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Canine Vaccinations and Disease: 5 Questions Answered

Dog vaccinated by veterinarian
If you are a dog owner, you probably recognize the importance of wellness and prevention. Keeping up to date with vaccinations is a major part of your pet's preventative care. From the time your pet is a puppy, you'll need to have him or her vaccinated against canine disease. Educate yourself with a few basics on vaccinations for dogs.
Here are a few commonly asked questions you may be seeking answers for.

1. Why Does Your Dog Need to Be Vaccinated?

Canine vaccinations are designed to protect your pet from the danger of disease. Canine diseases may be spread easily by contact from other animals who are infected. Vaccinations help to strengthen the immune system, so your pet may be able to fight off disease-casing pathogens. Without the protection of the vaccines, your dog may be at a higher risk for serious health complications.

2. What Is the Difference Between Core and Non-Core Vaccinations?

You may be familiar with the term core vaccination. Do you know what differentiates a core vaccine from a non-core? In simple terms, core vaccinations are shots your puppy or dog requires as recommended by veterinarians. Typically, the core canine vaccines are for rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and leptospirosis.
Non-core vaccinations are considered optional. Depending upon several factors, including your dog's breed, age, and lifestyle, certain vaccinations may or may not be recommended. If you and your dog's veterinarian believe your pet is at a greater risk for some contagious respiratory illnesses and viruses, vaccinations may be a good idea.

3. Are Canine Vaccinations Required By Law?

The rabies vaccine for dogs is required by law in all 50 of the United States. Rabies is a disease that can be fatal and transmitted to humans as well as animals. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies as recommended by the veterinarian.
Dogs who contract rabies often have been bitten by an infected animal such as a fox or raccoon. The disease may be transmitted to humans through saliva or a bite. The rabies virus affects the central nervous system and the brain.
Dogs infected by the rabies virus may exhibit fever, seizures, and paralysis. Some dogs also show behavioral changes, such as aggression. Foaming from the mouth is another symptom of rabies in dogs.
If you believe your unvaccinated or vaccinated dog has been exposed to rabies, seek medical attention quickly. Dogs who are suspected of having rabies must be quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease. Confirmed cases need to be reported to the department of health. Because there is no treatment or cure for rabies, pets exhibiting clear symptoms of the disease are often euthanized.

4. What is the Right Timetable for Vaccinations?

Your veterinarian can recommend a schedule for having your pet vaccinated. Vaccinations commonly begin at around six weeks of age. Timing may differ among pets, and your vet will recommend when your puppy should receive its first shot.
Some adult dogs may require booster vaccines on a yearly basis, if they are at a higher risk for infection. Depending upon your pet’s age, breed, and existing health issues, your veterinarian may recommend booster vaccinations periodically.

5. Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Canine Vaccines? 

In some cases, dogs may experience some mild side effects after receiving a vaccine. Typically, the mild symptoms may last a day or two. If symptoms last longer, consult your veterinarian.
Mild side effects from vaccinations include minor swelling and decreased appetite. If your pet exhibits signs of a more serious reaction, such as wheezing, labored breathing, diarrhea, or vomiting, seek medical attention at once.
If you have any concerns or questions about canine vaccinations, speak with your veterinarian.