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Puppy vaccinations

Your new puppy may have already received a vaccination. If your puppy is aged 7 to 16 weeks, you should be aware that it may not necessarily have completed its vaccination program so care must be taken when socialising your puppy. Your veterinarian can advise you on how to manage this process. For your puppy’s best protection it is essential to maintain vaccination throughout its life.

For each pet, your veterinary surgeon will adapt the vaccination program according to your pet’s lifestyle and local disease conditions. Some vaccines may be combined in the same syringe, others must be administered in separate sites but on the same day. As in children, most of the primary vaccinations are carried out using a series of injections.

Why should I vaccinate my dog?

The principal of vaccination is to stimulate the body’s immune system. The immune system involves a number of cells, proteins and chemicals of which the best-known components are antibodies.

Puppies are protected against many infectious diseases by the antibodies present in their mother’s milk (colostrum), which they receive in the first few hours of life. This protection from maternal antibodies may last for up to 3 months. For this reason vaccination schedules start around the age of 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Why is it necessary to have repeat vaccinations?

Many people believe that if they have their pet vaccinated when they are puppies, the immunity they receive will protect them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately this is not the case. To maintain protection, regular booster vaccinations of adult dogs are required.

Re-vaccination stimulates the immune response so that protection is offered for an additional period. Without these regular vaccinations, your dog’s immune system may not be able to protect it from serious, often fatal diseases. Booster vaccinations will be recommended by your veterinarian and will provide the best possible protection for the life of your pet.

After-vaccination care

After vaccination your pup may be lethargic and off its food for a day or so, or have some tenderness at the site of injection. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact your veterinarian.

When should your puppy have a veterinary check?

Your puppy’s first booster may be due a year after the initial course, at approximately 15 months of age (depending on which vaccination programme your veterinarian is using). However, a veterinary check before this (at say, 7 to 10 months) is advisable. Small adjustments to the daily routine at this time may help to prevent problems becoming established later in life.

Vaccination certificate

Your veterinarian will complete a certificate to record the vaccinations. This ‘vaccination book’ contains the details of each vaccine and the date given. It is signed by the veterinarian as a permanent record and is required as proof of your pet’s vaccination history when going to kennels or shows.

You can also download the FREE FRONTLINE PET CHECK app to create a complete profile of your pet, including its vaccination schedule.

Infectious diseases in the dog

Your veterinarian will advise you on which vaccines are essential for your puppy. Vaccines are available for the following diseases:

Canine Parvovirus is perhaps the most serious and common of canine infectious diseases. This disease is a major problem, with outbreaks still occurring regularly across the country. The onset is sudden, with vomiting and foul, bloody diarrhoea that leads to rapid dehydration and collapse. The heart may also be attacked by the virus. This disease can be fatal. Note even if attention is sought, the disease can still be fatal.

Canine Distemper is highly contagious and often fatal. Signs may include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, depression, muscle tremors, fits and paralysis. Those pets that survive the initial viral attack are often left with permanent disability such as deformed teeth, nervous twitches or a predisposition to distressing epileptic fits.

Canine Hepatitis attacks the liver and is extremely contagious and often fatal. In acute cases the death of your pet can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Signs may include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. Those pets that recover from the disease may become carriers and spread the virus to infect other dogs.

Canine Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread in the urine of infected animals. Two major forms of the disease exist in dogs. One, which causes acute illness and jaundice, is often caught from rats – either by the animal being bitten or coming into contact with rat urine. The other type can also cause acute disease but frequently takes a chronic form. This leads to the slow destruction of the kidneys and renal failure can occur many years after the original infection.

Canine Coronavirus is a contagious virus that causes depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially in young dogs.

Canine Parainfluenza virus is one of the pathogens responsible for the disease known as ‘Kennel Cough’. The other main pathogen is the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. Pets with this disease suffer from a harsh, dry cough which can last for many weeks, causing distress for both the dog and the owner.