Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Making Sense of Canine Vaccinations

Warm weather is upon us and with that comes people of all kinds bringing their dogs out into the big wide world. You go for longer walks, spend hours at the dog park and maybe even bring Fido on vacation with you. It's tons of fun, but venturing farther from home and the warm weather increase the chance of your dog contracting a disease. Thankfully, researchers have developed some great vaccines to keep our dogs safe.

Most dogs acutally don't mind
being vaccinated as long as
they are distracted by treats!
Vaccines for dogs include: Rabies, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo Virus, Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease, Corona Virus, Bodetella (Kennel Cough), and Giardi

For the average pet owner, myself included, it can be a bit overwhelming to try and make sense of what Fluffy does and doesn't need, and when Fluffy needs it. Thankfully, my family is quite medically inclined and I've had to benefit of working within the equine sector, so I feel confident is choosing what vaccinations Maizy does and does not receive. So, how do you choose?

Talk to Your Vet

The first step should always be to speak to your vet. The internet is a great place to find general advice, but it is absolutely never a replacement for a veterinarian. Like ever. I see a lot of reasons why people don't do this - "My vet isn't very good" or "They just want to make money!" being the most common. If you don't trust your vet, find a new vet. Then ask your new vet about vaccinations.

Here are some good questions to get the discussion started:
  • What vaccinations do you suggest for my dog?
  • How often do the vaccinations need to be repeated?
  • What vaccinations are required by law?
    • If they have suggested you vaccinate your dog for vaccines that are not required by law, ask them why they made that suggestion.
    • Most places will require, by law, a rabies vaccination
  • What are the risks of vaccinating my dog?
Your vet should be willing to discuss these questions with you. Do not feel pressured to give your dog vaccinations right away - if you need a week or two to think about it, your vet will understand.

Examine Your Dog's Lifestyle

Believe it or not, your dog's lifestyle will impact what type of vaccinations it should recieve. Take Maizy for example: Maizy is a healthy, young adult dog who meets lots of other dogs, swims in ponds and lakes and goes on a lot of hikes. These factors helped determined what vaccinations were appropriate for her. In addition to the "standard" vaccinations, Maizy gets vaccinted for Lyme Disease and Leptospirosis. Lyme is spread by ticks which can be picked up in tall grass or wooded areas. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that commonly lives in puddles and ponds, where Maizy loves to drink and swim.

Your dog's age is also a factor in choosing appropriate vaccinations. Puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to disease, so may require more vaccinations. If your dog is elderly with declining healthy or a dog with chronic health issues, your vet may even suggest not vaccinating the dog.

Dogs who swim and drink from puddles and natural bodies
of water may benefit from a leptospirosis vaccine.

Is it dangerous to have my pet vaccinated?

The short answer: No.

The long answer: No, most of the time. Talk to you vet.

Vaccinations are extremely safe. That does not mean they are perfect. Most dogs will have little to no side effects after being vaccinated; After receiving 4 vaccinations at once, Maizy was quite sleepy for the rest of the day but then was back to 100 the next day.

Some pets may have severe reactions to a vaccination. This is rare. Talk to your vet if you have concerns. If you pet does have a severe reaction, your vet will be able to determine why and what precautions to take in the future.

If you don't want to vaccinate your pet...

If for whatever reason you decide not to vaccinate your pet, you are:
  • Putting your dog at risk for disease
  • Putting other dogs at risk for disease
  • Putting humans at risk for disease (rabies)
If you don't vaccinate, please do not bring your dog to public places like dog parks. If you want to put your dog at risk, that is your choice. However, it is not fair for you to impose your decision on other pets and their owners.

So that's my two cents on vaccinations - clearly I am in the "pro-vaccine" camp. There has been a outburst of ticks this spring and I am so glad that Maizy is vaccinated for lyme - it allows me enjoy my walks and trail rides without worrying. 

My final thoughts on vaccines? When in doubt, talk to your vet. 


  1. So my dog's lifestyle will affect what kind of vaccines that he should get. Since we don't go out to talk grassy areas, would it be okay to skip the Lyme Disease vaccines? Maybe I'll ask a vet about it. I want to make sure that he is healthy. http://www.ivanhoevet.com.au/vaccination.html

  2. I found this post very insightful on the importance of pet vaccinations. Taking the proper measures on preventative care for your canine can prevent future health issues and costly medical bills down the road. Evaluating your dog's lifestyle can further push you into the direction of vaccinating your dog.

  3. I found this post very insightful on the importance of pet vaccinations. Taking the proper measures on preventative care for your canine can prevent future health issues and costly medical bills down the road. Evaluating your dog's lifestyle can further push you into the direction of vaccinating your dog.

  4. Thanks for answering these questions for dog vaccinations. I've been wondering about a few of these questions now that I need to get my new dog vaccinated. Taking him to see a vet seems like a great way to have his current health status examined to determine the vaccines that he needs. I'll take him to a vet right away to find out the right plan for vaccinating him with a vet.

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