Vaccinations for Puppies:

There are many diseases that may be fatal to dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors. We recommend vaccinating your puppy every three to four weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old. (The last two vaccinations must occur at/after 12 weeks of age.)

The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from six diseases: distemper virus, viral hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and rabies virus. The first four are included in one injection that is given around 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks old. Leptospirosis is usually started with the 12-week vaccinations and then repeated once again at the 16-week visit. There are three other recommended, but optional, vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations: kennel cough, influenza, and lyme. Your puppy should receive two kennel cough vaccines if exposure to other dogs is expected (for example: a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer, if it will be placed in a puppy training class, or visiting dog parks ). Kennel cough vaccine will also be required for the hospital stay for spaying or neutering. Vaccination for Influenza may also be needed in those situations. Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are exposed to ticks because Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks. Please advise us of your puppy’s lifestyle during your next visit so that we may develop an appropriate vaccination plan. Choosing to have your pet Board with us at Family Pet will require them to have their Rabies, Distemper, and Kennel Cough Vaccinations.

What are the Vaccinations?

1) DAPP – This is a 4-in-1 vaccination that provides protection from four highly contagious viruses that when severe, may be life-threatening. This vaccine includes the Distemper virus, Adenovirus (CAV-1 and CAV-2), Parainfluenza virus, and Parvovirus. Puppies initially receive a DAPP vaccine between 6 and 9 weeks of age, then re-vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age. Unvaccinated puppies over 16 weeks of age and unvaccinated adult dogs only need an initial DAPP vaccine and an additional booster vaccine 3-4 weeks later. Thereafter dogs should be vaccinated every 1-3 years.

Distemper vaccine – This vaccine is given to prevent infection with the canine distemper virus. The distemper virus is shed in all dog bodily fluids but most commonly is transmitted through respiratory aerosol secretions via coughing or sneezing. Infection is more common in puppies as they usually have not yet been vaccinated or have only had an incomplete series of vaccinations. Distemper may cause mild disease but may also be fatal. Symptoms are wide-ranging and usually begin 10-14 days after infection. Often early symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, nasal discharge, eye disorders, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Rapid progression of the disease then results in vomiting and diarrhea. Eventually, the virus may cause varying neurological symptoms including tremors, loss of balance, lameness, and seizures. The classic neurological distemper sign is that of “chewing gum” seizures in which the small seizures result in snapping or tremors of the jaw similar to a chewing appearance. Advanced stages of infection may lead to death. Diagnostic tests are available but may not always completely confirm infection making it sometimes difficult to accurately diagnose. Affected puppies may require hospitalization for supportive care with IV fluids and medications until hopefully, the immune system can ward off the viral infection. The prognosis for recovery is unpredictable and some pets may have permanent neurological issues afterward that if debilitating may require euthanasia.

Adenovirus vaccine – This vaccine is given to provide immunity to both canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) and canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2). Both viruses are similar but cause different diseases in dogs. Infection with CAV-1, also called Canine Infectious Hepatitis, causes significant liver disease. CAV-2 is the strain of virus that may be associated with Kennel Cough Complex that results in respiratory symptoms similar to that of Bordetella. Diagnosis and treatment are also similar to that of Bordetella.

Parainfluenza virus vaccine – This vaccine is given to provide protection against canine parainfluenza virus. Parainfluenza virus is another possible cause of Kennel Cough Complex that results in respiratory symptoms similar to that of Bordetella. Diagnosis and treatment are also similar to that of Bordetella.

Parvovirus vaccine – This vaccine is given to prevent infection with the canine parvovirus. The parvovirus is shed through the feces of an infected dog. The virus is then prominent in the environment and may remain infectious in outdoor (grass, gardens, sidewalks, etc) or indoor areas (floors, kennels, shoes, carpet, etc) for many months. Unvaccinated puppies or puppies with an incomplete vaccination series then become infected when the virus is exposed to the oral cavity through grooming, licking, or chewing contaminated objects. The virus usually attacks the bone marrow and intestinal tract. Typically symptoms begin 3 to 7 days after exposure. The virus may result in severe life-threatening symptoms and can be fatal. Symptoms usually include lethargy, loss of appetite, dehydration, vomiting, and profuse diarrhea that often becomes bloody. Severe cases suffer from immunosuppression and toxic secondary bacterial infections. An initial diagnosis is often made based on clinical symptoms, fecal testing, and blood work. Affected puppies will likely require several days of hospitalization for intensive care administering IV fluids and medications until hopefully, the immune system can ward off the viral infection. The prognosis is better with aggressive intensive care.

2) Leptospirosis vaccine - Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. This means it can be transmitted to other pets and humans. This disease causes rapid liver and kidney damage that can result in severe illness (often mimics flu in humans), permanent organ damage, or death. Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of wildlife such as rodents, raccoons, and possums. Once infected the bacteria spreads and can be passed to humans just as easily. Dogs are likely to come in contact with urine as they sniff the soil outside and can then acquire the disease. Once infected, the bacteria is shed in your pet’s urine. Symptoms, however, are often not present until much damage has already been done. These symptoms include blood in urine, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, and lethargy. The risks of not vaccinating for leptospirosis annually far outweigh any risk of vaccinating. A blood draw and urinalysis can be conducted and sent to a lab to test for Leptospirosis. All pets suspected of Leptospirosis should be quarantined and isolated with minimal contact with other pets and people. Reaction to the vaccine occurs in less than 0.0001% of patients. Even in cases where there is a known allergy, premedication can be used to minimize or eliminate vaccine reactions. We use an effective vaccine with subunit technology against four of the seven known serovars. Treatment includes aggressive fluid and IV antibiotic therapy, but often by the time Leptospirosis is caught and treatment starts, severe damage has already been done to the liver and kidneys. Here at Family Pet, if you choose to not have your pet Vaccinated against Leptospirosis, we have you sign a waiver saying you agree to the risks against your pet and you.

