Vaccinations and Your Pet, Part 2
What is necessary to keep them happy and healthy.
Over the years we have found that vaccination protocols on pets have changed slightly for a number of reasons. Many of our clients often ask: “Are vaccinations really necessary?” The answer is absolutely YES.
The real question is: “What vaccinations are necessary?”
At the Fox Memorial Clinic, we believe that pets are individuals with different lifestyles and therefore may have different vaccination needs.
In this second article of a two part series outlining the importance of vaccinations, we will focus on canines and their needs.
But before we talk about canine specific vaccinations, let’s refresh all of you on the basic information shared during the month of June about vaccinations and why they are so important for both cats and dogs.
***We have some new advice to share with you about vaccination recommendations. Your veterinarian will prescribe regular vaccinations to you based upon the lifestyle and environment of your pet. For example: A dog that goes hiking in the woods with their family on a regular basis may need to be vaccinated against Lyme Disease but a “city” dog with little to no access to tick infested areas may not need this vaccination. ***
1. It is our duty as pet “parents” to keep our pets healthy. It is also important to follow the laws regarding pet care. In the State of Connecticut, Rabies vaccines are a legal requirement for both cats and dogs.
2. Vaccinations have made certain infectious diseases like distemper a rarity. But these diseases are still out in the world and CAN be contracted by a pet that has never received their vaccinations or has a spotty vaccination record.
3. Vaccines work by injecting a small amount of the virus into your pet in order to stimulate their immune system to produce antibodies against the disease. (It works the same way for people.) This is only of value if given to a healthy pet as prevention. In most cases, the vaccines are not very helpful if the animal has already been exposed to infection.
4. Vaccines become fully effective when puppies and kittens reach approximately 20-24 weeks of age provided that they have received the vaccines according to the protocols advised by your veterinarian and the types of vaccine associated with the risk factors in your geographical location.
5. No vaccine is 100% effective. This is because of the nature of the vaccine itself or because an individual pet’s immune system does not react to the vaccine properly.
6. In the vast majority of cases, pets receive their vaccinations without any side effects or adverse reactions. For those few pets that do experience difficulties, side effects include: immediate allergic reactions (like severe swelling) that develop within two hours and general depression/apathy for a day or two following administration. Allergic reactions need to be treated immediately and prolonged depression beyond a day should be discussed with your veterinarian.
7. Recent studies have brought to light two other types of side effect, both of which are still under a great deal of debate within the veterinary community. Long-term reactions: If you are concerned about any vaccination worsening any problem that your pet is prone to, you should discuss it with your veterinarian. Fibrosarcomas: These are tumors that develop at the site of the injection and only take place in a small percentage of pets vaccinated. There is a standardized, recommended placement for vaccination injection sites. These are used by most veterinarians. The vast majority of practicioners advise advise that the benefits of the vaccinations significantly outweigh the risks.
DHLPP. This is a 5-in-one vaccination advised for all dogs that protects against the following diseases. Initial vaccinations are a series of three shots given 3-4 weeks apart. The duration of immunity has been determined to be larger than previously thought. Many veterinarians now recommend measuring vaccine titers annually as opposed to automatically boosting vaccines:
· Distemper…highly contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory and nervous systems. It can cause fever, lethargy, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and frequently; death.
· Hepatitis/Adenovirus…a viral disease that affects the liver and can also cause severe kidney damage. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and death can occur. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and jaundice.
· Leptospirosis…a bacterial disease typically spread by contact with infected urine or contaminated food/water. In severe cases, dogs may exhibit weakness, fever, vomiting, hemorrhage and jaundice.
· Parainfluenza…this virus is one of the causes of kennel cough. It is usually a mild respiratory infection in healthy adult dogs but can be deadly to puppies and dogs suffering from additional medical issues. The disease is airborne and can cause epidemics wherever large numbers of dogs are concentrated. Primary symptoms include a persistent, hacking cough that can last from 2-4 weeks. Complications such as secondary infections and /or pneumonia could be fatal; especially in puppies.
· Parvovirus…this is one of the most problematic and serious infectious diseases affecting dogs in today’s world. This is a viral infection that is highly contagious. It is primarily spread through contact with the feces of an infected dog. The virus is capable of surviving for long periods of time outside of a dog’s body and could contaminate soil, lawns, bowls, cages, shoes or other objects. Symptoms of the disease include depression, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Onset can be very sudden and can progress rapidly to death especially in puppies.
Rabies. Rabies can affect all warm-blooded animals including humans. Transmission usually occurs from the bite of an infected animal. Today, the main reservoir of Rabies is in wild animals such as raccoons, foxes, skinks and bats. The virus attacks the brain and central nervous system and is almost always fatal. The first shot is to be given at 12 weeks of age and then repeated in one year. If kept current, all subsequent vaccinations are good for 3 years.
Bordetella (kennel cough). This bacterial infection, along with other viruses can cause infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). Primary symptoms include a persistent, hacking cough that can last from 2-4 weeks. Kennel cough is highly contagious and can be spread through the air. It is very common at kennels and anywhere large groups of dogs are together. Vaccination is highly recommended for dogs that regularly congregate with large numbers of other dogs. The vast majority of boarding facilities and grooming parlors require this vaccination in order to receive services. Vaccine is necessary one or more times per year.
Lyme Disease. First described in Lyme, CT, this disease has now been found throughout the country. The Lyme bacterium is spread by ticks (commonly, those that feed on deer). Typical symptoms in your dog are fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and potentially severe joint inflammation (arthritis). Vaccinations are advised for dogs living in wooded areas or who accompany their families while hiking, camping or hunting. People can also contract this disease through tick bites. Initial vaccination is a series of two shots given 2-3 weeks apart. If kept current, all subsequent vaccinations are good for one year.