Once your new puppy is brought home, it is imperative a visit to your vet is made ASAP. At this visit, you will be inundated with puppy raising information, but also a vaccine schedule. Dogs should be vaccinated for the first time when they are young puppies (from 9 weeks of age – and occasionally earlier) to protect them against a number of important infectious diseases. They usually require more than one dose initially (called the primary course) followed by booster vaccinations at regular intervals to maintain protection. Apart from the obvious health reasons, you will need your dog vaccinated if you require travelling abroad and before dogs can enter boarding kennels or dog shows.
Vaccines in common use in dogs are listed below:
The most common, and legally required vaccine by a large number of countries, is Rabies. The first vaccine is good for a year with subsequent vaccines lasting upwards of three years.
Distemper (hard pad)
Distemper is a serious, often fatal, viral disease that affects primarily young, unvaccinated dogs. Symptoms of this nervous system disorder include a yellow or greenish discharge from the dog’s eyes or nose, vomiting and diarrhoea – all of which are very contagious. Other symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, increased body temperature, weight loss and diminished appetite.
Prevention against Distemper is extremely important as it can permanently damage the dog’s nervous system, sense of smell, sight and sound.
The Parvovirus is, unfortunately, the most common viral illness in dogs. Parvo is more likely to infect a puppy. Vaccinating a puppy against Parvo is complicated because the maternal antibody can interfere with the vaccine. This is why puppies receive the Parvo vaccine every three to four weeks, starting at six weeks of age, until they are between 16 and 20 weeks.
The Corona virus may cause the Parvo virus to become fatal, especially if the two infections occur concurrently. On the other hand, on its own, the Corona virus can cause minimal damage to the intestine and may also not even cause a clinical illness.
Infectious Tracheo-bronchitis (Kennel Cough)
The bacterial illness occurs mostly in dogs that congregate together at daycares, kennels, rescue centres or parks. Clinical signs are a cough that is dry and unproductive, is associated with retching.
Para influenza is a minor contributor to kennel cough, however, this vaccine is still found in almost all of the vaccine combinations.
Canine Hepatitis is a viral disease most commonly found in young (9-12 weeks) and unvaccinated puppies. The disease is spread by contact with urine from an infected dog. Symptoms include discharge from the nose or eyes, coughing or the evidence of liver and/or kidney disease, which is detected by jaundice, appetite loss, vomiting, as well as a change in drinking and urinating behaviour.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease, can be passed to humans causing ‘Weils disease’. Young animals are usually more severely affected. Liver and Kidneys are affected. Clinical signs include pyrexia (high temperature), vomiting and diarrhoea, dehydration, jaundice and bleeding from gum margins.