Pooch vaccination Key to good health


The age-old adage goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ Periodic vaccinations in dogs help them create immunity against a range of infectious diseases. Let’s be aware of the various vaccines available for our pooches
What is vaccination?
Vaccination is the process of preventing diseases by creating immunity in the animal. It also reduces the amount of pharmaceutical treatments (such as antibiotics) used to control established diseases and, in many instances, has prevented long-term suffering and death.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines are the health products that trigger protective immune responses (defence cells in the body) in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease causing agents, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
What are the types of vaccines?
Modified Live Vaccines (MLV): Modified live vaccines contain a weakened strain of the disease causing agent. Weakening of the agent is typically accomplished by chemical means or by genetic engineering. These vaccines replicate within the host, thus increasing the amount of material available for provoking an immune response without inducing clinical illness. This provocation primes the immune system to mount a vigorous response, if the disease-causing agent is ever introduced to the animal. Further, the immunity provided by a modified-live vaccine develops rather swiftly and since they mimic infection with the actual disease agent, it provides the best immune response.
Inactivated Vaccines (Killed): Inactivated vaccines contain killed disease causing agents. Since the agent is killed, it is much more stable and has a longer shelf life, there is no possibility that they will revert to a virulent form, and they never spread from the vaccinated host to other animals. They are also safe for use in pregnant animals (a developing fetus may be susceptible to damage by some of the disease agents, even though attenuated, present in modified live vaccines (MLV)). Although more than a single dose of vaccine is always required and the duration of immunity is generally shorter.
Why is vaccination important?
Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases, in particular viral infections which can lead to serious illness and even death. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against a number of diseases so that the dog or cat is protected from various organisms in the environment. Even though some diseases have become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because serious disease-causing agents continue to be present in the environment. By vaccinating, we are not only protecting our pets’ health but also our family’s health as well. Today, no one should ever overlook the potential of zoonotic diseases (that is, those diseases transmissible from animals to humans) such as rabies. So, pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases.
What is the age of vaccination?
Puppies receive antibodies and important nutrients from their mothers’ milk when they are still nursing. They ingest the maternal antibodies contained in the mothers’ milk as early as during the first few hours of birth. The antibodies help protect them from infectious diseases until they are able to produce their own antibodies or their own immune system is more mature. This means that once they are weaned, this passive form of protection is lost. And it is at this point in their life that a vaccination programme should be started. Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations during their first four months of life. At approximately six (6) to eight (8) weeks of age, puppies need to receive their first vaccination. Approximately four weeks later, that is, at ten (10) weeks to three months old, a second vaccination should be given. These first two vaccinations will provide protection for a while (short term) from many life threatening diseases that your pet may come into contact with. They are therefore referred to as temporary vaccinations. A third and final vaccination, which lasts longer (a year), is given at fourteen (14) weeks to four months of age. In most cases, a vaccination protocol of three inoculations will suffice, but a vaccination schedule of four inoculations, starting at 6 weeks and ending at 16 weeks, does work better. Vaccination for rabies is administered from three months when maternal immunity has disappeared completely. Annual re-vaccinations (boosters) are then recommended to keep your pet healthy.

Vaccination Schedule
Disease agent
Puppy doses < 16 weeks
Adult doses > 16 weeks
1 dose at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks & 12-14 weeks of age
1 dose
1 dose at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks & 12-14 weeks of age
2 doses 3-4 weeks apart
1 dose at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks & 12-14 weeks of age
1 dose if MLV 2 doses 2-4 weeks apart if KV (Killed Vaccine)
1 dose at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks & 12-14 weeks of age
1 dose
1 dose as early as 3 months of age
1 dose
1-3 years or as required by your state law
Leptospira (Not recommended in small dogs)
1 dose at 12 weeks & second dose at 14-16 weeks of age
2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart
Annually as needed
Bordetella Bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough)
1 dose at 6-8 weeks & 10-12 weeks *Also can give 1 dose intranasal at 3 weeks of age
2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart
Annually as needed
1 dose at 6 weeks of age, then every 2-4 weeks until 12 weeks of age
1 dose if MLV 2 doses, 2 weeks apart if KV or use only if needed
Annually as needed

Which are the diseases for which vaccination is recommended?

