*This is an excerpt from the first draft of my EBook, “Everything Your Veterinarian Wants You to Know About Your New Puppy,” coming in August 2018.*
This is where things can get a little complicated, as the standard varies even among veterinarians. The best source for what is best for your puppy is your veterinarian. The information in this post is condensed to an easy checklist that you can download for free Right here.
Basically, most puppies need four sets of shots, starting at six weeks of age and continuing every three weeks until finished. This means that your puppy will have two sets of shots after he or she is 12 weeks old, which is important as 12 weeks is around the time when the immunity they received from their mother disappears.
“Core” vaccines are defined as vaccines that are recommended for all dogs and puppies, regardless of their lifestyle or habits. Core vaccines include DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza) and rabies. DHPP protects against four serious, often fatal, diseases that are transmissible between dogs, and the rabies vaccination is required by law in almost all states.
I recommend a bordatella vaccine for all my canine patients, as well. Bordatella was once called “kennel cough,” but now people are starting to call it “canine cough,” as it is highly contagious and your pet doesn’t have to be in a kennel to get it. Canine cough can be transmitted by encountering any respiratory secretions- so dogs that leave their house for walks, have a fence line that shares a border with other pets, or that go to the groomer or dog park should be vaccinated for it.
Other Vaccinations- Lepto, Flu, and Lyme Disease
Vaccines that aren’t considered core include leptospirosis, canine influenza, and Lyme disease. You should ask your veterinarian if, besides the standard vaccines series, if he recommends any additional vaccines for your puppy.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread in the urine of wild animals and livestock. It is very significant as it can be spread to humans, too. If you live in the southeastern United States, live on a farm or other rural area, have a dog that likes to swim, have a hunting dog, or live in a household with immunocompromised people (the elderly, young children, pregnant women, transplant recipients, etc), I highly recommend vaccinating for this disease.
Canine Influenza is “the dog flu.” It is becoming more and more common in areas of the united states. It is a respiratory disease, much like human influenza, and is spread easily via respiratory secretions. If your dog comes into contact with other dogs- at a boarding kennel, dog park, training class, groomer- I highly recommend vaccinating for this disease.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease, meaning that dogs contract it once they are bitten by an infected tick. Vaccination and tick control are two ways to prevent this disease. In the United States, at risk areas for Lyme disease include the northeast and the upper Midwest. If you live in these areas, I highly encourage you to vaccinate for Lyme disease and adopt a strong tick control program. If you live anywhere else, one or the other will likely prevent it.
What do I do?
Personally, my dogs are vaccinated for their core vaccines (including canine cough) plus leptospirosis and canine influenza. They often go with me to hike and ride horses, so they could potentially contact urine from infected animals or swim in an infected pond. They also come with me to work and enjoy going to the dog park. I do not vaccinate my pets for Lyme disease as we do not live in an area where the disease is very common, and I keep my dogs on tick prevention year-round
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Question for Readers: Has your pet every contracted a preventable illness? Which vaccines does your vet recommend for your dog?
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