When should I have my puppy vaccinated?

April 13, 2012

Puppies are cute, cuddly and adorable. Puppies are really hard to resist. However, puppies are not toys that can be placed on top of a dresser once you get tired of paying. Bringing home a puppy is the easy part. Making sure that the essential needs of the puppy are provided is the hard part. Responsible owners would take the time to know what must be done to ensure the well being of the new pet. A dog owner has to educate himself/herself about the responsibilities entailed in getting a dog for a pet. A puppy owner has to be aware that aside from the basic needs, the pet would need medical care throughout its lifetime. Regular physical exams form a part of the dog’s lifelong maintenance. This lifelong maintenance would start with vaccinations. Vaccination is the introduction of attenuated or weakened bacteria or virus that causes a particular disease. Once harmless virus or bacteria is introduced, it will trigger a production of antibodies that will boost up the dog’s immune system so that the dog will be protected against bacterial and viral attack.

When it comes to the prevention of canine diseases, vaccinations are the puppy’s best friends. Puppies are extremely vulnerable to disease because of their undeveloped immune system. It is absolutely necessary for a puppy to nurse from the mother dog after it was born. For 24 hours after giving birth, the mother dog will secrete special milk that transfers her antibodies to the puppies. The colostrums are antibody-rich milk that provides the dog temporary protection against diseases. The duration of the protection will depend on the amount of antibodies transferred by the mother dog to the puppies. Unvaccinated dogs will not be able to transfer antibodies to the litter. Generally, the temporary protection obtained from the colostrums will start to wane when the puppies are in the process of weaning. At four weeks of age the puppies will start to need to need outside protection. Immunizations are necessary before the puppies are exposed to disease causing agents. At 4 to 5 weeks puppies are generally weaned and taking in solid food. However, dog experts advise against taking the puppy to a new home at this age. Puppies would need to learn socialization from the mother and the littermates.

Initial vaccination has to be done at 5 to 6 weeks of age. This means that the first vaccinations have to be done while the puppy is still with the breeder. The series of vaccinations that is usually given every 2 to 3 weeks is called DHLPP. This combined injection will immunize the puppy against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza. As the second vaccination is given when the puppy is around 6 to 7 weeks old before the puppy is taken to a new home, the vaccination may still be made possible by the breeder. This vaccination will lessen the stress the puppy will feel from being parted from the mother and the littermates. Additional vaccination for parvovirus is commonly given when the dog is 16 to 18 weeks of age. At 3 to 6 months, the puppy will receive vaccination for rabies.

It is possible that the breeder has not taken the trouble to have the puppy vaccinated. Puppies adopted from shelters may come without vaccination records. It is very important to arrange an appointment with a vet for the puppy’s complete check up and first vaccination before the pet is taken home. Bringing home an unhealthy puppy will very hard on the children that usually fall in love with the puppy at first glance.

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