Importance and Side Effects of Dog Vaccines

For any new pet owner, and the owners of new dogs, vaccines are often a matter of some confusion. Which vaccines is the dog supposed to get? What are the vaccines for? Will my dog react badly to them? These are all questions frequently asked.

Most veterinarians will advise dog owners to give the DHLPP vaccination once their puppies are weened off their mother's milk. This vaccine covers a number of fairly common canine conditions: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Depending on the veterinarian and the geographical location, your dog may be given only some of these vaccinations. Typically, all five, or a combination of them, are lumped together in a single shot that is administered subcutaneously, or under the skin, once every two or three weeks for about two months.

Each of these diseases can be very difficult to manage, and a vaccination is your best bet to avoid them all together. Unfortunately, some dogs do experience adverse reactions to some of these vaccines. For that reason, many vets have moved from giving this shot yearly, to giving it every three years. All of the vaccines have been shown in limited studies to last more than a year with the exception of the leptospirosis vaccine, which may last less than a year. But unless this bacterial disease is prevalent in your area, it may not be necessary.

Kennels and Vaccines

Many boarding facilities have very strict policies when it comes to admitting dogs. These policies nearly always state that if your dog has not been vaccinated,it will not be boarded. Unfortunately, each kennel may have slightly different rules when it comes to which vaccines your pup will need. Beyond the DHLPP shot, your dog may need to be vaccinated against adenovirus or bordatella.

Because of the great number of dogs coming from a great number of different backgrounds, the likelihood that the animals at the kennel would be exposed to at least one type of communicable canine disease is fairly high. Some viruses, like parvovirus, are very tough and will not die easily. The disease is transmitted through dog poo, which is usually all over the place in a kennel environment. For this reason it is very important that you not only have your pet vaccinated, but that the kennel require vaccinations.

When is the vaccine effective?

If you planned to put your dog in a kennel or start exposing him to other dogs, it is important that you give the necessary vaccination early. It can take several weeks for a puppy or dog to build up immunity after a full course of vaccine.


Rabies is a particular worrisome disease that unfortunately has no cure for dogs. A dog that is infected with rabid will have to be euthanize without any doubt. Vaccination should be a high priority for a dog owner. This vaccine should be administered once between three and six months of age, and again at one year old to ensure immunity. It should also be given yearly. Vaccinating your pup against rabies will also protect you, your family, and neighbors from this deadly disease.

Adverse Reactions

Occasionally, a dog will have an adverse reaction to a vaccine it has received. You need to take extra care to monitor your pet condition after every vaccination, making sure that there is no change in his activity level, diet pattern or personality. If you notice these symptoms and they persist, get in contact with your veterinarian right away.

When toilet training your puppy, take note that she is not able to control her bladder overnight before she reaches four months old. To learn more about canine dog health and canine dog care, visit us at

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