Vaccinations for your dog
We all know that puppies should be vaccinated, but how about ongoing vaccinations? There has been a growing and ever present ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement, which includes vaccinations for dogs, sadly. This preventative approach to serious disease has been around since Edward Jenner inoculated a 13 year-old-boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox), and demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, the first smallpox vaccine was developed. Dogs have been vaccinated for over forty years.
All vaccines carry a risk, but that risk of side effect is miniscule compared with the benefits. As the AAHA says “No medication is without risk, but the benefits of vaccinating pets certainly outweigh the few risks because many common vaccinations in pets protect against devastating diseases, and even death.”
Traditionally, puppies were always sent off having had their first set of vaccinations. However, when I took Sunny along to be registered with a vet, they insisted on starting the process off again, as they wanted to be happy that she had been given the same type of vaccination, from the same ‘batch’.
There are several different types and makes of vaccinations given to puppies and different vets have different practices and policies. Some don’t want to vaccinate at 8 weeks, when puppies first arrive in their new homes. Some say the pups can go out within a week of the second vaccination, some want you to wait a bit longer.
Puppies are covered by the mother’s immunity when they are being fed by her. These levels of immunity from the mother come from the first few days of feeding and this can last for variable amounts of time, from 6 weeks up to 20 weeks.
Your vet will start your puppy on a course of vaccinations against the four main infectious diseases:
- Canine Distemper
All these diseases are fatal, so it is vital that your dog is protected from these. More details about what vaccinations should be given and when can be found at KC health advice.
Can I take my puppy out before they have been vaccinated?
Yes. You need to make sure they do not come into contact with dogs that have not had their vaccinations, or go someone where they might pick up these diseases. However, it is really important for pups to get out and about, as long as they are carried, or you know the dogs they are mixing with. It is great experience for your puppy and a chance to show them off to family and friends! Use a handy Pet Sling such as this one and off you go!
Ongoing vaccinations – how often should they be done?
Once again, times have changed. In the past, we accepted that we should vaccinate our dogs every year. However, we have come to realise that it is not necessarily appropriate to give our dogs all these vaccinations. Vets have discovered through scientific investigation that in fact the effect of the vaccinations last a bit longer than a year. They have therefore reviewed their policy for vaccinating.
My vet now carries out a rolling programme of vaccination. They vaccinate against leptospirosis every year, but other diseases are done every other year, or every third year. I have also discovered that the dogs are covered for up to 15 months. I therefore make sure that I don’t now take them on the anniversary of their last vaccination, but wait until a bit later. That saves me money and make sure that my dogs don’t get done unnecessarily.
Alternatives to vaccination
Some people feel that they would rather treat their dogs another way, rather than ‘over-vaccinating’. They might ‘titer test’ their dogs, which is a blood test used to determine the level of immunity in the dog’s system. This is fine, on the day of testing, but it is not a reliable measure of the long-term cover the dog has.
I value the knowledge and expertise of my vet. I believe that they have spent years training and studying to understand what is best for my dog. It’s easy to be critical of something you don’t understand, but I would prefer to trust a professional person, than go through the hassle of learning all about it myself. I go to the MK Veterinary Group and I am happy with their service.
People complain that vets charge too much money, but it must cost a fortune to run a practice, ensuring that they are ready and able to deal with everything that we throw at them. I think my Veterinary Practice is great!
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.