One of the biggest responsibilities of pet ownership is the health and well-being of our four-legged friends. Arguably the biggest part of this task are the annual vaccinations that these animals require for their safety, health and welfare as well as our own.
Often when thinking about getting shots for our dogs, rabies (also known as acute viral encephalomyelitis) is the first one to come to mind. Rabies is a fatal, viral infection of affecting the nervous systems and is most commonly spread through saliva and blood transmitted through bites or open wounds.
The best defense against this deadly disease is through vaccination, which begins at twelve weeks of age and adult dogs are given them once every three years thereafter. Many states, including New Mexico, require that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies under the care of a qualified veterinarian.
WHAT IS A GOOD VACCINATION SCHEDULE FOR PUPPIES?
Vaccinations for puppies come with a rigorous schedule to protect our young pets from developing unnecessary diseases that can be prevented by receiving their shots in a timely manner. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommends that you consult with your vet to ensure your puppy is properly vaccinated and a typical schedule looks something like this:
- 5 Weeks – Parvovirus
- 6 & 9 Weeks – Combination Virus
- 12 Weeks – Rabies
- 12 & 15 Weeks – Lyme
WHAT IS THE COMBINATION SHOT?
A combination vaccine, often called a 5-way vaccine, usually includes adenovirus cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Again, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your puppy (or even your adult dog) is getting the shots that they require according to their needs for core and non-core vaccinations.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CORE & NON-CORE VACCINES?
The AVMA publishes guidelines that differentiate between the need for “core” and “non-core” vaccinations for both puppies and adult dogs. Core vaccinations are considered to be those that are vital for a dog’s health which many of us are familiar with, rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Non-core shots are those vaccinations that are given to certain dogs according to their breed, lifestyle, travelling habits, proximity to other animals and exposure to the elements. These include vaccines for things like:
- Parainfluenza: Although considered a part of a puppy’s core vaccination, this shot can help to prevent kennel cough in young animals and is usually only given to dogs that come into close contact with other canines.
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica: Another vaccination given to dogs at risk of kennel cough and other respiratory conditions that can result from being in tight quarters with other dogs.
- Lyme Disease: Dogs living in rural environments are often encouraged to be vaccinated against this dangerous and deadly disease transmitted by ticks. Even though you may be already giving your pet flea and tick treatments, they aren’t 100% effective and just one bite can result in contraction and infection.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
For the third and final time, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a veterinarian or other pet medical professional who is licensed and educated on the administration of these important vaccinations. While we want to protect our dogs from unwanted disease, we don’t want to over medicate them either and give them unnecessary vaccines that can come with side effects.