NOTE: This page has recommendations and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory.
We vaccinate our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks with Canine Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus - Modified Live Vaccine.
We give a total of 3 puppy shots. It is extremely important that all puppies receive a vaccination after 16 weeks of age. If you get a puppy from a breeder who began shots early at 6 weeks then 9 weeks and then 12 weeks you need to do a fourth puppy shot at 16 weeks of age. Studies have shown that the 16 week shot gives the highest protection against the parvovirus.
Puppy shots given too early can have numerous side effects. Puppies are protected while nursing from their mother's antibodies and these antibodies will neutralize the vaccine.
I also recommend that breeders need to give their own puppy shots to their puppies versus using a veterinarian. Young puppies can be exposed to many viruses with a trip to the Vet's office. Once a puppy is old enough to be placed in their forever home a trip to the Vet's office for a health certificate is my preferred route. Also make sure the puppy is microchipped prior to getting a health certificate so the certificate can state the microchip number on it for permanent identification. This protects everyone involved...the breeder...the Vet giving the health certificate...and the new puppy owner!
At 6 months of age we add the rabies vaccination. When we give the 2nd rabies vaccination around 18 months of age our vet certifies our rabies vaccination for 3 years. Never give the rabies vaccination at the same time as another vaccination is being given...it can throw their immune system into overdrive and cause a reaction or cause autoimmune disease.
Yearly Booster Shot
At 1 year of age we give another puppy shot as a booster and this is the end of our giving yearly booster shots. If your vet insists on yearly booster shots you can request titers against specific canine infectious agents such as distemper and/or parvovirus. Titers are a bit more expensive, but over vaccinating can lead to autoimmune disease.
Once this booster is given studies show the duration of immunity anywhere from 8 - 15 years and most likely lifetime. Titer testing will keep you up to date on whether your dog needs to be reimmunized.
I do not recommend vaccinating bitches during their heat cycle, pregnancy or during the lactation period when a dam is nursing a litter of puppies.
We do not vaccinate for Leptospirosis. When you take your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy to the vet for additional puppy shots be sure and ask your vet prior to the shot given if the shot contains Leptospirosis.
Some vets may only keep puppy shots that contain Lepto, so this may be a question you want to ask when you are making your appointment that way you can call several vets if needed in order to find one that will give you a shot that carries only the items listed above in the first paragraph like we give here at Cruisin Cavaliers.
Some vets may also try to tell you that they will be better protected...there are only about 2 or 3 cases a year reported in the United States, but adverse reactions to the Lepto is numerous.
Vets deal with reps that come into their clinics and sell their drugs to them and like all of us they are going to get the shot that is the least expensive on their end in order to make the most profit.
While prevention is good...too much can also be harmful!
(Additional information on Leptospirosis is located further down on this page under our List of Vaccines)
We do not give puppy shots that contain the Coronavirus (killed vaccine) because this virus only affects puppies less than 6 weeks of age and the efficiancy of the vaccine is questionnable.
This is another item to check with your vet about during your first phone call to set up your first appointment. I personally will continue to avoid this item in my puppy shots.
While prevention is good...too much can also be harmful!
(Additional information on Corona is located further down on this page under our List of Vaccines)
We vaccinate our show dogs for kennel cough (Bordetella Bronchiseptica) using the vaccine versus the nasal. The vaccine must be given 2 weeks prior to being exposed so if your dog is going to take a training class or something where they might be exposed to other dogs I recommend having your dog vaccinated against kennel cough two weeks prior to when your dog will be out and about.
We avoid the nasal injection, which is commonly used by vets if you do not request the shot vaccine method. We used the nasal injection on a litter of puppies back when we first began breeding. We were trying to do everything we could to protect our puppies prior to placement. We gave the injections at 8 weeks and by 9 weeks the entire litter came down with kennel cough. We will never use the nasal injection again!
(Additional information on kennel cough is located further down on this page under our List of Vaccines)
Deworming is not a vaccination, but I like to include it on this page. We deworm our puppies at 2, 4, 6, 9, 12 and 16 weeks of age with Pyrantel.