  1. DHLPPi/C: This is a combo vaccination that covers numerous diseases with one injection.D-Distemper: An airborne viral disease of the lungs, intestines and brain. Distemper is a nasty virus that is highly contagious, occurs worldwide, and at one time was the leading cause of death in puppies. Young puppies are more susceptible to the virus than adult dogs. You may see signs of an upper respiratory infection with high fever, the dog may also have neurological signs. This disease is often fatal.H-Hepatitis or Adenovirus-A viral disease of the liver, which is spread by contact with the urine and faeces of infected animals. The virus causes liver and kidney damage, animals who survive may have chronic illness. Symptoms include but are not limited to: fever, lethargy, anorexia, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhoea.L-Leptospirosis: A bacterial disease of the urinary tract. This disease affects the liver and kidneys and is deadly. Animals with this disease are contagious to other animals and humans. A positive dog should be isolated and the caregiver should wear protective clothing and gloves. The disease is spread through contact with urine of infected animals. Dogs with leptospirosis may show signs of lethargy, dehydration, jaundice, and fever.P-Parvovirus: A viral disease of the intestines. This virus attacks the intestinal tract and causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Parvo is highly contagious, dogs contract the virus through contact with infected animals stool. Without treatment, dogs become dehydrated and weak and often die. This virus is very common and puppies who are not properly vaccinated are often afflicted. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers seem to be at greater risk from parvo.
    Pi-Parainfluenza: It is a viral infectious bronchitis. This is a virus that causes an upper respiratory infection. Dogs usually contract the disease through contact with nasal secretions of infected dogs.
    C-Corona virus: a viral disease of the intestines. This virus attacks the intestinal system similar to parvovirus. Infected dogs suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea and dehydration. Keep your pet vaccinated and your yard clean to protect your pet from this viral disease.
  2. Rabies: A viral disease fatal to humans and other animals. Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system. There is no known cure for rabies, to confirm a case the brain tissue must be examined. Symptoms generally include behaviour change, difficulty swallowing, hypersalivation, depression – stupor, and hind limb paralysis. The disease is spread through the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite or an open wound. Vaccinated pets who are exposed to rabies should be re-vaccinated and observed for 90 days; un-vaccinated pets exposed to rabies should be given post bite vaccination course and kept isolated for six months.
  3. Bordetella: This is an upper respiratory infection also known as kennel cough. This infection is usually not fatal but is a pain to get rid of. The infection can spread quickly through boarding and grooming facilities and any place dogs congregate. The vaccination can be in the form of a nasal spray or injection. The injection form will need a booster in one month. Your veterinarian can help you decide if this vaccination is necessary for your dog.
  4. Lyme Disease: This is a tick borne illness. If you live in a wooded area and have a large number of positive Lyme disease cases in your area, you should consider this vaccine for your dogs. Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of appetite. The deer tick must stay attached to your dog for one to two days in order to transmit the illness, so checking your dog daily for ticks will help prevent Lyme disease. Also use a good tick preventative like Tick Collars, sprays, tick bath and anthelmintic shampoos.
  5. Giardia: Giardia is a parasite that lives in the intestines and can be passed into the environment through the stools of infected animals. Dogs become infected with giardia by drinking contaminated water. Humans can also be infected. At risk dogs would be those who live primarily outdoors, hunting dogs, or dogs who may come in contact with ponds or creeks. This vaccine needs to be boosted three weeks after the initial dose and then given annually.

If you are a responsible pet parent, do get your pet vaccinated at required intervals.
(Dr. S.S. Patil is Ph.D. Scholar at Centre of Advanced Studies in Animal Nutrition, K.B. Korel is a Ph.D. Scholar at Division of Animal Nutrition while P.P. Mirajkar is M.V.Sc Scholar at Division of LES at Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar)

Don’ts of vaccination

  • Don’t vaccinate when your pooch is under stress as corticosteriods that release during stress inhibit lymphocyte metabolism and cell growth.
  • Don’t vaccinate your pooch within 2 weeks of surgery as anesthetics are immunosuppressive.
  • Don’t vaccinate your pup before 6 weeks of age. MLV vaccine can cause encephalitis in pups less than 4 weeks.
  • Don’t administer multiple virus vaccines to dogs in multiple animal households. Virus shedding can create increased virus particles in the environment.
  • Don’t vaccinate sick animals or those who have been exposed to disease.
  • Don’t vaccinate if your pooch is undergoing glucocorticoid therapy.
  • Don’t administer drugs, flea preventive, heartworm preventive or wormers.
  • Don’t give any vaccines to a female dog who is “in season”, pregnant or lactating.
  • Don’t vaccinate if your dog is suffering from tumors, heart or kidney disease.

(Dr. S.S. Patil is Ph.D. Scholar at Centre of Advanced Studies in Animal Nutrition, K.B. Korel is a Ph.D. Scholar at Division of Animal Nutrition while P.P. Mirajkar is M.V.Sc Scholar at Division of LES at Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar)