There are several life-threatening illnesses that can affect puppies, but most can be avoided simply through a process of vaccinations. Unfortunately, there is not one miracle injection to insure your puppy’s good health. As with humans, many of the vaccinations require booster shots to take care of immunity issues.
Generally, puppies are first vaccinated at the age of six weeks. Boosters are administered until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.
Although puppy vaccines can be purchased without a veterinary license, it is highly recommended that puppies be examined by a veterinarian before the vaccination process begins. An annual trip to the vet for booster shots is a good way to insure your pet’s health. This gives the Veterinarian a chance to diagnose and solve serious health problems that may not have otherwise been found.
There is a vaccine that veterinarians refer to as DHLPP. This is the first shot your puppy will receive. Once the booster shots are completed, you can begin to feel at ease because your puppy will be immune to the following serious diseases:
1. Canine distemper
Canine distemper is a viral disease that usually attacks dogs in the first four years of life. The disease is spread through the air and by contact with body fluids. Symptoms include a nasal discharge, a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, shivering, weight loss, fever, redness of the eyes and seizures. There is no specific treatment for the disease and the prognosis is poor. Seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your puppy has been in contact with another animal infected with distemper.
2. Canine Hepatitis
Infectious canine hepatitis, which is also known as canine adenovirus, is a virus that infects the liver and kidneys. The disease is spread through feces, urine, saliva, blood and the nasal discharge of infected dogs. Symptoms include loss of appetite, depression, fever, coughing and tenderness in the abdomen area. The disease can be fatal, but if caught early and treated, the puppy can recover.
3. Canine leptospirosis
Canine leptospirosis, which is a bacterium, can infect puppies and humans. The bacterium, a spiral-shaped parasite, reproduces in the puppy’s organs and can cause them to function abnormally. Left untreated, the disease can cause chronic liver and kidney failure. It can be fatal.
4. Canine parvovirus
There are two kinds of canine parvovirus – intestinal and cardiac. The intestinal form is the most common and infects puppies through contact with feces or infected dirt. Puppies are the most prone to the disease, which causes lethargy, violent vomiting and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Once ingested, the parvovirus reproduces in the lymphoid tissue in the throat before spreading to the bloodstream. The disease can be fatal, especially if not treated.
5. Canine parainfluenza
Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious but mild respiratory tract infection that is spread by contact with nasal secretions of infected dogs. Symptoms include a persistent cough that can lead to more serious illness.
The best way to protect a puppy is to establish a relationship with a veterinarian that you trust. Routine examinations and vaccinations can help insure a long and healthy life.