Vaccines are vital to the prevention of disease in our canine companions. Whether your dog is the ruler of the dog park or the ruler of the couch, vaccinating your dog is a necessity. Vaccinations work by exposing your dog’s immune system to a safe version of the illness it is designed to prevent, so that their immune system may build a defense against that specific pathogen. Vaccines work to help your dog's body recognize when it is exposed to a pathogen so it can fight it off or at a minimum significantly decrease the negative outcomes associated.
There are two core vaccinations as recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
The rabies vaccine is a legal requirement in El Paso County. If contracted from an infected animal, rabies is fatal. A rabies vaccine can be considered valid for either one or three years, depending on age and if your dog has received the vaccine previously.
The second is a combination vaccine that will protect your dog from canine Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus, otherwise known as DAPP or commonly referred to as the distemper-parvo vaccine. A DAPP vaccine can be considered valid for either one or three years, depending on age and if your dog has received the vaccine previously.
These two vaccinations protect your dog against the most serious diseases they may contract, which is why they are a vital part of your dog's preventative care.
There are additional vaccinations that are recommended even though they are not termed a 'core' vaccine.
The bordetella vaccination protects your dog from what is commonly known as kennel cough. Dogs contract kennel cough when they are around other dogs that are sick, or when they are exposed to areas where an infected dog has recently been. While not fatal, bordetella can be very unpleasant for your dog and often requires antibiotics from your veterinarian to be cured. This vaccine is often a requirement of boarding facilities. A bordetella vaccination is valid for one calendar year.
Leptospirosis, or lepto vaccine protects against a disease that is contracted when your dog comes into contact or soil contaminated with infected wildlife urine. Lepto is a disease that is also transmittable to humans. If left untreated, lepto can cause organ failure and can even be fatal in some circumstances. Since we are located in Colorado and are surrounded by a variety of wildlife, we strongly encourage pet parents to vaccinate their dogs against the disease. A leptospirosis vaccination is valid for one calendar year.
Dogs can get the flu too! The canine influenza vaccine is recommended for dogs who frequent areas where other dogs are common such as dog parks, groomers, or boarding facilities. Many boarding facilities require the canine influenza vaccination for dogs that will be in their care. A canine influenza vaccination is valid for one calendar year.
When Are Vaccines Due?
Puppies and adult dogs have different vaccination needs. Puppies need multiple sets of vaccines because their immune system is still developing as they grow. Adult dogs require boosters every one or three years, depending on the type of vaccine and their medical history.
Puppies should receive a set of vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
- 8 Weeks Old: At your first puppy visit your puppy should receive their first of three DAPP vaccines. We also recommend you bring in a stool sample at this time to be sent out to the lab to test for any potential parasites and bacteria.
- 12 Weeks Old: During their second visit your puppy will receive their next DAPP vaccine. It is at this age that we recommend your puppy receive their first of two Leptospirosis vaccinations. As well, if your puppy will be exposed to other dogs at a puppy class or through other means we also recommend a bordetella vaccine at this time.
- 16 Weeks Old: The final puppy visit can be considered it’s annual wellness exam. It is at this appointment your puppy receives its final DAPP and Lepto boosters, if applicable, as well as their rabies vaccination. If your puppy has received its recommended vaccines up to this point, all vaccines given at this appointment will be considered valid for one calendar year.
Adult dogs have different requirements for booster shots. At one from their last vaccinations your dog should receive a booster vaccine for both rabies and DAPP. Since your dog has previously had these vaccinations the boosters they receive when they turn one are valid for three years. If your dog received additional vaccinations during puppyhood, those will also need to be boosted at one year of age. It is important to note that vaccinations for bordetella, lepto, and canine influenza are all required to be boosted annually regardless of age.
Which Vaccinations Should My Dog Receive?
We’re glad you asked! During your dog’s annual examination, you and your veterinarian can discuss each vaccine to determine which will be the most beneficial for your dog. Our veterinarians consider the benefits vs. the risks for each vaccination before making recommendations. It is important to note that for the majority of dogs the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the potential risks.