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Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. October 18, 2016
Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs

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Vaccines are biological preparations that give and increase immunity to particular diseases. They can are made with attenuated forms of pathogens, dead microbes, microbial toxins or surface proteins.

Once dogs are vaccinated, their immune systems "learn" to react properly to particular canine diseases. However, this is a temporary strengthening of the immune system, so you'll need to regularly re-vaccinate your dog.

The necessary and optional vaccines change depending on the country, but there are general guidelines you should be familiar with. In this AnimalWised article we'll go over the vaccination schedule for puppies and adult dogs, the immunization process and the possible adverse effects that they produce.

You may also be interested in: DHLPP Vaccine For Dogs - Uses & Side Effects

Vaccines and the immune system of puppies

Like all mammals, puppies are born with an immature immune system that is unable to protect them from infectious diseases. This is why they need to take colostrum, which is the first fluid that is produced by the breasts of the mother; it contains antibodies that will protect the puppies for a while.

The antibodies provided by colostrum are limited. Therefore, vaccinating the puppies at a very early age only serves to reduce the number of antibodies that protect the puppy and does not generate immunity, since the immune system is not mature enough. This is why newborn and very young puppies are not vaccinated.

Puppies have to wait until they are at least 45 days old to get their first vaccine. It might be necessary to get them vaccinated before in some cases, but that decision can only be made by the vet and when conditions dictate it.

On the other hand, getting the dog vaccinated very late would mean that the dog is unprotected for a long time, since its maternal antibody reserves would have ran out and its immune system wouldn't be ready to fight against dangerous diseases, despite its age.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs - Vaccines and the immune system of puppies

Necessary and optional vaccines for puppies

Dog vaccines are classified as either core or necessary and optional or non-core. The first are those that should be given to all puppies, since they protect against dangerous and common diseases from around the world.

Optional or non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are those that protect against diseases that only occur in particular geographical regions, living conditions or periods. For this reason, non-core vaccines are only given in certain places or to dogs that have a higher risk of contracting these diseases.

Core vaccines (sometimes called central vaccines) protect against:

Non-core vaccines protect against:

Bear in mind that a vaccine that is optional in one country might be compulsory in another where the disease is more common. Therefore, it should always be the local veterinarian who decides what vaccines to give to your dog and the appropriate vaccination schedule to follow.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs - Necessary and optional vaccines for puppies

Vaccination schedule for puppies

The immunization schedule can vary from one country to another and from one vet to another. This depends on the professional opinion of each vet and the incidence rate of each disease in the region.

Bearing this in mind, here you have a standard vaccination schedule for puppies:

  • Week 8: Polyvalent (* adenovirus 1 or 2, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus).
  • Week 12: Polyvalent (* adenovirus 1 or 2, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus) and leptospirosis.
  • Week 16: Polyvalent (* adenovirus 1 or 2, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus) and leptospirosis.
  • Week 24: Rabies.
  • Annual re-vaccination schedule for adult dogs: Polyvalent (* adenovirus 1 or 2, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus), leptospirosis and canine rabies.

* The vaccine for adenovirus protects against virical infectious hepatitis and kennel cough. The vaccine prepared with adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is preferred because it has less adverse reactions than the vaccine containing adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1).

Remember that the proposed schedule is only a general guide. Your vet might put forward a different schedule if it is more appropriate for your dog.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs - Vaccination schedule for puppies

Polyvalent vaccines

Polyvalent vaccines are those in which a single inoculation immunizes against two or more diseases. Some vaccines protect against two diseases (e.g. parvo-distemper), but those that protect against five, six and eight pathogens are more common.

The most commonly used polyvalent vaccines are:

  • Pentavalent vaccines, which immunize against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and kennel cough), parvovirus and parainfluenza.
  • Hexavalent vaccines, which immunize against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and kennel cough) and two strains that cause leptospirosis and parvovirus.
  • Octovalent vaccines, which immunize against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and kennel cough) and two strains that cause leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and coronavirus.

Although the leptospirosis vaccine is included in the hexavalent and octovalent vaccines, the current tendency is to give it in a separate vaccine for greater efficiency.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs - Polyvalent vaccines

Adverse effects of vaccines

Some dogs suffer from mild reactions such as lethargy, slight fever and a loss of appetite after vaccination. Others have a small swelling at the injection site. These effects last for a short time and don't pose any health risk.

Very occasionally there are anaphylactic reactions, which are dangerous allergic reactions. In these cases the dogs vomit, suffer from diarrhea and have breathing difficulties. They may also occasionally pass out. Anaphylactic reactions can be fatal if they aren't treated immediately, but when they're treated in time there is usually no risk of death.

Fortunately, anaphylactic reactions to vaccines for dogs are very rare.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs - Adverse effects of vaccines

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Dogs, we recommend you visit our Vaccination category.

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