A guide to first year puppy vaccinations

Owning a dog is a big responsibility. Your four-legged floof will depend on you for everything, now and for the rest of its life. Although you might be eager to move on to the fun stuff, like go hiking Where give your puppy a bath, there are a few things to take care of first. After you’ve puppy proofed your home and purchased everything on your new puppy checklist, it’s important to follow the correct puppy vaccination schedule.

Just like babies, new puppies are completely helpless. Because they usually nurse until they leave their mother, puppies have antibodies that pass from her to them, but this protection for their immune system doesn’t last long. Once a puppy is switched to puppy food, he begins to lose his mother’s antibodies and needs help developing some of his own. This is where puppy vaccines come in.

Puppy vaccines prevent diseases your pet can catch from other dogs, insects, wild animals and parasites. Most of these core vaccines will provide your dog with full protection once the full series is given and will be maintained with booster shots. Some puppy vaccines are optional, such as Lyme disease and rattlesnake vaccines, while others, such as DHPP and rabies vaccines, are strongly recommended or required for all dogs. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and be sure to follow the puppy vaccination schedule which will keep your new pet safe.

Understanding Puppy Vaccines

Your puppy’s first vaccinations should be given around six weeks of age, usually before you even bring them home. Most puppies are already transitioning to dry food at this point. It’s important to wait until they’re completely weaned, as antibodies from the mother can affect how much protection a puppy gets from a vaccine. According to American Association of Veterinary Hospitalshere are the diseases prevented by the basic and non-essential vaccines recommended for dogs:

  • Cervical dementia: Distemper is incurable, so the best treatment is prevention. This disease affects the dog’s nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. It can be transmitted in two ways: through the air by coughing or sneezing, or by sharing water or food with an infected pet or animal. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough, seizures, muscle twitches, paralysis, and in some cases death.
  • Canine adenovirus: Infectious adenovirus, also known as hepatitis, is a highly contagious virus that is spread through feces, saliva, nasal secretions, and urine. It can attack the dog’s liver, lungs, spleen and kidneys. It has a variety of symptoms including fever, congestion, vomiting, stomach enlargement, runny nose or eyes, jaundice, etc. This disease is also incurable, but the symptoms can be managed with treatment.
  • Canine parvovirus: Unvaccinated puppies and dogs are at high risk of the highly contagious parvovirus, especially those under four months old. Symptoms include vomiting, fever, severe diarrhea, loss of appetite and dehydration. This disease is known to cause puppies to die very quickly when left untreated or caught too late.
  • Canine flu: This canine respiratory disease can lead to mild to severe illness. Common symptoms are cough, runny nose, lethargy, fever, and loss of appetite, but not all dogs show signs of illness. Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.
  • Rage: Rabies is a deadly virus that is contracted by the bite of another infected animal. It attacks the central nervous system and can cause fever, difficulty swallowing, seizures, excessive drooling, paralysis and possibly death. Dogs must be bitten by another rabid animal to contract the disease. There is no treatment for rabies.
  • Bordetelle: This shot focuses on the dog-to-dog transmission of this disease that causes kennel cough. Kennel cough can cause difficulty breathing, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Symptoms can be much worse if left untreated. If you plan to board or daycare your puppy, this vaccine is essential.
  • Canine Lyme disease: Lyme disease is transmitted from ticks to your dog. If you do not live in an area with a high deer and wildlife population, or if your dog is protected by flea and tick prevention, this vaccine is not required.
  • Rattlesnake venom: The rattlesnake vaccine reduces a dog’s chance of dying from a rattlesnake bite, making recovery possible. It does not completely negate the venom.
  • Leptospirosis: While many canine illnesses are caused by viruses, leptospirosis is caused by bacteria. The bacteria are found in water and soil, and many dogs show no symptoms. However, some symptoms of infection are loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy, jaundice, pain, kidney failure and possible liver failure . Veterinarians use antibiotics to treat the infection.

Puppies are also susceptible to heartworm disease. Although there is no vaccine available, all dogs should be started on heartworm preventative medication at 8 weeks of age. This disease is treatable, but can be fatal if detected too late.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

puppy is sitting in the grass

RELATED: Cures For Diarrhea: Home Remedies When Dogs Get “The Runs”

Vaccination recommendations may vary depending on the breed, size, medical history and lifestyle of the dog. The DHPP vaccine for dogs is usually given in a series beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age. Follow-up doses should be given every 2 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age, with a booster given 1 year after the initial vaccination, then every 3 years thereafter. The rabies vaccine is initially given at 16 weeks, with a booster every year or every three years. Below is an example of what a puppy vaccination schedule might look like, based on AAH recommendations.

6 to 8 weeks:

  • Recommended: distemper, parvovirus
  • Optional: Bordetelle

10 to 12 weeks:

  • Recommended: DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)
  • Optional: Influenza, leptospirosis, bordetella and Lyme disease

16 to 18 weeks:

  • Recommended: DHPP, rabies
  • Optional: Influenza, leptospirosis, bordetella and Lyme disease

12 to 16 months:

  • Recommended: DHPP, rabies
  • Optional: Leptospirosis, bordetella and Lyme disease

Once every 1 to 2 years:

  • Recommended: DHPP
  • Optional: Influenza, leptospirosis, bordetella and Lyme disease

Once every 1 to 3 years:

As for the rabies vaccine, check with your local laws to see if your dog needs to be vaccinated every year or once every three years. The cost of vaccinations can vary from vet to veterinarian. However, many regions organize vaccination clinics to administer the necessary vaccines at a lower cost.

If you are concerned about over-vaccinating your dog, you can request a title test to be administered before any injection. This way, your vet can assess your dog’s immune system to see if booster shots are needed. However, the rabies vaccine is exempt from titer testing since the vaccine is required by law.

Looking for more puppy advice? Follow us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.

READ MORE: Why DHLPP Vaccines Can Save Your Dog’s Life

Related Videos

Comments are closed.