We all do it, we vaccinate our puppies. We dutifully take our pups to the vets for their vaccinations, and we wait patiently for the immunity to set in and then we take them out, often without a clue as to what we have vaccinated our pups against. But, I think we can be forgiven for not really knowing what it is we’re getting our pups vaccinated against, why would we? We trust our vets. The good news is we all do it…..that’s the most important thing. However, it’s always a good idea to have a bit of knowledge about what we’re putting into our pups. What exactly are we vaccinating against?
When puppies are born they gain immunity to lots of diseases through their mums milk, however this immunity fades as a puppy matures. So, we need to provide immunity FOR them. I am not a vet, let me state that first of all, and if you are in any doubt at all about what your pup is being vaccinated against and what the vaccinations mean, always consult your vet.
However, we can broadly look at some routine vaccinations.
The usual vaccinations include:
- Canine distemper
- Canine parvovirus
You may have seen a vaccination called ‘DHPP’, this is the initials for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza. You may also see ‘DHP’. So what are these?
Canine distemper is spread via bodily secretions, it can affect other species too and dogs of all ages can be affected. Symptoms vary but may include fever, discharge from eyes/mouth, coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea, and a fever. This can be fatal in severe cases, but recovery is likely if a dog is only mildly affected and veterinary advice is sought immediately.
Canine hepatitis (or Infectious Canine Hepatitis – ICH) can also be known as canine adenovirus. This is spread via contact with the saliva, blood, urine, faeces, or nasal discharges of infected dogs. Symptoms may include vomiting, loss of appetite, pain/enlargement of the abdomen, fever, excessive drinking/peeing, lighter coloured faeces and coughing.
Canine parvovirus is spread via the faeces of infected dogs. This will mainly affect young pups up to approximately 6 months, but can affect older dogs who haven’t been vaccinated against it. Infected pups can suffer with heart problems and this can be and often is, fatal. Symptoms may include vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, dehydration, low white blood cell count and lethargy. There is no specific treatment however IV antibiotics and fluids will be given, along with anti-sickness medication. The RSPCA state that without veterinary treatment, 80% of dogs with parvovirus will die, with treatment, approximately 85% will survive.
Parainfluenza is a viral infection and also makes up one of the components (along with a bacterial infection called Bordatella) which can cause Kennel Cough. Parainfluenza can be spread via bowls, bedding, kennels etc and by airborne particles via coughing/sneezing. Symptoms may include a very distinctive hacking cough, fever, nasal discharge, inflammation of the eyes and lethargy. This is not always routinely vaccinated against, so double check with your vet exactly what your pup is being given.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection and symptoms may include vomiting, increased urination and can lead to liver or kidney failure. This is transmitted via the urine of infected animals, with wildlife such as rats and deer being common carriers. This is a slightly complicated one, because there are different strains of bacteria that cause infection, and currently there is a Leptospirosis vaccination which protects against 4 strains, the most commonly contracted ones. This is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animal and human.
So, very briefly, this is a rundown of what your puppy will be having with his first vaccinations. Please ensure you ask your vet if you are in any doubt as to what vaccinations your pup is getting, and what the vaccinations actually mean. Your vet will not mind! Always ask questions, gain advice, learn, your vet has a wealth of knowledge which they will be more than happy to share with you. Would you have a vaccination without knowing what it is for? No, I would think not. So find out for your pup too.
For any more information just get in touch.