So, you’ve just bought or adopted a brand-new puppy. After you set him up with a bed and bowl, and buy him some food, you might wonder what about his needles? Just like human babies, puppies need vaccinations to protect them against some serious diseases.
Puppies need their basic shots usually just when they leave their mother at 6 – 8 weeks, then at 12 – 14 weeks. The three-in-one for puppies protects against Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvoviruses.
Distemper is a highly contagious disease that causes fever and may be followed by pneumonia, vomiting, and diarrhea. It often results in permanent brain damage, if the dog recovers. It is best controlled by vaccination.
Vaccination is an effective preventative of the disease and once all the dogs in a district are vaccinated and pups coming in each year are done at the age of 3 to 6 months Distemper will virtually cease to exist in such an area and epidemics will stop when they reach the zone of vaccinated animals.
Vaccination consists of the inoculation into the skin with the living virus of the disease followed after an interval of 1 to 2 hours by antiserum injected under the skin.
This is the only method of vaccination available and the distribution and use of the vaccine are confined to veterinary surgeons.
As an essential part of the vaccination, the procedure is the use of the living virus which will only keep 3 weeks after issuing from the laboratory, stocks of the vaccine cannot be carried and must be specially ordered before use.
Although Distemper is usually a disease affecting young dogs, those up to 5 years of age or more may be affected. Old dogs usually have had the experience of the disease in their youth and have developed an immunity, in general, it is not worthwhile to vaccinate a dog over 5 years old.
The ideal age to vaccinate is 4 to 6 months but dogs may be done at any age.
The symptoms of distemper are usually fairly characteristic. In the first stages of the disease the dog is off-color and shows a slight discharge; from both eyes. Very soon afterward it is common for pneumonia or nervous symptoms or both to develop.
The nervous form of Distemper is untreatable and probably accounts for the heaviest losses from the disease. Approximately 25% of dogs suffering from the disease show nervous symptoms and almost all of these die or have to be destroyed.
Because nervous Distemper is untreatable vaccination is the only safeguard against the disease.
Parvovirus is common worldwide. It is a severe intestinal disease where vomiting and diarrhea lead to dehydration. Affected dogs need intensive nursing, and often die despite care. Vaccination is the best way to prevent this disease and should continue once a year once the puppy shots have been given.
Veterinarians are still seeing cases of parvovirus from time to time so that the virus is still widespread throughout the dog community. Most cases seen are young animals that have not been vaccinated, but we still encounter cases where owners merely confined their pets instead of having them vaccinated, having assumed that the virus would disappear once the number of cases waned in their particular area.
Unfortunately, some misinformation has been spread within the pedigree dog breeding fraternity.
Assertions that the vaccine causes sterility in female dogs or that it produces heart disease in later life are absolute without foundation. Careful analysis of the results of the vaccination program has been undertaken and has proved that vaccination using the specific killed parvovirus vaccine is remarkably safe and effective if used according to recommendations.
Puppies should receive their first vaccination with their initial distemper vaccination at 6 weeks. If the puppy is to be exposed to large numbers of dogs or taken to places such as dog shows or boarding kennels, another vaccination should be given 3 weeks later. At 14 to 16 weeks another vaccination should be given in conjunction with the distemper hepatitis vaccination.
It is now known that some puppies retain immunity from their mother up to the age of 12 weeks. It is therefore important to give a vaccination after this immunity has waned, otherwise, the puppy’s immunity may not be strong enough to resist a challenge from the natural infection. Hence the recommended vaccination after 14 weeks of age.
To protect a litter of puppies before the age of 6 weeks, the immune status of the bitch should be high. Vaccination just before or during pregnancy safely confers immunity to the newborn puppies.
All dogs, regardless of age, require annual vaccination because the vaccine used is a killed virus vaccine and adequate immunity can only be achieved with yearly re-vaccination.
Kennel Cough is an extra vaccination you may choose to add to the basic shot. It is a contagious viral hacking cough, which is very annoying, but usually not fatal. If you want to place your dog in obedience classes, kennels, or shows in the future it will probably be required.
If you have an adult dog who has missed his vaccinations, it is easy to catch up with a single visit to the vet.