Ensuring that your dog gets his annual booster vaccinations is just as important now as it was when he was a pup—possibly even more so. That's because older dogs may have weakened immune systems, which may make them less resistant to disease. As a result, senior dogs may not be able to fight off infections as easily as they could when they were younger.
What's more, regular appointments for booster shots also provide an opportunity for your vet to give your senior dog a thorough examination and assess his overall health.
A lifetime of immunization
Over the course of his life, your dog will most likely have been immunized against canine diseases such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, infectious hepatitis, and distemper. In addition, all states require dogs to have rabies vaccinations. In many states, this important vaccination is required every three years.
If your dog spends a lot of time around other dogs or outdoors, it's especially important that you keep your dog's vaccinations up-to-date. Likewise, if you ever need to put your dog into a kennel, you will likely need to produce documentation proving that your dog is current on his shots. And if you plan on taking your dog traveling in another country, you will need to get information on the vaccinations required for that country. Each country is different, however most will require that your dog be vaccinated against rabies.
A dissenting opinion
Some veterinarians believe that senior dogs may not need annual vaccinations. In their opinion, older dogs are already benefiting from a lifetime of immunizations and, at this point in the dog's life, a decreased vaccination protocol may be a better course of action. In these cases, blood tests to check for immunity against these diseases can determine the best vaccination protocol for each dog.
If you have any questions regarding your senior dog's health, speak with your veterinarian. He or she knows your dog and its medical history—and is the most qualified person to advise you on a proper vaccination protocol.