Spring’s warmer weather and longer days lead us to wanting more adventure. Before venturing out, many people have been careful to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But what precautions should we be taking for our dogs?
Diseases exist within the canine world that are very contagious- and sometimes deadly. How can you protect your dog and the health of other dogs? Here are some of the important vaccines you should be sure your dog has before they embark on fun spring outings.
Getting Your Dog Vaccinated Before Travel
No matter what, your dog should have at least a rabies vaccine. This is required by law and is the most deadly of animal-borne diseases out there. It is the most important vaccine your dog needs before traveling with you. In order to travel with your pet between states, you will need to acquire a health certificate from your vet no less than ten days prior to traveling.
All states require your dog to have an up to date rabies vaccine, tag, and certificate whether they are traveling or not, but some states will accept a rabies titer as a test for previous antibodies. In order to receive a travel certificate, your vet will perform a physical exam to make sure your dog is not ill. They will also administer any necessary vaccines and provide a renewed rabies tag.
There is often a small fee for obtaining the health certificate. Once signed, keep this form along with any other important documents you bring during your travels. Any law enforcement agent can ask for your dog’s travel certificate if you are over state lines. The consequences of not having one are not something you want to risk- they can actually take your pet! It’s worth taking the time to do this; plan ahead to get an appointment to make sure you aren’t having to squeeze it in at the last second!
What Vaccines Does My Dog Need Before Being Boarded?
If your dog is going to be around other dogs in close environments such as doggy daycare, grooming, or boarding facilities while you go on vacation, make sure they are up to date on their Bordetella and Influenza vaccines. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the bacteria most often responsible for kennel cough in dogs. The bacteria attacks the upper respiratory system, which then can lead your dog susceptible to secondary infections. It can be very contagious- dogs can’t cover their mouths when they sneeze! Symptoms of kennel cough include a strong “honking” cough, congestion, frequent sneezing, lethargy and loss of appetite.
Another vaccine to get if your dog is going to be around a lot of other dogs is the influenza vaccine. There are two strains of canine influenza, and vaccines are available for both; many influenza vaccines offered contain both strains. If your dog is ever showing respiratory symptoms, avoid bringing them to any facilities or places where other dogs are present. If you are going out of town and your dog seems to be getting ill, opt for an in-home sitter rather than a boarding facility.
Staying Safe at the Dog Park
While bordetella and influenza vaccines are considered “lifestyle” vaccines by most vets, the DAPP vaccine is also a core vaccine. Besides rabies, this is arguably the most important vaccine your dog can get. This vaccine is actually 4 vaccines in one. It protects against canine distemper virus, type 1 and 2 of canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus (different from the aforementioned canine influenza), and canine parvovirus.
These viruses are incredibly contagious, and parvo, distemper, and adenovirus are all extremely deadly. This is what makes it so important that your dog is protected before going to any outdoor area, especially if you plan on taking them to the dog park. Puppies are particularly susceptible to these diseases, which is why it is not suggested that puppies should ever go to the dog park before they have received all the necessary DAPP boosters, along with other vaccines.
Viruses spread through feces or other bodily fluids and can live on some surfaces and fabrics. Wild animals can also carry some of these viruses, and they can easily spread it to your dog. Just by being outside where other pets or wild animals have relieved themselves, your dog is at risk. No dog should have to suffer through any of these horrible viruses, and the best way to protect your pup from the danger that could come from another infected dog is to get them their DAPP vaccine.
Protection in the Great Outdoors
The great outdoors is calling, and it’s telling you to bring your dog camping! Camping is such a fun activity to share with your dog. But your dog isn’t the only critter you can find out in the forest or the mountains. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitos all come alive with the warmer weather, and all are vectors for disease. There are no direct vaccines against any diseases these bugs may carry, but you can give your dog preventative medication that kills and repels these insects.
There are topical, oral, and even collar treatments that all have their pros and cons, but regardless of what kind you choose, it’s important to make sure your dog is protected. Mosquitoes are possibly the scariest of these pests; they are the vector for heartworm, a parasite that can be passed to your dog through a mosquito bite. Heartworms live inside the heart valves and continue to multiply until they choke up the heart entirely. They are very deadly, and treatment is expensive and painful. Luckily there are heartworm preventatives available as well, in either an oral monthly pill or an injectable medication administered once every six months or one year.
Staying Safe During Water Activities
The beach, the lake, rivers and streams- so many options for spring and summer water fun! If your dog loves to be in the water with you, there’s a specific vaccine you want to make sure they have. Leptospirosis is a rare disease whose symptoms are difficult to pinpoint and can lead to serious complications. Testing takes time, and the disease can progress extremely rapidly if not treated right away. It is easily transmitted through fresh water sources, and even if your dog recovers, he can still be a carrier and pass it to other dogs.
The fact that many other mammals- including humans- can carry lepto makes it even more dangerous. In humans, Weil’s disease can cause flu-like symptoms and even organ failure in the kidneys and liver. Even city rats can pass the disease through their urine reaching sidewalk puddles your dog may drink from, so even if your dog isn’t a fan of the water, he could possibly still come into contact with lepto.
Speak with a Vet Today
If you have questions about what vaccinations are needed to keep your dog safe in the new season, Hello Ralphie’s online vets are here to help. You can book a quick online appointment to speak with an expert and feel prepared for the fun and adventure to come.