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      Tinsel Town Yorkshire Terriers




    Many canine diseases can now be prevented through vaccination and can greatly contribute to the good health and a longer lifespan for your dog.  Below are the most important diseases for which vaccines are currently available. Most veterinarians suggest beginning the vaccination series at 6 weeks of age. With the new vaccines available now, it should take three vaccinations spaced about 3 weeks apart to ensure vaccine success in most puppies. A convenient schedule is then 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age. While it may not be as necessary with the new vaccines, a cautious approach would be to vaccinate one more time at 16 weeks of age, too.  The reason for the repeated vaccinations on puppies is MATERNAL ANTIBODIES.


The biggest problem in protecting a puppy against this infection ironically stems from the natural mechanism of protection that has evolved. Puppies obtain their immunity from their mother’s first milk, the colostrum, on the first day of life. This special milk contains the mother’s antibodies and until these antibodies decrease to ineffective levels, they will protect the puppy.  The problem is that they will also inactivate vaccine.

Vaccine is a solution of inactivated virus, either live and weakened ( "modified") or killed. This virus is injected into the puppy. If there is still adequate maternal antibody present, this vaccine virus will be destroyed just as if it were a real infection. There will be a period of about a week when there is not enough maternal antibody to protect the puppy but too much to allow a vaccine to work. (This period is called the "window of vulnerability.") Then after this, vaccine can be effective. 

The next problem is the age at which vaccine can be effective is different for each individual puppy.  To get around this, we vaccinate puppies in a series, giving a vaccine every 3 to 4 weeks until age 12 to 16 weeks. By age 16 weeks, we can be certain that maternal antibodies are gone and the vaccine should be able to take effect. It should be recognized that some individuals, especially those of well vaccinated mothers, must be vaccinated out to 20 weeks unless a "high titer" vaccine is used.

After a puppy is born, maternal antibody levels drop by half approximately every 10 days.  Puppies that were born first or were more aggressive at nursing on the first day, will get more maternal antibody than their littermates. Mother dogs vaccinated at approximately the time of breeding will have the highest antibody levels to pass on to their puppies. The more maternal antibody a puppy has, the less likely a vaccine is to work.


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The term "high titer" refers to the amount of virus in the dose of vaccine and means that there is a great deal more virus than in the standard vaccines. When the puppy is vaccinated, maternal antibody binds the virus present. If a high titer vaccine is used, there is still virus left over after all the maternal antibody has been used up. This extra virus can then stimulate the puppy’s own immune system. High titer vaccines commonly produce full protection by age 12 weeks  although some vets recommend carrying vaccination out to age 16 weeks to be certain.  It should be noted that giving vaccine every 2 weeks (instead of every 3 to 4 weeks) will cause interference between the two vaccinations and neither can be expected to be effective. This includes giving vaccines for different infections. Vaccines should be spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.  It is commonly held that puppies need a certain number of vaccines for protection to be achieved (usually either 3 or 4 is the "magic" number). The number of vaccines given has nothing to do with protection. In order for protection to be achieved, vaccine must be given when it can penetrate maternal antibody.


The following vaccinations may be advised, depending on the circumstances in your area. They are often combined into a single injection containing several components. Since several combinations are marketed, it is possible to tailor the vaccination schedule for puppies and adult dogs to match their needs. I personally use a vaccine manufactured by Fort Dodge (Duramune Max 5 + Cvk) which includes Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parvo, Parainfluenza, and Corona .  In addition to this, my dogs receive an injection for Bordetella.  I do not like the nasal drops vaccine for Bordetella.  Unless a puppy is being shipped, I prefer to wait until it is five to six months old before getting it vaccinated for rabies.  The laws vary from state to state on when to vaccinate for rabies.  Wait until your puppy is older if at all possible.  I have had young puppies have bad reactions to the rabies vaccine.  I do not vaccinate my Yorkies for Leptospirosis, nor does my vet advise it.  I know of several Yorkies that have died from the Lepto vaccine.




