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Vaccination Basics for Dog Owners

It’s Immunization Awareness Month—do you know all that you should about canine vaccinations? Below, a Rapid City veterinarian answers some of your most common questions regarding immunizations and your dog.

What Are Vaccinations, Anyway?

Vaccines contain antigens, which look like diseases to your dog’s immune system but don’t actually cause harm. The immune system is stimulated and creates antibodies to fight off the disease. This way, if and when the real disease ever invades your dog’s body, the systems will recognize it and be able to fight it off accordingly.

What Vaccines Does My Dog Need?

The vaccines considered necessary for all dogs are called core vaccines. These usually include the parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies vaccines. Depending on where you live, your dog’s health, and risks of certain exposure, your vet may recommend other core vaccines to keep your dog in good health.

Are Vaccines Legally Required?

Not all vaccines are legally required, but the rabies vaccine is a legal obligation in almost all areas due to its risk of human infection. Your best bet is to talk to your veterinarian to discover what’s legal and not in your area, and what vaccinations will best serve the health of your pet.

When Do Puppies Get Vaccinated?

Puppies will need their first set of vaccinations shortly after he’s been weaned from the mother’s milk, which usually occurs at about six or eight weeks of age. Vaccinations will continue in regular intervals until your puppy is about 16 weeks old. At this point, he’ll get on the regular adult-dog schedule for vaccines and re-vaccinations.

Are there Risks Involved?

Since vaccines mildly stimulate the immune system with what looks like a disease, there can be minor symptoms that result, such as soreness and fever. These are easily treated. In rare cases, some dogs can have allergic reactions to certain vaccinations. The chance is very small, though, and the benefit of vaccination far outweighs any risks.

Call your Rapid City vet’s office for more information on vaccines and your dog, and ask about the vaccination schedule your dog should be on.

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