It’s very important to vaccinate your dog after bringing them home, since puppies have fragile immune systems and often pick up a lot of germs.
The core vaccine:
To make it easier for you and your vet and to reduce stress for your pet, the four essential vaccines can be given together in one combined core vaccine. It includes vaccines that protect your pet against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and parainfluenza.
- Distemper: This viral disease is spread from animal to animal by contaminated mucous membranes, as well as through airborne exposure. Initially, infected dogs will develop nasal discharge and conjunctivitis with light sensitivity. These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, fever and even death.
- Parvovirus: This highly contagious virus causes severe gastroenteritis and can spread from dog to dog, especially through contaminated feces or vomit. Its symptoms include vomiting and abdominal pain that prevents dogs from eating. This is usually followed by bloody diarrhea, fever and severe dehydration. Because of how quickly it develops (within 24 to 48 hours), parvovirus is particularly dangerous to puppies with undeveloped immune systems. It can be fatal.
- Hepatitis: This liver inflammation disease can be caused by a virus or a bacterial infection, but also by tumours and exposure to toxins. Typical signs include yellowish gums and mucus membranes, weight loss, fever and excessive thirst.
Because rabies can be prevented by a disease, it has become rare in dogs. It is spread through bites from squirrels, raccoons or other animals. Physical signs to watch for include unusual aggressive behaviour, excessive drooling and even paralysis of the throat. Rabies is a deadly disease that can also spread to people.
Other available vaccines:
Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, your vet will recommend vaccines for other common diseases:
- Leptospirosis vaccine: Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that survive in warm, moist environments, especially in stagnant or slow-moving water (like ponds and swamps) that has been contaminated with urine from infected wild animals. Leptospirosis can also spread to humans and cause significant liver and kidney damage.
- Lyme disease vaccine: Spread by ticks, Lyme disease is very common in Québec. and has been on the rise in the past few years. Symptoms can include fatigue and severe recurrent joint problems, but sometimes there are no clinical signs of the disease.
- Kennel cough vaccine: Also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, this highly contagious disease spreads through simple contact between animals and attacks the dog’s respiratory system. It causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes and trachea, as well as a dry, hoarse cough with secretions.
When should dogs be vaccinated?
Puppies should begin their vaccination schedule at two months old and receive booster shots every month until they are four months old. To keep your dog healthy long term, it’s critical to follow your vet’s vaccination schedule. While the core vaccine can be given as early as two months old, the rabies vaccine can only be given a few months later. After that, booster shots can be given annually or every two years, depending on what your vet recommends.