Newborn puppies receive disease-fighting antibodies in their mother's milk. However, these antibodies normally last only the first few weeks of life. After that, vaccinations protect your puppy by introducing modified disease-causing agents into their body to stimulate their immune system to produce their own antibodies.
What is the Best Vaccination Schedule?
Puppies usually have a course of three vaccinations, normally given 4 weeks apart:
- First Vaccinations – from 6 to 8 weeks of age
- Second Booster – from 10 to 12 weeks of age
- Final dose – from 14 to 16 weeks of age
Adult dogs require annual vaccination boosters for life. We've put together a list of annual adult dog vaccinations to expect here. Your vet clinic will send you a reminder a few weeks before your dog is due for their yearly booster.
What do Vaccinations Protect Against?
Dogs need to be protected against the following serious and sometimes fatal diseases:
Canine distemper is a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease that can affect any dog, especially young puppies and unvaccinated dogs. This virus affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Symptoms of Canine Distemper include sneezing, coughing, and thick discharge from the eyes and nose, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Canine Distemper is closely related to the human measles virus. Many years ago, this infectious disease was a leading cause of deaths in canines, but due to the development of effective vaccines, it is rarely seen by vets today.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adenovirus)
Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adenovirus) - Adenoviruses are a family of viruses. Two forms of these viruses can cause serious disease in dogs: Canine adenovirus type 1 causes Infectious Canine Hepatitis (IHC), and Canine adenovirus type 2 can be a part of Infectious tracheo-bronchitis (Kennel Cough). Infectious canine hepatitis is highly contagious and can affect the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. Symptoms can include vomiting, coughing, excessive drinking and urination, loss of appetite, jaundice, abdominal pain, weight loss, and pale tongue, gums, and nose.
Parvovirus or Parvo, as it is commonly known, is one of the most common fatal infectious diseases that dogs can come in contact with. Canine parvovirus is a relatively new disease that first appeared in the late 70s. Parvo affects dogs rapidly by attacking cells in the lining of the digestive system and bone marrow tissue. It causes the deterioration of the immune system and white blood cells, making the dog vulnerable to any secondary infections.
Symptoms of Parvo are sudden and come on quite rapidly: Loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, foul-smelling bloody diarrhea, and severe dehydration. If your puppy shows any of these signs, it is strongly recommended that you take them straight to the vet.
Parainfluenza virus (Bordetella) or Infectious tracheo-bronchitis
This is a very contagious respiratory disease among dogs, commonly called “Kennel Cough”. If young puppies contract Kennel Cough, they can suffer quite severe complications as their immune system is developing and may not be strong enough to fight off this infection. Older dogs are also at risk due to their decreased immune system.
The most common symptoms of Kennel Cough are a dry hacking cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, and in severe cases, these symptoms progress to pneumonia.
Leptospirosis is an infection caused by Spirochetes, which are corkscrew-shaped bacteria that penetrate the skin and spread through the body via the bloodstream. Leptospires can spread throughout the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous, and reproductive systems. Symptoms of Leptospirosis may include a sudden high temperature, reluctance to move due to stiffness in muscles and legs, a stiff gait, lack of appetite, rapid dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This is a highly contagious disease that affects the gastrointestinal system. The symptoms of Coronavirus can vary. If an adult dog contracts this disease, you are likely to observe mild symptoms or none at all. The most common sign in adult dogs is loss of appetite and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Symptoms in puppies are a little more severe and may include vomiting, diarrhea, high temperature, and dehydration. Puppies are also most at risk of developing serious complications with this virus, such as severe enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), which can be fatal.