Puppy Vaccination Schedule: The when, what and why of vaccinating your puppy.
Puppies, like most young animals, are vulnerable to all kinds of diseases. It is therefore vital that they are vaccinated at a young age.
But what to vaccinate against, and when? Fortunately, that’s easy. Just follow the advice of your vet and you’ll be okay.
Having said that, it is important to know what shots are needed, and when they need to be given. Missing even one vaccinations could have tragic consequences for your puppy.
Additionally, you need to understand that while vaccinations are essential, they also have associated risks and side effects.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule: Why You Must Vaccinate Your Puppy
Most young animals, are born with under-developed immune systems that makes them vulnerable to disease. To give them a fighting chance at survival, nature provides a substance called colostrum, which occurs naturally in mother’s milk.
However, from about 5 weeks the effects of the colostrum begin to diminish, and by 16 to 20 weeks will provide no protection at all. Vaccinating your puppy provides him with the protection he needs when this happens.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule: Diseases Puppies are immunized against
Puppy vaccinations are often called a “five in one” because they are given in combination to protect against 5 dangerous diseases. There may also be other vaccines based on dangers specific to the environment where you live, for example, if there is a heartworm risk.
The 5 “core” diseases your puppy will be immunized against, are;
Canine Distemper: A highly contagious and usually fatal disease transmitted by contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected dog. If untreated it causes seizures, convulsions and ultimately heart and respiratory failure.
Canine Hepatitis Virus: Spread by contact with saliva, urine or stool from an infected dog. It attacks the abdominal organs and can cause death within 6 to 10 days of infection.
Leptospirosis: A serious bacterial disease spread through coming into contact with the urine of an infected dog. It has a very high mortality rate as it causes extensive damage to the digestive tract, the liver and kidneys.
Parainfluenza: An extremely contagious form of kennel cough. It is usually transmitted by physical contact with an infected dog, although it can also becoming airborne.
Parvo virus: A highly contagious viral disease that is spread through contact. Parvo is particularly dangerous to puppies and young dogs and often fatal if not treated.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
Your puppy will receive his or her first series of vaccines between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Your vet will determine the appropriate puppy vaccination schedule, but this is a common timetable.
5 weeks: Parvovirus (for puppies at high risk, check with your vet.)
6 and 9 weeks: 5 in 1 vaccine (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvo), Coronavirus (where this is a concern)
12 weeks: Rabies (timing may vary, according to local bi-laws)
12 & 15 weeks: 5 in 1 vaccine, Coronavirus, Lyme disease (where these are a concern)
Adult (annual shots): 5 in 1 vaccine, Coronavirus, Lyme disease (where these are a concern), Rabies.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule: Risks and Side-effects of Vaccinating
Although vaccinations are an absolute must for your dog, you should be aware that there are some risks involved. Mostly these are mild reactions like pain and swelling at the injection site, lethargy or mild fever.
In some cases severe allergic reactions can occur. Although these are uncommon, they include hives, facial swelling, and difficulty breathing. If your puppy develops any of these symptoms call your vet immediately.
There is also the possibility of auto-immune disorders, but such reactions to vaccination are extremely rare, and despite the potential risks, most veterinarians agree that the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risks. It is important though that you follow the puppy vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian.