As a dog owner, it’s important to follow a complete dog vaccination schedule to ensure that your best friend stays healthy and happy, and is not in danger of coming into contact with harmful or potentially deadly viruses. For this reason, keeping to a regular vaccine schedule is a crucial part of your dog’s health and well-being, and will ensure that your dog has the necessary immunity to fight off any harmful diseases.

Why is it Important to Keep to a Vaccination Schedule?

The reason it’s important to keep to the vaccine schedule is that vaccines work by creating immunities for your dog by stimulating his immune system and to build up resistance to a virus or disease. Dog vaccines help to strengthen these immunities over time, starting when they’re puppies and will help them avoid serious illness down the road. It is important to your dog’s health to keep up with vaccines annually, or as your veterinarian recommends.

What is a Dog Vaccine?

First of all, it’s important to discuss what dog vaccines are and how they can protect your pet. The function of a vaccine is to trigger an immune response to a certain virus which can help protect your dog from future infections and diseases. A vaccine works by triggering the body’s immune response to produce antibodies that can battle viruses. Depending on where you live in the US, recommended vaccinations can vary due to climate, location, lifestyle, or the presence/absence of particular viruses and diseases in your area. Also, there are national and state vaccine requirements to consider as well.

The Most Important Dog Vaccinations in Smyrna, GA

The most important dog vaccinations in Smyrna, GA are:

1. Rabies

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system, and the rabies vaccine is probably the single most important vaccine for your dog. As a result, it’s known as a “core vaccine.” The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that dogs in every country be vaccinated against rabies. The WHO estimates that more than 20 million people are vaccinated against rabies after being bitten, and about 40% of them are under the age of 15. In the US, the CDC requires that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies every 3 years after one year of age, or owners must provide proof of appropriate rabies titers. A rabies titer is an estimate of an immune response against the rabies virus, and some states will allow dogs with appropriate titers to be exempt from re-vaccination. However, rabies titers are not recognized as an index of immunity, and titer tests can run as much as $150 per dog. What are the symptoms of rabies? Symptoms include excessive drooling, paralysis, anxiety, and ultimately death. It is also a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted to humans and other pets. Due to its deadly nature and capability to transfer to humans, rabies vaccines, or appropriate rabies titers (a measurement of rabies antibodies in the blood) are required in most cities and states in the US. If you have any questions about the rabies vaccine, please call Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital at (770) 333-9030.

2. Canine Distemper

The distemper virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of dogs, and this virus is spread through airborne droplets through sneezing or coughing. Distemper can also be transmitted by sharing water bowls, and infected dogs can shed the virus for months. Distemper can cause discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and sometimes death. Distemper tends to affect younger dogs under the age of one year, and older dogs that may be immune-compromised. Young dogs that contract distemper require hospitalization and supportive care, and medications to help relieve secondary infections and seizures. Dogs can survive distemper, however, they will often exhibit neurological deficits throughout their lives.

3. Parvovirus

Parvovirus, or “Parvo,” is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are most at risk. Parvo attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. The vomiting and diarrhea can be acute and cause severe dehydration in a matter of hours, so contacting your veterinarian at Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital immediately is crucial. Your veterinarian can conduct a parvo test to see if your puppy does have parvo, and can hospitalize your pet to keep her hydrated and prevent the possibility of secondary bacterial infections. Parvo is an extremely contagious virus and can live indoors for several weeks, and in the outdoor environment for many months, even years in areas shaded from direct sunlight.

4. Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis)

Canine hepatitis is another very contagious virus that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. This disease primarily attacks the liver, and symptoms range from a low-grade fever, congestion and stuffy nose, vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome a mild bought of hepatitis, but more severe forms can damage the liver and even cause death.

5. Coronavirus

The canine coronavirus targets the gastrointestinal system, but it can also cause respiratory infections. Symptoms of coronavirus include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. As with Parvovirus, your veterinarian at Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital can offer supportive care with hospitalization to keep your pet hydrated.

6. Canine Parainfluenza

Canine Parainfluenza is one of several viruses that can cause what is known as “kennel cough.” Canine Parainfluenza targets the respiratory system, and it is very contagious and can be contracted in kennels, dog parks, and other areas where many dogs come into contact with one another.

Optional Dog Vaccinations in Smyrna, GA

Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, the following vaccines may be recommended by your veterinarian:

1. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease caused by a bacterium known as a spirochete. The tick is the natural host of this bacterium and is transmitted to animals by a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease include limping, enlarged lymph nodes, no appetite, and a low-grade, intermittent fever. Lyme disease attacks the heart, joints, and kidneys, and can cause neurological signs. If you suspect that your puppy has been exposed to Lyme disease, call (770) 333-9030 and talk to your veterinarian at Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital. Lyme disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics, but it is not uncommon for pets to have relapses later in life.

2. Bordetella

Bronchiseptica Bordetella is the number one cause of “kennel cough.” Bordetella is a bacterium that is highly contagious and can cause coughing fits, vomiting, and in rare cases seizures. The vaccines for kennel cough can be intranasal, injectable, and oral. If you plan on boarding your puppy in a kennel, or enroll in puppy classes, or plan on using dog daycare services, the Bordetella vaccine is recommended and often required by kennels and training facilities. Most Bordetella vaccines are good for 12 months.

3. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterium and is a zoonotic disease that can be spread from animal to human. It lives in the soil and water and is more common in parts of the US where there are a lot of rivers, streams, and more rain-fall than drier areas. Symptoms of leptospirosis include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, muscle pain, and kidney and/or liver failure. If not treated, leptospirosis can be deadly. If you suspect that your pet may have leptospirosis, call your Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital veterinarian at (770) 333-9030 immediately. Your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics which can help save your pet’s life.

Dog Vaccination Schedule

Your dog’s vaccination schedule may differ. Some dogs may not need every vaccine listed above, and it is always best to consult your veterinarian as to which vaccines are needed for your dog. Below is listed the generally accepted vaccine schedule for dogs up to one year into adulthood.

Dog Age Recommended Vaccinations Optional Vaccinations
6-8 weeks Distemper, Parvovirus (DP) Bordetella
10-12 weeks DAP (Distemper, Adenovirus) Influenza, Leptospirosis
16-18 weeks DAP, 1 year rabies Influenza, Leptospirosis
12-16 months   Influenza, Leptospirosis
Every 1-2 years DAP   Influenza, Leptospirosis
Every 3 years 3-years Rabies  

Book a Dog Vaccination Appointment With Your Vet in Smyrna, GA

Is your dog due for vaccinations? Call (770) 333-9030 or book an appointment online to talk with your veterinarian at Windy Hill Veterinary Hospital about your dog’s vaccinations.