Vaccinations provide important protection against serious diseases. In the past several years, however, new information has shown that certain vaccines may not need to be given every year. At Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, we discuss vaccines with you and suggest an alternate protocol based on your pets’ specific lifestyle and risk of exposure to certain bacteria and viruses. We will only administer and recommend vaccines that are specifically necessary for your pet and your lifestyle together.
What types of vaccinations do you offer for adult dogs?
The core vaccines that we use here at Westbridge are on a 3 or 4-year cycle. As an alternative, for certain vaccines such as Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus, titer testing is also available for any pet that has a history of any sensitivity towards its vaccines. Titer testing involves sending a blood sample from your pet to a specialized laboratory where they can measure the level of antibodies for specific pathogens, which can be reflective of their level of protection. Based on these levels, we may be able to more accurately determine if your pet requires additional vaccination.
We believe in minimal vaccination, and vaccinating for only what is appropriate for each individual, based on the intricacies of their lifestyle.
Is there a schedule for how often a dog should be vaccinated?
At Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, we follow Canine Vaccine Protocols that are based on the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) recommendations. This means we tailor the vaccine schedule to your pet, based on up to date scientific studies. There are “core” vaccines and “optional” vaccine recommendations.
DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) Although some current studies have demonstrated the possibility of some of the vaccines lasting over seven years, we are legally bound to follow the most recent up to date vaccine protocol recommendations as published by AAHA (the American Animal Hospital Association). We are now able to extend these recommendations by one year. Eventually, in time, we expect that the period between many of the core vaccines will be extended. As soon as these become proven and published recommendations, we will implement them into our hospital protocol. This is our commitment to providing your pet with the safest and most up to date care for their general health.
Initial series: For adults who have never been vaccinated, 2 doses are given, 3-4 weeks apart, then the booster is given every four years thereafter.
Rabies as dictated by Canadian law: The first vaccine is given at 14 weeks of age or later, then one year later, a booster is given, which will then be good for three years the Rabies booster is given every three years thereafter.
Leptospira and Bordetella vaccines are recommended for some dogs, based on the lifestyle of your pet. These vaccines use a “bacterin.” This means they have been shown to offer immunity for only up to one year. This is in stark contrast to the viral-based vaccines such as Rabies and DHPP that last much longer (see above).
For dogs that may be exposed to wildlife (especially raccoons or raccoon urine in water) or if the pets travel to certain endemic areas.
An initial series requires two doses 3-4 weeks apart (pups can be started at 12 weeks of age) Then, the booster must be given annually if the pet requires it. This vaccine is known to produce a slightly higher reaction rate compared to other core vaccines above. In partnership with you, the owner, we will only recommend this vaccine to patients who are at a higher risk of infection.
Bordetella (“Kennel Cough”)
This vaccination is recommended for dogs that will be coming into contact with other dogs of unknown vaccine history. NOTE: Some groomers and kennels insist on having this vaccine up to date before offering their services. It can be transmitted at off-leash parks, walking on the street, or in kennels, wherever there is direct contact with other dogs. It is given annually to be protective and is now given by mouth (much better tolerated than previous vaccines given in the nose). This vaccine is ideally given 1 week prior to exposure (i.e. boarding) and only lasts one year.
The technology now exists in both a reliable and cost-efficient form to test levels of antibodies for certain viruses that we vaccinate for. Blood tests can be done for parvovirus, distemper and Rabies to see if your pet has titre levels that are considered protective. If their levels are sufficient, vaccines may be postponed to a later date. It is important to note, however, that although we can do titer levels for Rabies, the Government of Canada still requires vaccination according to manufacturer labels, regardless of titre levels. If there is any incident of a dog bite to a human, there must be proof of Rabies vaccination of the pet to satisfy legal requirements.