Soon after welcoming your new puppy into your family, be sure to bring him to your veterinarian as soon as possible for an initial examination. During this visit, the veterinarian will examine your puppy thoroughly from nose to tail. Once he has confirmed that your puppy is in good health, he will discuss a puppy shot schedule with you. Core puppy shots consist of a series of DA2PP vaccines and a rabies vaccine.
DA2PP Vaccine – Puppy Shots 1
The DA2PP vaccine stands for distemper, adenovirus types one and two, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Your puppy will receive a series of the DA2PP vaccine, also referred to as a four-in-one vaccine, which offers protection against these viral infections that can afflict dogs.
Distemper is a highly contagious viral infection that attacks the white blood cells in the lymphatic tissues and bloodstream, adversely affecting a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The disease is often fatal, progressing to damage of the brain.
Adenovirus type one is also known as infectious canine hepatitis, a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract and also attacks the liver, kidneys, eyes and the cells that line blood vessels. Canine adenovirus type two is one of the viruses that cause kennel cough, or canine tracheobronchitis, a highly contagious upper respiratory infection.
Parainfluenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory viral infection, which presents with coughing, fever, wheezing or difficulty breathing, conjunctivitis, sneezing, nasal or ocular discharge and possible pneumonia.
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that puppies receive the DA2PP vaccine at six weeks of age, followed by boosters administered every three to four weeks until 16 weeks of age. It is important for the series to be completed in order for your puppy to achieve full develop his own immunity once maternal immunity had depleted from his system. Another booster is inoculated one year later, and then the DA2PP vaccine is given every three years through adulthood.
Rabies Vaccine – Puppy Shots 2
Rabies can affect humans and animals alike, and the disease is always fatal. For this reason, many states mandate that all dogs and cats must be currently vaccinated against rabies. If your dog bites someone, you must be able to immediately furnish proof that your dog is current on this vaccine.
The most common vector of rabies is the bat, which can enter your home through narrow cracks and crevices, such as through your attic, or down the chimney. Outdoors, they can dwell behind shutters on your home. Other wildlife that your dog may try to tussle with outdoors can also carry the disease.
The rabies vaccine is usually administered at the time of your puppy’s final DA2PP vaccine of the series. Like the DA2PP vaccine, the rabies vaccine is administered again one year later, and then every three years thereafter.
Bordetella Vaccine – Puppy Shots 3
Like the adenovirus type two virus, bordetella is also responsible for causing kennel cough. It is highly contagious in settings where a large number of dogs conglomerate in close proximity, such as in boarding kennels, breeding facilities and pet stores. The bordetella vaccine is not considered one of the core vaccines. Inoculation with the bordetella vaccine is only recommended prior to a known boarding event, and boarding facilities require it for admittance. If you plan to bring your dog to a dog park, group obedience classes or other group dog activities, your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine.
Lyme Vaccine – Puppy Shots 4
Deer ticks transmit Lyme disease to dogs and to humans. Protection against this disease is not needed for every dog, so it is not part of the core vaccination protocol. Your veterinarian will ask about your dog’s activities. If you plan to have your dog accompany you on camping and hiking excursions where he may spend a lot of time outdoors in heavily wooded areas, then your veterinarian may recommend the Lyme vaccine. He may also recommend the vaccine if you live in a rural locale that is set within a wooded setting. The Lyme vaccine can be administered at any time after 12 weeks of age, and a booster is given three to four weeks later. The vaccine is administered once annually after that.
Leptospirosis Vaccine – Puppy Shots 5
Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal viral disease that affects the liver and kidneys. It is contracted by direct contact with urine from infected wildlife, including raccoons, rats, opossums, squirrels and skunks. Leptospirosis is seen in higher concentrations in specific geographical locations. If you live in an area where there is a known incidence for this disease, then your veterinarian will recommend the leptospirosis vaccine. Like the Lyme vaccine, it is administered at any time after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster three to four weeks later, and then it is administered once annually thereafter.
Addressing the Risks
A growing number of concerns surrounding vaccination have surfaced over the years. Some dogs have experienced mild allergic to severe, anaphylactic reactions when receiving a vaccine. No vaccine is without risk, and it is important to consider the levels of risks and benefits in order to make the best decisions for your pet.
Several steps have been implemented to minimize risks. If a dog has a very mild allergic response to a vaccine, a veterinarian can administer an anti-inflammatory drug prior to future vaccines to avert such a reaction. Some veterinarians recommend holding these patients in their clinics for a couple of hours following inoculation for close observation. Many veterinarians have opted for using non-adjuvant vaccines, or modified live vaccines, as opposed to adjuvant vaccines. Adjuvant vaccines are killed viruses that contain additives that may be responsible for adverse effects. Most veterinarians have switched to the current recommendation of administering core vaccines to adult dogs every three years instead of annually. Finally, veterinarians are questioning owners and tailoring a vaccination regimen for each individual patient based on risk exposure, geographical location, age and overall health status.
You must be comfortable with your puppy’s vaccines. Do not hesitate to pose questions and voice concerns to your veterinarian. Conversation and open communication with your veterinarian is essential in empowering you to confidently make the best decisions to keep your canine companion healthy throughout his lifetime.
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