Dogs, just like humans, are prone to get affected by diseases throughout their lives. In fact, canines are more susceptible to infections because of the difference in their lifestyles, eating habits, tendency to sniff and eat unhealthily, etc. A whole lot of factors adversely impact their health, more so than humans. Their inability to make hygienic decisions is a crucial factor that makes dogs susceptible to infections and parasite attacks.
Being a dog owner, it’s imperative for you to be worried about your dog catching diseases, and thus, you want to employ all preventive measures you can. Since medicines can’t still cure all the diseases, especially those caused by viruses, we have to resort to vaccinations. Vaccinations have certainly come a long way in reducing the cases of fatal diseases in humans as well as dogs.
But it’s essential to note the harmful effects of vaccinations. Unlike the case of humans, vaccinations can react adversely with your dog’s body. You don’t want to put your dog in unnecessary trouble through something you gave them to prevent trouble in the first place.
While it is important to immunize your dog against rabies and other viruses, over-vaccination can be fatal. Should you give your dog all the recommended vaccines at once? What is the ideal period between which it is safe to inject your dog with vaccines? What happens if you have vaccinated your dog twice in a short time?
The above questions don’t have a definite answer. A lot of factors can define the amount of vaccine your dog needs and how to give them properly. We will discuss the above and other such vaccination-related questions so that you can prevent your dog from diseases while eliminating the adverse impacts of frequent vaccination.
What if my Dog got Vaccinated Twice?
The answer to the above question will be much more apparent with a specific timeline. American Animal Hospital Association revised vaccination guidelines in 2003. They now recommend vets to vaccinate dogs not more than once every three years. After the Association’s decision, most veterinarians have limited their vaccination period to once every three years with an annual examination necessary.
The sole reason for not vaccinating your dog frequently is that most of these vaccines are unnecessary. Don’t get caught up in the trap of vaccine providers offering cheap vaccines annually. Inappropriate vaccines can be more harmful than actual medicines at times. A vaccine clinic is the safest bet for your dog.
If you have vaccinated your dog twice under that period, it can be a cause of worry. Yes, the vaccine’s preventive effects may still surpass any side effects, if at all, but it will still require you to observe your dog carefully in such cases. Adult dogs mostly withstand frequent vaccination, but smaller dogs like Chihuahua and Yorkies may suffer from an overload of the immune system. So how would you know that your dog is suffering from side effects of a vaccine?
Side effects of vaccination –
Frequent vaccination can cause low to mild side effects in dogs. Despite the benefits of the vaccine, it’s essential to monitor your dog after injection and confirm the problems are being caused by vaccination and not any other disease. The following symptoms are common side effects of vaccination in dogs:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Breathing problems
- Mild Seizures
- Pain at the point of injection
Most of these side effects are mild and subside over a short time. You should consult the vet in case the symptoms last longer than usual.
Importance of vaccines in Dogs –
Viruses and bacteria usually cause adverse effects and diseases in your dog’s body because it’s not immune to them. If the virus suddenly attacks your dog’s body, it can make it severely ill because of the sudden shock in its system and lack of antibodies to fight the infection. Vaccines majorly focus on boosting the dog’s immunity system to generate antibodies to fight the disease that may happen in the future.
It develops antibodies that remain inside the dog’s body and recognize the virus. Vaccines consist of antigens that cause mild disease in the dog’s body by imitating the disease organism. The dog’s body in defense starts generating antibodies by identifying the invaders i.e., antigens. As a result, your dog’s immune system becomes ready to fight the disease organism when they invade in the future.
Types of vaccines for Dogs –
One of the essential considerations to make before vaccinating your dog is the local and countrywide law. Some vaccinations are mandatory as they cater to severe life-threatening global diseases and are called core vaccinations. There are other vaccines that aren’t mandatory but specific to regions where the illness is prominent. These are called non-core vaccinations. While core vaccinations are a must for every dog in the world, the injection of non-core immunization has to be taken in consultation with the vet and their understanding of your region.
Core Vaccination and Diseases –
Canine Parvovirus is a severely contagious and fatal disease spread through the consumption of feces of infected dogs. It has an unusually high death rate of around 91% in untreated cases, with young puppies being mostly infected by it. As is the case with such fatal diseases, there are no effective medicines to eliminate it unless it subsides naturally. The Parvo Vaccination can prevent this disease from happening in your dog.
