PUPPIES

Puppy Shot Schedule: The Importance of Vaccination

Puppy vaccinations
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Vaccines have saved the lives of millions of dogs since they were discovered. Before the invention of vaccines, dogs often died because of hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, Carre’s disease, rabies and complications of respiratory infections. The current vaccination program, accepted all over the world, protects our dogs and us from the threat of rabies. New vaccines, including those administered intranasal were designed to protect against many types of infections.

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Despite the well-known benefits of vaccination, the practice of annual vaccination is controversial. Some veterinarians believe that annual revaccination is an important and critical part in preventing disease while others suggest that there is little scientific information that would suggest the annual revaccination is necessary for certain diseases. Acquired immunity against many viruses could last a lifetime.

Insufficient research in the field of long-term protection led to different points of view. Of course, some vaccines, such as the one against rabies, are required by law and must be given regularly. Every dog owner has the freedom to follow a standard puppy shot schedule or to establish a personalized one with a veterinarian.

Generalities about vaccines for dogs

Puppies receive immunity against infectious diseases by eating milk from their mothers. However, this protection begins to disappear between 6 and 20 weeks after birth. This aspect can be established with exactness only after taking a few blood tests. In order to protect puppies during this critical period, there are a series of useful vaccines that must be administered until the chance of getting an infection drops.

A typical vaccine is a combination of multiple substances that protects against diseases, such as the distemper virus, the canine adenovirus, the parainfluenza and the canine parvovirus. Also called DHPP, these 4 viruses can cause the most damage to a puppy.

Vaccinations for dogs

The vaccine against rabies should be administered between 16 and 26 weeks according to the current law in most countries. Almost all vaccines require a booster or a repetition that must be done after one year. However, what should happen next is unclear.

The protective effect of vaccines against bacterial infections doesn’t normally persist for more than a year, so they must be repeated after one year. In case your beloved dog has an adverse reaction to a vaccine that manifests with fever, vomiting, tremors, bumps or rashes, you should have a serious talk with a vet about annual revaccination.

Scheduling visits to the veterinarian

There isn’t a standard puppy vaccination schedule that is applicable to all. Therefore, it is recommended to talk about this aspect with a specialist. In general, a dog that has reached the age of 5 weeks can be taken for its first vaccination and deworming session. An internal deworming process is quite recommended at this age because some parasites could be transmitted by the mother to the puppy during the fetal period through placenta or in breast milk.

Vaccine schedule

The other recommended shots could be scheduled according to your dog’s development rate, living conditions and other important factors that should be taken in consideration.

Puppies between 4 and 20 weeks

Puppies that are between 4 and 20 weeks old should be subjected to vaccinations against the distemper, the adenovirus, the parainfluenza and the parvovirus. The vaccine against rabies is usually recommended between 16 and 26 weeks, but its administration schedule also depends on every country’s law about it. Among the other vaccines that could be necessary for a puppy this age are the ones against leptospirosis that is a dangerous bacterium of multiple types.

However, this is important in certain areas only, not everywhere on the planet. As it follows, you will find out more about the diseases that could affect your young pup in case you don’t vaccinate it when you are supposed to vaccinate it. To ensure your puppy’s health, our article on how to protect your puppy from common diseases is a must-read.

The parvovirus disease is serious, highly contagious and specific to dogs. Luckily it can be treated as you can read from our earlier article on canine parvovirus.  Among its symptoms are vomiting and bloody diarrhea. This disease is transmitted by having direct contact with sick animals or it could be picked up from a contaminated environment. Puppies are most susceptible to this disease, which could be deadly if it is not kept under control. Most often, puppies that have this disease die because of heart failure after a brief period when they present a series of gastrointestinal symptoms given by the replication rate of the virus.

Other signs that could appear are fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea with blood, which is a representative sign. As a result of these symptoms, dogs dehydrate, become anemic because they lose blood from the gastrointestinal level and their death occurs quickly enough. Many gastrointestinal disorders can mimic this disease, but most of them are not as severe as this one. The best protection you can provide to your pooch against this disease is to vaccinate it and repeat the vaccination 2 weeks after as well, according to the vet’s advice.

Puppies ready for vactination

The infectious canine hepatitis is a contagious viral disease, specific to dogs, foxes and other canine species. This should not be mistaken with the type of hepatitis that occurs in humans, although both types mainly affect the liver. The vaccine against this disease is highly effective in preventing its occurrence even if some dogs still get it. The acute form of this disease manifests with fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Moreover, an affected pup could pass away a few hours later after the occurrence of the mentioned symptoms. The vaccine for this disease is usually combined with that for Carre’s disease and it should be administered once per year throughout the life of a dog.

