Vaccinating to Build Strong Defenses

Vaccinating to Build Strong Defenses

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Vaccines are products designed to trigger protective immune responses and prepare the immune system to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines stimulate the immune system’s production of antibodies that identify and destroy disease-causing organisms that enter the body. Vaccines provide immunity against one or several diseases that can lessen the severity or prevent certain diseases altogether. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccinations within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Vaccinations protect your pet from highly contagious and deadly diseases and can improve your pet’s overall quality of life. Most vaccinations should be repeated again in 3-4 weeks if it is the first time a dog has been vaccinated against a particular disease, and given up to 21 days to build the fullest immunity. Optimally a dog should be titer tested before vaccinating to determine if it needs help to build a stronger defense, and if so, it should be vaccinated again towards that particular disease to stimulate the immune system to build a stronger defense towards it.

For most pets, vaccination is effective in preventing future disease and only rarely will a vaccinated pet have insufficient immunity to fight off the disease. The first dose of a vaccine serves to prime the animal’s immune system against the virus or bacteria while subsequent doses help further stimulate the immune system to produce the important antibodies needed to protect an animal from diseases. Many vaccinations provide adequate immunity when administered every few years, while others require more frequent schedules to maintain an acceptable level of immunity that will continually protect your pet. Bordetella is one of these. Many factors are taken into consideration when establishing a pet’s vaccination plan. You and your veterinarian should discuss and tailor a program of vaccinations and preventive health care that will help your pet maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection. You can discuss and encourage with your veterinarian to vaccinate your dog optimally throughout its life from puppyhood to build a strong immunity.

Brief Overview of Canine Cough

Infectious tracheobronchitis is an inflammation of the mucus membrane of the trachea and bronchi, which causes canine cough, an upper-respiratory illness that is similar to a chest cold in humans. There are at least forty agents that are capable of causing canine cough. The most common organisms associated with Canine Cough are the bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica and two viruses called Parainfluenza virus and Adenovirus. Bordetella or any combination thereof is most often passed on through the air. The incubation period of the disease is roughly 3-10 days and an infected pet may be contagious for three weeks after showing the first signs of illness and up to 2 weeks before showing any clinical symptoms. The main symptom is a hacking cough that can sound like a goose honk, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, which can last from a few days to several weeks. Although the cough is very annoying, it does not usually develop into anything more serious; however, just as a common cold, it can lower the dog’s resistance to other diseases making it susceptible to secondary infections, so the dog must be observed closely to avoid complications. Canine cough can be an especially serious problem for puppies and geriatric dogs whose immune systems may be weaker.

Just as in the case of the common cold, canine cough is not “cured” but must run its course; however, any dog displaying signs of a secondary infection should see a veterinarian. Many times an antibiotic will be prescribed as a precaution and sometimes cough suppressants will be used to reduce excessive coughing. Canine cough, just like flu and cold season, is often seasonal. It usually occurs in spring and late fall.

How is it Transmitted?

Airborne organisms are carried in the air by microscopic water vapor and dust particles. The particles, if inhaled, by a susceptible dog, may attach to the lining of the trachea and upper airways. These organisms are easily spread when infected dogs sneeze, bark, cough, or even drool. Some dogs are carriers and can spread the infection for months while not showing any signs. These “carriers” are a source of infection to other dogs. Contact can also occur through hands and clothing. This virus can be present at dog shows, pet stores, your veterinarians office, and even in your own backyard.

Why are the Chances of Catching it Greater in a Kennel?

A dog encounters two conditions in boarding facilities that do not typically occur at home: 1) they are with a number of potentially contagious dogs 2) the stress and excitement of a less familiar environment, both of which can result in lowered resistance to disease. The more frequently a dog visits the kennel, the greater the chance the dog will gain immunity to the disease. Even during a widespread outbreak, only a small percentage of exposed dogs are affected.

How is it Treated?

Many dogs that contract canine cough will display minor signs of coughing that may last 7-10 days and will not require any medication. The majority of dogs will continue to eat and play except for the annoying, dry, non-productive cough.

The dog should be kept warm in an isolated area with good ventilation. It should be free of drafts. The dog can also be put in a steam filled room or use a cold mist vaporizer several times a day. It is important to keep the dog quiet; any excessive barking may irritate the trachea even more. In some cases the dog may develop a secondary infection. The dog may run a fever, not eat, will have a thick yellow or green nasal discharge, and wheezing. The dog with a weak or a compromised immune system may develop secondary health problems like pneumonia which will require immediate veterinary care.

How Can I Protect My Dog?

