Guest Author - Debra Kelly
There are few events that are more exciting than bringing home a new puppy. Your journey with them is just beginning, and you're going to want nothing more than to introduce them to all kinds of new experiences.
But along the way, they're going to need some vaccinations to make sure they're not introduced to anything that's going to make them ill.
Your veterinary will be a crucial part of your puppy's early life, and they'll be able to give you the best schedule for your particular dog. But going into the office with an idea of what they're going to suggest can make the visit go a bit easier if you're prepared for the needles that will come out.
Most likely, your puppy has already has her first vaccinations if you get her at the usual age - about 8 weeks. Most puppies are given their first vaccination for distemper at about 5 weeks, when they are being weaned off their mother's milk and now must depend on the antibodies that their own systems produce to stay healthy. Your vet may recommend several booster shots, as distemper is a relatively common disease among young dogs. A viral disease that is spread through contact with bodily fluids, it is characterized by a runny nose and drooling followed by seizures and convulsions. While dogs can survive a distemper infection, those that do will have life-long complications.
Within a few weeks, their bodies will be hardy enough to receive a vaccine to fight off one of the most commonly heard diseases in puppies: parvovirus. Parvovirus can infect the digestive tract or the heart, and is fatal in more than 90% of cases that are left untreated. When puppies are nursing, the antibodies in their mother's milk protects them against the virus; once that is gone, they are susceptible and should be vaccinated. As with distemper, booster shots are usually given up until the puppy is about 16 weeks of age and her immune system is developed enough to begin producing the necessary antibodies on its own.
Your puppy's first visit to the vet will probably also include a vaccination against hepatitis. This will also help prevent kennel cough, a viral infection of the respiratory system common in puppies and dogs that are kept in confined areas close to other dogs.
Rabies is often one of the last vaccinations that your puppy will receive. Depending on the individual and vet advice, this can be given between 3 and 6 months of age with boosters regularly for the rest of the dog's life. Because rabies is highly contagious, absolutely deadly and carried by almost all animals, it's recommended that extra care be taken when exposing your pre-rabies vaccinated puppy to new situations and outdoor areas such as forest, parks, barns and trails where there is a chance of being exposed to a rabid animal. Many places, such as state parks, will not allow a dog entry without proper paperwork to show that she's not only been vaccinated, but is up to date on all her shots.
A good veterinarian will not only tell you what your new puppy is being vaccinated against, but they'll keep you posted to the recommendations and the laws pertaining to the shots your puppy should have. They'll also let you know of any possible side effects to watch for; commonly, this includes lethargy and sleepiness as well as tenderness in the area around the injection site.