All You Need to Know About Puppy Vaccinations

Seeing to the continued health and wellbeing of your puppy is an essential step in their life. It helps the pup grow into a healthy dog that poses no risk to other dogs in terms of passing on infections. Ensuring to follow all recommended puppy vaccinations should be a part of this. 

Many only act as a last resort once the pup is very visibly sick. The result is that the new puppy will miss many essential vaccinations that could have countered sickness. Not paying attention to your pup’s health can cause plenty of issues down the road. 

It could cost more to nurse the puppy back to health and may even come at the cost of the pup’s life. You may wonder on this note, ‘What should I know before vaccinating my puppy, and why do I do it as soon as possible?’

What are the benefits of puppy vaccinations?

A dog getting vaccination from a vet
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Puppy vaccines have been in development for decades, and they have been perfected and tailor-made for specific pup breeds.  They ensure a more extended and generally healthier life that is of a higher quality. Other benefits include:

Preventing lethal outcomes

In general, vaccines can counter many dangerous and potentially fatal illnesses by protecting your pup from various pathogens. A vaccinated puppy is less likely to succumb to disease when compared to an unvaccinated one.

Boosting the immune system

A vaccine can boost your pup’s immune system to protect it from a significant impact on its health. Both human and puppy vaccines are used to facilitate the development of antibodies. Once antibodies develop, your pup is more likely to fight off diseases in the event of exposure to them.

What you should do once you want to vaccinate your puppy

Contact your veterinarian

A vet checking a puppy with stethoscope

It is essential to contact your veterinarian and schedule a consulting session with them. They will examine your pup and hand you in-depth coverage of the topic of vaccines. It will include a list of vaccines that your puppy should receive at scheduled appointments.

The information will be tailored to your pup’s breed, cover possible side effects and recommendations on what to do post-vaccination. Come along with details like the medical history of your puppy, the environment in which it lives, its lifestyle, age, and travel habits.

This information can significantly cut back on time you would have spent running around for the vaccination process.

Take note of the most common pathogens

There is a list of core vaccines that your vet will likely consider, based on your pup’s health, age, and urgency. The most important vaccines are Rabies, Canine Hepatitis, Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, and Leptospirosis.

Depending on the conditions and factors that apply to your puppy’s health, the vet might also recommend a Bordetella or Lyme disease vaccine.

Check the regulations

Many puppy owners do not realize that they are required by local or national laws to vaccinate their pups. These laws help prevent the spread of harmful pathogens among the dog population.

Before vaccinating your canine, check out the legal aspects of the process and requirements of your local, state, or national authority. If you acquired a new puppy, take note of when you should vaccinate in relation to their weeks of age.

The complete Vaccination schedule

Note that one vaccination schedule does not suit all puppies. The pup’s breed, the country you reside in, and individual risk factor determines the vaccine. Your vet will appropriately assess the situation and make suitable recommendations upon examining your young pet.

Here is an acceptable guideline by weeks of age that can paint the perfect vaccination picture in your mind. 

For a pup of this age, distemper, parvovirus are recommended, and Bordetella is an optional addition. The first vaccinations are often referred to as the primary course and will have two or three injections as your vet deems fit. 

Sometimes, puppies have this first round of vaccination while still at the breeder. Talk to them so they can provide you with a clear inoculation history, which your vet will likely ask for. 

DHPP (vaccines that cover adenovirus (hepatitis), distemper, parvovirus, and parainfluenza) are advisable. Optional vaccinations include Influenza, Bordetella, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease depending on pup lifestyle and as vet approved.

DHPP and rabies vaccines have to be administered. Lyme disease, Influenza, Bordetella, Leptospirosis depending on lifestyle, are optional additions.

DHPP and Rabies with options being Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, Lyme disease, and Bordetella.

DHPP is recommended with options being Leptospirosis, Influenza, Coronavirus, Bordetella, Lyme disease depending on lifestyle.

Rabies vaccination is required by law.

