Mandatory dog vaccines: What are they and when to put them?

Vaccination against the main infectious diseases is the best prevention. Vaccines for dogs can be classified as compulsory and optional, although this may vary depending on the geographical location. It is important a good state of health of the dog and a mature immune system.

Puppies are usually vaccinated after 12 weeks or even earlier. Normally, when you buy a puppy, it is usually delivered with the health card and at least the first dose of vaccine. A puppy that is not vaccinated should not have any contact with other dogs, to avoid the spread of infections. Depending on the race, geographical area in which we live, the dog’s usefulness (company, beauty contests, etc.), the type of vaccine will vary.
On the other hand, after dog vaccines, a decrease in cell-mediated T-cell immunity and a transient state of immunosuppression have been described. Despite this, dogs are still vaccinated with live polyvalent vaccines and in general no serious diseases occur. This is supported by data provided by a study conducted on the immune system and vaccines, since the response to vaccination seems to only create a state of alteration of homeostasis when protection is demanded from cellular and humoral immunity. Therefore, vaccines should be applied in completely healthy animals and strictly follow the recommendations.

Vaccination calendar in dogs
Mandatory vaccines in dogs protect against canine distemper virus and parvovirus and rabies. Optional vaccines protect against leptospirosis, parainfluenza, kennel cough caused by bordetella, Lyme disease and coronavirus. Vaccination against leishmaniasis is also optional.
A vaccine that is optional in one country may be mandatory in another in which the disease is common.

This is the basic vaccination schedule for dogs in Spain:

  • At 6 weeks: Primovaccination or first vaccine.
  • At 8 weeks: Polyvalent.
  • At 12 weeks: Reminder of the Polyvalent.
  • At 16 weeks: Rabies.
  • Annually: Reminder of the Polyvalent and Rabies.

The most common vaccines are trivalent, tetravalent or polyvalent. The trivalent vaccine usually contains vaccines against canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis and leptospirosis. The tetravalent vaccine contains the same as the trivalent vaccine and the vaccine against canine parvovirus is added. The most basic polyvalent vaccine, in addition to carrying what the previous ones contain, also has the vaccine against the cough of the kennels and against the canine coronavirus.
Vaccines for dogs, against what do they protect?

The most widely used polyvalent vaccines are:

  • Pentavalent that immunizes against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and cough of kennels), parvovirus and parainfluenza.
  • Hexavalent that immunizes against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and cough of the kennels), 2 strains that cause leptospirosis and parvovirus.
  • Octovalente that immunizes against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2 (hepatitis and cough of the kennels), 2 strains that cause leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and coronavirus.

In the case of parvovirus the problem is that 1-2 weeks after 6 weeks, maternal immunity is still powerful enough to inactivate these vaccines, but is unable to effectively protect against parvovirus infection. Hence the special need to protect puppies through other strategies, such as immunonutrition because puppies, due to the immaturity of their immune system have special dietary needs.
As for rabies, vaccines in dogs make the animal create an immune response against the virus. The dog is protected 14 days after the injection of the vaccine. If it has been correctly administered, its effectiveness is 100%. The first administration of the vaccine lasts for 1 year. Vaccinating puppies under 12 weeks of age is not effective, since maternal antibodies counteract the effect.