To keep your dog healthy, you need to ensure that she is vaccinated against common dog diseases. Your veterinarian will determine which vaccinations are necessary depending on variables such as her breed and your geographical area.
Common Dog Vaccinations
Rabies: The law in your state will determine the frequency of rabies vaccinations which should start when your dog is a puppy and will require a booster every one to three years thereafter.
Mixed vaccination: Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus are commonly administered as a combined vaccine.
The chart below shows common vaccinations with the ages for first shots and frequency of boosters.
|Vaccination Against||Age for First Dose||Revaccination||Booster|
|Temporary Distemper and Measles*||6 weeks||no||no|
|DHLPPC*||8 weeks||12 weeks||16 weeks|
|DHLPPC*||6 months||12 months|
|Rabies||16 months||12 months||36 months|
If you adopt a dog or puppy from a breeder, pet shop or other organization such as the ASPCA or Humane Society, ask about the vaccinations the dog has been given. If you are told she "has all her shots" ask for a copy of the documentation from the veterinarian who gave the shots. If the person selling you the dog can not produce such a document that specifically identifies your new pet and her vaccinations, you don't have proof of vaccination. There is no way to test your new pet for previously administered vaccines. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on starting vaccinations.
If you adopt a mature dog and you have no vaccination or medical records, take him to your veterinarian for a heartworm test and booster shots.
Sometimes a pet store, animal shelter or pet rescue operation will host a free or reduced-cost vaccination day. If the person giving the shots is a licensed veterinarian and you will receive documentation of the shots, you may want to take advantage of this if money is a concern for you. However, this may not be advantageous if your dog is not due for his shots or if your dog has any on-going ailment currently being treated by your regular veterinarian. Keep in mind that your veterinarian may already have your dog on a treatment program that includes the scheduling of vaccinations.
Caution: Home-Administered Vaccinations
Some people administer their dog's vaccinations to save money, but generally this is not a good idea. Vaccine can be purchased from veterinary medical suppliers through direct purchases, mail order or on the Internet. If you are not medically trained in veterinarian medicine you can easily give the wrong vaccine, wrong dosage, administer the shot incorrectly into a muscle or blood vessel, cause infections at injection sites, or store the vaccine improperly and cause it to be ineffective. You won't be able to offer official immunization documentation to a potential purchaser, which will be necessary if they travel or visit a veterinarian. You may also be violating laws regarding the practice of veterinary medicine, pet licensing and rabies tag regulations, and you may be liable to purchasers if their puppy becomes sick and infects other pets, dies, or incurs large veterinarian bills.