Puppy vaccination guide

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Bringing home a puppy is an exciting venture! Alongside the joy, there are responsibilities, one of which is ensuring your puppy’s health through vaccinations. In this blog, we'll walk you through a comprehensive puppy vaccination schedule, the importance of early vaccinations, the different vaccines your puppy needs, and a handy puppy vaccine chart. So, let’s embark on this journey of safeguarding your puppy’s health.

Table of contents

  1. Understanding puppy vaccinations
  2. Why puppy vaccinations are essential
  3. Importance of early vaccinations for puppies
  4. Registering with a vet and booking appointments
  5. Core and non-core puppy vaccines
  6. Your puppy vaccine chart
  7. How many vaccinations do puppies need?
  8. Dos and don’ts: Preparing for your puppy's vaccination appointment
  9. Understanding the side effects of puppy vaccinations
  10. Cost of puppy vaccine

Understanding puppy vaccinations

Taking care of a puppy does not only include feeding it healthy food, playing with it or buying it new toys. Getting your puppy vaccinated and being aware of your puppy’s vaccination schedule is also extremely important. Vaccinations provide acquired immunity to puppies to fight off infectious diseases. The vaccines for puppies contain antigens that resemble the disease-causing bacteria or virus but do not cause the disease.  

Why puppy vaccinations are essential

You need to immunize your puppy to give its body the power to fight diseases. Puppy vaccinations are important in building your puppy’s immunity to prevent them from contracting diseases later in life. The vaccinations stimulate the body to recognize the disease germs or viruses so that when the dog contracts the disease, the immune system recognizes the foreign body and fights it to reduce its ill effects.

Vaccinations protect your dog against diseases, some of which are life-threatening and can be easily spread to other dogs. Your puppy’s first vaccination will normally be at about eight weeks of age, with a second dose at 10-12 weeks. Your puppy won’t have full protection until two weeks after the second vaccination takes effect. After that, annual booster vaccinations are needed to maintain your dog’s immunity. The kennel cough vaccination is also recommended for any dogs staying in boarding kennels, or who are going be in contact with lots of other dogs, for example at training classes or dog shows.

Importance of early vaccinations for puppies

Puppies are vulnerable to unpleasant infections, including distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus and rabies. While puppies are still with their mother they get temporary protection, delivered through her milk. Once your puppy is weaned, they can’t mix with other dogs – or play anywhere other dogs might have been – until after their second vaccination. Your puppy’s first vaccinations should take place at six weeks. This needs to be followed by a second vaccination two to four weeks later. So when you bring your puppy home, make sure you also get details of their vaccinations – what they’ve had so far and what they still need.

Registering with a vet and booking appointments

It’s a good practice to register your puppy with a vet and schedule appointments well in advance. Vets are a treasure trove of information on health and care, so don’t hesitate to arrive with a list of queries.

Core and non-core puppy vaccines

Core vaccines are those that every puppy should receive regardless of their lifestyle or location. They protect against diseases that are widespread, severe, or transmissible to humans. Core vaccines include:

  • Distemper: Protects against a highly contagious virus affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, leading to various symptoms like fever, coughing, vomiting, seizures, and often resulting in death.
  • Canine Parvovirus (Parvo): Shields against a severe virus mainly affecting puppies, leading to symptoms like loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and severe diarrhea, often requiring prompt veterinary attention.
  • Canine Hepatitis: Immunizes against a viral infection affecting multiple organs in dogs. Symptoms can range from a slight fever to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver.
  • Rabies: Essential for protection against a fatal viral disease affecting the central nervous system, causing symptoms like anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis, and death, usually transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

Non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are optional vaccines given depending on the specific risk factors of a puppy. These factors can include the dog's geographic location, local environment, travel plans, and lifestyle. Non-core vaccines include:

  • Bordetella: Prevents kennel cough, a highly contagious infection causing coughing and, in rare cases, seizures and death; essential for dogs in contact with other dogs.
  • Leptospirosis: Protects against a bacterial infection found worldwide in soil and water, with symptoms like fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and severe weakness.
  • Canine Influenza: Immunizes against a virus contributing to kennel cough, recommended for dogs that frequently interact with other dogs.
  • Lyme Disease: Shields against a tick-borne bacterial infection affecting joints, heart, and other organs, diagnosed through symptoms like limping and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Coronavirus: Guards against a virus affecting a dog’s gastrointestinal system, causing symptoms such as loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Different from the virus causing COVID-19 in humans.

Consult your vet to customize the vaccine schedule based on your puppy’s specific needs, considering core and non-core vaccines for a wholesome protection plan.

Your puppy vaccine chart

Puppy vaccinations should be given to your pet when they are six to eight weeks old. It is also advisable to keep in touch with your dog’s vet for a vaccination schedule that is tailored fit to your dog. Take a look at the table issued by the WSAVA Organization below that provides detailed information about your puppy’s vaccination schedule:

Vaccination Puppy’s age 
Canine Parvovirus-2, Canine Distemper Virus, Recombinant Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Adenovirus-2, CPV-2, Canine Adenovirus-1Administer at 6 — 8 weeks, then to be given every 2-4 weeks until the dog turns 16 weeks or older
RabiesOne dose at 12 weeks of age. If first shot is given before 12 weeks, then the puppy should be revaccinated again at 12 weeks. 
Parainfluenza VirusAdminister at 6 — 8 weeks, then to be given every 2-4 weeks until the dog turns 16 weeks or older
Bordetella bronchiseptica, B. bronchiseptica + CPiV intranasal, B. bronchiseptica +CPiV (MLV) +CAV-2 (MLV) intranasal First single dose to be administered at as early as 3 weeks of age
B. bronchisepticaCan be given at 8 weeks of age
Bordetella bronchiseptica, Bordetella bronchiseptica First dose to be administered at 6–8 weeks and one dose at 10–12 weeks of age
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme borreliosis; killed whole bacterin, parenteral), Borrelia burgdorferi  (rLyme borreliosis) (recombinant-Outer surface protein A [OspA], parenteral)First dose at 12 weeks or older of age. Second dose is given 2-4 weeks later
Leptospira interrogansFirst dose at 8 weeks or older of age. Second dose is given 2-4 weeks later

Canine influenza virus

Canine Coronavirus

Two doses 2–4 weeks apart with initial dose at >6 weeks of age.
Vaccinations for puppies at shelter homes  

  CDV + CAV-2 + CPV-2 

  rCDV + CAV-2 + CPV-2 with or without CPiV Parenteral  

To be administered immediately upon admission in the shelter at 4 weeks of age. To be repeated every 2 weeks until the dog is 20 weeks old and still at the shelter 
Bordetella bronchiseptica, B. bronchiseptica +   CPiV, B. bronchiseptica +CPiV, B.  bronchisepticaTo be administered as early as 3 weeks of age. If the first dose is given at 6 weeks, then an additional dose to be given after 6 weeks
Bordetella bronchisepticaOne dose at the time of admission at 6-8 weeks of age and 2nd dose 2 weeks later
RabiesSingle dose to be administered at the time of discharge from the facility

Boosters are given to adult dogs, and they are usually administered every year. If you are unsure whether your dog requires a booster shot, you can also get a titer test to determine the same. This test checks your dog’s immunity levels and can help you determine whether your dog needs any vaccination or what type of vaccination to be administered. The test does not apply to the rabies vaccine. You will have to administer an anti-rabies vaccine shot to your dog as per the normal puppy vaccination schedule assigned by the vet. 

How many vaccinations do puppies need?

Your puppy should receive the following core vaccines: Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus and Rabies. Your puppy’s vet, however, may add additional vaccines like Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis. Cocktail vaccines would vary depending on the manufacturer and the discretion of the vet.

Dos and don'ts: Preparing for your puppy's vaccination appointment

Here are some tips on how you can prepare your puppy for the vaccination appointment:

  • As a puppy owner, your little furry friend relies on you and looks up to you. So, if you start panicking or stressing out before the vaccination appointment, your puppy may also reflect the same negative behavior. So, you should remain calm and talk to your pup in a soft voice to make sure it remains relaxed.
  • You may have to get your puppy accustomed to vehicular rides before the scheduled date of vaccination. Make sure you add a carrier in your vehicle for the puppy to remain comfortable throughout the ride to the vet.
  • Avoid feeding your puppy a heavy meal before the vaccination. You may feed your puppy treats and encourage calm and good behavior on the way as well.
  • You may also use calming synthetic pheromones to make sure your puppy is relaxed throughout the way.
  • Talk to the vet to know more about how you can ease your puppy before a vaccination. The vet will issue proper guidelines for the same.

Here are some tips on how you can nurse your dog post-vaccination:

  • Provide your puppy with a cozy and warm place to rest. You can also allow them to choose a place they feel comfortable at to rest.
  • Give your furbaby access to water and its favourite puppy food but do not worry if it does not feel very hungry.
  • It is advisable to not pat your puppy’s head or try to cuddle it post-vaccination. It might be like being alone for a while and it is normal.
  • Keep checking on your puppy multiple times a day but avoid disturbing it.

Understanding the side effects of puppy vaccinations

Vaccines for puppies also cause some short-term side effects as they do in humans. Here are some of the commonly noted symptoms post vaccination that can be noticed in your puppy :

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Small, red, raised, itchy bumps over its body
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapse or fainting
  • Severe coughing

Cost of puppy vaccine

The CPV-DHLP vaccine, also called the 5-in-1 vaccine, costs Php 400 or more. The CPV-DHLP vaccine provides immunity against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Your dog should receive this vaccine between the age of 10-12 weeks. The rabies vaccine, on the other hand, costs around Php 250. It can be given once your dog turns 16 weeks old and administered every 1-3 years (as required by law).

Adhering to a proper vaccination schedule is crucial for your puppy’s health. Consulting your vet for a customized puppy vaccine chart and understanding what vaccines puppies need will ensure a healthy and happy life for your furry friend.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Puppy Vaccinations

Your puppy should receive the following core vaccines: Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus and Rabies. Your puppy’s Vet, however, may add additional vaccines like Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis.

Vaccines for puppies should be given when they are 6-8 weeks old.

Puppies have to be taken for their regular immunizations from the time they are 6-8 weeks old until they become 12-16 weeks old. These vaccines are scheduled for every 3-4 weeks.

Rabies vaccines for puppies are one of the core vaccines. It is imperative to provide an anti-rabies vaccine for dogs to safeguard them and the community. Puppies should receive their first rabies vaccination at approximately 14 weeks of age, followed by another dose at one year old. Subsequent vaccinations should be given every one to three years, depending on local regulations.