Vaccinations teach the immune system to recognise and respond quickly to certain infections before they can cause serious illness. They contain harmless strains of the viruses and bacteria that your dog needs protection against. Most of the diseases that are vaccinated against have no specific cure, and treatment can only support the animal before its immune system can hopefully fight off the disease. Recent advances in vaccine technology mean that they are safer than ever and can protect against even more diseases.
When To Vaccinate?
Vaccines are usually first used in pups from six weeks of age. Generally a double dose of vaccine is given 2-4 weeks apart and then every year a single booster injection is given to keep their immunity at fully protective levels. It is essential to ensure that your pup is fully vaccinated before coming into contact with other dogs’ as they may be carriers of the diseases.
Which Diseases Are Covered By Vaccination ?
Canine Parvovirus An aggressive disease that attacks the immune system and cells lining the intestines, causing serious, often fatal, vomiting and diarrhoea. Young unvaccinated pups are especially susceptible.
Canine Distemper (Hardpad) This virus attacks the gut, lungs and nervous system and is usually fatal.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis This virus rapidly attacks the liver, lungs, kidneys and eyes. Many cases are fatal but some dogs can recover.
Canine Parainfluenza Virus This virus is an important component of `kennel cough’ , a highly infectious upper respiratory tract infection of dogs which causes a dry hacking cough.
Leptospirosis This disease is caused by bacteria from the family Leptospira. Two types of disease are seen but both can be protected against. The first is passed on in watercourses from the urine of infected rats and this strain can also affect humans. The second is caught from the urine of infected dogs. Whilst antibiotics can help to treat Leptospirosis, cases can often be fatal or cause lifelong damage to the kidneys.
Newer vaccines can also give protection against canine coronavirus, which can cause serious diarrhoea in infected animals.
Kennel cough vaccines protect against a bacteria called bordetella bronchiseptica which is one of the more serious strains of `kennel cough` infection. Vaccination is often a requirement of boarding kennels to reduce its spread.
Rabies vaccines are used only occasionally but can enable pets to travel freely from the UK to Europe provided they comply with the rules set down under the Pet Travel Scheme.
Why Does My Dog Need Annual Boosters?
Although some components of the routine vaccine do stimulate a long-term immunity that can last for a few years, most components do not and so an annual booster is essential to ensure full protection. The specific interval between booster injections will vary depending on which product is used and so it is essential to consult your veterinary surgeon, who will know your own dogs` requirements.
How Are Vaccines Given?
Most dog vaccines are given by injection into the scruff of the neck. The procedure goes unnoticed in most cases.
Kennel cough vaccines as previously mentioned are given as nasal drops.
How Much Will It Cost ?
Prices will vary considerably and will depend on which specific vaccines are used. An initial course of two injections may range from £30-£70 and a booster from £18-£40.