Dog Vaccinations - Puppies and Adult Dogs - What, Why, When and More

Dog vaccinations are a critical part of their wellness care, protecting your canine companion from preventable diseases that could otherwise prove deadly. There are standard vaccinations, and some are recommended based on lifestyle and environment — which combined will keep your dog healthy and ensure their longevity. You are likely to have questions and that is why we’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about dog vaccinations and answered them here. 

If you have further questions about dog vaccinations and are in the San Dimas, CA area, give us a call at (909) 294-7478 to schedule an appointment. 

What exactly are dog vaccinations?

Dog vaccinations are injections that we give in a series, starting in the puppy stage and extending through adulthood. Vaccinations are administered depending on the dog's lifestyle and age, introducing their body to tiny amounts of a virus particle, which causes the body to create an immune response. This response allows the body to remain protected, so if they’re exposed to the bacteria or virus, their immune response is stimulated and they don’t become sick. 

How do vaccinations impact the health and well-being of my dog?

Vaccines exist to help prevent communicable diseases in dogs, which they can be exposed to through the environment or by contact with other dogs. Many of these diseases can be life-threatening or may cause severe illness, and vaccines play a critical role in preventing that from happening.

Vaccines are especially vital for puppies that have recently come home with you after being with their mom and littermates. Once an animal leaves their fully vaccinated mother, they no longer have access to the protective maternal antibodies that nursing provides. Vaccines protect them against widespread, preventable diseases that are in their environment.

What diseases are prevented with vaccinations?

Several diseases, which could otherwise prove deadly, are preventable with vaccinations. While many people assume these diseases are very rare and therefore vaccines aren’t needed, vaccinations are the very reason these serious diseases remain under control in the population.

Diseases in dogs that are prevented with vaccinations include:

  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Rabies
  • Bordetella

Are vaccinations required by law?

Most vaccines are not required by law; however, the rabies vaccine is required by law in most states since it is a zoonotic disease — meaning it is transmissible to humans and can be fatal if contracted. Despite being 100 percent preventable, rabies is unfortunately highly fatal, and people in the U.S. continue to die annually from it. The dog population is especially vulnerable to rabies, and most countries are extremely strict about rabies prevention. Even if your dog has been vaccinated previously, you are required to have your dog boosted yearly. You will receive a new rabies tag annually registered with your county.

Does my dog's lifestyle factor into what vaccines my veterinarian will recommend?

Lifestyle can play a role in which vaccines your veterinarian recommends. There are core vaccines that are standard in most dogs and vaccines that are lifestyle and environment-dependent. We recommend the Bordetella and influenza vaccines for dogs that visit dog parks often, are boarded occasionally, and attend doggie daycare, to protect them from kennel cough. There is also a vaccine for leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease transmitted through the urine of wildlife, making it an essential vaccine for dogs exposed to the outdoors. This applies to dogs that enjoy hiking and camping with their owners and city dogs who might be exposed to the rodent population. 

How soon should I get my dog vaccinated?

When you first bring home your puppy, which is typically around seven to eight weeks, you want to start vaccinating right away since puppies do not develop a long-term immune response until approximately four months old. Regardless of the age at which they begin, a puppy should be vaccinated every three weeks until they are four months of age when their immune response kicks in. After that, most dogs will need vaccinations just once a year, except for the Bordetella vaccine every six months for dogs that are boarded or attend doggie daycare.
If you've gotten your dog from a reputable breeder, they were likely given their first vaccination at around six weeks of age. Your veterinarian will encourage you to bring your new puppy in for an exam once you bring them home and discuss the appropriate vaccination schedule with you. 

Why is it important to avoid missing a dog vaccination?

There's an average amount of time studied as to how long dog vaccines are effective. It's incredibly critical that you keep your dog on schedule for vaccinations because they can pick up harmful diseases at any time. While this is critical for puppies, the same is true for adult dogs — although they can maintain a much longer immunity time. While it depends on the dog’s age and situation, you don't want to miss their vaccines.

What are the typical puppy and dog vaccination schedules?

For puppies, vaccinations are every three weeks until they're four months old, and sometimes a little bit later, depending on certain factors. Your veterinarian may add leptospirosis to their schedule at the end, which is a series of two vaccines during the first year. Veterinarians generally want to see dogs every year, which is why an annual exam is so important.

At San Dimas Pet Clinic, we like to spread the vaccines so they’re not getting all the vaccines every year. That makes it a little easier on their immune system, and it's a good thing to add to the annual visit. We’ll need to assess your dog’s vaccine needs at that time as circumstances change. For example, you may not have intended to bring your dog hunting but have decided to do so since your last vet visit. Because they’re now hunting, your veterinarian will want to add the leptospirosis vaccine. 

If you have further questions about dog vaccinations and are in the San Dimas, CA area, give us a call at (909) 294-7478 to schedule an appointment.