Proper vaccinations help keep your cost down

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With a lot of happenings in life, it’s normal that vaccination schedule of your dog may not always be at the top of your mind. But vaccinating your dog against common and life-threatening diseases gives him or her protection and possibly helps keep the cost of your medical bills down.

Most veterinarians recommend vaccinations for puppies to start between 6-8 weeks of age, but how often for vaccine boosters, e.g. whether yearly or every 3 years or above, what type of vaccines, vary depending on recommendations from individual veterinary professionals. The evaluation usually takes consideration of the dog’s health status, environment, lifestyle, age, travel habits and breed (e.g. Greyhounds are particularly sensitive to many drugs). For example, vaccinating a dog may not be ideal if he or she is too young, sick, prone to severe vaccine reactions, suffering from immune-mediated diseases, or not exposed to the disease in question. What you need to do is to make sure your veterinarian are well informed of as much the above information as possible.

There is controversy around which vaccines to give, under what circumstances to give and not to give, how long they last and what exactly they do to the body and immune system. We are not writing to argue for or against a particular practice or act as an expert on this subject, but aiming to provide you the basics for your food of thoughts so that dog parents feel less overwhelmed or intimidated to begin learning more about it.

Core vaccines:

Age Vaccine type Vaccine frequency
8 weeks 1st G6 (DHPPiL): Against Distemper (D), Infectious Hepatitis (H), Parvovirus (P), Parainfluenza (Pi), and basic Leptospirosis (L)
12 weeks 2nd G6 (DHPPiL booster)
16 weeks 3rd G6 (DHPPiL booster) Some veterinarians advise the booster every year after that, some suggest every 3 year for Distemper and Parvovirus. Please consult your vet.
Before 5 months Rabies: Required by HK Law. A microchip and dog license are also issued for your dog at the time of this vaccination. Close to 100% fatal if contracted. Every 3 years. It also serves as a renewal of your license.
Heartworm: Monthly oral tablet e.g. Heartgard, or topical drop applied to skin e.g. Revolution. Another option is an yearly injection.*If your dog is 6 months old or more and previously not on a preventive, he or she shall be tested (requiring a blood sample) to detect the presence of heartworm prior to using any preventative measure. Monthly for tablet or drop. Yearly for injection. Please consult your vet for details.

Non-core (optional) vaccines:

Vaccine type In what circumstances to consider whether or not to take a vaccine?
Kennel cough, a loose terms to describe a complex of respiratory infections. Dogs who have frequent contact with other dogs, especially in kennels, dog shows, events and other enclosed or poorly-ventilated areas are more prone to becoming infected, though the decease is rarely life-threatening but quite common. Some boarding kennels may require this vaccination.
Leptospirosis (the vaccine is called Leptovax 4 which covers 4 strains while the basic G6 DHPPiL generally covers only 2 strains) The effectiveness of this vaccine is debatable because leptospirosis has over 200 strains and vaccination against one form doesn’t provide protection against the others. The least debatable measure to avoid this disease is to never let your dog play or drink from running water anywhere in Hong Kong.

(In 2013, 10 dogs were reported infected with this bacteria after a swim or consumption of water near streams around the Peak, Pok Fu Lam and Sai Kung. Learn more about this on South China Morning Post)

If your dog shows a possible adverse reaction after a vaccine injection, including signs of fever, crankiness (expressed as biting or growling more than usual), loss of appetite, lethargy or redness, swelling around the injection site, please report to your vet immediately.

Sources: SPCA Hong Kong, American Heartworm Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), South China Morning Post on “pet owners warned of a fatal disease”

Hellodog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See more details here.

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