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Puppy Health 101: A Guide to Vaccinations for Your Furry Friend

Puppy Health 101: A Guide to Vaccinations for Your Furry Friend

Puppies are cute, cuddly bundles of joy, but they're also susceptible to various illnesses. You may have already heard about the need to vaccinate your pet, but all the vet visits can feel overwhelming.

Vaccinations are important for a puppy's health as they protect them against serious, life-threatening diseases.

We're here to break down the world of puppy vaccinations so that you have a comprehensive guide on keeping your new furry friend happy and healthy. Keep reading to learn more about keeping your puppy in tip-top shape!

Key summary

  • Puppy vaccinations are key to ensuring your new pet’s protection against serious illnesses that can cause distress and threat to life. 
  • Your puppy needs two vaccinations at 8 and 10 weeks with annual boosters to ensure protection. 
  • Although allergic reactions to vaccinations are unlikely, your puppy may experience some side effects after their jabs. Keep them comfortable and calm. 
  • Understanding puppy vaccinations

    When getting a new puppy, it's a fun and exciting time, but before you get caught up in playing with your new addition, it is important to remember to get them vaccinated. Sadly, puppies are susceptible to nasty diseases that can cause discomfort and even kill your furry loved one. Vaccinations are used to give your puppy immunity against these infectious diseases to keep them safe and sound.

    What do vaccinations protect against?

    The puppy vaccinations that your pet will receive provide protection against the following diseases:

    • Canine distemper- a highly contagious disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system.
    • Canine parvovirus- a viral illness that affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and can lead to severe dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
    • Kennel cough- a respiratory infection that can lead to inflamed and irritated trachea and bronchial tubes.
    • Leptospirosis- a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys and liver of dogs.
    • Infectious canine hepatitis- a viral disease that affects the kidneys, liver, eyes, and lungs. 
    • Parainfluenza- a contagious respiratory disease that causes coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and lethargy.  

    Puppy vaccinations in the UK don't include protection from rabies as it is a disease that is not present in the country. If you plan to take your puppy overseas, you will need a separate vaccination against rabies that your vet can help you with.

    How many vaccinations should a puppy have?

    With regards to when puppies need their vaccinations, initially, puppies will require two vaccination doses, with the first being administered at around 8 weeks and the second puppy vaccination being given 14 days later at 10 weeks of age. Your vet will be able to offer the best advice on timings for these.It is important to stick to your puppy's vaccination schedule as this is the most effective way of safeguarding your pet against disease. If you miss or delay any of their jabs, your puppy won't be fully protected and, therefore, are at a higher risk of contracting an illness.

    Your dog will need follow-up boosters and/or titre testing every year throughout their life to keep their protection bolstered.

    Your dog will need follow-up boosters and/or titre testing every year throughout their life to keep their protection bolstered. Titre testing is where a blood sample is taken from your dog to see which antibodies he has, so that your vet can determine which boosters are needed. 

    Preparing for vaccinations

    Help to reduce your pet's stress level by being well-prepared for your vaccination appointment. The more organised you are with the vaccination schedule, the quicker your pet will gain immunity against potentially life-threatening illnesses. Some steps you can take for a smooth vaccination process include:

  • Get your appointment booked

  • To be sure that your puppy will receive their vaccinations on time, book a vet's appointment well in advance.

  • Vaccination records

  • If you are attending your second or booster vaccination appointment, be sure to bring your pet's record card along so that your vet is up to date with the jabs they have already received.

  • Questions

  • If you have any questions or concerns around vaccinations that you'd like to ask your vet, make a note of them, so you've got them to hand when you are in your appointment.

  • Feeding and exercise

  • Try to avoid feeding your pet for at least 2 hours before their appointment, and avoid too much exercise, as it can make it harder for your vet to give the vaccinations.

  • Keep your puppy calm

  • If your puppy is anxious or stressed, it can make it harder for the vet to give the vaccinations. Try to help your puppy remain calm by using items from home, such as a blanket, and treats, to comfort them.

    What can I expect when my puppy has the jabs?

    During your appointment, the vet will check the weight of your puppy and perform a quick physical examination, including a temperature check to ensure that there are no underlying conditions that might prevent them from having their vaccinations on the day.

    Your vet will discuss the vaccinations with you to ensure you understand what they do and any side effects that can occur.

    Generally, vaccinations are given using a small needle that is inserted into the back of the neck.

    Puppy jabs aftercare

    For the most part, puppies tend to be fine after their vaccinations showing little to no sign of having had an injection, but it is still important to keep an eye on them in case of an allergic reaction.

    Keep activity to a minimum for a few hours after the jabs and give them a comfortable place to rest. Be sure to follow any specific instructions your vet has provided you.

    Signs which might indicate that your puppy has had a reaction to its vaccinations include:

    - Hives or redness at the site of injection

    - Swelling of the face, ears, lips, or tongue

    - Itching or scratching

    - Difficulty breathing

    - Wheezing

    - Vomiting

    - Diarrhoea

    - Collapsing

    - Lethargic

    - Rapid heartbeat

    - Panting

    If your puppy experiences any of these symptoms, even if it isn't all of them, contact your vet immediately.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I take my puppy out after the first vaccination?

    It is recommended that you wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated before taking them out in public, as they won't be protected from disease until this point.

    If it's necessary to take your puppy out in public before all vaccinations are complete, keep them away from other dogs, including areas where other dogs have been, and avoid crowded or high-risk areas. Once the vaccinations are complete, Beco Pets recommends "to wait a week or so after [initial injections] to allow greater immunity to build up".

    Is it necessary to vaccinate my puppy if they are only going to be kept indoors?

    Yes, it is still necessary to vaccinate your puppy, even if they are only going to be kept indoors. Vaccinations not only protect your puppy from serious illnesses, but they also protect other dogs and humans from illnesses that your puppy may carry.

    It is possible for indoor dogs to come in contact with diseases through other animals or people that enter your home.

    At what point is my puppy fully vaccinated?

    Your puppy's vaccinations are complete once the full series of jabs have been administered as per your vet's guide. This is usually two injections, one at 8 weeks and one at 10 weeks of age. An annual booster will be required to maintain your dog's protection against illness. 

    In summary

    Vaccinations are an important part of ensuring your puppy's overall health and protecting them from serious, potentially life-threatening diseases.

    Stick to the puppy vaccine schedule recommended by your vet and remember to discuss any concerns you may have with them. Once the jabs have been administered, keep your puppy comfortable in a calm, reassuring environment. Be sure to make a note of any follow-up vaccinations and appointments to keep your puppy well and always protected from illness. 

    If you have concerns or questions about vaccinations, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian.

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