Doctor veterinarian at clinic with a dog

What You Need to Know about Vaccinating Your Dog

Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Healthier and happier pets are vaccinated and have access to excellent care. Dog vaccinations not only protect puppies during their first few years of life, but they are the best way to ensure your dog lives a long and more satisfying life. 

Many pet parents today are making smarter and more proactive choices by opting for pet healthcare wellness plans that include dog vaccinations.

Vaccination Schedules for Puppies and Adult Dogs

The thought of endless vaccination schedules for your pets can be daunting. Not only can it be difficult to figure out which vaccinations are necessary, but also no pet parent wants their pets to undergo any discomfort unless it is absolutely needed. 

In this article, we’ll help you make sense of your dog’s vaccination needs and schedules so you can make the best choice for you and your dog. Visit your local vet for a more precise vaccine scheduled. 

For puppies, the following schedule for vaccinations is recommended to protect against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus and canine cough (parainfluenza and bordatella bronchiseptica): 

  • 6–10 weeks11–14 weeks15–16 weeks

Other non-core  vaccines for diseases such as canine leptospirosis, given depending on your dog’s lifestyle and geographical area

Staying up-to-date with your puppy vaccine schedule is crucial and have been medically proven to build immunity and prevent diseases that occur without vaccination. With responsible puppy care, you give your pets the best chance at a healthy life. 

Once your puppy reaches adulthood, and all of the core puppy vaccines have been administered, your veterinarian can begin implementing an adult dog vaccination schedule. 

An adult dog vaccination schedule consists of boosters, which are combinations of the same type of vaccine administered to puppies, and other non-core vaccine additions if necessary. 

These are often administered as needed or when the dog’s lifestyle puts it at risk of contracting certain diseases. 

Note: Pet owners should always consult with their vets on their pet’s vaccination schedules. 

Core Vaccinations Your Dog Needs

Your dog’s core vaccines are essential based on their risk of exposure, the severity of the disease, and how transmissible it is to humans. 

  • Distemper. This is a serious viral and contagious disease that attacks a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system. All dogs are at risk of getting canine distemper, but puppies younger than four months and adult dogs that have never been vaccinated before are at high risk of contracting the disease. A series of vaccinations are typically administered to puppies to help them build immunity for canine distemper. 
  • Parvovirus. This is a highly contagious disease that affects dogs and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact as the virus can survive in the environment for up to one year. Vaccinations for puppies younger than four months help reduce the risk of infection later on. This disease often leads to veterinary hospitalisation, with a high mortality rate of 91% in untreated cases.
  • Canine adenovirus 1 infection (hepatitis). This is a type of DNA virus that causes infectious canine hepatitis and upper respiratory tract infections. It targets the functional parts of your dog’s organs, such as the liver, kidneys, eyes and endothelial cells. Unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk of contracting this disease. 

Non-Core Dog Vaccinations

It is advised that dogs are also vaccinated with some non-core dog vaccinations. Not all of these may be necessary depending on your geographical location and risk of exposure.

  • Parainfluenza virus. Most dogs should receive a vaccination to protect them from canine influenza (one of the components of canine cough). This virus is highly contagious and although not life-threatening, it can help prevent getting other secondary diseases.
  • Bordatella bronchiseptica. This is a bacteria that is another cause of canine cough. Similar to the parainfluenza virus it is highly contagious and causes a harsh cough. 
  • Leptospirosis. Depending on your geographical location, you may need to vaccinate your dog for leptospirosis. Dogs usually contract the virus by drinking water contaminated by urine. They will show signs of vomiting and diarrhoea, lethargy and fevers. The disease onset can be sudden and death can result in a few days.

Risks Associated with Dog Vaccines 

Vaccinations stimulate your dog’s immune system to build protection from specific infectious diseases that they can be exposed to. This stimulation can lead to mild symptoms, ranging from soreness on your dog’s injection site to fever and other allergic reactions. 

Some side effects also include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, and in extreme cases, it can lead to seizures. Still, it is important to note that adverse reactions to vaccines are rare and that the benefits of these critical vaccinations far outweigh any risks.

For best results, it is always recommended to have your puppy or dog vaccinated according to schedules set by your veterinarian and done at a time when you can monitor them for any side effects after. 

If at any rate, you notice adverse reactions to these vaccines, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Preventive Care for Happy, Healthy Pets

Now that you have a better understanding of why vaccinations are critical to your dog’s wellbeing and have more information on your dog’s core and non-core vaccination needs, consulting with your veterinarian on your options and the risks involved can help you make the best choice for your pet so they get to enjoy a long beautiful life.  

Prevention is always better than a cure. Setting up preventative health practices for your pets and exploring pet wellness plans make it easy for you to manage and keep track of your pet’s health and ensure your pets always have access to holistic care and periodic dental and body health checks, diagnostic testing, and timely treatment the whole year-round. 

Talk to your vet today and create a custom wellness plan that your pet deserves. 

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