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If an adult stray has come into your life, and you're unsure about his vaccine history, the only vaccine required by law in the United States is rabies. When young, getting a series of vaccines plays a vital role in a puppy's overall health. Once they're adults, however, opinions vary.
The Puppy Series
Generally, puppies start their vaccine series when they're around 6 weeks old. Research concludes, this is when the natural immunities from their mother’s milk begins to decline. A combination of vaccines is given approximately every three weeks, until the puppy is about 16 weeks old. Certain breeds, such as rottweilers, tend to have a lower resistance to the parvovirus. For breeds with special concerns, veterinarians often recommend they get a parvovirus booster at 20 weeks of age.
What's in the Vaccines?
Whether puppy or adult, the most common vaccines given to dogs include the canine distemper virus, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus and borrelia, which is for Lyme disease. The combination of vaccines given varies depending on the area of the country. However, the core vaccines considered vital to a dog’s health are distemper, parvo, hepatitis and rabies. Core vaccines are categorized based on the severity of the disease, risk of exposure and how easily it's transmitted to other dogs as well as humans.
The Adult Series
A dog is consider an adult when he is 12 months or older. If he has gone unvaccinated, or his vaccine history is unknown, giving him so-called puppy shots is fine because the vaccines are the same. The combination in which they are given, or how often is the only variant. Once a dog has been vaccinated, the continuing protocol for adult dogs has veterinarians basically divided into three categories. Those who think vaccines should be given annually. Those who think every three years is best, and those who think it’s OK to go longer or not at all depending on the circumstance.
The American Animal Hospital Association divides vaccines into three categories. These are core vaccines, noncore vaccines and not recommended. Not recommended doesn't imply the vaccine is dangerous; it’s based upon the virus rarely being fatal and responding well to treatment. The corona vaccine is in this category. Noncore vaccines including Bordetella, commonly known as kennel cough, leptospirosis and Lyme disease. These are given when the risk of exposure is high. For example, dogs who board frequently should be immunized for kennel cough. Hunting dogs have a high risk of leptospirosis, and Lyme disease is prevalent in areas with large deer populations.