Puppies can receive their first set of shots around 6 weeks of age. At this time, a distemper/parvovirus combination shot is given. It is a four-strain vaccine, and the other two viruses included are adenovirus and hepatitis. Puppies should receive boosters every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. Depending on the breed of dog and the quality of the vaccine given, sometimes this is extended to 20 weeks. We definitely see Parvovirus infections in this area, so it is very important to vaccinate your puppy for this killer disease. If the puppy will be spending time outdoors where there is access to livestock or in an area where there is wildlife, we add leptospirosis to the vaccine for the last 2 boosters.
At 16 weeks of age, puppies are old enough to receive their first Rabies vaccine. This is an important disease to vaccinate for because of the potential exposure and risk of transmission of this deadly disease. Your dog could be exposed through the bite of another pet animal who is infected, or the bite of a wild animal, including bats. Every year every state in the continental US has reports of rabies in wild animals, and most in pet animals as well.
Depending on the risk of exposure, your dog may also need a kennel cough vaccine called Bordatella. If they are going to be groomed, boarded, go to dog shows or trials, or even dog parks, this is a good idea. There is also a vaccine for canine influenza, that is not typically given, but if your dog's potential exposure warrants it, it can be incorporated into the vaccine plan.
Next time we will go over the cat schedule and options!