Looking after a puppy is a delightful task but is accompanied by a daunting number of responsibilities. You are shaping the future of the dog that the pup will grow into as you nurture, reward good behaviors, correct unwanted actions, and socialize by offering plenty of opportunities for the puppy to be exposed fearlessly to new experiences. One of those experiences needs to be visits to the veterinarian, where every puppy goes regularly for a number of puppy vaccinations. In the first year of their lives, puppies need numerous appointments to become immunized in defense against potentially fatal infectious diseases that are preventable.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
The timing of the puppy shots is important. At birth, a puppy is protected by the mother’s antibodies. While helping the puppy prevent diseases from setting in, they can also interfere with vaccines. The antibodies do not permit the vaccination to increase the puppy’s individual immune response. Because of this, puppies receive vaccinations in a series that permits their immune systems to break through the steadily fading protection from the mother.
Puppy vaccination schedule should begin around six weeks to eight weeks of age, whenever you take your new companion home. Be certain that any newly adopted or purchased puppy you take into your family comes with any medical records. This helps your veterinarian determine which vaccines have been given as well as the due date for the next vaccine. The veterinarian then recommends a shots schedule; this can vary according to the lifestyle you plan for your pup. Different plans offer different risks of particular diseases based on your location of residence or travel.
A vaccination schedule varies among individuals depending on several variables. Each puppy presents an unpredictable and unique immunological history. A puppy in the care of a responsible breeder might need a single combination vaccination to have the advantages of immunization. On the other hand, a puppy at the shelter may need as many as seven combination vaccinations to be declared safely protected in full. Understanding the disparity helps you to prepare to protect your young companion from dangerous exposure to some very contagious diseases. The reason for these repetitions is that it is nigh impossible to predict when the puppy’s immune system is ready to respond as desired, by developing antibodies in defense against the disease antigens contained in the vaccines.
An Immune System in Training
The administration of vaccines to a puppy is like an internal series of training lessons. The immune system must learn to recognize disease antigens and fire up an immune response against them. It needs to form antibodies capable of recognizing and destroying those antigens at any time the puppy encounters them in the future. A puppy that has received the full run of vaccinations, with time for the immune system to form antibodies to those disease antigens, is considered immunized, or protected, against those diseases.
Core Vaccines and Non-core Vaccines
All puppies and dogs should receive core vaccines. Non-core vaccines, however, are given depending upon your lifestyle, your location of residence, and the locations you will travel to. The former includes rabies vaccine and a DHP or DAP combination that stands for Distemper, Adenovirus-2 or Hepatitis, and Parvo. The latter vaccines are important under specific circumstances. Not all dogs require them. Such vaccines are parainfluenza, which is often given in combination with DHP, leptospirosis, which can also be combined with the core DHP or the combination DHPP, Bordetella, canine influenza with two strains, and Lyme disease. Lyme disease needs a two-vaccine series at first, followed by boosters every year.
Typical Puppy Vaccination Schedule
The first vaccination for DHP is received at six to eight weeks of age. The second, also for DHP, would then be at nine to 11 weeks old. The third, the same, would follow at between 12 and 15 weeks old. And another DHP, the fourth, would be given between 16 to 20 weeks of age. A booster DHP might be given at one year old or 12 months following the final puppy shot. Puppies who will be particularly social and active at day camps, dog parks, boarding kennels, grooming establishments, and dog shows should receive Bordetella, parainfluenza, and canine influenza shots. In areas where the diseases are endemic, your veterinarian may recommend Lyme disease vaccines as well as Leptospirosis vaccines.
Completing Puppy Vaccinations
Your puppy will be declared fully immunized against core diseases upon completion of the core vaccines at 18 weeks of age or a little older. These protect against the most problematic and common diseases of distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus or hepatitis. If you have raised puppies in the past, you should note that until recently, puppy vaccines were considered finished at 16 weeks of age when the last core shots were given. However, new research finds that the final parvovirus vaccine for puppies should be upon reaching 18 weeks old or older. Another core vaccine, rabies, is not given to puppies younger than 12 weeks old.
Protecting Your Puppy Before Final Vaccination
There is a difficult line to walk while raising a puppy who is not yet vaccinated. Research shows that a puppy in that age group undergoes a great deal of social development. To properly socialize a puppy, you must introduce the youngster to plenty of new experiences, people, places, other dogs, and any animals you deem important. A well-socialized puppy will remain on an even keel when undergoing new encounters throughout the rest of the dog’s life. But to keep your puppy safe, you must not let the pup touch paws to the ground outside of your own home and yard, which is why dog fences are highly recommended for pet owners. Parvovirus is incredibly common and races through canine populations like wildfire. It spreads via sniffing or licking anything contaminated with feces, and puppies explore the world through their muzzles.
The answer is to carry your puppy to friend’s houses and yards if their dogs are fully vaccinated or to bring a blanket to a park and have your leashed pup remain on that island of safety. If you will attend puppy socialization or training classes, ensure the instructor takes certain precautions. These include a requirement for vaccine records, disallowing any puppy with signs of illness, and equipment at the ready to quickly clean up accidents with sufficiently antibacterial solutions.
What Do Vaccines Protect Against?
