Monday , 19 February 2018

Ask A Vet: Are Vaccinations Really Necessary?

Q: Could you explain why vaccinations for dogs are important? Are there any side effects of vaccines? If a dog wasn’t vaccinated as a puppy, can this have any consequences in it’s adult life? Is there any place in Montreal where the dogs can be vaccinated free of charge or at discounted rates? I would like to adopt a dog but can’t bear the high cost of vaccines.

A: Vaccinations are a critical component in the preventive care of any dog. Vaccines help prepare the immune system to fight off the attack of disease-causing organisms. If a dog is ever exposed to the real disease later on, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness. Most vaccines are given by injection under the skin although some may be given as a spray in your dog’s nose. They all work by training the white blood cells in the dog’s body to recognize and attack the viruses or bacteria contained in the vaccine. Most of the diseases that have a vaccine have no specific cure, and treatment can only support the animal in the hope that the immune system can fight off the disease.

There are many vaccinations available for dogs but not all dogs need all the vaccinations annually. Vaccines are classified as either “core” or “non-core”. In general, “core” vaccines are considered those that should be given routinely to dogs because of the highly infectious, widespread distribution and potential severity of the disease. “Non-core” vaccines are those for diseases which are less prevalent. The decision to use a “non-core” vaccine should be based on an assessment of the dog’s individual lifestyle and level of risk. Owners with dogs that travel frequently, go to daycare or enjoy swimming should consider non-core dog vaccines.

The vet ain't so bad! (Photo Credit: Jeff Marquis)

Vaccinations mildly stimulate an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. In most cases, dogs may feel tired or feverish for 24-48 hours after being vaccinated. In rare cases, your dog can develop facial swelling or anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction.)

Vaccines are part of the standard of care for pets to help them stay healthy. Unfortunately, Montreal has yet to set up any low cost veterinary clinic, a service that is so desperately needed, as this city has one the highest animal abandonment rates in all of North America. Regrettably, owning a dog can be very financially demanding. There are thousands of dogs put to sleep every year in Quebec and all over the country because the owners can no longer cannot afford to keep them. On top of this, there are hundreds of thousands of dogs that live miserable lives devoid of exercise, interaction, socialization, and basic housing needs because people do not realize the time, commitment, or expense involved in owning and properly caring for a dog.

A lot to think about before adopting a dog.


Dr. Lissa

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One comment

  1. Hello Dr. Lissa!

    Can you name a few “core” vaccines? My dog was given B-vitamins and one for Kennel cough, along with his annual rabies shot, deworming shot and parvo. I wasn’t sure which ones were necessary so I let my vet decide… now my dog is feverish and leathargic. 🙁 He hasn’t eaten for 48 hours now, and is only drinking water once in a while.

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