An explanation of Dog Vaccinations
First vaccinations are given to puppies at 8-10 weeks with a second injection a fortnight later. If vaccine is given to a puppy from a vaccinated bitch too young the vaccine won't take due to the presence of antibodies from the mother. These protect the puppy from disease in the weeks between birth and vaccination and are not present in the puppies of unvaccinated bitches. Vaccine companies have worked hard to produce effective vaccines which can be given to young puppies as the period of life before 12 weeks is vital for socialisation of the puppy if it is going to grow into a balanced individual.
The vaccine commonly contains protective components to 5 or 6 diseases. These usually include distemper, hepatitis, 2 forms of Leptospira, parvo virus and often para influenza virus.
Distemper is an acute viral disease of dogs causing high temperature and generalised symptoms with "hard pads" in the chronic stages. It was often fatal in young dogs and as it is a viral infection there is no specific treatment for it so the only way to prevent it is by vaccination or avoiding contact with infected dogs.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis is an acute viral disease affecting the liver. Again, it is a viral infection so cannot be treated specifically, only by nursing care and it is best to be prevented.
Parvovirus is a potentially fatal viral infection.
Leptospira Icterohaemorrhagiae is a bacterial infection which causes liver and kidney disease and is most often seen as "rat bite jaundice". Leptospira Canicola is usually associated with liver disease. The disease can be treated with antibiotics but dogs should be vaccinated against it as the disease is a zoonosis, ie. it is transmissible to man where it causes Weil's disease.
Parainfluenza virus is one of the viruses which causes Kennel Cough, often in combination with another virus and/or the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is usually recommended that leptospira and parainfluenza vaccine should be boosted annually to maintain immunity and distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus every 3 years. This recommendation varies with different vaccine manufacturers.
Kennel Cough vaccine is given to dogs at risk of contracting Kennel Cough. eg., those going into kennels or working dogs who mix in close proximity in vehicles. It is caused by the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica and several viruses including canine parainfluenza virus. It is a very infectious disease although not often life threatening. Kennel Cough vaccine is given intranasaly and should be boosted annually to maintain immunity.