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What Shots Does Your Puppy Need and Why?

You have a new puppy! You’ve given him a name, puppy-proofed the house, and introduced him to your family.

Next step: Take him to the veterinarian for his puppy shots!

Not only will your vet make sure your dog is in good health, they’ll get him on a vaccination schedule, which is essential to your dog’s health, now and in the future. Many of the diseases against which vaccines protect are highly contagious and can be deadly.

Here are the shots your puppy needs, what they protect against, and when he should get them.

Rabies Vaccine

One of the most commonly known vaccine for dogs is the rabies vaccine. Required by law, it is essential to get this puppy shot and the tag and paperwork that goes along with it.

Rabies is a viral disease that can pass from animal to animal or from animal to human through a bite or through infected saliva getting into an open wound.

If your puppy doesn’t receive the rabies vaccination and contracts the disease, he could experience a failure of his central nervous system that results in:

  • Hallucinations
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Paralysis
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

An animal with rabies won’t display symptoms until two to eight weeks after being infected, and there is no cure for the disease.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Rabies Shot

Your puppy should get his first rabies shot around four to seven months old. At 12 to 16 months, he’ll need a booster shot. After that, your dog will require a rabies shot every one to three years.

Keep your pup’s up-to-date rabies vaccination paperwork in a safe place, and put his rabies tag on his collar. He’ll need proof of vaccination to play in dog parks and often to get his nails clipped.

Kennel Cough Vaccines

Aptly named, this illness can quickly spread among dogs in a kennel, boarding facility, or animal shelter if infected dogs are housed there. Kennel cough is very commonly caused by Bordetella or canine parainfluenza.

The Bordetella shot is not required, but highly recommended, especially if you’re heading to dog parks or training courses. If you plan on boarding your puppy during your vacations, this shot will most likely be required by the facility.

If your puppy contracts kennel cough, he will develop:

  • A sharp, dry cough
  • Gagging and retching
  • Loss of appetite

Kennel cough tends to be mild, but, in more severe cases, it can be dangerous.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Kennel Cough Shot

Your puppy should get the Bordetella vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks, again between 12 and 16 months, and yearly after that.

There are two strains of the canine parainfluenza vaccine. The first shot will be given when your puppy is about 7 weeks old, with a follow-up for the other strain when he is 11 weeks. The second vaccine is part of the DHPP vaccine, also known as DA2P. This is a combination vaccination that also protects your pup against canine distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. He’ll get a follow-up DHPP shot at 14 to 16 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every year or two following.

Distemper Vaccine

As with rabies, canine distemper has no cure, which makes this puppy shot extremely important. Unlike rabies, this disease can spread through the air as well as on contact.

The signs of distemper include:

  • A high fever
  • Discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Puppies and older dogs are at the most risk. Treatment tends to be supportive until distemper runs its course. Dogs with weaker immune systems may struggle to fight distemper, and symptoms may last for months even in healthy puppies. Distemper can be passed to other animals months after your pup is recovered.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Distemper Shot

Your puppy should receive his first shot between six weeks and eight weeks of age to be protected against distemper. After the initial shot, this vaccination is part of the DHPP vaccine. (See Kennel Cough Vaccines.)

puppy shots

Parvovirus Vaccine

Puppies are most prone to catching the parvovirus, also known as “parvo.”

Symptoms come on fast and include vomiting, fever, and bloody diarrhea by affecting the gastrointestinal system.

If you suspect your puppy has parvo, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Early treatment is essential, as the illness can be fatal in under 48 hours.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Parvovirus Shot

The parvovirus vaccine is a part of DHPP, so it is included in your puppy’s core shots at 10 to 12 weeks. Follow-up vaccines should be given at ages 15 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every 1 to 2 years following.

Hepatitis Vaccine

Also part of the DHPP vaccine is the hepatitis vaccine. There is no cure for hepatitis in dogs, but your pup can be treated until the illness passes. In more severe cases, hepatitis can be fatal or cause damage to the liver.

Canine hepatitis is also known as canine adenovirus. It begins as an upper respiratory infection and spreads to the liver, kidney, and other organs. Signs include bleeding disorders, swelling, abdominal pain, fever, and lethargy. In some cases, it could even cause the eyes to become inflamed.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Hepatitis Shot

Follow the DHPP schedule for these shots: 10 to 12 weeks, 14 to 16 weeks, and every year or two after that.

Other Dog Vaccinations

Some other diseases you should consider for good puppy health are leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and coronavirus, but these are generally considered optional vaccines.

If you decide to vaccinate your puppy for these three diseases, he should get them at 10 to 12 weeks, again at 14 to 16 weeks, another time at 12 to 16 months, and then have a booster shot every year or two after that.

Leptospirosis doesn’t always show symptoms, but it is caused by bacteria. If signs do appear, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure

Antibiotics are the best treatment if your puppy isn’t vaccinated.

Lyme disease is an illness humans are very familiar with, but while we get a rash, dogs do not. Symptoms in canines include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A limp

Lyme disease can affect various parts of your pup’s body and lead to more serious problems if not treated. Antibiotics can help, although symptoms may show up again later.

Canine coronavirus (CCV) affects the intestines. It’s very contagious and may not always display symptoms. If your puppy does show signs, they may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Depression

CCV isn’t necessarily dangerous, but if caught at the same time as parvo or other diseases, it can be fatal.

Are you bringing home a new puppy? Make an appointment for his puppy shots! We can help you create a custom puppy vaccination schedule for your new family member. Each puppy is different. While these are general guidelines to follow for puppy shots, it’s important to ask your veterinarian about your dog specifically. They may suggest one or two vaccines a little earlier than usual, or a little later.

These shots can help ensure your puppy’s health throughout his life and all his adventures. Reach us by calling 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first vet appointment!

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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