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The Importance of Canine Vaccinations

At Sunridge Veterinary Clinic, we value the importance of your pets’ health. Annual exams and vaccinations offer protection against major diseases that dogs may be exposed to throughout their lives. They are designed to provide protection from disease and help your pet build an immune response to that disease in a safe and effective manner. Preventive health care goes a long way in prolonging the life of your pet.

dog picture

An annual physical exam can detect illness early and help maintain your pets’ health. The findings of the exam give us the necessary information to assess your dog’s health status. With this information, we can then recommend and make a treatment plan based on your individual pets’ needs. Problems can be found in even apparently healthy dogs and the best medicine is prevention. 


Merial Canada provides safe and quality vaccinations. We carry the Merial Recombitek family of canine vaccines that do not contain an adjuvant.  The Rabies vaccine is part of a program to help lost pets who have been registered be reunited at no cost to the owners. This program is called “Get Me Home” and is simple. All you need to do is register your pet’s rabies tag on their website. Merial offers a canine vaccine commitment. This is a guarantee that should your pet become clinically ill with a virus that was part of the vaccine at any time after the initial vaccine series, Merial will cover any costs related to treatment. This is offered to any pet that has received the initial puppy vaccines and receives an annual exam and boosters every year. Our recommended vaccinations include Distemper, Parvo, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Rabies. We also offer coronavirus vaccinations for puppies, a Lyme disease vaccine and a vaccine against Canine cough. Here are the core vaccines we recommend for your dogs and why:

  1. Rabies
    Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects all mammals including humans and it is incurable. This virus affects the central nervous system and causes inflammation in the brain. It is transmitted through bite wounds or contact with contaminated saliva. In Canada, the most common animals that transmit rabies are bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons. Some symptoms include restlessness, noise or light sensitivity, drooling, paralysis, violent movements, mania, and coma. If your pet is bitten, or you find them in contact with any of these animals, this is very serious and we want you to call us right away. Rabies vaccines are administered at 16 weeks of age and require a booster in a year. The vaccine will then protect your pet for 3 years.

  2. Distemper
    Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can be fatal. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. This virus is airborne and transmitted from infected animals that are shedding the virus through coughing and sneezing. Other symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Distemper cannot live in the environment for long but infected dogs can shed the virus for months. Treatment is supportive and symptomatic. Vaccination is the number one way to prevent distemper and it is often seen in unvaccinated animals. Vaccinations are recommended at 8, 12 and 16 weeks then annually thereafter.

  3. Canine Hepatitis
    This viral disease can affect the liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs. It can be a serious disease in young puppies that do not have a strong enough immune system. It is spread through the inhalation of infected aerosol particles from an infected dog. This is part of our core vaccine schedule and is prevented through vaccination. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing and loss of appetite. Treatment is supportive and symptomatic and can include cough suppressants and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection. Vaccinations are recommended at 8, 12 and 16 weeks then annually thereafter.

  4. Parainfluenza
    This viral disease affects the respiratory system and causes chronic respiratory disease. Symptoms include a dry hacking cough, loss of appetite and a runny nose. It can be serious when combined with other viral or bacterial infections, like a canine cough. It is spread quickly among dogs in kennel environments from the inhalation of viral particles from other coughing dogs. This can be prevented with vaccination and we recommend this be done at 8, 12 and 16 weeks then annually thereafter.

  5. Canine cough
    This is also known as kennel cough. It is an airborne virus that affects the respiratory system causing persistent cough, sneezing and retching. This virus can be contracted at boarding kennels, daycares, dog parks; any place where dogs can be in close contact with each other.

    Bordatella bronchiseptica is the most common bacterium in this respiratory complex. Treatment includes antibiotics and cough suppressants. We recommend vaccinations against this for at-risk pets every 6 months.

  6. Parvovirus
    This is a highly infectious virus that is potentially fatal. It affects the gastrointestinal tract and heart which can lead to shock and death. Parvo is extremely resistant in the environment and is contracted via contact and ingestion of infected feces. Clinical signs include severe lethargy, fever, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. It can become very expensive and recovery can be weeks long. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee all dogs who contract this virus will survive, even with quick and aggressive treatment. This virus is preventable. We recommend vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks then annually thereafter. Parvo is seen in the Okanagan and is very serious. Up-to-date vaccinations can help reduce the spread of the virus.

  7. Coronavirus
    This virus affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, specifically puppies. It is contagious and similar to Parvovirus but usually milder and less life-threatening. However, when paired with Parvovirus, it can be deadly and difficult to treat. It is spread through contact with infected blood, feces and vomit. It causes vomiting, diarrhea and fever. We vaccinate puppies against this virus at 8 and 12 weeks of age.

  8. Lyme Disease
    This is acquired through a bite from an infected tick. It can cause joint and kidney damage, fever and lethargy to name a few. The bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is found in deer ticks. Not all deer ticks have this therefore not all tick bites will result in disease. We have a number of options to help reduce the likelihood of your pet contracting this disease including an annual vaccination and tick prevention products that are applied directly onto their skin.

    Annual vaccinations are like an insurance policy for your pet. The cost of vaccination, on an annual basis, is much less expensive when compared to the treatment associated with the disease as many do not have a cure, we can only treat the symptoms.

Prevention is protection!

Annual up-to-date vaccinations protect your pet from unnecessary illness.

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