Learning more about vaccinations
Each month, we explain a few questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire.
Although ample evidence shows that vaccinating our dogs is important in the prevention of many diseases, veterinary medicine still has unanswered questions regarding vaccination schedules, vaccine efficacy, and duration of immunity. Collecting data from a large group of closely monitored dogs, such as Golden Retriever Lifetime Study participants, will help answer these lingering questions. Question #81 on the baseline veterinary questionnaire and Question #2 on page 78 of the three-year veterinary questionnaire ask some very detailed questions about vaccination.
Respiratory infectious diseases constitute one of the major reasons that vaccines are administered to dogs. Most of us don’t realize that the many vaccines protect our dogs against respiratory infections, which some studies suggest are one of the top reasons dogs are taken to their veterinarian. The data collected in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help establish incidence of these types of infections as well as possibly give us clues regarding the dynamics of these common infections. The role of vaccination in these outcomes is also an important objective for study.
One common respiratory virus we routinely vaccinate our dogs against is canine adenovirus – 2; this is the “A2” portion in the routinely given vaccine DA2PPV. Another common virus is canine parainfluenza virus, which is one of the “Ps” contained in the same vaccine. Although neither virus typically causes serious illness, when coupled with other viruses or bacteria they can become problematic.
Canine distemper virus infections usually start with respiratory signs. This is a very serious disease, but the good news is that vaccination has helped decrease the incidence of both the acute and chronic forms of disease. The “D” of DA2PPV is for distemper.
Canine influenza virus has caused major illnesses in dogs across the country. A vaccine for CIV is available, but it is considered a “lifestyle” vaccine, not a core vaccine. Some controversy exists regarding which dogs should be vaccinated. In addition, just like human flu virus, evidence suggests that the virus is starting to mutate, making the vaccine less effective. The current vaccine would not affect new virus strains, such as the one that caused a canine flu outbreak this past spring.
Bordatella bronchiseptica, often referred to as kennel cough, has been recognized for many years as a cause of upper respiratory problems in dogs. Several different vaccine products are available to protect dogs against B. bronchiseptica infection.
Important newly recognized viruses also play a role in respiratory diseases in dogs. These include canine respiratory coronavirus and canine pneumovirus. Researchers are studying the behavior of these viruses, and how they interact with other common canine respiratory tract pathogens.
Making vaccination decisions should be done in consultation with your family veterinarian. Lifestyle, overall health status, and housing situation are all elements that factor into deciding which product is appropriate. Morris Animal Foundation supports numerous studies that are looking to develop new vaccinations, as well as inform current vaccination practices and products. In the longer term, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help shed light on the role of vaccination on health and well-being for all dogs.