What are Vaccines and How Do They Work?
Vaccines are biological preparations that provide active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. They contain agents resembling a disease-causing microorganism and are often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. When introduced to the body, the vaccine stimulates the immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and remember it, so that the immune system can more easily identify and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.
Types of Vaccines
There are several types of vaccines available for dogs, each designed to combat different viruses and bacteria. These include:
Live Attenuated Vaccines: These vaccines use a weakened form of the virus or bacteria. They are very effective in stimulating the immune system but must be used with caution, especially in immunocompromised animals.
Inactivated Vaccines: These vaccines contain killed bacteria or virus and are safer than live vaccines, though sometimes less effective in terms of immune response stimulation.
Recombinant Vaccines: These are the most modern type of vaccines where a piece of the DNA from the virus or bacteria is inserted into another organism to produce parts of the microbe. These parts then form the vaccine.
Common Misconceptions About Vaccines
Misconceptions about vaccines in pets can lead to hesitancy in getting them vaccinated. Common myths include the idea that vaccines are unnecessary, cause autism (which has no scientific basis), or that pets can develop the disease from the vaccine. It's crucial to educate pet owners about the importance and safety of vaccines.
Core vs. Non-Core Vaccines
Definition and Examples of Core Vaccines
Core vaccines are those recommended for all dogs, regardless of their circumstances or location. These typically include:
These vaccines are essential for all dogs because the diseases they protect against are widespread, severe, or potentially fatal.
Non-core vaccines are given depending on a dog's exposure risk. These include:
Bordetella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough)
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
The decision to use these vaccines should be based on individual factors like geographic distribution of the disease, the dog's lifestyle, and overall health.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
Vaccinating puppies is critical as they are highly susceptible to infectious diseases. A typical puppy vaccination schedule is:
6 to 8 weeks: First dose of distemper, parainfluenza, and canine hepatitis
10 to 12 weeks: Booster for distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease vaccines may be administered at this stage based on the vet's recommendation.
16 to 18 weeks: Final booster for the core vaccines
Maternal antibodies can interfere with a puppy's ability to develop immunity from a vaccine, hence the need for a series of shots.