Vaccines are an essential part of your dog’s preventive healthcare. In addition to protecting your dog from illness, vaccines contribute to “herd immunity” helping prevent the spread of disease to other pets or dogs that may not be able to be vaccinated. Read on below to see the different vaccines available and how they can help your puppy stay healthy.
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What are Vaccines?
A vaccine is an injected material that is designed to create an immune response in your puppy. Most puppies are vaccinated through their mother’s the first few weeks of life as their mother’s milk features the antibodies she has from her vaccinations. Once this has worn off, a vaccine is then given to your puppy to stimulate their immune system. It is sort of like memorizing a code or piece of information so that if the body reencounters it, it can remember how to react.
Vaccines come in two forms, modified-live and killed virus. Modified-live vaccines inject a virus that has been modified not to cause illness but is still alive for the body to produce an active response. These offer better protection but can cause minor illness or reactions in sensitive pets. Killed viruses produce similar results, but with a virus that is not active, so it lessens the chance of getting ill.
What Vaccines Does my Puppy Need?
While there are many more vaccines than just these listed below, the following are the most commonly given vaccines to dogs anywhere in the US and the world. Your dog may need additional vaccines such as Lyme if they are in a local area that has a higher chance of contracting that illness. Your vet can let you know what vaccines are recommended for your specific location to offer the best protection.
• DHAPP-C: DHAPP-C stands for Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Coronavirus vaccine. That is the most common combo vaccination that is given several times throughout your puppy’s life. The five above viruses are very contagious and deadly to pets, so it is important to vaccinate against them. Most of these illnesses cause upper respiratory or digestive problems that can cause long-term problems or death if untreated.
• Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is an optional vaccine, often given to dogs that have access to stagnant/standing water or live near livestock. Leptospirosis is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it can affect humans in addition to several animal species.
• Bordetella: Another optional vaccine, Bordetella is more commonly known as Kennel-cough. While the illness itself isn’t usually fatal, it can be troublesome to dogs. The Bordetella vaccine is similar to that of the flu-vaccine for humans and must be readministered every six to 12 months. This vaccine is often required by dog kennels and daycares, as bordetella spreads quickly in areas with many dogs in one location.
• Rabies: The rabies vaccine, required by law for all pet mammals, must be administered by a veterinarian. It also is necessary for any travel or registration of your dog. Rabies is a contagious, zoonotic disease that can affect nearly every mammal and is fatal in 99% of infected animals. As dogs suspected of rabies must be quarantined and potentially euthanized, it is essential to stay up to date on this vaccine.
How Often Should I Vaccinate?
Your puppy’s vaccine schedule may vary depending on the age he was weaned from his mother and littermates, as well as the vaccines needed in your area. However, this is a good general idea of when you should vaccinate.
• 2 to 6 Months of Age: Most puppies will receive their first set of vaccinations such as a combo vaccine at 2 months of age. They will then need a course of two or three more sets of vaccines every three to five weeks depending on the type used. Puppies will also need their first Rabies vaccine around 6 months of age. While the rabies vaccine can be given earlier, it is often done at the same time your puppy is spayed or neutered to avoid multiple trips to the vet. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, he will only need vaccines every one to three years depending on the type given.
• Adulthood: Most adult dogs will require a booster annually for their combo vaccine and any extras such as Bordetella. Rabies vaccines are given yearly the first time (at 6 months and again around 1.5 years of age), and then every three years after that unless your dog’s vaccine history is unknown. Many vets are also switching to three-year booster combo vaccines, great for dogs with reactions to annual vaccines.
Vaccination is an integral part of healthcare not only for your dog but other dogs, animals, and people. Most vaccines are affordable through your veterinarian or specialized vaccine clinics, and all it takes is a few minutes to ensure your dog’s protection.