Canine Distemper is a widespread often fatal disease.  All dogs should be vaccinated against distemper starting at six to nine weeks of age.  A Distemper vaccination is important for all puppies. This disease is still present in most areas, and it is still hard to treat successfully. Even when a puppy is nursed through the acute phase of the disease there can be long term health problems. The most common of these is a tendency to develop seizures. Distemper is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with eye and nose discharges from an infected dog.  The virus can be carried by air currents and inanimate objects, as well as bin urine and fecal material.  Distemper is seen most often in puppies three to six months old and is the primary killer of puppies.  It can affect dogs of any age, though.  Early signs resemble a severe cold.  Symptoms include:  squinting, congestion of the eyes, eye discharges, weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharges, poor appetite, and diarrhea.  Most dogs have a fever and a stuffy head. It is not uncommon for dogs to have some but not all signs associated with this disease.  Distemper is highly contagious.  Canine distemper virus is shed in all body secretions from infected animals. Dogs may spread the virus for several weeks during the illness and subsequent recovery period. The virus is not especially stable in the environment, probably lasting no more than a few weeks. It is susceptible to disinfectants, especially the quaternary ammonium compounds such as Rocca



             ADENOVIRUS TYPE 2        

This virus causes a form of kennel cough and the vaccine also cross protects against hepatitis in dogs. This is fortunate because there were more vaccine reactions using the hepatitis virus itself , even in a weakened state. While viral hepatitis is not as common as it once was in dogs, it has not been eliminated as a threat.  Hepatitis attacks the liver.  It is transmitted by contact with contaminated objects of urine saliva, or feces.  Symptoms include:  sometimes a whiteness or cloudiness of the eye.  Early signs of Adenovirus are similar to distemper.




Parvovirus is probably the most common viral illness of dogs at the present time. It is much more common in puppies than it is in adult dogs.  Parvo virus is highly a resistant virus that withstands extreme temperature changes and exposure to most disinfectants.  It can survive in the environment for many months.  The virus is transmitted by feces and bodily fluids and transported on the hair or feet of infected dogs.  It can be brought inside the home or kennel of the soles of your shoes, on your clothes, or on your hands.  Parvo attacks the intestinal tract, white blood cells, and heart muscle.  Symptoms include severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and high fever.  The diarrhea is particularly foul smelling and may be yellow in color.  Parvo can also cause congestive heart failure.  Infected puppies may act depressed, collapse gasping for breath, and death may follow immediately.  Death usually occurs within 48 to 72 hours after onset of symptoms.  Needless to say, it is highly contagious.

It can be very hard to successfully vaccinate a puppy for this disease because the antibody protection the puppy acquires from its mother can interfere with vaccination. It is important to vaccinate puppies every three to four weeks for this virus starting at 6 weeks of age and continuing until they are at least 16 weeks of age, and some vets prefer 20 weeks of age. It is possible that this vaccine confers lifelong immunity once it does work, but most veterinarians continue to recommend yearly vaccination for it. It seems prudent to at least get the revaccination at one year of age. Since it is combined with the other vaccines it is often easier just to give it yearly with them.  




Parainfluenza  is in almost all the combination vaccines even though it is probably only a minor contributor to the problem of tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) in dogs. Vaccine reactions to this virus seem rare.  Parainfluenza produces a mild respiratory tract infection.  It is transmitted through contact with nasal secretions.  Symptoms include:  fever, nasal discharge, and coughing.  It is usually mild and of short duration (6 days).  The incubation period is approximately nine days.



    CORONA  VIRUS        

Corona virus causes a moderate to severe disease involving the stomach and the intestines, mostly in young puppies.  It may cause viral diarrhea and may make fatality from parvovirus more likely if the infections occur concurrently. On the other hand, this virus causes minimal damage to the intestines and may not cause clinical illness on its own. It just depends on whose studies you believe.  Symptoms of Corona include diarrhea, vomiting, listlessness, depression, and loss of appetite.  Dogs can suffer for several days to several weeks, and it is highly contagious.




Bordetella is the most common cause of tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) in dogs. It is a bacterial illness that is most common among dogs that congregate at things like shows, kennels or other places frequented by large numbers of dogs at once. It does not appear that this bacterin gives a full year of immunity in many instances. For dogs that are often exposed to situations in which the infection is likely probably should be vaccinated twice a year. There are intranasal as well as injectable  bacterins available for this disease. The intra-nasal bacterin confers immunity more quickly but the injectable version may last longer.   Bordetella bronchiseptica is a respiratory tract infection.  Symptoms include harsh, nonproductive severe coughing which can last from one to four weeks.  The cough is stimulated by physical exercise or touching the throat area.  The disease is self-limiting unless pneumonia develops.




This is actually a bacterial disease, so the protective "vaccination" is actually a "bacterin". In many areas of the country, this disease is not common and the leptospirosis portion of the vaccine combinations is thought to be the most common cause of reactions. For this reason, many veterinarians no longer include it in their vaccination recommendations, IF they practice in an area in which it is not common. Your vet can tell you whether or not it is necessary in your area. 








In all states, rabies vaccinations are required by law. The first rabies vaccination is good for one year. In many states subsequent vaccinations are good for three years. In other states, they are only valid for one year by law. Please check with your vet to determine the legal requirements in your state. Vaccinating your pet for rabies may literally save its life for two reasons. Rabies is a threat in many areas, and it is a horrible disease. In addition, an unvaccinated pet who bites a human being, even by accident, is subject to long quarantine periods or even death for the purpose of testing for rabies infection. Don't risk your pet's life. Get its rabies vaccination.

Descriptions of rabies go back thousands of years as rabies has classically been one of the most feared infections of all time. It is caused by a rhabdovirus which is relatively unstable in the environment, requiring fresh contact with mucous membranes to establish infection. In most cases, disease is transmitted via bite wound.  Virus present in the infected animal's saliva enters the victim's tissues during the bite.  The average time between bite and detectable virus in the brain is 20-30 days. After the virus ultimately reaches the brain,  in two to three days more it is evident in all body secretions including the saliva. At this point, the disease becomes transmissible and symptoms begin.

FIRST STAGE -  (the first 1 and 1/2 days after symptoms have started) - A change in personality is noted. Friendly animals become shy etc. The larynx begins to spasm and a voice change may be noted (especially true in rabid cattle).

SECOND  STAGE - (Next 2-3 days) - Classically, this would be the "mad dog" stage. The animal has no fear and suffers from hallucinations. The larynx is paralyzed resulting in an inability to swallow thus drooling and "foaming at the mouth" result.

THIRD  STAGE  - (Next 2 days) - Weakness/paralysis sets in. The animal dies when the muscles which control breathing are paralyzed. It is from animals in this stage where most human exposure occurs. There is no treatment for animals or humans once clinical signs appear.

TRANSMISSION  -  The reservoir for this virus consists of wildlife species. Humans and domestic animals are not generally exposed unless conditions promoting contact with wildlife occur. In California, the chief reservoir species for rabies is the skunk. In other areas raccoons, bats, and foxes are also important. Rodents and birds are considered resistant. Transmission is usually achieved via bite wound; however, humans have been infected by inhaling aerosolized bat urine while visiting bat-infested caves.  Not every bite wound from a rabid animal is infectious. Whether or not infection sets in depends on how much saliva contacted the victim.


QUARANTINES WHEN TRAVELING TO ISLANDS - Great Britain, Hawaii, and several other island areas have successfully eradicated rabies from their territory. These places are EXTREMELY cautious about allowing potential carriers of rabies in. Because of the long incubation period of rabies, a very long quarantine is needed. In Hawaii, the quarantine period is 120 days in a facility on Oahu; however, recently an alternative procedure has been delineated by the local Hawaiian government. For listings of what each state requires for entry, the USDA has prepared a web site with the most recent regulations at:   For travel to another country it is best to check with that country's consulate



   LYME  DISEASE         

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism, Borrelia burgdorferi . It is carried by Ixodes species of ticks and may have other tick or insect carriers. It is more common in some areas of the United States than in others. Your vet can tell you whether it is necessary to protect against this disease in your area.

There is a new Lyme bacterin on the market  using recombinant gene techniques. This bacterin only uses a portion of the bacteria which the body defenses recognize and form antibodies against. Because the whole Lyme bacteria is not present, it appears that there will not be the problem of the vaccine causing symptoms of Lyme disease. In addition, this bacterin does have a validated one year duration of immunity. It is a new product and like all new products there is a period when everyone looks hard for previously unknown reactions but if "vaccination" against Lyme disease seems necessary in your area, you might want to consider using this one.




Giardia is a parasite that causes giardiasis which is the most frequently occurring protozoan water borne illness in North America.  Giardia is found in many different water sources, such as streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, puddles, swimming pools, and even in city drinking water.  The symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and poor weight gain despite normal appetite.  There is a relatively new vaccine out for aid in the prevention of disease and cyst shedding caused by the protozoan Giardia Lamblia.  It provides one year of  protection in healthy puppies eight weeks of age and older.  The shot is repeated in two to four weeks, and protection begins fourteen days after the second dose of the vaccine.   There are also  relatively inexpensive water filters available that will filter giardia out of your drinking water.  Humans can also contract Giardia from their drinking water. It is believed that Giardia can be transmitted from pets to humans.