Frequently Asked Dog Shot Questions

Giving your dog a shot is vital to his overall health and well-being. Many owners have questions about the vaccinations their dog receives. Below are the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding dog vaccines.

How Many Vaccinations Does My Puppy Need?

A minimum of two parvovirus and distemper shots are given four weeks apart to puppies age three months and older. Rabies vaccinations are also required. Additional vaccines may be given at the advice of your veterinarian and may differ by your dog's location and exposure.

How Do Vaccines Work?

A vaccination contains a small amount of the virus. It stimulates the dog's immune system which builds antibodies to destroy it. This strengthens the dog's ability to fight off a more potent virus in the future.

Could a Vaccine Make My Dog Sick?

Vaccinations only include a small portion of the virus which does not cause illness. Vaccines, when given by a licensed professional, are safe. Some dogs may experience a reaction to the vaccine, however, severe reactions are rare. It is common for a dog to have a low-grade fever 24 to 48 hours after a vaccination. If you notice severe symptoms such as vomiting or swelling, contact your veterinarian. Remember, the risk of reaction is far less than the risk of disease.

If My Dog Has a Vaccine, Does that Mean He Will Never Get Sick?

Not necessarily. If a dog becomes ill with a virus even after being vaccinated it is called a "vaccine break" and can vary by dog. Steroids, maternal antibodies, or even a fever can cause a failure in the production of antibodies. A vaccine break can also occur if the vaccine was improperly handled or given to a dog under six weeks of age. Be sure your dog is healthy, of appropriate age and given a vaccination by a professional to reduce the risk of vaccine break.

How Often Should My Dog Be Vaccinated?

Your dog should receive an initial round of shots during puppy hood commonly known as "puppy shots." These include rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. After these shots are complete your dog should receive an annual booster of distemper, parvo and rabies. However, the American Animal Hospital Association recommends these boosters be given every three years. Regulations regarding rabies vaccinations vary by state. Additional vaccinations may be recommended by your veterinarian depending on your location and exposure. Additional vaccinations may also be required if your pet is regularly groomed or boarded.

Does My Dog only Need to Go to the Veterinarian for Vaccinations?

Just like humans, it is important for dogs to receive a wellness check-up once or twice annually. Prevention is the best way to guard your pet from illness and catch disease in it's early stages.

Can Tests Be Performed to See if My Dog Needs a Certain Vaccine?

Yes. These tests are called Titers. Titers measure your dog's antibody levels and determine if they are adequate enough to fight a disease. Your local veterinarian can provide information on the types of titer testing.