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dog vaccinations

Dog Vaccination Types

Dog Vaccinations

The good health of your dog is very important and every owner has the duty to care for their animal to the best of their ability at all times. It is thus important to understand the characteristics of a dog's immune system so we can get to grips with what help an owner should provide to protect against the many infections out there that threaten your animal.

Passive Immunity
Looking first at puppies, they are born with their own immune system, inherited from their mother, but this does not come into action fully until they are some weeks old. They are, however, somewhat protected by these maternally inherited "passive" antibodies, passed on while they are in the womb or from ingesting their first drink of mother's milk.

These passive antibodies will protect the puppy from all diseases to which the mother has been exposed or been vaccinated against, comprising over two thirds of of the antibodies which exist in the mother's blood. However, passive antibodies wane quickly, the level in the puppy's blood halving every week, and in addition they can prevent an effective response to early vaccination. So it is important to time any vaccination regime in such a way as to reduce this "immunity gap," leaving your puppy exposed to infection for the shortest possible time. The quality of modern vaccines generally means that the puppy can be vaccinated with confidence at about six weeks of age.

Active Immunity
Having given the first injection at 6 weeks, the timing of the vaccination "active" phase should result in a second dose of vaccine at about 12 weeks of age, If in doubt, consult your vet about the timing and scope of this second dose and any subsequent booster shots. The vet will have an understanding of the prevailing disease conditions pertaining in your district, and also the relevance of the range of vaccines to your particular breed of animal. The most commonly used "combined" vaccines usually gives protection against Dog Influenza, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Distemper and are usually repeated annually with a booster shot.

Some vets recommend a second early booster against Dog Flu and Leptosporosis, about 4 weeks after the primary dose at about 10 weeks of age.

Diseases Prevented by Vaccination
So the 5 most serious diseases that can threaten your dog are:

  • Distemper - A Viral infection that can be fatal if left untreated.
  • Hepatitis - A highly contagious Viral disease that can kill within 24 hours.
  • Parvovirus - A very serious disease that can cause pneumonia and heart problems.
  • Leptospirosis - A highly infectious disease, which can cause jaundice, liver or kidney damage and death. This can be passed on to humans.
  • Kennel Cough - A complex disease which, while not fatal, can be costly to treat.

Fortunately, modern vaccines are extremely effective in guarding against all of these infectious diseases, and their proper use can bring peace of mind and a sense of security, knowing that your animal is protected. Remember that if you are in any doubt about vaccinations for dogs then seek veterinary advice for the most cost effective vaccination program for your specific breed of dog.

Core Dog Vaccinations

A fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system and that is contagious to humans.

A viral disease that is often fatal, affecting the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and often the nervous system.

Hepatitis / Adenovirus
Vaccination against adenovirus type 2 protect against both adenovirus types 1 and 2.

  • Adenovirus type 1 causes infectious canine hepatitis, a viral disease that affects liver and other organ systems, causing serious illness which is sometimes fatal.
  • Adenovirus type 2 causes a respiratory illness and may be involved in the development of kennel cough.

A viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, and which can be fatal. Parainfluenza A viral disease affecting the respiratory system; may be involved in the development of kennel cough.

Non-Core Dog Vaccinations

A bacterial infection that can cause or contribute to kennel cough.

A bacterial disease that affects several systems including the kidneys and liver; can be fatal. Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.

Lyme Disease
A bacterial disease spread by ticks that can cause arthritis and other problems such as kidney disease. Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.

A viral disease that primarily causes diarrhea. The risks of coronavirus infection are not as great as other viral diseases, so The American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines(PDF) advise against routinely vaccinating for coronavirus. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.

The American Animal Hospital Association's also recommends against vaccinating for giardia, because the vaccine can prevent shedding of cysts but doesn't prevent infection.

Canine Influenza H3N8
The canine H3N8 virus, also called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), is a relatively new influenza virus in dogs. It causes flu-like symptoms in dogs and is very contagious when dogs are in close contact (i.e. kennel). Due the contagiousness of this virus, some kennels, grooming salons and similar businesses are now requiring this vaccination to prevent an outbreak. Aside from those situations, the decision to vaccinate your dog (or not) should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Combination Dog Vaccines

Combination Vaccines Abbreviations
Viruses for which dogs are routinely vaccinated are often combined into a single shot as a combination vaccine (except the rabies vaccine, which is given separately).

There are are several different types of combinations vaccines available, and the individual components vary; they usually contain the core group of vaccines or the core with one or two other vaccines.

Combination vaccines are often just called distemper or distemper/parvo vaccines, though there are more components than these. Each component is typically represented by an abbreviation. What do all the abbreviations mean?

  • D = Distemper
  • H or A2 = Adenovirus type 2; also protects against Hepatitis (caused by Adenovirus type 1)
  • P = Parainfluenza (sometimes Pi)
  • PV = Parvovirus (sometimes simply abbreviated as P)
  • L = Leptospirosis
  • C = Coronavirus

For example: If a certificate stated that along with her rabies vaccine, she received a DA2PPV vaccine. This means she was vaccinated for distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parvovirus, and parainfluenza viruses. Other common abbreviations for combination vaccines include DHPPV and DHLPPV, among others.

*This article is for information purposes only and any health concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian