Updated: Feb 1
So you have just welcomed your new puppy to the family, every one is so excited and has fallen in love with the little beauty. Now the most important thing I can urge you to do is take you new best friend to your vets for a check over and its vaccination course.
Many a time have I heard new owners say 'I was told the vaccines were dangerous' or 'the breeder gave me homeopathic vaccine tablets' or 'vets give boosters too often'
It is all a pile or GARBAGE!
Vaccinating you pup and then yearly going forward allows your dog to remain free of many potentially fatal infectious diseases.
The initial vaccination can be given from usually from 6 weeks of age as long as the puppy is well. The second is given 2-4 weeks later then usually the pup is safe to go out for a walk a week after that.
There are a number of infectious diseases the vaccination protects against.
Parvovirus: Luckily I rarely see puppies with this terrible infection due to high levels of vaccination, but outbreaks do happen all over the UK. I can truly say seeing a pups suffer from this condition is one of the saddest things I have seen. It generally occurs in puppies but can occur at any age.
It is spread by faeces, saliva and vomit from infectious animals and causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting. The diarrhoea often contains a large amount of blood and the dog then develops dehydration, fever and becomes very unwell. This condition can be fatal in high percentages of dogs that become infected so really is very serious.
Treatment involves very intensive isolated hospitalisation which is often unsuccessful and incredibly expensive.
Canine Distemper:This is a potential fatal virus which attacks several parts of the body. The respiratory tract and nervous system is often affected and if the dog recovers can have long lasting affects from the condition including neurological abnormalities.
Puppies can pick up the virus if they contact urine, saliva, blood, cough or sneeze particles and even from a shared water bowl.
If your pup gets infected they will often develop a cough and sneeze with discharge from the nose and eyes. the pup will become very tired and weak and can start vomiting and passing diarrhoea and begin to loose weight quickly, neurological problems can develop such as twitching and convulsions. They can develop hard skin on their pads and nose.
There is limited treatment for this condition- it is often just supportive treatment to the symptoms shown and often the pup is left with long term problems such as epilepsy or paralysis.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis This horrible virus affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, eyes, heart and lungs. It is spread in blood, faeces, urine, saliva, and nasal discharge. This virus is particularly hardy and can survive in the environment for a number of months.
This virus can be fatal and can trigger several symptoms including fevers, your pup can stop eating and gums become pale then yellow, vomiting, thirst, discharge from eyes and nose depression and even death. It happens very quickly and again sadly there is not a specific treatment other than supporting your pups symptoms .
Leptospirosis: This infectious disease is caused by a bacteria that spreads through the blood stream. It is spread via infected urine or contaminated water and often spread in rats urine. Humans can also contract Leptospirosis and it can be fatal in both humans and dogs so its a pretty nasty condition.
The signs of this condition include fever, diarrhoea, muscle discomfort, jaundice, you pup may stop eating and become increasingly tired. We can try and treat this condition with antibiotics and treat the symptoms it causes. Even if the pup recovers it can carry the bacteria for months and is a risk to other animals and their owners!
So this is a bit of a Marmite one..... the dogs either love or hate this vaccination. The vaccine is actually given by squirting up the nose unlike the others which are administered by an injection. The kennel cough vaccination is completely painless and only a small droplet of the liquid needs to go up the nose. The sensation for the dog must be quite strange though as a number of the wee monkeys put up quite a fight when its to get administered.
Luckily unlike the other diseases I have mentioned, kennel cough is generally not too serious for most pooches. It is spread via airborne droplets, contact or contaminated surfaces. Out breaks can occur in kennels where the dogs are closely housed hence the nam but is not restricted to kennels which many owners are led to believe. It can develop into a nasty, irritating infectious cough caused by a virus and can linger for around 10 days. Heathy animals usually fight it off without needing and veterinary intervention.
The furry friends that might need a helping had are those with under lying conditions such as heart disease or the very young. These animals are more likely to develop a secondary bacterial infection which can potential lead to conditions like pneumonia.
If your dog develops a cough it is always best to speak to the vet and not presume it is kennel cough as there are a lot more serious diseases that can initially present with a cough so always seek diagnosis from your vet.
So we can see from the above diseases how important it is to get your new family member vaccinated. These vaccines are preventative rather than curative and while some owners may find the vaccinations a bit of an expense they are a fraction of the price treatment would be for the above potentially fatal conditions. Vaccines are developed under incredible strict guidelines and safety rules, Vets would not give them if they were not safe. The diseases I have mentioned above still occur in the UK and are devastating to see for both for the owner and Vet, Thanks to the vaccination protocols their prevalence has reduced massively. A lot of owners have been led to believe for one reason or another that vaccinations are not necessary after the initial puppy course, this is completely un true. The danger is we could see these conditions becoming more and more common if vaccinations are not continued. Some of the bacteria and viruses causing these conditions can stay in the environment for years!
If you do have any concerns regarding vaccinations then please speak to your Veterinary Surgeon and they can recommend what is best for your pet but please don't believe what you neighbours sister in law told you or the lady you met at the dog park because it more than likely is not accurate.