Perfect Puppy Care Book – Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 4)
Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 4)
Vaccinations can help to protect your puppy against certain diseases. They are health products that trigger your puppy’s immune system to kick in and fight future infections.
How Vaccines Work
Very young puppies are vulnerable to infectious diseases. Your puppy absorbed antibodies from her mother’s milk, mostly during her first 24 hours of life. If your puppy’s mother had a recent set of shots, she had a lot of antibodies to pass on to her puppies. If your puppy’s mother was not up to date on her vaccinations, then she had fewer antibodies to pass on to her puppies.
Antibodies protect your puppy from certain illnesses. They also prevent vaccines from taking hold very well. These antibodies don’t last, however—they start disappearing between 6 and 16 weeks of age. As the antibodies disappear, your puppy becomes more vulnerable to diseases. This is why veterinarians usually administer shots so often during a puppy’s first 12 to 16 weeks; they want the vaccines to take hold as soon as the mother’s antibodies are gone.
The Vaccine Debate
In the past, puppies commonly were given a set of vaccinations, then received boosters each year thereafter. As more is learned about diseases and canine immune systems, it has become evident that the immunity that some vaccines trigger can protect dogs for longer than one year. Current research also shows that some vaccines may not last an entire year. Some people have concerns that their dogs are getting too many vaccines, and wonder if they could be causing illnesses. Your puppy’s breeder may even have told you not to get all the shots at once or to delay the rabies shot until your puppy was older.
Just as with any medical procedure, vaccines present risks. While most dogs respond well to vaccines, some do not develop the desired immunity response. Although this is rare, these dogs can possibly become ill. Other dogs can have adverse reactions. The most common are usually mild and short term, including fever, reduced appetite, sluggishness, and pain or swelling at the site of the vaccination. Rarely, some dogs can develop more serious reactions. If your puppy experiences repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, difficulty breathing, collapse, or swelling of the face and legs, call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately. She may be having a serious allergic reaction.
Now that you know the risks of vaccination, is it still a good idea to get your puppy vaccinated? Absolutely. Your puppy is extremely vulnerable to deadly diseases. Vaccines can help to prevent her from becoming infected. Vaccinations have helped to prevent deaths in millions of animals over the years. Just as human children still get shots to help protect them, your puppy needs protection through vaccination, too.
Talk to your veterinarian about any concerns that you have about vaccinations. Today, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that veterinarians offer a “core” set of vaccinations and present the option of “noncore” vaccines for dogs with special needs. Just because a wide variety of vaccines is available doesn’t mean that your puppy needs all of them. For example, your dog may live in a part of the country that has a higher incidence of a particular disease. Or perhaps you plan to compete in dog sports with your puppy, which could expose her to other specific diseases. As your puppy grows, she also may have different vaccination requirements. Work with your veterinarian to customize a vaccination schedule for your puppy.
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