How mom's immunity and puppy vaccines work:
During a puppy’s first 12 hours of life, the newborns intestinal tract allows antibodies in colostrum (milk) to pass into the bloodstream and thus start protecting it from the diseases that its mother is protected from. As the puppy grows up, maternal antibodies break down until they are no longer present in the pup.
While a puppy’s maternal antibodies are high, they neutralize viruses such as canine parvovirus and canine distemper virus. This keeps the pup safe from these potentially fatal diseases. However, this same neutralization also blocks vaccines so the puppy will not able to be immunized.
A pup’s maternal antibodies can disappear as early as a few days after birth to as late as 18 weeks of age and in some cases later! In fact, maternal antibody interference is one of the most common causes of vaccine failure in puppies! We usually give pups multiple doses of vaccine every three to 4 weeks during puppyhood because we don’t know when their maternal antibodies will wear off. So, we don’t know for sure if or when a vaccine will be effective.
To be sure your pup’s vaccines have worked you can do something called titer testing, 2 weeks after the last vaccine. This should give you a good indication if the vaccine has been effective and your puppy has good coverage.
Some vet clinics can do this in house as opposed to sending out. The fee for this is much cheaper if they can do it in house. My vet clinic charges about $60.00. Something to consider.Titer Testing
My Recommended Vaccination Schedule:
I do not believe in overwhelming a puppy’s immune system with too many vaccines at one time. This is becoming a more common practice at vet. clinics also, called vaccine splitting. I recommend the core vaccine DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitus, Parvovirus & Parainfluenza) be given at 3 different intervals (8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks) I ask that you don’t vaccinate with other vaccines when giving this one as it has 4 different viruses in it. Have your puppy boostered one year after their last DHPP vaccine. Then you might choose to titer test after that. I have done this with my dogs and all have required the one year booster. But after that booster have never required another distemper or parvo vaccine. The recommended titer testing is every 3 years, which I follow.
If you choose to do Leptospirosis, Lyme, Bordetella (kennel cough) please spread these out by 2 weeks to allow the puppy’s immune system to adjust, and to give one at a time at a separate visit, remember the DHPP vaccine which is one needle has 4 vaccines in it and please don’t vaccinate your puppy if it is sick or has diarrhea as the immune system is already weakened.
I also recommend rabies after 3 months of age on a separate visit.
I have 2 different vet. clinics that I use and both will vaccine split. You are charged for the DHPP vaccine and visit but in 2 wks. when you go back for the lepto or lyme (should you choose to give it) you are only charged for the vaccine itself. As well as the Rabies vaccine, only the vaccine. Another issue about giving all vaccines in one visit is if your puppy has a bad reaction you won't know to which vaccine and how to approach that vaccine in the future. Leptospirosis and Rabies can be reactive.
Your vet visits/vaccine schedule would look like this:
8 wks. – 1st DHPP vaccine (given by me)
10 wks. – lepto. or lyme (not both together should you decide to give these) decide which is more relavant to your area. We don't see alot of lepto. but we have alot of ticks.
12 wks. - 2nd DHPP vaccine
14 wks. – lepto or lyme (not both together)
16 wks. - 3 rd DHPP vaccine
18 wks. – Rabies
From what I understand the lyme vaccine does not prevent your dog from getting lyme, it just helps if your dog gets lyme. Therefore I would put the puppy on something that prevents lyme, like k9 Advantix which also prevents other bug bites not just ticks and fleas, like mosquitos (heartworm).
Bordetella (kennel cough) give separately if needed. Like the flu vaccine it only covers certain strains, so won't necessarily stop your dog from getting it. Depends on the strain.
When at the vet’s office try to keep your pup from coming in contact with other pets and keep it off the floor. If you can carry your puppy in and out of the vets office and property this is even better until it has its complete puppy vaccines (16 weeks of age). You do not know what other dogs are in the clinic for.
I do believe in puppy kindergarten after the 12 wk. DHPP vaccine. There are always risks until the puppy is fully vaccinated but not socializing your puppy can have a lasting effect also, not in a good way. I recommend dealing with a private dog training facility (not a big pet store), I would be happy to discuss this with you and make some recommendations for your area.
UNTIL YOUR PUPPY RECEIVES ITS FINAL DHPP VACCINATION, KEEP IT AWAY FROM OTHER DOGS and other places where dogs frequent (dog parks, groomers, doggy daycares, pet stores, boarding facilities etc.) This will be at about 16 weeks of age. Also it takes approximately 1 week from the time the puppy has its last vaccine for it to be fully immunized.
