As pet owners, we're constantly being lectured by our vets about the importance of setting yearly vaccination appointments. So what's the big deal, anyway? Well, over 5,000 dogs are infected with rabies each year in the U.S.; that's just one of the dozens of contagious diseases that your pet could come in contact with throughout their life.
Vaccines are just as necessary for our dog's longevity as they are for us, and since it’s Vaccination Awareness Month, we'll tell you why!
Why Should You Vaccinate?
You already know that rabies is highly infectious, but were you aware that the disease can spread from species to species? It’s also incurable, and unmercifully painful to the host once symptoms begin to show.
In addition to the rabies vaccination, there are 3 other "core" shots your dog needs:
- Distemper (DA2P)
- Canine Hepatitis (DHPP)
- Parvovirus (DA2PP)
Parvovirus is a highly-contagious and dangerous virus, especially with puppies. So, if you're a puppy-parent the DA2P and DA2PP should be the first items on your vaccine list.
Owners of younger dogs might also want to consider vaccinating their pet against Bordetella and Leptospirosis. The first year of adolescent canine's life is crucial for socialization, but dog parks and playgrounds can be hotspots for these infections. Bordetella is otherwise known as kennel cough, and can sometimes be found in places like boarding facilities and pet hotels.
Lepto is a bacterial infection that likes to hide in standing water and is usually picked up when your dog walks through or accidentally drinks another canine's urine. The long-term effects of Leptospirosis are quite serious, so keep that in mind when socializing your pup!
What About Side Effects?
Dogs receive inoculation in two ways, a shot through the muscle, or by spraying through the nose. In addition to some light soreness around the point of muscular injection, it’s typical for some pets to appear more tired and less hungry than usual. Vaccines mimic the behavior of a foreign threat, and the body responds by turning up the heat. This usually results in a minor fever.
If your pup receives a vaccination through the nose, they might sneeze or cough a bit afterward.
The good news is that they should be feeling better within a couple of days! If symptoms worsen, your pet struggles to breathe, or experiences any kind of swelling, hit the vet ASAP. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening but can be managed with an anti-inflammatory shot…if administered quickly.
Scheduling An Appointment
Not only is it recommended for your pet's well-being, but regular inoculation is also required by law in most states by 8 to 12 weeks of age. The frequency will depend on the type of shot given by your vet. For example, the booster for rabies can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years, whereas the canine flu vaccine only lasts for up to 2 years.
If you know your dog is due for a checkup but unsure of when just check with your vet! They keep your dog's records and usually send out reminders for you to set an appointment when the time comes.