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Carre’s disease is a highly contagious disease, often fatal in dogs, wolves, raccoon, skunks and ferrets. It is discovered mostly in young and unvaccinated dogs, but it can also occur in older dogs that have not been vaccinated every year. After a dog comes in contact with the pathogen that triggers this disease, the symptoms will occur between 5 to 9 days, which are fever, lack of appetite, fatigue and vomiting. These are followed by diarrhea, cough, green-yellow discharge from the nose, eye discharge and pneumonia. Muscle spasms, as well as seizures can also be met.

As for the treatment, there might be solutions for pneumonia, dehydration and diarrhea, but nothing that could actually destroy the virus. Dogs that recover are few and they often remain with neurological problems that cannot be cured.

Leptospirosis is a disease that affects dogs, humans and other animals as well. The pathogen that triggers this disease is a type of bacteria called spirochete. It enters the healthy body of a pup through its mouth or through any wounds that it might have. Wild animals, especially rats, are carriers of this virus. The signs of illness usually begin to appear after 1 or 2 weeks and are fever, listlessness, vomiting, lack of appetite, dehydration and weight loss as well.

Also, the poor pup might refuse to move. Spirochetes multiply in the kidney, so if this condition is not treated, the affected puppy dies because of kidney failure. The treatment consists in high doses of antibiotics and re hydration. Even after it feels better, the pup that has this virus will carry it for the rest of its life and the same symptoms might reoccur on different occasions. The vaccine for this disease is usually combined with that for the malady.

The canine coronavirus infection is highly contagious, acute and it affects the digestive system of dogs. Depression, vomiting and diarrhea are signs that occur in diseased pooches, and although they are similar to those occurring in parvovirus, they are less severe and mortality is lower in this case. Occasionally, very young dogs or very old ones die because of dehydration. However, the most serious cases are those when pups don’t show any symptoms and they spread the virus to others.

This virus is transmitted through direct contact, excretions or infected environments. Because the disease is manifested by severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, sustained medical treatment is required. This virus can only be found after taking a few blood tests. Vaccinating your dog is a safe, effective and inexpensive prevention of this disease. If your dog hasn’t done it, it is advisable to schedule a visit to the vet as soon as possible.

Rabies vaccine

Rabies is a viral disease that affects all warm-blooded animals, including humans. In this case, the virus is transmitted through the saliva of sick animals. In some cases the virus can penetrate a healthy body through deep wounds or inhalation. The transmission of the virus by the respiratory route is a rare way of transmission, but it can occur in caves that are home to large numbers of infected bats.

After the virus begins to attack nerve fibers and to migrate, it reaches the spine and the brain. Once inside the central nervous system, the virus multiplies for the second time, and then it passes in the salivary glands. Symptoms include behavioral changes. More specifically, friendly animals become shy and even aggressive. There are 2 forms of rabies, namely the aggressive form and the paralytic form. The most common form is the aggressive one that manifests through hallucinations.

Any infected dog becomes extremely aggressive and it can attack and bite other animals and even its owner for no reason. Other signs that may occur are nervous arousal, irritability and photo phobia. The vaccination against rabies in pups starts at 4 months and it must be administered once every year. See how our previous piece about dog rabies will help you understand its seriousness.

Puppies between 20 weeks and 2 years

Vaccinating your pup when it is really young is essential, but it seems that some vaccines must be administered more than once throughout a pup’s life. In order to ensure immunity against viral diseases, it is important to visit the vet regularly and repeat the vaccines against the distemper, the adenovirus, the parainfluenza and the parvovirus as well.

The situation with the vaccine against rabies is different according to the law applicable in different parts of the world. In some areas, the vaccine against leptospirosis is considered as important as the one against rabies. Considering there are so many types of shots against viruses, the vet is the only entitled person to explain more.

Dogs older than 2 years

The booster vaccination is recommended for the first year and it comes after all the initial ones. After that, it is advisable to establish together with the veterinarian which are benefits of annual vaccination and which not. During the past, the DHLP vaccine was given every year. However, these recommendations have changed recently because each dog has different requirements. There is no such thing as the best vaccination program for all dogs.

