In Australia, there's not a legal requirement to vaccinate your puppy, and puppy owners who choose not to vaccinate are often concerned about the potential side effects of vaccinations. All medications come with a list of potential side effects, but they have gone through rigorous testing to ensure their overall safety before being made available to the general public. Puppy vaccinations are considered safe and any risk is considered low when compared to the benefits on offer. If you're concerned about having your puppy vaccinated, your vet can provide you with research data showing the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. They can also provide data showing how often unvaccinated dogs die from diseases that are preventable by vaccinations. If you're on the fence about puppy vaccinations, look at some of the reasons you should vaccinate your puppy:
Puppies, like human children, have an underdeveloped immune system that is simply not strong enough to fight off many diseases on its own. It's true that your puppy's immune system will release antibodies in response to some of the diseases that can be vaccinated against, but the antibodies produced are not powerful enough to keep your puppy safe. Some people give their puppies natural or homeopathic treatments in a bid to boost their immune system, but there is currently no evidence that these treatments improve your puppy's chances of surviving if they contract a serious illness.
Boarding And Socialisation
Unvaccinated dogs cannot stay in boarding kennels or pet hotels as they are considered high-risk disease carriers and pet accommodation businesses have a duty of care to the other pets residing with them. This limits your options when you want to go on holiday without your puppy, and you may only be able to hire a pet sitter to stay in your own home with your puppy, which is a more expensive option than boarding kennels. Additionally, if you want your puppy to attend any socialisation, training or agility classes, or if you want them to attend a doggy day care facility, they will need an up-to-date vaccination card. Again, this is to ensure other dogs using these services are not at risk of exposure to disease from an unvaccinated dog.
The Reality Of Disease Development
It's easy to think that contracting a serious illness just won't happen to your puppy. You love your puppy and it can be unbearable to think of any harm coming to them, but vaccinations exist because there is a high death rate in puppies that contract the diseases that vaccines cover, such as parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis. When a puppy contracts one of these diseases, they suffer badly. They experience symptoms that include pain, rapid weight loss, joint degeneration, dehydration and organ failure, and these diseases are often fatal in puppies even if they receive veterinary care.
The first round of vaccinations is due when your puppy is six weeks old. However, if they are older than this, your vet can still put together an altered vaccination schedule for them. If you're still on the fence about having your dog vaccinated, discuss your concerns with your vet and contact puppy vaccination services. Their experience and access to research data can be invaluable to your decision-making process.