If we are going to live with a dog, vaccines are one of the veterinary actions that we must implement as a preventive routine, whether our partner is a puppy or an adult. Regardless of whether you live inside or outside the home. There are ignorance and mistrust around vaccines, which leads to losing sight of the vital importance they have in the prevention of deadly diseases. Below we clarify all doubts and present the recommended Puppy shots schedule.
How do vaccines work?
To understand how vaccines work, start by reviewing some basic immunology concepts. When an animal becomes ill, its immune system creates defenses , known as antibodies, against the invading antigen.
This process serves to fight disease and, very importantly, to create an immune memory. This allows that, in a second contact with the same pathogen, the organism reacts quickly, thus minimizing the disease. The problem is that the most serious pathologies can cause the animal to die on first contact .
In this way the animal forms an immunological memory and, if it is exposed to the disease naturally, it will fight it quickly, with the clinical picture being milder or even non-existent.
Why do you have to vaccinate dogs?
Dogs are exposed to different diseases in their day to day. Fortunately, most trigger a clinical picture that, although it can be complex, is usually treatable with veterinary intervention.
But other pathologies, on the other hand, are potentially fatal and there are only support and symptomatic treatment against them. Since the treatment that eliminates them is sometimes ineffective, science has directed its efforts to prevent them. And this is the job of vaccines.
Administering vaccines prevents and eradicates infectious diseases , contributes to public health by avoiding zoonoses, and reduces the use of antibiotics, among other functions.
Types of vaccines for dogs
Vaccines can be made from life (active), attenuated (with some activity), or killed (non-active) pathogens. The goal of this is to produce less reaction and good immunity. Sooner or later, they all need revaccination.
Most vaccines are given by subcutaneous injection, but there are also intranasal or oral vaccines (such as kennel cough). Another classification is established between monovalent, which are those that contain the vaccine against only one disease, or bi, tri, tetra or polyvalent, depending on whether they include two, three, four, or more vaccines.
What is the vaccination schedule?
It is the name given to the protocol that is followed for the administration of vaccines . The calendar tells us which vaccines must be given and when, also indicating the necessary revaccinations and the vaccines that are considered optional.
It is usual that it varies according to the countries and even the regions or communities, and the living conditions and characteristics of the dog must always be taken into account. Therefore, it is best to adapt the calendar to each case and, if we are going to travel, inform us of the requirements at the destination.
What are the recommended vaccinations for a dog?
Currently there are numerous vaccines at our disposal to protect our dog. Most have been in use for years with great success .
New vaccines will surely be developed in the future. In the following sections we will review those that are considered essential and optional, as well as briefly describe the disease against which they immunize.
Canine distemper vaccine
The distemper is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that affects puppies, especially those not vaccinated between 6 to 12 weeks. The clinical picture includes catarrhal, digestive and neurological symptoms. The sequelae can be lifelong, such as hypoplasia of the dental enamel.
Mortality is high, especially when the nervous system is affected. It is a vaccine considered essential. It is given to puppies at 6 weeks of age and as a booster later in the next two vaccines. Revaccination is recommended for adults.
Infectious hepatitis vaccine
This highly contagious viral disease is caused by canine adenovirus type I. It mainly affects children under one year of age. It will mainly damage the liver. The clinical signs of infectious hepatitis can range from vomiting and jaundice (yellow mucous membranes) to corneal edema.
It can manifest itself more or less seriously . In some very acute and serious cases, the dog dies within hours. It is one of the essential vaccines and also protects against adenovirus implicated in kennel cough (type 2).
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that usually preferably affects the liver and kidney. Its symptoms are going to be related to these organs, although very different signs may appear. Is a zoonosis.
It is included in the polyvalent vaccine, which is given at 9 weeks of age. It is recommended to repeat this dose annually. Yes, it is usually part of the usual calendar.
Parvovirus Puppy shots
The parvovirus is a very serious and contagious viral disease that affects mostly puppies few weeks old. It is characterized by severe vomiting and possibly bloody diarrhea that eventually dehydrates the dog.
Is considered an essential and mandatory vaccine that is administered to puppies and is included in the annual revaccination programs for adults. It is a veterinary emergency, so if your puppy has diarrhea, it is best to go to the vet immediately . Vaccination drastically reduces the possibility of contagion but not one hundred percent, so do not trust.
