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Dog Vaccination Basics

Did you know that August is Immunization Awareness Month? Learn about the basics of canine vaccinations in this article from your Gresham, OR veterinarian.

How Do Vaccines Work?

A vaccine contains something known as an antigen. Your dog’s immune system recognizes it as a disease, and responds by developing antibodies to that particular virus. In this way, your dog’s system is prepared to recognize, lessen the symptoms of, or entirely defeat the virus should the real thing ever come along later in life.

Are There Any Risks Involved?

Side effects from vaccinations aren’t common, but they are possible. Occasionally, dogs may develop mild symptoms as a response to a vaccine; these may include soreness, low-grade fever, or minor allergic reactions. In almost every case, such symptoms can easily be treated by a veterinarian. Let your vet know right away if you think your dog is reacting adversely after receiving a vaccination.

What Vaccines Do Dogs Need?

All dogs need what are known as the core vaccines, and are usually given these in a group batch as puppies. The core vaccinations are given because of the dangerous and/or contagious nature of the diseases they protect against. For most dogs, the core batch will include vaccines against canine distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and rabies. Most of these vaccines require yearly booster shots to remain effective, although some—the rabies vaccine, for example—usually only require booster shots every three years or so.

Non-core vaccines are also available. These aren’t recommended for every dog, but may be useful depending on your pet’s exposure risk, environment, and other lifestyle factors. A dog who will be commonly boarded at kennels, for instance, could probably benefit from the Bordetella vaccine to protect against kennel cough.

Your veterinarian can tell you more about the vaccines that your dog should receive to stay happy and healthy. Call the office if you have any questions.

Are Vaccines Legally Required?

This depends on the vaccine itself and the law in your particular area. Some vaccines are required legally in almost all areas (i.e. the rabies vaccine), while some aren’t. Your best course of action is to talk with your veterinarian regarding the regulations in your area. Remember: it will be difficult to keep your dog at boarding kennels, dog spas, or doggie daycares without proof of updated vaccinations.

Contact your Gresham, OR veterinarian for more information about your pet’s vaccines.

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