Puppy Shots in Oklahoma City, OK: What You Should Know
Just like children, who need to receive a series of vaccines in infanthood, puppies need a series of multiple vaccines between 6 and 16 weeks of age. It’s important to know that veterinarians will have the most up-to-date and accurate vaccination protocol recommendations. While some breeders and caretakers are well-meaning, they unfortunately don’t have the same understanding of disease control and epidemiology that veterinarians do.
Why Do Puppies Need Vaccines So Young?
Puppy vaccinations should be initiated between 6 and 8 weeks of age, because during that time frame, maternal antibodies are dwindling and puppies lose the little bit of natural protection they get from their mothers.
What are Maternal Antibodies?
When we refer to maternal antibodies, we’re talking about immunity that passes from mother to puppy both in the womb and through their milk. As long as the mother is fully up-to-date on her routine vaccinations, she will pass some of that immunity on to her puppies. This immunity is only temporary though, and declines over time as the puppy grows older. Some immunity lingers after weaning, but by 6-8 weeks of age mother’s natural protection is almost nonexistent.
So Why Do They Need More Than One Vaccine?
As with children, puppies need what’s called a vaccine “series”. This means they get multiple doses of the vaccine over a prescribed period of time. The initial puppy shot can help stimulate the immune system to start producing antibodies to a particular disease, but in most cases one vaccine dose isn’t enough to bring that immune response up to levels that provide full protection. Some vaccines only need 1 initial vaccine and 1 booster to get started. Others require multiple doses over a longer period of time. There are rare exceptions- the Rabies vaccine, for instance, only needs one dose at a time to stimulate the immune system enough to provide protection.
Common Schedule for Puppy Shots in Oklahoma City, OK
Some breeders or caretakers will start the first round of puppy vaccines even before your new 4 legged bundle of love comes home to you. This is great! They’re doing what they can to make sure there’s no significant time lapse between the loss of maternal antibodies, and the protection that vaccines can start to provide. The catch here is that puppies absolutely need multiple doses of this vaccine following a rather strict schedule in order to be continuously protected. One vaccine is never enough.
The first puppy shot should be given between 6-8 weeks of age, followed by a booster every 3- 4 weeks until they are at least 4 months old. They usually end up getting 4-5 vaccines total. As adults, vaccines are generally given every 1- 3 years.
On rare occasions, misguided breeders or caretakers will tell new dog owners that their puppy shouldn’t receive the Rabies vaccine until it is 6 months, or even a year old. This is incorrect information and disregards all verified recommendations put forth by local and national health departments, and expert veterinarians. All puppies need to be vaccinated to ensure protection (and to ensure they can’t pass Rabies on to their families). It is also required by law in almost every US state.
As stated above, the Rabies vaccine doesn’t need to be given in a series at the start. One vaccine should be given between 12 and 16 weeks of age (3- 4 months old). The vaccine is then generally given every 1-3 years through adulthood.
Other vaccines include Bordetella (kennel cough), Influenza, Lyme, and Leptospirosis.
The Bordetella vaccine is recommended for all puppies, usually at their first visit because they’ll have a lot of exposure to other dogs through the early months of their lives (vet office visits, obedience training, and being loved on by every dog lover you know!). This vaccine can come in the form of nose drops, mouth drops, or an injection. The vaccine form depends on your vet and what they prefer to give. All of these vaccine types provide the same protection. This includes obedience class, dog shows, dog parks, daycare and boarding providers.
Influenza, Lyme, and Leptospirosis are all two- vaccine series. They require an initial dose, usually given around 12 weeks (3 months) of age, and boostered again 2- 4 weeks later. Influenza is important for the same puppies who are at risk for kennel cough. Lyme and Leptospirosis are endemic to some areas of the United States (meaning they are highly common in some areas and dogs in those areas are at increased risk for getting them.) While they are not vaccines required by law, they are highly recommended in some areas and there is little risk involved in giving them.
There is a common misconception that vaccines do more harm than good, and that vaccine reactions or side effects are extremely common. The reality is that less than 0.4% of dogs actually have a reaction, according to a USDA study of reported vaccine reactions. That means out of 1,000 dogs who receive a vaccine, maybe 3 or 4 of them will have a reaction, and they’re typically mild. You might see low grade vomiting or diarrhea, sluggishness, and occasionally hives. These symptoms are typically managed with an antihistamine and a low dose steroid injection. Your veterinarian may recommend that for future vaccines, your dog receives a dose of Benadryl and/or a steroid ahead of time.
Severe vaccine reactions or side effects, like extreme allergic reactions, cancers, or immune diseases are even rarer than mild allergic reactions. If 3 in 1,000 dogs have a mild vaccine reaction, It’s likely that only 1 in 10,000 dogs has what might be categorized as a severe reaction or side effect.
Are Puppy Shots in Oklahoma City, OK Worth It?
The truth is that all vaccines protect dogs against preventable diseases. Preventable disease means their risk of contracting a particular disease is nearly zero if the animal was properly vaccinated while they were healthy, and didn’t have any unknown underlying issues like immune insufficiency or some sort of competing birth defect.
If a dog is not vaccinated against preventable diseases, the likelihood that they will die of one of those preventable diseases is extremely high even in controlled environments. Even house-dogs don’t live in controlled environments, because they go for walks or field trips outside of the home, guests come into the home, and sometimes even wildlife. All of these are exposure risk factors.
Your puppy, unvaccinated, is at exponentially higher risk for dying of a preventable disease than they are of having even a mild reaction to a vaccine, let alone a severe one. To ensure your pet’s health, happiness, and longevity, follow your veterinarian’s vaccine recommendations.
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About Hefner Road Animal Hospital
The bond shared between people and their companion animals is a bond that endures. At Hefner Road Animal Hospital, we have seen this firsthand since our veterinarians began serving the Oklahoma City community in 1998. It is our privilege and our pleasure to be able to contribute to that bond by delivering excellent veterinary medical care and compassionate service to area families. Many of our staff members have been with us since the very beginning and are dedicated to making our animal hospital a place of healing, comfort, and respect for animal welfare.