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Vaccinations for Your Puppy

Pet Column for the week of October 4, 1999

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
By Sarah Probst
Information Specialist

During its first few hours of life, your puppy receives natural immunity against most diseases
from its mother's first milk, the colostrum. But eventually your pup or kitten's immune
system will have to fend for itself. Vaccinations provide your pup good protection against
life-threatening diseases. Here's an explanation about what vaccines you need and what
ones you may want to consider, according to veterinarians at the University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital in Urbana.

Distemper can be fatal for puppies. It involves gastrointestinal, nervous
system, and respiratory complications. The vaccine for this world-wide disease, which is
related to measles, was developed in the 1960s. Your puppy can get distemper via
airborne distemper particles from exposure to wildlife and other distemper-infected pets.
Get your pup's first vaccination for this disease and others at 9 weeks. Your veterinarian
may recommend earlier vaccinations, especially if your pup did not receive colostrum. Two
more shots 2 weeks apart are needed to protect your pup. The last shot should occur after
15 weeks. Yearly boosters are recommended.

Adenovirus is sometimes called dog hepatitis because it targets the liver, but
it also affects the kidneys, eyes, and vasculature. Humans can live with the hepatitis viruses
for a long time, but many dogs with an acute onset of Adenovirus have a very poor
prognosis and could die within hours. Dogs who survive secrete Adenovirus for 6 to 9
months in their urine and could infect non-vaccinated pups. Donít worry; dog hepatitis is
not transmissible to humans and vice versa. This vaccination also occurs at the same time as

Leptospirosis The bacterium Leptospirosis--found in infected mammal's urine or
urine-contaminated bodies of water--can penetrate skin or mucous membranes and invade
your or your pet's bloodstream. Its effects range from diarrhea to abortion to chronic renal
failure. The current vaccine can be given at the same time as distemper and adenovirus, but
some pets are allergic to the lepto vaccine, so lepto is available separately.

Unfortunately, the lepto vaccine doesn't protect against all strains of leptospirosis, and it
lasts only 6 to 8 months. If you have a high-risk dog--a dog that is exposed to marshy
areas, ponds, or heavily irrigated pastures--your veterinarian may recommend a
twice-a-year schedule. Remember, even though your dog is protected against some of the
common strains of lepto via the vaccine, it could still become infected with a different form.

Parvovirus can devastate any pup, but rottweilers, Dobermans, and springer
spaniels are especially susceptible. Parvo causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and anorexia,
which is often fatal in puppies. Anywhere dogs congregate--parks, pet shows,
kennels--are risk areas for parvo exposure. The parvo vaccination protocol is determined
on the basis of your puppy's risk. It is often recommended that parvo vaccinations be given
every 3 to 4 weeks from 3 to 20 weeks of age, depending on your pet's level of risk.
Annual revaccinations are recommended.

Coronavirus Most older dogs recover from a corona virus infection, but in younger pups
it may cause death. Corona virus has an incidence in kennels up to 30 percent. It often
occurs at the same time as parvovirus. Discuss with your veterinarian whether the corona
vaccine is necessary for your puppy. Your pup is ready for this vaccine at 6 weeks, with
boosters every 2 to 3 weeks until dogs are 12 weeks of age.

Rabies Most of us associate rabies with the mad dog frothing at the mouth, eager to bite
anything near it. Although this is a common presentation in countries where there is a very
high population of unvaccinated stray dogs, in the United States rabies usually appears in
wild animals. By law you must vaccinate your dog for rabies; your pet is ready for this shot
at 12 weeks. After this first shot, you need to get periodic vaccinations, according to your
state's regulations. Your veterinarian may recommend a shot that lasts one year or three
years. All warm-blooded animals--including you--can get rabies. The prognosis is fatal.

Lyme If you live in an area where Lyme disease is endemic, consider this vaccine. Lyme
is the most common tick-transmitted disease in the world, but with proper tick repellent the
vaccine isn't always necessary. Your local veterinarian or public health authority will know
if your area is endemic for Lyme disease.

Bordetella vaccines prevent a very contagious disease called kennel cough.
To be effective, this vaccine needs to be given at least once a year--more frequently if your
pet is boarded or habitually exposed to areas where many dogs are concentrated. If you
decide to board your dog in a kennel or even in a veterinary clinic, you should consider this
vaccine 7 to 10 days before exposure to the other boarding dogs.

Most puppies do not have a reaction to vaccines, but there is always a chance. The
leptospirosis vaccine most commonly is the problem. Even without an allergic reaction,
vaccination day is probably not the time to take Skipper on a long run because he may feel
a bit sluggish.

Your local veterinarian can provide more information about vaccinations for your pet; what
is given often depends on the risk of specific diseases in your geographic area, your pet's
life-style, and whether your pet received its mom's first milk its first hours of life. Protect
your companion animals and yourself by paying a visit to your local veterinarian and
following the suggested vaccination protocol.