In the first weeks of its life, a pup is protected from viruses because it drinks a type of liquid called colostrum that is contained by its mother’s breast milk. The colostrum contains beneficial bacteria that protect the body of a pup, but this protection only lasts up to 5 weeks. Once the pup is separated from its mother, it needs vaccination in order to survive in a world filled with viruses and harmful bacteria.
What shots do puppies need? There are 2 categories of vaccines that must be administered to puppies, namely basic vaccines and additional vaccines, which treat bacterial infections.
The basic vaccines are mandatory for every pup because they are meant to protect them from serious diseases, such as rabies, parainfluenza, adenovirus and canine parvovirus. The additional vaccines are made to create immunity against infections like Lyme disease, leptospirosis and Bordetella.
Deworming comes first
It is recommended for puppies to be healthy before the administration of any vaccine, so that they can develop the proper antibodies. In case of sick dogs, the vaccines will not have the desired effect because a weakened body prevents the correct development of antibodies. Thus, prior to the first vaccine, you should take your pup to the vet in order to assess its general health condition.
Deworming dogs before vaccination ensures maximum immunization, so, most probably the vet will recommend a full interior and exterior disinfestation of your new doggy. The first deworming procedure is generally required as soon as the pup reaches one month old and it involves the usage of antihelminthics, which are drugs meant to destroy all sorts of parasites. Puppies are infested with parasites in 99% of the cases, especially with roundworms, flatworms and tapeworms.
The antihelminthic treatment has a curative role by combating infestations. If they are not treated, they can lead to a range of symptoms and ultimately to a low immunity system that makes them prone to getting sick and may lead to death. Therefore, deworming must be done in the first month of a puppy’s life, followed by 2 other doses, administered 2 weeks later and when it celebrates 3 months of life.
Untreated infestations may lead to a varied symptomatology that may start from loss of appetite, vomiting, alternate defecation like diarrhea or constipation, increased abdomen, anemia, respiratory discomfort, pruritus, skin lesions and end up with epileptic seizures. If this happens, the vet will use antihelminthics trying to cure them.
An example of internal parasite, also called endoparasite, is toxocara canis, which are roundworms that reach between 1 inch and 7 inches in length. They develop freely in the organisms of puppies and they do not feel as comfortable in adult dog bodies. However, adult dogs might get infected especially during spring. It is advisable to alternate between different products in order to avoid inefficiency.
The clinical manifestations of roundworms are loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and flatulence. These parasites are transmitted very easy. The eggs are eliminated together with feces and are scattered into the environment by infected animals or by external agents such as the wind before they are ingested by puppies in one way or the other.
Once they reach a puppy’s digestive tract, the parasites in larva stage migrate into the lungs and then back into the digestive tract, where they develop until they reach 7 inches. These parasites may be present in a pup’s body before birth if the mother is infested.
Dipylidium Caninum or Echinococcus granulosus or tapeworms have the shape of ribbons and they are composed of several segments. The eggs of these parasites are released into the environment through their segments. In order to develop from a simple egg to a full grown worm, these parasites need a host, such as a puppy or other domestic or wild animal.
Among the clinical signs of a possible infestation are digestive disorders, capricious appetite, weight loss, bloating, colic, coughing, choking, difficulty in breathing, generalized itching, anemia, mild fever and even epilepsy. This is also a treatable infestation that goes away easily if the treatment is administered in a timely manner.
General vaccination schedule
- Age of 6 weeks – vaccine against parvovirus;
- Age of 8 weeks – vaccines against Carre disease, parvovirus, leptospirosis and Rubarth hepatitis;
- Age of 10 weeks – vaccines against Carre disease, parvovirus, leptospirosis and Rubarth hepatitis repeated;
- Age of 12 weeks – vaccine against rabies;
- Age of 14 weeks – vaccine against coronavirus;
- Age of 6 months – vaccine against rabies repeated;
In terms of the type of vaccine used, you should be very careful and ask the vet which brand he or she uses because your puppy should be vaccinated with the same brand of vaccines every time. Each company that produces vaccines for dogs has its own vaccination scheme and particular dosages. In case your vet says it is okay to use another brand, you should refuse and ask for the brand he or she initially used. Write down the name of the brand when you first go to vaccinate your puppy if you think you cannot remember it.
The vaccination schedule presented above is a general one. The vet might choose another schedule according to the local epizootic situation and according to the brand of vaccines he or she works with. Sometimes, each vaccination schedule can be different depending on the patient.
For example, dog breeds such as hounds and punters do not have a strong immune system and they might get sick even after they get vaccinated. In such situations, when the vet thinks something is not right with your pup, he or she may ask for antibody tests or a blood count in order to figure out the best vaccination scheme.
After the administration of basic vaccines, your puppy should be immune for one year. After that, you need to go back to the vet for another set of vaccines. He or she will use a multivalent vaccine accompanied by the mandatory vaccine against rabies. Vaccination against rabies is mandatory and it must be repeated annually!
