VACCINATING YOUR DOG:
The science of vaccinology has revealed that puppies should be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo (as a minimum) every 3 – 4 weeks, starting at 6-8 weeks of age until at least 15 – 16 weeks of age. Immunization against kennel cough (Bordetella) is started early on and continued alternating the intranasal and the injectable vaccines every 6 months. Immunization against Leptospirosis is generally added at the end of the series, except for dogs with little chance of exposure. We do recommend the Leptospirosis vaccine for all dogs that are taken on camping trips and or travels and those dogs which like to “root around” and who might otherwise encounter the urine of wildlife and/or standing water. The Rabies vaccination is given at 16 weeks of age.
One Year Later (approx. 16 months of age):
All of the above mentioned shots are repeated at this time in your young dog’s life.
Progressive Vaccine Protocols for Older Dogs:
Re Rabies: For indoor dogs with little exposure to wildlife, the rabies immunizations are then spaced out to a three-year interval (so every third annual exam would also be the time for a rabies immunization). For dogs with a higher risk of exposure to raccoons, foxes, skunks or bats, we do an interim two-year interval with the rabies immunization, then every third yearly exam after that. This difference in approach reflects the fact that FDA approval of vaccines is based on herd (not individual pets) statistics and thus allows for a 20% failure rate. The interim two-year interval on rabies immunization for dogs with a greater chance of an exposure helps offset (at least in Dr. Hale’s opinion) the 20% failure rate for 3-year rabies immunization interval allowed by the FDA.
Re Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo: a booster immunization is given one year after the last puppy vaccinations, then at every third yearly physical exam.
Leptospirosis immunization is continued every year concurrently with the annual physical exam.
Kennel cough immunization is to be given every 6 months alternating the intranasal and injectable forms.
What About Lyme Disease?
If your dog will be traveling north of the Virginia/North Carolina border, then immunization against Lyme Disease (Borreliosis) is advised and the two shot series should be started at least one month prior to traveling. Yearly boosters are advised if your dog is traveling north regularly.
What to Observe for After Immunizations are Administered:
Many dogs will experience some lethargy after having received vaccinations. This reflects the response of the immune system to the challenge just as if we were being immunized or fighting off a virus. This phase generally lasts from 12 – 36 hours post immunization. The second time frame of interest is the period roughly from 2 – 6 hours post immunization. This is the period when generally mild although infrequent allergic reactions occur. These are characterized by facial swelling accompanied by a sudden onset of itchiness. (Stronger allergic reactions are far less common, thankfully, than aforementioned garden-variety type allergic reaction and occur within a few minutes of immunization.) Vomiting may occasionally accompany the milder reactions. If swelling and itching occur, give one mg per pound of diphenhydramine (benadryl) orally. Add ¼ cimetidine 200 mg tab per 10 lbs if mild vomiting occurs. Stronger or unresponsive reactions should be evaluated by the vet ASAP.