Congratulations, on your new puppy. Now that you have located the puppy of your dreams and prepared your home and family for her you can relax, right? Not so fast before you kick back and enjoy endless hours of fun with your new puppy it is time to schedule her first vet visit.
This first visit to the vet is a very important one for you both. During this visit your vet will do an overall examination of your puppy and determine if there are any health issues you need to be aware of. It is important to get accurate and complete vaccination records along with your puppy if at all possible. Make sure you bring these records with you to this visit. These records will be the starting point in determining your puppy's vaccination schedule.
Your new puppy will likely have had a series of vaccinations already depending on their age. The common diseases vaccinated against are Distemper(D), Hepatitis(H), Leptospirosis(L), Parainfluenza(P), Parvovirus(P), Rabies, Bordetella, Lyme, Corona and Giardia.
Distemper is one of the oldest known canine diseases which can cause severe fever and affect many systems of the body including the gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous.
Hepatitis is a viral infection caused by the canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) which can be fatal. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by different forms of Leptospira bacteria which attacks the kidneys, liver and cardiovascular systems. The vaccine commonly used does not protect against all strains of the virus.
Parainfluenza attacks the upper respiratory system and is a component of kennel cough.
Parvovirus attacks the lining of the small intestine and can infect the heart of very young puppies. Symptoms include loss of appetite, severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvo is spread through the stool of affected dogs.
Rabies is a fatal neurologic disease transmitted through the bite of an infected animal.
The Bordetella vaccine commonly referred to as “Kennel Cough” is a tracheobronchitis resulting in a dry cough. In severe cases it can escalate into pneumonia.
Lyme is spread by deer ticks and causes fever, lethargy, joint swelling, lameness and swollen lymph nodes. The vaccination is not 100% effective in preventing Lyme disease but can mask the outward symptoms making it harder to diagnose.
Corona is a gastrointestinal disease which may increase the effects of Parvo if the dog has that as well. On its own Corona is not a problem. Dogs typically do not need to be vaccinated against this disease.
Giardia is a protozoal parasite typically spread through drinking contaminated water. Symptoms include diarrhea. This vaccine is typically not recommended for dogs.
A typical vaccination schedule would likely require the following:
- At 7- 8 weeks of age: First Puppy Shot (DHLPP)
- At 11 - 12 weeks of age: Second Puppy Shot (DHLPP)
- At 15 - 16 weeks of age: Third Puppy Shot (DHLPP)
- Over 16 weeks of age: First Rabies Vaccination will be given.
- At 7 - 9 months: Your puppy should have their first Heartworm test.
Every year after your dog will need to go in for an annual check-up at which time you should discuss your dog’s vaccination schedule with your vet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association dogs should get a rabies and distemper booster 1 year after their last puppy shot and then every 3 years thereafter.
Many of the other vaccines are not needed on an annual basis. A new study of Titer Testing is becoming popular where levels can be checked in your dog to see if they actually require a booster or not. If you are interested in this option you should consult your veterinarian. The needed vaccines and schedule can depend on your dog's breed, location and city, state or county regulations, so please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.