If this is your first pet, you should know that vaccinations are one of the most crucial components to ensure they remain healthy throughout their lives. Especially in Malaysia, where the stray animal population can carry a number of viral diseases, it is so important to make sure your puppy in vaccinated!
As one of the vets here at Team PupHaven, we often see poorly puppies who were not vaccinated and losing their life to a disease which could have been prevented by a simple injection in their early life.
That was one of the first things we made sure JD (our resident puphaven pooch) had during the early stages of his life.
Vaccines help build their immunity in the face of deadly viruses that are circulating in the environment, and help build herd immunity so that the wider population of dogs can also remain disease-free.
Firstly, what are vaccines and how are they given to your pet?
- Vaccines are weakened, killed or inactivated bacteria or viruses which help trigger your dog’s immune system to begin producing antibodies, without causing the severe clinical signs and symptoms a live, activated bacteria/ virus would cause. In the event your pup is exposed to a live bacteria/ virus later in their life, the body already has some antibodies ready to fight the infection to protect your pup.
- Vaccines are commonly given to your pup at 8-9 weeks old of age, with a 2nd dose 3-4 weeks after the first, with follow up booster vaccinations every year or every 3 years to ensure the immunity levels are adequate.
- After a complete clinical examination at your local vets, which is important to ensure your pet is clinically healthy enough for the vaccination, it will be given as an injection to your pet. We highly recommend combining the vaccination experience with puppy treats as a distraction, to make it a pleasant experience for your pup and yourself!
So, what diseases are we protecting against and what damage can they cause to your pet?
Core vaccines include protection against the following viruses:
- Canine distemper virus (CDV) - spreads via secretions, aerosol droplets and attacks the gut, lungs, brain and nervous system. Causes fever, tiredness, nasal discharge, diarrhoea and often neurological signs such as seizures, circling and head tilt.
- Canine adenovirus type 1 and 2 (CAV-2) - spreads via secretions, nasal discharge, coughing and attacks the respiratory (breathing) system, and also attacks the kidney, liver, blood system which can lead to pneumonia, hepatitis and sepsis.
- Canine parvovirus -2 (CPV-2) - spreads via oral contact of contamination faeces (poop) from infected dogs, environment contamination, even on shoes/ clothes/ humans. It is a deadly virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines) and can lead to severe diarrhoea, tiredness and eventually death.
- Rabies - spreads via virus contact through broken skin, mucosa, commonly via bites from infected animals, deadly virus that attacks the nervous system, causing change in behaviour, aggression, seizures, muscle weakness and eventually death. Also pose a danger to humans if bit by a rabid animal.
Non-core vaccines such as against Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough are depending on your pet’s geographical location, lifestyle and should be discussed with your local vet for the best assessment!
Source: Journal of Small Animal Practice 2015
Are there any side effects of vaccinating my dog?
Just like in humans, often times after vaccination, your dog may experience a local swelling where the injection site was given, and may feel a little more sleepy and tired after their exciting visit to the vets. They may have a mild fever, a sneeze or cough, reduced appetite that should subside fairly quickly.
Allergic reactions, although extremely rare, can show up as hives, bumps around the body, swelling of the muzzle/ face and collapse which should be informed of your local vets to be treated immediately.
Vaccinations should only be given to a clinically healthy pet, that is why a clinical examination by your local vet is needed before giving the vaccination.
Finally, besides vaccines what other steps can you take to reduce likelihood of disease in your pet?
While vaccines are a huge component to ensure your pet starts their life right, their diet, exercise, flea and worm cover, skin coat health are other important preventative measures to make sure they live happy healthy lives, we’ll dive into them further in the next article so stay tuned!
- Understanding how vaccines work https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/understanding-vacc-work.html
- WSAVA global vaccination guidelines (for owners) https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015.pdf
- Vaccination recommendations for Asian small animal practitioners. Day, M.J., Karkare, U., Schultz, R.D., Squires, R. and Tsujimoto, H., 2015. Recommendations on vaccination for Asian small animal practitioners: a report of the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 56(2), pp.77-95. https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Recommendations-on-vaccination-for-Asian-small-animal-practitioners-report.pdf
- Post vaccination reactions https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2022-aaha-canine-vaccination-guidelines/postvaccination-adverse-events-and-reactions/
- What to expect after vaccination visit, AVMA https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/what-expect-after-your-pets-vaccination
Author: Dr. Chua