Dog Vaccinations Guide

Vaccinations: Why & When

Protecting your best friend

One of the most important things you can do to give your dog
a long and healthy life is to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against common canine diseases.Your dog’s mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it’s up to you with the help and advice of your veterinarian to provide that protection through vaccination.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or “killed” viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms.

When administered, they stimulate your dog’s immune system
to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins – or antibodies – to protect your dog against disease.

When should my dog be vaccinated?

The immunity that a puppy has at birth begins to diminish sometime between 6 and 12 weeks. Initial vaccination usually occurs at 6 weeks of age and is repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is between 3-4 months old. Thereafter, your dog will require repeat vaccination at regular intervals for the rest of his or her life.

Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian – if there is too long an interval between the first vaccination and the booster, your dog may have to undergo the series all over again.

Which vaccinations should my dog receive?

Most veterinarians believe that your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness. Such diseases could include Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Tracheobronchitis and Rabies. Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinarian’s evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog’s particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.

How effective is vaccination?

Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, vaccinations
cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction
with proper nutrition and acceptable sanitary conditions,
vaccination is clearly your pet’s best defense against disease.

Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination definitively is the better choice.

Canine Distemper:

Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhea and vomiting; convulsions and paralysis may occur in the disease’s final stages. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged even if the dog recovers.

Canine Parvovirus:

The disease is very contagious, debilitating and widespread –
caused by a virus that emerged in many parts of the world in 1978. The highly resistant virus is spread through infected feces and can remain in the environment for many years.

Symptoms include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and diarrhea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is the most severe in young pups.

Canine Hepatitis:

Canine Adenovirus Type 1 causes this disease, which is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or feces. Its symptoms are similar to those of the early stages of distemper. Liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems may be caused by this disease, the course of which can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.


This incurable viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals (which can include skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats) through bites or any break in the skin. Vaccination will provide your pet with much greater resistance to rabies if it is exposed to the disease. You must be aware that there is no cure once it occurs. For this reason, many municipalities absolutely require that all dogs receive rabies vaccinations on a regular basis. Plus, you will definitely have to provide vaccination records if you want to travel with your dog across the United States or around the world.

Canine Cough:

Canine cough is a highly contagious infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract of the dog. Also termed infectious canine tracheobronchitis, this disease is caused primarily by Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and type 2 canine adenovirus. Like the common cold in humans, the organisms that cause canine cough are spread through coughing and sneezing.

Your dog can catch the disease simply by being in close proximity to an infected dog. Training kennels, humane societies, pet shops, boarding kennels, dog shows, veterinary hospitals, grooming salons or your local park are just some of the places where your dog may come in contact with this debilitating disease.

Canine Influenza:

First reported in Florida in 2004, dog flu is spreading across the United States.  Easily transmitted by direct contact, cough or sneeze, or via contaminated surfaces.  Protection is available with a new vaccine – ask your veterinarian if it is appropriate for your dog.

Lyme Disease:

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks to both dogs and humans
which results in chronic arthritis and sometimes neurological disease. This disease is more common in the northern parts of the United States, but its geographic range is spread.

Other Diseases:

After evaluating your dog’s particular situation and risk factors, your veterinarian may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases.

These may include:
• Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease which attacks the kidneys and liver
• Canine Coronavirus, which attacks the intestinal system.

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