Because puppies can require so many vaccinations, it is helpful to review the illnesses for which they are given. The following are those diseases that vaccines can help your puppy avoid.
This is a highly infectious bacterial disease whose symptoms include whooping, coughing, vomiting, and, sometimes, seizures and death. Kennel cough is primarily caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica. Vaccines are available as nasal sprays and injectables. Frequently, dog daycare services, group training classes, and boarding kennels require proof of this vaccination.
A disease that strikes at the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal or GI systems of canines, skunks, raccoons, and other animals, distemper is severe and extremely contagious. It spreads by means of airborne exposure when an infected animal coughs or sneezes. Shared water and food bowls and equipment can also cause the transmission of the virus. Distemper’s symptoms include discharge from the nose and eyes, coughing, fever, vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, paralysis, and twitching. It is often fatal. Distemper has no cure.
A viral infection known to be highly contagious, infectious canine hepatitis impacts the kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, and eyes of an affected dog. A disease focusing on the liver, its cause lies in a virus unrelated to human hepatitis. The symptoms of this disease include slight fever, congestion affecting the mucous membranes, stomach enlargement, vomiting, jaundice, and pain at the site of the liver. Many dogs are able to overcome this disease in its mild form, but canine hepatitis at its severest can kill. While veterinarians can treat the symptoms, it has no cure.
This respiratory virus is also known as CPIV and is among the most common canine cough pathogens. You may also hear of canine cough’s technical name, infectious tracheobronchitis. Although the indications of the respiratory symptom resemble those of canine influenza, the two are viruses that are unrelated, requiring different vaccines to protect your puppy.
Not the virus causing Covid-19 in humans, the canine coronavirus affects dogs’ GI systems and respiratory infections may result from it. Symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Veterinarians can help a dog by maintaining hydration, warmth, and comfort, helping to alleviate any present nausea, but no drug yet discovered kills coronaviruses.
As previously mentioned, this disease can be called infectious tracheobronchitis. It results from the upper airways becoming infected and can be caused by viral, bacterial, or other infections. These include Bordetella and canine parainfluenza. Often, kennel cough involves several simultaneous infections. The disease is usually mild. You will hear your dog having bouts of dry, harsh coughing. It can be severe enough for your dog to retch and gag, losing signs of appetite. Rarely, a case can be deadly. Its name comes from the rapid way the disease passes through dogs kept in fairly close proximity, such as in kennels.
Unusual in comparison to most of this list’s diseases, Leptospirosis is bacterial in nature. Some dogs may have it with no sign of symptoms at all. This bacterium can be found in water and soil worldwide. A zoonotic disease, Leptospirosis can spread not only among animals but from animals to humans. When symptoms appear, they include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, extreme weakness and lethargy, jaundice, stiffness, infertility, muscle pain, and kidney failure that may also be accompanied by liver failure. Antibiotics can be used effectively; the sooner taken by the afflicted pup, the better.
While humans with Lyme disease tend to develop a famous rash shaped like a bull’s eye, no such helpful indication appears in dogs. Borreliosis, commonly known as Lyme disease, is a tick-borne, infectious disease. It is caused by spirochetes, which are a bacteria type. A dog that has received the infection from a tick often limps, has swollen lymph nodes, a fever, and little or no appetite. The disease strikes the heart, joints, kidneys, and other areas, as well as leading to disorders of the neurological system when left without treatment. Antibiotics can be quite helpful if the disease receives a prompt diagnosis, although relapses can strike the afflicted dog months and years after the original infection.
Generally shortened to Parvo, this virus is highly contagious. While it affects all dogs, those dogs that are unvaccinated and puppies younger than four months old are at the greatest risk. It causes appetite loss, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea that is severe and often bloody. The dehydration causes strikes swiftly and can kill inside two to three days. Parvo has no cure.
Probably the best-known disease on this list, rabies is viral and strikes the central nervous system. It causes anxiety, headache, hallucinations, fear of water, drooling to excess, paralysis, and death. Generally, a bite from an animal that is rabid transmits it to a new animal or person. Treatment must be administered within hours of being infected to prevent a highly likely death.
Frequently Asked Questions
What shots do puppies need and when?
At six to eight weeks, veterinarians recommend the first distemper and parvovirus vaccines. Bordetella is optional. Between 10 and 12 weeks, the first combination DHPP shot is advised; this vaccinates against distemper, hepatitis or adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Optionally, you can also give your puppy vaccinations against influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease, if circumstances apply. Between 16 and 18 weeks, the second DHPP shot, and rabies should be given. Then, between 12 and 16 months of age, another set of DHPP and rabies shots are called for. Another DHPP is advised every one to two years thereafter, and rabies shots are required by law every one to three years.
How many sets of shots do puppies need?
In the first year, puppies need 4 sets of shots if given as advised above.
How many shots do puppies need before going outside?
Puppies need to give time for the first DHPP vaccination to take effect before they touch paw to the ground outside of your yard.
When do you give puppies shots?
Puppies get shots at six to eight weeks, at 10 to 12 weeks, and at 16 to 18 weeks. This is followed up by a final DHPP and rabies shot at 12 to 16 months. DHPP and rabies shots follow at intervals throughout the dog’s life.