The best all around answer is based upon three factors: the age of the dog (or puppy), the area in which they live and how much contact they have with other dogs. Puppies obtain immunity from their mother’s milk (colostrum) but these antibodies only last the first few months. Plus, vaccines will not work while the mother’s antibodies are present: therefore the first vaccines should be given when the puppy is between 6-8 weeks of age. This vaccine is a combination of distemper, adenovirus Parainfluenza), parvovirus and, sometimes Leptospirosis. This is known as the DHLPP vaccine. This vaccine should be given and repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy reaches 20 weeks of age.
For dogs over the age of 20 weeks, the veterinarian will likely need to give regular “booster” shots depending upon the area you live in, the dog’s life style and the circumstances within your neighborhood. Rabies vaccine should be given as recommended by the local stage law.
Distemper: present in most areas of the United Stages and is hard to treat. And, even if the treatment is successful, it can cause long term health problems including pitting of the adult canine teeth and possible seizures.
Adenovirus 2: although not as common as it use to be, it is still a threat in many parts of the country. This virus causes a form of kennel cough but the vaccine can protect against hepatitis in dogs.
Leptospirosis: a type of bacterial infection. Although not common in many parts of the country, it would be the decision of your veterinarian whether this vaccine is necessary for your pet or not.
Parainfluenza: a respiratory disease that is mistaken for kennel cough. It is highly contagious which produces a dry, raspy cough and the dog may have trouble breathing.
Parvovirus: is the most common viral disease and is more common in puppies. It causes vomiting, listlessness and a very distinct bloody diarrhea.
Corona virus: a highly contagious virus that affects the intestinal tract of dogs and can affect older dogs as well as puppies. It causes a fever, listlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
Bordetella: also known as kennel cough. Also a bacterial infection, dogs that are boarding or show dogs are recommended to have the vaccine. It can be give either by an injection under the skin or intranasal (as drops).
All vaccines and their schedule will be determined by your veterinarian. If you have any question, please call your local veterinary hospital and speak to the veterinary assistant on duty.