It’s time to roll up our sleeves and talk about World Immunization Week. It’s not just for people!

With a fully staffed animal hospital on site, it’s a short trot to the veterinarian for Shedd’s four canines. You can bet they’re up to date on their rabies shots as well as a combined vaccination against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parvovirus and canine parainfluenza.

The dogs also receive an intranasal vaccine against canine parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica, which in combination can cause the upper respiratory infection known as kennel cough (which also affects cats). Dr. Caryn Poll, our senior staff veterinarian says, “Kennel cough is aptly named because it’s highly infectious among dogs and can spread quickly in shelters or kennels where a lot of dogs are close together.”

It makes sense that this vaccine is sprayed into the dogs’ always active noses. “The nasal spray gives them a higher degree of local protection against germs that typically gain entry to the body through the nose,” the veterinarian says.

You might be surprised at who else at Shedd gets immunized.

Our birds of prey—the red-tailed hawks, great horned owl and barred owl—are vaccinated against West Nile virus in early spring as part of their annual physical exams.

And the seahorses receive a vaccination against Vibrio, a genus of bacteria that includes more than a few nasty aquatic bugs that infect marine and freshwater fishes, shellfish and even people (one strain causes cholera). Dr. Caryn says, “Our vaccine is custom-made specifically for Shedd and contains two Vibrio strains.”

How do the veterinarians give an injection through the seahorses’ little armor plates? They don’t. During the fishes’ incoming quarantine, they get a 30- to 60-second bath in a mixture of the vaccine and seawater from their habitats. It’s important to use water that they’re acclimated to.

Why not check with your veterinarian to make sure your animal buddies are current on their shots for World Immunization Week? It will make a world of difference to them.

Karen Furnweger, web editor