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Dog Vaccinations - What You Need to Know to Protect Your Dog

Almost all communities in the U.S. require at least one shot for your dog or puppy, and that's rabies. The rabies vaccine should be given when the puppy is twelve to sixteen weeks old, and then another one year later. Following, he'll need just one every three years. At around eight to sixteen weeks of age, the puppy's natural immunity from its mother's milk has worn off and it becomes at risk to a number of environmental hazards. For an older dog (above one year old), follow the same regimen as for a puppy. Be sure that you have proof that your dog or puppy has had his required rabies shot.

There is another shot recommended by many veterinarians, especially for puppies. This shot is often referred to as the five-in-one as the shot contains vaccines for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Para influenza and Parvo, known officially as DHLP-P or CORONA. For puppies, the first shot is given at six weeks, another at nine weeks, a third at twelve weeks, a fourth at sixteen weeks and once a year following. For older dogs, the shots can be administered once, then again after three weeks and once a year thereafter. Some veterinarians will also recommend shots against Bordetella, although this vaccine has been shown, in certain studies, to only last from six to eleven months, and hardly ever past one-year. It can be given to puppies as early as three weeks of age and to older dogs every year.

If you think that you're going to take your dog out into the wild outdoors; hunting, running, or if you live on a farm or near forests, you may consider vaccinating against Lyme disease. However, this vaccine is one of the most controversial as many dogs have died as a result of its side effects. If you groom your dog often and if it has short hair, you may be able to find and loosen any deer ticks, which cause the disease. It will take a tick one to two days to transmit the disease to your dog. If you pull a tick off of your dog, keep it in an airtight plastic container in case you have to visit a veterinarian. He can then test the tick as well as your dog for the disease. If your dog acquires Lyme disease, treatment is available and often involves the use of the antibiotic doxycycline over a period of three to four weeks. If Lyme disease reoccurs, continued treatment with antibiotics is the only sure option.

Another important preventative measure to ensure your pet's protection is the use of a heartworm preventative. If you live in a climate that's warm all year round, consider giving your dog the monthly pill. If temperatures fall below freezing for the winter, you can discontinue the use of the pill until spring returns. Wet and sloppy ground allows the worms to spread easily to your dog. Be especially wary of open grassy fields, such as cow pastures. Your dog will have to be tested for heartworms before he starts taking the medicine for the first time, or for each following year. Treatment for heartworms involves poisoning the dog's blood in hopes of killing off the worms, which reproduce in the dog's heart. It is a painful and deadly experience for your pet, so prevention is the best treatment.

It should be mentioned that some veterinarians out there, keen on alternative medicine for your dog, believe that vaccinations should be avoided at all costs. It has been shown that repeated vaccinations might actually weaken the immune system to the disease it's trying to prevent. There is also speculation that vaccinations, when combined, may actually cause an animal to have a higher chance of getting one of the diseases he is being vaccinated against. Your best bet is to ask a veterinarian you trust. Bring up the issues that concern you. Do research. A good option, if you do decide to vaccinate, is to keep a calendar or doggy passport that documents your pet's treatment with a signature and stamp.

About the Author:
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at Dog Gifts and Toys for Dog Lovers.

Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

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