Vaccinations: Know what You’re
By Theresa Shea, editor
As a dog breeder, imagine yourself sitting down in
a #8220;vaccine#8221; restaurant.
When you open the menu to view
your choices of vaccines, you might be surprised at
the number of options before you. You could be further
shocked by a list of ingredients included in each
vaccine. When it comes time to order, which vaccines
will you select for your dogs, and how often will
you administer them?
Be selective when
deciding which vaccines to use and how often
to administer them to your dogs. Boston Terrier.
Credit: Isabelle Francais.
At a recent American Kennel Club and AKC Canine Health
Foundation Breeder Symposium at the North Carolina
State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Richard
Ford asked dozens of dog breeders these questions
and discussed canine vaccination protocols and what
he considers a need to revise them.
#8220;In the last decade, we#8217;ve seen a rapid proliferation of
companion animal vaccines introduced throughout the
world. In North America today, there are approximately
25 types of canine vaccines to select from,#8221; Ford said.
Ford, a professor of medicine at N.C. State, encouraged
breeders to find out as much as they could about the
exact ingredients in vaccines their dogs receive and
to consider how often their dogs need to receive them.
#8220;What should not occur is complacency
with respect to selection and administration of vaccine,#8221; Ford added. #8220;The objective, quite simply, is to
administer the most appropriate vaccines at the most
appropriate stage of life and to do so with the best
Some breeders get prescriptions from their veterinarians
and order vaccines to administer to their dogs themselves.
Others have their veterinarians administer the vaccinations.
#8220;I don#8217;t know where you get your vaccines.
You can get virtually any vaccine a vet can get and
can buy doses of vaccines in feed stores,#8221; Ford said. #8220;There#8217;s a thriving over-the-counter market,
but there are some problems. I want you to know what
you#8217;re getting. #8230;Don#8217;t just follow catalog advice.#8221;
#8220;Look in your fridge and see. Make
sure you know what you#8217;re using,#8221; Ford advised.
For example, there are numerous vaccines for kennel
cough (infectious tracheobronchitis).
#8220;What makes this really problematic
is that there are four kinds of injectible forms and
two kinds of intranasal forms,#8221; Ford said. #8220;Which do you use? Do you know? I
think you#8217;ve got to know.#8221;
While a quarter century ago the most common vaccines
had three viral antigens (distemper-hepatitis-leptospirosis),
the vaccines routinely administered annually to dogs
today have seven or more antigens, Ford explained.
#8220;Polyvalent (or #8216;mixed#8217;) vaccines are routinely administered
annually with seemingly little regard for the actual
risk of infection,#8221; Ford said. #8220;Depending on the vaccine antigen,
dogs are expected to derive protection that persists
for as little as a few months to as long as seven
or more years. Convenience, rather than science, appears
to be the driving force behind conventional recommendations
listed on vaccine labels (product inserts).#8221;
Ford explained that the vaccine
menu breeders have to choose from is divided into
three categories: CORE, Non-CORE, and Not Recommended.
CORE vaccines are those every dog should receive.
They include Distemper, recombinant Distemper, Parvovirus,
Adenovirus-2, and Rabies. Non-CORE vaccines are optional
vaccines, such as Parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica,
Lyme borreliosis, Leptospirosis, and Disptemper-Measles,
which breeders may wish to use based on known health
risks. Vaccines such as Coronavirus, Giardia Lamblia,
and Adenovirus-1 or the canine hepatitis vaccine are
Dr. Richard Ford urges
breeders to "know what you're getting
regarding canine vaccines."
Credit: Michael Mantini.
Most vaccine labels or package inserts recommend annual
#8220;With the exception of the rabies
vaccine, veterinarians are not legally bound to comply
with annual booster recommendations listed by vaccine
manufacturers on product inserts,#8221; Ford said. #8220;For virtually all of the vaccines
designated CORE, a minimum duration of immunity has
been reported to range from five to seven years. The
maximum duration of immunity has not been established.#8221;
Breeders should take into consideration their lifestyle,
geographic location, dogs#8217; age, and whether certain diseases
are prevalent where they live when deciding whether
to administer Non-CORE vaccinations to their dogs.
#8220;If you#8217;re living south of southern Virginia,
the odds of needing to vaccinate against Lyme disease
fall precipitously,#8221; Ford said.
Christine Weisse, a central North Carolina Labrador
Retriever breeder, uses a veterinarian to administer
vaccines to her dogs. Weisse discussed what she learned
about vaccination protocols at the breeders#8217; symposium with her veterinarian.
#8220;We gave our vet the information,
and we#8217;re definitely changing our way of
doing shots,#8221; Weisse said.
#8220;For our older dogs, we#8217;re just doing titers,#8221; said Weisse. (A titer may indicate
the standard strength of a dog#8217;s antibodies.) #8220;If their antibodies are high, we#8217;re just giving them the CORE shots.#8221;
#8220;Our younger dogs get the CORE shots,
Parvo, Distemper, Parainfluenza, and, of course, all
our dogs will get the rabies shot every three years,#8221; Weisse added.
You may visit Dr. Ford#8217;s vaccination web site that outlines
guidelines and protocols at www.dvmvac.com.
|| Ronald N. Rella, director,
Theresa Shea, editor | Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
| Joanne Beacon, designer
Customer Service | Phone: 919-233-9767 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© The American Kennel Club 2005