As a dog owner, your pet depends on you for all its needs. This includes food, exercise, socialization, dog training, as well as appropriate veterinary care and vaccinations. However, many new dog owners have a number of common questions about vaccinating their new puppy or adult dog. We’ve provided a convenient overview which answers these questions. Whether you have a new puppy or just got an adult dog, we give a rundown on what vaccinations your dog will need, when they need them, and how much they cost.
What are the Most Common Types of Vaccinations for Dogs?
The most common canine vaccinations include the following:
Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It can be very serious and often life threatening. The disease attacks a dog’s respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Symptoms include fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, fatigue, and lack of appetite. A dog can become infected by being exposed to another infected dog or other animal. It can be transmitted through the air or through surface contact with food, water, or objects. There is no cure for canine distemper, so getting your dog vaccinated is critical.
Hepatitis in dogs results from becoming infected by the canine adenovirus (type 1). It is a fatal disease. The disease attacks the dog’s respiratory system, kidneys, and liver. The disease develops rapidly, often causing death within a matter of hours. There is no cure or effective treatment for canine hepatitis, so getting vaccinated is important for all dogs.
Parvovirus causes a disease called Parvo. If not treated, the disease is often fatal. However, treating the disease is both expensive and requires extensive care for the animal. Parvo is highly contagious and often spread through infected feces or surface contact with objects exposed to the virus. The virus is very hardy and can survive in feces for more than a year. Because of the expense and complications involved in treating this highly contagious disease, it is critical for all dogs to get vaccinated against parvovirus.
Rabies is a disease spread by a virus. It is a serious disease that is nearly always fatal. Because rabies can also be spread to humans, rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most places. After becoming infected, a dog will go through several stages of the disease as the virus travels to the brain. There is no treatment for rabies. However, people who get exposed to the virus can receive a post-exposure vaccination. Unvaccinated dogs that are exposed to the virus are usually euthanized immediately. Because of the seriousness of rabies, all dogs should have a current vaccination at all times.
The canine parainfluenza virus is one of the causes of a disease known as “kennel cough.” Kennel cough is rarely life threatening and it usually lasts from 1-3 weeks. Symptoms include a dry, hacking cough, sneezing, gagging, discharge from the nose, and fever. The disease can be spread through the air or by surface contact with objects such as toys or dog bowls. Kennel cough is often spread at dog boarding facilities, so many groomers and boarders require dogs to have a current parainfluenza vaccination.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a bacteria that is another cause of the disease known as “kennel cough.” It is one of the most common causes of this disease, which primarily affects the respiratory system. The disease is usually mild in healthy adult dogs. However, it can cause severe illness or death in puppies or dogs that have existing healthy problems. This vaccine is usually recommended for dogs that regularly come into contact with other dogs, such as at a kennel, a boarding facility, or a groomer.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira Interrogans. It is potentially serious disease that is sometimes fatal. The bacteria is usually acquired through exposure to contaminated urine or water. The bacteria causes fever, joint pain, and lethargy. It reproduces in the kidneys and could cause kidney failure. This vaccine is usually recommended for dogs that have an active, outdoors lifestyle where they may regularly drink from standing puddles of water or swim in lakes or ponds.
Lyme disease is caused by the the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is primarily spread by deer ticks. When bitten by a tick, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Symptoms of Lyme disease include pain, swelling of the joints, fatigue, and fever. In some cases, it can cause kidney failure or neurological damage. Many people prefer tick control to getting a Lyme disease vaccination for their dog, as its use is somewhat controversial. This vaccine is generally recommended for dogs that live in areas where there is a high prevalence of Lyme disease and who may be regularly exposed to deer ticks.
Canine coronavirus is a highly contagious virus which causes fever, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Generally, the illness is generally mild and a dog will be fine once the illness runs its course. It is primarily spred through contact with infected feces. Although this is a common vaccination given to dogs, it isn’t generally recommended as necessary.
Which Vaccinations Should I Get for My Dog?
Vaccinations for dogs are divided into “core” and “non-core” vaccinations. Core vaccinations are highly recommended (or required) for all dogs. Non-core vaccination recommendations are usually based on your dog’s specific risk level.
Every dog should get the core vaccinations on a correct schedule and get boosters when necesssary.
The core dog vaccinations include canine distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and rabies. These are vaccinations which are critical for all dogs to receive. Not only is the rabies virus a core vaccination, but is also legally required in most U.S. states, due to its severity and the fact that it can be spread to humans.
The core dog vaccinations (not including rabies) are often administered as a combination vaccine known as “DHPP” (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza). It may also be listed as “DA2PP,” “DHPPV,” or “DA2PPV” on your dog’s vet records. Although parainfluenza isn’t classified as a core canine vaccination, it is generally included in these combination vaccines.
Whether your dog should get non-core vaccinations or not generally depends on your specific pet’s risk profile for specific diseases. The risk level often depends on your dog’s lifestyle and your location. The best bet is to discuss the pro’s and con’s of these vaccinations with your vet and determine whether or not there is any benefit to your dog receiving them.
Non-core canine vaccinations include canine parainfluenza, bordetella, leptospirosis, lyme disease, and canine coronavirus.
Not Recommended Vaccinations
Not recommended vaccinations are vaccines that are generally not considered necessary for most dogs, due to the low risk level and/or mildness of the disease. Depending on where you live and who your veterinarian is, you may encounter various vaccinations that fall into this category, such as the rattlesnake vaccine. Fully research any vaccine you are not familiar with and determine the risk level to your pet before giving any vaccination.
When Should My Dog Get Different Vaccinations?
You will find that there are variations in recommended dog vaccination schedules. However, the following schedule will give you a general guide to when the various vaccinations should be given. For non-core vaccinations, determine the risk profile for your dog by discussing it with your veterinarian.
Core Vaccination Schedule:
- 6-8 weeks old: DHPP vaccination (distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza).
- 10-12 weeks old: DHPP vaccination booster (distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza).
- 14-16 weeks old: DHPP vaccination booster (distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza).
- 12-26 weeks old: Rabies vaccination (this is generally defined by which state you live in. Use this reference to determine the rabies vaccination laws in your area.
- 1 year old: DHPP vaccination booster (distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza). Rabies booster.
- Every 3 years after the first year: DHPP vaccination booster (distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza). Rabies booster.
- 10-12 weeks old: bordatella, leptospirosis, lyme disease, coronavirus.
- 14-16 weeks old: leptospirosis, lyme disease, coronavirus.
- 1 year old: bordatella, leptospirosis, lyme disease, coronavirus.
- Every 1-2 years after the first year: bordatella, leptospirosis, lyme disease, coronavirus.
How Much do Vaccinations Cost?
DHPP shots are usually $20-$30 each. A rabies shot and the non-core vaccinations are usually $10-15 each.
So, it will cost about $70-$100 to fully vaccinate a puppy with the core vaccines. Then it will cost about $30-$45 for core booster shots every third year, starting at one year old.
For each non-core vaccination your dog receives, it will cost $20-$30 for two rounds of puppy vaccinations. It will then cost $10-$15 every year or two, starting at one year old.
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Creative commons photo credits: yawn | David, Deer Tick, Female (Ixodes scapularis) | Joshua Mayer, 150106-F-MU239-011.JPG | Hailey R. Staker