What You Should Know About Vaccinations for Dogs

Dog vaccines what you need to know

A vaccination is a treatment to cause immunity to certain diseases ordinarily administered by injection directly into the vein in dogs although in some rare cases, they will be taken orally.

The actual vaccination that is injected into your dog contains the tiniest amount of the virus which they are being vaccinated against. This isn’t enough to infect your dog, merely enough for your dog’s immune system to learn to recognize and destroy the virus.

 That way, in the future, if he’s exposed to the actual virus, his body should immediately be able to shut down any unwanted attacks.

Which Dogs Need to Be Vaccinated?

Most states require your dog to obtain a core set of vaccinations to move freely within the state. These vary by state, so your best bet is to ask your veterinarian for the correct list for your area.

Ordinarily, the required vaccinations will consist of the Rabies, Parvovirus, Distemper and Canine Hepatitis vaccines. It’s also important to consider any additional vaccinations that your dog may need if you decide to travel to another state. You will need to look into the requirements for each state that you will be entering into.

Where to Your Dog Vaccinated?

It’s important always to seek out a licensed veterinarian to perform your dog’s vaccinations. Not only do they understand the risks, side effects, and procedure better than anyone, but if the vaccines are not administered by a vet, your state will not recognize your dog as having been vaccinated.

Types of Dog Vaccines

There are three main categories that dog vaccinations fall under: 1. core 2. Optional Vaccines. The core vaccinations are those that your dog needs, the non-core are those that aren’t legally required but your veterinarian may recommend, and then there are these not recommended which most veterinarians tend to agree don’t seem to show enough evidence of doing anything.

Core Vaccines for Dogs and Puppies

  • VACC TYPE - Rabies
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 12-24wks
    WHAT IS RABIES - A highly contagious disease that can be transmitted through the saliva of an infected mammal to another (this includes humans.)
  • VACC TYPE - Distemper
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 6-8wks
    WHAT IS DISTEMPER - This serious viral infection has no known cure, and similar to rabies causes behavioral changes to the afflicted. As of yet, there is no known cure.
  • VACC TYPE - Parvovirus
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 10-12wks
    WHAT IS PARVOVIRUS - Parvovirus, more commonly known as Parvo is a viral condition that commonly attacks puppies and dogs with weakened immune systems. The symptoms of which are vomiting, diarrhea and severe weight loss.
  • VACC TYPE - Canine Hepatitis
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 10-12wks
    WHAT IS CANINE HEPATITIS - This condition affects the dog’s liver and is transmitted through infected canine urine, blood, saliva, nasal discharge and feces.

Optional Vaccines

While the below vaccinations aren’t ordinarily required legally, they may be a requirement to travel with your dog internationally. If you’re planning on crossing a border, check with your veterinarian and the local government's website to confirm whether your dog will require any of the following:

  • VACC TYPE - Bordetella bronchiseptica
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 6-8wks
    WHAT IS BORDETELLA - More commonly known as Kennel Cough, as you might be able to guess is a respiratory condition that causes coughing. Treatment is available and takes 3-6wks depending on the health of the dog.
  • VACC TYPE - Borrelia burgdorferi
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 12wks
    WHAT IS BORRELIA - Lyme disease is a common condition transmitted by infected ticks, symptoms only occur in around 10% of infected pooches. This vaccine is much more likely to be recommended in states with a moderate climate and lots of ponds/lakes which seems to be where ticks thrive.
  • VACC TYPE - Leptospira bacteria
    AGE ADMINISTERED - 12-16wks
    WHAT IS LEPTOSPIRA - A relatively common bacterial infection, if your dog is exposed to this bacteria, the bacterium will likely penetrate the skin and travel through the bloodstream to the main organs. Here, they will reproduce and cause varying levels of damage to your dog’s internal organs.

Are There Risks with Dog Vaccines?

Nothing is without its risks, and vaccinations do of course come with risks. Allergic reactions are a possibility but rarely to a severe or deadly extent. There is a minor risk of your dog developing the disease that he is being vaccinated against, but all you can really do is look at the statistics which show the vast majority of canines benefit from vaccinations.

Common Side Effects of Vaccinations for Dogs

As you’re introducing a virus into your dog’s system, he may feel a little under the weather for a few days, most commonly he may exhibit fever, loss of appetite, lethargy and/or depression.

When to Call Your Vet after Vaccination?

Although rare, there have been cases of severe, and even deadly reactions to vaccinations so it’s important to be on the lookout for the uncommon side effects so that you can phone your vet immediately upon seeing them. They include:

1. Difficulty breathing

2. Swelling of any kind especially on the face, legs, or injection site

3. Repeated vomiting or diarrhea

4. Itchy skin, persistent scratching

How Will People Know if My Dog Hasn’t Been Vaccinated?

Although it’s different in each state, all states require that your dog have a vaccination card showing his vaccination record, this may be anything from a stamped card showing the dates of vaccination, to a full medical history booklet.

The police, border agents, and other officials have the right to request this documentation, and if you fail to show this - or the vaccinations have lapsed - they often have the right to remove the dog from your care.

What Will Happen If I’m Traveling with an Unvaccinated Dog?

When traveling with an unvaccinated dog, in a worst case scenario and you are caught, the local authorities may take the dog from your care and place him into quarantine for which you will be responsible for financially.

Many states work incredibly hard to rid themselves of diseases that have rampaged through their local wildlife, so please do be considerate of this, it’s not just domesticated pets that are being saved when you responsibly vaccinate your pet.

Always contact your vet for medical and vaccine advice.  This is an informational post only - not to be used as medical or vaccine advice.