Puppy Vaccines and Schedule
Puppy vaccines are intended to protect your pet from various diseases and provide a foundation for a long, healthy and happy life. In the first few weeks after birth, puppies are protected from a wide range of diseases by maternal antibodies which are received through colostrum. This milk-like fluid, however, is produced only a few days and provides protection only for a short period of time. The protective effect of maternal antibodies wears off in a matter of several weeks and when it does, the puppy becomes vulnerable to a range of potentially fatal diseases. And here is where vaccines step in.
Core and Non-Core Puppy Vaccines
There are several different types of vaccines and combinations of vaccines which can be divided into core and non-core vaccines. The former refer to vaccines that should be received by all dogs. They provide protection from some of the most serious diseases: rabies, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis and canine distemper.
Unlike core vaccines, non-core vaccines are not recommended for all dogs. Instead, they are recommended for dogs that are at increased risk of being exposed to particular diseases. These include Borrelia burgdorferi, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Leptospira bacteria. Ask your veterinarian for advice on non-core vaccines.
How Puppy Vaccines Work?
Puppy vaccines protect your four-legged friend from particular infectious diseases by introducing harmless amounts of disease-causing microorganisms into the body. The quantities are too small to cause symptoms of disease or any other health problem but large enough to strengthen the immune system to the extent that it can fight off the actual disease if being exposed to it. In other words, puppy vaccines make your pet virtually immune to particular diseases. It isn’t impossible for him to develop symptoms of infection even if being vaccinated but he is a lot less likely to develop a severe form of disease.
Risks and Side Effects of Puppy Vaccines
Unfortunately, puppy vaccines aren’t entirely risk-free. They have saved many canine lives (and human as well!) and they have been shown to be very effective. And in the vast majority of cases, perfectly safe. Adverse effects – if they do occur – are usually mild and short lasting. Serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are extremely rare but the risk is there. Please discuss potential risks and side effect of puppy vaccines with your veterinarian.
When is the Best Time to Have Your Puppy Vaccinated?
There is no need to have your puppy vaccinated right away because he is protected by maternal antibodies. What is more, puppies younger than 6 weeks don’t have immune system developed enough for the vaccine(s) to have the desired effect. However, it is very important not to wait too long to avoid the risk of exposure to potentially fatal diseases without any protection whatsoever (as mentioned above, the effect of maternal antibodies wears off relatively soon).
Ideally, puppies should receive the first dose of core vaccines (and if necessary, non-core vaccines as well) at the age of 6 to 8 weeks. Follow-up vaccines are usually administered every 3 to 4 weeks until the age of 12 to 14 weeks. You are recommended to contact your veterinarian before your puppy is 6 week old to make an appointment and clarify any questions/concerns you may have about puppy vaccines and vaccination schedule.