Vaccinations save lives. Of course, there are many controversial reports and experts opinion about vaccinations is divided. After all; there are a few detrimental effects of vaccines on very young dogs. Having said this, it is still essential to work with your vet about the right vaccine schedules to follow in order to keep your young puppy healthy. No matter what its breed; your dog needs inoculation to protect him from deadly diseases. So it is always a good idea to be informed about dog vaccination schedules. So let us dive straight into this topic…
Before 6 weeks of age
All puppies below 6 weeks of age need their dam’s milk. They receive many important immune-building nutrients from the mother’s milk called colostrum. Colostrum is also the reason why the dam needs to be properly vaccinated during her pregnancy and prior to whelping. This way; she can pass all the immune enhancing nutrients to the litter. However, as soon as the puppies stop nursing, the immunity gained from colostrum weans off. This makes your pet vulnerable to diseases. The problem also lies in the fact that we can never know for sure when this second hand immunity weans off exactly, so any vaccines given before this period will become ineffective. That is the main reason why you need to revaccinate your pup over several weeks so they receive effective immunity and are not left unprotected. That is also the main reason why your pup needs several shots in one go.
Your pet’s breeder is responsible for the first few shots before your pet is old enough to be taken home. Ask your breeder to hand over all records of these vaccinations. Take the records to your vet so s/he can maintain a dog vaccination schedule chart for your pet. Meanwhile, do not let your pet go out to interact with strange dogs. Make sure that his immune system is A-okay first.
Canine diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations
Vaccinations are available for various canine diseases. Some are optional; others are mandatory and some are even necessary by law. If you wish to take your pet across international boundaries via air travel, board him in a kennel or have him work as a therapy dog, then you might have to even show proof of these vaccinations.
This is a deadly canine disease which may be transmitted to humans through dog saliva. Because of its deadly symptoms, it is mandatory by state laws to have all pets vaccinated against rabies. Your puppy will be given its first shot at 3-4 months (16 weeks), and later you have to give one booster per year or as suggested by your vet or state laws. Some states need you to give a booster every 3 years.
Canine distemper is a preventable disease thanks to vaccinations. Earlier, before the vaccine was developed, this disease led to many deaths and broke many hearts. Symptoms of canine distemper include vomiting, diarrhea and neurological symptoms. While it can be cured, the treatment is far more expensive than a simple vaccine. Puppies as old as 6 weeks are given the first distemper/measles shot and thereafter, inoculated again every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Vets then recommend annual shots.
Canine hepatitis is highly contagious and can affect unvaccinated pups. It is caused by adenovirus. The adenovirus vaccine is usually given with the distemper vaccine.
This vaccine is controversial since some puppies are known to have an adverse reaction to it. Lepto comes in many different strains and even with vaccination; your puppy isn’t always safe. Leptspirosis is typically seen in the rural areas. Many vets choose not to give this vaccine though there are some who administer it as part of a combination vaccine.
This is one of the deadly canine viruses and breeders greatly fear it. The virus can remain in the environment for years. Parvo causes fatal intestinal bleeding. Vets usually recommend 3 vaccines by the age of 16 weeks and an optional fourth by 18-20 weeks. Annual boosters are also recommended.
Kennel cough or tracheobronchitis vaccine is an optional one since the disease is not fatal. The disease leads to symptoms like dry, hacking cough especially in dogs that are boarded. Also, the vaccines effects do not last too long and they usually only protect against common strains like Bordatella and CPIV (influenza). Nonetheless, you may consider this vaccine if you plan to show your dog or board him. It is best to give this vaccine a week prior to exposure. Annual boosters are also recommended.
This is another optional vaccine for dogs living in tick infested areas. Speak to your vet if your dog needs this vaccine. Many vets state that they have prevented several cases of Lyme thanks to the vaccine. But in areas where there is no incidence of Lyme disease, the vaccine may not be a critical issue.
Dog vaccination schedule
Recently, many vets have changed their dog vaccination schedule protocols. One such protocol consists of a 5 in one shot series for pups including Parovirus, Adenovirus (CAV-2), Parainfluenza (CPIV), rabies and distemper. Following this regime, a booster shot is recommended annually. Subsequent boosters may be given every three years. Depending on who you talk to, opinions will vary. So always talk to your vet about what the current thinking is.
Here is a puppy vaccination schedule chart along with summary of dog vaccination schedule:
- For puppy below 16 weeks of age, one shot of CPV, CDV, CAV-2 is recommended at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks and 12 to 16 weeks.
- Dogs older than 16 weeks, one dose of vaccine with modified live virus of CPV, CDV, CAV-2 and rabies is recommended.
- For adult dogs, two groups of vaccines-core (rabies, adenovirus, parvovirus and distemper) noncore vaccines (Kennel cough, Lyme disease, Leptspirosis)-are recommended.
Vaccinations are usually a good thing and no matter their side effects, all dogs must be vaccinated for their sake and for the sake of others. Avoid vaccinations in puppies below 6 weeks of age and give 2-3 doses of vaccines spaced at least 2-4 weeks apart. Annual boosters are recommended at one year of age. Depending on what your vet thinks and also on state laws, boosters may be given at one year and later on at once every three years. It is important to measure serum antibodies in your pet in between vaccinations. For this, you need to get your dog’s blood tested annually. Geriatric dogs do not need boosters but you may have their blood tested for serum antibodies.