The Importance of Puppy Vaccines
Shih Tzu puppies need a series of vaccinations in the first year of life to protect them from harmful canine viruses. Shih Tzu puppies typically receive vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until they’re approximately 16 to 18 weeks old. A year later booster shots are given.
After the first year dogs typically receive a booster either yearly or every three years depending on what vaccine was given. Booster vaccines are given every 3 to 4 weeks because nobody knows for certain when viral immunity takes place. Often antibodies from nursing prevent immunity. This is why shots are given in a series spaced apart.
Most veterinarians recommend that Shih Tzu puppy vaccinations begin somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks. As a Shih Tzu Breeder, I typically take my puppies in for their first set of shots somewhere between week 8 and 9. I like to wait until they’re a bit older for two reasons.
First, by waiting the puppies have time to put on some weight. Shih Tzu puppies don’t weigh very much. I like a little weight on them to hopefully help lessen vaccine reactions. Second, the longer I wait to administer the vaccine, the more likely that Mom’s antibodies from nursing have left and immunity will take place.
The first vaccine that puppies receive is usually the DHPP vaccine. The DHPP vaccine protects puppies from Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. This is a core vaccine that is critical in preventing illness in puppies. If you’ve read through my website you know my thoughts on Parvovirus.
Unfortunately, Parvovirus outbreaks are common in Arizona and may cause fatalities in young puppies. Parvovirus is a very hearty virus that survives for along time in the environment. Distemper outbreaks happen from time to time as well. There was recently a distemper outbreak at a shelter in Arizona. All of these viruses are heartbreaking but are avoidable if pet owners keep their dogs on a vaccination schedule.
The Rabies vaccine is also given to puppies around 16 to 18 weeks of age. All dogs in Arizona must receive the Rabies vaccine to meet law requirements. A dog typically contracts Rabies by being bitten by another animal that has the virus. Animals that contract Rabies often suffer from mental confusion, aggression and foaming at the mouth in later stages of the illness. Most of the times Rabies is fatal. There is currently no cure for Rabies in dogs. Vaccination is key to preventing this terrible illness.
Bordatella is an optional vaccine that is essential in preventing Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough is often seen in outbreaks in places where there are a lot of dogs. Most boarding facilities require that dogs receive a vaccine to prevent Kennel Cough before staying at their facility to avoid outbreaks. The Bordatella vaccine can be given through the nose, mouth, or injection. One dose is typically given per year. Most dogs recover from Kennel Cough but it can be lethal in rare cases.
Leptospirosis is another noncore vaccination. Leptospirosis can lead to serious disease such as kidney and liver failure. Your dog’s lifestyle is a key factor when deciding whether or not to get the Leptospirosis vaccine. If your dog will be hiking, swimming, chasing rodents or spending time in close proximity to a pond or farm then the vaccine may be a good idea.
On a side note, the vaccine doesn’t come without risks. There are sometimes moderate to severe vaccine reactions when dogs receive the Leptospirosis vaccine. Furthermore, the vaccine doesn’t protect against every strain of Leptospirosis. As a result, the vaccine doesn’t always prevent infection. It is important to talk to your veterinarian about whether or not the Leptospirosis vaccine is right for your Shih Tzu puppy.
Lyme Disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Humans and dogs are both susceptible to Lyme Disease. Dogs often come in contact with the bacteria through tick bites. The vaccine is optional. If your dog will be spending a great deal of time in an area where deers are common this vaccine may be appropriate. Lyme disease can lead to serious health implications in your dog. The vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective but will hopefully lessen symptoms.
A a responsible Shih Tzu Breeder, I suggest that your Shih Tzu puppy receives all core vaccinations in a timely manner. Core vaccinations are truly lifesaving for your Shih Tzu puppy. Viral outbreaks are common among dogs in Arizona. It is important that your Shih Tzu puppy receives adequate protection.
Noncore vaccinations are also something to consider. I suggest educating yourself on the pros and cons of noncore vaccines. Your dog’s lifestyle should play a part in decision making. Your veterinarian is a great resource for discussing which noncore vaccinations may be right for your Shih Tzu puppy.