Puppies require a great deal of care and attention – much more so than older dogs. In fact, many owners liken raising a puppy to raising a child! However, like a child, your pup is also more vulnerable to illness and disease than an adult dog. This is largely because her immune system is still developing and is not yet strong enough to fight off many of the serious sicknesses that pose a threat to her health.
Fortunately, your new puppy doesn’t have to remain at risk of illness. Vaccinations offer responsible and conscientious owners the opportunity to protect their puppy from serious diseases both immediately and for the foreseeable future. By protecting your furbaby now, you are setting up a robust preventative care schedule that will support him as he grows and develops. With the right preventative care, your dog should be able to enjoy a long, happy and healthy life with your family.
How do vaccinations work?
Vaccinations are an extremely safe and successful way of preparing your pet’s immune system to fight diseases and infections that it may come across in the future. A vaccine works by introducing a little of a substance known as an antigen into your dog’s body. This antigen is masquerading as an infectious disease, triggering your pup’s immune system to fight it. Since only a little is used, the response by his body is minimal. However, his immune system will remember the characteristics of the antigen and should he come into contact with the real disease in the future, his body will automatically know how to fight it. This means that your dog will be less affected by the illness, or perhaps not develop it at all.
Different vaccines are required for different antigens and this is why there are a variety of different vaccines recommended for animals at different stages of their life.
Puppies and vaccinations
There are a series of different vaccinations or ‘shots’ recommended for puppies and these usually start when your pup is between 6-8 weeks old. However, it is important to understand that while there is a recommendation that fits most puppies, every animal should be treated as an individual and this means that the following general schedule may not be right for every dog. Instead, our veterinarian will assess some of the factors which influence scheduling, which include:
⦁ The number of puppies in the litter
⦁ Whether or not mum was sufficiently vaccinated
⦁ How long the puppy nursed for
⦁ The area and environment in which the puppy was raised
⦁ The type of lifestyle your puppy may have living with you (e.g. lots of time outdoors, regular visits to the groomers)
The information gained from this assessment will enable our vet at Inman Park Animal Hospital to make a personalized recommendation as the type and frequency of vaccinations your puppy should have.
General puppy vaccination schedule
A generalized puppy core vaccination schedule will look something like this:
6/8 weeks of age Distemper, measles, parainfluenza
10/12 weeks of age DHPP*
12 to 14 weeks of age Rabies
14 to 16 weeks of age DHPP
12 to 16 months of age Rabies and DHPP
*DHPP is a single vaccine that provides protection against distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus.
After your puppy reaches adulthood, he/she will need booster vaccinations for DHPP and rabies and our veterinarian will be able to advise how often these will be required.
While the list above shows the core vaccines that should be given to all puppies, there are also some optional vaccines which may be beneficial for your pet depending on his individual needs and circumstances. These include vaccinations for bordatella, coronavirus, leptospirosis and Lyme disease. Again, our vet will be able to advise if any of these are recommended for your pet.
If you are still unsure about which vaccinations your puppy needs, our dedicated and experienced team would be delighted to offer their assistance. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and let us help you give your pup the best possible start for a long, healthy life. Contact our Atlanta, GA office to know more.