Vaccinations for dogs are designed to help your dog to stay fit and healthy for life, and to greatly reduce the chances of them catching any one of a number of contagious and potentially lethal canine health conditions that are found within the UK.
Vaccinations can actively stop your dog from catching the health conditions that they’re designed to protect against outright, but one common dog vaccination misconception is that vaccinations will always prevent such illnesses entirely.
It is certainly true that vaccination greatly reduces the chances of your dog catching one of the illnesses they’re protected from, but this is not fool proof; however, a dog that does catch a condition that they are vaccinated against still benefits from their vaccine, as this is apt to greatly reduce the severity of the illness in question.
Most first-time dog owners and puppy buyers get their dogs vaccinated, or will find that this has been taken care of by the breeder, shelter or seller providing the pet in question. However, as the years go by, many dog owners become somewhat lax about ensuring that their dogs get their booster shots as required, and forgetting or neglecting to get boosters given becomes more and more common as each year passes.
Whilst it used to be the norm for dogs to be given booster vaccinations every twelve months, this is not always the case today, and many vets follow a different booster schedule, which sees more than a year between doses for some shots after dogs reach a certain age. However, whatever booster schedule your own vet recommends for your dog, it is really important to follow it to keep your dog safe – and for several other good reasons too, which might not have occurred to you.
Read on to learn seven important reasons for keeping your dog’s vaccination booster shots up to date.
The first, foremost and most obvious reason for keeping your dog’s boosters up to date is of course to ensure that you’ve done everything possible to protect them from preventable contagious diseases that can spread quickly from dog to dog, and that can be very serious.
Most vaccinations will prevent your dog from catching vaccinatable conditions that are doing the rounds entirely, and will lessen the impact of those that they might catch. However, your dog won’t benefit if they don’t get their booster shots when needed.
Catching a contagious illness isn’t just dangerous to your dog in and of itself; even if your dog recovers and suffers no long-term effects of the condition, fighting it off and even the medications and other forms of treatments used by your vet to resolve it all have an impact on your dog too.
Illness generates an immune response from your dog’s body in order to fight off the invader, which takes resources and causes the immune system to weaken for a while until the body builds up strength to recover; and medications like antibiotics can further weaken the immune system too.
This means that during a period of recovery from illness, your dog is actually at higher risk from catching or developing another illness than they would be if in full health, and you can lessen or negate this risk by keeping your dog’s boosters current.
Herd immunity is a simple but fascinating principle that helps to protect the potentially weaker and more vulnerable members of any species; or for the purposes of this explanation, “herd.”
Not all dogs can be vaccinated; puppies have to be a certain age before they get their first shots, and a small number of other dogs react badly to vaccines, or cannot be vaccinated themselves for other legitimate reasons.
However, the risks for such unvaccinated dogs of catching diseases is greatly reduced if the vast majority of other dogs that they come into contact with – the “herd” – are themselves vaccinated. This is because the vaccinated dogs or herd members are unlikely to contract, carry or pass on the disease in question to other dogs, limiting its spread and helping to protect the whole herd, as long as the majority of the herd is vaccinated.
As most dog owners know, puppies cannot meet with strange dogs or even be taken out walking on their own in public safely until they have had their initial vaccinations and waited for the appropriate period of time for them to take effect.
This is to ensure that they’re not exposed to potentially dangerous and contagious conditions like parvovirus; which is commonly lethal to puppies.
The viral load of some very dangerous contagious conditions like parvo can lie dormant in the environment awaiting a host (a vulnerable dog), such as within the soil in your garden where a dog carrying the virus pooped, for months or even years in some cases.
This means that they could potentially infect a future dog or puppy that you might get some time in the future. If your current dog is vaccinated and up to date with their boosters, however, this risk is negated!
If your dog is insured and becomes ill with a health condition that they could have been vaccinated against and weren’t, your insurer probably won’t pay out on your claim for veterinary fees.
Check your policy terms; virtually all pet insurance policies have a caveat stating that they don’t cover conditions that could have been prevented with vaccination.
Booster vaccinations aren’t just about the shots; they also give your vet the chance to give your dog a thorough health check and physical examination too. If you’re missing booster shots, you’re probably missing your dog’s annual health check as well.
Even if your dog’s boosters are administered less regularly than every twelve months, they should still see the vet once a year for a check-up!
Kennels, doggy daycare facilities and dog walking groups will almost always insist that attending dogs are fully vaccinated and up to date with their boosters in order to be permitted to join in.
This is in order to protect the health of all of the dogs involved, and so if your dog’s boosters are out of date, you might find that your holiday will need to be cancelled at the last minute too, or that your dog will be turned away from their playdate!