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Keep Your Puppy Safe With These Vaccines

Updated on October 11, 2016
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Jessica has over a decade of experience in dog training, behavior, animal sciences, veterinary medicine, and shelter care.

Keep your puppy healthy!
Keep your puppy healthy! | Source

Vaccines are an important part of your dog’s preventive healthcare. In addition to protecting your own dog from illness, vaccines contribute to “herd immunity” helping prevent the spread of illness 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.

Do you know what vaccines are best?
Do you know what vaccines are best? | Source

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 own vaccinations. Once this has worn off, a vaccine is then given to your puppy to stimulate their own immune system. It is sort of like memorizing a code or piece of information, so that if the body encounters it again 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 to not cause illness but is still alive for the body to produce and 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. This 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, and is 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 and bothersome to dogs. The Bordetella vaccine is similar to that of the flu-vaccine for humans and must be repeated every 6-12 months. This vaccine is often required by dog kennels and daycares, as bordetella is easily spread in areas with many dogs in one location.
  • Rabies: Rabies is a vaccine that is required by law for all pet mammals. It must be administered by a veterinarian and is required 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 important 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 vaccine.

  • 2-6 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 2-3 more sets of vaccines every 3-5 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 1-3 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 annually the first time (at 6 months and again around 1.5 years of age), and then every three years thereafter unless your dog’s vaccine history is unknown. Many vets are also switching to 3-year booster combo vaccines, great for dogs with reactions to annual vaccines.

Do You Vaccinate Your Dog On Time?

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Keep Your Dog Healthy!

Vaccination is an important part of healthcare not only for your dog but for 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 is protected. For more in-depth information about vaccines, check out the following resources.


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    • WinWolfz profile image

      Jessica Desrosiers 12 months ago from Vancouver, WA

      Thank you for your input Dr Mark! While you are correct that many vets are now moving toward titer testing and 3-year protocols, it is still the norm in most locations (including my own) to vaccinate annually rather than every 3 years. Most times, owners do not request titer testing as it is often cheaper to just revaccinate than to test serum levels at this point. However, it is most certainly recommended in cases where a dog's immunity may be at risk with further vaccinations, or in cases where the dog is low-risk.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 12 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Although you need to vaccinate your puppies, annual vaccinations for adult dogs are not necessary nor are they recommended. All vaccinations have potential side effects (like allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia) and you need to ask yourself if your dog is in more danger from the vaccine or the disease. The best way to decide whether or not to get vaccine boosters is to check the levels of antibody in the dog´s serum but it is expensive and may not even provide an accurate picture. (There are cells in the body that can become active when stimulated by the virus and become active in producing antibodies.) If you do not take your dog to a groomer or boarder that requires vaccinations every year you can get by testing every three or four years, and then vaccinate only if she needs it. If your veterinarian tells you he wants you to vaccinate every year (like with the “wellness plan” where the costs of the vaccines are covered but serum titer levels are not) it is up to you to protect the health of your dog by refusing the boosters.

      You stated "Most adult dogs will require a booster annually for their combo vaccine". This was common practice about 20 years ago. It is no longer the case.