Vaccinating Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Should Know

This graphic has a picture of a dog lying down as they are receiving a shot. There is a deep green overlay on top of the image with a title that reads, "Vaccinating Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Should Know".
Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Whether your dog is only a few months old or several years old, vaccinations play an important part in each dog’s lifespan. It keeps them healthy, strong, and safe. Knowing which vaccines your dog needs and how often they need them can be an overwhelming task. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic in Colorado Springs, it is our mission to provide pet owners with transparent education when it comes to the care of their animals. That is why we have created this go-to guide for dog vaccinations, so that every pet owner knows the types of dog vaccines available, the side effects of vaccines in dogs, and the vaccination schedule for dogs.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, our goal is to empower pet owners to make the best decisions for their pet’s health. As a veterinary clinic in Colorado Springs, we work to educate pet owners about the well-being of your dog. Our veterinary professionals are committed to providing the Colorado Springs community with the highest quality of veterinary care and education. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we believe the more knowledgeable you have about vaccines, the more you will feel in control of your dog’s health. 

To learn more about vaccines for dogs, how they work, and why they are important for your puppy, keep reading!

A picture of a dog receiving a vaccination.

Why Vaccinate Dogs?

Every puppy receives antibodies from their mother’s milk until they are six weeks old. Afterward, puppies will need their first vaccination in order to boost their immune system to protect them against diseases. 

Vaccines stimulate your dog’s immune system by acting as a weaker version of the real virus in order to build up resistance to the virus in the future. After a dog is vaccinated, their immune system will have the ability to defend itself against the virus when exposed to it. 

Since dogs are exposed to bacteria more than humans, they are susceptible to picking up diseases. It is imperative to vaccinate your dog to protect them from diseases, strengthen their immune system, and keep them strong, healthy, and safe for years to come.

Types of Vaccines for Dogs

There are two types of vaccines for dogs.

  • Core vaccinations

Core vaccinations are always recommended. These vaccines for dogs help fight off common or deadly diseases, so it is crucial your dog receives core vaccinations.

  • Non-core vaccinations

Non-core vaccinations are not always recommended. These vaccines for dogs help fight off various diseases your dog may come in contact with depending on environmental factors.

Core Vaccines for Dogs

Core vaccinations are always recommended because they protect your dog from common or deadly diseases. The exposure, severity, and likelihood of these diseases being caught by your dog mean all dogs should receive these vaccines. These diseases include:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Hepatitis 
  • Rabies

In a single three-in-one shot known as the DAPPv — also called the distemper shot — your dog is protected against Canine Parvovirus, Distemper, and Hepatitis. 

It is also highly recommended to look at your state laws to see if some of these core vaccinations are mandatory. For example, the rabies shot is obligatory under Colorado State Law for puppies and new owners. Core vaccinations not only help your dogs stay healthy but also help prevent harming the general public as well.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

Non-core vaccines are given based on the lifestyle of your dog, in addition to environmental factors. Oftentimes these vaccinations will largely depend on your dog’s individual exposure to various diseases. Here are a list of non-core vaccinations: 

  • Canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV)
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Distemper-measles combination vaccine
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi

These diseases are relatively common. However, you never want to vaccinate a dog that is not at risk. Therefore, it is always suggested you consult your veterinarian to see what is best for your pet. 

For more information on the various diseases and core and non-core vaccinations for dogs, visit UC Davis’ School of Medicine page for a thorough overview.

Side Effects of Dog Vaccines

The benefits of getting your dog vaccinated certainly outweigh the risks involved. However, there can be some side effects, such as lethargy, fever, or loss of appetite. This is nothing to be concerned about unless the symptoms continue for more than a week. If symptoms do persist, contact your pet’s veterinary clinic to update your vet about what your dog is experiencing.

While serious reactions are rare, serious side effects include vomiting or rashes. In the case of an allergic reaction, call your veterinarian immediately.

Vaccine Schedule for Dogs

For newborn puppies, there are three courses of vaccinations all puppies need to go through. 

Graphic explaining the vaccine schedule for both cats and dogs.

Once your puppy receives their necessary vaccinations, your pet will generally only have to have vaccinations annually or every three years depending on your dog’s health and state law.

As a general rule of thumb, it is best not to vaccinate your dog unless they need the vaccine. Giving too many vaccinations can be problematic for your pet. Another way to check if a vaccination is absolutely necessary is through a titer test, which is a blood test that shows your dog’s antibody levels.

What to Consider When Vaccinating Dogs

Vaccines are highly important and effective at keeping your dog healthy. It is crucial that you stick to a vaccination schedule for your dog to ensure they receive the necessary vaccinations to keep them safe. Additionally, it is important to not over-vaccinate your pet. Your dog only needs the vaccinations that they require. There are many factors that go into whether your dog requires a vaccine, such as:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Number of shots
  • Allergies
  • Environmental factors
  • Lifestyle
  • Vaccination history

The best way to determine whether your pet needs vaccinations is to discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be knowledgeable on the types of vaccinations your dog needs and when they need them.

Vaccinate Your Dog at Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

Your dog’s wellbeing is the top-priority. Vaccinations work to keep your pet healthy, strong, and safe by protecting your dog from diseases. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, our professional staff treats each patient with integrity, transparency, and compassion. We want you to make the best possible decisions for your pet, which is why we are passionate about empowering pet owners with educational resources about vaccines. If it is time for your dog to get their vaccinations, or if you have any questions about vaccines, please contact Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic!

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