We are fortunate to live in a day when veterinary care is better than it has ever been.
Preventive care helps keep our pets healthy and makes their lifespans longer, so we can enjoy their companionship that much longer.
One of the most important aspects of preventive care is a regular schedule of vaccines for dogs. Your dog’s particular protocol is best determined by you and your veterinarian together. Some of the considerations that make this determination are the dog’s age and breed, his overall health, and his lifestyle. Do you travel with him? Does she play at public dog parks? Do you live on a farm or in the city? Are there opportunities for your dog to come in close contact with wild animals? These and other questions may be asked by your vet when determining what is the best vaccine protocol for your four-footed buddy.
States each have their own requirements when it comes to vaccines. Nearly all have some sort of requirement for the rabies vaccine, but some prescribe it yearly while others only once every three years. Your veterinarian will know what your state requires.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines contain antigens, which are properties that look like the disease to the dog’s immune system, but do not actually cause the disease. What they do is make the immune system recognize them as foreign invaders, which causes antibodies to be developed. Then, when the disease is encountered, the body already has its ammunition ready. It will either prevent the disease entirely, or at the least make it a milder case.
There is a core group of vaccines that most vets recommend for all dog’s over the age of sixteen weeks. These include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies. Before the age of sixteen weeks, starting at six to eight weeks of age, a series of vaccines is given to puppies that includes a combination vaccine for parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper given in a series of three doses every three to four weeks, with the last dose at sixteen weeks. Many vets do not give rabies shots until the dog reaches four to six months of age.
Are there risks associated with vaccines?
Yes, as with all vaccines, those for animals have inherent risks, just like those given to humans do. The majority of risks are mild reactions, including soreness at the injection site, lethargy, fever, and sometimes hives or swelling. With any allergic reaction such as hives, it is wise to call your veterinarian immediately.