A strong immune system is greatly important to maintain the health and well-being of any puppy. It helps to fight off dangerous diseases that could make puppies very sick and even be fatal. While puppies have base immune function, sometimes it needs a boost in order to fight off certain nasty viruses. Vaccines may be a polarizing topic right now but they are very important for keeping your pup healthy and disease free.
During a puppy’s first few weeks of life they are usually safe from disease. This is because pups get a dose of immunoglobulins from their mother’s milk, called colostrum. Puppies consume colostrum during the first 2 days of life. Aside from immune molecules, colostrum is also a significant source of nutrients.
The natural immunity that puppies get from their mothers isn’t enough to last them into adulthood. Puppies need more specific immunity to thwart off the really bad bugs. This is where vaccines come into play.
Puppies should be first vaccinated at 6-8 weeks of age. A good breeder will have this done by a veterinarian. A second booster should be given 2-4 weeks after the first. A third booster of core vaccines are given once your pup reaches 14-16 weeks of age. The second and third booster is usually the responsibility of the new owner.
Canine distemper is a virus that can be fatal to dogs as well as causing respiratory, digestive, and nervous system distress. Even if puppies are able to recover from this disease, many are still left with permanent nervous problems. The fatality rate for this disease is nearly 50% in unvaccinated dogs. The disease is spread through eye and nose droplets and unvaccinated dogs are at 350X more risk than their vaccinated companions.
The distemper vaccine is included in the core vaccine that pups receive in their first, second and third booster. After their third booster, dogs will only need this vaccine every 3 years.
ICH is a fatal canine disease spread through infected urine. If contracted, this virus causes liver failure, eye damage, and respiratory distress. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “The mortality rate for ICH ranges from 10%–30% and is typically highest in very young dogs.” In ~25% of recovered dogs, there is damage to the eyes, causing partial or complete blindness.
The hepatitis vaccine is included in the core vaccine that pups receive in their first, second and third booster. After their third booster, dogs will only need this vaccine every 3 years.
This is a nasty little virus with a very high mortality rate. It is a very serious and widespread disease, with mortality occurring as early as 40-72 hours after contracting the virus. The mortality rate of parvo is nearly 80% and those dogs who do survive are usually left with permanent heart and bone damage. This virus is spread through infected feces and can affect dogs of all ages if unvaccinated.
The parvovirus vaccine is included in the core vaccine that pups receive in their first, second and third booster. After their third booster, dogs will only need this vaccine every 3 years.
Rabies is a disease that affects all animals, including humans and dogs. This disease is almost 100% fatal as there is no cure. The rabies virus primarily affects the nervous system, with signs being variable ranging from listlessness, weakness, paralysis and aggression.
The rabies vaccine is given independently from the other core vaccines. It is first given at 14-16 weeks of age and then every 1-3 years following (depending on what your veterinarian recommends).
There are also options for non-core vaccines which are vaccines designed to fight off illnesses that are unlikely to be fatal in dogs. These vaccines are usually given by suggestion of your veterinarian. Below are the list of non-core vaccines:
Dogs are at risk of developing deadly diseases just by going outside and exploring their environment. Vaccines were developed as a means to protect our doggos and keep them safe from these diseases. Just like a healthy diet and proper exercise, vaccines are crucial for helping your dog live a long life.