The average cost of puppy vaccinations

A dog getting the injection from a vet

Vaccination cost is influenced by several factors, such as location and how in-demand a particular vet is. The price for core vaccines will also be higher in private establishments on average, while animal shelters charge the least.

It would be around $20 or even free, especially if you adopted your pup from the animal shelter. Puppies from animal shelters are usually fully vaccinated at that, at least up to the age at which you adopted them. 

Core vaccines are administered in sequences of 6-, 12- and at 16 weeks of age and include DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, and Parainfluenza). They cost about $70-$100 on average, while the Rabies vaccination stands between $15 and $20. 

Initial vaccination is usually costly, but further vaccination costs drop significantly during adulthood. Be sure of one other thing: vaccination is way cheaper than the cost of treating the disease in question. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any side effects to puppy vaccinations?

Many homeowners are well aware that they should be vaccinating their puppies. Yet, they might be scared about the side effects these vaccines have on their beloved pet.

Your vet will inform you about all the possible side effects of every vaccine to be administered. You will be able to make an informed decision with this information at hand.

Be sure to pay attention to your puppy after vaccination so you can notice whether they are displaying side effects. The most common side effects include a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. 

In some more extreme cases, your pup can have a seizure or collapse, which would require urgent veterinary attention. In most cases, though, these symptoms are relatively mild and do not cause severe reactions. Contact your vet immediately if you see any severe side effects.

What are the most common viruses?

1. Canine Hepatitis

A puppy lying on a grey sheet

Infectious Canine Hepatitis is among the highly infectious viral diseases. It affects many body parts, including the liver, kidneys, lungs, or eyes, and can cause severe discomfort and pain to your pup. 

It primarily spreads through saliva, urine, feces, blood, and the nasal discharge of infected puppies. Note that the urine from a formerly infected puppy will continue being infectious for up to a year. 

The virus survives in the environment for numerous months, and the most severe forms of this disease are fatal. Vaccinating your puppy against Canine Hepatitis is highly recommended as there is no specific treatment. 

Veterinary attention often tries to alleviate the symptoms once the infection sets in, regardless, and some puppies eventually overcome the illness.

2. Bordetella

Bordetella is an infectious bacterium known for causing severe coughing, vomiting, seizures, and death in the worst-case scenario. It is a relatively manageable disease when your puppy is vaccinated. Ensure that your pup is vaccinated against it before socializing with other dogs.

3. Rabies

Rabies is a deadly virus that can have a terrible impact on your puppy’s life. It is one of the most documented and well-known viruses. Rabies commonly causes symptoms such as foaming around their mouth, among others.

It also leads to disturbances in the central nervous system. It can cause sudden switches in mood, eventually leading to paralysis. Some dogs also display excessive aggression and irritation due to Rabies, resulting in spontaneous attacks on nearby people. 

Rabies does not afflict puppies in some countries, such as the UK. Though anyone intending to travel overseas with their pup will need to vaccinate them against Rabies, without which there is no pet passport. 

In general, each destination will come with a specific set of requirements necessitated before pet travel. It’s best to speak to your vet before traveling, so you have all documentation in place for a hassle-free journey. 

4. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis, or Lepto, is bacterial and not viral, mainly spreading through infected urine and contaminated water. If your pup swims or drinks from stagnant water and canals, then the risk of infection increases, and it is more so if you live in an area with a high number of rats. 

There are multiple strains of Lepto, some of which affect humans as well (Weil’s disease). The illness is potentially fatal in both puppies and humans. 

Its symptoms will manifest 4 to 12 days after exposure. Muscle pain, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, jaundice, and lethargy will be visible. Leptospirosis primarily attacks the liver and kidneys, with extreme cases leading to the failure of those organs. 

Your vet will administer antibiotics and supportive liver treatments, supplementing those with fluid replacement and vomiting control. If your pup is not severely affected, its urine will have the bacteria for months on end despite the recovery. 

It means your puppy still poses the threat of infecting other animals, you, and other surrounding humans. The good news is that the most comprehensive canine Leptospirosis vaccine caters to four strains among the many varying strains. It’s where the vaccine borrows its ‘L4 vaccine’ name from. 

