Although your new puppy will likely squirm and maybe even cry when getting his shots (which might be heartbreaking to watch), this process is just as crucial for your dog as it is for your children and for yourself. In fact, by keeping up with your dog’s vaccinations, you could be saving his life!
Types of Vaccinations
Vaccinations are injections of a small dose of a disease, which will prevent your puppy from developing that very disease. Just like immunisations in children, it is required by health departments and is the right thing to do for your dog.
Two different types of vaccinations exist. They are a killed vaccine and a modified live vaccine.
A modified live vaccine contains a live disease that has been altered by the drug company to lose most of its disease-inducing capability but still maintains its immunogenic properties. Administering such a vaccine is usually more than enough to induce long-term (sometimes even lifelong) protection from a specific type of disease.
On the other hand, a killed vaccine (or inactivated vaccine) is when the virus itself has been killed before any injection occurs. This type of vaccine is not as strong as live vaccines so your pet may need several doses over time in order to get ongoing immunity against diseases.
Common Types of Vaccine-preventable Diseases
A few of the more commonly heard of diseases that affect dogs are often at the top of a vaccination list, and regular vaccinations should be scheduled to prevent your dog from contracting such diseases.
Canine distemper (sometimes referred to as footpad disease) is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the body. This dreadful disease attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system of dogs and causes a lot of suffering for our pets once contracted. As it happens, there is no cure for canine distemper, and 50% of dogs who fall ill with this disease do not survive it. Canine distemper mainly affects middle-aged dogs; puppies and older dogs are usually safe from contracting it. Regardless, it is always better to prevent this through vaccination.
Another vaccination, which is vital to your dog’s health and should not be confused with the human disease, hepatitis, is canine hepatitis. This is a life-threatening viral disease that is highly contagious and very severe. It is transmitted through urine, saliva and faeces. All ages of dogs are at risk for this disease, but the mortality rate is highest in puppies. It is, however, not zoonotic.
Rabies Vaccinations for rabies are probably the most commonly talked about vaccine. The deadly disease itself is the most well known in animals and can quickly affect humans through saliva and bites. Aggression, excessive salivation and erratic behaviour will follow the onset of rabies, although it may not be as clear as “Cujo”, the famous rabid-infected dog in the movies.
Coronavirus disease Another disease that is commonly confused and is important to have vaccinations for is coronavirus disease. It is a highly infectious intestinal infection that can cause a ton of abdominal discomfort in dogs. This disease affects young dogs and is usually mixed up with parvo, which is a totally different type of disease. The coronavirus disease is contagious and is passed through faeces ingested by another dog or eating from contaminated food bowls by other infected dogs, causing trouble with the intestinal system. This disease is usually treatable before parvo sets in.
What happens after a vaccination?
Once vaccinations are given, your dog’s immune system will recognise the presence of a disease and will then create barriers or reinforcements (antibodies) to fight it off, should it appear. These barriers only last from six months to a year, which makes regular appointments extremely important for your dog.
With so many diseases that can affect, sicken, or even kill your precious furry friend, vaccinations are extremely important to yours and your dog’s health. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to schedule regular visits with your vet and be well-informed about how you can care for your pet. For all the happiness that your dog brings to you and your family, he too, deserves to stay happy and healthy.