AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) recommendations for puppy vaccines are the most up-to-date veterinary guidelines for puppies and dogs in the USA.
The four CORE vaccines (those that all puppies should have) are:
Canine Adenovirus-2 (aka CAV-2 or Canine Hepatitis) - this protects against a viral disease which attacks your pup/dogs' respiratory system. One of the causes of Kennel Cough
Canine Parvovirus (aka 'Parvo') - protects your puppy from the dreaded (and deadly) Parvo. A viral disease which affects his intestines, lymph nodes, bone marrow and sometimes even his heart
Distemper - protects against the viral disease Distemper, which affects his respiratory system, intestines and central nervous system
Rabies - protects against this deadly viral disease which affects your pup's central nervous system.
These same vaccinations are also recommended by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).
Puppy vaccination is a fairly big topic to cover, but everything you need to know about puppy shots is right here on this page.
There are no 'cures' for the illnesses listed above.
Vaccinations save the lives of puppies just like yours, every single day.
They are one of the most important parts of your new pup's health care, and are essential, not optional!
If you're worried that the vaccinations will hurt your pup, don't be. The discomfort is minimal and most puppies barely notice the needle.
We've discovered that the biggest boys are often the ones that make the most fuss (go figure!), but a quick cuddle and a tasty treat brings instant amnesia :)
Puppy Vaccines Timeline
Recommended timeline for puppy vaccinations are:
Three sets of combination vaccinations (a shot that protects against more than one disease) given at 3-4 week intervals.
8 weeks - first round
12 weeks - second round
16 weeks - third round
18 weeks - Rabies vaccination
Certain vaccines are often grouped together and give as one shot, this is called a 'Combination Vaccine'.
The most common would be the 3-in-1 shot for Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvo. These are all CORE vaccines.
When it comes to giving puppy shots, timing is hugely important and you need to make sure Fido gets his vaccinations at the right time is essential if you want them to work!
Very young puppies have a certain amount of natural immunity that they get from their mothers milk, but that begins to diminish somewhere between 5 and 8 weeks of age.
If a puppy is vaccinated while he still has a significant level of maternal antibodies in his bloodstream, the vaccine won't be effective.
Some studies have indicated that at 6 weeks old only 25% of puppies vaccinated respond to a vaccine by producing antibodies.
By 18 weeks that figure has risen to 95%.
Non-Core Vaccinations For Puppies
All puppies need to have the core vaccines to protect them from the most common dog illnesses.
But there are also other diseases/conditions that some pups may be at risk of catching.
These can also be prevented by vaccination, but it's important to know that not all puppies need (or should have) these.
Sometimes it depends on the part of the country (or world) that you live in.
Other times the activities your pup will take part in, or where he'll spend a lot of his time is the key.
These optional 'extras' include vaccinations against:
Bordetella (the most common bacteria responsible for Kennel Cough, which affects the upper respiratory system)
Lyme Disease (a bacterial illness usually affecting joints, but can also spread to the major organs).
Leptospirosis ( a bacterial disease that can affect kidney and liver and is transmitted by raccoon and other rodents urine )
If your pup will be boarded, kenneled, attend dog training classes or be 'out-and-about' a lot (which hopefully he/she will to get those valuable puppy socialization experiences ) you need to have the Bordetella vaccine given.
There are two options for administering the Bordetella vaccine...
An injection or nasal drops.
I prefer my puppies/dogs to get the nasal drop option as it works faster and doesn't need to be repeated in 4 weeks the way the shot does.
If your dog isn't a hugely social animal, then annual boosters are enough.
BUT if he travels a lot, goes to doggie day care, is boarded or at the dog park regularly then having the vaccine given twice a year is recommended.
Worried About Over-Vaccinating Your Puppy?
Vaccination, or over-vaccination, is a hot topic these days. Both for people and animals.
There is a fair amount of conflicting opinions among vets and veterinary care professionals as to how many vaccinations puppies (and dogs) should be given.
How often they should get them, and how the vaccines should be given (singly or as combination vaccines).
Although the AAHA and AVMA still recommend yearly boosters for all dogs.
A lot of research shows that this is not strictly necessary - and can even cause health problems.
If you're concerned about over-vaccinating your puppy, talk to your veterinarian as there is another option.
Titers & Vaccinations
After Fido has had his set of puppy vaccines, you can ask your vet to check the titers in his bloodstream before he gets any more vaccinations.
Titers are a measurement of the antibodies to disease which exist in your pup's bloodstream.
After being vaccinated, it takes about 10 days for the antibodies to show up in tests.
If the titer level is high enough to confirm immunity, then your dog is unlikely to need to be re-vaccinated.
Generally once your puppy has had three sets of the combination puppy shots, plus the Rabies shot, he will be well protected for one year.
Protection isn't immediate though, and I would recommend waiting at least a week after your pup has received his final set of puppy vaccine before venturing out into public areas.
There are however no guarantees and even after three sets of combination vaccines occasionally puppies still get sick.
So always be careful to avoid dogs who might appear sick, or areas where stray dogs might roam.
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