What’s the correct dog vaccination schedule? With more types of vaccinations available than ever, are they all necessary? And are they all safe?
Always a risk
In the big picture, we wouldn’t enjoy the health we do today without vaccines. Think about polio, diphtheria, whooping cough and measles, virtually wiped out thanks to immunization efforts around the world.
Yet in spite of these wins, there are many critics of immunization, especially pet vaccinations. While vaccinations have been a miraculous tool in reducing suffering, illness, and death among both animals and humans, there is always an associated risk.
Many people think that today’s dogs and cats suffer because vaccinations are given too early, too often and too much (too high a dosage). It would be extreme to say that your Morkie should never be vaccinated. But that does not mean over-vaccination and vaccinating unnecessarily is your only other option.
An aggressive dog vaccination schedule isn’t the answer.
You don’t have to just accept your Vet’s advice at face value without questioning it — if you have to stand up to your Vet, so be it – your dog’s health and welfare and even his life could be at stake!
There are CORE vaccines:
They’re called Core because these vaccines protect animals from severe, life-threatening diseases which can be found worldwide. These diseases, as defined by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) are:
- rabies – fatal for animals and humans
- distemper – often occurs in puppies and is almost always fatal
- infectious hepatitis – a serious liver disease
- parvovirus – or parvo, is a severe intestinal infection that can kill a puppy in just a few days
Most Morkie owners would go along with Distemper and Hepatitis vaccinations – but did you know that once inoculated as puppies, there’s usually no real need to keep on vaccinating, year after year?
After all, do we adults keep getting our childhood vaccinations? Your dog likely has lifetime immunity to these diseases or immunity for at least 5 to 7 years.
If you do choose to get Distemper and Hepatitis booster shots, be sure to get them separately. By doing that alone, you cut the chances of a bad reaction in half.
And there are NON-CORE vaccines:
Non-core vaccines are those that are often recommended for animals based on where they live, their environment and their chances of contracting the specific illness.
- Leptospirosis – or “lepto,” a bacterial disease of the urinary tract, can cause chronic kidney and liver failure
- Bordatella – or kennel cough; severe hacking and coughing that may linger
- Lyme disease – passed along by blood-sucking deer ticks, causes multiple health problems
- Canine parainfluenza – vaccine helps reduce the impact of kennel cough but does not prevent it
- Coronavirus – this is like a milder form of Parvo resulting in diarrhea and dehydration. Vaccinations are also given to fight other diseases, including giardia – or “beaver fever,” and bronchiseptica – one of the leading bacterial causes of kennel cough.
Many Vets recommend these non-core vaccinations as a matter of course; however, take the time to learn more about them, their potential side effects (especially on small dogs), and then balance the risks against the benefits.
When any non-core shot is recommended, be sure to ask your Vet about your small dog’s specific chances of getting the disease, the severity of that disease, the success rate of the vaccine and the risks that come with vaccination.
Since you might not get all the answers you deserve, or you might suffer from ‘white coat syndrome’ (feeling intimidated by doctors), or you’re simply confused, please, continue to research the non-core vaccinations in particular.