Vaccines for dogs What are mandatory and when to put them?

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If we are going to live with a dog, vaccinations are one of the veterinary actions that we must implement as a routine, whether our partner is a puppy or if it is already an adult. Regardless of whether you live inside or outside the home.

There is ignorance and mistrust around vaccines, which leads to losing sight of the vital importance they have in the prevention of deadly diseases. Below we clarify all doubts and expose the recommended vaccination schedule.

Index of contents

  • 1 Why should dogs be vaccinated?
  • 2 How do vaccines work?
  • 3 Types of vaccines for dogs
  • 4 What is the vaccination schedule?
  • 5 What are the recommended vaccinations for a dog?
    • 5.1 Canine distemper vaccine
    • 5.2 Infectious Hepatitis Vaccine
    • 5.3 Leptospirosis vaccine
    • 5.4 Parvovirus vaccine
    • 5.5 Coronavirus vaccine
    • 5.6 Rabies vaccine
    • 5.7 Parainfluenza vaccine
    • 5.8 Bronchiseptic Bordetella Vaccine
    • 5.9 Borreliosis or Lyme disease vaccine
    • 5.10 Canine Herpesvirus Vaccine
    • 5.11 Leishmaniasis vaccine
  • 6 Are there mandatory vaccinations for a dog?
  • 7 Vaccination in puppies
  • 8 Vaccination in adult dogs
  • 9 Vaccination in elderly dogs
  • 10 Why do we have to revaccinate?
  • 11 Do vaccines fail?
  • 12 Why are vaccines so expensive?
  • 13 Do vaccines have side effects?
  • 14 Contraindications to vaccination

Why should dogs be vaccinated?

Dogs are exposed to different diseases in their day to day. Fortunately, most trigger a clinical picture that, although it may be complex, is curable with more or less veterinary intervention.

But other pathologies, on the other hand, are potentially fatal and there is only supportive treatment against them. As there is no antidote to eliminate them, science has directed its efforts to prevent them. And this is the job of vaccines.

Administering vaccines prevents and eradicates infectious diseases, contributes to public health, to the extent that some of these pathologies are zoonoses, and reduces the use of antibiotics.

How do vaccines work?

To understand the workings of vaccines, you must start by reviewing some basic immunology concepts. When an animal becomes ill, its immune system creates defenses, known as antibodies, against the invading pathogen.

This process serves to combat the disease and, very importantly, create an immune memory. This allows the body to react quickly on second contact with the same pathogen, thus minimizing the disease. The problem is that the most serious pathologies can kill the animal at first contact.

To solve this, vaccines were created. These allow a pathogen to be presented to the immune system in a controlled manner. In this way the animal forms an immunological memory and, if exposed to the disease in a natural way, it will fight it quickly, being the mildest or even non-existent clinical picture.

microscopic virus

Microscopic virus

Types of vaccines for dogs

Vaccines can be made with modified, inactivated, or killed viruses. There are also recombinant vaccines in which fragments of the pathogen are used, which produce less reaction and good immunity. Sooner or later, they all need revaccination.

Most vaccines are given by subcutaneous injection, but there are also intranasal ones. Another classification is that established between monovalent, which are those that contain the vaccine against only one disease, or bi, tri, tetra or polyvalent, as they include two, three, four or more vaccines.

What is the vaccination schedule?

It is the name given to the protocol that is followed for the administration of vaccines. The calendar indicates what vaccines should be given and when, noting also the necessary revaccinations and the vaccines that are considered optional.

It is usual that it varies according to the countries and even the regions and you must always take into account the living conditions and characteristics of the dog. Therefore, it is best to adapt the calendar to each case and, if we are going to travel, inform ourselves of the requirements at the destination.

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What are the recommended vaccinations for a dog?

Currently there are numerous vaccines at our disposal to protect our dog. Some have been used for years with great success, while others have only recently appeared, so there is less data on their operation.

New vaccines will surely be developed in the future. In the following sections, we will review what is considered essential and optional, as well as briefly describe the disease they are immunized against.

Canine distemper vaccine

Distemper is a severe and highly contagious viral disease It affects mainly unvaccinated puppies between 6 and 12 weeks. The clinical picture includes catarrhal, digestive and neurological symptoms.

Mortality is high, especially when the nervous system is affected. Recovering animals may have permanent sequelae. It is a vaccine considered essential. It is administered to puppies and as a reinforcement to adults.

  • Symptoms and contagion of canine distemper

Infectious Hepatitis Vaccine

This highly contagious viral disease is caused by canine adenovirus type 1. It mainly affects children under one year of age. It will cause damage to the liver, kidneys and blood vessels.

It can manifest
with greater or lesser severity. In some cases the dog dies in a matter of hours. It is one of the essential vaccines and also protects against adenoviruses involved in kennel cough.

  • Types of canine hepatitis and their treatments

Leptospirosis vaccine

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that usually preferably affects the liver and kidney. Several subspecies can cause it, making the vaccine that covers the most possibilities more interesting.

