Dog Medical Care - Vaccinations

Dog medical care will change as a dog ages. As a puppy, your dog will need certain vaccinations to keep her healthy. As she ages, she may have certain medical conditions that require medication or her diet may need to be modified. Certainly her exercise and nutritional needs will change. It's important that you know how to keep your dog healthy. After all, she depends entirely on you for her health and well-being!

As children age, they can begin to care for themselves, but your dog will always depend on you for her health and medical care! Let's look at recommended dog vaccinations, and PLEASE do not take this as medical advice; it's just a guide and for general information.

You need to consult with a trained veterinarian for all your dog's medical care. That's why they get the big bucks!

Dog Vaccinations

Dog Vaccinations

Proper dog medical care requires us humans to be pro-active. Annual visits to the vet should be part of your dog care schedule. Even if she doesn't need any shots, she does need a check up. That's why we go to the doctor on an annual basis, right? For prevention. Catch something early and it can be treated or controlled before it gets worse.

Your vet will listen to your dog's heart and lungs, probe her belly, look in her mouth at her teeth and gums, look in eyes and ears, and check for parasites and skin disorders. Here's your opportunity to ask questions, and for the vet to see how your dog moves - to check on her general mobility. Vets are good about telling you if your dog is too fat, so listen if the doc says puppy needs less food, more exercise! Your vet's job is to help you provide the best dog medical care.

I have to tell you a funny story - a little off topic - about a vet visit for our cat when my daughter was little. We took our cat in for her annual check up and after talking for a few minutes, the vet told us she was going to take the cat's temperature. Well, my daughter, being just a little girl and having had her temperature taken with a thermometer under the arm, held our cat next to her body and lifted the kitty's arm! That was a precious moment and memory. The vet and I tried not to laugh; we smiled at each other and told my daughter that we couldn't take a cat's temperature using the under the arm method. What a shock for my little girl!

Vaccinations and Dog Medical Care

How does a vaccination work?

Vaccinations stimulate a dog's immune system to protect itself against disease. When the infectious agent enters the dog's body, it is recognized as foreign and antibodies are produced to bind to, and destroy it.

When should your puppy first be vaccinated?

A puppy is born with immunity due to the antibodies that are transmitted from the mother, through the placenta and the breast milk.

For proper dog medical care, vaccinations usually start at six-to-eight weeks and are given every three-to-four weeks until your puppy is 16 weeks; some may continue to 18 or 20 weeks depending on the breed. Remember, you'll need to discuss your dog's vaccination requirements with your vet.

Types of Vaccinations for Dog Medical Care

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are those vaccines that are considered to be necessary to the maintenance of your dog's health. Puppy vaccines against such common illnesses as canine distemper are core vaccines. The vaccination against rabies is another core vaccine; vaccination against rabies is required by law across the U.S.

Core vaccines against rabies, distemper, parvovirus and canine hepatitis should be given according to the recommendation of your veterinarian. If you have questions regarding the safety of these vaccinations, please do your research. However, the rabies vaccine is required by law, and your dog will not be permitted in many dog-related places if not vaccinated.

Core vaccines are key to maintaining your dog's good health, and these diseases are too common to risk your dog's health for lack of a vaccine.

Non-Core Vaccines

Non-core dog vaccines are not usually considered necessary, but may be administered when exposure to the disease is expected. Vaccines against kennel cough and Lyme disease are among the non-core vaccines for dogs.


Rabies is a fatal - it has no cure! - infection of the central nervous system acquired as a result of an infected animal biting a non-infected animal. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and bats are the animals most likely to transmit the virus.

Who can forget the story of Old Yeller - I think I was in 5th grade when I read this book and I couldn't stop crying! So get your dog vaccinated against rabies. It's illegal not to! Plus it's a highly contagious and deadly disease easily prevented through vaccination.

Rabies in the United States is largely under control due to our strenuous vaccination programs. In 2006 there were only 3 reported cases of human rabies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife; before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats.

The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990's. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful.

In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.


Canine distemper is a multi-systemic viral disease of dogs usually transmitted through contact with respiratory secretions, but contact with fecal material and the urine of infected dogs or things they have contaminated can also cause infection. Distemper is passed rapidly through coughed or sneezed droplets of saliva.

Young puppies, between 3 and 6 months of age, are most susceptible to the disease and are the most likely to die from it. However, non-immunized adult dogs are also highly susceptible to distemper. Puppies should be vaccinated against distemper at 10 and 16 weeks of age.

Today's vaccines have made canine distemper a very rare disease in household pets in the industrialized world. So for proper dog medical care get your dog vaccinated!

Canine parvovirus (CPV)

CPV disease is currently the most common infectious disorder of dogs in the United States. 'Parvo' is a highly contagious disease characterized by diarrhea that is often bloody.

Current vaccinations have helped to control the spread of this disease but despite being vaccinated, some dogs still contract and die from parvo. The virus is known to survive on inanimate objects.

The generally recommended protocol is to vaccinate puppies against parvovirus beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, and re-vaccinating every 3 weeks until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age. A booster is given at one year of age and every 1-3 years thereafter. CPV can sometimes be treated but prevention through vaccination is your dog's best bet.

Canine Adenovirus 1 and 2

The canine adenovirus-1 causes hepatitis in dogs, and can be spread through body fluids such as nasal discharge and urine. The vaccine against hepatitis is also efficient against the adenovirus-2, which causes cough and respiratory problems.

In addition to these vaccines, recommended dog medical care may include the following vaccines:

  • Bortadella
  • Parainflueza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus
  • Lyme

Your vet will help you decide if these vaccines should be part of your dog's medical care, depending on your dog's exposure, environment, and other factors.

Return from Dog Medical Care to Basic Dog Care
Return from Dog Medical Care to Adopt the Right Dog