First Steps in Puppy Care

What should be the first step in my puppy care?
Take the puppy to your vet if you have not already done. He will do a complete physical examination and give you a report about the condition of the pup and some useful hints on feeding and immunisation.

Is it necessary to have vaccination shots for every puppy?
Yes. Formerly, we used to give vaccination only for rabies which is a deadly zoonotic disease. This was more to protect human beings against this disease rather than the dog. In either case, rabies immunisation is a must. But now, there many more diseases prevalent in our country which are deadly if not maim the dog permanently. Unfortunately, all these diseases were 'brought' from abroad during the course of importing dogs to our country. Thanks to the poor quarantine measures we have! These include hepatitis, leptospirosis, distemper and a host of other diseases. For convenience, a brief schedule of vaccination is given below.

Rabies vaccine:

2-3 months (1st dose)
After 3 months (booster dose)
Re-vaccination (every year)

Obtain a vaccination certificate from your vet on rabies immunisation. You may need to produce it for statutory mandates, as the case may be. Thus, you become compliant to rabies eradication programme of the Government.

Polyvalent vaccine

7-9 weeks (1st dose)
After 3 weeks (Booster dose)
Re-vaccination (Every year)

Note: Polyvalent vaccine requires 2 booster injections to build maximum immunity in breeds like Rottweiler & Doberman as they have increased susceptibility to parvo and can be given an extra vaccine at 6 months.

Polyvalent vaccine is to protect the dog from distemper, parvovirus, infectious larygiotracheitis, hepatitis, para-influenza and leptospira. These vaccines are generally known as "7in1" vaccine in common 'kennel parlance'.

Maintenance of cold chain is important so that the vaccine will retain its potency. A 'cold chain' means that the vaccine should be under refrigeration from the production till it is used. So you should buy such products from reputed outlets. You can carry a thermal flask if you are buying vaccines by yourself. Often, the vet will carry the vaccine with him when he comes for giving the shot.

Does he ever have to be immunised again after "permanent vaccination"?
Yes. The word permanent is actually a misnomer. A word like 'more durable' or 'long lasting' would have been a better word to describe them.

Are the vaccines 100% effective?
Almost yes if the procedure is strictly followed. In some rare cases, some dogs will not develop the desired level of immunity. It is often described as 'dog failed' to take the vaccine. The animal may be under treatment with steroids or very weak when it was given the vaccine. There are similar conditions in human beings as well. Only clinically healthy animals under good nutritional condition should be given the vaccine. The vaccinated animal should not be subjected to severe training programme or strenuous exercise regime after vaccination.

Do these shots protect the puppy immediately?
No. Usually it takes two weeks for the immunity to develop to the desired level. Hence, pup should not be exposed to possible source of infection during this period.

Once the dog develops immunity can he ever lose the immunity?
In certain circumstances it can happen - like shock, malnutrition, debilitating diseases, severe parasitism, an accident etc. But in these conditions, the immunity is not lost completely, it is only weakened.

Do all dogs need anti-rabies vaccine?
For sure. Any dog either in the city or in the village needs anti-rabies vaccine. Dogs should certainly be protected against rabies since it is a deadly disease and there is no treatment for it. Usually, it is transmitted by the bite of another rabid dog. Apart from dogs, any bite from a carnivorous animal like cats, foxes and jackal suffering from rabies can produce rabies. All warm blooded animals are susceptible to rabies. In South America, vampire bats are carriers of this disease and they bite cattle. Hence, they use anti-rabies vaccine to protect them. But in India they are not yet reported.

How long will a dog live if it contracts rabies?
He may show symptoms of rabies and will die within a period of one week.

Should I keep a record of all the shots given?
Yes. Each time when your dog is given a shot, record the date, type of injection and the kind of vaccine used. Often, vaccine manufacturers give sticker along with the vials/ampules that can be affixed on the vaccination sheet. Your vet or a good dealer of vaccines will provide you with one.

"Money will buy a pretty good dog, but won't buy the wag of its tail"- Josh Billings

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