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  • Writer's pictureSteve San Miguel Zamorano

Dog Vaccination 101

March 17, 2021

Many of the serious diseases of dogs can be prevented by vaccination. With over 50 million pet dogs in the United States alone, your pet is bound to come in contact with an infectious disease at some time. Even if you always keep your pet indoors, your dog can be exposed to viruses carried in the air, in the dust, or on clothing. Vaccination is inexpensive protection against costly treatment or even premature death of your dog.


Distemper is one of the two most important diseases of dogs. It is very widespread, and nearly every dog will be exposed to distemper within the first year of life in our area. Signs include coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, fever, and discharges from the eyes and/or nose. “Squinting” of the eyes is often the first sign observed. Once the virus enters the nervous system, convulsions, twitches, or partial paralysis become evident. It is spread through all body secretions and is highly contagious. It is usually fatal.


Since its devastating worldwide appearance in 1978, most dog owners have heard of parvo. It is transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog’s feces. A dog that recovers from the disease remains a “carrier” spreading the virus in its bowel movements for 1 to 3 months. Signs include vomiting, fever, depression, and diarrhea, which often will contain large amounts of blood. There is another form where the virus attacks the heart muscle causing a heart attack and death. The younger the pet, the GREATER the chance of death. The death rate is very high in dogs under 4 to 6 months of age.

Dogs remain susceptible to Parvovirus infection until two WEEKS AFTER THE LAST INJECTION in the vaccination series. This is the MOST SERIOUS and FATAL disease we see today.


Canine hepatitis affects the dog’s liver. Spread through an infected dog’s urine, exposure can mean anything from a mild infection to death. Puppies are at the most risk with this disease. Vaccination has controlled this disease for several years, making it rarely seen by the veterinarian today.


“Lepto” is a bacterial infection that affects the dog’s kidneys. It can reside as a low-level infection for months or years, infecting other dogs while weakening your pet. It is controlled by vaccination.


Technically known as “tracheobronchitis,” it is an upper respiratory infection with the major sign being a persistent, dry, hacking cough. It often lasts several weeks and is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. It is caused by several viruses and bacteria, which are included in the vaccinations.


Coronavirus is an intestinal infection resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, and depression. It is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS and can be FATAL. Research shows it often co-exists with “Parvo” at the same time in many dogs.


Rabies is a FATAL INFECTION of the nervous system that attacks all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Rabies has become synonymous with the image of a vicious dog. Rabies is a public health hazard and a personal risk to all pet owners. Many states require vaccination against rabies, and most veterinarians recommend vaccination for all dogs and cats, regardless of state law. Rabies can be transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Even dogs kept indoors can come in contact with a rabies carrier in a basement, garage, or attic. Because there is no cure for rabies, vaccination is your pet’s only protection


 Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus are all available in one injection. A series of injections are required to develop the high level of immunity required in our area. Bordetella Bronchitis and Rabies must be given as separate injections.

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