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Booster vaccine for dogs: explained

White samoyed getting a booster vaccine advice
© Shutterstock

You want your beloved pooch to live a long, happy and healthy life. So is the booster vaccine for dogs necessary? Here’s everything you need to know.

By Alice Lang

Your dog is your best friend, a valued family member, a loyal companion, a fearless protector and the ultimate cuddle monster. They bring so much love and joy to your life, that you only want to do the best for them in return.

So when it comes to booster vaccine for dogs, things can get confusing. It’s a heavily debated topic. Some believe dog booster vaccinations are dangerous, while others are certain the benefits outweigh any risks. Let’s take a look at dog vaccinations and find out whether they’re really necessary.

What is a dog vaccination?

We’ve already established how much you love your dog. If they fell ill with a life-threatening disease such as hepatitis, parvovirus, kennel cough or distemper, there’s a high chance that they’d die. Often, there’s no cure available, and medication to ease symptoms can only provide limited help.

Dog vaccination protects your pooch against these horrible diseases. While levels of serious dog diseases in the UK are extremely low, that’s all because of vaccinations!

During your dog’s vaccination, a small amount of altered disease is injected into your pup’s body. This triggers their immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the disease. Therefore, if they were to come into contact with the disease in the future, their immune system would already know how to produce the correct antibodies. This means your pooch would be able to fight it off with ease.

What is a booster vaccine for dogs?

Vaccinations are important, but the downside is that immunity doesn’t necessarily last forever. Most vets will recommend a booster vaccine for dogs, to boost immunity and ensure a good level of protection against deadly diseases. Some diseases require annual boosters, but others might not need a booster for 3+ years. 

Dog booster vaccinations: are they necessary?

In recent years, dog booster vaccines have become a heavily debated topic. Some holistic vets have come to believe that repeated vaccinations aren’t actually necessary and that in some cases, immunity may last for life. They also believe that repeat vaccinations could have a negative effect on the dog’s immune system.

On the flipside, many vets believe that while there are risks involved in booster vaccinations, the benefits outweigh these risks by far. After all, booster vaccinations have helped to save countless dog lives. Plus, the majority of dogs who receive booster vaccinations do not experience any negative health effects.
And some fall right in the middle. They believe that booster vaccinations for dogs are necessary, but they may not be needed quite so often.
The necessity of booster vaccines for dogs also depends on how healthy your pup is at the time, their medical history, age, lifestyle and what the risk of disease is in the local area. Make sure you discuss these factors with your vet.

Side effects of booster vaccines for dogs

It’s important to consider the risks involved, with your vet, before giving your dog a booster vaccine. This is particularly important for dogs who are elderly or have existing medical conditions. 
Dog and puppy vaccinations and booster vaccinations do come with some side-effects, which may include:

  • Mild fever
  • Mild diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Paw or facial swelling
  • Swelling around the vaccination site

These side-effects are usually mild and your dog will recover naturally, without medical assistance. It’s best to have a couple of days recovery time planned immediately after a booster vaccination.

However, a more serious side-effect called an anaphylactic shock, is sometimes (though rarely) seen after a booster vaccine for dogs. The symptoms include:

  • Sudden vomiting & diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Facial swelling
  • Bumps or hives on the body
  • Collapse
  • Coma

If you think your dog is suffering from an anaphylactic shock, treat the situation as an emergency - get them to the vet immediately.