Vaccinations and Your Dog

Vaccinations can be a controversial topic. Some people do not believe in vaccinating their dogs, some give fewer vaccinations than the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends, and some follow those recommendations completely.

Just as humans get vaccinations against certain diseases when young, it is recommended that puppies get a series of vaccinations against such diseases as adenovirus cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus, leptospirosis, coronavirus, and rabies. There is also a vaccination for lyme disease. These diseases are discussed in the article Diseases to Vaccinate Your Dog Against. The controversy around the vaccinations centers around which of disease a dog is vaccinated against, how old he is when getting the shots, and when or if he will need a booster.

Traditionally, puppies receive a 5-in-1 shot at six weeks of age containing adenovirus cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. This is repeated at nine weeks of age. Coronavirus may be given both times if there are problems with it in your area.

At twelve weeks of age, the puppies get a rabies shot. This is usually mandated by state law and must be given by a licensed veterinarian. In addition to the rabies vaccination, puppies get leptospirosis, coronavirus, and lyme disease vaccinations if those are a concern in your area. At fifteen weeks, puppies get everything again except the rabies shot. They get a bordetella and parainfluenza vaccine as nasal drops.

Adults have traditionally been given annual boosters of the rabies, 5 way, and leptospirosis, caronavirus, and lyme’s if those were in the area. However, in recent years, as dogs become more a part of the family, there has been concern about over vaccination of dogs. In addition, all of the vaccinations have the potential to cause negative side effects.

Dr. Jean Dodd has been a leading advocate for fewer vaccinations. She carefully says that other shot protocols may work just as well, but her shot protocol is a bit different from the AVMA’s. She suggests giving distemper at 9, 12, and 16-20 weeks as as a monovaccine. She does not believe in giving the 5-in-1 as it is too hard on the immune system. Dogs should receive a booster at age one, but need not have the vaccine after that.

Dr. Dodd recommends that parvo virus be given at the same intervals but in a separate injection. Rabies vaccinations should be given at 24 weeks and at one year. It should then be given at the longest legal interval, usually three years. This vaccine is killed virus, while she uses modified live virus vaccines for the parvo and distemper.

Dr. Dodd does not give any other vaccinations unless a dog is going to live in an area where the disease is found. For example, a hunting dog in New England might need a lyme disease vaccination to protect it, but a show Poodle in Nevada would not. The lyme vaccine has been documented to have caused polyarthritis in some dogs, so the benefits must outweigh the risks before it is administered.

All dogs need parvo, distemper, and rabies. You must discuss with your veterinarian the risks and benefits of other vaccinations for your dog. It is a good idea to let your veterinarian administer all the shots to your dog. Vaccinations bought from a feed store or mail order may seem cheaper, but it is a false economy. Vaccines must be handled just so or they lose their potency. If they sit on the loading dock and get hot, or don’t get placed in the refrigerator fast enough, you are just wasting your time infecting them. Since you usually cannot see if they are potent, it is better to go to your veterinarian.

In addition to giving the dog their injections, the veterinarian checks for worms, does a physical, and looks at the dog to spot any developing problems.

Vaccines save dogs lives. Whatever protocol you adopt, get your dog vaccinated.