The Importance of Puppy Vaccinations

Just like children, puppies require a series of vaccinations to provide immunity against common, life-threatening diseases.  You may have heard about parvo or distemper previously.  These viruses are common in East Texas, but preventable with proper vaccination.  Parvovirus causes lethargy, severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration, low white blood counts, and is often fatal.  Distemper is a virus that may start with pneumonia and thickened foot pads, and can eventually lead to neurologic disease and death.  Parvovirus can be treated in the hospital, and early treatment is successful 80-85% of the time at our hospital.  Puppies with parvo may be hospitalized for 3 to 7 days or more, at a cost of $600-1000 on average.  There is no cure for distemper virus.

Puppies should begin their vaccinations at the age of 6 to 8 weeks.  Prior to 6 weeks of age, they have ample immunity from their mother.  After 6 weeks of age, the mother’s immunity begins to wane, and puppies become much more susceptible to infections.  The first vaccination given is a DAPPv.  This vaccinates for canine Distemper, Adenovirus (a hepatitis virus), Parvovirus and Parainfluenza (a flu virus).  The first vaccination does NOT provide full immunity.  It is very important for puppies to receive a booster DAPPv vaccine 3 to 4 weeks after the first one.

After the 2nd DAPPv vaccine, 2 more vaccinations are necessary in order for the puppy to be fully protected.  Three to 4 weeks after the 2nd DAPPv vaccine, a DALPP vaccine is given.  This vaccine contains Leptospirosis in addition.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread through the urine of infected wildlife.  Puppies and adult dogs may contract the infection through drinking contaminated water.  Infections are especially common after heavy rains.  This disease causes acute kidney failure, liver failure, and death if untreated.  It is also contagious to humans through infected urine.

After the third vaccination, a final DALPP should be administered in 3-4 weeks.  In addition, after 12 weeks of age, puppies must be vaccinated for Rabies according to state law.

We realize some clients prefer to purchase puppy vaccines from a feed store to administer themselves.  These vaccines are often available at a lower price at the feed stores.  However, when your puppy is vaccinated at Ward Animal Hospital, he/she receives a full physical examination from one of our doctors, so that we can ensure his or her health status prior to vaccination.  In addition, our vaccines carry a guarantee from the company that manufactures them, and we can ensure to our clients and patients that our vaccines are handled appropriately from the time they are shipped, to the time they are received and placed in our refrigerator at the clinic.  At the feed store, a shipment of vaccines may be overlooked and become warm, rendering them useless.

So here is a brief overview of vaccines we recommend for puppies:

  1. 6 to 8 weeks of age – DAPPv
  2. 9 to 11 weeks of age – DAPPv
  3. 12 to 14 weeks of age – DALPP
  4. 15 to 17 weeks of age – DALPP

Remember that each of our puppy vaccine visits includes a complementary physical examination by one of our doctors, allowing us an opportunity to find and address any problems early, as well as to discuss other aspects of proper well care for your pet.