The age group that is most susceptible to potentially fatal viruses and diseases is young puppies. For this reason, puppies are typically given a series of combined vaccines over a period of up to four months of age. The vaccinations begin at six weeks of age and are given every two to three weeks, continuing until the shepherd is fourteen to sixteen weeks old.
The frequency with which your puppy receives his vaccinations will depend on the risk of specific diseases in your area. Vaccinations are usually finished by the time the puppy is fourteen to sixteen weeks old; however, your veterinarian may choose to give your shepherd one additional vaccination. Some research indicates that the German shepherd may not be able to produce the necessary antibodies to fight off disease until a later age.
A little outdoor play will help dull the sting of a vaccination.
Initially, antibodies are passed on to the puppies through the mother. The mother's antibodies may stop protecting the puppy as early as six weeks of age. The moment this happens, the puppy is susceptible to several fatal diseases. At this point, the puppy should receive his first set of vaccinations. If his mother's antibodies are no longer circulating in his body, the vaccination will cause his body to react and produce its own antibodies.
If the puppy still has antibodies from his mother, the vaccination won't work. This is why puppies receive a series of vaccinations. The veterinarian has no way of knowing when the puppy is susceptible to disease, so by giving the vaccinations every few weeks, she is hoping to catch the puppy as soon as he is receptive to the vaccinations.
An adopted adult dog will usually receive two doses of the combined vaccine, rather than the entire series of combined vaccinations as a puppy would. Most adult dogs receive their vaccinations every one to three years, depending on the type of vaccination used and for what diseases.
The puppy's series of vaccines include canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, and canine influenza. These vaccines are usually bundled together as a combined vaccination, so your shepherd will only have to undergo one needle prick instead of four. When your puppy is between fourteen and sixteen weeks old, he will receive an individual rabies vaccination, followed by a rabies booster shot at one year of age.
Adults receive only one dose of the combined vaccination. These vaccines were previously developed for annual use. In 2004, however, a combination vaccination became available that is proven to protect the dog for three years. If there is no information on when your adopted adult received his last rabies vaccination, he will need to get one. Depending on where you live, your shepherd may be required to receive additional rabies vaccinations annually or every three years.
Core vaccinations are those that protect your shepherd from diseases that are known to be highly contagious and life threatening. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, your veterinarian will recommend that these vaccinations be given every three years. But your veterinarian may strongly recommend that your shepherd receive additional vaccines, too.
The vaccine for bordetella (kennel cough) is required if you plan to board your dog at a commercial facility. It is also highly recommended if you travel with your dog or attend events where large groups of dogs are present. If you live near bodies of water such as rivers, streams, creeks, or lakes and you spend time with your dog outside, your veterinarian may recommend a vaccination to prevent the protozoan giardia from infesting your shepherd. For those living on working farms, or who might visit with their working shepherds, the leptospirosis vaccination may be recommended. Dogs may become infected with leptospirosis if they are exposed to stagnant water, come in contact with wild animal or cattle urine, or eat food that has been contaminated by rats carrying the disease.
Some dogs have adverse reactions to vaccinations, ranging from minor discomfort to anaphylaxis. Watch your shepherd carefully after he receives a vaccination and see your veterinarian immediately if you notice any swelling, redness, or tenderness, or an abscess at the site of the injection. Possible reactions that require urgent care include tremors, seizures, and swelling around the throat, face, and tongue.
A tickborne disease that is spreading across the United States is Lyme disease. Currently, dogs in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic region, Midwest, and even some states in the Southwest are at risk of coming in contact with ticks infected with this disease. These ticks are tiny, and very often owners never even realize that their dogs have been bitten. Lyme disease is serious. If not prevented through vaccines or treated immediately after infection, it can cause lasting side effects.