Shots Required for Puppies Tips

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What are the different puppy vaccines?

Types of Puppy Vaccines

Your new puppy just received a shot schedule and you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by all those abbreviations and technical terms. What are the different puppy vaccines and which ones are necessary for your puppy's health?

  • The DHLPP vaccine is actually a combination shot that is given several times at two week intervals to protect your puppy from viruses. It includes protection against canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, canine parainfluenza and parvovirus. This combination vaccine has to fight against the antibodies that the mother dog passed on to your puppy to get established. Because of this, the vaccine needs the booster series to allow it to really protect your puppy from this group of nasty viruses.
  • The Bordetella vaccine protects your dog from kennel cough. This is an annoying, infectious cough that can spread quickly amongst unvaccinated dogs. While it is easily treatable, dogs can die from complications related to the virus, so it makes sense to get the shot, even if you don't plan to kennel your dog. A visit to the pet store can bring the virus home on your shoes.
  • The Rabies vaccine is given at about twelve weeks and then is given a year later to provide three year protection.
  • The Lyme vaccine is optional but is a good idea for areas with a heavy Lyme disease infection rate.

Why does everyone make such a big deal about Rabies shots?

Rabies Shots Are Essential

Rabies shots are one of the vaccines you will need to get your new puppy. These shots can be given to puppies that are 16 weeks of age. You will also need to get a vaccine booster when your puppy is a year old. Additional boosters need to be given every three years after the first two Rabies vaccines.

Why does this vaccine have such a strange schedule? There are several reasons for the Rabies vaccine schedule, but the biggest reason is simply that it is the law.

Rabies is one of the few viruses dogs can give to humans. While you may be thinking that only dogs in rural areas really need these shots, there is a surprising amount of wildlife in cities, including foxes, raccoons and opossums. All of these animals can give your dog Rabies and your dog can then give the virus to you.

If your dog bites someone while protecting your home and does not have a current Rabies vaccination, you may actually lose your dog because the authorities will seize it to test for Rabies and the quickest way to rule out this disease is to look at brain tissue from a deceased animal. The shot is such a simple way to protect your dog and your family.

How can I prepare for my puppy's first shots?

Preparing for Puppies First Shots

The first visit to the vet's office can be an ordeal for the new puppy and its owner, especially if the owner has never had a puppy before. The owner may be expecting a sterile environment without empathetic staff and may be anxious about the puppy's reaction to the whole visit. To prepare for puppies first shots and alleviate stress, new owners should:

  • Bring the puppy into the office in a pet carrier. When it is older, it can walk in under its own steam, but you don't want an unvaccinated puppy walking across the same ground some very sick dogs have walked on. While veterinary staff will thoroughly clean all the surfaces in the building each day, the parking lot is another matter.
  • Keep the puppy in the carrier until they enter the exam room. If a sick dog was just seen or is still in the exam room when you walk into the waiting room, it is a good idea to minimize contact with the ill animal.
  • Have a copy of all the puppy's health records on hand. The vet will want to know what has already been done to care for your puppy's health.
  • Relax. The staff will probably be so busy peering into the puppy's carrier and making a fuss over him or her that you won't have time to stress out during your visit.

What shots do puppies need if they are going overseas?

What Shots Do Puppies Need to Travel Abroad?

If you are taking your puppy overseas, you will need to make some preparations ahead of time. Besides getting a health certificate and checking quarantine laws to be sure you won't be back in your home country before you can take your dog into the country you are visiting, you will need to have the proper vaccines and identification. So, what shots do puppies need?

  • A Rabies vaccine is required by law. However, some countries have specific regulations about this shot, such as a 30 day waiting period between the day the shot was given and the day the puppy enters the country, so be sure you give yourself enough time.
  • While they may not be required by the country you are traveling to, you will probably need to be sure DHLPP and Bordetella shots are also up to date, because your airline will want to see proof of current vaccines.
  • Ask about any common diseases in the country you are visiting to be sure your puppy is protected.
  • Don't forget to check into whether the country requires you to have your puppy microchipped and be sure you use a microchip approved by that country. Many countries overseas use a microchip that has a longer number than standard US microchips.

Are distemper shots really necessary?

Distemper Shots

Your vet says your puppy needs a whole series of distemper shots. He or she gives your puppy the first shot, gives you a schedule of vaccines and sets up the next appointment, which is two weeks away. You've heard of distemper before, but it isn't something serious like Rabies, right? You're going to be firm and tell the vet that you don't need a bunch of shots when you go in for that appointment in two weeks - just the Rabies vaccine.

Actually, distemper is quite serious. While it is not dangerous to all the people in your household, the way Rabies is, it is usually fatal in puppies. In fact, distemper is such a risky virus that vets often will recommend that new puppy owners keep their puppies away from areas where other dogs hang out until they've had their shots. That means trips to the dog park or a visit to the local town festival with your new puppy in tow is a bad idea until he or she has finished the distemper shot series.

If your puppy does show signs of illness, like being listless or feverish or just doesn't seem like it is acting right to you, take it to the vet to rule out distemper. The recovery rate for puppies with this lethal virus is about 20 percent and most of the puppies that recover will have some permanent side effects. Puppies diagnosed quickly have a much better chance of beating the disease than puppies that are sick for a week or two before the vet realizes they have distemper.

Is the parvo vaccine really necessary?

Parvo Vaccine

Parvo is a virus common to puppies, but it can attack dogs of all ages. Since a dog with parvo can quickly die of dehydration or heart failure without treatment, this virus is definitely nothing to fool around with. The good news is that puppies that get parvo and are treated quickly will usually live. The bad news is that they will not be immune to the virus once they have it and could catch it again.

The parvo vaccine is usually given as part of a combination shot DHLPP series that puppies get between six weeks and three months of age. Some vets also recommend getting a parvo vaccine booster at six months of age and would like owners to continue bringing their pets in for this booster shot every six months throughout the dogs' lives. This is because parvo just doesn't give a long immunity like other vaccines.

To protect your new puppy from parvo, you should:

  • Make sure you get all the parvo shots in the puppy series and consider having the vet do a blood titer test to see if your puppy has built up an immunity to the virus.
  • Avoid taking it out to areas where other dogs are until the parvo series is complete.
  • Never allow it to go near feces, as the virus is most commonly spread through feces of an infected dog.

Why do I have to follow a puppy shot schedule instead of just getting a few shots all at once?

Puppy Shot Schedule

When you get a puppy shot schedule, you may be a bit surprised at the frequency of the visits. With a return visit every two weeks until your puppy completes his vaccines at twelve or sixteen weeks old, you may be wondering if it would be easier to just rent out an exam room. Why do you need to come back so many times?

Vets break the shots up for several reasons. Your puppy's shot schedule includes frequent visits over the first few weeks because:

  • Some shots do not provide adequate protection without several vaccinations over a short period of time. This is often because the puppy's mother passed on antibodies that fight off the vaccine.
  • Many puppies would really feel ill for several days if they received four immunizations in a single day. Breaking up the vaccines into a puppy shot schedule of a DHLPP vaccine and a second vaccine, such as Bordetella or Rabies, at each visit makes the whole experience less stressful for your puppy's immune system.
  • Your wallet feels a bit less stress. Coming up with two hundred or more dollars at once is a challenge for many people. A small bill every two weeks is easier to manage.

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Sheri Ann Richerson