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Puppy Vaccinations: What to Expect

By: PetPlace Staff

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Along with the many responsibilities that come with owning a puppy is learning what to expect regarding puppy vaccinations. When you think of vaccines you probably think of rabies and already know that adult dogs are typically vaccinated once a year. Vaccines protect your dog from infectious diseases that can spread quickly from dog to dog or be transmitted from dog to human, as in the case of rabies.

A puppy is due for its first round of vaccines when it is between six and eight weeks old, and receives additional rounds of vaccines every three to four weeks until it is between 16 and 20 weeks old.

Puppy vaccinations are called boosters. One shot contains all four vaccines against distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Your veterinarian may opt to vaccinate for additional diseases, such as Lyme, leptospirosis and coronavirus. You should discuss these additional vaccines at length with your veterinarian to determine whether it is advisable for
your puppy to receive them.

After your puppy is 20 weeks old, it will be finished with its puppy vaccinations, and will continue getting vaccines once a year. Some people involved with animal rights activism have recently challenged veterinarians on whether dogs require vaccinations every single year. If you believe that your dog does not need vaccines that often, make sure to discuss it with your veterinarian and get a second opinion. You may well reach the conclusion that your dog is safe as long as it is vaccinated once every two years. Do understand, however, that you must vaccinate your dog against rabies, by law, every year, and that puppy vaccinations cannot be skipped or you put your puppy at severe risk for contracting and spreading diseases that may prove fatal.

Puppy vaccinations include the following:

  • Bordetella is one of the bacteria responsible for causing kennel cough in your dog. Puppies are especially susceptible to it. Kennel cough is so named because dogs that are boarded often can come down with it. However, your dog can contract kennel cough at a vet's office or even a dog park. The vaccine helps prevent kennel cough. Kennel cough is treatable, usually beginning with a ten-day cycle of antibiotics, prescribed by a veterinarian. It can develop into a serious upper respiratory disease that can lead to lung collapse and death if left untreated.

  • Distemper is a viral disease that attacks a dog's respiratory and nervous systems. It is a serious and contagious disease that is extremely difficult to treat and is unfortunately almost always fatal.

  • Hepatitis in canines is a viral disease that attacks a dog's liver and eyes. It can lead to reproductive issues. This form of canine hepatitis is not contagious to people.

  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that aggressively attacks a dog's liver and kidneys. It can be transmitted to humans.

  • Parainfluenza is a viral respiratory disease that is highly contagious and may spread quickly from dog to dog. Dogs at shelters are especially susceptible.

  • Parvovirus is a serious contagious disease, and especially dangerous for puppies. A puppy that has been exposed to parvovirus, or parvo, can develop it. Parvo suppresses a dog's immune system and makes it experience severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is often fatal.

  • Rabies is a virus that can be carried by mammals and can be transmitted to humans. The virus is spread through wounds, via the saliva of a rabid animal. When caught early in humans, before symptoms manifest, it is treatable. However, once overt symptoms that include lack of coordination and difficulty swallowing manifest, the disease is fatal. Once a dog has rabies, it must be destroyed as the disease is always fatal, regardless of how early it is caught by veterinarians. Puppies do not receive their first rabies vaccine until the reach 3 months of age.

    It is especially crucial for you to understand how many vaccines your puppy requires, as well as how often it must receive them. Costs vary from veterinarian to veterinarian but obviously the costs of vaccinating a puppy are high compared with the costs of vaccinating an adult dog even once a year. Consider the costs before you commit to getting a puppy, as well as the time and patience required to take proper care of it, train it, and feed and shelter it.

    It is possible to find reputable places, such as the ASPCA or the Humane Society, that offer puppy vaccinations at lower costs. Check with several veterinarians in your area as well. If you find the cost of puppy vaccinations to be prohibitive, then consider getting an adult dog instead. Remember that skipping puppy vaccinations puts not only your puppy at risk but also other dogs with which it comes in contact.

    Save your records and make sure your puppy is up to date with all its boosters to ensure you have a healthy and happy puppy.

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