Since I was a child my dad always told me I couldn`t have a dog because of how expensive they are. We did eventually get one but it wasn`t until I became self sufficient with 5 dogs and a baby of my own that I realized exactly how expensive they can be.
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While it is possible to keep a dog perfectly healthy without ever taking them to a vet, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do in todays society. The most costly part of keeping them healthy other than food and getting them spayed or neutered, is vaccinating. We often overlook the vaccines because by the time we get the dog, the puppy vaccines are usually already taken care of.
Dog owners usually plan the expenses beforehand, because you have gas, the office visit fee, and then the shot fee, so usually around 40-50 bucks per dog, every single year after the puppy shots. Its so easy to shrug them off an assume you can keep your dog safe, but you can`t.
If you live in an area like I do, with backyard breeders and puppymills, dog fighting rings and poorer people, it really hits you when you realize exactly how dangerous it is not to vaccinate your dogs. Parvo can live in your yard for up to 7 years, it can be carried on the breeze, on birds or squirrels or stray cats, raccoons, or any wild animal really. you can pick it up on your shoe and track it into the house.
I never even knew dog Hepatitus existed until my Pit mix lost a litter of surprise puppies because of it and almost died in emergency surgery.
While the arguement can be made that it isn`t natural to inject a dead thing into a live thing, I personally don`t mind taking the risk because it means my dog can live with me longer and not die a horrible death.
That all being said, if you`re still with me, there is a simple and cheap way to make sure you get your fur babies vaccinated now. Most feed stores such as Tractor Supply or our local one Futrals, offer both a 5 way or 7 way at home vaccination kit for about 6 dollars!
The 5 way vaccinates against Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza.
While the 7 way does all that plus 2 strains of Leptospirosis.
Each kit is kept refrigerated and contained 2 vials and a sealed brand new needle. One vial is a liquid and the other is a dehydrated vaccine "cake" Instructions are printed on the back.
It helps to watch a few videos of how to do it yourself at home to calm oneself. Also looking up side effects and reactions will help keep you from panicing if something goes a little bit wrong.
Vaccinating your dog is very easy, just open the needle and remove the cap covering the sharp tip. Pop the tip through the lid of the vial containing the liquid just about a CM and pull back on the plunger to remove the liquid. The contents are under pressure so be sure to keep a firm grip on the needle as it does tend to shoot the liquid back into the vial if you let go lol.
Once the liquid is removed, inject it into the vial with the "cake" and shake it until it is smooth. Some bubbles will form naturally.
Before giving the vaccine some owners choose to give some medication such as childrens benadryl to their dogs, to help with the itching and to combat the small fever that the vaccine causes. Some searching online can provide you with the correct dose, or a call to the vet but they will most likely just urge you to bring the dog in and pay all those fees of course.
The 5 and 7 way shots are usually either Subcutaneous (meaning right under the skin) or Intramuscular (into the muscle, like the flu shot)
Most commonly the shot is given in the flap of skin at the base of the neck but you can also use the skin behind the legs or the thigh muscles. If you can, have a friend or loved one hold the dog still and inject the vaccine yourself. Make sure you get all the way through the skin if you choose that method, sometimes the vaccine can get injected too shallow into the skin and end up caught between that layers. This causes a "doggy bruise" that looks like a balloon under the skin, it is somewhat painful and can be cause for alarm if it has not gone down after a week or if the dog stops eating, drinking and expelling waste.
It is expected that the dog will get a bit sleepy, irritable, and develop a tiny fever, just like with a child getting shots at the Dr.`s office. They may be skittish around you at first because they weren`t expecting you to do this to them lol, but don`t be discouraged, it may just be lifesaving to do these things at home and save the dog the anxiety of sitting in a waiting room with other dogs they don`t know.