Puppy's Health Care
This article, compiled and written by Patty Mead, first
appeared in the April 1995 Vizsla-Letter, a newsletter of the
Northern California Vizsla Club. We will update this article
every-so-often so that it is kept current with the medical
information we have available to us. Keep in mind that, as with
all things in thiswebsite, check with your local vet before
trying anything that is recommended here -- your best bet is to
have a good relationship with a local vet and be sure to ask
questions regarding the issues we may raise.
Puppies are undeniably wonderful. Their outgoing natures bring
them closer to our heart as well as increases their exposure to
disease. Fortunately for your Vizsla puppy, vaccinations are
available to assist in the prevention of a majority of common dog
diseases. We all know that an 'ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure', but put another way, it costs less (in terms of
money, anxiety for you, and stress for your puppy) for a
vaccination than to treat the full blown disease. So vaccinate!
Although we stress the need to vaccinate, remember that
vaccinations help prevent, but do not cure, diseases. Vaccines
generally contain disease-causing viruses or bacteria that
have been chemically changed so they should not cause the full
blown disease. When your puppy is injected with a vaccine, their
own immune system should produce special substances called
antibodies that work against the viruses or bacteria that cause
diseases. These antibodies help destroy those viruses or bacteria
when the dog is later exposed the disease. Protection provided by
vaccines declines over time which is why re-vaccinating, along
with regular health checkups, are so crucial.
A nursing puppy receives antibodies from the bitch's milk (these
are called maternal antibodies). These antibodies protect
the puppies from disease during the first months of the puppy's
life. Unfortunately, these antibodies also keep vaccines from
being effective. That is why puppies are given a series of
vaccinations until they are 16 weeks of age or older. This way,
if maternal antibodies interfere with the early vaccinations,
later doses will still stimulate the puppy to produce its own
Your veterinarian will give you a list of the recommended
vaccinations and when to have them done. Factors the vet will
consider are the dog's age, overall health, need for diagnostic
tests, and evaluation of risk of exposure.
Rabies is a virus that all warm-blooded animals can become
infected with. Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks nerve
tissue. It develops slowly over 10 days to several months. Death
always occurs once a rabies-infected animals shows signs of the
disease. "Dumb Rabies" displays itself by dropping the
lower jaw, excessive drooling, and skittishness. "Furious
Rabies" exhibits unnatural aggression. In our area, most
rabies exists in wildlife (raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats) and
is transmitted by bites or saliva from infected animals.
Unvaccinated, your dog is at risk.
Distemper, hepatitis, and leptospirosis are easily
prevented by making sure your dog's vaccinations are current.
Generally one shot contains vaccines for all three of these
diseases. Canine distemper is widespread and up to 75% of
unprotected dogs develop the disease after exposure. Puppies
especially are susceptible and may die from it, so vaccinate! A
dog with canine distemper may have diarrhea, fever, respiratory
disease, seizures, muscular twitches, and a watery discharge from
the eyes and nose. Hepatitis can effect both adults and puppies.
Adults can survive and puppies often don't. The virus attacks
organs throughout the body producing fever, respiratory disease,
diarrhea, liver and eye damage, and changes in blood.
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that damage liver, kidney,
and other major organs. Other dogs (and humans) can pick up the
bacteria from the infected dog's urine.
Two common causes of diarrhea in dogs are canine parvovirus
and canine corona virus. Viral diarrhea is easily spread.
Adults generally survive but, in puppies with diarrhea, the loss
of fluids can easily be fatal. For puppies, several vaccinations
are required three to four weeks apart due to the presence of
Kennel cough is a stubborn respiratory infection that can
keep dogs coughing for weeks or months. It usually isn't fatal
unless pneumonia develops. But it can cause appetite loss, lack
of energy, and poor appearance. When the dog coughs, the
disease-causing organisms get into the air and can easily infect
other dogs. Animals frequenting dog shows, kennels, and
veterinary clinics are considered at higher risk for this
disease. Often you may find the breeder suggesting extra
vaccinations to protect the dog from this disease.
One final note. Dr. Linda Amezcua (with Linda Mar Veterinarian
Hospital, Pacifica California) generally discourages
owner-administered vaccines. When asked why, she listed the
In some cases, vaccines administered to an unhealthy animal may
be ineffective. Thus, if a qualified person administers the
vaccine, they would be able to tell if the dog is ill and should
not have the vaccine yet.
Correct timing, particularly for young animals, is essential for
vaccines to be effective.
The knowledge of the breeder may be great, but for the puppy
buyer it may be limited. Mistakes in vaccine choice and
administration may actually harm or, minimally, not protect the
dog. Written instructions do not adequately educate non-experts
about proper administration. Therefore, Dr. Amezcua suggested a
preference for a knowledgeable expert to make injections rather
than a nervous novice.
Further, some dogs may suffer allergic reactions to vaccines.
New, or even more experienced owners, may not be prepared to
handle such complications; they may, in effect, cause their
puppies to die.
After some review, we also found that some kennels and
veterinarian clinics will require your pet to be revaccinated if
you cannot prove a professional has administered the
vaccinations. After all, they are responsible for everyone in
their care. If you cannot show that your dog was properly
vaccinated, they may have little choice but to turn you away or
require further vaccinations.
Save yourself time, and in the long run, money. Properly
vaccinate your dogs and see that a professional administers the
vaccine. With shot clinics happening almost everywhere in the
country, the actual cost for vaccines is at an all time low.