Many dog owners, including owners of Labrador retrievers, are immersed in a debate over whether to vaccinate their dogs annually. How much do they help? Do they compromise a dog’s immune system? Which vaccinations are necessary, and are the boosters really needed?
When it comes to immunizing your Labrador, the short answer is yes. Your dog should be fully immunized, beginning when he is a puppy.
Puppy and Dog Vaccination Schedule Chart
There’s no question that dogs can catch diseases. There are several scary dog illnesses, but many are covered by vaccinations. Immunization begins when the dog is a puppy.
For your puppy’s protection, he should not be in contact with other dogs until he has had his full course of vaccines. You can take him places, and train him to walk on a leash. But in facilities where there are lots of other dogs, such as pet stores, it is better to keep him in your shopping cart or carry him so that his feet don’t touch the floor.
Should You Vaccinate Your Labrador?
If your Labrador is an adult dog, you might want to check his medical history, if you can. If it’s not available, you should check with your veterinarian for advice on a course of vaccinations for him.
If you have a puppy, he should be immunized. His first puppy shot, also known as the DHLPP, is given when he is about six or eight weeks of age, or older. Over the following weeks, your puppy should do two, three, or more boosters, depending on his individual needs.
The Cost of Vaccinations
Depending on location, the price of vaccines varies. Other factors include the type of vaccine, the age of the dog, and the type of veterinary facility.
Typically, the cost to vaccinate your Lab puppy can range from $20 to $200. This is without extra fees such as the price of a general exam, which might be anywhere from $30 to $50. To immunize your adult Labrador, you could pay from $60 to $100 every year.
If you visit a humane organization or low-cost clinic, you may be able to get a discount on your dog’s vaccinations. Some facilities run special. There are combination vaccines, which will be discounted and more cost-effective than doing them separately. This does not include Rabies, which is always an individual shot.
Some owners like to give their own vaccinations. It will save some expense, but the shot has to be given the right way, and the vaccine provided by a reputable source.
The vaccinations that make up the DHLPP include:
What is Distemper and the Symptoms
Distemper is volatile, highly contagious, often fatal, and the virus is found worldwide. Contact with wild animals poses a risk of distemper. It tends to be most common in foxes and coyotes, raccoons and skunks. But, it can also affect pet ferrets. Symptoms include:
- Coughing, sneezing
- Runny eyes or nose
Fortunately, the distemper vaccination is extremely effective. Your puppy should be kept away from other animals until the vaccination boosters are all finished. Until the puppy has his vaccinations, you must take reasonable precautions to protect him. Since viruses can be transferred through his paws, keep him out of areas where there may be unvaccinated dogs or wild animals.
What is Hepatitis and the Symptoms
Like distemper, Hepatitis is another hard-hitting virus. It can manifest in liver disease. The signs of hepatitis include:
- Decrease in appetite
- Increased thirst
- Yellow skin coloration, especially in ears and gums
What is Leptospirosis and it’s symptoms
Leptospirosis – also known as Well’s disease – is a bacterial infection. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Kidney failure
Unlike the viruses, leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, but it must be caught early.
Parainfluenza and it’s symptoms
Traditionally the first “P” in the DHLPP mix, Parainfluenza is like a bad case of the flu. It manifests in coughing, sneezing, and upper respiratory issues. It is often linked to Bordetella, otherwise known as kennel cough.
Parvovirus And It’s Symptoms
Parvo has a special affinity for waging war on puppies. It causes a vicious cycle of diarrhea and vomiting that renders the victim dehydrated and lethargic. Many puppies, and adult dogs with weakened immune systems die from it.
Once your Labrador pup has completed his DHLPP, your veterinarian will usually recommend a couple of other vaccinations. These include:
Heartworm And Its Symptoms
True to its name, Heartworm consists of wormy parasites that attack your dog’s internal organs. Mosquitoes carry the larvae. When they bite your dog the heartworm larva spreads.
The heartworm preventative is administered puppies beginning at the age of twelve weeks. Dogs over seven months old, who have never been treated, should be tested for heartworm first (very important). During the months when mosquitos are most active, the preventative is administered every four weeks. Other dog owners choose to give it year-round.
Bordetella And It’s Symptoms
Bordetella is otherwise known as kennel cough. It consists of a persistent hacking cough that can go on for weeks. It is extremely contagious, although rarely leads to greater complications. It is passed between dogs and can be prevalent at dog parks. The Bordetella vaccine is administered in a nasal drip.
Lyme Disease And it’s Symptoms
The commonly known tick-borne disease is also called borreliosis. When a tick bites your dog, the disease is passed in bacteria. In a person, the tick bite will often leave a mark on the skin. But in a dog, this is more difficult to detect. Symptoms of Lyme disease may show up in your dog when he stops eating and develops a limp. His lymph nodes may become swollen.
The disease is very serious and can inflict damage on his internal organs. When treated with antibiotics, the infection may be controlled. But, it may flare up again later after months or even years with no activity.
Rabies And Symptoms
Most people immediately equate rabies to the disease that heralded the demise of that famous yellow Lab mix in the movie, “Ol’ Yeller.” The film is accurate in the neurological devastation of the Rabies virus. It can cause hallucinations and excessive salivation. It is spread through the saliva of an infected animal.
Most states mandate a vaccination, as the disease is known to be almost universally fatal. There is a treatment, but it requires a series of painful shots. Depending on geographic location, the Rabies vaccine is administered annually or every third year.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?
These days, many dog owners are opting to run titers on their dogs, to check the antibodies in the blood, rather than automatically pursuing additional injections. If the antibodies are present, the dog is pronounced immune and is not given another shot.
Many owners feel that the initial shots given in the first year will provide sufficient protection through the dog’s lifetime.
As an educated owner, you can make an informed decision based on what is best for your Labrador retriever. Health issues are worth investigating and discussing with your veterinarian. The teamwork involved is the best way to ensure a good quality of life for your loyal Lab.