“My dog was vaccinated as a puppy. Does he need ongoing vaccination?”
Vaccination, in dogs as in people, is a great way to help the body protect itself from different diseases. A vaccination stimulates the immune system to learn to fight a disease. Often, the body needs a “booster” vaccination to keep the immune system’s arsenal in top shape.
For a puppy to be fully protected, it needs a few booster shots during its first months of life. While there are many different vaccines out there, not every puppy needs every shot. Each type of vaccine has its own schedule to keep your dog’s body able to fight off disease. There are “core” vaccines, which include protection against the most common and most dangerous diseases. “Non-core” vaccines are for diseases that your dog may or may not be exposed to – depending on the area you live in, and you and your dog’s lifestyle.
Core vaccines include Rabies, and a mixed vaccination including canine distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus. These vaccines are given to puppies usually in a series of three and then repeated every 1-3 years, depending on the type of vaccination your veterinarian uses, and the laws and recommendations in your area. If you travel outside of the U.S. with your dog, the rabies booster may have to be given more often.
Another common vaccine is Bordetella, to protect against canine cough. This can be given as a liquid squirted into your dog’s nose, or as an injection. To keep up proper protection, this vaccine needs to be repeated every 6-12 months. Since this disease is very contagious between dogs, most boarding kennels and play groups require all dogs to be up-to-date on this vaccine.
Leptospirosis and Lyme disease are also rather common in our area. Your veterinarian may recommend vaccination against either or both of these diseases depending on your dog’s risk factors such as the area you live in and where your dog plays.
It’s important to remember that not all vaccinations, even when given on the ideal schedule, can prevent disease 100% of the time. The main goal is to help your dog fight off disease, so that if he is exposed the resulting sickness will be much less severe. Other important ways to protect your dog’s health include flea, tick, heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention and regular wellness screening.
Discussing your dog’s lifestyle and risk factors with your veterinarian during your annual wellness visits will help you work out the best personalized schedule for vaccinations, parasite prevention, and screening tests.