Dog Vaccinations: Everything You Need to Know

Puppies are babies, which means they rely on their fur parents to provide them with the necessities to survive and grow into healthy adult dogs. 

These necessities include good food, training, socialization, toys, a comfortable place to sleep, and veterinary care like vaccinations. 

What are dog vaccinations?

Dog vaccinations are vital in shielding your dogs from dangerous and fatal diseases. These help strengthen your dog’s immune system by mildly containing antigens that copy disease-causing organisms. 

Take note, these do not cause the disease, but what they do is stimulate the immune system and introduce and have the body recognize the antigens present. 

If your pet is exposed to the actual disease, its body will recognize it and be prepared to fight it off or lessen its severity. 

Importance of vaccinations in puppies

The puppy stage is the most vulnerable that’s why there are vaccines required to be injected as early as six weeks. 

When they are still with their mother, they get temporary protection through her milk, but once they are weaned, it is suggested to not mix them with other dogs until after their second vaccination. 

This is why it is important, especially when you are adopting, to ask for their vaccination details to know what they had and what is still needed. 

What are the core dog vaccines? 

Dog vaccines are split into two categories: core and non-core vaccines. 

Core vaccines are required for all dogs and puppies and include: 

  • Canine distemper/adenovirus-2 (hepatitis)/parvovirus/parainfluenza vaccine (given as one vaccine, commonly referred to as DA2PP, DHPP, or DAPP)
  • Rabies virus vaccine

These vaccines fight against: 

  • Distemper: A highly contagious and fatal disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Symptoms are fever, coughing, vomiting, and seizures. If left untreated, it will result in death. 
  • Canine Parvovirus (Parvo): A virus that mainly affects puppies. Its symptoms are loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. It requires immediate veterinary care. 
  • Canine Hepatitis: A viral infection that affects multiple organs in dogs. Signs can range from slight fever to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain in the liver. 
  • Rabies: A fatal disease transmitted through the bite of a rabid or infected animal. It affects the central nervous system and causes anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis and worse, death. 

Non-core vaccines are also known as lifestyle vaccines. These are optional and given depending on the location, lifestyle, or if your dog is under a specific risk. 

Non-core vaccines include: 

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) vaccine
  • Leptospira (Leptospirosis) vaccine
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) vaccine
  • H3N2/H3N8 (canine influenza) vaccines

These vaccines fight against: 

  • Bordetella: Also known as kennel cough, a contagious infection that causes coughing and in rare instances, seizures and death. 
  • Leptospirosis: A bacterial infection found in soil and water. Signs are fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and severe weakness. 
  • Lyme Disease: A tick-borne bacterial infection that affects the joints, heart, and other organs. Common symptoms are limping and swollen lymph nodes. 
  • Canine Influenza: A virus that contributes to kennel cough. This is highly recommended for dogs that often interact with other dogs. 

Do vaccines have adverse reactions in dogs?

Vaccinations, medications, and even vitamins can have adverse reactions in dogs. It doesn’t usually happen but in some rare cases, it does. This is why it is important to monitor your dog after every vaccination. 

Common side effects after vaccination are discomfort or swelling at the injection area. Your dog may also develop a mild fever and loss of appetite and energy for a day. 

But if these signs persist for more than 24 hours, consult your veterinarian. 

More serious reactions can happen within minutes to hours after the vaccination. Immediately go to your veterinarian if any of the symptoms occur: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the muzzle around the face and neck area
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin

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