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As a pet owner, nothing warms your heart more than seeing your puppy happy and healthy. The first step in ensuring that your pup lives a good life is making sure they’re vaccinated. In the first year of your puppy’s life, they are especially vulnerable to dangerous infectious diseases. Pet vaccinations strengthen your puppy’s immune system and minimize the effects of illnesses if your pup becomes infected.

In the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, maternal antibodies offer some protection against viral diseases. The mother’s antibodies are quite potent, but they are also temporary. The antibodies slowly start to disappear from the puppy’s bloodstream and are completely gone when it reaches 16 weeks of age.

When vaccinating your puppy, it’s essential to get the timing right because the mother’s antibodies can interfere with the vaccine’s ability to take to your puppy’s immune system.

When is the right time to start vaccinating a puppy?

Generally, puppies should obtain their first vaccinations when they are between six to eight weeks old.

Have you recently adopted a puppy? If so, you should obtain your puppy’s medical records so that you’ll know which vaccines they have already received and what vaccines they will require next.

Most vaccines are administered between two to four weeks apart. It can take up to ten days after a final vaccination before your puppy is fully protected. Some puppies might require an additional three to four vaccines for specific diseases until approximately 20 weeks of age.

The vaccination schedule for each puppy is based on a few factors, such as your puppy’s risk of contracting certain diseases and the lifestyle you are planning for your furry friend.

What Vaccines Does Your Puppy Need? 

There are two types of vaccines that you need to consider for your puppy – core and non-core.  Core vaccines are required by state law, while non-core vaccines are optional but recommended. 

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are required for all dogs, whether they’re indoor or outdoor pets.  Core vaccines include:

  • Distemper – Canine distemper is a disease that attacks vital bodily systems such as the gastrointestinal (GI), nervous, and respiratory systems in dogs, cats, and other animals. The bacteria that cause this virus can spread through shared food and water bowls.
  • Hepatitis – This highly contagious viral infection affects the kidneys, liver, spleen, and lungs. While most dogs can overcome a mild form of canine hepatitis, it can be fatal once it worsens.
  • Parvovirus – Parvovirus is a severe viral illness in puppies that causes gastrointestinal problems such as decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. This vaccine can prevent your puppy from contracting this often fatal illness. 
  • Rabies – All mammals can contract rabies, including dogs and humans. It’s a dangerous viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. Infected animals and people often experience headaches, hallucinations, fear of water, and excessive drooling.  Rabies is almost always fatal.  Rabies goes from mammal to mammal through bites. If your dog gets bitten by an infected animal, it will need immediate treatment, or it could die. For that reason, most states require rabies vaccinations for dogs.

You should schedule an appointment for your puppy to receive this vaccine at 10 to 12 weeks old. Your puppy should receive DHP booster shots at 16 to 18 weeks old, 12 to sixteen months old, and every one to two years.

Other Vaccines

Non-core vaccinations are important, but they aren’t ideal for all puppies. Your vet may recommend these optional pet vaccinations depending on your puppy’s age, medical history, and lifestyle:

  • Lyme Disease – This vaccine can help prevent Lyme disease. Puppies can receive the first dose at 10 to 12 weeks old and may require yearly boosters depending on lifestyle and risk.
  • Canine Influenza –   The H3N2 and H3N8 are two vaccine series that can help prevent both strains of canine influenza.  
  • Bordetella – The Bordetella vaccine prevents kennel cough and is ideal for social puppies. Most boarding facilities require that your dog has this vaccine. Your puppy can receive the first shot at six to eight weeks old and optional booster shots as recommended by your vet, depending on your puppy’s lifestyle.

General Vaccine Schedule for Dogs

Vaccinating your dog takes more than a single trip to the veterinarian for one shot of medicinal products. Dogs have a vaccination schedule, and they won’t be fully vaccinated and protected long-term from disease-causing microbes unless you adhere to it. 

The typical dog vaccination schedule is as follows: 

  • 6 to 8 Weeks: Distemper and parvovirus with an option for Bordetella
  • 10 to 12 Weeks: DHPP (A five-in-one vaccine for Canine Distemper Virus, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease
  • 16 to 18 Weeks: DHPP with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease
  • 12 to 16 Months: DHPP with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease 

In most cases, a veterinarian will administer core vaccines every two to four weeks. The schedule will help boost a dog’s immune system and offer optimal protection against severe sicknesses well into adulthood.

Visit Penny Paws Animal Clinic for Your Pet’s Vaccinations

Late puppy vaccinations can compromise your pet’s immune system. If you haven’t started your puppy’s vaccination process or have missed a scheduled vaccine booster, it’s important to get your puppy on a vaccination schedule.  If your puppy is late or overdue for vaccinations, talk to a vet as soon as possible.

Here at Penny Paws Animal Clinic, our vets have years of experience formulating a healthy vaccination schedule for dogs and cats. Contact us today to book a pet vaccination appointment at Penny Paws Animal Clinic.