Rabies is a fatal zoonotic viral disease which, although in developed countries has been controlled through vaccination, still causing human deaths in areas like India. The administration of this vaccine, which is considered essential, will depend on the legislation of the place where we live.
The first dose can be administered to three-month-old puppies and, if we look at the scientific evidence, it should be repeated every one, two or three years, depending on the manufacturer. The problem is that it is usually a mandatory vaccine by law and it is this that will specify when to give it.
The canine parainfluenza virus (multipurpose vaccine) is implicated in kennel cough. This vaccine offers protection but does not prevent infected animals from shedding the virus in their nasal secretions , making them contagious.
There is a vaccine combined with the Bordetella bronchiseptic vaccine that does prevent this possibility. It is one of the vaccines that does not seem to reach twelve months of protection, so it would be advisable to give it twice a year to the highest-risk dogs.
Bordetella bronchiseptic vaccine
This bacteria can cause kennel cough. In principle, it is not a very serious disease, but in some dogs, it progresses to pneumonia, which can have a more reserved prognosis.
It is recommended for dogs that are going to stay in places such as residences, shelters, participate in dog shows, etc. The vaccine can be intranasal, injectable or oral (latest updates of the vaccine) and is the one that is requested to stay in kennels.
Borreliosis or Lyme disease vaccine
There are also vaccines available that can help prevent Lyme disease in humans. However, in dogs constant annual prevention against external parasites is more efficient.
However, prevention in other countries where this disease is more common may be different, so you should always consult the veterinarian in the area where you are, since the prevalence of diseases is different depending on the country in which we are. .
Canine herpesvirus vaccine
They are contagious by direct contact with respiratory or genital mucous secretions, although they generally do not cause symptoms or clinical symptoms in their new host until later.
Puppies are often infected in utero , at birth, or through contact with littermates. In the case of the transplacental route, the effects are different depending on the stage of gestation, they are usually abortions. Vaccination is applied to the pregnant mother, since the virus can infect the puppies in the womb.
Leishmaniasis Puppy shots
It is a disease caused by a protozoan and transmitted by a mosquito. As it can affect several organs, its symptoms are varied. In most cases it is a lifelong treatment . A recombinant vaccine is currently available. It can be used in dogs older than six months and is effective with two doses and annual revaccination.
First, the status of the dog with respect to the disease must be assessed through serological tests because it is only recommended to administer to uninfected dogs to be effective. The vaccine does not act against the transmitting mosquito, so deworming is still essential annually, especially in endemic areas.
What are the mandatory vaccinations?
On this point we must inform ourselves of the legislation in force in our place of residence. In Spain, this competence is transferred to the Autonomous Communities, which explains the differences between territories.
In addition, the laws on animal protection are changing, so it is advisable that we inquire at the veterinary center . The vaccines we recommend, which are considered mandatory in some communities, are the ones we have rated as essential.
Administering all the others will depend on the living conditions and the characteristics of the dog. These factors determine the risk of contracting these pathologies. It will be the veterinarian who assesses the need to apply the corresponding vaccines. Then the owner will be the one to decide if they apply or not .
At a general level in Spain, we can assess the following vaccines as highly recommended, in addition to some totally mandatory by law such as rabies.
- A month and a half should be vaccinated against parvovirus and distemper.
- At two months and one week the polyvalent (I remember the previous two, leptospira, hepatitis, and influenza virus).
- It should be revaccinated three months after the polyvalent (vaccine from which it can go out). You can get vaccinated for kennel cough below.
- At four months rabies. Then you can put the leishmaniasis
- Every year : multipurpose vaccine (reminder) and rabies vaccine (in some autonomous communities a recall is required every two years, in the majority every year).
Puppies, having an immature immune system, are more prone to infectious diseases. To avoid this, it is essential to start vaccinating them as soon as the immunity conferred by their mother decreases , between 6-8 weeks. A single dose of a vaccine is able to stimulate the immune system, but it is the second that immunizes almost one hundred percent.
Therefore, in puppies it is necessary to repeat the dose of the same vaccine 2-3 times until optimal protection is achieved. It is recommended not to finish revaccination before 12 weeks. Until we have completed all the vaccinations of this stage it is important that we do not take the puppy for a walk . From the second multipurpose or third vaccine, it can be taken out onto the streets.
Vaccination in adult dogs
Once the vaccination schedule for the puppies has been completed and, therefore, an adequate immunization has been achieved, the objective becomes to maintain it. For this the dog must be periodically revaccinated . Revaccination is usually annual and contains essential vaccines. Depending on the circumstances of each dog, the calendar can be altered.
