Canine vaccination

When should my dog be vaccinated?
The immunity that a puppy has at birth begins to diminish sometime between 6 and 12 weeks. This is the time to begin the initial vaccinations, which will be repeated 2-4 weeks after. From then on, your dog will require repeat vaccination at regular intervals for the rest of his or her life. Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your vet - if there is too long an interval between the first vaccination and the booster, your dog may have to undergo the series all over again.

Which vaccinations should my dog receive?
We believe that your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness. Such diseases could include Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Tracheobronchitis, Canine Coronavirus and Leptospirosis. Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your vet's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog's particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.

Canine Distemper
Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharges from the noses and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting; convulsions and paralysis may occur in the disease's final stages. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.

Canine Tracheobronchitis
Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory-tract infection is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come in contact with many other dogs in such situations as obedience training or boarding at a kennel. Caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type II and Bordetella Bronchiseptica, you'll first notice its onset by your dog's dry, hacking cough.

Canine Parvovirus
Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, the disease caused by this virus emerged in many parts of the world only in 1978. Spread through infected faeces, the highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for many months. Symptoms include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and diarrhoea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Caused by Canine Adenovirus Type I, this disease is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or faeces. Its symptoms are similar to those of the early stages of distemper. Causing liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems, the course of this disease can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.

Leptospirosis
Also called Weil's Disease, this disease is caused by a bacterium and among the world's most common diseases transmitted to humans from animals. It is spread in the urine of infected animals (e.g. rats or mice) and dogs might become infected by licking urine off grass or soil or by drinking from an infected puddle. Symptoms include high fever and vomiting, sometimes jaundice and diarrhoea. Severe cases can lead to liver or kidney failure. Vaccination offers protection against the most common strains of the disease.

Other Vaccinations
After evaluating your dog's particular situation and risk factors, your vet may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:

Rabies
This incurable viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals (which can include foxes, wild dogs and bats) through bites or any break in the skin. Vaccination will provide your pet with much greater resistance to rabies if he is exposed to the disease, but you must be aware that there is no cure once it occurs. Ireland is free of the disease, but once you decide to travel abroad with your dog, he will have to have vaccinations against Rabies.

Canine Coronavirus
Infection with the Canine Coronavirus in adult dogs is usually responsible for mild, self-limiting infections restricted to the enteric tract. In puppies the disease can prove fatal, and more aggressive strains of the virus can cause severe diarrhoea in older dogs as well.

Lyme Disease
This disease is transmitted by ticks to both dogs and humans and results in chronic arthritis and, sometimes, death. The disease is common in some parts of Europe.

How effective is vaccination?
Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, vaccinations cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and acceptable sanitary conditions, vaccination is clearly your pet's best defence against disease. Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.

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