Today, March 16th, is National Vaccine Day and just like human babies, puppies too need to be vaccinated from time-to-time against a range of life-threatening diseases. As a responsible pet parent, it is our duty to ensure that our pets are safeguarded against critical diseases for a long and healthy life. Here are some of the things you must know about pet vaccines and why our pets need them.

Why does my dog need a vaccine?

Vaccines are needed to build your pup’s immunity. While pups do receive immunity while they are in their mother’s womb, that quickly fades away during the first few weeks of life. Which is why, vaccines have to be administered. In India, dogs are prone to three common and lethal viral diseases – Rabies, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper. These diseases are the most common causes of death in dogs. Rabies is a non-curable disease that is extremely fatal and as such, a Rabies vaccination is mandatory by law. Parvovirus kills around 85% of all puppies it infects and Canine Distemper has over 50% death rate with severe neurological problems, at times, for ones who survive.

How Vaccines Work?

Just like a human vaccine, it prepares your dog’s immune system to fight against infections that could cause serious illnesses. As such, when a vaccine is introduced into the body, it presents a harmless dead virus that works to make the immune system stronger and to produce antibodies to kill the virus. While the dead virus is powerless, it teaches the body to build up a defense mechanism for when the actual active virus ever infects the dog.

Three Common Dog Vaccines that you must know about

√ Canine Distemper 

√ Parvo-virus

√ Rabies

Types of Dog Vaccines

  • Core Vaccines – Core vaccines are vital to all dogs and at times mandatory by law as they may be transmissible to humans. Examples would be – Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Rabies.
  • Non-Core Vaccines – Non-core vaccines are usually optional such as Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough).

Vaccines that you need to get for the first year:

At Week 4

Deworming for roundworms and hookworms. (Deworming must be done every three months).

At Week 6 

Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper – 

Canine Parvovirus is at times fatal and it attacks the immune system causing serious vomiting and diarrhea. This disease is more prone to young puppies and a vaccination at this age is highly recommended.

Canine Distemper attacks the lungs, gut and the nervous system and is at times, highly fatal. Although it is most common in young dogs, it can occur at any age. While distemper has a higher survival rate than parvovirus, dogs who survive often have mild to serious neuro-muscular disorders that last a lifetime.

At Week 8-9

Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis – 

Coronavirus is a highly infectious disease that affects the intestines and causes excessive diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

Parainfluenza (also known as kennel cough), is a highly infectious upper respiratory tract disease that causes a dry hacking cough. It causes a persistent cough and even leads to bronchitis as well.

Leptospirosis is caused by the bacteria from the family – Leptospira and two types of diseases can be spread. While the first disease is passed on by the urine of infected rats, the second disease is caught from the urine of infected dogs. Although it is treated with antibiotics, it can at times be fatal or cause lifelong damage to the kidneys.

At Week 8-12

Deworming, Anti-Rabies (required by law).

Rabies is a highly fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of all mammals, humans included. Spread by contact with saliva on an open wound, it causes behavior changes, seizures and death. Anti-rabies vaccination is required by law.

Puppy Vaccination

Apart from the above vaccines, your pet must get regular deworming every three months. After the first year, it is a good practice to follow an annual vaccination schedule as deemed fit by your vet. While not all of these vaccines may need to be repeated after the first year, your vet will guide you on the vaccination process thereafter. 

Do consult your vet for any additional vaccinations that may be required as per your puppy’s individual needs. Maintain a proper vaccination record that will ensure that you keep all the vaccinations in check and if you have any concerns over a vaccine. The first year of your puppy’s life is absolutely crucial and as your puppy grows and crucial vaccinations such as above will ensure a healthy and hearty life thereafter!