When you get a new puppy one of the first things you must do is schedule your new family member for a check-up by your veterinarian, where you can expect the puppy to undergo a medical exam and receive his first deworming medication and puppy shots. Don’t be shy about asking your vet what your puppy needs in terms of veterinary care. A good vet will not only provide your puppy with his shots, but should also patiently answer your questions and provide you with the info you need to help you safeguard your puppy’s overall health.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions from new puppy owners regarding puppy deworming and vaccinations:
1. At what age should my puppy start receiving deworming medication and vaccinations?
Deworming medication can be given as early as 2 weeks and every 2 weeks thereafter for up to 2-3 doses or more depending on the worm load and the likelihood of reinfection.
Vaccinations need to be administered when the maternal antibodies passed down to the puppy from the mother are at low enough levels that they don’t interfere with the effect of the vaccine to be administered. Most veterinarians will approximate this time to be at around 6 weeks of age (earlier for puppies that were orphaned or unable to suckle their mother’s milk).
2. What vaccines does my dog need?
Every puppy should receive at least the Core Vaccines, which refers to vaccines that protect animals from “severe, life-threatening diseases that have a global distribution” (Reference: Vaccination Guideline Group – World Small Animal Veterinary Association, VGG-WSAVA).
- Core Vaccines for dogs include vaccines against the following:
- Canine Distemper Virus (CDV / Distemper)
- Canine Adenovirus (Canine Infectious Hepatitis)
- Canine Parvovirus Type 2 (Parvo)
- Non-core vaccines may be administered if a specific disease that can be vaccinated against is prevalent in your geographical location or is deemed necessary by the veterinarian.
- Non-core vaccines frequently administered in the Philippines are for:
- Leptospirosis strains
- Parainfluenza Virus
- Kennel Cough
- Non-core vaccines frequently administered in the Philippines are for:
The VGG-WSAVA guidelines emphasize the vaccination of all animals with the core vaccines, and only those non-core vaccines necessary for that animal as dictated by geographical location, local environment and risk level for particular diseases.
3. How many shots does my puppy need?
Beginning at the age of 4-6 weeks, veterinarians will schedule vaccinations against CDV, Parvo and Infectious Hepatitis at an interval of 2-3 weeks until the puppy is about 16 weeks old.
The Rabies vaccine is administered at 3 months of age.
- After the initial puppy shots for core vaccines are completed at around 4 months of age, your vet may recommend one of the following:
- schedule a booster shot at 1 year of age, followed by a yearly booster
- schedule a booster 1 year (or more) after the last puppy shot was administered
- schedule an antibody titer test to determine if your dog has developed the antibodies for the diseases that the vet vaccinated against. This helps the vet decide if booster shots are at all necessary.
- Rabies must be scheduled yearly as mandated by Philippine law.
The number of shots a puppy gets depends on the age NOT on how many shots the puppy has had previously. Thus, a WORD OF CAUTION: Suppose you transferred your puppy from the care of one vet to another, and in the process you missed a scheduled revaccination date. Some vets may tell you that because you missed a vaccine you need to redo the entire series of shots over again. THIS IS NOT PROPER VACCINATION PROTOCOL and may result in over-vaccination with the possibility of serious adverse reactions. The new vet should ask for your puppy’s birth date, examine your puppy’s vaccination history carefully, and from there determine a vaccination schedule.
NOTE ON REVACCINATION OF ADULT DOGS: Studies have shown that dogs that have responded to vaccination with the core vaccines maintain immunity for many years even without re-vaccination. Therefore, additional VGG-WSAVA guidelines recommend only triennial re-administration of core vaccines to reduce “vaccine load” on individual animals to minimize adverse reactions to vaccine products. However, WSAVA also recognizes that “variation in practice and associated economics exist throughout the world” thus not all vaccination recommendations outlined in their guidelines may be appropriate for a developing country. Additional local studies must be conducted to determine if these guidelines are partially or wholly applicable to the Philippines. While these studies are not yet available, I believe these guidelines should at least be taken into consideration and disclosed to pet owners who bring their pets in for re-vaccination.
4. Will my puppy develop a fever after getting vaccinated? What should I expect?
Mostly, puppies – after being vaccinated – will carry on as if nothing happened. However, some may exhibit one or two of the following signs:
- Some pain or discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site.
- Mild fever
- Decreased appetite and reduced activity / reduced desire to play.
- Respiratory signs such as sneezing, coughing and a runny or snotty nose may be observed 2-5 days after your pet receives an intranasal vaccine such as Kennel Cough vaccine
If any of the above signs persist for more than a few days, consult your veterinarian.
In rare cases, dogs will exhibit an anaphylactic or allergic reaction minutes to hours after receiving a shot. Signs include:
- Persistent vomiting and diarrhea
- Sudden development of itchiness, hives or rashes
- Swelling of the face and/or muzzle
- Severe coughing, wheezing, or other respiratory distress
Signs of allergies constitute a medical emergency and must be addressed immediately by your veterinarian! (Reference: AVMA)
5. Aside from vaccinations and deworming what other preventives should I get for my puppy?
- Heartworm prevention
- Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted by mosquito bites into your pet’s bloodstream where they multiply and grow, eventually resulting in compromised heart and circulatory functions, which can manifest as exercise intolerance, weakness and even death.
- Heartworm is easily prevented through prophylactic medication. Depending on the type of medication available at your vet’s, heartworm prophylaxis is administered either monthly (Heartguard), every 2 months (injectable ivermectin) or yearly (ProHeart).
- Heartworm is highly prevalent in the Philippines. Though treatable, heartworm treatment is risky as well as expensive, and it is therefore highly recommended that you regularly bring your pet in to see the vet for heartworm prevention.
- Tick and Flea Prevention
- Ticks and Fleas may not only cause severe skin irritation and anemia, but they are also responsible for transmitting blood-borne parasites to your pet. Ticks in particular can transmit the bacteria responsible for Ehrlichiosis – a serious disease in dogs. Signs (to name a few) include fever, loss of appetite, weakness and severe hemorrhaging.
- Tick and Flea prevention products include Frontline, Proticall and Advantix to name a few. In general, they are applied on the animal every 1 or 2 months to prevent tick and flea infestation. In cases of high parasite infestation, the owner must take steps to treat the environment as well. Care must be taken to remove the pet from the environment if harmful chemicals will be used. Consult your veterinarian for more information.
AVMA – What To Expect After Your Pets Vaccination
WSAVA – Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats