Vaccinations help protect your puppy against diseases, many of which can be life-threatening for non-vaccinated dogs.
At 6 weeks of age, your puppy is old enough to receive his first set of vaccinations against some of these diseases. According to the American Animal Hospital Associations Canine Task Force (AAHACTF) there are different categories of canine vaccines including core vaccines, which are considered essential and non-core vaccines, which are optional and dependent upon environmental factors.
Core vaccines include distemper, rabies, hepatitis and parvovirus while non-core vaccines include parainfluenza, corona virus and bordetella.
Canine Distemper: Distemper is an airborne disease that most commonly affects young puppies. It is highly contagious with a high fatality rate for dogs that become infected. The canine distemper vaccination may be included in a combination vaccine or given separately.
Canine Hepatitis: Canine hepatitis is a potentially fatal viral disease. It most commonly afflicts young puppies that have not been vaccinated during their first set of vaccinations at 6 weeks of age. Canine hepatitis vaccines can be administered separately or given in a combination shot.
Rabies: Rabies is a disease that affects warm blooded animals including dogs and humans. Rabies vaccinations are important because they prevent the potential spread of the disease from an infected dog to a human, if bitten. In most states, a yearly rabies vaccine is required for all pets. This vaccine is typically administered by itself rather than as part of a combination vaccine.
Canine Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus is a severe viral disease that is highly contagious. Parvovirus is highly resistant to many disinfectants making the virus difficult to kill and can be spread from infected feces into soil where it can infect unvaccinated dogs. The parvovirus vaccine is generally given at six weeks as part of a combination vaccine, though it may be given individually as well.
Canine Parainfluenza: Parainfluenza is a respiratory disease that causes infectious tracheobronchitis and upper respiratory disease. The canine parainfluenza vaccine is not considered a core vaccine by the AAHACTF; however, it is often included in a combination vaccine during the puppies first shots at 6 weeks of age.
Canine Corona virus: Corona virus is a disease that attacks the intestinal tract of dogs. Corona virus vaccines are not considered core vaccines and are often only administered to dogs in regions where the virus is considered a threat.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica: The Bordetella vaccination helps prevent the contraction of the bacterial illness Canine Upper Respiratory Disease Complex, more commonly known as kennel cough. Bordetella vaccinations are not considered a core vaccine by the AAHACTF so they may not be administered during the six week vaccinations. If your puppy will frequently be around multiple dogs, such as at dog kennels for boarding or dog shows, you should consider the bordetella vaccination to prevent it from contracting this contagious illness.