3) Rabies vaccine – This vaccine is given to prevent infection with the rabies virus. The rabies virus is eventually transmitted through all bodily secretions/fluids of an infected mammal. Rabies virus is most often found in wildlife. Commonly infected wild animals include bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. The typical route of infection is through a bite wound that penetrates into another animal’s or human’s tissues. Infection through contamination of bodily fluids into open wounds and mucous membranes such as the mouth rarely occurs. Once the virus enters the body it may take days, many months, and even up to a year before symptoms begin. Symptoms may include changes in behavior, subtle neurological symptoms, chewing or licking at the site of the initial bite wound, disorientation, seizures, weakness, paralysis, changes in the tone of the bark/meow, labored breathing, coma, and death. Symptoms occur over 3 to 7 days and is ALWAYS fatal. There are no diagnostic tests for infected live animals and no effective treatment. PREVENTION is the only option.

4) Lyme vaccine - Lyme disease is a multisystemic disease caused by the pathogen Borreila burgdorferi which affects joints, lymph nodes, and kidneys. It is contracted when an infected tick feeds on its host and transfers the disease. This is a disease that can affect animals and humans alike but can show no symptoms (asymptomatic) for months or even years before showing signs. Animals that spend more time outdoors in tick-infested areas are at a greater risk of infection. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, lameness, rash, nephritis, and the most prominent, stiffness/soreness and swelling of joints. Annual blood tests can be done in the clinic to determine whether or not a pet has Lyme disease. Treatment of Lyme disease is more like living with it. There's no effective treatment to remove or clear the disease and it is treated symptomatically. Usually, they are placed on antibiotics or anti-inflammatories to help reduce discomfort. Vaccination of Lyme disease is the most effective method of prevention with Flea/Tick prevention not hard behind. We typically vaccinate against Lyme starting around 9-10months of age and booster once 3-4 weeks after. You can vaccinate against Lyme as young as 16 weeks. For a Flea/Tick Prevention to be effective against Lyme disease, it has to go Systematically (into the bloodstream). This is so that when the ticks bite a pet, they die before they are able to transmit the disease to the pet.

5) Bordetella or Kennel Cough vaccine – This vaccine is given to improve protection from the highly contagious Bordetella bacteria that is commonly associated with “kennel cough”. There are 3 different types of Bordetella vaccines: a nasal liquid, an injection, and an oral liquid. These vaccines may not provide complete immunity from infection but can reduce the duration and severity of the infection should it occur. Kennel cough is a term describing the typical symptom of a harsh cough followed by a gag or retch. Bordetella is only one of several components to the Kennel Cough Complex of respiratory infectious diseases. Other infections related to this complex may also include the parainfluenza virus, adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), distemper virus, influenza virus, and mycoplasma. Bordetella is transmitted through coughing and the spread of the bacteria through respiratory secretions. These secretions may then be inhaled by your nearby puppy or may contaminate nearby objects that then pose as a source of infection as well. Infection often occurs in the upper airways but may progress to affect the lungs as well. Symptoms may begin within a few days of exposure and can last 1 to 2 weeks. Symptoms may include a dry harsh cough and gagging or retching associated with the cough, fever, lethargy, and difficulty breathing due to pneumonia in severe cases. Diagnosis is often made based on historical exposure and physical exam findings. The infection most commonly occurs when exposed to other dogs in higher-risk areas such as groomers, kennels, training classes, dog shows, and dog parks. Additional lab tests and X-rays may be needed. Antibiotics and cough suppressants are usually prescribed. Bordetella may continue to be shed for 2 to 3 months even after symptoms resolve.

9) Influenza vaccine – This vaccine is given to protect from infection with the highly contagious influenza virus. There are currently two strains of influenza virus that may infect your puppy and newer vaccines incorporate both strains. Vaccination may not provide complete immunity but can reduce the duration and severity of the viral infection should it occur. The influenza virus is transmitted by nasal and respiratory secretions. Unfortunately most infected dogs are contagious even before they become symptomatic. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include lethargy, decreased appetite, sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, and mild fever. More severe infections may result in high fevers and pneumonia. Symptoms may persist for 10-30 days but many times dogs recover in 14-21 days. Diagnosis is often made based on historical exposure, physical exam findings and laboratory tests. Infection mostly commonly occurs when exposed to other dogs in higher risk areas such as groomers, kennels, training classes, dog shows and dog parks. Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and may include cough suppressants, fluid therapy, and antibiotics for secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Why the Series of Vaccinations

When the puppy nurses on its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine absorbs these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This immunity is of benefit during the first several weeks of the puppy’s life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy is left with no additional immunity. Each puppy must then be able to make its own long-lasting immunity. Vaccinations are used for this purpose, to stimulate the immune system into generating it’s own protective amount of antibodies. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present they will interfere with the vaccination’s ability to stimulate the puppy’s immune system. Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations. These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy. Therefore, a series of vaccinations is required to ensure that each puppy produces an appropriate amount of antibodies. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity that is so important.