After your pooch reaches the age of 2, you should discuss the need of additional vaccines against Giardia or the Lyme disease with the vet. During this period, you should help you pup’s organism by feeding it healthy foods and by adding some vitamins in its diet.
Basic vaccines for puppies
The rabies virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, such as a bat, raccoon, skunk or a fox. It causes a lethal infection to the brain or the spine and its signs vary from depression and dementia to aggression. The incubation period of this virus is 14 days. After this period, the infected animal may carry the disease for a few days or even weeks or months. This disease is not only lethal, but it is considered a public health problem because it can be transmitted in the same way to humans.
The vaccination against rabies is mandatory and it should be done when the vet suggests, but no later than 6 months after a puppy is born.
Canine Adenovirus type 2
The Canine Adenovirus Type 2 is a component of the syndrome known as the kennel cough. This type of infection manifests by cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. The vaccine against it also offers protection against canine hepatitis. The latter is acute and often fatal condition because it affects a dog’s liver.
Specialists recommend the administration of this vaccine at the age of 8, 12 and 16 weeks, followed by another shot once a year. However, the vet’s opinion and the type of multivalent vaccines that he or she uses might or might not sustain this recommendation.
The canine parainfluenza virus causes a respiratory infection known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, which is associated with the kennel cough as well. It is transmitted easily through simple contact with other dogs in places like dog shelters, dog training classes or playgrounds for dogs.
Symptoms of canine parainfluenza include coughing, choking and retching. The vaccine against it should be administered in combination with other vaccines at the age of 8, 12 and 16 weeks. In addition, it should be repeated once a year after the first 3 times. Thinking at isolating your dog will prevent it from catching this virus is not quite correct.
The canine parvovirus causes a serious disease and is often met in unvaccinated puppies. This virus destroys the cells from a pup’s intestines, causing vomiting, diarrhea or intestinal bleeding. In addition, it can also affect a doggy’s spinal cord. For unknown reasons, dog breeds like the Doberman, the Pincher, the Rottweiler, the Pit Bull and the Labrador Retriever are the most affected.
This virus survives for a long time in any type of environment and it develops in conditions of poor hygiene. It is extremely contagious and people may carry it although it is not harmful to them at all.
Additional vaccines for puppies
Bordatella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that causes respiratory affections and that is very contagious. The vaccine against it should be administered to dogs that are in danger of getting it. This bacterium can be transmitted in dog shelters or in dog training lessons. Many dog shelters refuse dogs that were not vaccinated against this bacterium. The shot consists of an injection under the pup’s skin or it can also be administered in its nose, like a puff of solution. Its efficacy lasts for a whole year, after which it must be repeated. Immunity is not guaranteed for longer periods of time.
Infectious hepatitis is also a very contagious disease that can be transmitted through contact with the saliva, the urine or the feces of an infected dog. The virus affects abdominal organs, including a puppy’s liver. Symptoms of this disease include the occurrence of fever and secretions from eyes, mouth and nose. Sometimes, the infected dog’s eyes become red and it tries to rub itself on the floor in order to relieve pain.
As this disease progresses, the infected dog becomes lethargic, loses its appetite and may become comatose. Within 6 to10 days after getting infected, a dog may die or it may never fully recover even if it survives.
Leptospirosis is a disease of particular importance both in rural and urban environments. The most favorable conditions for the development of this affection are a warm and humid climate during spring and autumn. It spreads through contact with the urine of the host species, which might be raccoons, skunks, mice, cattle or pigs. Dogs may come in contact with the contaminated urine or their water vessels might be contaminated if they are left outdoors.
Leptospirosis causes kidney failure or liver disease. Moreover, it can be transmitted to humans, so they must take all the precautions to disinfect possibly contaminated areas. Vaccination is recommended for dogs that might be exposed to it because it has serious consequences.
The Lyme disease is transmitted by a mite bite. Among its symptoms are arthritis, enlarged lymph nodes and fever. Changes in behavior and neurological signs can also be seen in a pup, including seizures. In this case you should research if such mites live in your area or if you want to travel, you should carefully check their presence at the destination.
You could also vaccinate your pup as a precaution, but this might not be too pleasant for your beloved pet. This is an aspect to talk about with the vet as well.
Conclusions for unvaccinated pups
As shown, the consequences of not vaccinating your pup are devastating. Some of the symptoms and diseases can be cured after they occur or shortly after their occurrence, but the others might be too serious and too severe to be properly treated and for the doggy to fully recover.
As a dog owner, you have a tremendous responsibility to take your dog to the vet and to vaccinate it properly as soon as you purchase it. Do not wait too long before visiting the vet even if your doggy is really small and fragile. The maximum period of time you can keep it home without visiting the vet is one and a half months.