|Pit Bull - Photo by maplegirlie|
Most veterinarians recommend beginning vaccinating your Pit Bull at around eight weeks of age and continuing every four weeks until around eighteen weeks old. Vaccination against rabies is now a legal requirement for all dog owners. Rabies can be transmitted easily to humans, and there is no cure for the disease once it is contracted. The rabies vaccine is usually given to Pit Bulls at around twelve weeks old, with a booster at one year, then every two years after that.
Many vets also recommend a distemper combination vaccine beginning at six weeks of age and continuing every four weeks until the Pit Bull is around eighteen weeks old. This one vaccine can be used to prevent five different diseases: distemper, parvo, influenza, adenovirus, and coronavirus. Distemper is very contagious and affects the respiratory and nervous systems. It can cause many problems, including fever, coughing, diarrhea, seizures, and even possible death. Parvo and coronavirus are more severe in puppies but can affect dogs of any age. These two diseases usually occur in conjunction with each other and can cause weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly death. Influenza and adenovirus cause a dry hacking cough that can lead to more serious infections, such as pneumonia.
Some owners choose to also vaccinate their Pit Bulls against Lyme disease, the first dose usually given at around twelve weeks old. The second dose is given around three weeks after the first, and a booster is needed once a year thereafter. Lyme disease can affect the joints, heart, kidneys, and brain if left untreated.
It is important that you limit your Pit Bull puppy’s contact with other dogs until he has received all of his vaccines to prevent him from getting sick. Occasionally serious side effects from the vaccines may occur, but it is well worth the risk to protect your new Pit Bull from all of these potentially deadly diseases. Annual boosters should be given in a timely manner to ensure your dog will continue to be adequately protected throughout his lifetime. For some vaccines, there are three-year boosters now available, but they are not recommended for use until the dog is an adult.