An array of vaccinations used to be routine for Beagle puppies. Annual boosters were commonplace. Today, many dog owners are strictly anti-vaccine entirely. Current research suggests a more balanced approach is best.
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies against invading organisms. In effect, they emulate the body’s natural disease combating method, since the production of antibodies is a natural response to foreign cells. The antibodies wrap the organism where it is either prevented from reproducing, killed, and/or eliminated from the body in liquid or solid waste.
Puppies are provided with temporary immunity by the material they absorb through the umbilical cord while developing in the womb, just as with humans. But that wears off and may do so before the puppy’s immune system has fully matured. Also, contracting a disease is not the most pleasant or healthful way to stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies against future attacks.
Vaccines present a solution to these dilemmas. Vaccinating your Beagle is generally safe, though there are some small risks, risks that vary depending on the type of vaccine used.
Live-virus vaccines can present an undue risk to a Beagle puppy. Because of overbreeding and inbreeding to meet demand for these popular dogs, some have weakened immune systems. It’s a small percentage of the total, but it’s nearly impossible to know which dog has been affected.
As a precaution and a safe alternative, ensure that only killed-virus or modified-virus vaccines are used to immunize your Beagle. These vaccines have been prepared using genetically altered or deactivated viruses that can’t reproduce. Still, because they’re still composed of the same proteins, they stimulate the same antibody response.
There are also particular vaccines that represent a smaller or larger risk to your Beagle puppy. Lepto-parvo (a combined vaccine to combat leptospirosis and parvovirus) used to be given routinely. Contemporary research strongly suggests that a lepto vaccine is only called for in areas where dogs are at high risk of being exposed to the organism. Parvo is given separately.
Similar comments apply to corona (to protect against coronavirus), parainfluenza, and vaccines that protect against Lyme disease. The latter is particular interesting since Lyme (while spreading, particularly in Central California) is found largely in the Northeastern and North Central U.S. So, if you live in other areas of the country, ask your vet about the risks and benefits of this vaccine. Hunting Beagles are generally at greater risk because they spend more time in the brush where ticks live.
Also, routine annual booster shots are no longer universally considered necessary or even wise. Many studies suggest that the immune system continues to house antibodies that, once produced, persist for years, sometimes for the dog’s lifetime.
The initial rounds of shots for distemper, adenovirus, parvo, and rabies is important for all Beagles. The vaccine against bordetella (the cause of kennel cough) is important for dogs exposed to other dogs, especially if they’re put into a public kennel.