Serum is the liquid part of the blood of a dog. There are several different types of serum, depending on their source. The convalescent serum comes from the blood of a dog just recovered from a disease. Immune scrum is that which has been produced from a dog immune to the disease in question. The hyperimmune serum is made from dogs that have been hyperimmunized against the disease, that is, by subjecting an already immune dog to massive doses of the virus. All these types are in use in veterinary medicine.
Since it is made from the blood of recovered dogs, the serum is full of antibodies. When we inject it we simply add these antibodies against the disease to the blood of the dog we want to protect or try to cure. This addition does not in any way cause the body to produce more antibodies, and after a few days they are lost and the body is no longer protected. When serum is used as protection against the disease it must be given repeatedly at not more than two-week intervals.
Vaccines are biologics for preventive inoculation. They may be bacterial or viruses and induce the body to produce antibodies against the disease-producing agents.
Vaccines may consist of several different materials. It may be bacteria, live or dead; virus, live, dead, or attenuated. If we are vaccinating against a bacterial disease, we sometimes use live bacteria of some strain that do not produce a disease of much intensity. This is done to vaccinate against undulant fever. The dog is given the real dis-ease, but of a strain that has proved from long studies to produce mild symptoms. The dog becomes sick, recovers, and is henceforth immune. The autogenous vaccine is made from cultures of the very organism affecting a dog and then used against the disease.
Dead bacteria in suspension form a common type of vaccine that is used for several diseases of pets – always as a preventive. Sometimes several species of bacteria are mixed in one vaccine to immunize our pets at one time against all the diseases these bacteria cause. Vaccines may be of live viruses, so the dog is given the disease. Attenuated virus vaccines are those that have been either attenuated (weakened) by passage through a different species, grown in cells, or by chemicals.
Everybody has heard how smallpox if given to calf produces cowpox, and how if we are given that disease it immunizes us against cowpox and smallpox. When the attenuated vaccine is injected under the skin of dogs it is absorbed into the bloodstream and the dogsbody goes to work building up immunity by destroying the attenuated or dead virus by stimulating the production of antibodies. The dog is henceforth immune, as though it had had the disease. Some individuals may lose immunity in a year or so.
Although it is illegal to ship distemper vaccines into many states tononveterinarians, the law is unenforceable as far as mail-order companies are concerned. A word of warning if you contemplate vaccinating your dog. We have known litters of puppies to die of distemper after such products have been used. The savings are not worth the chance of obtaining the vaccine.
Intramuscular rabies vaccination in an adult dog lasts for over three years, and other vaccinations last for varying lengths of time. In the early days of vaccines, it was thought that to establish a high antibody content of the blood and cells (titer) it was necessary to give several small doses of vaccine. Newer research indicates that the best results may be attained by the injection of one large jarring dose which shocks the body into building up huge antibody content.
Moreover, the practice of giving the same amount of vaccine to all dogs regardless of size is slowly being replaced by the grading of the dose to the size of the dog. Surely it has been wrong to give the same dose to a Pomeranian as to a St. Bernard, about thirty times as large, yet for years this has been the accepted procedure with the result that so many dogs of large breeds may not have been properly protected.
See more: Dog Verminous Pneumonia
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