by Dr. Ron Harrison, DVM
People often ask “Why should I vaccinate my dog?” Current vaccinations prevent the following diseases: Rabies, Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Corona virus and Bordetella.
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of all warm blooded animals, including humans. Rabies is transmitted by saliva, which is usually transferred by a bite from an infected animal. The disease is frequently found in wild animals such as skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats.
Once infected, the disease is fatal. Prior to death, clinical signs may include a change in behavior (e.g. increased aggressiveness or increased shyness), dilation of the pupils, excess salivation, snapping at the air, a shifting gait, and facial twitching.
As the virus can be transmitted to humans, no stray dog, cat or wild animal should ever be approached. Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Your dog should be kept on its own property or leashed when off its property. To help prevent raccoon rabies, it is recommended that you cap chimneys, close up any holes in attics or outbuildings, and make sure that stored garbage does not act as a food source.
Vaccination is important to safeguard your dog from rabies. Most states require dogs to have rabies vaccinations.
Canine adenovirus type 2
Canine adenovirus is related to the hepatitis virus and is one of the causes of infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. Vaccination against adenovirus-2 will not prevent infection from this virus but limits its severity so the chance of secondary bacterial infection and complications occurring is minimized. In most cases of kennel cough, the disease is multifaceted and will include a combination of bacterial and viral agents.
Distemper is a serious viral disease affecting primarily young, unvaccinated dogs. Clinical signs may include a yellowish or greenish discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, increased body temperature, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nervous system disorder (twitching of a limb, seizures, etc.), and hardening of the foot pads.
Distemper is a highly contagious disease. All body excretions and secretions (discharges from the eyes or nose, vomitus, diarrhea, urine) may carry the infection. The virus can also be carried by air currents, and on inanimate objects such as food bowls.
Prevention of this disease is extremely important, as distemper is often fatal. Even if a dog survives the disease, distemper can permanently damage the dog’s nervous system, sense of smell, sight and sound. Vaccination has been shown to prevent the disease.
These are just a couple reasons Dr. Harrison gives for vaccinating your dog. To find out the rest, refer to page 44 of our March issue.