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Reasons to Vaccinate Your Animals
Programs supporting regular vaccination of dogs have contributed both to the health of dogs and to the public health. In countries where routine rabies vaccination of dogs is practiced, rabies in humans is reduced to a very rare event. Currently, there are geographically defined required vaccines and individually chosen non-required vaccine recommendations for dogs. Most vaccination protocols recommend a series of vaccines for puppies, with vaccine boosters given at one year of age. Frequency of vaccination thereafter varies with the disease and vaccine type. Most vaccines are given by subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle) injection. Respiratory tract disease vaccination may be given intra-nasally (in the nose) in some cases. Vaccine immunogens may consist of killed or inactivated pathogens, bio-engineered pathogen proteins or polypeptides, or, increasingly rarely, modified-live virus.
Government laws and local recommendations vary, but in countries where rabies occurs naturally and laws address licensing and vaccination of dogs, rabies vaccination of dogs is required by law. Other required vaccines in most regions include canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis virus or adenovirus-2, and canine influenza.
Non-required vaccines for dogs, which may be important to administer when exposure is predicted, include:
- Bordetella, which protects again a respiratory illness commonly known as "kennel cough" in addition to canine parainfluenza virus (another kennel cough agent).
- Lyme disease, an illness that is spread via deer ticks, is also indicated in certain environments where deer ticks frequently occur. Lyme disease is known to cause lethargy, fever, soreness, and in cases gone untreated, damage to joints, paralysis, and nerve damage.
- Leptospirosis, a disease characterized by weakness, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and kidney and liver failure. Leptospirosis comes from standing water containing urine from animals infected with leptospira, and the disease can be transmitted to humans via contaminated water or food.
Concerns about Animal Vaccinations
There are evolving theories about the necessity and frequency of vaccinations for domestic dogs. Many dog owners and now many academic veterinarians have expressed concern that dogs are being vaccinated too frequently. Specific adverse reactions and general consequences for long-term health are both being cited as reasons to reduce the frequency of vaccination of adult dogs. Manufacturers of vaccines for dogs have responded by developing more vaccines with at least three year efficacy proven. Many states and communities have changed ordinances to allow for longer intervals between rabies vaccinations when vaccines of proven efficacy are administered
Additionally, there has been a type of malignant tumor found in cats and rarely, dogs, that has been linked to certain vaccines. More study is required but there are concerns that in some instances, unneccessary vaccinations can put the animals health at risk. These same risks may exist for human vaccinations as well and it is important to consider the risks and advantages of vaccination procedures.