If you’ve ever seen a dog suffer needlessly, or even die, from avoidable diseases and infections, you understand the reason for puppy and dog vaccinations. They are an essential step in providing the best possible life for your dog, one that includes a safe environment, nourishing food, plenty of exercise, and lots and lots of love.
Like people, dogs are susceptible to viruses, bacterial infections, and other organisms that make them sick or can even lead to death. Researchers and veterinarians have worked to create proactive canine vaccines that protect dogs from suffering from some of the most common and serious diseases or illnesses.
Canine vaccines are specially prepared microorganisms (some altered and some already dead) suspended in a fluid. Once they’re injected into your pet, they trigger an immune system response. This trains the dog’s system to recognize that “invader” in the future, fighting it off before it can multiply and infect or cause serious or fatal diseases to canines.
Some canine vaccines, like Bordatella (kennel cough), come in the form of a nasal spray. Most, however, are injections that are given swiftly and relatively painlessly at routine veterinarian appointments or at local vaccination clinics. The goal is to give dogs the minimum vaccinations required while providing maximum protection.
As a result, different vaccines are recommended annually, while others may only be given every few years or so. Also, some vaccines are only strongly recommended in certain environments - like the vaccine for Lyme disease - so veterinarians make recommendations based on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle.
Here are some of the vaccines recommended by the AKC and veterinarians around the country. Some of them prevent diseases that are so contagious you can’t enroll your dog in a group training class or take them to a boarding facility or pet sitter’s home without proof of vaccination.
Out of respect for your fellow human dog companions and their dogs, we also recommend keeping your dog’s vaccinations up to date if you visit community dog parks or allow your dog to socialize with other dogs on daily walks.
The following canine vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs, no matter where you live in the United States.
This disease affects both the respiratory and digestive systems of dogs and other animals. It’s spread by sharing food and water bowls as well as by airborne exposure (sneezing, coughing). There is no cure, which is one of the reasons this vaccine is considered a “must-have.”
This is another highly contagious disease. It’s most fatal to dogs that are four months old or younger. This is why it’s given to puppies and recommended for adult dogs every three years.
This is one of the most well-known vaccines. Rabies shots prevent the contraction of this viral infection that affects all mammals. Rabies is most often contracted by the bite of an aggressive dog with rabies or another infected animal. While it is treatable, treatment must happen within a few hours of infection, which is why vaccinations are the safer bet. Rabies vaccines are typically recommended every three years.
This form of hepatitis is not the same as the virus that affects humans. However, it does affect a dog’s liver. There is no cure for canine hepatitis, although it can be treated to relieve symptoms. That said, the most severe form of the disease is fatal, making this a highly-recommended vaccine.
These vaccines are not necessary for all dogs. Your veterinarian will discuss which of them (if any) makes the most sense based on your dog’s lifestyle or medical history.
This vaccine is one of the only ones that protects dogs from a bacterial infection known as leptospirosis. This bacteria is commonly found in soil and water and can be spread to humans. It is treatable as long as the symptoms lead to an accurate diagnosis.
Bordatella is commonly called “kennel cough.” It’s the doggie version of bronchitis and is highly contagious. It’s rarely fatal and can be treated and overcome, but kennel cough is unpleasant, so why put your dog at risk?
If you plan to put your dog in any group setting, you should prioritize the kennel cough vaccine. Proof of both bordetella and rabies vaccination is required by everyone from boarding facilities to group dog trainers, doggy boot camp programs, and groomers.
Here’s one that is only recommended if your dog is at risk for tick bites. Dogs don’t get the tell-tale “bulls-eye” rash that humans do. Instead, they experience all kinds of miserable symptoms, including inflamed lymph systems, lack of appetite, and organ issues. Dogs with Lyme disease often stop eating, begin to limp, and don’t want to play or exercise. It can be treated using antibiotics, but the bacteria remain dormant and can cause relapses for the rest of their lives.
These viruses contribute to kennel cough, so including it can increase your pet’s resistance to developing Bordatella.
That list can seem like a long one. However, many of them are offered in combination shots, keeping shots to a minimum. For example, unless dog owners specify otherwise or a vet specifically recommends it, your dog is likely to receive the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza) each year for their first two years, along with a separate rabies shot.
After their first and subsequent booster shots, these vaccines are only recommended every three years. In three years you can also get a titer test to see if your dog needs to be vaccinated at that time. A titer is a laboratory test that measures the presence and amount of antibodies in the blood. A titer is used to prove if your dog has immunity to a disease. If the titer shows that your dog has enough immunity then you do not need to get your dog re-vaccinated at this time.
Are you interested in joining group dog training classes or enrolling your dog in our doggy boot camp program? Contact Alternative Canine Training to learn more about the proof of vaccination required to keep all of our community dogs healthy and happy!