When we adopt an adult dog whose vaccination history is unknown or one that has been vaccinated as a puppy but has not been revaccinated for years, the current recommendation is to administer a single dose of the multipurpose vaccine chosen for essential revaccination. Then the revaccinations are followed as with any other dog.
Vaccination in elderly dogs
From the age of 8-10 it is debatable whether revaccination should be continued. The immune system of older dogs reaches a time when it is not able to respond to vaccination. Each case would have to be weighed and risks and benefits assessed. The rabies vaccine will continue to be administered by legal imperative.
Why do you have to revaccinate ( Puppy shots )?
The immunity conferred by vaccines can be temporarily limited. This means that the memory that may have been created in the immune system after its administration will be exhausted in a while. This varies depending on each vaccine. Therefore, to maintain protection, revaccination is essential.
There is no debate about revaccination in general, but there is debate about when each specific vaccine should be repeated. Distemper, parvovirus, or rabies vaccines appear to maintain immunity for over a year in an adult dog that has been properly vaccinated. It is believed that they could immunize from 3 to 9 years and even for life.
On the contrary, other vaccines fail to protect twelve months. That is why it is interesting that, taking into account the dog’s living conditions, the veterinarian draws up an adapted vaccination schedule. It should also be borne in mind that some vaccines are marketed together, so revaccination is usually annual.
Keeping our dog vaccinated correctly, protects him and protects us.
Puppy shots fail?
Yes, vaccines may not offer 100% protection , none of them do. As well as if they are applied to a dog that is not in a position to develop an adequate immune response. That is why it is so important that we always go to a veterinarian to minimize errors. Also, some diseases are caused by different strains and a vaccine is not always available for all of them.
Why are Puppy shots so expensive?
The price of the vaccines will be different depending on the veterinary center. When our dog is a puppy, having to vaccinate several times can seem expensive, but then we are talking about in general, a single or two vaccines a year.
When deciding to share life with a dog, we must know that it involves a series of fixed expenses. The vet is one of them. We have to assume deworming and vaccines as essential. In addition, vaccinating is a clinical act that can only be performed by a veterinarian who has invested effort and money in training and setting up a clinic.
The fixed benefit of vaccinations for the veterinarian allows other services, such as surgeries, to be offered at a more affordable amount. Finally, the cost of treating the dog if it is infected with any of the diseases is much higher than the price of a vaccine and does not guarantee, in many cases, cure.
Do Puppy shots have side effects?
In the hours after inoculation, the animal could present discomfort, inflammation in the puncture area, fever, an allergic reaction on the face or back, or a decrease in activity and appetite.
- Possible Side Effects of Vaccines
Contraindications to vaccination ( Puppy shots )
When a dog already has any disease, parasites, allergies or any condition that reduces the functioning of its immune system, vaccinating it may not help, since its body will not be able to form the necessary antibodies.
For dogs undergoing immunosuppressive drug treatments, vaccination is not recommended either. In females in a state of pregnancy or in which there is a well-founded suspicion that they may be pregnant, it is contraindicated to vaccinate, except for herpesvirus or in some specific situation that the veterinarian must assess.
In addition, the puppies will be protected by the antibodies transmitted by their mother for about eight weeks. Depending on each case, the veterinarian will consider vaccinating them before, so as not to interfere with these antibodies. That is why putting a vaccine is a clinical act only the competence of the veterinarian, who must first check the animal.
Carlson and Giffin (2002): A practical manual of canine veterinary medicine. Madrid: Editorial el Drac.
Fariñas, Fernando (2015): Animal-dependent vaccination failures: myths and realities. Veterinary Portal, October 21, 2015.
Framework of good practices for the use of vaccines in animals (2019): http://www.vetresponsable.es/vetresponsable/guias/marco-de-buenas-practicas-para-el- use-of-vaccines-in-
animals_4176_347_4417_0_1_in.html Roura, Xavier (2015): Control of canine leptospirosis in Europe: Is it time for a change? Veterinary Portal. January 7, 2015.
Simón, Mª Carmen Simón (2017): How to establish a vaccination plan. Ateuves nº 6, pages 22-26.
WSAVA (2016): Guidelines for the vaccination of cats and dogs: https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/PDF_old/2015-WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-Spanish.PDF