Sticking To Disease

Sticking to disease - the importance of immunizations

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Vaccinations have become commonplace for dogs as they can effectively prevent potentially life threatening diseases like parvovirus, distemper and rabies.  Not only can vaccinating protect your pet's health but they can also keep humans healthy as well since some canine illnesses can be transferred to humans. 

Why do vaccinations exist? 

Vaccines help prepare the body's immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms.  Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don't actually cause disease.  When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated.  If a dog is ever exposed to the actual disease, the immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off or at least reduce the severity of the disease. 

What are core vaccines? 

Core vaccines are defined as those which all dogs should receive.  These vaccines protect dogs from severe, life-threatening diseases which have global distribution.  Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease and transmissibility to humans.  Canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core. 

What are non-core vaccines?

Non-core vaccines are those that are required by only those dogs whose geographical location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections.  Bordatella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria are considered non-core. 

What are the risks associated with vaccines?

Immunizations mildly stimulate the dog's immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases.  This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. 

Common side effects of immunizations can include, fever, sluggishness, loss of appetite, facial swelling, hives, vomiting, diarrhea and pain/redness/swelling around the injection site.  Less common effects of immunizations can include lameness, collapse, difficulty breathing and seizures. 

If you are concerned at all with the potential side effects of vaccinations, please talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your dog.  The decision about vaccinations will be based on a number of factors including the lifestyle and age of your dog, overall health and the potential to be exposed to disease.  For some dogs, a titer test can be done to measure the amount of antibodies for various diseases in your dog.  These tests can help determine the frequency with which to administer vaccinations. 

While any medical procedure, including the administration of vaccinations carry a degree of risk, the risk is generally much greater if a dog is not vaccinated at all.  Vaccinating your dog has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him/her live a long and healthy life and therefore a pillar of responsible dog ownership. 

Written by hart at 00:00
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