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Vaccinating Senior Dogs: A Guide to What Shots Are Necessary and When

Vaccinations are an essential part of preventive health care for canines. Every pet parent should understand vaccinations and how to protect their dogs from preventable diseases. Diseases such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus killed many dogs before the development of vaccinations. As with humans, the diseases are preventable when animals receive vaccinations on schedule.



How Vaccination Works


Vaccines help to guard against diseases by exposing the patient to certain disease-causing microorganisms. The microorganisms are modified or inactivated to ensure they do not cause the disease.

The body’s immune system reacts by building a defense against exposure in the future. If the pet comes into contact with disease-causing organisms, they are protected. You can work with your veterinarian to find the best way to protect your dog’s health. While they do not guarantee 100% protection, vaccines are vital for disease prevention.


Vaccinating Your Pet


Vaccinations help to prevent diseases, not treat sick dogs. Dog vaccines can be core or non-core. Core vaccines help to protect dogs from severe and contagious common illnesses. Rabies vaccinations are a legal requirement in most places.

There is no treatment for the fatal disease, so rabies prevention is essential. Veterinarians work to develop a vaccination schedule for each dog from when they are six to eight weeks old. Puppies receive booster shots in three- or four-week intervals.


Core vs. non-core Vaccines 


Experts recommend core vaccines for all dogs. They include rabies, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus-2. Animal experts do not recommend non-core vaccines for all pets.

Veterinarians consider the animal’s overall health, environment, age, and lifestyle when determining whether to give non-core vaccines. Examples are Bordetella bronchiseptica, Leptospira, the Canine Influenza Virus, Borrelia Burgdorferi, and the Canine Parainfluenza Virus.


Vaccinating Senior Dogs

Dogs are seniors when they are about 10 or 11 years old. Veterinarians recommend wellness visits twice a year to screen for age-related illnesses. Dogs must receive the rabies vaccine every three years.

Veterinarians administer other vaccines on a need basis. If the senior dog’s vaccination history is unknown, the veterinarian can schedule shots two to four weeks apart. The veterinarians will consider the dog’s breed when creating the schedule.


Scheduling Booster Shots


Adult dogs generally receive booster shots every one to three years, depending on the vaccine and the animal’s risk factors. Depending on your location and the vaccine used, your dog may require more frequent booster shots.

If you board your dog frequently or visit dog parks, your dog is more vulnerable to canine flu and kennel cough. Your veterinarians will recommend the best vaccine schedule for your dog. Vaccines have huge benefits, and failing to vaccinate your pet can have deadly consequences.

Most dogs do not exhibit vaccine side effects, but some experience mild allergic reactions. If you have concerns about your dog’s health and their need for vaccines, talk to your veterinarian. Avoid relying on misinformation from people who are against any form of vaccination. The benefits outweigh any risks.

For more information on vaccinating senior dogs, visit Greenwood Village Veterinary Clinic at our office in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Call (303) 771-6304 to book an appointment today.

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