5. Kennel Cough

A dog suffering from kennel cough
Photo Credit: astrobrittanypup

Kennel Cough, otherwise known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is respiratory and is caused by several viruses and bacteria. It is incredibly infectious and is airborne even though it doesn’t merely result from putting your puppy in a kennel. 

Its alternate name is undoubtedly a misleading factor for many. What is true is that it can spread so fast given lots of dogs in close contact. For instance, in boarding kennels, one infected dog will quickly pass on the infection to the rest of them. 

Its typical symptom is a forceful hacking cough, sometimes sounding like retching or persistent throat clearing. Some puppies overcome kennel cough without medication due to their existing immunity, but most require prescription medicines.

If your pup coughs, have a vet examine them to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other puppies. Persistent coughing without medication could also result in a more severe complication for your puppy, such as pneumonia. 

Coughing could also point to a host of additional medical conditions, so you need to get it checked in any case. Vaccination will reduce your puppy’s risk of contracting kennel cough, so endeavor to schedule that session. Beware that the annual standard booster doesn’t counter kennel cough. 

Is vaccination the end-all for my pet’s health?

Despite its effectiveness in protecting your puppy from the most common pathogens, vaccination does not imply total pet wellbeing and health. Many additional factors play into your pup’s health.

You should keep in mind good pet food, safe toys, socialization, and a comfortable environment. They are also paramount to the appropriate development and continued happiness of your pet.

Despite being vaccinated against diseases, your pet can still suffer from a lack of other fundamental living conditions. Keep an eye out on your pup’s health and wellbeing in general, in addition to their vaccination status.

Should you vaccinate adult dogs?

So many dog owners believe that the process is complete when they get their puppies vaccinated – forever. It is a common misconception; booster shots are equally beneficial to your dog. 

Booster vaccines are pretty much the same vaccines they received as puppies, with several other additions that your vet can update you on. At the same time, it is worthy to note that not all vaccines last throughout the dog’s life.

Many start getting less effective after some time. For example, the Rabies vaccine stops being effective after three years. The vaccines for Canine Influenza and Lyme Disease, on the other hand, stop being effective after one year of administration. Be on the lookout for the booster shots after these timelines.

What else should I know about puppy vaccinations?

A vaccination appointment is about more than just the vet injecting your puppy before you storm out. It is one of the few opportunities you will have to get a good peek into your pup’s health. 

Your vet will determine how your puppy has been doing through a series of thorough medical exams. You will also know how much your pup weighs, which paints a near-perfect health-related picture. 

Expect to answer a lot of questions too. ‘How has  your pet been behaving?’ ‘How well has your pup been eating and drinking?’ ‘Have you noticed anything odd?’ 

On that note, puppies will benefit from more than protection from disease once you vaccinate them. Most pet insurance covers have vaccination as a prerequisite for consideration. 

You and your pup will undoubtedly benefit from being covered by insurance. It’s best to vaccinate your pet at an early age. Even puppy daycare services and kennel services require proof of vaccination before looking after your young one. Vaccinations and flea and worm treatments will therefore help you avoid inconveniences. 

Most vaccinations are administered as an injection, save for Kennel Cough that involves no needles. The latter is an annual intra-nasal vaccine that is a squirt into the nose, giving your pet the needed local immune boost. 

The rest of the injections will be combined into one shot administered behind the neck, under the skin. Most puppies tolerate it rather well, with minimal side effects. 

Bottom line

Vaccines are genuinely a turning point in modern human medicine. Without them, many puppy owners would not be able to enjoy so many beautiful moments with their beloved pets. It would be potentially devastating to expose your precious puppy to the pathogens that lurk on the earth.  

Given the curious nature of puppies’ minds, they will explore, sniff and lick or chew various substances in their surroundings. It helps to protect them through vaccination before you set them loose into the world around them.

Start consulting with your vet today for vaccination appointments. Your puppy will soon have everything it needs for a healthy and fulfilled life. Viva Vaccination.