During the formative years of your pup’s life, the best gift you can give him is to take care of his physical health by having him vaccinated. While it might seem tedious visiting the vet repeatedly for vaccine shots, boosters or titters, these jabs can make the difference between having a healthy vibrant pet family member or a canine suffering from a dangerous and potentially fatal disease.
It can be confusing to know which vaccination you should give to your pup, that’s why we’ve given a list below of diseases you can avoid by getting the correct vaccines. It’s also useful to understand that some vaccines apply to all dogs while others are specifically made for your dog’s lifestyle and location where you reside.
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It’s good to consult your vet about which vaccines to get your dog. He should be able to examine your dog and check his medical and vaccination history. If the vet is satisfied that any jabs received from the shelter or breeder (depending on where your pet came from) have been done properly, he will advise you on any follow-up vaccinations your puppy might need going forward.
When it comes to frequency, animal accrediting bodies such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend vaccinating your puppy every two to four weeks if they’re aged between 6 to 16 weeks, and arranging to have the final vaccines done from the 16th week onwards.
Vaccines are divided into two categories: core and non-core vaccines.
The AAHA in its 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines recommends that core vaccines for dogs should include
Unlike the standalone immunizations, like the rabies vaccine, multivalent vaccination is made up of different vaccine antigens that come in a single dose. This makes them convenient to administer to your pup and offer protection against a range of dangerous diseases.
A typical multivalent vaccine that is recommended by the AAHA is DA2PP. In the acronym, D stands for canine distemper, A2 for canine adenovirus type 2 and the double P for canine parvovirus and parainfluenza respectively.
You may also find the letter “L” included in some of these combination-vaccines. “L” stands for leptospirosis – a non-core vaccine which should be administered based on each dog’s individual risk of exposure according to the AAHA. Canine coronavirus was used in the past in some combination-vaccines but is no longer recommended by veterinarians.
Some researchers suggest alternating vaccinations for your pup from one year to the other. They recommend going for monovalent vaccines as opposed to multivalent vaccines. For example, you could give your dog a vaccine that only contains parvovirus as a standalone immunization. Under this arrangement, your dog would be vaccinated against a different disease each year. An example would be a vaccination against distemper in one year, against canine adenovirus-2 in the next one, and against parvovirus in the third year.
A word of caution here: multiple vaccines should never be mixed in one syringe unless specified on the product label.
Irrespective of whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, if you’re not aware of his vaccination history, you should go ahead and administer the core vaccines. Not only will it protect your dog, it will decrease, if not eliminate, the risk of spreading contagious diseases to others.
The decision whether or not to give non-core vaccines is left to you, the dog owner, and your vet to make.
The average dog’s vaccination schedule should look something like this:
|Puppy’s Age||Recommended Vaccinations||Optional Vaccinations|
|6 to 8 weeks||Distemper, measles, parainfluenza||Bordatella|
|10 to 12 weeks||DHPP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis],
parainfluenza, and parvovirus)
|Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordatella, Lyme disease|
|12 to 24 weeks||Rabies||None|
|14 to 16 weeks||DHPP||Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis|
|12 to 16 months||Rabies, DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 1 to 2 years||DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 1 to 3 years||Rabies (as required by law)||None|
Although most vaccinations come with their share of side effects, serious side effects resulting from puppy vaccinations are uncommon. Sometimes swelling may form at the site of the injection and even though it may it may not mean much, you need to let your vet have a look to ensure the skin hasn’t become infected.
Core vaccinations like the rabies vaccine and DA2PP are considered very safe for most puppies. At any rate, the benefits of giving these jabs far outweigh their risks as they protect your dog against life-threatening diseases. Noncore vaccines are also quite safe, but if there’s little likelihood of your pup getting exposed to the disease, there’s really no need for the vaccine.
Some unvaccinated dogs get by without getting potentially fatal diseases like distemper or parvovirus due to herd immunity. When the vast majority of canines in a locality are vaccinated, those that don’t get the jab benefit from the widespread immunity within the community. When a large number of your neighbors vaccinate their dogs the chance that your dog will come into contact with a serious disease diminishes significantly. Put differently, if your dog makes it without getting immunized, you have your neighbors to thank for this.
Before allowing your puppy to socialize with other dogs he should have received his third puppy vaccine at the age of 12 weeks. Until then he cannot enjoy full immunity against illnesses such as Parvo which is highly infectious.
The cost of jabs for your puppy varies from one area to another and also depends on what disease your puppy is getting vaccinated for. You’ll often find that veterinarians in urban residential areas often charge more compared to a vet in a small rural town. Sometimes vaccinations are also combined with other crucial puppy preventative care elements, like physical examinations and deworming, which can add to the cost of your visit to the vet.
According to petcarerx.com vaccines costs are as follows:
|DAPPV||$20-$30 per jab||administered three times at 6, 12 and 16 weeks old|
|Rabies||$10-$15||Usually required by state law|
Non- core vaccines
|Coronavirus||$10-$15||Administered twice for a total cost of $20-$30. Can also be administered together with DAPPV to form a five-way vaccine|
|Lyme, Leptospirosis, Bordetella and Canine Influenza||$10-$15 each||Each vaccine is administered twice for a total cost of $20-$30|
Animal shelters usually charge less for vaccines or sometimes even offer them for free. If you’ve acquired your dog from a shelter, chances are he will have received vaccinations up until the time you adopted him.
Opinion is split on whether dogs should be vaccinated every year. Some vets believe that too many vaccinations can lead to health complications, while others believe that yearly vaccinations prevent dangerous diseases like distemper.
A way out of this is to get a titer test for your dog before giving him an annual vaccination. During the test, your vet uses a blood sample from your pup to check his immunity. The way it works is the titer searches for antibodies in the blood sample that are specific for each different disease. This way, the titer makes it possible for you to have your dog vaccinated against specifically those diseases for which his immunity is low.
Reaching his first year of age is an important milestone for your pup. This period can also be a fun and exciting time for both of you. It goes without saying that you need to use this time to give him the best care possible including the necessary immunization that will keep him healthy and enable you to foster an enduring relationship with your furry friend. Get more info from our other article involving dog allergies and vaccinations here.
When not writing about himself in the third person, Andy spends many an hour walking his mischievous, mixed breed rescue dog Mr Wox, aka Soxy Woxy. A leading authority on dog-related topics, Andy is highly respected, deeply appreciated and widely admired.