Vaccinations are a key part of dog and puppy care
These need to be done for a number of diseases. Discuss and agree with your vet a program that is right for your pet.
Puppies will develop natural immunity against disease from their mother’s milk. This varies, depending on the mother’s immunity, but declines in the first month of life so increases the risk of infection.
You can however immunise too early as it might not take, due to the existing resistance. Studies have shown that at 6 weeks only 25% of puppies can be vaccinated, but this rises to 60% at 16 weeks and 95% at 18 weeks. So there is a large window when they may not be covered. To deal with this, the vet will probably want to vaccinate at 8 weeks and probably 10-12 weeks depending on the vaccine.
The vaccine contains a harmless version of the virus or bacteria of that disease. It works by triggering a defence mechanism that sets up a protection against the disease. This will get triggered when it encounters the real disease in the future. Immunity decreases with time and most require a booster every year or so.
When the vaccination is given, it takes between 7-14 days to take effect.
In the UK the vet will normally vaccinate against:
* Canine distemper (Hard Pad)
* Canine parvovirus
* Infectious canine hepatitis
* Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)
* Canine parainfluenza virus
* Optionally rabies
Canine distemper causes coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperature, sore eyes and a runny nose. In the old and the young the death rate can be as high as 75% and, if they survive, often have disabilities such as twitches and epileptic fits. Due to the long three week incubation period, it is too late to vaccinate against an outbreak. The dog catches distemper from sniffing where infected dogs have been.
Canine parvovirus is a recent disease and has caused the death of thousands of dogs. They catch it through contact with infected faeces and will stay in the environment for many months. It is particularly common in puppies and young dogs. An infected dog will show severe vomiting, high temperature, refusal of food and water, abdominal pain and profuse foul smelling bloody diarrhoea and generally be depressed. It often leads to rapid death, even with veterinary treatment.
Canine hepatitis attacks the liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes of the dog. The disease is caught by contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces. Again young dogs and puppies are particularly affected by this disease. The disease develops rapidly in a day or two and common symptoms of hepatitis include lack of appetite, high temperature, pale gums and conjunctiva, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. This can develop into jaundice and can sometimes cause respiratory failure and death. Dogs which recover may suffer from ‘blue eye’, a clouding of the cornea, though this may reduce over time.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which can be picked up from contact with the urine of infected animals, whether directly or in rivers / ponds where the animals such as other dogs or rats have urinated. The disease affects the liver and sometimes the kidneys. This leads to depression, high temperature, severe thirst, lethargy, increased urination, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. In the worst cases death can occur within a few hours or, in less serious cases, liver damage, which may cause problems in later life to the dog. This form of leptospirosis can be caught by people and is why hygiene is so important. The damage that this causes is mainly to the kidneys and may cause problems as the dog gets older.
Canine parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious infection which causes kennel cough. It is a social disease caught by meeting infected dogs. The symptoms are a dry, harsh cough which may cause retching. This coughing can last up to several weeks. Treatment can deal with it, but can take a few weeks before recovery. If the dog has no treatment, they can develop secondary infections which can lead to pneumonia and death.
For those who want to do pet travel to and from the UK, a pet passport requires rabies vaccination.
It is crucial to your dog that you do these vaccinations. Keep the certificates as kennels, training classes and group walkers will require to see them.
“I think Sarah definitely took good care of him and provided me with regular updates (including pictures). The information sheet that you left in the kitchen to track the work and the health of the pet on a daily basis is also very helpful.” Mr H.G and Carlos of Southwark