Puppies are some of our favorite fuzzy family members! Just like our human children, puppies need vaccinations to help prevent and avoid diseases that can prove detrimental and sometimes deadly. Make sure your sweet little fur baby grows up to be a healthy, strong dog by making sure they get the medical attention and vaccinations they need. A puppy shot schedule is pretty much laid out the same for all breeds and initial puppy vaccinations are usually given in sets.
Why stick to a Puppy Shot Schedule?
Just as our human children must have vaccinations prior to entering school to help them fight diseases, puppies need vaccinations too. Vaccines help prevent diseases, and often vaccines can save the life of your puppy or dog. Just as there are core vaccines and booster shots for children, there are core vaccines and boosters available for our dogs too. According to the American Animal Hospital’s Canine Task Force, there are four core vaccines all puppies and dogs need: rabies, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis and distemper vaccines.
Rabies is deadly for both humans and dogs. Rabies is spread through the bite and saliva of any wild animal, and when dogs spend time outside, they need to have a rabies shot and an annual booster to protect them from this deadly and horrible disease. Many states in the US require a rabies shot for a new puppy, and annual boosters are required thereafter. Keep your puppy vaccinated and protected from rabies by making sure they get their first rabies shot as soon as possible.
Canine parvovirus, sometimes known simply as parvo, is a fast-acting gastrointestinal disease that can kill a dog in as little as 48 to 72 hours. Puppies are especially vulnerable to this disease, as it causes sudden and massive dehydration. Symptoms include vomiting, severe and bloody diarrhea, and a high fever. The parvovirus vaccine can help prevent this disease, especially in puppies. Should your puppy contract this disease prior to being vaccinated, call your veterinarian immediately and try to keep your puppy hydrated as best you can until the virus runs its course.
There is no known cure for distemper, and this is another fast-acting and deadly disease. Vaccinating your puppy against distemper can help their immune system fight distemper and keep them healthy in the long run.
The virus that causes canine hepatitis is not related to the human variant, and most dogs can overcome the mild form of this disease. The more severe form, however, is deadly. Symptoms are similar to what humans experience–jaundice, vomiting, and swelling around the abdomen and liver. The vaccine can help puppies and dogs fight off the less severe form of the disease so that it can be treated by a vet.
Optional Puppy Vaccinations
Aside from the four core vaccines in the puppy shot schedule, some “optional” vaccines may be scheduled for your puppy. Some of these, however, may not be necessary, depending upon your puppy’s possible exposure to some of these diseases. Some other vaccines you may want to consider for your puppy may include vaccinations to prevent kennel cough, corona virus, heartworm (this is helpful for older dogs as well), and Lyme disease. Kennel cough can be deadly for puppies, as it affects their respiratory system and ability to breath. Heartworm can be deadly if not vaccinated against and treated properly, especially in older dogs, and Lyme disease can be just as deadly for dogs as it is for humans. One of the best defenses against Lyme disease is to make sure your puppy is vaccinated against it, as well as checking periodically for ticks when or if they have spent any time in the woods. Should you find a tick on your dog or puppy, pull the tick off immediately and take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Scheduling Puppy Vaccinations
The best way to set and keep a schedule for your puppy’s vaccinations is to set up an initial consultation and puppy check-up with your vet. Depending upon the age of your puppy when you first get them, this will set the rest of the time periods for vaccinations. Listed below is a suggested schedule:
6-8 week old puppy – distemper, kennel cough (optional)
10-12 week old puppy – distemper, parvovirus
12-24 weeks – rabies vaccine
14-16 weeks – coronavirus, Lyme disease
Annual rabies vaccinations may be required by law, depending upon which state you live in. Though rabies vaccinations may not, necessarily, be required annually, the dog owner should check with their local veterinarian to see what the law states where they live.
Ensuring your Puppy a Fantastic Experience at the Veterinary Clinc
Much like our human babies and children, our puppies may be a bit apprehensive about going to the doctor. After all, no one likes to be poked, prodded, or have something jammed into their rectum to see whether they are running a fever or not. Most vets are very gentle with new puppies and their owners. The vet will, initially, weigh your puppy at every visit to make sure they are growing at a normal rate, as well as make sure they are eating well. The first round of shots should happen between six and eight weeks old. If your puppy is a little nervous because of all the excitement of other dogs in the waiting room, try to calm your puppy down with a gentle voice and calm, light petting. After the first set of shots, your puppy may be a bit lethargic or sleepy. This is normal. Allow your puppy to take a nap and take it easy, and they are often back to their usual boisterous, energetic selves the next day. Make sure your puppy gets rewarded with treats for being a good boy or girl at the vet, and if they feel up to the extra play time, allow them to play and run around after a good visit. Some vets even offer puppy treats after vaccinations.
Cost of Puppy Vaccinations
Most of the core vaccinations in the puppy shot schedule cost anywhere from $75-$100, depending upon location and whether or not other veterinary services are necessary. Local animal shelters may offer a discounted rate, but it is a good idea to find a regular vet for your puppy. After the first year, many states only require a rabies vaccination on a set schedule of one to three years, but many vets also suggest a distemper booster as well. Just as human babies need a schedule for vaccinations, puppies do, too! Make sure your fur baby grows up healthy, happy and strong by scheduling (and keeping) vaccination appointments with your local veterinarian. After all, your dog is a part of your family, just like your kids!
If you would like to read more information regarding dog vaccinations or to read up further on the puppy shot schedule, be sure to visit American Kennel Club.