Quick Guide: Required Dog Vaccinations

Vaccinations immunize our pets from diseases and illness that could seriously hurt or even kill them. These vaccines do more than protect your own dog, as they also help to prevent to spread of contagious disease including rabies and distemper. Learning the proper vaccine schedule for dogs of all ages and the controversies that surround them are important for every dog owner to know to make educated decisions about their pets’ health.

Puppy Vaccines

puppy vaccinesWhen puppies are nursing from their mother, they get her antibodies. It protects them against disease and illnesses that she is immunized from. Puppies wean from mother’s milk at about 8 to 12 weeks of age. When they stop nursing, those antibodies they received from her diminish. Quality breeders will begin to vaccinate their puppies to ensure they remain protected against viruses like parvovirus that can run rampant through a litter and kill all the puppies if they are exposed.

A puppy’s first vaccine may be received as early as 6 weeks old or as late as 8 weeks as they begin to nurse less and less from their mother. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends the distemper and parainfluenza vaccines during this time. Bordetella (kennel cough) may or may not be necessary.

The new owners of a puppy will normally have brought their new fluffball home by the time it is ready for the next round of shots. Between the ages of 10 and 16 weeks, the puppy will receive his first combo shot, called DHPP. It includes distemper and parainfluenza, but also adds adenovirus (hepatitis) and parvovirus. Optional vaccinations at this point include coronavirus, leptospirosis, and lyme disease. Before a puppy is immunized against these deadly diseases it is important to shelter him from areas other dogs frequent such as dog parks, pet stores or obedience classes.

Between 12 and 24 weeks is when your puppy should receive his first rabies vaccine. Rabies is required by law for dogs in the US, and cannot be skipped. The earliest a puppy is allowed to get his first rabies shot is 12 weeks, but it is more beneficial to wait a few more weeks if possible. This is also the age (typically between 14-16 weeks) that your pup would get his last DHPP puppy shot.

Some breeders who are up to date on the Purdue vaccination study conducted to learn about puppies and their antibodies through vaccines may not give any vaccines until 12 to 16 weeks of age. This is not the popular choice, but could prove beneficial long term in the dog’s health. Over vaccination is still being learned about, and so far no conclusive results have been proven.

Adult Dog Vaccine Schedule

Adults don’t need vaccines as often as a young and growing puppy. Adults retain their antibodies long term. Many owners and vets choose to provide the same combo vaccination shot to dogs on a yearly basis. Boarding kennels, groomers and many other dog events require this kind of schedule before a dog is allowed on their property.

Adult dog rabies vaccines can vary from one to three years. In order to get the three year rabies vaccine, the dog must have been vaccinated the year before with the one year shot. It is the maximum amount of time allowed by law to wait between rabies vaccines.

Adult Vaccine Schedule

Titers vs. Yearly Vaccines

A new trend in pet parenting has emerged in getting titer testing instead of yearly vaccines. Titer testing is a simple blood test similar to heart-worm testing. It checks the number of antibodies for specific diseases in your dog’s body. The count can help you to decide if you should vaccinate again or wait until the next year for another titer test. Some research into titer testing suggests that some antibodies can protect a dog for up to seven years. This research is still being debated, however, and it is up to you and your veterinarian to make the final decision to vaccinate or not.

As mentioned previously, boarding kennels and groomers will require yearly vaccinations and most will not accept titer testing in its place.

Vaccine Costs

Every vet has their own costs and fees for supplies and services. Before you decide to bring home a dog or puppy, make sure you call all your local small animal veterinarian clinics to ask for their basic prices. This will include a wellness exam, heart-worm testing and vaccinations.

The most affordable vet clinics can be found by searching for low cost or low income veterinary care online. Many can be as low as $15 per vaccine. Other vet practices may provide higher quality care for a package price ranging from $40 up to over $100. Your location plays a large role in the costs of animal health care as well.

In addition to low cost vet clinics and higher quality practices, vaccination events are often held at various locations throughout the country. These events usually have one vet and vet technician to help provide wellness exams, heart-worm testing and a select type of vaccinations to the public for a minimal fee. Pet stores and animal shelters are typically hosts to these events.
Keep all of this in mind before you make that commitment! These are on going costs for the life of your dog, not including any other preventatives or emergency care.

Pet Insurance

MPet Insuranceany pet parents have discovered that pet insurance can greatly decrease their pet health care costs. Much like human health care insurance, pet insurance is a monthly fee that is dependent upon your dog’s age, breed and if they are altered (spayed or neutered). Along with a co-pay, pet insurance could save your wallet from going empty when it comes to your dog’s veterinary needs.

Before purchasing pet insurance, speak with a representative to find out if it is right for you. Don’t forget to ask your chosen vet office if they accept insurance!

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

The Bottom Line

You may have heard of those who are against vaccines entirely for both humans and pets. When it comes to your dog, no vaccines are far more dangerous than over vaccinating your pup. Your dog does not have to socialize at a dog park or run through the forest to contract distemper or parvovirus. You can even bring some of these viruses in on your shoes!

Ultimately, educating yourself about all the hazards of both vaccines and the diseases they protect against are going to be your best bet when it comes to making these kind of decisions. Other factors such as location, lifestyle, and breed all factor in which vaccines are necessary for your pet. Speak with a conventional vet and a holistic vet, talk with your breeder or shelter and you can make the best, healthiest choice for your canine companion.

Read more: http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/puppy-shots-complete-guide/

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave it below! 

Additional Resources:

1. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance – The #1 Rated Pet Insurance Plan By Customers

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2. How to Care for a Dog – 13 Dog Care Basics Every Pet Parent Should Know

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2 thoughts on “Quick Guide: Required Dog Vaccinations”

  1. I really like your informative guide to vaccines for dogs. My dog is 9 years old now and I often wonder what is actually required. She gets the rabies shot, but since she doesn’t socialize much at the dog park and I don’t like to leave her in a kennel when I go on vacation, I don’t opt for the other vaccines. I think part of the reason is I don’t want to over-vaccinate her if I don’t have to and the other reason would be the additional cost – it can be rather expensive to get all the vaccinations every single year.

    I have actually never heard of titer testing, so this was very interesting to learn about. Your quick guide was very helpful – thank you for the information!

    1. Happy to hear it! The rabies is crucial and definitely needed. From the sound of it, rabies might be enough for your dog. But, you may want to double check with your vet (if you haven’t already) just to make sure she can do without the other vaccines. You’re right though about not wanting to over-vaccinate if it’s not necessary especially when taking your dog’s age and lifestyle into consideration. Cost as well.

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