One of the best ways to help your dog live a healthier and longer life is to get them vaccinated. Vaccines against infectious diseases must be given when your pup is old enough to build immunity. Some of these diseases are rabies, infectious hepatitis, distemper, parvovirus and parainfluenza. On the other hand, vaccines for bordetella bronchiseptica, coronavirus, giardia, Leptospirosis, and Lyme disease are optional. This usually depends on the risk factors for your dog and the occurrence of the mentioned diseases in your area.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has made guidelines to help categorize dog vaccines as core or noncore.
The vaccine against Leptospira bacterins may help protect against two or four of the most common subspecies of bacteria which causes leptospirosis. The two-serovar bacterin can be combined into a DHPP shot administered at dogs 12 weeks of age, the next of which is at 14 to 16 weeks of age. Most of the veterinarians administer the four-serovar bacterin as a separate injection as early as 12 weeks, the next of which is two to three weeks later.
Leptospira bacterin has been reported to be responsible for 70% of post-vaccination DHLPP anaphylactic shock reactions. Dogs and toy breeds that are younger than 12 weeks old are believed to have the highest rate of reactions to this bacterin. Also, the two-serovar vaccines do not provide protection against the two species which is responsible for the majority of cases recently. As such, routine vaccination is considered optional now for dog owners. It is still indicated in certain areas where the risk of contracting the disease is higher than the risk of vaccination. The vaccine against leptospirosis is not included in all combination vaccines, therefore it can be given separately.
Companies like Pfizer and Fort Dodge already have vaccines that covers all four of the primary serovars of leptospirosis. These are called subunit vaccines, and it poses a low risk of an allergic reaction to dogs. Due to the rising cases of leptospirosis, this vaccine may be recommended in more areas. Immunity following the vaccination usually takes place four to six months after. As such, if vaccination for puppies is essential, it may be recommended to revaccinate after every six months. You can also ask your veterinarian to learn what would be the best for your dog.
Parainfluenza is the primary virus indicated in the kennel cough complex. By getting this vaccine for dogs, it decreases the severity and prevalence of the infection. However, the vaccine does not prevent the disease. The vaccine for parainfluenza is combined into the canine distemper-measles-parainfluenza and DHPP shots. The first dose is given to dogs that are eight to twelve weeks of age, while the second dose is given at 16 weeks. According to the guidelines of AAHA 2006, the vaccine should be given at six to eight weeks of age. However, a lot of veterinarians choose to wait until dogs are seven to eight weeks of age before commencing vaccinations. An intranasal vaccine which incorporate the vaccine for bordetella is also available.
The injectable vaccine against parainfluenza helps protect dogs, but does not completely eliminate the virus coming from nasal secretions. This means that pups can still transmit the infection. The intranasal vaccine provides protection against both infection and disease, therefore eliminating the possibility of disease transmission to other dogs.
Yearly boosters of this vaccine are recommended by the manufacturer. However, there have been evidences suggesting that the vaccine against parainfluenza does not always give protection for the full 12 months. In many cases, the vaccine should be given twice a year, especially for dogs that pose a higher risk.
Keep in mind that this recommendation is applicable only for the parainfluenza vaccine, and not for other viruses that are usually included in a combination vaccine. Since this is not a core vaccine, it must only be given to pups with lifestyles that increase their risk, like dogs who will be boarded and show dogs.
The vaccine for bordetella bronchiseptica can help control kennel cough as well as other respiratory infections caused by the bacteria. This optional vaccine works best for dogs living in kennels, show dogs and boarded dogs.
As of the time being, there are two available vaccine types to help prevent bordetella in pups. The first is an intranasal vaccine, and the second one is an injectable vaccine. The intranasal vaccine that helps protect dogs against bordetella and parainfluenza, provides the most immediate immunity. However, either type of this vaccine is ideally given at least a week before possible exposures.
The injectable vaccine, on the other hand, should be given to dogs twice. The first injections is administered to pups that are eight weeks of age, which will be repeated two to four weeks later. Dogs that are born in high-risk areas where bordetella is widespread can be given the intranasal vaccine at three weeks of age.
Annual boosters for this vaccine is also recommended by the manufacturer. However, due to the short duration of immunity, semi-annual boosters might be more advisable for dogs.
The vaccine for Lyme disease, also known as Borrelia burgdorferi, is only recommended for dogs in areas with high risk. This includes dogs that visit areas where Lyme disease is widespread, as well as areas with a high risk of tick exposure.
The killed bacterin is not that so much favored right now, and the subunit vaccine which features OpsA antigen is the one more preferred should the vaccine be needed for your dog. The immunity of dogs from this vaccine can be determined from a natural exposure. Tick control must be the first line of defense against Lyme disease.