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If you’re a dog owner we know you’re concerned about the overall health and well-being of your dog. Diet, activity level, and socialization are all aspects you consider to improve your dog’s quality of life. One part of this are vaccines. Vaccinations are a critical step towards keeping your furry friend healthy and they’re required to have prior to booking your dog for a visit. While it may not be every dog’s favourite experience, vaccines help prevent illness and it’s important to understand what shots you’re getting and how fast they expire.

What Do Vaccines Do for Your Dog?

A vaccine helps prevent illness by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies will then help your dog create a defense system, enabling them to fight off the real disease should they become exposed. Vaccines for dogs can be further categorized as core vaccines or non-core vaccines.

Core vaccines are vaccines that protect against the most common and severe illnesses. They pose the highest level of threat to your dog in all stages of their life. Ensuring your pet has their core vaccines gives them the best protection against illnesses.

On the other hand, non-core vaccines may only be applicable for certain dogs depending on their lifestyle and exposure. Factors such as age, weight, geographic region, and level of socialization are all things to consider when deciding on non-core vaccines. These vaccines do not always offer full protection and may have short life spans of effectiveness. When determining which vaccines apply to your dog, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian.

Core Vaccines

The following are core vaccines:

1) Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects dogs and other mammals. The disease is transmitted through saliva, often traveling through dog bites. Most dogs will be vaccinated against rabies around the three-month mark. After that your pet will need to be revaccinated every 1 or 3 years, depending on the type of vaccine used.

2) Distemper

Distemper is a highly contagious illness that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems in dogs. The illness is often spread through airborne exposure or by close contact with an infected dog. Local wildlife such as raccoons, coyotes, wolves, and skunks can carry the illness as well. To properly protect your dog against distemper a booster should be taken, followed by a subsequent shot every 3 years.

3) Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that targets a dog’s gastrointestinal tracts. Often the virus can lead to persistent vomiting and diarrhea, causing significant damage to the intestines. It is recommended for your dog to receive this vaccine in a series of three shots, spaced out between 6-to-16 weeks of age. After the initial vaccines, dogs need to be revaccinated every 3 years.

4) Canine Hepatitis

Canine Hepatitis is a highly contagious virus that develops rapidly and effects the liver in dogs. The virus can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea among other symptoms. While most dogs will recover from the condition, it is best be protecting your dog by having them vaccinated. Dogs will require initial shots between 6-16 weeks of age, followed by a booster at 1 year of age. After this revaccination is required every 3 years.

Distemper, Parvovirus, and Canine Hepatitis can all be vaccinated against in a combo vaccine. Vaccines that cover all three include DHPP, DHLPP, DHLPPC AND DA2LPPC. Most combination vaccines will protect your dog for either 1 or 3 years before requiring revaccination.

Non-Core Vaccines

The following are some other vaccines you may consider for your dog:

   A) Bordetella

Bordetella, most commonly known as Kennel Cough, is a highly contagious flu-like illness. It causes dogs to cough and have a runny nose. In puppies, older dogs, or unhealthy dogs this condition can be life threatening. However, for most dogs’ symptoms last around two weeks. Vaccines are effective for one year and are required for dogs who stay at kennels and recommended for highly socialized dogs.

Bordetella vaccinations are very similar to human flu-shots. There are many different strains of Bordetella and the flu and the vaccination does not vaccinate against every single variation of the virus. So like humans that receive a flu shot and get sick, it is possible your dog become infected with Bordetella despite having this shot.

   B) Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through tick bites. In dogs the disease can cause inflammation in the joints and in severe cases cause kidney problems.  The vaccine is recommended for dogs who spend an increased amount of time outside and are exposed to wooded areas frequently. The Lyme vaccine is received as two boosters, 2-4 weeks apart, and then a booster very six months. Although effective, this vaccine does not guarantee full protection against the illness.

   C) Canine Influenza

Not to be confused with canine parainfluenza, canine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that focuses on a dog’s respiratory tract. Bronchitis, rhinitis, and tracheitis are all illnesses that can arise from the influenza. The infection is present in two strains H3N8 and H3N2. It is transmitted through droplets containing respiratory secretions, often from barking and sneezing. The vaccine is recommended for highly social dogs and an annual booster is required to assure protection.

   D) Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can cause serve illness in dogs and other animals. Initial symptoms can include fever and lethargy. However, if left untreated can cause issues for heart, kidney, brain and lung function. It is often spread through urine, saliva or contaminated water. This vaccine may be combined with others (such as DHLPP/DHLPPC). There is still a potential for vaccinated dogs to be infected, but overall risk factor is lowered. When receiving the vaccine two initial vaccines spread 2-4 weeks apart are required, then followed by annual updates.

What Vaccines Do We Require?

At Sturgeon County Kennels the health and safety of your dog is our top concern. As such we require all dogs to have proof of updated vaccines which are based on generally accepted veterinarian recommendations for kennels.

The vaccines we require are:

  1. Rabies
  2. DHPP (we also accept DHLPP, DHLPPC, DA2LPPC)
  3. Bordetella

We want to ensure that all dogs staying with us are protected against illnesses to the best of our ability. If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding our boarding requirements, please give us a call at (780) 921-3336 or email sckoffice@sturgeoncountykennels.ca       .

Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on advice from our veterinarian and is for general information purposes only. Readers should not rely upon the information in this article as a basis for making medical decisions regarding their dogs. Readers should consult with their veterinarian for specific questions about their pet.