Vaccinating your puppy: unpacking the C5 vaccination and more


Dr Charlotte

20 Oct 2023

📖 Key Takeaways

  1. The C5 vaccination is crucial for your puppy, protecting against five common but severe diseases: Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus-2 (Hepatitis), Canine Parvovirus, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, and Canine Parainfluenza Virus.

  2. Your puppy should get a series of three C5 vaccinations at 6-8 weeks, 12-14 weeks, and 16-18 weeks of age to build a solid immunity foundation.

  3. Post puppyhood, maintain a regular vaccination schedule, either annually or every three years, based on your vet's advice.

  4. Other vaccinations to consider include those for Leptospirosis, Tetanus, Canine Coronavirus, and Rabies, tailored to your pup's lifestyle and your region's health guidelines.

  5. Socializing your puppy with other dogs is safe 7-10 days post the third vaccine, ensuring they're well-protected from infectious diseases during their playful encounters.

What diseases do vaccinations prevent?

Stepping into pet parenthood comes with its set of to-dos, and top of that list is getting your puppy vaccinated against some notorious culprits that can be life threatening. The C5 vaccination is your go-to guard against five unsavoury diseases:

  • Canine Distemper: A viral villain that messes with your dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. It can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and neurological signs. Severe cases can result in death.

  • Canine Adenovirus-2 (Canine Hepatitis): This one’s a liver lurker, bringing along a host of unpleasant symptoms such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and jaundice. It can be quite severe, and in some cases, it may be fatal.

  • Canine Parvovirus: Highly contagious, it’s got a knack for causing havoc in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration. Parvovirus can be deadly, especially in puppies and young dogs.

  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica: Associated with kennel cough, it’s a bacteria that loves to crash your dog’s respiratory system and is a contagious disease.

  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV): Another kennel cough companion, is a highly contagious respiratory virus that primarily affects dogs. It can cause symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, and mild respiratory distress.

What vaccinations should my puppy get?

The C5 vaccination is your pup's early defense against these. A C5 typically refers to a type of vaccination for dogs that protects against these five different diseases. The breakdown stands for Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus-2 (also known as Canine Hepatitis), and Canine Parvovirus. These diseases are highly contagious and can be potentially fatal for dogs. Bordetella Bronchiseptica & Canine Parainfluenza Virus.

When should my puppy get these vaccinations?

Timing’s a big deal with vaccinations. Here’s the general drill, though slight variations may pop up depending on your vet clinic:

  • Puppy Vaccination #1: At 6-8 weeks old, it's your pup’s first jab at building immunity.

  • Puppy Vaccination #2: Round two at 12-14 weeks of age to build those antibodies.

  • Puppy Vaccination #3: The round concludes at 16-18 weeks of age.

When’s social hour for my new pup?

Hold off the puppy playdates till 7-10 days post the third vaccine. Only after this final vaccination should your puppy be allowed to socialise with other dogs: until this time, your puppy should not be allowed outside your property unless carried. This also applies when bringing your puppy to and from the clinic: carry the puppy in and hold in on your lap while waiting for your appointment. If you have another dog, ensure its vaccinations are up to date.

Fetch will cover the cost of a vaccinatable disease, as long as your pet was fully vaccinated at the time of infection, and the infection was not pre-existing

A few other diseases to fend off:

There are a few other foes out there to consider depending on the prevalence in your area, if you are travelling and your veterinarian recommendations:

  • Leptospirosis: A bacterial disease that can affect dogs and other animals, as well as humans. It is caused by various strains of the Leptospira bacteria, and it is most commonly transmitted through contact with the urine of infected animals, contaminated water, or soil. Leptospirosis can have serious health consequences for dogs, so it's important for dog owners to be aware of the disease and take steps to prevent it. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans.

  • Tetanus: Tetanus is a potentially deadly bacterial infection caused by Clostridium tetani, which produces a toxin that affects the nervous system. Dogs can contract tetanus through wounds or injuries. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors and are more likely to get injured or have access to soil and contaminated materials are at a higher risk for tetanus such as working dogs, hunting dogs, dogs on farms or work sites.

  • Canine Coronavirus: there are two components to this virus:

    • the first part primarily affects the gastrointestinal system of dogs. It can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and mild gastrointestinal distress. While it can be uncomfortable for dogs, it is usually not fatal and is more common in puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems.

    • the second part primarily affects the respiratory system of dogs. It can lead to symptoms like coughing, nasal discharge, and mild respiratory distress. CRCoV is typically not as severe as other respiratory infections like canine influenza, but it can still cause discomfort.

      It's important to note that canine coronaviruses are different from the more well-known coronavirus that affected humans in the form of COVID-19.

  • Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals, including humans, and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Vaccinating dogs against rabies helps protect them from the disease and also prevents the potential transmission of rabies to humans, as dogs are one of the primary carriers of the virus. This is not a routine vaccination offered in Australia as we don’t have the viral disease rabies in Australia. We do however have bats in Australia that can carry a virus called lyssavirus which is related to the rabies virus. If your dog has been exposed to a bat, you should contact your veterinarian for vaccination options.

If you plan to travel internationally with your dog, you may need to adhere to specific vaccination requirements and quarantine regulations. Check with your veterinarian and the destination country's authorities for guidance.

Why do puppies need more vaccinations?

The need for 3 vaccines in puppies is because maternal antibodies i.e. those passed to the young animal in the colostrum (first milk), are temporary, and only protect the young animal for a short time. We do not know how much protection each mother has given each individual puppy - this depends on what vaccines the mother has been given over her life, and whether she has ever had the diseases herself. For example, if a mother dog has had parvovirus as a puppy, she will have a high level of naturally occurring antibodies to pass on to her pups. If she has never had the disease and has not been immunised regularly, she may not have many antibodies to pass on to her puppies. Likewise, if a pup has not had colostrum e.g. was not feeding well or not competing well for milk with the other litter mates, or the mother was sick and not producing much colostrum immediately after birth, he or she may not have obtained enough of the first milk to obtain any of the antibodies.

Over the first few weeks to months of the pups life, any maternal antibodies obtained via colostrum will slowly break down and cease to protect the puppy. We have to try and get the timing right to give vaccines at the right time so that they work and the puppy develops his or her own immunity; not too early so that the vaccine is inactivated by maternal antibodies, and not too late that the puppy has developed the disease - as these diseases can all be fatal.

Do I have to vaccinate my pet every year?

A triennial vaccination, also known as a three-year vaccination, is a type of vaccination protocol for dogs and cats that involves administering certain vaccines on a less frequent schedule compared to traditional annual vaccinations. This approach has gained popularity as research has shown that some vaccines provide protection for longer durations than initially believed, and annual vaccinations may not always be necessary. Triennial vaccinations are typically recommended for core vaccines, which are vaccines that protect against diseases that pose a significant risk to pets and are widely prevalent.

For dogs, the core vaccines often included in triennial vaccination protocols may include:

  1. Distemper, Parvovirus, and Adenovirus (DAP) Vaccine: Some DAP vaccines are labeled as three-year vaccines and provide protection against distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus (hepatitis).

It's important to note that not all vaccines are administered on a triennial schedule. Non-core vaccines, which are vaccines that protect against diseases that are region-specific or have a lower risk of exposure, may still be given on an annual basis or as recommended by your veterinarian based on the specific needs of your pet and the risk factors in your area.

Vaccination schedules should always be determined in consultation with a veterinarian who can assess your pet's individual risk factors, health status, and local disease prevalence to create a tailored vaccination plan.