To be certain the DHPP vaccine has been effective and your puppy has coverage you can have your puppy titer tested (some vets. can do this in house for about 60.00).
Do have your pup/dog checked for heartworm/lyme disease in the spring and put him on preventative medication.
Understand that you know some things that your vet doesn’t. He/She is the expert on canine medicine; you are the expert on your dog and what is and is not normal behavior for your dog. Trust your instincts.
Worms & parasites: As puppies can get worms and parasites easily (round worm, coccidia, giardia etc.) I have a protocol of treating my litters at 3 different intervals for worms and parasites before they leave for their new homes. Treating for worms and parasites is an ongoing issue and it is up to you to treat as well once the puppy goes home and to have stools checked regularly.
It is usually recommended by your vet. too bring in a stool sample to your first vet. visit.
How do puppies get worms and parasites? Puppies get worms and parasites from poop, their mother, the environment ie. outside, fields, streams, dog parks, other dogs etc. Adult dogs can have these but their immune systems can tolerate it. Puppies have weaker immune systems and even after treatment some parasites can lay dormant until the puppy is under stress, like moving to the family room in my home, weaning, vaccinations, new home etc., then it can flare up. It can present as diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. It is recommended that should this happen you should see your vet.
Should we always treat for parasites? Here is an excerpt from Dr. Emmanuelle Fontaine – Royal Canin
"Giardia and coccidian are protozoan, frequently associated with diarrhea and GI upset in puppies.
However, their presence does not necessarily mean there is a problem, especially if the puppies have no clinical signs of GI upset at all.
In spite of its high prevalence, Giardia is not systematically associated with digestive disorders, and infected dogs are described as healthy carriers. The appearance of clinical signs depends on the animal’s immune response, the parasite load and the presence of associated infectious agents (Parvovirus, Coccidia, etc.). Giardia is a parasite that is very common in breeding facilities and some studies mention“ it is virtually present in all kennels”. However, it is not systematically responsible for digestive disorders.
Same goes for Coccidia. The treatment decision depends on two elements: the number of coccidian found in the feces and the clinical status of the animal. Fecal examination results must always be associated with clinical data. If there are no digestive signs associated, treatment is unnecessary and may even be counter-productive. The abuse of anti-coccidia treatment can slow down or prevent the development of natural immunity.
What prevails in a test is the way it is interpreted: your veterinarian will take the decision of treating or not based on the combination of the test results and the clinical data available for the individual as well as for your kennel."
"Internal Parasites - Cranberry Hill Veterinary Hospital
Giardia - Cranberry Hill Veterinary Hospital
Coccidiosis - Cranberry Hill Veterinary Hospital
Have your vet. check the stool for worms/parasites a couple of times a year; be sure to bring a stool sample when you bring your dog in for its annual vaccinations. Treat if necessary.
Why do puppies get diarrhea? There are many reasons; change in environment, new home, poop eating, food, too many treats, too many different foods/treats, water, vaccinations, flea and tick medication (Nexguard, Bravecto etc.) stress, parasites, worms, eating everything outside and inside etc. and sometimes things that are more serious.
You can try adding a teaspoon of canned pumpkin (not the pie filling) to each meal to see if it helps with diarrhea. You should be adding a probiotic daily to your puppy’s food for the first couple of weeks, this will help. You can get Purina probiotic from your vet. I always keep a box on hand.
Diarrhea Home Remedies- Dr Karen Becker
Home Made Tick Powder - Dogs Naturally Magazine
Lyme Disease Prevention - Dogs Naturally Magazine
Early Spay & Neuter
I myself like many breeders and some vets. prefer to let large breed dogs mature before taking the sex hormones away (spaying or neutering). I have in my pet contract that males are not neutered before 18 months of age and that females go through one heat and aren't spayed before 15 months of age. The growth plates typically close at about 18 months of age in the golden retriever. The larger the breed the longer the growth plates take to close. Here are some articles on why we should let them mature (orthopedics/cancer) and also cover some behaviour myths.
Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete by Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACVSMRLong-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs by Laura J. Sanborn, M.S.Are There Behavior Changes When Dogs Are Spayed or Neutered? by Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSCThe Truth About Spaying & Neutering - by Dr. Karen Becker video (25 mins long)
Back to "Puppy Basics"