The other group of vaccinations, the noncore vaccines, are administered based on your dog’s particular risk factors. Issues such as your geographical location and your puppy’s lifestyle will help determine the importance of these vaccinations. Those who live in regions with high exposure to Lyme disease
, for example, may wish to treat their puppies with Lyme vaccines. Other non-core vaccines include those for parainfluenza and bordetella.
When Should You Vaccinate Your Puppy?
As stated above, immunity to disease afforded by puppies nursing from their mothers begins to lose its effectiveness at around 6 to 8 weeks of life. Thus, it is within this range that most vets recommended vaccinations begin.
In most cases, puppies will receive an initial vaccination for a disease, with a booster or series of boosters given up until the puppy’s first year. The exact timing of these various shots will depend on your dog’s risk of exposure, age when first vaccinated, and the type of vaccine used. Your vet will establish a schedule for vaccination that should be adhered to, in order to keep disease at bay.
After the first year, your dog will likely receive adult boosters every 1 to 3 years for core vaccines and possibly for non-core vaccines as well. Some vets now believe that dogs can be over-vaccinated and that adult boosters may not be necessary. They may instead recommend testing the level of antibodies in the dog’s bloodstream, with vaccines administered only as needed. Adult rabies boosters, however, are required by law in most areas.
What are the Risks of Vaccination?
Despite the overwhelming support for vaccination in the veterinary community, pet parents should be aware of the small risk for complication that comes with the use of vaccines. Most of these complications are minor but a few can be more serious.
Minor side effects can include pain where the injections are received, sluggishness, or low fever. More serious symptoms comprise facial swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing. Should any of these signs appear, contact your vet immediately. In very rare cases, a dog can develop serious and difficult to treat autoimmune disorders after vaccination.
Given such small degrees of risk, most within the field of canine health agree that the benefits of vaccination are greater than the risks.
At A Glance
- Puppies should be vaccinated at around 6 to 8 weeks of age
- You’ll have to get 4 core vaccines for your dog: distemper, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, rabies
- Discuss your options for noncore vaccines with your veterinarian
- Know the risks of vaccination, but remember their rewards
- Know the rules of your municipality regarding vaccinations, and adhere to those rules for the health of your pet and your puppy’s community
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
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