Perhaps the hardest thing about vaccinations is recognizing their value, because if they are effective, then there isn’t much to see. In order to understand what we are vaccinating for, here is a quick breakdown of the vaccines for dogs.
Probably the best known disease that we vaccinate against is rabies. This is a deadly virus that is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Any mammal can be infected with rabies, including dogs, cats, humans, and wild animals like bats, coyotes, and raccoons.
Rabies: When good dogs go bad. Real bad.
Rabies virus travels up nerves until it reaches the brain, where it wreaks havoc. Animals behave abnormally and often aggressively, until the virus does too much damage and the animal dies.
In India, where rabies vaccines are uncommon, about 30,000 people die every year from rabies infections. The count for the United States? About 1-3 deaths per year.
DA2PP Vaccine - Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus
Distemper - Causes breathing issues, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and death. Cases occur rarely in the Las Vegas area.
Adenovirus - Two types exist, causing liver damage, kidney damage, breathing issues, and sometimes death.
Parainfluenza - This is a virus that can cause kennel cough.
Parvovirus - This is common in the Las Vegas area. It usually affects puppies, causing vomiting and diarrhea. If untreated, this can lead to other infections, dehydration, and death.
I’ll take a cup of adorable puppy and an order of vaccines, please.
Bordetella Vaccine (AKA: Kennel Cough Vaccine)
Bordetella is a type of bacteria that causes kennel cough in dogs. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and fever. This vaccine should be given to any dog that interacts with other dogs. This is required by most groomers and boarding facilities.
I hope you got your Bordetella vaccine.
This vaccine should be strongly considered for dogs in the desert, as rattlesnake bites are common. Vaccinated dogs should still immediately seek veterinary care after a rattlesnake bite. The vaccine buys more time, but it doesn’t completely protect against the effects of snake venom.
Leptospirosis vaccine - Often called “lepto”, this is a bacterial infection usually spread through contact with the urine of wild animals. This is more common in wetter climates. It causes kidney failure, liver damage, and death.
Lyme disease (Borrelia) vaccine - Borrelia is a type of bacteria that is spread through ticks. Many dogs are unaffected, but it can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including fever and joint pain. This is most common in the northeast United States, but can occur anywhere deer ticks are found.
Influenza vaccine - Also called “dog flu”, this is a virus that causes similar symptoms to human flu. There were big outbreaks in Chicago in 2015, and Los Angeles in 2017.
Vaccination is easy, effective, and side effects are very rare. When you compare the low cost of annual vaccines with days of intensive hospitalization or even death, the choice is simple - get those shots!