A critical aspect of taking care of your dog’s health and wellbeing is vaccination.
Vaccination involves administration of a vaccine. A vaccine is a pharmaceutical product that triggers a biological, immune response in your pet and gives them the physiological tools to fight future infections from certain diseases should they occur. They prevent disease and also minimise the severity of other diseases.
Australia has one of the world’s lowest infectious disease profiles in dogs, yet outbreaks of some diseases do occur. The only way to ensure your dog’s health and wellbeing is to have him fully vaccinated.
As per current Australian Veterinary Association guidelines, canine vaccinations are split into two parts:
- Core Vaccine – C3 – against hepatitis, parvovirus, and distemper
- Non-Core Vaccines – against “canine cough” and this includes vaccines for Parainfluenza 2 virus and Bordetella bacteria.
Given together, these are referred to as the C5 vaccine, and this is the vaccination level recommended by veterinarians.
To understand what these vaccines protect against:
Hepatitis: this infectious disease inflames the liver and is caused by the canine adenovirus. It is often fatal to puppies and can make any dog very sick.
Parvovirus: this very contagious virus affects the gastrointestinal tract. It lives in contaminated dirt, soil, and dag faeces and is associated with parks, kennels, nature strips, and showgrounds. Dogs infected have fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, and they can often die quite quickly. Treatment following infection requires intensive care.
Distemper: this is a serious disease caused by a virus and results in fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. The dog may have a runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhoea and vomiting, and coughing. Dogs can go on to develop pneumonia, convulsions, paralysis, brain damage and death.
Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella Bacteria: together, these organisms cause Canine Cough, or Kennel Cough. It is very infectious and can debilitate a dog for many weeks or even months.
Australian Canine Vaccination Schedule
- Age 6-8 weeks: C3 (immunity takes at least one week to develop after the first vaccine administration).
- Age 12-14 weeks: C5
- Age 16-18 weeks: C3
- Annual Booster from age 15 months – C5
Side effects from vaccination are very rare and usually minimal.
Vaccination is critical. All dogs who attend dog day care, boarding facilities, and group dog walking must be fully vaccinated show proof of this prior to booking/enrolling. Additionally, even if your dog doesn’t actively mix with other dogs, it needs to be vaccinated on schedule. Canine diseases can be transmitted via the soles of your shoes; you can bring them home and infect your dog without ever interacting with another animal. Additionally, an isolated dog will likely not have as much inbuilt immunity as one that is out and about regularly.
By vaccinating your dog annually, your vet can also perform a general health and wellbeing check.