During the first few weeks of life puppies have natural immunity which is passed to them via their mother’s milk. As this only lasts for a few weeks, it leaving them exposed to disease.
There are two different types of vaccinations that your dog should receive.
- core vaccines
The first type is called core vaccines, and includes the vaccinations that are considered essential for all dogs, involving diseases that are easily transferred and/or fatal. These diseases are rabies, adenovirus, parvovirus and distemper,
- non-core vaccines
Other vaccinations are considered to be non-core vaccines, and include protection against diseases that are dependent upon environmental exposure or lifestyle. These are the vaccinations that you will need to discuss with your veterinarian to determine if your dog needs them, and include Lyme disease, kennel cough and leptospirosis vaccines.
As a general rule of thumb pups get their first vaccination at six weeks and it is called Parvo.
Then at 8 weeks your pup commences a primary vaccination course which consists of 2 vaccinations a fortnight apart. It is important that your puppy does not socialise with other dogs for another two weeks to allow their immunity to develop fully. After those, booster vaccinations are to follow.
Frequency of vaccinations
When your dog is a puppy, there is a very standard schedule of vaccinations that needs to be met during his first year of life. After this initial year, the core vaccinations of parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper should be administered every one to three years, based on your veterinarian’s recommendation.
Although some veterinarians are standing by the traditional yearly vaccination schedule, others are following the AAHA guidelines in vaccinating less frequently, and with individual circumstances taken into consideration they recommend only re-administer vaccinations every three years. State and city governments will determine how often a rabies vaccination must be given, and your vet will know the guidelines for your area. This time frame could range from once a year to once every three years.
If your dog is visiting kennels frequently, or is in regular contact with other dogs through shows or grooming salons, you may need to keep up with some of the non-core vaccinations as well. Sometimes these types of vaccines will need to be administered more often, such as in the case of a kennel cough vaccine that is sometimes offered every six months.
Even if you decide that vaccinations every three years are the best choice for your dog, an annual examination by your veterinarian is still essential to keep your dog healthy and happy. Keep in mind that an annual check-up is the equivalent of a human only heading to the doctor’s office every five to seven years. A lot can happen during this time, which is why it is so important for your vet to take a look at your dog regularly. Early detection of problems can mean more effective treatment options and a healthier pet overall.
Health risks associated with vaccinations
Some pet owners worry that vaccinating their dogs will carry health risks as well. While any medical procedure, including vaccinations, do carry some degree of risk, the risk is generally much greater if you do not have your dog vaccinated at all.
Reactions to vaccinations are relatively rare, and will generally include pain or swelling at the point of injection. Sometimes dogs have an allergic reaction to a vaccination, which will appear fairly quickly after the shot is given.
If you suspect an allergic reaction in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately, since these types of problems can become quite serious and even fatal. An even rarer reaction to vaccination will cause your dog’s immune system to respond by attacking the tissue within the body, resulting in disorders of the skin, joints, blood, or nervous system. These situations can also be very serious but are fortunately also quite rare.