The chances are good that, if reading this, you are either contemplating getting a puppy, or you already have one. Of course, the question arises about dog or puppy shots. Does your dog need them? Does he not? How often does your puppy or adult dog need shots, and what are they for? We look at addressing these questions.
A dog, like a human, needs taking to a doctor regularly for check-ups – in this case, the veterinarian. Much like a human baby, a puppy also needs his vaccines so that he does not develop certain illnesses that may possibly be life threatening.
The following are some tips, advice, and general information to ensure you have a healthy, long-lived puppy that makes a well-rounded and great family member.
Where do I take my puppy for shots?
Traditionally, you would take your puppy to the veterinarian to get his shots. There are, however, other options available.
These days, there are mobile clinics that go around to different neighborhoods, bringing the veterinarian to your door. The costs of shots at these mobile clinics are minimal.
Although only a licensed veterinarian may give rabies shots, there are many that you can purchase either from your veterinarian certain vaccines are available for purchase online. Administering them yourself saves you both time and money. Just make sure you know how to give your puppies his shots.
Factors to consider regarding your puppy shots schedule
Your puppy’s age plays a large part in determining which shots he gets and the age at which he gets them. This is because, when a puppy is born, he has antibodies in his bloodstream from his mother. These antibodies have an influence on how effective a vaccine is, as vaccines are only effective once the antibodies have dropped to certain levels.
These antibodies come from the first milk your new puppy ever gets from his mother. This first milk, called colostrum, has all the antibodies that are present in the mother’s bloodstream. Remember, though, that he does not have antibodies to illnesses against which he is not inoculated.
Dogs also need regular rabies shots, no matter how old they get. The frequency, however, is determined by law. Some areas require them every year, other areas every few years. It all depends on that area’s occurrence of rabies.
The person most suitable for setting up a schedule for shots is your local veterinarian. He knows the laws of the area you live in regarding rabies shots. He will also consider other factors, such as where you live, how many pets you have at home, and even whether your dog spends most of its time outdoors or indoors.
Why must my puppy get shots?
Vaccinations for puppies, just as in human babies, can prevent your new family member from getting certain diseases. Of course, in this case, we are referring to canine diseases. Amongst the most serious of these are rabies, hepatitis, and distemper.
What we need to consider is that not only are these vaccinations necessary to look after your puppy’s health, but it also protects you and your family! Humans, for example, bit by a dog with rabies, can also get the disease. Rabies is usually fatal for both dog and human alike.
The good news is that recent research has shown that certain dog shots are effective for longer periods than what had previously been believed. Many veterinarians are, therefore, these days, customizing their shot routine for each individual dog because they take different factors into account, as has been mentioned. The age of the dog and his general health is also a consideration. In many cases, therefore, the periods between vaccines are longer for many dogs.
As with humans, however, vaccines with dogs and puppies have a positive and a negative side attached.
The negative side of puppy shots
- Constantly getting the same shots year after year builds up a puppy’s antibodies against a virus. Over time, however, his immune system builds up a response to the shots and will fight their effect. They are, therefore, after a certain period, useless.
- Vaccines cause potentially harmful side effects. The disease, once inside your puppy’s body, can actually change its form, as where it was acute, it may end up chronic.
- There is a correlation between the occurrence of rabies and rabies vaccinations over the period of the last twenty years. It seems the incidences of rabies have risen with an increase in shots against the disease.
- Certain dogs have a delayed reaction to their shots. Some shots seem to cause tumors, allergies, seizures, arthritis, and thyroid disease.
- There is a strong rise in certain autoimmune diseases in dogs. These include a rise in cases of cancer, Addison’s, leukemia, hemolytic anemia, diabetes, Grave’s disease, organ failure, lupus, and skin inflammations
The benefits of puppy shots
- Shots prevent your pet from getting many different diseases.
- It prevents the costs associated with veterinary bills for treating illnesses that are preventable.
- Diseases that are common amongst wildlife can easily infect your pet. These include distemper and rabies. Shots prevent your puppy from getting them.
- Certain illnesses are passed on from one animal to another. Some are passed on to humans as well.
- Many areas have laws that determine which vaccinations your pets must have. Failure to get your puppy these shots are in violation of these state and local ordinances.
A puppy shot guideline as suggested by the American Kennel Club (AKC) for your puppy’s first year
|Age in weeks||Shot(s)|
|6 – 8||Measles, parainfluenza, and distemper|
|10 – 12||DHPP (a combined vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)|
|12 – 24||Rabies|
|14 – 16||DHPP|
|1 year to 16 months||DHPP and rabies|
Additionally, DHPP should be administered every one to two years, and rabies every one to three. The rabies shots are required by law.
Besides these, there are a number of optional vaccines as well. These include for Bordetella, Lyme disease, Coronavirus, and Leptospirosis.
Most common dog diseases prevented by vaccinations
Distemper is caused by a virus. It affects your dog’s central, respiratory, and gastrointestinal nervous systems. It also affects the eye’s membranes.
Common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, mucus from the eyes and nose, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Dogs get distemper through contact with infected saliva, blood, and urine.
The virus spreads very quickly and a veterinarian should be contacted as soon as these symptoms appear.
Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord. All mammals, including humans, can get the disease.
The virus is passed from one animal to another due to a bite. The first signs are uncommon behavior in an animal. A docile dog may become violent, while an aggressive dog is hostile. They may continually lick, bite, or scratch the area where they were infected. Later stages have the dog foaming at the mouth.
There is no cure for rabies. Vaccination against the disease is the only form of defense.
This disease is highly contagious. Puppies are at greater risk. It is often contracted at kennels or grooming parlors, places where many dogs are present.
Symptoms usually start three to four days after the puppy is exposed to the illness. Symptoms include coughing, retching, and a nasal discharge.
Treatment includes antibiotics and other medications.
Puppies are very susceptible to this virus. This is because their immune systems have not fully developed.
The disease spreads by means of dog feces. It causes heart and respiratory failure. Usually deadly in younger, unvaccinated puppies, the disease is preventable by means of early vaccination.
The symptoms of the disease vary; the most common include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Symptoms include lameness and a decreased appetite. If not caught early enough, the disease leads to kidney failure.
Treatment is by means of antibiotics. This is no guarantee that the effects of the disease will entirely disappear. It is preventable through vaccinations.
Why should you rather be safe than sorry?
Puppies, like human children, do not have a fully developed immune system. This takes time. They are more susceptible to illnesses than fully-grown, healthy, adult dogs. Many of these illnesses are deadly to a small puppy, yet are fully preventable if proper precautions are taken.
Besides keeping your puppy away from any situation which is potentially harmful to his health, there is only one other way to safeguard his health: shots.
A responsible veterinarian is able to guide you as to your puppy’s shots and the state recommendations for your particular area. He is also able to guide you about additional shots that are more area or state specific. For example, certain illnesses are less prevalent in certain areas. He would be able to help you make an informed decision as to whether these should be incorporated into his shots schedule or not. He would also know the age your puppy needs them. Thus, helping you make an informed decision about whether your dog should get them or not.
There are various standpoints about the frequency and dosage of shots these days. The common thought, these days, is to apply them less frequently because research has shown that many vaccines actually last for a longer period than previously thought.
The main consideration, however, is your puppy’s general health and wellbeing. What applies in one area of the country does not necessarily apply everywhere.
The person best suited to advise any puppy owner on your puppy’s shots schedule is your veterinarian. Before deciding on one, make sure you know his ability and his standpoint. It may just save your puppy’s life.
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