Understanding Pet Vaccinations
The main thing you can do to protect your pet from disease is to ensure his or her vaccinations are up-to-date. Pet vaccinations are designed to stimulate the immune system and protect your dog from several potentially deadly contagious disease.
Many pet owners do not realize that several contagious diseases are airborne, which means your pet could potentially be exposed to a disease anytime they go outside, or the window or the door is opened. Pets can also be exposed to a contagious illness at a grooming salon, a dog park, or at a boarding kennel.
Because pet vaccinations activate the immune system, it can take several days or weeks for your pet to be fully protected against contagious diseases. There are several essential vaccinations for your pet as well as a few optional vaccines. Let’s take a look at the vaccines that all pets should have.
Essential Pet Vaccinations
Certain pet vaccines are essential to the health of your dog. These vaccines protect your dog from the most common and most contagious pet illnesses.
- Distemper Vaccine – Most pet owners know the importance of a distemper shot; however, many do not realize that this shot is a combination vaccine that protects against four contagious pet diseases, including Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Hepatitis, and Distemper. According to the American Kennel Club, DHPP (Distemper shot) should be given when a puppy is between 6 and 8 weeks old with a booster shot given between 10 and 12 weeks old and every two years thereafter.
- Rabies – Rabies is fatal to all animals, including dogs and humans. Most states require that all pets be vaccinated for rabies. The first rabies shot should be given to your dog between the ages of 12 and 24 weeks old and then every year thereafter.
Optional Pet Vaccinations
In addition to the essential vaccinations, there are several vaccines for dogs that may be recommended depending on your dog’s lifestyle and where you live. Speak with your veterinarian about the pet vaccines that your dog may need.
- Leptospirosis – This vaccine protects against a bacterial infection that is common in humid, moist climates. This bacterium grows in standing or slow-moving water. The Leptospirosis bacteria can be spread from a dog to human. The first dose should be given between 10 and 12 weeks with a booster given between 14 and 16 weeks. Experts recommend that this vaccine is given every one to two years to ensure your dog is protected.
- Bordetella – Bordetella vaccine (kennel cough vaccine) protects against a contagious respiratory infection. If your dog goes to a dog show, a doggie daycare, a groomer, a dog park or a boarding kennel, your veterinarian will recommend this shot. The Bordetella vaccine can be given at 6 to 8 weeks old with a booster at 10 to 12 weeks old. Experts recommend a vaccine booster be given every two years to ensure your dog is fully protected.
- Lyme Disease – Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial infection found along the east and west coast and the Great Lakes areas of the United States. A Lyme disease vaccine (Borrelia burgdorferi) should be given when a puppy is 10 to 12 weeks old with a booster at 14 to 16 weeks old. This vaccine should be given every one to two years.
Pet vaccinations trigger your dog’s immune response and prepare your dog’s body to fight off bacteria that he is exposed to. Many of the diseases are quite rare; however, it is still recommended that your dog is vaccinated to protect their health and the health of humans your dog is around.