Dog Vaccinations 101

August is Immunization Awareness Month, reminding us of one of the most important aspects of our canine companions’ health. Vaccinations prevent many dangerous diseases and they’re one of the best ways to keep your dog as healthy and happy as possible. Below, a Colorado Springs veterinarian answers some common questions regarding dogs and their immunizations.

What Are Vaccines, Anyway?

A vaccine contains antigens, which look like a disease to your dog’s immune system. The immune system creates antibodies and prepares to fight off the disease, even though no real harm is being done. Now, your dog’s immune system is prepared to fight off that particular disease if the real thing ever comes along.

What Vaccines Does my Dog Need?

Puppies need their core vaccines, which usually include the parvovirus, distemper, rabies, and hepatitis immunizations. Other non-core vaccines may be recommended by your veterinary professional, depending on your dog’s likelihood of exposure to particular diseases. Some common non-core vaccines include the Bordetella and Leptospira vaccine. Ask your vet what other vaccinations your dog might need.

How Often do Dogs Need Vaccinated?

Puppies usually receive their first vaccines at about six to eight weeks of age, then receive subsequent vaccines in several-week intervals. Adult dogs will require boosters on their vaccines in different intervals, depending on the vaccine itself, your dog’s health, environment, and other factors. Some vaccines need a yearly update, usually given at your dog’s annual check-up. Others, like the rabies vaccine, may be given every three years or even longer.

Are There Any Risks?

Since immunizations mildly stimulate your dog’s systems with what acts just like a disease, there is a small risk of resulting symptoms, especially in dogs with weakened immune systems. In rare cases, allergic reactions or fever can develop. Luckily, these conditions are easily treatable, and the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks associated with them.

How Do I Get My Dog the Vaccines He Needs?

If your dog needs updates on his vaccines or requires the immunizations for the first time, set up an appointment with your Colorado Springs veterinarian. He or she will fill you in on what exactly your dog needs and set up a schedule to get your beloved pet started.