As a caring owner, you know the importance of getting your puppy immunized. You’ve read about viruses such as parvo and distemper, and know these can be fatal. You continue with your dog’s annual vaccines into his adult years, but now you’re reading different opinions about yearly protocols. It’s time to talk to your vet.
Whether yearly boosters are needed in adult dogs is being studied and debated, however there is little disagreement over the importance of the puppy vaccine series. It is estimated puppies have a natural immunity from a vaccinated mother until 6 to 8 weeks of age. The first vaccine should be given around this time, and every three to four weeks afterward until they are 16 weeks of age. This vaccine is typically a combination of canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Protocols may vary slightly depending on where you live or the breed of your dog.
The only vaccine required by law is rabies. In the U.S., the majority of states require it be given every three years, whereas some states require it annually. Check with your local laws. As an owner, be careful not to let this vaccine lapse. If your dog should come into contact with a wild animal, such as a raccoon, or should happen to nip someone, strict quarantine laws can keep your dog kenneled in a shelter for a period of time.
Rabies, canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus are considered core vaccines. A few of the non-core vaccines are the ones for kennel cough, Lyme disease and leptospirosis. How often these are administered, or if given at all, depends on your dog’s natural exposure, the risk of vaccine reactions or where he travels with you.
Vaccines can have side effects. Spiking a slight fever afterward is not uncommon. In extreme cases, vaccine reactions can be fatal. At the same time, vaccines have saved the lives of countless dogs. Age, exposure risk and your dog’s health are just a few of the factors to consider. Make sure to keep up with your dog's annual health exams, and talk to your vet about what vaccine protocol is best.
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