Young puppies are highly susceptible to certain infectious diseases and
should be vaccinated against them as soon as they are old enough to build
immunity. These diseases are distemper, infectious
hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and
rabies. Leptospirosis, giardia, coronavirus, bordetella,
bronchiseptica, and Lyme diseasevaccinations are optional,
depending on the occurrence of these diseases in your area and your dog’s individual risk factors.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has drawn up guidelines
categorizing vaccines as core or noncore, and these categories will be
indicated for all the vaccines described in this section.
Puppies spend a great deal of time playing, chewing and investigating objects. All of these normal activities involve puppies using their mouths and their needle-sharp teeth. When puppies play with people, they often bite, chew and mouth on people’s hands, limbs and clothing. This kind of behavior may seem cute when your puppy is seven weeks old, but it’s not nearly so endearing when he’s three or four months old-and getting bigger by the day!
Leptospira bacterins may protect against two or four of the most common
subspecies of bacteria that cause leptospirosis. The two-serovar bacterin may
be incorporated into a DHPP shot given at 12 weeks of age and again at 14 to 16
weeks of age. Many veterinarians give the four-serovar bacterin as a separate
injection as early as 12 weeks and then two to three weeks later.
Leptospira bacterin has been responsible for 70 percent of post-vaccination
DHLPP anaphylactic shock reactions.
Toy breeds and puppies younger than 12 weeks old seem to have the highest rate
of reactions to this bacterin. In addition, the two-serovar vaccines do not
protect against the two species that are currently responsible for the majority
of cases. Accordingly, routine vaccination is now considered optional. It is
still indicated in areas where the risk of the disease is greater than the risk
of the vaccination. Leptospirosis is not contained in all the combination
vaccines and can be given separately.
Both Fort Dodge and Pfizer have vaccines that now cover all four of the
primary serovars of leptospirosis. These are subunit vaccines, so there is less
chance of an allergic reaction to the vaccine. With leptospirosis cases on the
rise, this vaccine may be recommended in more areas. Immunity following
vaccination averages about four to six months. Therefore, if vaccination is
important, it may be advisable to revaccinate every six months. Discuss this
with your veterinarian.
Canine Parainfluenza (Noncore)
Parainfluenza is the principal virus implicated in the kennel cough complex. Vaccines
will decrease the prevalence and severity of the infection, but will not
prevent the disease. Parainfluenza is incorporated into the canine
distemper-measles-parainfluenza and DHPP shots. The first dose is given at 8 to
12 weeks of age and the second at 16 weeks. AAHA 2006 guidelines are to give
the vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age, then every three to four weeks until the
dog is 12 to 14 weeks of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until a
puppy is 7 or 8 weeks of age to start vaccinations. An intranasal vaccine that
combines the bordetella vaccine is also available.
The injectable parainfluenza vaccine protects dogs but does not eliminate
the virus from nasal secretions. That means dogs can still transmit the
infection. The intranasal vaccine protects against both disease and infection,
thus eliminating the possibility of transmitting the disease to other dogs.
Annual boosters are recommended by the manufacturer. However, evidence
suggests that parainfluenza vaccines do not always protect for the full 12
months, and in many cases should be given twice a year, especially for dogs at
increased risk. This recommendation is only for the parainfluenza vaccine-not
for the other viruses that are often included in a combination vaccine. This is
not a core vaccine, so it should only be given to dogs with lifestyles that
increase their risk, such as show dogs and dogs who will be boarded.