Some Veterinary info on VACCINATING YOUR PUPPIES

One of our members of the JHB Beagle Club is a vet, and has kindly written some articles regarding dogs’ health for us for the website…

I will be posting a new article once a week – so please keep a look out for it, have a read, and circulate to your animal loving friends 🙂





Protecting your best friend
One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he/she is vaccinated against common canine diseases. Your dog’s mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it’s up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinarian, to provide that protection.


  • There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases
  • No specific treatment for many of these and young puppies often die
  • Protect with vaccination
  • Ensure your dog gets a regular course of vaccinations as well as their regular boosters


How do vaccines work?

  • Under the skin / some given in the nose e.g. Kennel Cough
  • They work by ‘training’ the white blood cells to recognize and attack the viruses/bacteria that were in the vaccine
  • That should prevent infection with that bacteria/virus if the dog comes into contact with it again
  • ‘Live’ vaccines- the virus/bacteria has been altered so that it can’t cause the disease
  • ‘Killed’ vaccines have been killed by heat or chemicals
  • Live vaccines give better protection. Not all live vaccines can be given to pregnant animals


How do you know which vaccination your dog needs?

  • Age /background
  • Other pets
  • Urban or rural environment
  • Where do they live- wet, dry?
  • Will they go to kennels, shows, dog walks


  • In SA the ‘core’ vaccines given are distemper, parvovirus, infectious hepatitis, rabies and parainfluenza
  • Other vaccines available are for kennel cough, corona virus, leptospirosis, biliary


Some of the core diseases are the following:


Canine Parvovirus- Cat flu/ Katgriep

  • Small, very hardy virus.
  • Survives for years in the environment
  • Common in dogs not or incompletely vaccinated
  • Type 2a and 2b. Type 2c is overseas. In SA?
  • Transmission is through the mouth and nose following contact with faeces



  • Incubation period of parvo is 4-7 days
  • Severe enteritis
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Refusal of food and water
  • Abdominal pain
  • Profuse, smelly, bloody diarrhoea
  • Rapid and severe dehydration and death


  • No specific treatment





  • Highly infectious virus, related to measles
  • Can be mild to fatal
  • Less than 1 yr most effected.
  • Not fully vaccinated or with weakened immune systems
  • Infection by inhalation of aerosol droplets during dog-to-dog contact
  • Symptoms can take 3 weeks to show
  • Virus can be killed by most household disinfectants
  • Virus only survives for a few hours in the environment


  • Early signs are respiratory signs like cough, runny eyes and nose
  • Depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and subsequently diarrhoea
  • Neurological signs- twitches, seizures (fits)
  • Later stages thickening of pads and nose


  • Blood test may be done but will not always pick up the virus


  • No specific treatment




Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH)

  • Disease affects the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs
  • Develops quickly and may die within hours
  • Virus is hardy and can survive for months
  • Affected in first year, unvaccinated dogs affected at any age
  • Caused by canine adenovirus-1
  • Spread by direct contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces
  • Recovered dogs can be infectious to others for 6 months


  • Incubation period of 4-7 days
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pale gums
  • Conjuctivitis
  • Coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea
  • Jaundice
  • If survive can get clouding of the cornea (‘blue eye’)




Canine Tracheobronchitis (“Kennel Cough”)
Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory-tract infection is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come into contact with other dogs in such situations as obedience training, boarding at a kennel or even just playing in the park. Caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type II and Bordetella bronchiseptica, you’ll first notice its onset by your dog’s dry, hacking cough


Other Vaccinations

After evaluating your dog’s particular situation and risk factors, your veterinary surgeon may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:


Canine Coronavirus

This virus attacks the intestinal system and can be fatal to puppies. Symptoms may develop quickly and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite and depression.


Dogs with this disease can suffer liver and kidney damage that will need a long period of treatment if they are to fully recover. It is also a disease that can infect humans.




When should you vaccinate?

  • 1st vaccination at 6 weeks (it is important that you check that this has been done by a vet)
  • Booster 3 weeks later (9 weeks)
  • Again boost 3 weeks later (12 weeks). Rabies is given at 12 weeks too
  • Rabies boosted 1-9 months later (government regulation)
  • Revaccinate annually


Why do you have to repeat vaccinations?

  • At 6 weeks- may be maternal antibodies that interfere
  • Complete the immune development
  • Thereafter boosters are needed because they may not actively be exposed to the disease in the environment to keep the antibody ‘memory’ alive


Do vaccines always work?

Most vaccines now days are good but many factors are involved



  • Poor working immune system
  • Maternal antibodies
  • Age: very young/old
  • Stress
  • Incubating the disease
  • Debilitated/poor nutrition
  • Improper storage
  • Worms/ giardia
  • Disinfectants-needle/syringe
  • Vaccines not 100%
  • Wrong strain
  • Overwhelming exposure
  • Improper mixing
  • Exposure at time of vaccination
  • Steroids
  • Improper timing of vaccination



Vet advice on vaccination and a clinical exam are very important

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