Dog Vaccinations 101: Understanding the Basics

Dog vaccines are divided into different classes for canine diseases, and combinations to keep your dog healthy. Vaccines help your dog’s body to fight off organisms that cause disease. Core vaccines are the ones every dog should have. Non-core vaccines are recommended for certain dogs that may be at risk for disease. Veterinarians determine whether a dog needs noncore vaccines based on exposure to the disease, age, breed, and the dog’s health. The geographical region the dog lives in may be a variable.

Some vaccines are not recommended, except for certain dogs. Leptospirosis is one of the vaccines that falls into this category, since it works on about 30 percent of the dogs vaccinated. Coronavirus is usually administered to dogs in kennels, shows, breeder facilities, or shelters. Lyme disease vaccine is usually administered to dogs that weren’t previously exposed. However, if your dog will be traveling with you to an area where Lyme disease is prevalent, your veterinarian may recommend the vaccine.

Puppies must be vaccinated against certain diseases including distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and rabies. Laws regarding the rabies vaccine varies by state. Some require yearly rabies vaccines while others require your dog to be vaccinated every three years. Puppies usually get plenty of antibodies while they’re being nursed. Puppies should start getting vaccines at between six and eight weeks of age. Your veterinarian will usually administer the vaccines at three to four-week intervals.

Some veterinarians recommend a combination vaccine that may be administered at between 12 and 15 weeks. The combination vaccine also known as a five-way vaccine may include parainfluenza, parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus cough and hepatitis. Some puppies need additional vaccines against parvo after they reach 15 weeks old. The frequency for vaccinating an adult dog depends on the age of your dog, the medical history, and whether it’s used for breeding.

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