There are three types of vaccines for canine cough; intranasal, injectable, and oral. Some dogs will develop mild symptoms similar to canine cough when given this vaccine. The symptoms will last for several days and the dog will not require medical treatment, but they can also spread it to other dogs. This is the main reason your dog should not be around other dogs after receiving the vaccine. The downfall with these vaccines is that they have a short duration. High risk dogs should be vaccinated twice a year. A high risk dog would be one that goes to the kennel, grooming shop, daycare, dog park, or is involved in group training classes. Dogs that have been properly vaccinated with Bordetella, Parainfluenza, and Adenovirus can still contract the disease, but the symptoms are usually not as severe and do not last as long. If you plan to board your dog or protect it from exposure, remember to vaccinate at least 10 days, and optimally 21 days to potential exposure to allow full protective immunity to build up. Five days prior just gives a dog a start and only a base line of immunity.

The Importance of Vaccinations and Why Does Misty Pines Require Bordetella every 6 Months?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, for complete canine cough protection, they recommend Intranasal Intra-Trac ll ADT for dogs that are going to be boarded. Some dogs have very compromised immune systems, most notably under the stressors of being in a novelty environment with numbers of dogs. Immunity of Bordetella vaccine has a short duration and has not been scientifically proven to be effective for a full year. The efficacy of the vaccine is anywhere from six to nine months based on various researches. Since we have implemented this policy in 2007, we have seen a substantial decrease in dogs that have developed canine cough while at our facility. Those that have developed it have seemed to have had a shorter duration with milder symptoms and have recovered quickly.

DA2PPC or DHLPP is a multivalent vaccine for dogs that protects against the viruses indicated: D for Distemper, A2 for canine adenovirus Type 2 which offers cross protection to adenovirus type 1, P for canine parvovirus, P for parainfluenza, and L for leptospirosis, H for infectious canine hepatitis which is another name for adenovirus type 1. H is sometimes uses instead of A. In DA2PPC, the C indicates canine coronavirus.

This vaccine is given to puppies at 8 weeks of age, followed by 12 weeks of age, and then 16 weeks of age. This vaccine is given again at 1 year of age and then annually, or every 3 years. Some veterinarians recommended vaccine schedules that may differ from this. DA2PPC does not include Bordetella, but the combination of Bordetella with the DA2PPC helps to prevent canine cough by minimizing the contraction of adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella.
Be aware that vaccinating with just the bordetella vaccine alone (contains only the Bordetella agent) may not be fully protective because of the other infectious agents that are involved with producing the disease. Some of the other agents such as Parainfluenza and Adenovirus are part of the routine multivalent vaccinations generally given yearly to dogs.

The intra-nasal Bordetella vaccine may produce immunity slightly faster than the injectable vaccine if the dog has never been previously vaccinated for bordetella.

It is generally assumed that the intranasal route of inoculation works the fastest in getting protective levels of immunity established. However, studies have indicated that in dogs that have been previously immunized by either the intranasal or injectable route and that have some level of immunity already present, vaccination by the injectable route actually boosts immunity faster than the intranasal route.

When the injectable vaccine is given as an annual booster (to boost any immune levels already present) the maximum effects of the vaccine will be achieved after five days of the vaccination.

So when should the intranasal route be utilized? Some veterinarians suggest that it be used only in unvaccinated dogs and in young pups receiving their first vaccination. In these unvaccinated animals the first immunization would be via the intranasal route and then an additional inoculation by the injectable route are given. Then yearly injectable inoculations are given to enhance the protective levels of immunity.

Intranasal vaccines create localized immunity that greatly reduces the incidence of clinical signs and illness.

Dogs that are vaccinated can also shed the virus and cause other dogs to become mildly infected and show mild signs. This shedding usually lasts less than 72 hours. In addition, it takes up to four days after vaccination for dogs to develop protection. When you combine these facts, you will see why it is strongly recommend that a dog not be given intranasal vaccine within 72 hours of coming into contact with other susceptible dogs. Do not give the vaccine the day before a dog show, boarding, etc. Try to give at least four days before contact with other dogs and preferably seven days. This way you will help to protect your dog from becoming infected by other dogs, and help protect those dogs from becoming infected by yours. Discuss and encourage your veterinarian to vaccinate your dog optimally throughout its life to build the strongest immunity to this common canine cough.

An End Note…

It is impossible for us to tell when there might be a dog at Misty Pines that has been exposed to canine cough prior to their arrival. An infected dog may not show visible signs of infection until up to 10 days after being exposed. We are continually making strong efforts to avoid an outbreak in our facility by requiring biannual Bordetella vaccinations, extensive cleaning and disinfecting procedures in our facility, and public awareness about the causes of Canine Cough. While we make every effort to prevent the occurrence of Canine Cough in our kennel, we are unable to give 100% assurance that someone’s dog will not bring it to our facility. This is the same assurance that a teacher can’t give you when your child goes to school and catches a cold or the flu from another student. If Misty Pines detects a coughing dog that is boarding we immediately isolate it into our quarantine room and inform your emergency contact. Misty Pines has dogs that live in our facility 24/7. These dogs are vaccinated to our Misty Pines protocols and they have never been ill with canine cough due to their strong immune system against it.

References:

Journal of The American Veterinary Medical Association
Dr. Foster and Smith Educational Staff
The Merck Veterinary Manual


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