Canine Vaccine Recommendations
Vaccines are highly effective and preventing the most common, major viral and bacterial diseases. It is very important to begin vaccines at the correct age due to the timing of the natural immunity they have received from the vaccinated mother. Puppies generally require their initial vaccines as early as 6 weeks of age and finish their vaccines by about 14 weeks of age, depending on when they start and what vaccines they receive. After the puppy series is complete they will need either annual or triennial vaccines to maintain a healthy immune system against the variety of diseases they commonly are exposed. The American Animal Hospital Association(AAHA) defines vaccines as either “Core” or “Non-Core.” Core vaccines are generally recommended for all dogs to protect against diseases that are common, serious or potentially fatal. These disease are ones that found commonly throughout North America and are easily transmitted. Non-Core vaccines are diseases your pet may be exposed to infrequently to even every day, depending on it’s lifestyle. Non-Core vaccines can protect against mild disease or some that are life-threatening.
Canine Core Vaccines
- Rabies. A contagious viral disease transmitted by the saliva of an infected mammal ( commonly found n raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, but all mammals can carry). Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans. There is no effective treatment for Rabies and prevention by vaccination is the only way to avoid it completely. Georgia law requires proof of Rabies vaccine for each pet you own. There is a one or a 3 year vaccine available ( the 3 year can be given only after a 1 year vaccine previously was given).
- Distemper. This is a viral disease characterized by high fever and generally affects the respiratory track, digestive system or the neurologic system ( brain, spinal cord). It is spread through respiratory secretions primarily. The vaccines is quite effective at preventing this disease.
- Parvovirus. A highly contagious viral infection that causes severe to fatal diarrhea, vomiting, shock and death. Even treatment of this disease can be only 50:50 or less for survival. It is a common disease in Georgia for unvaccinated puppies. The vaccine is very effective at preventing this disease from occurring. It is important to know, that until your puppy is about 14 -16 weeks old, even though being vaccinated, could get this disease until the immune system is fully functional.
- Parinfluenza. A respiratory virus that causes similar respiratory signs to those of “Kennel Cough.”
Canine Non-Core Vaccines
- Bordetella. This disease is the one most commonly known as “Kennel Cough,” but it is actually only once component of the disease. It typically is the disease that causes bronchitis or tracheitis and can lead to pneumonia. It is transmitted through respiratory secretions. Although this is a non-core vaccine, most dogs live the lifestyle that would benefit from this vaccine. If your dog comes nose-to-nose across the fence, at the dog park, boarding, groomer, dog shows or meets dogs walking down the street, then you should really consider this vaccine.
- Canine Influenza. This is a newly emerging viral disease that is highly contagious. Virtually 100% of dogs exposed will get the flu, but severity can range from mild to severe. The prevelance of this disease is still currently low, but cases have been reported in Georgia. It is transmitted the same as Bordetella. Deaths from this disease have been reported as high as 8% of those exposed. Consider this vaccine for the same risk as those given above for Bordetella.
- Leptospirosis. A potentially deadly bacterial disease that is transmitted through urine of wildlife and domestic animals. This disease causes acute kidney and or liver failure and often results in permanent damage to these organs once the disease begins. It is an emerging public health threat also, as humans can acquire or pass this disease to and from pets. Consider vaccinating for this disease if your dog visits dog parks, creeks, lakes, shares common water bowls at parks, kennels, pools, or has a water bowl in the yard that wildlife might also share.
- Other non-core vaccines are: Coronavirus, Lyme disease, and Rattlesnake. AAHA doesn’t typically recommend these vaccines as core due to less prevelance and risk of exposure to these diseases. We do not recommend these vaccines either.