|IS VACCINATION REALLY NECESSARY?
Yes. Vaccination can help prevent your dog from contracting potentially fatal diseases. Vaccines contain modified or killed versions of common canine diseases. When they are injected into the body, your dog’s immune system will attack them. If your dog is later exposed to the disease, the immune system will remember the disease and quickly counteract it.
SHOULD I VACCINATE FOR EVERYTHING?
Not necessarily. There are two classes for canine vaccines: Core and Non-Core.
Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, regardless of breed, size or location. All dogs will see these life-threatening diseases in their lifetime. If it didn’t kill them and they were lucky enough to recover, they would still suffer from side effects for the rest of their lives. The core vaccines include Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Rabies.
Non-core vaccines are reserved for pets with unique exposure risks or needs. These include Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough, Coronavirus, Giardia and Lyme disease.
Standard 5-way vaccines offer protection against the “Core” canine diseases.
IS THERE A RISK IN GIVING VACCINES?
As with human vaccination, there are always risks. However, the benefits of a healthy life certainly outweigh the risks of contracting a life-threatening disease.
WHY DO PUPPIES NEED A SERIES OF VACCINATIONS?
Puppies receive antibodies from their mother’s milk, giving temporary protection against disease. These antibodies also see vaccines as a disease and can eliminate them before they stimulate the immune system. There is a time after weaning called the “window of susceptibility,” where the antibodies wear off and the puppy is at risk for disease. However, it’s almost impossible to determine this time period for each puppy. By giving a series of vaccinations, you boost your puppy’s protection as soon as the mother’s antibodies wear off, whenever this happens.
CAN I GIVE VACCINES TO PREGNANT OR NURSING DOGS?
In general, treatments of any kind are not recommended for pregnant or nursing animals unless the manufacturer has tested and proven them to be safe. The same is true with vaccines. If you have questions, check with your veterinarian first.
Keep in mind that vaccinating a nursing animal will not pass the protection on to the babies. Newborns only receive the antibodies from the colostrum in the first 36 hours of nursing, and the vaccine will take a week or more to fully affect the immune system. If the mother needs vaccination, it’s best to wait until after weaning, when the stress of pregnancy and nursing is removed. She will be better equipped to respond after she’s had adequate time to recover.
ARE YEARLY BOOSTER SHOTS REALLY NECESSARY?
Up until a few years ago, this was the standard recommendation. However, recent studies show increasing evidence that some vaccines last much longer than a year. Talk to your veterinarian for recommendation.