COLUMN: For the love of Fido

Vaccinating your Squamish dog is essential to its good health

These days, many in Squamish go to great lengths to keep their fur babies happy and healthy. There are goggles and lifejackets on dogs in the summer and coats on them in the fall and winter. Not to mention organic dog food and even doggy massage to maintain the family pooch's pep.

Ensuring a pet's vaccinations are up to date is essential to making sure Fido stays healthy.

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There is universal agreement among experts that vaccines have controlled and prevented infectious disease in millions of animals.

The veterinary community agrees all dogs should be vaccinated against diseases that are widespread, cause serious illness, and/or are highly contagious (termed "core" vaccines).

Other vaccines may be recommended based on the risk a particular disease poses to an individual dog (non-core vaccines).

Core vaccines for dogs

Canine distemper:

This virus disease causes respiratory, digestive, and nervous system signs in affected dogs and can be fatal in about half of unvaccinated dogs. The virus is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs.

Infectious canine hepatitis:

This disease is spread by infected urine. The virus may cause liver failure, eye damage, and respiratory problems. It can be fatal. Commonly encountered clinical signs are vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and occasionally, coughing.

Canine parvovirus:

The disease is both serious and widespread in dogs. Signs, which include severe vomiting and diarrhea that frequently contain blood, results from virus damage to the digestive tract lining. The disease spreads via infected feces.

Death is possible in as early as 48 to 72 hours; sudden death may also occur. This virus is very resistant in the environment and is easily carried around on people's shoes and other objects leading to virus transfer. For this reason, even indoor apartment dogs that never go outside require protection. Vaccination is the most effective protective strategy for all dogs, young and old.

Rabies:

All mammals including humans are at risk of contracting rabies. This disease is almost invariably fatal. Rabid dogs may display "dumb" rabies signs, characterized by listlessness, weakness, and paralysis, or the classic "furious" signs of rabies characterized by abnormal aggression.

Non-core vaccines for Dogs

Vaccines are available to protect individual dogs deemed to be at risk. Discuss these further with your veterinarian.

Bordetellosis or kennel cough:

A vaccine for Bordetella (a bacterial cause of kennel cough syndrome) is available. These bacteria cause respiratory signs such as coughing, nasal discharge, and fever. Serious infections can lead to pneumonia. Dogs in close contact with other dogs such as in dog parks, shelters, boarding and grooming facilities, dog shows, training classes, and other high-risk environments will benefit from vaccination for this disease.

Leptospirosis:

Signs of leptospirosis may include lethargy, fever, kidney and/or liver failure, sore muscles and joints, vomiting, and bleeding problems. Active infection may pose a real risk to the owner, as Leptospira organisms can infect people. Studies show that dogs without any clinical signs can shed bacteria in their urine and thus can transfer the bacteria to other people and dogs.

Borreliosis (Lyme disease):

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread via the bite of infected ticks.

Borrelia infections affect the kidneys, joints, and heart in dogs. While many dogs (90 to 95 per cent) do not develop clinical disease after infection, problems such as lethargy, fever, lameness, poor appetite, and swollen glands can occur in some dogs. Tick control remains the most important method to prevent infections.

Coronavirus:

Coronavirus infections cause mild and self-limiting disease in most young dogs. Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common clinical signs, though resolving within a few days. Vaccination may be considered for dogs in high-risk environments, such as dog shows, shelters, and kennels where outbreaks can occur.

***Editor's note: Jasdeep Grewal is a Veterinarian with Squamish’ Alpenlofts Veterinary Hospital

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