Vaccines in dogs has always been a hot topic. In the past, vaccines were not available, and dogs suffered and died in huge numbers from infectious diseases. In the 1970s, parvovirus roared onto the scene with multiple outbreaks, killing massive numbers of dogs. Fortunately, the parvo vaccine was developed, and many dogs were able to be protected from the disease.
Today due to ignorance and anti-vaccine rhetoric, diseases like parvo and distemper, which are easily preventable, are making a comeback. In areas where there are large numbers of unvaccinated or undervaccinated pets, veterinarians see dogs come in sick with bloody diarrhea and vomiting, or neurological symptoms or worse, suffering from diseases that are easily preventable with proper vaccination.
If you have a dog, your pet is vulnerable to disease unless you have him/her vaccinated. While there are some studies that demonstrate extended immunity against certain diseases in a laboratory setting, there is no guarantee that this immunity would protect your dog in real life. Furthermore, unless a dog is vaccinated according to the manufacturers recommended protocol, there is no guarantee that the vaccine will work.
What that means is this:
If a dog is vaccinated properly and still is infected with a disease, if the disease is reported to the vaccine manufacturer, then the vaccine maker will cover the cost of treating the dog: it is the vaccine warranty. But if a dog is vaccinated improperly, then the warranty is invalidated. So it literally pays to vaccinate your dog properly!
Vaccines are divided into two types: core and non-core.
The distemper-parvo combination vaccine and rabies vaccine are considered core, and standard vaccine protocol requires 3-4 sets of puppy boosters, followed up with 1 vaccination a year later followed by vaccination every 3 years.
Non-core vaccinations are vaccines that are recommended based on your dog’s risk of exposure. These include leptospirosis, canine influenza, and bordatella. These vaccines are all given yearly. Leptospirosis is a human health risk and is developing into a widespread disease, and more and more veterinarians are strongly recommending dogs to be vaccinated against leptospirosis. Canine influenza and bordatella are often required by dogs boarding or being groomed.
There is also a lyme vaccine that is recommended for dogs that spend a lot of time in areas that have ticks that bear lyme disease – talk with your local veterinarian about recommendations for your area.