Sunday, 20 November 2011

Vaccines should you or shouldn't you?

As part of my studies I have to know about how the inside of a dog works.  Right now I am studying the immune system;  I have to have as much knowledge as a vet in order to be able to talk to them on a professional level, and also so I understand what they are saying, that is why I am doing a degree course and didn't just wake up one day and decide to hang a "dog whisperer" sign on the door.

There has been a lot of talk recently about vaccines and if dogs need yearly vaccines as is common in the UK.  Last year new guidlines were published by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) that say yearly core vaccines are not needed.  Core vaccines for dogs
are those that protect from canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus (CAV) and canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2).

Furthermore The Vaccine Guidance Group (VGG) recognizes that maternally derived antibody (MDA) significantly interferes with the efficacy of most current core vaccines administered to pups and kittens in early life. As the level of MDA varies significantly among litters, the VGG
recommends the administration of three vaccine doses to pups, with the final dose of these being delivered at 14–16 weeks of age or above. 

Most people keep their pups safe at home until one week after the last vaccine, because their vet has told them to so that the pup's risk of catching one of these diseases is lessened. This can mean that you're puppy is missing out on the largest part of it's socialiastion period. What you vet hasn't told you or that you maybe haven't heard in your concern to keep your puppy safe is that the MDA can last in the puppy's system for as long as 20 weeks, especially in the case of parvovirus.  So as long as your pup's mum was covered your pup will be too.  The guidelines state that the inital vaccine given at 8-9 weeks needs to be followed up as the MDA can stop the vaccine from working, in effect the first vaccine can be a waste of time and money!

I am not saying that you should take your baby out to the park and let it run around; but don't keep it locked away in doors and not seeing any sights and sounds.  Be sensible, most puppy socialisation classes are held in a safe place, you can take your pup out and about in the car and you can carry him too; maybe even letting him have a bit of a sniff on the ground.

So what happens after the inital vaccines then?  You've faithfully taken your old dog to the vet every year to have his jabs, but now you don't need to!  Confusing for all of us especially as some vets are still insiting that you have your dog vaccinated on a yearly basis against all the diseases out there.

Well the WSAVA say "Vaccines should not be given needlessly. Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12 month booster injection following the puppy series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet".

Locally some vets are still insisting that you have your dog vaccinated on a yearly basis, some are even offering a one off price that will cover your dog for it's lifetime, so you go back every year.  There are a few vets out there who have decided to go with the new guidelines and are offering yearly health checks that may or may not include vaccines; the vaccines in these checks are not the core vaccines but will include leptospira, kennel cough and possibly lime disease.  Depending on your dog the lepto vaccine may last as little as 3 months, kennel cough only lasts around 6 months.

The Guidelines also say that the vaccines should not be given as one dose at the same time. Again some vets are using one dose vaccines.

It's your dog and you should be able to make your own decision with all the facts to help you.  The guidelines are available on the web, you can download a copy from my dog club website.


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