What exactly are dog vaccinations?

Vaccinations are a killed or modified version of a virus or a bacteria given as an injection. These injections help the dog's own immune system protect them against those specific diseases, such as rabies or parvovirus. Without a doubt, vaccines are one of the most important medical breakthroughs in human and animal health.

Dr. Marty Greer
Veterinary Village

How do vaccinations impact the health and wellbeing of my dog?

By vaccinating your dog, they can fight infections that they would be exposed to. With vaccines, they will get a virus and not get as sick if they were exposed to diseases such as Lyme disease, parvovirus, and Kennel cough. These vaccines will protect them.

Are vaccinations required by law?

Only rabies vaccination is required by law. The other vaccines are strongly recommended by your veterinary professionals, your groomers, your boarding kennels, and your doggy daycares.

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

Absolutely. Our practices will go over your dog's lifestyle when we customize your dog's vaccination program.

How soon should I get my dog vaccinated?

This can be really confusing. They should start getting vaccines as early as six to eight weeks of age for a puppy. Then they need to be repeated typically once every three to four weeks until that pet's about 18 weeks old to get full protection.

Do I really need to avoid allowing my puppy to socialize with other dogs until they are fully vaccinated?

Yeah. This is a really difficult trade-off. Yes, you should take care when you're socializing your young puppies prior to the 18 weeks of age when they're fully vaccinated. That means staying away from standing dirty water, using flea and tick protection as early as it's safe, avoiding going to areas where there are unsanitary conditions like dog parks, and of course, going to puppy class where there are other puppies. Hopefully, all those puppies are safe and undergoing vaccinations and deworming, so they should be safe. Socialization is too important to leave out completely, so it is a balancing act between vaccination and safety.

Why is it important to avoid missing a dog vaccination?

If you miss a vaccination, whether it's the first in the series or those as the older dogs, you're going to risk your dog developing some of those nasty diseases.

What are the typical puppy and dog vaccination schedules?

Every part of the country is going to be a little bit different, and every practice is different. Our typical vaccination schedule is to give the first vaccination at eight weeks, again at 12 weeks, the third time at 16 to 18 weeks of age, a booster for that puppy at 15 months of age, and then every three years after that. That being said, there are variables based on what vaccines your dog has already received, their lifestyle, and how you want your dog to be vaccinated. We combine several vaccinations at one visit if you like, or if you prefer to split them up across several visits, it may be safer for your pet by not overwhelming the dog's immune system. It depends a little on you, the dog's lifestyle, and your preferences.

What diseases are prevented with vaccinations?

Everybody knows about rabies, which is to protect not only our pets but to give us a buffer between wildlife and our pets bringing rabies into our life. Rabies is for human health as well as veterinary uses. We also have parvovirus, which a lot of people are familiar with and can cause severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and sometimes death. We don't see as much distemper in the Northern states as in the Southern states and as we did in years past, but it can still show up every now and then. It can cause pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes permanent neurologic disease, and death. We see a lot of Leptospirosis in our part of the country. It's spread through standing water or the urine of wild animals on your lawn. It can cause liver and kidney problems and sometimes death if it's undiagnosed, untreated, or fulminated.

Leptospirosis can sometimes be so acute, and we can't get ahead of it. Kennel cough includes parainfluenza, Bordetella, and adenovirus. Those are the three different organisms, of which two viruses and one bacteria. It isn't an as serious disease, but it can be pretty annoying if your dog picks that up. When they've been exposed to other dogs, they come home with a cough. Influenza is similar to kennel cough in that it causes upper respiratory disease and sometimes pneumonia. We see a lot of Lyme disease in Wisconsin. That spreads from a bite from a tick coming from a deer or a white-footed mouse to a dog through a tick bite. It causes arthritis, fever, lameness, and sometimes kidney failure called Lyme nephritis, which can be fatal. There's actually a coronavirus that's been around for a lot longer than ours. We rarely vaccinate for that unless they're in a breeding kennel. It's not the same coronavirus that we get.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (920) 269-4072, or you can email us at [email protected]