Its symptoms will be related to these organs, although very diverse signs may appear. It is a zoonosis. The veterinaryn will decide whether or not our dog should receive this vaccine based on the risk of contagion that it presents. Yes, it is usually part of the usual calendar.

  • Symptoms of leptospirosis in a dog

Parvovirus vaccine

Parvovirus is a very serious and contagious viral disease that mainly affects puppies between 6 and 20 weeks. The Rottweiler and Doberman breeds seem more susceptible to contracting it.

It is characterized by severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea that end up dehydrating the dog. It is considered an essential and very effective vaccine that is administered to puppies and is included in adult revaccination programs.

  • Complete information on canine parvovirus

Coronavirus vaccine

The coronavirus is responsible for a contagious digestive condition. It can be serious in young or weakened animals. This vaccine does not prevent the disease but it does decrease its severity.

It is not usually included in the vaccination schedule, but it is recommended for dogs that live in communities such as residences or participate in activities with congeners. According to current studies, its use is not convenient.

  • Canine Coronavirus Symptom Picture

Rabies vaccine

Rabies is a deadly zoonotic viral disease that, although it has been controlled through vaccination in developed countries, continues to cause human deaths in areas such as India. The administration of this vaccine, which it is considered essential, will depend on the legislation of the place where we live.

The first dose can be administered in puppies of three months and, if we consider the scientific evidence, it should be repeated every one, two or three years, depending on the manufacturer. The problem is that it is usually a mandatory vaccine by law and it is this that will specify when to put it.

  • Symptoms of rabies in dogs

Parainfluenza vaccine

Canine parainfluenza virus is implicated in kennel cough. This vaccine offers protection but does not prevent infected animals from eliminating the virus in their nasal secretions, making them contagious.

There is a vaccine combined with the vaccine against Bronchiseptic Bordetella it does avoid this possibility. It is one of the vaccines that does not seem to reach twelve months of protection, so it would be advisable to put it twice a year in dogs at higher risk.

Bronchiseptic Bordetella Vaccine

This bacteria can cause kennel cough. In principle it is not a very serious disease but in some dogs it progresses to pneumonia, which can be fatal. It is recommended for dogs that are going to stay in places such as residences, protectors, participate in dog shows, etc.

It is an intranasal, oral or injectable vaccine, which can also protect against parainfluenza. It is discussed whether the revaccination should be annual or every six months, especially in high-risk dogs.

  • Information, symptoms and treatment of kennel cough
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Borreliosis or Lyme disease vaccine

This bacterial disease is transmitted through the tick bite. It is characterized by causing lameness and inflammation and pain in the joints. The vaccine gets the immune system to kill the bacteria and protect for a year.

It is only recommended in dogs with a high risk of infection. Of course, you must continue using dewormers against ticks because the vaccine has no effect on them. Avoiding the bite is another preventive measure.

  • Lyme disease symptoms in dogs

Canine Herpesvirus Vaccine

This vaccine is for exclusive administration in pregnant bitches, as canine herpesvirus is responsible for abortions and high mortality in puppies newly born. It may also be involved in kennel cough.

One dose should be injected during heat or, if not possible, approximately one week after mounting and another before delivery. The vaccination should be repeated at each pregnancy.

Leishmaniasis vaccine

It is a disease caused by a protozoan and transmitted by a mosquito. As it can affect various organs, its symptoms are varied. In most cases it is a life-long treatment.

Although several vaccines were available in Brazil due to the high prevalence of this zoonosis, in Europe the marketing did not take place until 2011. Currently, a recombinant vaccine is available. It can be used in dogs over six months old and is effective with a single dose and annual revaccination.

Before it is necessary to assess the state of the dog regarding the disease through serological tests because it is only recommended to administer to uninfected dogs to be effective. The vaccine does not act against the transmitting mosquito, so deworming is still essential.

  • Canine Leishmaniasis Information


Are there mandatory vaccinations for a dog?

On this point we must inform ourselves of the legislation in force in our place of residence. In Spain this competence is transferred to the Autonomous Communities, which explains the differences between territories.

In addition, the laws on animal protection are changing, so it is convenient that we inform ourselves at the veterinary center. The vaccines we recommend, which are considered mandatory in some communities, are what we have rated as essential.

Managing all the others will depend on the living conditions and characteristics of the dog. These factors determine the risk of contracting these pathologies. It will be the veterinaryn who assesses the need to apply the corresponding vaccines.

At a general level in Spain, we can assess the following vaccines as highly recommended, in addition to some totally mandatory by law such as rabies:

  • Puppy with a month and a half of age: Parvovirus vaccine, distemper and two multipurpose
  • Puppy with two months: Multipurpose vaccine.
  • Puppy with three months: Multipurpose vaccine (booster)
  • Puppy with four months: Rabies Vaccine (normally the microchip at once)
  • Dog with one year: Multipurpose vaccine (reminder) and Rabies vaccine (memory)
  • Every year: Multipurpose vaccine (reminder) and Rabies vaccine (in some Autonomous Communities a memory is required every two years, in the majority every year).

