Dogs are like family members to us pet lovers, and seeing them sick is never a good feeling. However, some illnesses are more preventable than others.
Thanks to modern health science and technology, we can protect our beloved pups from many sicknesses that can affect them. Vaccines are a great way to do so. But how many times should I vaccinate my dog?
In this article, we’ll dive into what you need to know about vaccinating your furry pal — from the types of shots they should get to how often they should get these vaccines.
The Importance of Vaccination in Dogs
What makes vaccinations so important? They play a crucial role in your dog’s health by shielding them from many dangerous diseases.
Vaccines work by helping the dog’s immune system recognize and fight specific disease-causing viruses or bacteria. This helps reduce the severity or prevent certain diseases that could otherwise be serious or even fatal. Without vaccinations, your dog is at risk of contracting illnesses like Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, and more.
When Should You Start Vaccinating Your Dog?
The vaccination process starts when your dog is still a puppy. Puppies receive disease-fighting antibodies while nursing from their mother, but these antibodies can interfere with early vaccination.
So, veterinarians usually recommend starting vaccinations when the puppy is around six to eight weeks old. By then, they should be less reliant on their mother’s milk. Their first vaccination series will continue every three to four weeks until they’re about 16 weeks old.
How Often Should Your Dog Get Vaccinated?
Once your dog has completed their puppy vaccination series, they will need to have regular booster shots throughout their life. How often these boosters are needed depends on the specific vaccine, your dog’s health status, and the veterinary regulations in your area.
Some vaccines are given annually, while others may be given every three years. For instance, vaccines against diseases like Leptospirosis and Bordetella often require yearly boosters, while Rabies and Distemper vaccines might only require a booster every three years.
Which Factors Can Affect Vaccination Frequency?
Every dog is unique, and various factors can influence how often your dog should be vaccinated. These factors include:
- Age: Older dogs may not need to be vaccinated as often as younger dogs since they have already built up immunity to several diseases. However, some vets might adjust this depending on the dog’s health and lifestyle changes.
- Medical History: Dogs with a history of adverse reactions to vaccines may need to have their vaccination schedule adjusted.
- Lifestyle: Dogs that often come into contact with other dogs, such as those regularly visiting dog parks or kennels, may need more frequent vaccinations.
- Legal Requirements: Some vaccinations, such as the Rabies vaccine, are required by law in many areas and need to be updated regularly.
What Types of Vaccines Should Dogs Get?
Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, regardless of their location, lifestyle, or breed. These vaccines protect against the most common and serious diseases that can affect dogs.
Here are some core vaccines your dogs should get:
- Rabies Vaccine
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can affect all mammals, including humans. The virus is usually transmitted through a bite from an infected animal.
The first rabies vaccine is typically given to puppies at the age of 12 to 16 weeks and then boosted a year later, and then every one to three years, depending on the specific vaccine used and local laws.
- Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus (DAPP) Vaccine
This is a combination vaccine that protects against several potentially fatal diseases, including:
- Canine Distemper Virus (CDV): This is a contagious disease that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
- Canine Adenovirus Type 1 and 2: Type 1 causes infectious hepatitis, a potentially fatal liver disease. Type 2 can cause respiratory disease.
- Canine Parainfluenza Virus: This virus causes kennel cough, a serious disease that spreads quickly via droplets of saliva.
- Canine Parvovirus (CPV): This is another highly contagious viral illness that affects the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. It is especially serious in puppies.
Puppies usually get their first DAPP vaccine between six and eight weeks, followed by booster shots every three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. Adult dogs typically need a booster every three years.
Non-core vaccines are recommended based on a dog’s lifestyle, breed, location, and exposure risk. These vaccines protect against diseases that are not as common or severe but can still affect your dog’s health.
Some non-core vaccines include:
- Leptospirosis Vaccine
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect many animals, including dogs and humans. It is spread through the urine of infected animals, often rodents. This vaccine is best for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in areas with standing water. The leptospirosis vaccine is typically given at the same time as the DAPP vaccine, but it requires a separate injection.
- Bordetella Vaccine
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is one of the most common causes of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. The Bordetella vaccine is often required for dogs that are boarded, attend daycare, or participate in group training classes. The vaccine is available as an injection or as a nasal or oral spray.
- Lyme Disease Vaccine
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme vaccine is generally recommended for dogs that live in or travel to areas where ticks are prevalent.
- Canine Influenza Vaccine
Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. There are two known strains of the influenza A virus that infect dogs: H3N8 and H3N2. The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine. It is recommended for dogs that are boarded, attend daycare, visit dog parks, or are otherwise exposed to large numbers of dogs.
Always Consult Your Vet
While this guide provides a quick overview of dog vaccinations, it’s best to remember that every dog is unique, and their vaccination needs might differ. Always consult your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your dog’s age, lifestyle, and health condition. They will provide you with a tailored schedule that ensures your furry friend stays safe and healthy.
If you’re ready to get your dog vaccinated, schedule a home veterinarian visit with our trusted vets here at PetPal! It’s a quick, convenient, and affordable process. Book now!