Everything You Need to Know About Puppy and Adult Dog Vaccinations
Are Dog Vaccination Shots Really That Important?
Our pets should be vaccinated in the fight against infectious diseases. From the first puppy shots, to the booster shots down the road, throughout a dogs life these weapons must remain in a dog's arsenal to aid in the prevention of disease and illness. But, what makes dog vaccines so valuable and why do they help the canine immune system stay ready to do battle? This article will help to answer those questions. So, let's get started!
How Do Dog Vaccines Work?
Any vaccine, whether meant for human or beast, contain antigens that in the immune system "appear" to be the actual disease-causing organism, yet do not cause the disease. When a vaccine is administered to a healthy animal, the immune system puts together a protective reaction to fight the disease. Then down the road, should the dog be exposed to the actual disease-causing virus or bacteria, the immune system already understands exactly how to either prevent or reduce the intensity of the disease. This is because the dogs immune system has already undergone a trial run when contending with the impostor disease we refer to as a canine vaccine.
Can Puppies Without Shots Be Around Other Dogs
Above and at right, you see our Golden Retriever puppy sitting with our adult Chow-mix dog. This should only be the case after the puppy has completed its round of shots (vaccinations). Nia, our five year old Chow mix, was fully vaccinated and healthy when we brought Kal (our Golden Retriever pup) home. But, he only got to come home after completing his vaccine schedule and after fully weaning from his mother. A well adjusted healthy puppy, becomes a great adult dog!
Puppy Vaccines Are Different From Boosters!
What Do I Need to Know About Puppy Shots?
The first milk a mother dog produces, colostrum, contains antibodies that when drank keep the puppy protected from diseases until their own immune system has a chance to develop enough to manage the task on its own. The bad news is that these same antibodies tend to interfere with a vaccine's ability to wake-up the puppy's own immune system. Because of this tit-for-tat situation, your veterinarian needs to give your puppy vaccines every three or four weeks starting when the little fuzz-ball is around six to eight weeks old, and continue on a vaccine schedule until the puppy is about sixteen weeks old.
Should I Get My Puppy Rabies Shots?
Rabies is one vaccine that has to be administered a little differently; the initial vaccine isn't given until a puppy is twelve weeks old. The importance of completing the vaccine and booster series for your puppy is critical. When adopting or getting a puppy, make sure you get (in writing) which vaccines and when they had been given to the pup. This will help to give your vet the information to keep your puppy on its vaccine schedule without interruptions.
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Vaccinations for Adult Dogs
Your dog will require booster vaccinations throughout his adult life. Your vet generally will send you reminders, but it is also a good practice to keep your own schedule. This will assist you should you move or change to a new vet service at some point.
You should have some understanding of the vaccines your vet will be administering to your pet. Knowing which are appropriate for your canine and how often they should be given, depends on your dogs needs. The choice depends on several factors, including the following two: Risk and Circumstance.
1. Risk factors:
- How much risk is there that your dogs will be exposed to the disease-causing organisms?
- How healthy are the dogs your canines hang out with?
- What environment do your dogs live in?
2. Consequence of infection:
- The risk an infected dog brings to humans
- The protective ability of the vaccine
- The possibility and severity that the dog will react to the vaccine poorly
- The health and age of the dog
- The history of reactions to vaccines your dog has had in the past.
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Overall, Dog Vaccines Are Very Safe!
For the most part, the reasons for giving a dog vaccines far out-weigh the risk of not giving the vaccines; which also determines weather or not the dog may or may not contract the deadly and/or dangerous disease. To assure the risk is as minimal as possible, BEFORE vaccinating your dog, let your vet know about any current or past health issues, medications, and reactions your dog may have encountered.
Dog Vaccine "Sample" Schedule
TYPE OF VACCINE
6-8 weeks of age
6-8 weeks of age or older
DHPPLC, Lyme disease
9 weeks of age
DHPPLC, Lyme disease, Rabies
12 weeks of age
16 weeks of age
20 weeks of age
6-12 months of age
DHPPLC, Lyme disease
Every 1-3 years (this depends on the laws in your state)
Watch for Vaccine Reactions in Your Dog
You and Your Dogs
Is Your Dog Up to Date on Vaccinations?
Recognizing Dog Vaccine (Shots) Reactions Mild and Serious
Below you will find a short list of mild and serous reactions your dog may display after receiving a vaccination. Should you feel your dog is having a reaction associated with vaccines, call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of Mild Dog Vaccine Reaction
Any of the mild reactions are pretty common and can appear in hours to a few days after being vaccinated. They generally last no more than a few days.
- Sensitivity at injection site
- Mild fever
- Reduced appetite and activity
- Sneezing (for about a week following an intranasal vaccination)
- Small, firm painless swelling under the skin at injection site. (Usually goes away after a few weeks, but if you notice it, check-in with your vet.)
Symptoms of Serious Dog Vaccine Reactions
These reactions happen very rarely, but require veterinarian intervention quickly.
- A potentially life-threatening allergic reaction within a few minutes and up to an hour after vaccination. It appears as hives, severe vomiting and diarrhea, and/or collapse and death. (Again, this is pretty rare.)
- A sarcoma tumor—sarcomas are malignant (cancerous) tumors that develop in tissues which connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body— that develops at the injection site a few weeks, months, or even longer following vaccination.
Golden Retriever Puppy
Vaccinating Your Dog
No matter what breed, size, or age your dog may be, it is imperative that it be given vaccines to prevent the spread of diseases. This is for the protection and health of your canine as well as the health and protection of the human population. Many diseases that attack canines can also make humans sick (rabies in particular). It is your responsibility as a dog owner to manage the health and welfare of your pet. Again, this is for the sake of your pet as well as your human counter parts.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.