Vaccination in puppies

Puppies, having an immature immune system, are more likely to contract infectious diseases. To avoid this, it is essential to start vaccinating them as soon as the immunity conferred by their mother falls, between 6-8 weeks. A single dose of a vaccine manages to stimulate the immune system, but it is the second dose that immunizes.

Therefore, in puppies, it is necessary to repeat the dose of the same vaccine 2-3 times until optimal protection is achieved. It is recommended not to finish revaccination before 16 weeks. Until we have completed all vaccines at this stage It is important that we do not take the puppy for a walk.

Otherwise, if it came into contact, only by sniffing, with urine or feces from a sick dog, it could become infected. In general, vaccinating at 8, 12, and 16 weeks is a good guideline, as is repeating the essential vaccination at 26-52 weeks.

  • Dangers of walking with a puppy without vaccination

dog puppy

Vaccination in adult dogs

After the vaccination schedule of the puppies has been completed and, therefore, adequate immunization has been achieved, the objective is to maintain it. For this the dog must be periodically revaccinated. The revaccination is usually annual and contains the essential vaccines. Depending on the circumstances of each dog, the calendar can be altered.

When we adopt an adult dog whose vaccination history is unknown or one that has been vaccinated as a puppy but has not revaccinated for years, the current recommendation is to administer a single dose of the polyvalent vaccine chosen for essential revaccination. Then the bounces are followed as with any other dog.

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Vaccination in elderly dogs

From the age of 8-10 years it is debatable whether revaccination should continue. The immune system of older dogs comes at a time when it is unable to respond to vaccination. It would be necessary to weigh each case and assess risks and benefits. The rabies vaccine will continue to be administered as a legal imperative.

Why do we have to revaccinate?

The immunity conferred by vaccines may be temporarily limited. This means that the memory that may have been created in the immune system after its administration will be exhausted in a while. This varies depending on each vaccine. Therefore, to maintain protection, revaccination is essential.

There is no debate about revaccination in general, but there is debate about when each specific vaccine should be repeated. Vaccines against distemper, parvovirus, or rabies seem to maintain immunity for over a year in an adult dog that has been properly vaccinated. It is believed that they could immunize from 3 to 9 years and even for life.

On the contrary, other vaccines fail to protect twelve months. That is why it is interesting that, taking into account the dog’s living conditions, the vet draws up an adapted vaccination schedule. It should also be borne in mind that some vaccines are sold together, so revaccination is usually annual.

Keeping our dog vaccinated correctly protects him and protects us.

Do vaccines fail?

Yes, vaccines may not offer the expected protection if they have been mismanaged, improperly administered, or applied to a dog that is not in a position to develop an adequate immune response. That is why it is so important that we always go to a good vet to minimize mistakes.

In addition, some diseases are caused by different strains and Vaccine is not always available for all of them. Furthermore, there is nothing that can offer 100% protection.

At a genetic level, it seems that there are breeds more susceptible to viruses such as parvovirus, such as Rottweiler or Doberman, that offer a worse response to vaccination. The same is true of distemper and Nordic breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute or the Siberian Husky.

Why are vaccines so expensive?

The price of vaccines is determined by the corresponding Veterinary College based on each of them. When our dog is a puppy, having to vaccinate several times may seem expensive, but later we are talking about, in general, only one vaccine per year.

When deciding to share life with a dog we must know that it involves a series of fixed expenses. The vet is one of them. Deworming and vaccines must be assumed as essential. Furthermore, vaccinating is a clinical act that can only be done by a vet who has invested effort and money in training and setting up a clinic.

The fixed benefit of vaccines for the veterinaryn allows other services, such as surgeries, to be offered at a more affordable price. Lastly, the expense of treating the dog if it catches any of the diseases is much higher than the price of a vaccine and, in many cases, does not guarantee cure.

Do vaccines have side effects?

In the days after inoculation the animal could present discomfort, swelling in the area of ​​the prick, fever, sneezing, cough and a slight decrease in activity and appetite. These types of reactions are not common. Much less frequent are allergic reactions.

  • Possible side effects of vaccines

Contraindications to vaccination

When a dog already has a disease, parasites, allergies or any condition that impairs the functioning of its immune system, vaccinating it may not help, since its body will not be able to form the necessary antibodies.

In dogs undergoing immunosuppressive drug treatments, vaccination is also not recommended. In pregnant females or in which there is a reasonable suspicion that they may be pregnant, vaccination is contraindicated, except for herpesvirus or in some specific situation that the veterinaryn should assess.

In addition, the puppies will be protected by the antibodies transmitted by their mother for about eight weeks. Depending on each case, the veterinaryn will consider vaccinating them beforehand, so as not to interfere with these antibodies. That is why putting a vaccine is a clinical act only the responsibility of the veterinaryn, who must first review the animal.