Diseases & Vaccination
Protecting your best friend
One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he/she is vaccinated against common canine diseases. Your dog's mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it's up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinary surgeon, to provide that protection.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your dog's immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins – or antibodies – to protect against disease.
When should my dog be vaccinated?
The immunity that a puppy has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in three doses, the first dose at around the age of 6-8 weeks and the second and third doses at about 2-4 weekly intervals. Thereafter, your dog will require annual 'booster' vaccinations for the rest of his/her life to maintain protection. Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinary surgeon - if there is too long an interval between vaccinations, your dog may no longer be fully protected.
Which vaccinations should my dog receive?
Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases could include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Tracheobronchitis and Rabies. Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinary surgeon's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog's particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.
Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, the disease caused by this virus emerged in many parts of the world only in 1978. Spread through infected faeces, the highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for many months. Symptoms include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and blood-stained diarrhoea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.
Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharges from the noses and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting; convulsions and paralysis may occur in the disease's final stages. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Caused by Canine Adenovirus Type I, this disease is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or faeces. Its symptoms are similar to those of the early stages of distemper. Causing liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems, the course of this disease can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.
Dogs with this disease can suffer liver and kidney damage that will need a long period of treatment if they are to fully recover. It is also a disease that can infect humans.
Canine Tracheobronchitis ("Kennel Cough")
Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory-tract infection is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come into contact with other dogs in such situations as obedience training, boarding at a kennel or even just playing in the park. Caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type II and Bordetella Bronchiseptica, you'll first notice its onset by your dog's dry, hacking cough.
After evaluating your dog's particular situation and risk factors, your veterinary surgeon may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:
This virus attacks the intestinal system and can be fatal to puppies. Symptoms may develop quickly and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite and depression.
This incurable and fatal viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals through bites or any break in the skin.
How effective is vaccination?
Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, vaccinations cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and acceptable sanitary conditions, vaccination is clearly your pet's best defence against disease. Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.