact your veterinarian immediately and have your dog examined to ensure their health and safety.