Once your puppy is through the series of three puppy vaccinations and boosters it is absolutely critical to keep vaccinations up to date and current at all times. Many owners think that the puppy vaccinations provide permanent safety for the dog, but this is completely false. Dogs need yearly vaccinations for many conditions and other vaccinations at longer or shorter periods depending on the particular condition as well as the environment that the dog is going into.
Some dog owners stop vaccinating their dogs because the owners believe that their dogs are not exposed on a regular basis to other dogs. Unfortunately all it takes is drinking from another dog's water, being in the presence of a dog when it sneezes, or of course getting into a fight or even playing with another dog and breaking the skin or ingesting the other dogs body fluids to contract some of these diseases. There is no way to guarantee your dog may not come into contact with another dog, or at least the germs from another dog carried on another person. Vaccination on an annual basis is the only way to completely protect your dog, no matter how isolated the dog may be. In addition it is important to remember that not all owners are responsible in vaccinating their dogs, so taking the precaution yourself means you are not relying on someone else to have done the right thing.
Yearly vaccinations are typically not all that expensive and in many areas low income families and senior citizens may be eligible for special vaccination programs for their pets that are very low or no-cost programs. Some community based animal shelters, rescues and groups may also offer vaccination clinics and events that are extremely reasonably priced.
Typically dogs will be vaccinated for several diseases all in one shot. Dogs are given either live vaccine or dead vaccine, but both work to trigger the dog's body to produce antibodies to fight off the real disease should they come in contact. Your dog may be a little tender in the site of the injection and may also be a little be tired and even lethargic immediately after the vaccinations but this should clear up within 24 hours or the dog should be brought back to the vet for a check-up.
Most vaccinations will include what are known as the core shots for the following conditions:
This is very problematic in puppies and is often fatal once contracted. Distemper is found worldwide and may be transferred from some feral animals including wild dogs into domestic dog populations. It is a virus that attacks the respiratory system resulting in heavy discharge from the nose and eyes, high fevers and even neurological impairments once the condition becomes advanced.
Another very problematic condition for puppies and dogs that are already weakened by other diseases and conditions. Parvo is often fatal, even with very early treatment. It is a virus that attacks the dog's intestinal tract and digestive system resulting in severe diarrhea and vomiting. The condition in highly contagious and is passed from dog to dog through contact with infected fecal material or direct contact with an infected dog's body waste.
One or two year vaccinations are available. Rabies is a fatal infectious viral disease with no cure. It attacks the brain and nervous system and results in abnormal and typically very aggressive behavior in the advanced stages. Dogs are infected by bites or saliva from an infected dog or other animal such as a skunk, rat, mouse or any other vermin or mammal.
Dogs can survive hepatitis but it does significantly damage the kidneys and liver leading to chronic health conditions. It is spread through contact with infected animals urine and fecal material.
Another highly contagious disease of the kidney and liver, Leptospirosis is extremely dangerous because it is very easy for a human working with a dog to become infected. Dogs with Leptospirosis should be immediately isolated and handled only with gloves and appropriate safety precautions.
In addition many vets recommend the following disease be vaccinated for depending on the area in which the dog is located:
A disease carried by ticks and passed to dogs through the tick depositing saliva to prevent the blood from clotting at the bite area. This disease is not usually fatal but will cause serious health issues in combination with other diseases and as the dog ages.
Upper respiratory infections that are caused by direct contact with nasal secretions of infected dogs. In some areas this will be part of the core vaccination shots.
This is usually a nasal type spray that acts to help prevent or minimize kennel cough. Although not a life threatening condition on its own it is chronic cough that can complicate other respiratory infections and become more serious under those conditions.
Similar to parvovirus but not usually as fatal when treated. It attacks the digestive system resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. A clean yard and careful monitoring of the dog when outside of the yard is critical, especially if the dog has not been vaccinated.
A water carried parasite that is found in many natural bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, streams and even ditches. It can be passed through direct contact with fecal material of an infected animal or drinking water that is contaminated with fecal material. This condition is of concern to both owners and dogs as it can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
There is always a risk with any type of vaccination or medical procedure, but the issues with vaccinations are very rare and often breed specific. Ask your vet, a breeder or dog some online research to find out if your dog breed may have any negative reactions to various types of vaccinations or medications. Finally, remember to tell your vet if you are taking the dog to another area or country so they can provide the necessary documentation and ensure that your dog has all the required vaccinations.