Dog Vaccines: What Are Recommended?
Protecting and ensuring the health of your four-legged puppy is a priority for any family that has decided to adopt a dog, and many believe that this is done through vaccinations and that it is a legal obligation.
However, this information is very widespread, but it is false. In fact, there are no mandatory vaccinations under the law in Italy in the sense that, if the owner does not perform them, there is no administrative penalty or other. On the contrary, there are some mandatory prophylaxis if we decide to travel abroad with our four-legged friend.
Let’s go, however, in order: let’s see why some vaccines for dogs are wrongly considered mandatory, how to behave in case of travel abroad and what constraints actually places the Italian law for owners.
There Are No Mandatory Vaccines, But Recommended
As anticipated, therefore, the Italian law does not provide that there are mandatory vaccines for dogs within its borders. However, in line with the international guidelines promoted by the Vaccination Guidance Group (VGG) of the World Small Animals Veterinary Association, there is a group of vaccines defined as “core” that all dogs and all cats, regardless of where they live in the world, should perform.
The aim is twofold: on the one hand, in fact, it has been found that, especially among the stray dog population and the one living in kennels, there are pockets of infection and that in recent years there has been a decline in vaccinations, probably associated with economic reasons; on the other hand, it is believed that a winning strategy to protect the largest number of dogs and cats is to focus on ‘population immunity’, or increase the percentage of animals vaccinated in a given area to reduce the prevalence of a disease.
But what are the vaccines defined as ‘core’ and therefore recommended by veterinarians in Italy?
Dog Vaccines: Which Are Those Recommended?
The association of veterinarians has identified three diseases that by gravity and effect are considered dangerous to the point that, to prevent them, the optimal solution lies in vaccination.
Let’s see more specifically what kind of pathologies they are, why it is important to protect our animal friends and how to do it.
Parvovirosis, The Dangerous Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis
The vaccine against parvovirosis is useful to prevent the contagion of a rather serious disease, haemorrhagic gastroenteritis. It is usually proposed when the puppies are about 8 weeks old, in rare cases and always on the instructions of the vet even in the most adult dog. In general, some calls are necessary after a variable time.
Vaccine Against Distemper, Measles Of Dogs
This second vaccine usually recommended by veterinarians to protect the health of dogs is the one against the distemper, a disease that affects the respiratory, nervous and gastrointestinal systems. In the most serious cases it can also lead to the death of the animals.
It is usually given to weaned puppies or, alternatively, to adults who spend a long time in the company of other animals, bearing in mind that, even in this case, calls are needed to ensure that the coverage is effective.
Antidote To Infectious Hepatitis
Adenovirus type 1 causes a disease that is very dangerous for dogs: if recognised too late it can lead to the death of our pet and the only possible form of prevention is the vaccine. It is administered from 3 months of age of the puppy, in fact the period within the first year of life is the one during which dogs are exposed to a higher risk.
The Calendar Of Vaccinations Of The Dog
We have seen, therefore, that although there are no vaccines required by law, for some very serious diseases this is the only strategy to protect the health of our four-legged friends. It is therefore very important to plan with your vet the vaccination protocol of the dog, from the first 6/8 weeks of age up to about 16 and, the call to follow about 12 months later: in this way we are in fact protecting our puppy for a period, called DOI (duration of immunity), of at least three years.
In fact, the VGG guidelines point out that the duration of immunity is many years and the veterinarian can verify it by performing an antibody test during the regular annual inspection. From this point of view, it is therefore crucial not to miss this type of appointment because it is precisely on this occasion that we can ensure that the health of our dog is not at risk.
Following a protocol, the veterinarian will evaluate the specific case of our dog, and will prepare a real calendar of vaccinations. In general, there is a general indication of the timing that is followed in normal cases:
- 6/8 weeks: in this phase vaccines are administered against parvovirosis, distemper and, if necessary, parainfluenza.
- After 21 days from this first vaccine, one must be carried out that includes infectious hepatitis, parvovirosis, distemper, leptospirosis and parainfluenza, repeated after another three weeks.
- When the puppy is 4 months old, the rabies vaccine can be used, in cases where it is necessary, as we will see in the following paragraph.
- Every year, then, we must not miss the appointment with the call of the pentavalent, that is, of the valid one against five pathologies, and every 3 years that for the parvovirosis, the distemper, the parainfluenza and the hepatitis.
The Travelling Dog: Rabies Vaccine
If, as we have ascertained, there are no compulsory vaccines for dogs that reside permanently in Italy with their families, the issue is different for those who want to go abroad with their pet.
In fact, one of the objectives of the One Health Committee of the WSAVA and the World Organisation for Animal Health is to eliminate canine rabies by 2030. With this in mind, the obligation to vaccinate against this disease has been introduced: the reference is to Annex III of EU Regulation 576 of 2013.
There are some exceptions to this requirement: as specified on the website of the Ministry of Health, each EU country can authorize the introduction into its territory of puppies from other member countries under the age of 12 weeks and not vaccinated against rabies. To find out where this possibility exists, it is necessary to consult the “Young Animals” section of the website of the European Commission which summarizes, in constant update, the position of all EU countries.
In addition to the anti-rabies vaccination, the owner who is going to travel with his dog must pay attention to how to transport the animal and to all the health regulations required in the country of destination and in any ports of call. Also at European level, the Delegated Regulation (EU) 1152/2011 also regulates treatments against Echinococcus multilocularis, a parasite that can be transmitted from the dog to humans and therefore considered dangerous.
Likewise, we must not forget that the travelling dog must be provided with a passport, issued by the local health authority at the request of the owner only if the pet is registered in the canine registry office. The document must contain:
- Personal data.
- List of all vaccinations carried out by the animal.
- Medical examinations.
- Possible treatments against echinococcus multilocularis (currently required for Finland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta and Norway).
The identification of the animal can take place, within the European Union, even through a tattoo, only if affixed before July 3, 2011, or through the microchip, introduced throughout Italy following the agreement State Regions of 24 January 2013.
The Costs Of Vaccinations
One concern shared by many dog owners when it comes to vaccines is the cost. They vary from region to region and from veterinarian to veterinarian, however on average they can start from 20 Euros up to about 50. An economic sacrifice that, however, is certainly repaid by the security of protecting the health of our pet.
In conclusion, therefore, it should be stressed that there are no vaccines in Italy of dogs required by law. On the contrary, there are constraints such as the anti-rabies vaccine for those who want to travel with their pet and the obligation to register and identify the animal through the microchip. Some vaccines can sometimes be defined as “mandatory” from a medical point of view because the scientific evidence confirms that this is the most effective strategy to protect the health of your dog.
For this reason, you can not ignore a visit and constant discussion with your vet who will advise and follow the owner during all the steps necessary to ensure the good health of the dog. In this regard, it should not be the costs of visits or vaccines to discourage us: a solution is that proposed by UniSalute which offers a specific insurance policy for pets, Doctor Pet, which provides free of charge the annual visit in case of injury or illness, discounted benefits at affiliated centers that guarantee a saving of up to 30% compared to normal rates and a specific consulting service that allows the owner to put his doubts directly to a veterinarian. In this way you will have the opportunity to enjoy the health of your dog, in Italy and abroad, especially after clarifying what we mean by vaccines “mandatory” for dogs. Did you know all the rules in this regard?