Core Vaccines for Puppies - dummies

By Sarah Hodgson

Vaccines can help prevent numerous diseases in puppies. Many highly contagious bacteria and viruses can wreak havoc on a puppy’s internal system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, fever, and loss of appetite. Use vaccinations to guard against these diseases.

Your veterinarian will recommend many different vaccines for your puppy. Core vaccines are considered essential because the diseases they prevent are common and highly contagious. Other vaccines may be a good idea, too, depending where you live and what your puppy is exposed too.

Some people have concerns over vaccinations. Though most puppies can and do tolerate routine vaccinations, a few puppies cannot. These puppies get highly symptomatic, and — although extremely rare — a puppy may die from an intolerance of vaccinations. If you’re concerned about your puppy’s sensitivity, speak to your veterinarian about spacing out the timing of the vaccines.


This highly contagious and often deadly viral disease affects the lining of a puppy’s intestinal wall. Though puppies get a protective boost against this disease from their mother’s milk, your puppy will need three additional vaccinations.

Symptoms included vomiting, increasingly more severe diarrhea (yellow to yellow-gray, then tinged with blood), and overall depression. Although there is no medical “cure,” early supportive care is essential to a puppy’s survival.


Another potentially deadly virus, distemper passes through airborne discharge from coughing, sneezing, or bodily contact. It’s tricky to diagnose because the symptoms appear in stages. At first, a puppy may have a fever and loss of appetite, and then she may appear fine and healthy as the disease incubates for 6 to 9 days.

Strong symptoms appear a week or more later, including eye and nose discharge, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, walking and balance issues, and seizures. If the puppy is unable to fight the disease, it often causes brain swelling and can lead to death.

Canine hepatitis (Adenovirus type 1)

Canine hepatitis, a type of adenovirus, is a disease of the liver with symptoms similar to human hepatitis (though not transmittable to humans), and it can cause death. Symptoms included a fever, an enlarged liver, and coughing. Passed through stools and urine, this highly contagious disease gets lodged in the tonsils and can cause respiratory-track illnesses as well.


This viral disease is deadly and serious: It can be transmitted to humans and is prevalent everywhere. It is transmitted through saliva and bite wounds; animals with rabies are compelled to bite their victims.

Rabies enters the body, moves to the brain, where it incubates for a month or two and then causes disorientation, fever, personality changes (increased aggression and biting tendencies), and seizures. In its final stages, the infected animal enters a paralytic stage, can’t move its head or neck, froths at the mouth, and dies a horrid, suffering death. Vaccinate your pet today!