Ask the Vet Archive

Your chance to ask Dr. Mindy Cohan, VMD, our resident pet health expert, what's on your mind!

Topic: Puppy Vaccinations

Question from Lisa in Wilmington:
How often do puppies need vaccines in their first year of life?

Answer from Dr. Mindy Cohan:
Vaccines for puppies are usually started at 6 to 7 weeks of age. The first vaccine has been given the general term of "distemper vaccine." After the first immunization, booster vaccines are given every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 4 months old. Puppies should be at least 12 weeks of age before receiving a rabies vaccine. Unlike the distemper vaccine, a rabies booster is not given within a few weeks, but a year later. The second rabies vaccine typically provides immunity for 3 years. Many veterinary hospitals boost the rabies vaccine every 2 years to ensure there is no lapse in protection.

The distemper vaccine protects against several viruses (distemper, parvo, adeno). These viruses can cause life threatening illness, so it is very important to make sure your puppy receives all necessary boosters in a timely manner. Other vaccines may be offered, but are not mandatory. Whether your puppy should receive them depends upon its lifestyle. Your veterinarian may discuss Leptospirosis and Bordatella vaccines. Leptospirosis is a bacterial agent that is primarily found in water. Bordatella is also known as the "kennel cough" vaccine and should be given for puppies that will attend training classes or dogs that are going to stay at a boarding facility.
Be sure to minimize your puppy's exposure to public dog areas until it has been appropriately vaccinated.

Posted February 1, 2008

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