Fortunately, Canine Parvovirus can’t spread from dogs to humans. If your dog carries Parvovirus, he will show symptoms under ten days of infection. Its symptoms include dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, shock, lethargy, and death. Dogs infected by Parvovirus can infect other dogs through their feces. The dog’s feces may have the virus even until six months of recovery from the disease.
Canine Parvovirus Vaccination(CPV)
CPV is given in a series of 4-way or 5-way vaccines termed as DHPP or DHLPP. This includes vaccines for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospira, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. You need to give your dog its first dose under the age of 6 weeks and give him a total of three doses until 16 weeks of age. In the aftermath of vaccination, you need to provide him with a booster after one year and subsequently after every three-year interval.
Canine Adenovirus cough and Hepatitis
Another deadly disease, Canine Hepatitis, is caused by canine adenovirus type 1. Dogs suffering from this disease can experience liver damage as well as swelling in the liver leading to death. It spreads when dogs ingest and lick pm feces and urine of infected dogs. It has severe symptoms including lethargy, tonsils, fever, abdominal pain, distention, lack of appetite, and pale color of eyes. It’s a deadly disease, and an infected dog can die as quickly as two days since infection.If he does manage to fight the virus for a few days, he may recover completely and become immune from it. Canine adenovirus type 2 is another virus related to hepatitis. It’s a bit less fatal, and the vaccination significantly reduces its severity. In severe cases, it can cause excessive coughing, pink eye, inflammation while breathing and nasal passages, and nasal discharge.
Canine Adenovirus Vaccine(CAV)
You can vaccinate your dog with any of the Canine adenovirus-1 and canine adenovirus-2 vaccines to immune them from hepatitis and adenovirus. Most vets prefer the canine adenovirus-2 vaccine because of its more versatile effects. This vaccine is given in a series of 5-way or 7-way injections. The series starts when the dog is 6 to 8 weeks old and given thrice until he’s 16 weeks old.
Subsequently, you have to give the vaccine a year after the third shot and on every three-year interval after that.
Canine Distemper is a highly infectious disease that spreads through the air. The virus that causes canine distemper is closely related to one causing measles in humans. Canine Distemper virus mostly attacks the tonsils, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, and nervous system. Like most contagious viral diseases, there’s no cure for Canine Distemper. You can only give medicines to relieve symptoms, which sometimes cures the actual illness too. Its symptoms include cough, vomiting, runny nose, high fever, paralysis, seizures, and red eyes.
Canine Distemper Vaccination (CAD)
As explained previously, CAD vaccine is part of a 5-way vaccine in DHLPP in which D stands for Distemper. The 5-way vaccine protects your dog from Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Hepatitis, and Leptospirosis. The first vaccine is given to dogs at the age of 6-8 weeks and subsequently at 10-12 and 16 months. Likewise, a booster shot along with the vaccine is given after 12 months, and every three years post that.
Easily the most popular and deadly disease found in dogs, Rabies can be transmitted to humans through dog bites and scratches. Dogs are suffering from Rabies experience acute encephalitis, which can further lead to failure of the nervous system and death. You can treat rabies through medication before its symptom occurs. If left untreated, rabies becomes a fatal disease.The symptoms of rabies usually take a long time to show up. Your dog may experience its symptoms anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks or even longer. Rabies can occur in two types- furious and paralytic. While early symptoms show slight signs of abnormality, an infected dog may die immediately after two days. In the case of furious rabies, the dog would become extremely aggressive and may attack people nearby.
Dogs suffering from paralytic rabies, on the other hand, suffer from a lack of coordination, lethargy, and eventually complete paralysis. While rabies vaccination works effectively, it’s not a foolproof remedy. If some animal suffering has bitten your dog and you can notice such symptoms, quickly take him to the vet. The alert reaction can save your dog’s life in such cases. Significant symptoms include paralysis, fever, aggression, loss of coordination, change in voice, excessive salivation, and seizures.
Despite the seriousness of the disease, you should only give your dog a rabies vaccination after he’s 12 weeks old. The vaccination period depends upon the area to area, so it’s essential to consult the vaccination clinic about it. The next shots are usually given after one year and subsequently every three years.
There are many non-core vaccinations, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, Leptospirosis, and Burgdorferi. These vaccinations are by no means mandatory and cater to local viruses. The vet in the vaccination clinic will suggest you with the non-core vaccinations you need in your area.Some vaccinations like that of Canine Coronavirus and Giardia aren’t recommended by AAHA anymore. Their side effects weighed heavier, and they did little to prevent such diseases. Moreover, CCV is durable and doesn’t turn deadly most of the time. Consult your vet in case Canine Coronavirus is spreading around your area. It’s essential to note that Canine Coronavirus doesn’t spread to humans. The coronavirus epidemic right now is a different variant that is only spreading from human to human.
How to determine that your Dog is in need of Vaccination?
Having a full-fledged discussion with your vet should be your first resort to determine which vaccinations your dog needs. The occurrence of some diseases or epidemics around and the atmosphere your dog lives in can determine what kind of vaccination he needs. His interaction with dogs and other animals can also define how susceptible he is to particular diseases. Here are some cases where you need to vaccinate your dog with non-core vaccination:
Vaccination against Leptospirosis
If your dog interacts a lot with urban and rural wildlife or with aquatic environments, they are susceptible to Leptospirosis. If you live near such areas, you should give him non-core vaccination for the disease. The doctor might not advise you unless you tell him the environment you live in, so this information comes in handy at the time of meeting the vet.
The disease transmitted through deer ticks found on Whitetail deer can be fatal if your dog catches it. The population of deers has grown exponentially in recent years, and likewise, Lyme disease isn’t limited to North America anymore. Your dog may not catch the Lyme disease even if they are exposed to deer ticks, or it infects them, but you would always need to be on the safer side for your pet. Consult your vet about the possibility of this disease if deers live around you. Test your dog annually for the disease in this case.
Your dog may catch diseases like Parainfluenza and Bordetella through frequent contact with infected dogs. If you take your dog to dog shows, parks, dog classes, etc. where they come in contact with other dogs, they become susceptible to canine cough diseases. Discuss with your vet in such cases, and he would probably advise you to get your dog yearly vaccination of Parainfluenza and Bordetella.
A relatively new disease found in dogs, canine influenza can have severe symptoms if you haven’t provided your dog with its vaccination.The doctor at the vaccination clinic may not be proactive in suggesting your tests and asking you a lot of questions. They would often just check up your dog’s reports and give him adequate vaccination at regular intervals. You would need to be proactive while going to the clinic and discuss with him the kind of environment you expose him to
If you have recently observed or came upon the news of some disease spreading nearby, you should discuss that with the vet to give him proper vaccination. Performing a risk assessment at regular intervals is essential to ensure your dog remains healthy and immune to life-threatening diseases.
Can your Dog’s vaccination history affect the amount of Vaccination?
While AAHA’S recommendation is genuinely credible, that doesn’t mean you would go to the vaccination clinic only every three years. Taking your canine companion for regular checkups is equally essential. Make appointments with the vet every year to ensure that the vet has developed a good baseline on your dog’s health. Regular checkups ensure that the vet can take note of the subtle changes going on in your dog’s body and help him assess the risk of diseases.
When you go for a wellness check of your dog, there are high chances that the conversation will head towards vaccination. The common problem most dog owners have these days is that the vet prescribes an array of vaccination without a second thought. Since you are not an expert, there are high chances you will end up saying yes to whatever the vet prescribes for you. In reality, your dog’s vaccination history can let you know the time intervals between vaccination and the amount suitable for him.
You can only reject some of your vet’s unnecessary advice when you have an authentic copy of your dog’s health records with you. It’s equally essential to educate yourself on the topic to make a better judgment. Here are some tips that you should follow before going to the dog clinic:
- Take vaccination and checkup records with you to the dog clinic, especially when you have changed clinics. You should bring up the most recent results of necessary tests like heartworm test, an antibody titer test, blood tests, and urine tests, among others. Organize all this data in an Excel sheet or table and take a printout to the clinic for proper analysis and comparison.
