Puppies should receive their first vaccine at 6-8 weeks of age. They should receive a booster every 3-4 weeks thereafter until 16 weeks old. Starting later than 6-8 weeks or waiting longer than 3-4 weeks between boosters puts the puppy at risk for contracting disease.
Puppies receive maternal antibodies (immunity) from their mother through her milk. These antibodies will block the body’s reaction to the vaccine making it ineffective. These antibodies disappear anywhere from 1-4 months of age. Since there is no way to tell when an individual puppy loses its maternal antibodies a series of vaccines is given to shorten the “window of susceptibility” (the period of time when maternal antibodies have disappeared and vaccine antibodies have not reached protective levels).
Vaccines your puppy needs:
DHPPC - also known as the “5 in 1” or “distemper-parvo shot", contains vaccine against the following viruses: parvo, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and corona. This is the vaccine to which the above series applies. This vaccine is boostered annually after the initial puppy series.
Rabies - given at 16 weeks of age (usually with the final dhppc vaccine). This is boostered in 1 year and every 3 years thereafter. This is required by law for all dogs and the age of the first vaccine and subsequent boosters can vary from county to county and state to state so if you move you should check into local regulations. Rabies is still commonly found in wildlife and there are still human and pet rabies cases in the United States every year. Most importantly, rabies can be transmitted to humans and is nearly always fatal once symptoms begin.
Bordatella - also known as the “kennel cough” vaccine, this is an intranasal vaccine (nose drops, no needle involved) that is required by most kennels and groomers. It is also important for any dog that has exposure to unfamiliar dogs such as visiting pet stores, dog parks, obedience classes, etc. This vaccine can be given at 8 weeks or older and is boosted every 6-12 months depending on individual circumstances.
Vaccines available but not routinely given: leptospirosis- this is sometimes added to the dhppc vaccine but is not a prevalent disease in our area and causes more vaccine reactions than the other viruses so is not routinely recommended. Vaccination to lyme disease is only recommended for dogs traveling to states where lyme disease is prevalent.