Preventative medical care is undoubtedly one of the most important things that you can do for your beloved canine, and the right preventatives can help him to enjoy a long, healthy and active life with you and your family. Vaccinations are easily one of the most important parts of any pet’s preventative care, and this clever and highly effective practice has saved the lives of millions of animals around the world.
While there are some vaccines that may be more important for dogs living in specific geographical locations, there are still a number of ‘core’ vaccines that are recommended for all canines regardless of where they live. Here is what you need to know about dog vaccinations and the schedule with which they should be given.
The importance of a vaccination schedule
Vaccines are designed to trigger an autoimmune response in your pet. To do this the vaccine is disguised as the offending disease, and the characteristics of the vaccine cause your dog’s body to think it is being attacked by an illness. His body then produces antibodies so that it can fight against the supposed illness. While the vaccine is harmless, if your dog were to come into contact with the actual disease, his body would recognize the same characteristics and automatically fight it before it can damage your pet.
However, each vaccine is only capable of triggering this autoimmune response for a certain amount of time. After this, the effectiveness of the initial vaccine is compromised, and your furbaby is vulnerable to the disease again, unless he receives another dose of the vaccine.
Since no responsible pet owner or veterinarian wants the animals in their care to become unwell, it is important to re-administer the vaccine before it is rendered useless. For this reason, veterinarians create a schedule of vaccinations to ensure that your dog remains consistently protected from infectious diseases.
Nevertheless, every animal is different, and this means that while there are guidelines as to when dogs should receive their vaccinations, this many need to be tweaked to suit the needs of each individual pet. Therefore, any good veterinarian will customize your dog’s vaccination program to his needs.
Puppy vaccination schedule
While your puppy is young his immune system is still developing. This means that while he still needs to begin his vaccination schedule, the doses need to be smaller and given closer together for the first year of his life. The following is a generally accepted guideline for puppy vaccinations.
Age 6/8 weeks: Distemper, Measles, Parainfluenza
Age 10/12 weeks: DHPP vaccine*
Age 12 to 24 weeks: Rabies
Age 14/16 weeks: DHPP vaccine
Age 12 to 16 months: DHPP vaccine, Rabies
*DHPP is a single vaccine that encompasses protection from Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus.
After this age, most veterinarians will recommend that your dog has the DHPP vaccine every 12 to 24 months, and a Rabies vaccine every 1 to 3 years depending on the law for your state.
In addition to the core vaccinations listed above, there are also a number of optional vaccines that may be recommended depending on the age, lifestyle and geographical location of your furbaby. These include:
⦁ Leptospirosis (although some vets consider this a core vaccine)
⦁ Lyme disease
Again, it is important that we stress there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ vaccination schedule. Instead, our veterinary team at Betty Baugh’s Animal Clinic will use information about your dog to decide which vaccines are valuable and necessary, and when they should be administered. Contact our Richmond, VA office to know more.