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Val Caron Animal Hospital

3055 Highway 69 N
Val Caron, ON P3N 1R8


Canine Vaccines

A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. Canine vaccines are an essential part of preventing disease in puppies and adult dogs. They help protect your pet against common infectious disease that can be very  serious and sometimes life threatening. Animal vaccines are also important from a public health point of view. For example, some diseases can affect people and by vaccinating your pet against these diseases, you are also protecting you and your family.

Puppies require a series of vaccines to provide adequate protection. This is due to maternal antibodies. When puppies are born to an animal who has been routinely vaccinated, natural antibodies are transferred in the milk to newborn puppies. This provides a short period of protection for the growing puppy. This protection is only temporary and this immunity decreases over time. Therefore it is important for puppies to have a series of vaccines to provide protection after the natural immunity has decreased.

Vaccines can be divided into core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are highly recommended for all dogs, if not required by law (Rabies in most Public Health Units in Ontario). Non-core vaccines are recommended to animals that are at a higher risk for exposure to a disease. This is based on what diseases are more prevalent in certain geographical regions or based on an animals' risk of being exposed. For example, an animal being boarded at a kennel or visiting places where there is a large group of dogs are more at risk for a respiratory disease commonly referred to as "canine cough".

Core vaccines

Rabies Virus Vaccine

Rabies is a serious viral disease that can be fatal in wildlife, pets and humans. The rabies virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. It can also be transmitted if infected saliva comes into contact with any open skin wound. The rabies virus attacks the nervous system and animals will be restless, nervous, irritable, aggressive and may lose their fear of humans. They may snap at imaginary objects, bite their cage and may have an exaggerated response to sound and light. Animals may have difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hoarse vocalization and a dropped jaw. They can become uncoordinated, have seizures, become comatose, and will eventually die due to paralysis of the nerves that control muscles responsible for breathing. Once an animal has shown clinical signs, death occurs within 7 days. For the majority of public health units in Ontario, it is legally required to have your dog and cat vaccinated against the rabies virus. Vaccinating pets has been effective in reducing the prevalence of rabies in pets and therefore decreasing the incidence of rabies in humans.

Canine Parvovirus Vaccine

Canine parvovirus infection is a serious cause of vomiting and diarrhea and can be life threatening. The parvovirus is effective at infecting rapidly dividing cells including intestinal cells, bone marrow cells, lymphatic cells and fetal cells. Infected dogs may not show any clinical signs or will show gastrointestinal signs. These signs include a sudden onset of lethargy (animal may be more quiet or tired than normal), reduced or absent appetite, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Often the diarrhea may contain mucus or blood. The virus can be life threatening as severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to fluid loss, dehydration, shock and then death. In addition, when the gastrointestinal cells are infected, the natural intestinal barrier is lost. When the barrier is lost, bacteria can invade the body, and result in septic death.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or indirectly with objects including the environment that have been contaminated with feces of an infected animal.

Canine Distemper Vaccine

Canine distemper is a serious viral disease that affects the mucous membranes, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and the brain. Symptoms of the disease include fever, decreased appetite, ocular and nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, skin disease and even seizures. The virus is spread through the air and can enter the body through the nose or mouth. It can also be spread by direct dog to dog contact.

Canine Adenovirus Vaccine

There are two strains of canine adenovirus, referred to as CAV 1 and CAV2. Symptoms of canine adenovirus type 1 infection can include fever, lethargy, abdomimal pain, decreased appetite, vomiting and cloudy eyes. Infection with CAV1 can lead to a life threatening infection of the liver. Most dogs with mild infections will recover but death is possible in severe infections. Infection with canine adenovirus type 2 can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal signs. CAV2 is one of the causes of canine infectious tracheobronchitis also known as canine cough. This will be discussed in further detail.

Canine Parainfluenza Virus

Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious virus that causes upper respiratory infections. Although the virus does not usually cause serious illness, it will affect your dogs' immunity and therefore your dog may acquire other secondary viral or bacterial infections.

Non-Core Vaccines

Canine Cough or Bordetella Vaccine

Canine cough is a highly contagious disease caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and sometimes viruses including Canine Adenovirus Type 2. Infection results in infectious tracheobronchitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the respiratory system. In most cases, it causes mild upper respiratory signs such as gagging and coughing. In severe cases, infection can lead to secondary infections causing pneumonia. Transmission is through direct inhalation of the bacteria and sometime virus in the air by a coughing dog. Dogs are more likely to be infected when visiting areas that are crowded and have poor air circulation. In order to have your dog boarded, most facilities require the canine cough vaccine.