Vizsladogs, Ltd.
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 antibodies.

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 maternal antibodies.

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 following reasons:

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.

Vizsladogs, Ltd.
5-21-95 © 1995 - 2006
Last updated 02