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Must-know Information About Vaccines for Your Puppy

By David Loneragan | Dated May 11, 2015

Congratulations on the new addition to your family, a bundle of joy and mischief! Vaccinating your puppy is an important part of keeping them healthy for life. Find out more below:

1. Why does my puppy need to be vaccinated?

Vaccinations (Immunisations) are an important means of protecting your puppy against some potentially fatal diseases. For the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, their mother provides them with antibodies through her milk. These antibodies fight disease and give puppies immunity. The maternal antibodies do not last however, so puppies need to be vaccinated to produce their own antibodies. This builds up their own immunity so they can be protected from disease into adulthood.

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Why does my puppy need to be vaccinated?

2. What diseases is my puppy vaccinated against?

Your puppy needs to be protected against these potentially fatal diseases:

  • Parvovirus: This is one of the most common fatal infectious diseases in dogs, especially puppies. The symptoms come on quite rapidly and include; foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression and severe dehydration. Puppies can also develop serious complications such as severe enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) which can be fatal.
  • Canine Distemper: This is a contagious and potentially fatal disease that especially effects puppies. It is now rarely seen due to dogs being vaccinated against it. The symptoms are: sneezing, coughing and thick nose and eye discharge, vomiting and diarrhoes, loss of appetite and lethargy
  • Parainfluenza virus (Bordetella) or Infectious trachea-bronchitis: This is commonly called “Kennel Cough”and it is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs of all ages. The symptoms are: dry hacking cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and in severe cases, pneumonia. Puppies who develop Kennel Cough can become quite ill. Kennel Cough is fairly common in adult dogs and can be transmitted in boarding kennels, or even in social interactions between dogs.
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adenovirus): There are two forms of this virus that can affect dogs. Type 1, causes Infectious Canine Hepatitis (IHC) and Type 2 can be a part of Kennel Cough. The symptoms if IHC include: vomiting, coughing, jaundice, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, drinking and urinating more often.

3. How old will my puppy be for the vaccinations?

Puppies usually have a course of three vaccinations, normally given 4 weeks apart:

  • 6-8 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. This injection is usually given to the puppy by the breeder before you pick them up.
  • 12-14 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Bordetella and Parainfluenza.

This injection is usually the first one that the puppy’s new owner has done for them. Your local vet will vaccinate your puppy and give them a full check up (physical examination) to make sure they are healthy.

  • 16-18 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Bordetella and Parainfluenza

This is the final puppy vaccination. Puppies should be isolated from dogs of unknown vaccination / health status until after their final puppy vaccination. This means that they should not be mixing with dogs that may not be vaccinated. Yearly boosters are needed for life to maintain your puppy’s protection. Your vet will send you a reminder each year when your dog is due for the next vaccine booster. NB: If your puppy is older when you acquire it, your vet will commence a vaccination schedule anytime during puppy hood.

4. What else should I do to protect my puppy from illness?

When your puppy has their vaccinations and check-up, your vet will discuss with you other important ways to keep him or her safe and healthy. These include:

  1. Heartworm and Intestinal worming
  2. Flea and tick prevention
  3. Puppy training / toilet training
  4. Diet
  5. Microchipping
Written by David Loneragan

David grew up and still lives locally and has worked at Gordon Vet since 1985. His love of animals and interest in all things veterinary started when he was a young boy spending time with his own pets and working on a country farm. David’s post-graduate studies have been in the fields of medical problems of dogs and cats and diagnostic ultrasound and radiology. In addition, he is interested in dermatology, cardiology and ophthalmology.

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