Vaccinating your dog is a simple procedure that is routinely done by all veterinarians. Vaccinations are safe, effective and well worth the financial commitment. Many diseases that were once considered fatal to dogs are now under control due to the use of modern vaccines.
When vaccinations are administered, the body produces substances called antibodies. These antibodies are produced by cells (called lymphocytes) which originate in the bone marrow and multiply in the spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. When the actual disease agent is encountered by the dog's body, these lymphocytes respond very quickly, producing antibodies that neutralize the disease. This rapid production of antibodies is only possible if the animal had been previously vaccinated.
There is not a general rule regarding vaccinations; however, some basic rules apply to all dog vaccination schedules. At the very least, a minimum of two multivalent vaccines containing Distemper and Parvovirus are given three to four weeks apart to all puppies over three months of age. In most states, Rabies vaccination is also required. Other diseases such as Coronavirus, Bordatella (Canine Cough), and Lyme Disease, require different vaccination protocols.
Young puppies are usually given their first set of vaccinations at six to eight weeks of age. Additional vaccinations are given every three to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Recent evidence shows that Parvovirus vaccination should be continued even longer, especially with certain breeds of dogs. Thereafter, an annual or biannual vaccination is administered.
Animals sometimes react to vaccinations. These reactions are usually very mild and of brief duration. Muscle aches, slight fever, and drowsiness are the most common side effects. Rarely do animals have a more severe reaction, and if they do, the most common symptoms are vomiting, swelling of the face, and hives. If a vaccination reaction occurs, a veterinarian should be called.
Vaccinating your dog is a simple procedure. Only your veterinarian knows the vaccination schedule and the vaccines that are best suited for your dog.
Remember, not only does your dog receive the proper vaccinations, but he or she also gets a thorough physical exam. This medical examination, along with some nutritional and behavioral advice, goes a long way in preventing problems in your adult dog.