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Has your dog had his vaccinations this year? Note that I did not ask if you will be vaccinating your dog. If you are a responsible dog owner, I assume that you will.
I was totally shocked the other day by a man I know, who I thought had a working brain, who told me that he was angry because in order to show his Bouvier de Flanders, he had to have her vaccinated against kennel cough. “So,” he says, “I got her the vaccination, and two days later she developed kennel cough! The shot gave her kennel cough!”
I think I did permanent damage to my tongue not saying “You idiot, the shot did not give her kennel cough. She was already incubating kennel cough when you finally got around to getting her the shot!”
I can’t say it often enough. Not vaccinating your dog against common and highly preventable ailments is absolutely unthinkable. If you had ever seen a four-month-old puppy, who never got a chance to live, dying of parvo because the owner didn’t get her the parvo shots, you would totally get what I am saying. I have seen that, and it is heart-twisting, vomit-inducing, nightmare-causing horrible.
So, by now you can tell that I am a huge proponent of vaccination. In fact, if you have been reading this blog over the past 80 or so entries, you may have noticed that I will never, ever recommend a holistic alternative to vaccination. Why is that? Because they don’t work!
I will happily offer suggestions as to natural supports you can offer an ill dog, but I will never tell you that you can buy something online that is good as a vaccination.
You have to vaccinate. But what vaccines, and how often? Here are some commonly asked questions and answers.
Most vaccinations require two shots, usually about two to four weeks apart, along with an annual booster.
Not necessarily, but please get it done as soon as possible. If you’re only off by a few weeks, you can usually just continue with the annual boosters, but if you’re too far off, your vet may recommend a “re-set” whereby your dog gets the initial shot again, and then you continue with the boosters. It is best to have the booster shot as close to the anniversary date as possible. Mark it on your calendar.
Your vet will vaccinate your dog against the most common illnesses that are prevalent in your area. If there is no history of rabies where you live, for instance, your vet may tell you that you can take a pass on the rabies vaccine – unless you want to travel. Most of the time, in order to cross state lines, or to travel outside the country, you will have to have your dog vaccinated against rabies.
As to parvovirus, which I just mentioned above, it’s everywhere, and it’s deadly. This virus is so vigorous that it can live on cement – that means that if you take your dog out for a walk, he could pick it up on his paws. You could get it on your shoes. And once you bring it home, it can live in your house for up to six months. A puppy who contracts parvo is a dead dog walking – they will almost never survive. An adult dog may, following treatment, but may never be fully healthy afterward. And the treatment is expensive – in the thousands of dollars.
Distemper is another illness that can kill your dog. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, expelling mucus, and extreme lethargy. It is almost always fatal. Your dog does not even have to be in contact with other dogs to get distemper – it can travel for miles through the air.
What about things like parainfluenza, adenovirus and leptospirosis, you ask. You’ve never even heard of these ailments. Well, that is because most of them are not all that common in areas where dogs are vaccinated against them. Most vets vaccinate against them as a matter of course, but if not protected, dogs can die from these illnesses. Ask your vet what vaccines your dog needs.
In the course of my research for this blog, I asked my vet if this was common practice. Merely asking invited such invective from my normally kind, gentle veterinarian that I will never even think of asking it again. I explained that I was just asking in the course of research, and I think we’re friends again. At least I hope so, because I really don’t want to have to break in another vet.
Some dogs are a bit lethargic after being vaccinated. But don’t worry about it. It’s a common reaction, and it does not mean that the vaccine has made your dog ill.
Rarely, a dog could react adversely to a vaccination, much in the same way as a person could have an anaphylactic reaction to a shot. Your vet has medications on hand that will stop the reaction.
If you are concerned about how vaccinations can affect your dog’s health, and would like to know how they work very effectively to make sure that your dog stays healthy, there is a very good book available. It is The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active, by Betsy Brevitz, DVM. It is available in Kindle format for just $10.16, or in paperback for $14.23 at Amazon.
You absolutely must have your dog vaccinated against common canine ailments, unless you want to end up crying your heart out while your dog dies, or is put to sleep at the animal hospital. If you really think that you can protect your dog against parvo, distemper, and other highly preventable illnesses by feeding him wheat germ or offering a probiotic supplement, you are very much mistaken.