Vaccinations for dogs, or canine vaccinations, are a relatively simple process that all dog owners should adhere to. These injections are one of the most common procedures performed by veterinary surgeons, and rarely have any complications, despite being subject to many misconceptions.

How do vaccinations for dogs work?

Vaccinations for canines work in the same way as all vaccinations; that is by stimulating the immune system to protect itself against disease or diseases. An antigen or infectious agents (basically a small sample of what would be a much larger body in the case of a disease, but not the disease itself) is introduced to the dog's system. The dog's body then produces antibodies to destroy the antigen, which then 'remember' if the disease appears again, and can therefore defend the dog.

Can dogs get sick or die from a vaccination?

Although traditional vaccinations were based around introducing the disease itself, nowadays vaccines don't usually transmit the disease. The dog should not get the disease from the vaccine, but he or she may have a reaction.

What kind of reactions could my dog have to a vaccine?

Many animals have a systemic reaction to vaccination. This is generally manifested in a low-grade fever or sometimes in muscular aches. Small or young dogs are more prone to this type of reaction, and it may affect their diet and sleeping patterns. Some dogs will suffer from a more severe reaction to vaccinations. The symptoms for this include hives, swollen face and sometimes vomiting.

What should I do if my dog has a reaction to vaccination?

If your dog has a reaction to his or her vaccination, don't panic. Phone your vet and explain the situation, because antihistamine usually alleviates symptoms. The leprospirosis vaccine is the most reactive, and in some cases can be left out of the vaccine. Never skip a vaccine because your dog has had a reaction, but be sure to warn your vet.

What is the difference between killed virus vaccines and modified-live types?

Every type of vaccine has a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Live vaccines that have been modified are stronger, last longer and provide faster protection. They also benefit from being cheaper. However, amongst weak dogs they can become active, and may include other side effects. Killed vaccines do not become diseases, but they may cause allergies, require more than one dose and future boosters. They also do not provide local immunity.

Can the health of my dog suffer from too many vaccines?

Not usually. Some experts think that modified-live vaccines have caused a greater range of diseases. Those who oppose this type of vaccination think that it overstimulates the immune system. The best way of administer vaccines, according to most vets and canine experts, is in a group, hence the most common five-in-one vaccines.

I don't want to risk hurting my dog by giving him or her a vaccine, is this stupid?

It's understandable, but the risks from developing a horrible disease like distemper are far greater.