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Should You Vaccinate Your Dog?

Posted by Hot Dog COllars on 03/06/17 11:32 AM

With all the different stories in recent years about vaccines, let's be perfectly clear on this:  Puppy vaccines are essential for a healthy pet. The sooner you start your puppy on a regular vaccination program, the healthier and happier your pet will be. While the rabies vaccine is required by law, the other shots will also protect your new pet from disease. You can be sure that regular vaccinations are healthy for your dog, and the possible side effects are usually minimal.

Side Effects and Reactions

Some mild discomfort at the injection side is normal, and should be expected. In some cases, your puppy may experience a slight fever. Minor side effects usually go away on their own, but you should still watch for signs of more serious reactions. Allergic reactions are relatively rare, but have been associated with some vaccines. There may be some appetite loss and sleepiness. Some of the more severe symptoms include swelling, gastrointestinal problems, and difficulty breathing. Severe symptoms that include difficulty breathing need to be treated as an emergency.

Initial Shots

keep your dog healthy Puppies can receive their first set of shots at 6 to 7 weeks. Prior to this age, most puppies should have enough of an immunity from their mother's milk. A puppy's first shots, known as DHPP, will include vaccines against distemper and parvovirus, both of which are especially dangerous to young puppies. The puppies are also vaccinated against parainfluenza and hepatitis. The first deworming takes place at this time. At 9 to 10 weeks, puppies receive a second DHPP and a second worming. The third DHPP takes place at 12 to 13 weeks, along with a fecal exam. Puppies are usually given a bordetella, or kennel cough, vaccine at this time. The bordetella vaccine helps give your puppy better protection in case he or she needs to be boarded. These initial sets of shots and treatments are essential to keeping your puppy healthy.

Spay/Neuter Surgery

Many veterinarians currently suggest having a puppy spayed or neutered at the age of four months. This is before the first heat period for most female puppies, and well before sexual maturity for males. Any puppy that will not be used as part of an organized, responsible breeding program should be spayed or neutered. Having your puppy altered serves several purposes. One, it helps prevent puppies from being born that there may not be good homes for. It also helps prevent problem behavior associated with intact animals that can be a threat to the safety of other animals or people. Female dogs in heat are more inclined to wander from home in search of mates, and unaltered males are more likely to wander and fight with other males over females. Having a puppy spayed or neutered as early as possible also prevents certain types of cancer that affect the reproductive organs.


The rabies vaccine is given at four months. It will often be given while your puppy is having its spay or neuter surgery performed. A rabies shot is required by law in all fifty states, and is probably the most important vaccine that your puppy will receive. Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the nervous system, and is spread through bites from an infected animal. It is known to be incurable, and is in fatal in humans without prompt treatment. Keeping dogs vaccinated against rabies is vital to the health and safety of the community.

Heartworm Testing

dogs and vaccines A heartworm test should be given when a puppy is six months old. Although it is very common in areas with rainy climates and large numbers of mosquitoes, dogs in more arid areas may also be affected. The test is done prior to treatment because a different course of treatment is necessary if the dog tests positive. If the dog tests negative, a heartworm preventative medication is given every month afterward.

Annual Booster Shots

Your dog will require annual boosters for the shots that he or she has already received. The DHPP is given on a yearly basis. It is especially important when your pet comes into contact with other dogs on a regular basis. The rabies shot is usually required by law on an annual basis. Since rabies can affect humans, it's important for pet owners to keep this shot current. The bordetella vaccine should also be updated at all times, especially for dogs that are boarded on a regular basis.

Flea and Tick Treatments

You should always check with your vet about what the best age is to start a puppy on flea and tick treatments. Most vets suggest regular treatment on a monthly basis. Fleas can cause a lot of bothersome itching, and, in the case of house dogs, can spread to your carpets and furniture. Bites from fleas can also cause hot spots, which can become infected through persistent biting and scratching. Tick infestations can cause anemia when they're severe enough. Certain types of ticks can carry Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Preventative medications may be in the form of topical medications applied to the neck, or pills.

Parasites Exams

Internal and external parasites exams should be given on a yearly basis. Dogs are susceptible to several types of worms that can have damaging effects on their health. One possible way that worms can harm a dog's health is by blocking parts of the digestive tract. Some worms that dogs can contract are also contagious to humans. It's always a good idea to have your dog examined for parasites, even if you are using a treatment program. Some parasites don't respond to popular over-the-counter worming medications that may work for other types of parasites. Know what the signs of a possible infestation are, and alert your vet to any problems.

A regular vaccination and treatment schedule is good for your dog's health, and should be maintained. Regular treatment against contagious diseases protects your dog's health and will allow it to live a longer life. Make sure your dog is scheduled for regular checkouts that could alert you to possible health problems. Regularly vaccinated, altered dogs whose owners are aware of key health issues make much better pets.