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What Are the First Vaccinations for a Puppy?

| Updated September 26, 2017

Protecting your new family member from particular diseases and infections is a must to ensure that your puppy is going to stay healthy and live a long, happy life with you. Vaccinating your puppy is not expensive, especially when compared with a vet's invoice when your pup becomes sick due to not having the right antibodies.

Why do puppies need to be vaccinated?


Pups are born with an immature immune system. Puppies receive antibodies and proteins from their mother's milk, but these antibodies and proteins have short lifespans and do not help fight infections and diseases. Even if the pup's parents were vaccinated, the antibodies required to fight particular diseases and infections are not passed on to the new litter of pups permanently.

Different Types of Important Puppy Vaccinations


Even though there are many vaccines a puppy can receive to help prevent illness and infection, the core vaccinations are the distemper, hepatitus, rabies, leptospirosis, adenovirus-2, bortetella and parvovirus-2 injections. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that pups that are at a low risk of a particular exposure to a disease do not need to be vaccinated annually, but it is very important to check with your local vet about which vaccinations your new pup should have.

First Puppy Vaccination


Puppies should begin their vaccinations at six to eight weeks old. The first set of vaccinations are the parvovirus and a combination vaccine without leptospirosis. A combination vaccine includes distemper, hepatitus, adenovirus cough and parainfluenza.

The Second and Final Puppy Vaccinations


At 12 to 16 weeks, the rabies vaccination is administered. The vet may recommend returning at a later date for another combination vaccination, or she may administer it on the same day as the rabies shot. The second combination vaccine usually includes the same as the first, but will include leptosporosis. The vet may also vaccinate against Lyme disease and coronavirus during this period.

Are There Any Side Effects?


It is common for a pup to be tired, feverish and have loss of appetite 24 to 48 hours after receiving a vaccination. It's always best to allow the puppy to rest and ensure that he has plenty of fresh cool water nearby.

When Are Puppies Immune?


Remember that all puppies aren't immune for a couple of weeks after the final distemper and parvovirus vaccinations have been administered. It's important at this stage not to allow your young pup to be exposed to any other dog that is not living within your home to prevent possible infection and illness.