- Analyze the vaccinations or titer tests you need your dog to receive beforehand so that you don’t have to decide in haste if you’re unsure, research and educate yourself about the vaccinations available. Ask your dog if any of the vaccinations he prescribed are for diseases specific to the local region.
- Study about dog vaccinations using credible sources to put a strong opinion in front of the vet. Discuss extensively on why he’s suggesting some particular vaccinations and interrupt him when you have a contradiction. Use facts and researches from Ph.D. scholars like Jean Dodds, Ronald Schutz, and use AAHA guidelines to support your statement like the one that suggests vaccination every three years.
- Discuss your dog’s health issues, if any, and behavioral changes you have been observing lately. You should know your dog inside out before going to the vet to ensure proper treatment and vaccination.
- Take with you the list of the current medication or supplements you give your dog along with their dose and frequency to avoid any reactions due to clubbing of two compounds.
- Know the price of different vaccinations beforehand to avoid making bad decisions due to the high cost. Your dog’s health should be your top priority, and you can’t compromise it for money.
- You don’t need to accept your vet’s recommendations blindly. If the vaccination is prescribed and is useless as per your research, you should say no and take your dog home. Consider consulting a different vet and make a well-thought decision than a hasty one.
- If you’re consulting a new vet or taking your dog for vaccination the first time, you should consider meeting the vet personally first. It’s a good idea to discuss with him how he likes to go about the process and know his philosophy. Be open with what you want, which would result in an effective and fruitful relationship going forward.
The benefits of educating yourself about dog vaccinations and antibody titer tests come in essential to convince the vet to do the right thing. Many users who have a good understanding of the vaccinations and have built fruitful relationships with the vet have confirmed making better decisions in such cases.
It can save you a lot of costs since most vets recommend all-in-one vaccines. Now that you know that you can pick and choose the vaccination based on your dog’s vaccination history, vaccination intervals and tests needed, you can decline your vet’s recommendation to give your dog all kinds of vaccinations in one go.
How Antibody Titer Tests can affect your decision?
The immune system fights invaders entering a mammal’s body (Antigens) by developing antibodies. As discussed earlier, vaccines inject mild antigens into the dog’s body to prepare antibodies, which in turn makes the immune system familiar with the invader and capable of resisting future attacks. The mild antigens are actually weakened or killed organisms of the said disease.
What is a titer?
Chemistry students would know that a titer is a measurement system that calculates the volume of antibodies to a certain antigen circulating in the system at the given moment. The titer tests calculate the ratio of antigens to antibodies in the blood. A positive titer result points towards an adequate amount of antibodies fighting the antigens equal to a positive response from the body.If your dog has received his core vaccines in time and the antibody titer results come out positive, he’s safe from the disease and doesn’t need vaccination at the current moment. In this way, the titer test is an effective means to judge whether you should give your dog vaccination or not.
Prelims to titer test
The prerequisite of an antibody titer test is that your dog should undergo a blood draw beforehand. Most modern testing labs offer the blood draw test. Majorly, antibody titer test is run for two diseases namely Parvovirus and Distemper. These two diseases act as a litmus test to check your dog’s immunity system’s competence to fight most kinds of antigens. You’ll rarely find a threat stronger than the above two viruses.
What happens if the titer test comes out negative?
In case of a negative result to the titer test, you should talk to your vet about revaccinating your dog and then carry out the test again. It may be the case that your dog needed another shot of antigen to come up with a prompt response since the older vaccination was quite mild. If the scenario repeats itself, it might point out to a deficiency in your dog’s immunity system. He might be unable to respond strongly to an invasion.
Carrying out the antibody titer test, you and your vet have gained a valuable insight into your dog’s immune system which you would have never known if you directly vaccinated him.
Reasons why your vet might avoid running titers
As explained above, titer tests are quite useful and can turn out decisive in some cases. If your vet declines your request to run titers, it may be because of the following reasons:
The vet doesn’t trust the titer results to come out accurate and questions its credibility.If you expose your dog regularly to unvaccinated stray dogs or live in an area prone to infections, your vet may want to be on the safe side by revaccinating your dog. That is why it is important to discuss your dog’s lifestyle and the environment with the vet to make a better decision.
