Bringing home your brand new, fuzzy, adorable puppy is so exciting! You’re now a parent with a furry friend who relies on you for absolutely everything. As a pet parent it’s your responsibility to pick the right food, socialize them with other animals and people, use the right gear, set them up for success with proper training, care for their health and much more.
One of the things many people panic about is understanding vaccines for dogs. There’s no need to worry though because vaccinations for dogs (and cats) are classified in two easy-to-understand categories: Core and non-core vaccines. We’ll go through both types of vaccines, as well as an average puppy shots schedule and other important information related to dog vaccinations.
Which Dog Vaccines are Absolutely Necessary?
Dr. Troye McPherson, a Nova Scotia-based vet and a council member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, explained the differences between core and non-core vaccines in dogs:
“Core vaccines are immunizations that are essential for your pet. Non-core vaccines are for diseases that only occur in certain circumstances, or areas of the country.”
Core vaccines are recommended for ALL puppies and dogs so that they are protected from potentially serious and sometimes fatal diseases. By immunizing your dog, you’re protecting your dog, others’ dogs (or pets), and sometimes even humans.
Core canine vaccines:
- Rabies vaccination
- Canine Distemper vaccination
- Hepatitis or Adenovirus vaccination
- Parvovirus vaccination
One of the most well-documented diseases in dogs is rabies. Since rabies is always fatal, it’s important to protect your pet against it. This disease is transferable when the saliva of an infected animal is introduced into another animal’s bloodstream. Many animals can be infected, including dogs, cats, raccoons, bats, and even humans. A rabies vaccination for dogs is mandatory in most countries!
Canine distemper (CDV) is a contagious disease that can be transmitted between dogs through exchanging some bodily fluids (nasal discharge, feces, and urine), as well as drinking from the same water bowl. This disease is difficult to treat and can cause permanent nervous system damage and can often prove fatal.
Serious cases of hepatitis in dogs, otherwise known as Adenovirus (CAV-2), can cause eye damage, liver failure, breathing difficulties, and sometimes death. This dangerous disease is contagious between dogs and can be passed on through urine, saliva, or feces.
Parvovirus is a disease that targets a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and can be fatal if left untreated. It is most dangerous to puppies and elderly canines and can be spread through feces or sharing of objects between dogs.
5-in-1 Vaccine: DHPP
The 5-in-1 vaccine for dogs, also known as the 5-way puppy shot or DHPP, is considered a core vaccine as it protects against many of the previously mentioned diseases. Why give your pup 5 shots when instead he or she could get 1?
It protects your puppy from canine distemper virus, two types of Adenovirus (hepatitis and kennel cough), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. As you’ve read most of these are very dangerous diseases that can often result in death and are hard to treat. Prevention through immunization is the best way to keep your pup safe and ensure you don’t spend a fortune on unnecessary vet bills.
Typical Puppy Vaccinations Schedule
Take a look at our easy-to-read infographic about a typical puppy vaccinations schedule in Canada:
In addition to this vaccination schedule for dogs up to 16 months, you also need to consider vaccinations that are required throughout their life. A dog vaccine schedule for adult years should include the following:
- DHPP – Every 1 to 2 years
- Rabies vaccination (as required by law) – Every 1 to 3 years
Let’s talk about some of the diseases that non-core vaccines for dogs protect against. Remember to talk to your vet about your dog and his or her lifestyle to determine which non-essential shots are recommended specifically for your dog.
The Bordetella vaccine fights against one of the bacteria that can cause kennel cough syndrome. The Bordetella bacteria can cause your dog to have a cough, nasal discharge, and a fever. In serious cases it can progress into pneumonia, which is much more serious and dangerous. If your dog is going to be socializing with a lot of different dogs, talk to your vet about this vaccination!
The Canine Parainfluenza Virus is another way that dogs can catch kennel cough. Just like kennel cough from the Bordetella bacteria, dogs will cough, discharge more fluid from the nose, and sometimes experience a fever. Kennel cough is highly contagious between dogs, so make sure to take pre-cautions including getting the vaccine and keeping your pup away from socializing with dogs that show symptoms.
Leptospirosis is a disease that varies in severity since it can be caused by many variants of the Leptospira bacteria. In Canada, there are only vaccines available to protect against Leptospirosis caused by the most commonly diagnosed types of bacteria. Signs of Leptospirosis can include lethargy, fever, and vomiting. It can also be spread from humans to dogs.
If you are hiking or camping in areas with ticks, it is important to get your dog a vaccine against Lyme disease. Not all tick bites cause Lyme disease, but the bacteria causing Lyme disease is prevalent in the Northeastern United States and many bordering provinces in Canada. Lyme disease can cause serious problems for dogs in their kidney, joints, and heart. Remember that humans are also able to catch Lyme disease so bring along some bug repellant whenever you’re exploring the great outdoors!
If your dog is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, this could be a sign of Coronavirus infection in dogs. This infection has been around a lot longer in dogs and is different than COVID-19, the disease causing our current pandemic. It’s often not fatal but can become dangerous if the dog also catch parvovirus. Consider this dog vaccination if your pup visits places where outbreaks can occur: dog shows, shelters, or kennels.
Modern vaccines for both humans and animals are considered extremely effective and safe. However, there are still some side effects that dogs can experience after getting their shots. Just keep monitoring your pup and remember that it is very rare for any problems to appear that are serious enough to warrant a vet’s attention.
What are some of these common side effects?
- Tenderness at the vaccination site (sometimes accompanied by redness and/or swelling)
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
Don’t worry if these symptoms are apparent for up to 24 hours after vaccination. If any persist or there are more serious symptoms (ex. vomiting, difficulty breathing, collapsing), please call your vet!
One important thing out of the way. After this read, you have the info you need to take care of your puppy shots and if you have any further questions, talk to your veterinary office. Now go enjoy some time with your puppy and take lots of pictures… because they grow up way too fast!
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