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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 shotfor your dog or puppy, and that's rabies. The rabies vaccineshould be given when the puppy is twelve to sixteen weeksold, and then another one year later. Following, he'll needjust one every three years. At around eight to sixteen weeksof age, the puppy's natural immunity from its mother's milkhas worn off and it becomes at risk to a number ofenvironmental hazards. For an older dog (above one yearold), follow the same regimen as for a puppy. Be sure thatyou have proof that your dog or puppy has had his requiredrabies shot.

There is another shot recommended by many veterinarians,especially for puppies. This shot is often referred to as thefive-in-one as the shot contains vaccines for Distemper,Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Para influenza and Parvo, knownofficially as DHLP-P or CORONA. For puppies, the firstshot is given at six weeks, another at nine weeks, a third attwelve weeks, a fourth at sixteen weeks and once a yearfollowing. For older dogs, the shots can be administeredonce, then again after three weeks and once a year thereafter.Some veterinarians will also recommend shots againstBordetella, although this vaccine has been shown, in certainstudies, to only last from six to eleven months, and hardlyever past one-year. It can be given to puppies as early asthree weeks of age and to older dogs every year.

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

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

It should be mentioned that some veterinarians out there,keen on alternative medicine for your dog, believe thatvaccinations should be avoided at all costs. It has beenshown that repeated vaccinations might actually weaken theimmune system to the disease it's trying to prevent. There isalso speculation that vaccinations, when combined, mayactually cause an animal to have a higher chance of gettingone of the diseases he is being vaccinated against. Your bestbet is to ask a veterinarian you trust. Bring up the issues thatconcern you. Do research. A good option, if you do decideto vaccinate, is to keep a calendar or doggy passport thatdocuments 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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