Ajo Veterinary Clinic uses the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners for our vaccination protocols. These call for using only the core vaccinations unless you are in an endemic area for some of the regional diseases.
For Puppies, their first vaccinations should be a combination vaccine for distemper, parvo and hepatitis, given between 6 and 8 weeks of age and be boostered every 3 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks of age. This is the time they are most susceptible to these frequently fatal diseases.
Puppies usually get some protection from their mother’s first milk, called colostrums. In the first day of a puppy’s life, it can absorb antibodies from this milk through it’s intestinal wall. This ability is lost within a few days. So a puppy that is strong and nurses well, and early, from a mother with a high level of antibodies may get enough of what we call maternal antibodies to protect it up to about 16 weeks of age. Most puppies don’t get this ideal protection and they become susceptible to Parvo and distemper between 8 and 12 weeks of age. The presence of a high level of maternal antibody prevents the vaccination from taking affect so that is the reason for the boosters early in life.
In dogs starting vaccinations over 16 weeks of age only two vaccinations three weeks apart gives most of them a good level of protection. They are boostered again after a year and then only once every three years.
It is possible to draw antibody titers to check the levels of antibodies and use these to determine when boosters are needed. There are many variables that affect this, the animals’ vaccine history, age, and general health. Street exposure to animals carrying, and shedding parvo and distemper virus can booster an immune animal. As pets age they do become more susceptible to diseases that they could resist when young.
The first rabies vaccination is given between 12 and 16 weeks of age and boostered in a year, after that it can be given every three years.