When Should a Puppy Have Its First Shots?

by Naomi Millburn
Regular vet care is imperative for canines of all ages.

Regular vet care is imperative for canines of all ages.

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As soon as you get your bouncy little puppy, you have a long list of things to do to get him all set up for his new life in your household. Feeding, cleaning, training -- your schedule's booked for several months at the least. Within those first few months, a series of puppy vaccinations is crucial.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are simply supplemental forms of defense against disease. They assist the immune system in battling potential hazardous diseases, whether through stopping them in their tracks entirely or minimizing their degree of intensity. They consist of antigens that appear similar to diseases but don't really trigger them. By taking in these antigens, puppies' bodies are primed to defend against the diseases upon legitimate encounters, should they occur.
Puppies require a couple of basic vaccines. One vaccination called "DHPP" mixes several vaccines into a single dose. It stands for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza -- the diseases the vaccination protects against. The other vaccination is the rabies vaccination. Outside of these basic vaccinations, your veterinarian might suggest others that are suitable for your pup. Depending on where you live, your puppy might need vaccinations for things such as Lyme disease, which is more common in some parts of the United States than in others. Apart from Lyme disease, another vaccine that might be necessary for some pups is one for coronavirus infection.

Speaking to the Veterinarian

As soon as your puppy enters your life, talk to the veterinarian immediately about all of the specific immunizations he needs, including the primary ones. Be prompt, and try to get to the vet within about a week after welcoming your new addition into your residence. Apart from talking exclusively about vaccinations, an initial veterinary exam is an absolute must -- one that involves everything from recording the little one's body weight to checking out the gums and the teeth.

Maternal Immunity

Puppies often begin their lives with health protection courtesy of good old mom. They get maternal immunity from the thick and yellowish colostrum milk she provides during the initial couple days after their birth. The defenses of this antibody-packed substance diminish until they are gone, usually once a pup gets to a few months in age. By this time, their immune systems are better poised to protect them.

First Vaccinations for Puppies

Puppies generally need to begin getting vaccinations when they're between 6 and 8 weeks old. Veterinarians typically space these puppy shots out, four to six weeks apart, in a series of three doses -- meaning most little guys usually get the last of these puppy shots when they're 16 weeks old.

Vaccinations in Adulthood

Your puppy isn't done once he gets all of his crucial puppy vaccinations. Adult canines also get regular shots. Consult your vet regarding all of the shots your wee one will need as an adult. A lot of factors potentially come into play, including your specific geographic location and your pooch's overall health. Not all dogs have the same needs and circumstances, vaccinationwise. Your vet's your best friend's best friend.

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About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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