TO VACCINATE OR NOT
Should you vaccinate or not? You have taken the time to find the right breeder. You have received the beautiful, elegant puppy. Now you want to follow the right protocol for him. But what is the right one? You have heard “Vaccines cause cancer”, or “We vaccinate our animals way to much”, or “If you vaccinate your puppy he will not live long” or “If you do not vaccinate your puppy he will not live long”, and the quotes can go on.
Even among the Veterinary community there are large variance in opinions. So what can you do?
- Learn what vaccines do and do not do.
- Learn about what you are vaccinating your puppy from.
- And learn how to know if your puppy has the appropriate vaccines and when you do not need any more vaccines.
We are going to discuss what the puppy vaccines protect our puppies from.
What Exactly are Vaccines?
Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but do not actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a canine is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.
FIRST – the Core Vaccines by the Task Force
There are 4: Rabies, Canine Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus.
Core vaccines are considered vital to all canines based on risk or exposure, severity of disease or transmissible to humans. The diseases involved have significant morbidity and mortality and are widely distributed, and in general, vaccination results in relatively good protection from disease.
- Rabies – A virus that may affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including canines and humans. Though preventable this disease evokes fear in people. Why? According to the ASPCA the disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. The ASPCA says that annually, rabies causes the death of more than 50,000 humans and millions of animals worldwide. As soon as the symptoms of Rabies begin to surface – the disease is inevitable deadly. Passed on to humans through the bite or even the scratch of an infected animal, the virus rapidly advances to the brain and central nervous system. THE LAW requires that your canine is vaccinated against rabies!
- Canine Distemper – A virus that affects a canine’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eyes. Coughing, nasal discharge, vomiting and diarrhea and seizures are all symptoms of canines that are infected with canine distemper. Direct contact with a sick canine, or with an area contaminated by that canine, will cause other canines to become infected with the disease. Every puppy should be vaccinated against canine distemper, which usually start before they leave their breeder.
- Canine Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus) – A virus transferred through urine or secretions from the eye or nose of an infected animal. Canine infectious hepatitis is a viral disease of the liver and can lead to serious and potentially long-lasting damage. It is important to vaccinate against this disease to ensure that your puppy does not have to experience permanent complications. This also should have been given to the puppy before it leaves the breeder.
- Canine Parvovirus – A highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a canine’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells and when young animals are infected the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems. Life-threatening dehydration, vomiting and bloody diarrhea are common symptoms associated with this incredible contagious virus. Since this virus continues to be infectious in particular environment, it is strongly suggested that canines are vaccinated against this disease to avoid severe problems and even death. All good breeders start this vaccine on their puppies.
SECOND – the Non-Core Vaccines
Some vaccines considered as non-core vaccines are canine parainfluenza virus, canine influenza virus, distemper-measles combination vaccine, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Leptospira (leptospiral serovars – grippotyphosa, pomona, canicola and icterohemorrhagiae) and Borrelia burgdorferi (lyme). Vaccination with these vaccines is generally less effective in protecting against disease than vaccination with the core vaccines.
Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered in light of the exposure risk of the animal, for example based on geographic distribution and the lifestyle of the pet. Several of the diseases involved are often self-limiting or respond readily to treatment.
Become educated! Talk with your Veterinarian about what vaccines your puppy will need based on your area and your life style. Make an informed decision!