Tips to consider before taking your Dog for vaccination –
- Demand antibody titer test and other checkups from the vet before vaccinating after the core vaccines. You can also schedule a follow-up appointment with the vet and vaccinate him after the results are out.
- The decline of the all-in-one vaccination offer. They might seem lucrative in terms of price but may actually be ineffective and useless with the risks of side effects.
- Keep an interval of three years between vaccination unless otherwise advised. Weigh in all the factors before deciding on vaccinating your dog twice under three years.
- Schedule the rabies vaccination separately from other vaccinations. Make sure that the rabies vaccine is injected in a different part of the body than other three core vaccines.
How long can you leave between Dog Vaccinations?
There are majorly three types of initial doses of vaccination namely recombinant, attenuated and inactivated(killed). They need proper administration in initial doses of core vaccinations for juvenile(<16 months) dogs.
- Parently Administered Vaccines: When giving initial doses of vaccines you need to administer 2 doses that should be at least 2 to 6 weeks apart from each other. It’s particularly essential while administering killed vaccination.
- Oral Vaccines: A single dose of these attenuated or live vaccines is sufficient to immunize your dog. You can carry out titer tests in future to check whether the dog needs an additional dose.
- FeLV Vaccines: A minimum of 2 initial doses at a close interval is required for recombinant or inactivated vaccination.
When is your Dog overdue for Vaccination?
In case you happen to miss a dose of vaccination, don’t panic and instantly schedule vaccination on an alternative date. In the initial series of vaccination, you should not leave a gap of over 6 weeks between vaccinations. While there’s no hard and fast rule to determine the time interval, two factors namely time elapsed and type of vaccine missed determine it.
- The first dose of an inactivated vaccine generates a fairly weak response. You should not prolong the interval between the first and second dose of inactivated vaccine by over 6 weeks or the effects of the first dose may get diminished. The second dose of such a vaccine is quite robust and is likely to last for around 3-5 years.
- A single dose of attenuated vaccine is sufficient and you don’t need to worry about missing the second dose.
- Bacterial vaccines should be reinstated twice between 6 weeks if the last dose was given over two years ago.
- You must revaccinate your dog with core vaccines every three years. Do it quickly if you have surpassed the three-year interval.
Can dogs overdose on Rabies vaccine?
The law for rabies vaccination in dogs all over the US and Canada is that you should give the first shot of the vaccination when he’s 1 year old. The next shot should be a three-year one which you have to give him a year later. These recommendations ignore the actual life of the rabies vaccine and its side effects thereafter.
Studies by Ronald Schutz observe that rabies vaccination protects the animal for 7 years and in some cases, for the lifetime of the dog. Thousands of vets in the US still recommend annual rabies vaccination despite AAHA’s recommendation of a minimum three-year interval.
Why should you say no to one-year rabies vaccination?
The one-year shot of Rabies vaccination is exactly the same as the three-year shot with a change in labelling. Most people adhere to the vet’s advice of a one-year shot to save some money.
Every subsequent rabies vaccination increases the risks of side effects. They can harm your dog in many ways due to overdose.
Overdose of rabies vaccination can cause short-term as well as chronic and long-term diseases in your dog. These vaccine reactions are likely to happen when you inject multiple vaccinations in a short span of time. Most vets don’t recognize this risk unless the dog shows an instant reaction in the clinic.
Problems that can occur due to overdose of rabies vaccine
- Fibrocarcinomas at the site of injection is quite common as the immune system cells take away the aluminium along with antigens from the injection. The disease can be fatal to your dog.
- Overdose of rabies vaccine coupled with steroids can cause benign tumours, spindle cancer and lymphoma among other such fatal complications.
- Chronic issues in the digestive tract. This is likely to happen if your dog already had an inflammation problem which gets aggravated by an overdose of rabies vaccine.
- Allergies related to food and the environment. Your dog’s immune system may not react positively on an overdose of vaccine which can result in improper immune responses and weakened immunity.
- Skin diseases like dermatitis, hair loss, rashes, itching and hives. The frequent invasion of antigens in the dog’s body prompts the immune system to carry out allergic reactions to fight them off. These allergic reactions cause inflammation in different parts of the skin.