Whether you just got a new puppy or recently rescued an older dog, vaccinating your dogs is something we all have to do.
We all want to make sure that we are doing our best to protect our dogs.
But how often should a dog get shots? Do we annually need to get our dogs their shots. Do we need all the shots that the Vet tells us to get?
Are we at risk of over vaccinating our dogs? What are the most important shots we need to give our dogs.
History of vaccinations.
We have all heard of Louis Pasteur. He was a French biologist, microbiologist and chemist that is historically known for being the first to discover the principles of vaccinations. His contributions started with the study of crystals of by-products of wine fermentation.
He found a distinct chemistry between dead and living matters. His work showed the role of living microbes in fermentation and putrefaction processes. Using well-designed experiments he was able to challenge the two-millenium old theory of spontaneous generation.
Using silkworms he was able to identify the role of specific germs in infectious diseases. He discovered the vaccine against fowl cholera which was the birth of immunology. He is renowned for creating the vaccines against Anthrax and Rabies.
What does the research say?
A leading researcher in the field of immunologist at the University of Wisconsin in the School of Veterinary Medicine a Dr. Ronald Schultz conducted studies that spanned a number of years.
He found that some yearly vaccinations provide immunity protection for up to 7 years. Some of them even provide lifetime protection. His study was published in 2006.
But if we look at the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in 2003 they revised its vaccination guidelines. They recommend that adult dogs are only in need of vaccinations every 3 years, not yearly like otherwise thought.
What are vaccinations?
What exactly is a vaccine. A vaccine is a product that is introduced into the body to trigger a protective immune response to help fight future diseases. The vaccines help stimulate antibodies within a dogs immune system to help destroy disease causing organisms.
They help the dogs body fight off and prevent certain diseases altogether. Widespread use of vaccines has saved the lives of millions of animals since they were discovered. Vaccines prevent our dogs from becoming infected with highly contagious and serious illnesses.
We treat dogs with vaccines over and over, to ensure that they are always protected from a particular disease and to avoid any gaps in protection. If there are gaps in the timeline of giving the vaccines, then that leaves our dogs susceptible to contracting serious life threatening diseases.
Some vaccinations are required only when our dogs are puppies and some are required when our dogs are adults on a yearly type time frame. The frequency of vaccinations are something that has dramatically changed over the years. We now are spreading out the use of vaccines for longer periods than originally thought.
Shots that are a must.
Let’s start with what vaccinations our dogs absolutely should have. As we know, very young dogs are at serious risk of catching an infectious disease. Puppies do receive antibodies from their mother’s milk, but the problem with these antibodies is they don’t last.
There can be gaps in the protection from the mother’s antibodies and this will leave them at risk while their own immune system is maturing. A first round of shots given to puppies helps kick start their immune system to create its own antibodies that will protect them.
In order to get the best protection for your puppy, a series of shots are scheduled within the first few months usually in 3-4 weeks apart. The final vaccination for puppies is given at around 4 months or so. Now if your puppy is at a higher risk, your Vet may require you to give your puppy more vaccines than normal.
The first vaccines are what we call Core vaccinations. They consist of :
- Andenovirus (Canine Hepatitis)
The core vaccinations should be again administered at the one-year mark and then again every 3 years after that. Now one way that you can potentially avoid doing the 1-3 year vaccination schedule is to have your dogs antibodies tested to see what level they are at. In some cases the antibodies are still present and determined to be protective enough that another vaccination is not required.
The rule of thinking now is that most dogs are protected after their core vaccinations and could be potentially good for 7-15 years or even for life.
Now there are other vaccinations that are considered to be Non-core vaccinations. These are:
- Kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica)
- Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi)
- Leptospirosis (Leptospira)
These non-core vaccinations maybe required for your dog if they live in certain geographical locations, local environment and lifestyle place. It can put them at risk of contracting these serious diseases if they are not properly protected.
Now depending on your Vet, they may completely disagree with the core vaccinations protecting your dog for life. They may even say that it is against the law not to get your dog vaccinated since their first vaccinations. Truthfully though the only one vaccination that is actually required by law is the Rabies vaccination.
There is a real worry that if we don’t follow these new guidelines we run the risk of over vaccinating our dogs which can be really dangerous. All vaccinations have adverse side effects and can be extremely dangerous to your pet’s health.
They can have mild reactions to serious reactions. The mild causes can be lethargy and soreness. The extreme ones could be anaphylactic shock, autoimmune diseases and even as far as causing death.
The most important thing when it comes to vaccinations is to educate yourself about your dog and the proper vaccinations they require with your Vet.
Now that being said don’t always just take your Vet’s advice when it comes to making all of the vaccination decisions. Every dog’s history is different and not every dog needs the same vaccinations. Have a discussion about it. Ensure that you talk in depth with them about your dogs entire medical history so there is no confusion about what their needs are.