Vaccines for Dogs: The Basics Every Dog Owner Should Know

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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 Pondersora 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’s why we’ve created this go-to guide for dog vaccinations, so that every pet owner knows the types of vaccines available, the side effects of vaccines for dogs, and vaccination schedule for dogs.

Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is a family of professional dog lovers. Our extensive experience in the veterinary industry has shown us the importance of not only treating dogs but also educating dog owners. We believe the more knowledgeable you are about vaccines, the more you will feel in control of your dog’s health. Vaccines are nothing to be scared of once you learn how they work!

graphic of vaccination for dogs colorado springs

How Dog Vaccines Work

Every puppy receives antibodies from his mother’s milk until he is six weeks old. Afterwards, puppies will need their first vaccination in order to boost their immune system against diseases. Vaccines stimulate your dog’s immune system, acting as a weaker version of the real virus, in order to build up resistances to the virus in the future. After a dog is vaccinated, their immune system will now have the ability to defend itself against the virus when exposed to it. 

Since dogs are more intimately exposed to bacteria– more so than humans– they are more susceptible to picking up diseases. However, we have a choice to be vaccinated, dogs do not. Therefore, it’s important to know what types of vaccines your dog can have. 

Types of Vaccines for Dogs

First of all, there are two types of vaccines: 

  • Core vaccinations — Always recommended. Help to fight off common or deadly diseases
  • Non-core vaccinations. — Not always recommended. Help to 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 of their exposure, severity, and likelihood of being caught. These diseases include:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Hepatitis 
  • Rabies

In a single three-in-one shot known as the DAPPv, your dog is protected against Canine Parcocirus, Distemper, and Hepatitis. 

It might also be helpful 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 or new owners. Core vaccinations help not only your dogs stay healthy, but also help prevent harming the general public as well. 

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

These 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, we never want to vaccinate a dog that is not at risk. Therefore, we always suggest you consult your veterinarian to see what is best for your pet. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we treat each patient with authenticity and transparency. Contact us today to discuss which vaccine may be right for your dog!

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

Side Effects of Dog Vaccines

The benefits of getting your dog vaccinated certainly outweighs 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, feel free to give us a call at Ponderosa. We are more than happy to talk with you about what your pet is experiencing and offer our professional opinion on whether or not to bring your dog to the vet after getting vaccinated.

Serious side effects include vomiting, or rashes. In the case of an allergic reaction, call your doctor immediately. Medication can resolve serious reactions like this instantly, however rare they may be.

Vaccine Schedule for Puppies

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

Graphic explaining the vaccine schedule for both cats and dogs

After this period of time, dogs will generally only have to take vaccines annually or every three years depending on your dog’s health and state law.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to vaccinate unless it’s likely your dog will 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 using the titer test, which is a blood test that shows your dog’s antibody levels. This approach reduces the need to give vaccines unnecessarily, however it can be expensive. 

Is Your Dog Ready for Vaccinations?

Your dog is unique and deserves special attention, not only from you but also by trained medical professionals. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we have a personable and professional staff who treats each patient with integrity and transparency. If it is time for your dog to get their vaccinations, or if you have any questions about vaccines, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We would love to hear from you!

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