Dog Vaccinations

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Puppy and Dog Vaccination Schedule and Recommendations

Our recommendations follow the guidelines of the Vaccination Guideline Group (VGG) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). These guidelines incorporate the latest research regarding safety and duration of immunity (DOA). Vaccines are broken into essential (core), as needed (non-core), and those not recommended. Guidelines are revised as new information evolves and can be found at

Basic vaccination guidelines for puppies include a single Rabies vaccine between 12 and 16 weeks of age and a series of two to three DA2PP (distemper, adenovirus (aka hepatitis), parainfluenza, and parvo) vaccines given at 3 to 4 week intervals between 7 and 18 weeks of age. Rabies and DA2PP are considered essential (core) vaccines.  They should be administered again in a year and every three years thereafter. In Connecticut Lyme vaccine is perhaps equally important due to the high prevalence of Lyme disease. Other non-core vaccines should also be considered, such as Bordetella, Leptospirosis, and Influenza. Vaccine recommendations are individualized and based on factors like chance of exposure breed and individual history of your pet. Rabies vaccination is required by law.

Rabies: An acute infectious fatal disease of mammals. Dogs and cats are highly susceptible. The disease can be transmitted to human beings, usually by a bite from an infected animal. The disease attacks the central nervous system and may result in erratic behavior, and is always followed by paralysis and death. It is extremely important to note the following:

  • Information and requirements are the same for both dogs and cats
  • Vaccination is required by state law
  • We cannot treat dogs or cats that are not kept immunized for rabies because of insurance liability
  • Under state law any animal, which has a bite wound of unknown origin, must be revaccinated if the animal’s last vaccination was over thirty days before
  • Three year certificates can not be issued under state law without proof of previous vaccination. You must have the certificate, tags are not acceptable

Rabies vaccinations are given at or soon after 12 weeks, one year later, and then every three years.

If your pet is not current on vaccinations and comes in contact with a rabid animal state law requires a 6 month quarantine at a state approved facility or euthanasia.

DA2PP: Also known as Distemper shots, puppy shots, booster shots.  These are all different names that refer to the same thing. This “shot” refers to the standard mixture of virus protection given by most veterinarians worldwide and recommended by WSAVA.  These include:

Distemper (CDV): A severe viral infection causing pneumonia, enteritis and/or seizures, usually fatal. Has nothing to so with behavior or temperament.

Hepatitis (CAV-1, adenovirus): A viral liver infection well controlled in the US but found in fox in Canada and Mexico and there was a recent outbreak in dogs in Mass.

Parvovirus (CPV): Causes a frequently fatal form of diarrhea – we see it a lot!

Parainfluenza: A virus causing upper respiratory and lung infections. This virus vaccine can be given via injection or as nose drops combined with Bordetella.

NOTE: None of the above viruses in DA2PP are dangerous to humans. No vaccine is 100% effective. Standard procedure is to vaccinate at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, one year later, and then every three years. Immunity can be blocked by maternally derived antibodies (MDA) in some puppies up until 16 weeks of age.

Leptospirosis: A bacteria causing liver and kidney infection. Vaccinate at 12, and 16 weeks, and then annually thereafter.

Lyme: A bacteria transmitted by ticks that originated in Connecticut and has become very common. Vaccination works best in young puppies that have not been exposed to the organism that causes the disease. Begin with two vaccines two weeks apart starting at 12 to 16 weeks of age, and then annually.

Bordetella: A vaccine administered via nose drops, that helps prevent or lessens the symptoms of tracheobronchitis, better known as “kennel cough”. It is equivalent to the common cold in people. Our brand also protects against parainfluenza. This vaccine is required by most boarding kennels. Vaccinate annually.

Influenza (CIV): Causes a severe lung infection and is highly contagious. Mandatory to board your dog in certain kennels that have had outbreaks of this disease and seen what it can do. Vaccinate with two shots 2-4 weeks apart then annually.

Other vaccines against Corona virus, snake bite, and oral melanoma are available but not recommended.

What to expect after your pet’s vaccination :

Occasionally  your pet may experience some or all of the following mild side effects – usually starting within hours of vaccination and typically lasting no longer than a few days. If these side effects last longer than a few days give us a call.

  • Discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site
  • Mild fever
  • Diminished appetite and activity
  • Sneezing or other respiratory signs (following intranasal vaccine)

A small swelling under the skin can develop at a vaccination site and should disappear in a couple of weeks. If it persists for a month, or grows in size give us a call.  More serious but rare side effects, such as facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, difficulty breathing and collapse can be life threatening and you should bring your pet in immediately as your pet may require urgent care.