When bringing a new puppy into the household, one of the first things the new owner should do is schedule a physical examination and discuss what vaccinations the dog will need.
Some dog vaccinations may be required by law, while others might be recommended by veterinarians as preventive measures to maintain your pet’s health, and not every dog will need them. What shots does your puppy need, and when?
Much as some parents are against vaccinations for their children, many pet owners – and even some veterinarians – caution against shots that may not be necessary for your dog. It’s best to discuss your concerns with your vet and take your dog’s breed, lifestyle and personal health history into consideration before deciding whether you want your dog to have all shots routinely recommended, or any shots at all.
Since the transference of rabies from a wild animal to your dog can be life threatening to both the pet and your family, state laws require that all dogs receive an initial rabies vaccination and periodic boosters thereafter. Certain animals may be exempted from receiving the rabies vaccine due to health reasons as attested to by a licensed veterinarian.
Only a few states don’t specify who must administer the vaccine, but the majority require a licensed veterinarian to certify that the dog has been vaccinated. The first rabies shot is usually given when your puppy is 3 to 4 months old, with subsequent vaccines administered at either one or three year intervals, depending on the age of the dog and the type of vaccine given.
Other Required Vaccines
While not mandated by law, canine distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis are often considered core vaccines that should be given to all dogs. All three may be given at one time with the initial dosage given at six to eight weeks of age, with two boosters given at four week intervals following.
Optional Shots Your Dog May Need
If yours is an indoor pet who has little association with other animals, he may not need further immunizations if he’s otherwise in good health. If he comes into contact with other dogs frequently, it might be wise to vaccinate against bordetella (kennel cough); most boarding facilities require it before you can leave your pet at the facility. Plan ahead and get your dog immunized for kennel cough before going on vacation in case he experiences an unpleasant reaction. Since he’ll likely be stressed by your absence, don’t add to it by a visit to the vet complete with shots on the way to dropping him off at the local hound hotel.
Your veterinarian might also suggest leptospirosis and/or lyme disease prevention, if warranted based on your dog’s particular risk of exposure.
Make It a Joint Decision
As with humans, dog vaccinations do carry some risks, but they don’t always outweigh the benefits. Educate yourself on the pros and cons of each vaccine and decide with your veterinarian what’s best for your furry friend.