Keeping your dog vaccinated is one of the most responsible things that a dog owner can dog both for his or her own dog and also for other dogs in the neighborhood. Most kennels, breeders or dog boarding businesses will only allow fully vaccinated and up-to-date dogs within the premises to avoid any possible contamination or spread of disease.
Vaccinations are usually done on a schedule starting when puppies are just a few weeks old. Providing the mother was adequately vaccinated most puppies have immunity from those diseases until about six to ten weeks of age when they will require their own vaccinations. During this time it is very important to keep the puppy away from other dogs that you are not absolutely sure have been vaccinated. It is better to err on the side of caution and keep the puppy somewhat isolated rather than to expose him or her to unvaccinated dogs. Try to find some vaccinated dogs that you can arrange play dates with to help with socialization while still keeping your puppy safe.
Vaccinations will vary somewhat from location to location, but the general vaccination schedule in most areas is as follows:
First vaccination – at about 6 weeks puppies should be vaccinated for DHLPP which includes distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. This all comes as a 5-way shot, requiring only one injection. In some states the puppy will also be vaccinated for coronavirus, a disease of the intestines.
Second vaccination – occurring at about 12 weeks or roughly five to seven weeks after the first shot this vaccination includes both DHLPP and corona.
Third vaccination – about three to four weeks after the second shot the puppy will require another booster of DHLPP and corona.
4 months – a rabies vaccination will be given and one more will follow in about 1 year.
7 to 9 months – a heartworm test will be completed even if the puppy has been on heartworm medication.
After the puppy vaccinations and test the adult dog will have DHLPP and corona shots yearly, with rabies shots being required every three years after the second vaccination at the one year 4 month mark. If you are kenneling or boarding your dog Bordetella or kennel cough shots will be required every year and will be required before kenneling your dog.
In areas where Lyme disease is a concern, especially those areas with high tick populations, a puppy can be vaccinated at 12-15 weeks of age to prevent the disease. This vaccination can be given to adult dogs especially if they are traveling to or into an area where Lyme disease is a problem.
Some puppies with a high risk for parvovirus may require additional vaccinations for this condition. Local laws and regulations may also require additional vaccinations or slight changes from the basic vaccination schedule. If you are concerned about your dog’s vaccination routine or are uncertain of the requirements of the area that you are traveling to with your pet be sure to talk to your veterinarian.
Before taking your dog across a state line or a national border be sure to check for any additional vaccinations or veterinarians certificates you may need. Without the proper documentation you may not be able to travel or your pet may be required to spend some time a quarantine to ensure it is disease free. The proper paperwork will eliminate this problem as well as ensure your dog is safe and well protected on your travels.