Puppies are little bundles of joy and it’s important to get them started off right! Most vets recommend a series of basic shots for young pups, starting at about six to seven weeks and then again around 12 and 16 weeks. Which shots your puppy will need and exactly when will depend partly on where in the country you live, what breed of dog you own, and what individual risk factors your particular pup may have. Make sure to check with your vet as soon as you get your new puppy.
Many vets consider the core shots necessary to protect your new friend to be vaccines for parvovirus, canine distemper, hepatitis, and rabies (which is usually given at the end of the series). Do check with your state laws as well regarding rabies. This is the one vaccination that is usually required by law. Other factors, such as location and if you travel frequently, show or board your dogs, or live in an area with tick problems, might indicate that other shots be given as well, including lyme, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and bordetella. Your local vet will know if any of these are appropriate.
Most puppies come through their series of vaccinations just fine, but do be aware of possible side effects and keep a close eye on your pup after each shot. Normal symptoms would include being slightly tired or a little uncomfortable, but severe weakness, trouble breathing, staggering, swelling or hives, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, or diarrhea warrant a call to your vet ASAP.
One of the biggest concerns among new puppy owners is when can they take their pups out. Socialization is very important for puppies, and according to many experts, the best time for this is, unfortunately, right during the series of vaccinations. Talk to your vet about your plans and when they feel it is safe. Dog parks and big, open areas where other dogs may be done their business is out of the question until the series is finished. But there are now many other opportunities to safely get your puppy out and about. Many places offer Puppy Socialization and Puppy Training classes. Check them out first and make sure the place is clean and well supervised, but these are great options. If you have friends with dogs that you know have been vaccinated, you can invite them over for some supervised play, as long as the dogs are not too big or aggressive. Supervision and knowing that any dog coming in contact with your puppy has been vaccinated are the keys. On the flip side, don’t be too afraid and keep your pup isolated. One of the biggest reasons dogs end up in shelters is that they are not well socialized. Just use common sense and you should be fine!
Enjoy that new puppy!