by Scott Smith, DVM
Vaccination is one of the basics of good hound
care, and there is no way to emphasize enough
the importance of a thorough, timely
vaccination program for the health of your
kennel. Without this basic item in place, all the
time, money, and effort can go down the tubes
in a moment.
I believe everyone realizes the importance of
vaccinating their puppies, but many forget to
also immunize their grown dogs against
infectious disease. Vaccine-induced immunity is
not life-long in the canine, and yearly "booster"
shots are still quite important. This is an even
greater necessity in the trialing and hunting
dog, which is constantly under stress and
mingled with strange dogs.
Puppy vaccinations, which everyone thinks they understand, are all too often
misunderstood. This often has very serious and costly consequences. There are two
very important facts to bear in mind with puppies. First, the initial vaccination
provides no protection and merely "primes" the immune system. Second, any
protective vaccine immunity does not occur until two weeks after the second shot in
the series. This leaves a fairly large gap where pup is unprotected against diseases
like parvo. Another factor, which plays a major role in the timeframe in which
immunity is gained from puppy vaccinations, is maternal antibodies. Maternal
antibodies are passed both across the placenta and in the colostrum in canines and
provide protection for the first few weeks of life. Maternal antibodies interfere with
vaccine immunity, and they must wane before the vaccines can "kick-in." This also
adds to the window of un-protection puppies go through, and is the motivation for
the extended "puppy series" of shots.
The following is a brief explanation of the diseases commonly contained in canine
Distemper: An infectious viral disease of dogs, which affects the respiratory, the
gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
Adenovirus-2: This is the causative agent of Canine Infectious Hepatitis a severe
disease leading to liver failure.
Para influenza: A viral respiratory disease, which often leads to or aggravates
Leptospirosis: A bacterial disease that may cause kidney failure in the dog. Often
transmitted in contaminated water, this disease appears to be increasing in
Parvovirus: A highly contagious viral disease, which primarily affects puppies, this
disease is feared by all dog owners.
Corona virus : This virus causes signs very similar to parvovirus, though generally
not as severe.
Bordatella : A bacterial organism, which causes the insidious, irritating,
performance-robbing disease known as kennel cough or canine infectious
tracheobronchitis. This vaccine is recommended not only for boarding dogs, but for
dogs in competition (field or show ring) and those sent to starting pens. Allow ten
days for the vaccine to "take" before exposing your dog to others.
Rabies : It is critical that all dogs be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian based
upon the recommendations of your state health department.
In some areas vaccinations for Lyme disease may also be given. The previously
mentioned vaccines should be given to all adult dogs on an annual basis. The same
vaccines are given to puppies, but in a very specific timetable. The following
schedule should help explain this.
I hope this brief article helps give some understanding of the whys and wherefores
of canine vaccinations, and may even help to keep a few of our friends a bit healthier.