Watch that little Cute Puppy Grow! If you’ve just adopted a puppy, get ready for some big changes. In a single year, a puppy grows and matures from infancy to adolescence or even to young adulthood, depending on her eventual size.
You’ll probably spend a lot of time in your vet’s office that first year because puppies need a series of vaccine boosters between the ages of 8 and 17 weeks. Your puppy will also be tested and treated for intestinal parasites, started on heartworm prevention, and spayed or neutered.
You can avoid additional trips to the vet by following the guidelines on puppy nutrition, health, and safety provided by your veterinarian.
Why do Puppies get so many Shots?
Vaccines protect puppies against common and potentially deadly diseases. They also carry a small risk of causing harm. Puppies are vaccinated every 3 to 4 weeks, starting at age 7 or 8 weeks and finishing at 16 or 17 weeks.
They are vaccinated several times rather than just once because the antibodies they receive from their mothers at birth interfere with their ability to produce their own antibodies in response to a vaccine.
Exactly when the maternal antibodies lose their effectiveness varies with each puppy, so to avoid leaving a puppy unprotected during his vulnerable early months, vaccinations are started as early as maternal antibodies may begin fading and continued until the puppy’s own immune system is fully functional.
Which Puppy Vaccinations Are Absolutely Necessary?
Every puppy should be vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper, infectious hepatitis, and rabies: the first three because they’re widespread, highly contagious, and often fatal; and rabies because it’s widespread, always fatal, and contagious to people as well as other animals.
Despite a growing trend toward reducing the number of vaccinations given to adult dogs, it’s still recommended that puppies receive a full series of these core vaccines, followed by boosters when they’re one year old.
Depending on their environment, some puppies may also benefit from vaccines against upper respiratory diseases, leptospirosis, or Lyme disease. You should discuss those vaccines with your veterinarian whether they’re advisable for your puppy.
Vaccinating puppies against corona-virus, which causes mild diarrhea, is unnecessary because puppies develop antibodies against it naturally without becoming seriously ill.
However, many boarding kennels still require the vaccine. Vaccinating dogs against giardia, a protozoal parasite that also causes diarrhea is ineffective and is not recommended.
To keep track, refer to the typical puppy vaccinations schedule below:
Age Core Vaccines optional Vaccines
7 to 8 weeks Parvo, Distemper Parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough).
10 to 11 weeks Parvo, Distemper, Infectious hepatitis. Parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough).
13 to 14 weeks Parvo, Distemper, Infectious hepatitis. Leptospirosis, Lyme.
16 to 17 weeks Parvo, Rabies. Leptospirosis, Lyme.
1 Year Parvo, Distemper, Infectious hepatitis, Rabies. Parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough). Leptospirosis, Lyme.
Puppy Vaccinations: Do the shots hurt?
Some puppies squirm or yelp a bit when they’re vaccinated, and others don’t even seem to notice. Based on that observation, I’d say the shots hurt a little but not much.
Most puppies bounce back from their vaccinations as if nothing happened. A few puppies will be sore at the injection site, run a low fever, and have less energy than usual for a day or two after being vaccinated.
Those symptoms go away on their own and need not cause worry. Your puppy should be able to follow his usual routine after being vaccinated.
Anaphylactic Shock in dogs after vaccination
Severe vaccine reactions. A small number of dogs—probably fewer than 1 in 1,000—go into anaphylactic shock after receiving a vaccine. Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal if not treated immediately.
It’s possible but exceedingly rare for a vaccine to trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. No study of the mathematical risk of a vaccine causing anaphylactic shock has been done, but anecdotal evidence from veterinarians suggests that severe vaccine reactions occur in fewer than 1 in 1,000 dogs.
Symptoms usually appear within one hour of receiving the vaccine (in an early-onset reaction) or within two days (in a delayed-onset reaction) and can include vomiting, hives, a swollen face, weakness, or collapse.
Anaphylactic shock can be fatal, so if your puppy vomits, develops hives or a swollen face, or is weak or very lethargic after being vaccinated, call your vet or a veterinary emergency hospital immediately. The reaction can be treated with epinephrine, antihistamines, steroids, and oxygen.
Allergic Reactions to Puppy Vaccine
If a puppy who has not completed his vaccine series has an allergic reaction, the remaining vaccines can be given, extremely cautiously, using the following protocol:
- The puppy is given an antihistamine two hours before receiving a vaccine.
- Vaccines are given one at a time in two-week intervals, in part so that the specific vaccine causing the reaction can be identified.
- The puppy remains at the vet clinic for several hours after receiving a vaccine for observation and immediate treatment if necessary.
Vaccines against leptospirosis seem to carry the highest risk of provoking such reactions, but any vaccine could be the trigger for a particular dog. There’s no way to test dogs beforehand for their likelihood of having a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine.
A dog who has had a mild allergic reaction to a vaccine—such as swelling at the injection site or a swollen face— is considered high risk for having a more severe reaction in the future.
Disclaimer: This article is to provide general information to help you to take care of your dog. It is not intended to diagnose, cure or replace the expert care and specific advice provided by your veterinarian.