August 6, 2008

Syringe

Core Vaccinations
Rabies
The Rabies virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, most commonly bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.  It causes a fatal brain and spinal cord infection, and signs of disease can vary from depression and dementia to aggressiveness.  The virus can be shed for up to 14 days before signs of infection are apparent.  The virus can be shed by the infected animal for a variable length of time, ranging from days to months.  This disease is not only fatal to the infected animal, but is a considerable public health issue because it can be transmitted in the same manner to humans.  Vaccination against Rabies is generally required by law, and is done once at 16 weeks of age and then boostered once a year.  Depending on public health regulations, new three-year vaccines may now be used by your veterinarian.

Canine Distemper Virus
Distemper in dogs was once very common, but thanks to widespread vaccination, has now become quite rare and almost unheard of in vaccinated dogs.  This virus affects multiple organ systems and can involve the brain.  Again, signs of infection can vary and include discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea; neurological signs soon follow, progressing to trouble walking and seizures. Treatment is usually futile and the prognosis for survival is poor, which is why vaccination against this disease is so important.  This vaccine is given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, and then boostered once a year from then on.

Adenovirus Type 2
Canine Adenovirus Type 2 is a component of a syndrome known as Kennel Cough, characterized by a hacking cough, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.  This vaccine also protects against Infectious Canine Hepatitis, an often acutely fatal disease that causes destruction of the liver.  This vaccine is given to puppies along with the other core vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, and then boostered yearly.

Parainfluenza
This virus causes a respiratory infection known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, and is another major component of Kennel Cough.  It is acquired by close contact with other infected dogs, most commonly at boarding facilities, dog parks, and puppy classes.  Signs to watch for include: coughing, gagging, and retching.  This vaccine is given in combination with the other core vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, and then boostered once a year from then on.

Canine Parvovirus
Canine Parvoviral Enteritis is a serious and not uncommon disease in unvaccinated puppies.  The virus destroys the cells in the intestines, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal bleeding.  Immune suppression can also result when the virus infects the bone marrow.  For some unknown reason, there is evidence that Doberman Pinchers, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Labrador Retrievers are more susceptible to infection.  The virus persists for a long time in its environment, and thrives in unsanitary conditions.  The vaccine for Canine Parvovirus is given to puppies in combination with the other core vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, and then once yearly.

As always, it would be a great idea when your dog comes home from a tough day at the vet, to let him lay down, and chew on his favorite dog treat, like cow ears.

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