Responsible pet parents know that getting vaccinations for their pets is extremely important in keeping them safe and healthy. For many pet parents, however, it may be a shock to find that there isn’t necessarily one established and accepted vaccination schedule for dogs. Veterinarians, a dog breeders, and other experts often disagree (sometimes hotly) about what your dog needs, when he needs it, and how many times it will be necessary. Why is this such an issue? For a number of reasons, such as the value of letting a dog’s immune system build up its own antibodies, how long each medication is supposed to last, what illnesses can be transferred to humans, and the likelihood of your dog having an adverse reaction to a shot.
So what is a pet parent to do?
Educate yourself. Talk to your veterinarian. Pay attention to your dog. And, as always, be committed to your dog’s health and well-being.
A general schedule, which many veterinarians agree upon, is as follows:
- 6 to 8 weeks – DHPP
- 10 to 12 weeks – DHPP
- 14 to 16 weeks – DHPP
- Year 1 – DHPP, Rabies
- Ongoing – Rabies, Bordetella (optional), DHPP (every 3 years)
DHPP refers to a combination shot that includes vaccinations for Distemper (a viral disease of the brain, intestines, and longs), Hepatitis (a viral disease of the liver), Parvovirus (a viral disease of the intestines), and Parainfluenza (dog flue) (infectious bronchitis).
Rabies is a viral disease that is fatal to animals and humans.
Bordetella is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system (and is also referred to as “kennel cough”).
Other Considerations When Vaccinating Your Dog:
- Bordetella vaccines are usually optional, and should be based on your dog’s lifestyle. Most dog borading facilities will require this shot.
- Rabies vaccines are available in one or three year doses; which dosage you choose should be based on an evaluation of lifestyle, immune system, general health, and age of your dog.
- Leptospirosis vaccines have recently become more popular as Lepto can be contagious for people, and is becoming more common. In the past, many pet parents and veterinarians thought that Lepto shots were not worth the cost and possibility of adverse effects, but this is no longer the assumption. Check with your own veterinarian to discuss this vaccination. We at Awesome Pet Health have known some dogs who have had very serious adverse effects from this vaccine – be sure to consult with your veterinarian and carefully weigh the pros and cons before making this decision.
- While rabies and Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people, Parvovirus cannot. While there is a human Parvovirus, this is totally separate from the canine version, and neither can be transmitted to the other species.
- A rabies shot is required by law, although different states have different requirements for how frequently it needs to be administered.
- Most boarding facilities, grooming facilities, veterinarian offices, and even homeowners associations or apartment can rental companies will require that your dog is current on their vaccinations. Be aware that some of these facilities may have a stricter requirements and may require certain vaccinations that may not be required by law in your area.
Keeping your dog updated with the correct vaccinations is a crucial step in keeping them healthy, happy, and active. Although you may have a dog that you believe has limited risk of contracting a viral infection, please don’t overlook vaccinations. The shot you get for your dog today could be the one that saves their life.Photo: Courtesy of garyt70 via Flickr (CC by 2.0)