Depending on where your puppy goes potty...your own backyard will always be the safest, but if you live in an apartment or attend locations where multiple dogs have eliminated then deworming may be something you will need to do from time to time. If your puppy/dog has diareah for longer than 24 hours and you have not changed their food then I recommend either taking your dog to the vet so your vet can retrieve a stool sample or you can use a zip-lock bag...turn the bag inside out and use it like a glove to pick up a sample then carefully turn the bag the correct way and zip it shut. Take the stool sample to your vet and it should cost under $15 for the testing. I try to keep my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels away from the vet office as much as possible since some health issues are airborn.
Coccidea is a very common issue with puppies of any breed. This bacteria is found in ALL dogs, but as they mature they establish a resistance to the bacteria. When puppies go to their new homes the change can sometimes cause them enough stress for the bacteria to emerge and will cause diareah. If left untreated they will eventually have blood in their stool and will become weak and often times refuse to eat. You will need to take your puppy to the vet or take a stool sample in a zip-lock bag for your vet to determine if this bacteria is the cause. If this is the cause of the diareah your vet will also need your dog's weight in order to prescribe a liquid medication called Albon. The first dose will be larger than the remaining doses. It is usually prescribed for 10 days and given once a day. It is yellow in color and your puppy will love the taste of it. After the first dose you will see dramatic improvement within 24 hours and stools will be normal again within a day or two. Do not stop the medication prior to the prescribed time your vet recommends as it will return again and could become resistant to the Albon the next time around.
Depending on your area of the country your vet will advise you on heartworm prevention. I have mixed feelings on this topic. Heartworms have been around for decades and 30 years ago I question how dogs still lived a full life without the medication and now they need it. I think outside dogs who drink water outside that is not fresh water given each morning will have the biggest chance of getting heartworms. Mesquitoes lay eggs in water during the night and if water is not emptied and refilled daily then I think your chances of acquiring heartworms goes up. Luckily, we rarely see mesquitoes at our house...I close the doggy door at dusk and empty the outside water bowl and use the bowl to collect all the toys scattered in the yard and bring everything in the house each evening. I then put the water bowl back outside on the patio the next morning with fresh water for that day. I test my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels every 6 months, but I do not give heartworm medication since it is another form of pestiside. You will need to discuss this with your vet and do whatever you feel is right for you and your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
List of Vaccines
Bordetella Bronchiseptica: is a highly communicable bacterium that causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough (see below). There are both injectable and nasal spray vaccines available. I recommend only using the injectable (shot version) of the vaccine and not the nasal vaccine. Many times the nasal vaccine can cause a mild case of kennel cough to appear especially in puppies.
Canine Distemper: is a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous system of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (dogs), wild canids, raccoons, skunks, and other animals. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching paralysis, and, oftem, death. There is no specific drug for the virus--the symptoms can be alleviated, giving the dog's immune system a chance to fight it off.
Canine Hepatitis: is a disease of the liver caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to severe depression, vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.
Canine Parainfluenza: is one of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough (see below).
Corona Virus: is a virus that usually affects puppies less than 6 weeks of age and it affects the gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a puppy hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but there is no drug that kills corona viruses. It is a rare disease; the TAMU has seen only 1 case in 7 years. The efficiency of the vaccine is questionable.
Heartworm: Though there is no vaccine for this condition, it is preventable with regular medication. The name is descriptive--these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long and, if clumped together, block and injure organs. A new infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (dogs) may tire after mild exercise. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease is treatable if caught early. You can either treat with monthly medication or you can have your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel tested every 6 months.
Kennel Cough: also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial viral, or other infections (see bordetella and canine parainfluenza), and often involves multiple infections simultaneously. Usually the disease is mild and self-limiting, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing, sometimes severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite, but in rare cases it can kill. It is easily spread between Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (dogs) kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels and shows. Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (dog) more comfortable.
Leptospirosis: unlike most diseases on this list, is caused by bacteria, and sometimes evinces no symptoms at all. When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and depression, stiffness, muscle pain, or infertility. Antibiotics are effective, but the sooner they are given, the better. There are only 2 or 3 cases reported each year here in the United States so it is not as common as one might think.
Lyme Disease: unlike the famous "bull's eye" rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (dogs). Instead, an infected Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (dog) often starts limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature rises, and he stops eating. The disease can affect his heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months even years later.
Parvovirus: attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (dog) within 48 to 72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. There is no cure, so keeping the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (dog) hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.
Rabies: is a virus that invades the central nervous system, causing headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise death is highly likely. Most states require rabies vaccination at set intervals (every one to five years). Check with your vet about local rabies vaccination laws.