For example, the introduction of a vaccine against Bordetella might be necessary in a dog’s vaccination schedule, but useless in others’. However, remember the vaccine against rabies is mandatory every year. Other vaccinations include those against coronavirus, Lyme and giardia too.

Dog taking a vaccine

The Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through a tick bite. It is characterized by the inflammation of multiple body systems, causing a lot of symptoms or clinical signs around joints, central nervous system, heart and other tissues.

Giardia affects a dog’s body by damaging its small intestine, leading to a deficient absorption of different nutrients, diarrhea and excessive gas production. Dogs are the bearers of Giardia strains that are infectious to humans, so animal to human transmission is possible in this particular case.

Side effects of vaccination in dogs

Like many medical treatments, the mandatory vaccines for dogs can have side effects too. However, it’s always good to put the advantages and the disadvantages of dog immunization in balance before taking a decision. Many veterinarians do not recommend the administration of optional vaccines. They only comply with the administration of the mandatory ones because they are required by law. The side effects that may occur after a dog’s immunization vary from dog to dog.

In general, most side effects occur locally, such as swelling. Moreover, allergic reactions are rare, but if they are not treated, they can be fatal. Usually, the side reactions occur shortly after the injection. If you notice your pup behaving strangely after you arrive home from the vet, do not hesitate to take it back.

Vaccines can stimulate a dog’s immune system to react against it, resulting in various diseases of the blood, skin, joints and the nervous system. However, these reactions are extremely rare, but if they occur, they can endanger the life of any dog, regardless of how strong it is. Also, there are rare cases when tumors occur in the exact area where the vaccine was made. In any case, your veterinarian can tell you more about the side effects that may occur in your canine pet’s as they differ depending on each canine patient’s type of body.

External and internal parasites in dogs

Taking care of a pup’s internal and external parasites is as important as going to the vet for the needed vaccines. Many dog owners tend to believe that ectoparasites, such as fleas and ticks have little or no activity during the winter. That should normally be true, but since the climate has changed a lot during the past decade, the ectoparasites have developed and they are now more resistant to low temperatures and harsh weather conditions.

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Therefore, newly dog owners should treat this aspect with the same seriousness as vaccination. The symptomatology of a dog with extoparasites in its system is not hard to guess. It feels itchy, loses hair, it is irritable and it develops certain forms of dermatitis. Our article on dogs’ flea allergies will help you realize the danger of these parasites.  Internal disinfestation is as important as the vaccination scheme and it should be done when a puppy is 5 weeks old, 7 weeks old and 11 weeks old.

Practical conclusions and measures

As shown, a puppy must be vaccinated the most during the first half year of its life and then just once per year. The standard schedule says that the vaccine against parvovirus should be administered after 6 weeks since birth, followed by 2 polyvalent vaccines at 8 weeks, respectively 12 weeks and by a vaccine against the coronavirus at the age of 14 weeks.

All these are done before the vaccine against rabies that must be administered after 6 months of life. In addition, a dog owner must know there are some rules that must be taken in consideration and followed strictly during the vaccination period of a pup.

Dog vaccination

The maintenance rules of a puppy during its vaccination months are as it follows: do not take your pooch outdoors, in your yard or on the balcony. Also, do not let it share a space with other pet or with another dog unless they are all of the same age and come from the same mother. In addition, try not to transport it in extreme conditions such as high humidity, cold temperatures or hot sun. It goes without saying that it should be kept away from poisonous substances or objects that it may swallow. A pup’s first year of life is critical and it should be treated as such.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Michelle Ramas

    This article will surely be my guide when I get a new dog this summer! I don’t understand why other dog owners disregard getting their pets proper vaccine.

  • John Porter

    I think that respecting a vaccination schedule is very important. It may be a bit pricey but you don’t want them to get sick. And of course we want to live with accordance with their lifespan so prevention is really better than that of cure.

  • The protection that vaccinations provide pays for itself. It is one of the most important aspects of being a pet parent because it protects our dogs from illnesses that can be life-threatening.

  • Don’t forget to have your new dog vaccinated. This is a must!

  • Chynna Lambert

    Yes, I agree that dogs should be treated like human babies. Don’t think of the cost. Think of it as a life saver. You’ll be thankful at the end that you gave them vaccine shots. However, is it normal for a dog to vomit a lot after a Lepto vaccine?

    • It can be a complication from the vaccine. You may want to have this checked by the veterinarian to make sure that everything is mighty fine.

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