Understanding Canine Vaccines


Some very important vaccines are the following:

Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus


D: Distemper:

  • It may affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic systems in the body.
  • Transmitted through contact with mucous and watery secretions discharged from the eyes and noses of infected dogs. It can also be transmitted by contact with urine and other bodily fluids of infected dogs; so it is possible for dogs to become infected without coming into direct contact with an infected dog.
  • Canine distemper is now most commonly seen in young, unvaccinated or immune-compromised dogs.
  • More than 50 percent of dogs that contract the disease die from it.
  • Distemper can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system, leaving the dog with partial or total paralysis or seizures.


  • The first signs may include discharge from the nose and eyes, mild cough and lethargy
  • As disease progresses :
  • Depression
  • Anorexia; Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Lack of coordination
  • Involuntary muscle tremors
  • Paralysis or weakness
  • Blindness
  • Hardening of footpads
  • Discolouring and pitting of the teeth of growing dogs


  • There is no treatment available that kills the virus once it infects the dog.
  • Dogs with distemper may need to be hospitalized and on IV fluids.
  • Can only treat symptomatically.



H: Hepatitis:

  • Ingestion of urine, feces, or saliva of infected dogs is the main route of infection.
  • Liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs are the main target organs. Chronic kidney lesions and corneal clouding (“blue eye”) result from immune-complex reactions after recovery from acute or subclinical disease.
  • Some dogs die within hours of showing symptoms.


  • Signs vary from slight fever to death
  • Anorexia
  • Increased thirst
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Serious discharge from eyes and nose
  • Occasionally abdominal pain and vomiting
  • Poor clotting time
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Bloody gums


  • There is no cure for canine Hepatitis.
  • A broad-spectrum antibiotic should be given.
  • Blood transfusions may be necessary in severely ill dogs.


P: Parainfluenza:

  • A highly contagious respiratory disease that is frequently confused with kennel cough.
  • The disease can progress to pneumonia in puppies or chronic bronchitis in older dogs.
  • The virus is transmitted through contact with nasal secretions of dogs that are infected.


  • An unproductive, but persistent cough
  • Runny nasal discharge
  • Trouble breathing
  • Listless and lethargic


  • Broad-spectrum bactericidal antimicrobial.
  • IV fluids to treat dehydration if needed.


P: Parvovirus:

  • Viral particles passed in the feces of an infected animal.
  • A very hardy virus that is stable when frozen, and capable of surviving for at least several months under dark, cool, and moist conditions.
  • Can survive up to 4 years in the environment.
  • Death is very common with this highly contagious virus.


  • Perfuse diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Fever


  • Intense, round the clock nursing on IV fluids.
  • Force feeding.
  • Deworming may help kill any pre-existing intestinal parasites causing diarrhea.


Other important vaccines are:


  • A dangerous, potentially fatal bacterial disease of dogs and many other species (ex. raccoons).
  • The organism attacks the liver, kidneys or both; severely compromising the affected organs and making the patient extremely ill.
  • Leptospirosis can be transmitted from canine to human!


  • Fever
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in urine
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Shaking or other issues related to the nervous system
  • Jaundice


  • Antibiotics such as penicillin can be effective against the bacteria.
  • Hospitalization and IV fluids.
  • Force feeding if necessary.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

(Kennel Cough)

  • Highly contagious airborne virus.
  • Attacks the upper airway and is most commonly found in highly populated dog areas such as boarding facilities and dog parks.


  • Hoking or hacking cough, gagging and retching
  • Runny nose and sometimes sneezing


  • Cough suppressants.
  • Anti-inflammatories.


  • A viral disease that can infect all warm-blooded animals including humans.
  • Contracted by bite or scratch from an infected animal.
  • Rabies has been recognized and described since 2300 BC.
  • Incubation period between a bite from an infected animal and the appearance of symptoms can vary from ten days to one year or longer.
  • Death usually occurs within ten days from the first signs.
  • Rabies can only be diagnosed by direct examinations of the brain.
  • It is not possible to diagnose this disease in a living animal.


  • Following a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, the disease progresses in stages.
  • First stage – marked change in temperament; quiet animals become agitated and can become aggressive, while extroverts become nervous or shy.
  • Second stage – known as “furious rabies” – becomes increasingly nervous, irritable and vicious. Muscle spasms will often prevent swallowing and there is excessive drooling of saliva.
  • Third Stage – known as “paralytic stage” – usually occurs after seven days. Ultimately the animal will become comatose and die.


  • There is no treatment for Rabies.
  • If an animal is suspected to have rabies, it has to be kept in isolation to prevent escape and injuring someone else.
  • Your veterinarian is required by law to notify the animal disease regulatory authorities.


**Vaccines are very effective in preventing all of these diseases**


Written by CCR Kylie