Vaccine Fine Print (Not Another Argument)

ask a vet, online vet, online vet reviews, dog vaccinesWhile many pet owners are becoming more concerned about which vaccines they should let their vet give their pets (and you can read our take on that here) , one message they may not be clear on when they leave the vet’s office is.

Just because your new puppy got his first vaccines does not mean he is protected.

We have excellent vaccines available in veterinary medicine to help protect against many infectious diseases.

But they take time to work.

There is a period before a puppy or kitten reaches 16 weeks of age where their immune system switches from antibodies from the mother and their own. During this switchover, they essentially have no protection and are at risk for serious illness.

This is nothing to make light of. Many states have recently reported an increase of both canine parvovirus, as well as deadly distemper. Both diseases have a great vaccine, but unfortunately not every dog is vaccinated and many pets suffer because of it.

Look at parvovirus for example. Parvovirus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting and most often affects puppies, however unprotected adult dogs can contract the virus as well. During a parvo infection, the virus attacks the body’s rapidly dividing cells–the cells lining the GI system and the bone marrow cells. When a dog gets infected with parvovirus, the vomiting and diarrhea can be so severe that bacteria can seep right through the GI walls and the immune system won’t have the necessary white blood cells to fight the infection. Bad news.

ask a vet, online vet, online vet reviews, dog vaccinesThe real trouble is that the time when a puppy is most susceptible to parvovirus, among other dangerous and deadly bugs, is the same time your puppy needs intense socialization. Puppies need to interact with other people and puppies to learn their boundaries and begin to learn how to be an obedient well-mannered canine citizen.

This means avoiding places where your puppy is at risk to contract one of these dangerous viruses. Think the dog park is a great place to take your new puppy? Wrong. It is one of the worst. Even scarier: live in an apartment complex? You shouldn’t risk even walking your puppy there until they are FULLY vaccinated and protected against these diseases.

Some places to avoid?

Dog trails, parks (both dog and the regular human variety), doggie daycare, groomers, kennels, pet stores (a huge source of infection), and dog training in public places where you can’t be certain of all the dogs the trainer has allowed on the location.

Where can you take your puppy to socialize without the risk of disease?

  • Friends and family with fully-vaccinated adult dogs. Invite the crew over for a play date, or if you are certain their home is disease free, bring your puppy to their house and score bonus points for new people, new dog, and a new environment.
  • As long as your own back yard is free of strange dogs and you haven’t had a sick dog on your property for over 6 months, it’s a great place to begin leash work and have fun play sessions.
  • Take your new pup for car rides. This is the perfect time to acclimate him or her to vehicles without it signaling a vet visit.
  • To a cat owner’s house if everyone is up for it!

It may seem rather limiting and inconvenient, but it really is for only a brief period of time. Remember, if you have questions about your dog or cat’s vaccines, ask a vet to help pick out the best protocol for your pet. It should be customized and based on your individual pet’s risks versus benefit.

Has your dog or puppy ever caught a disease you suspect they picked up from a public place?

Dr. Jed

Online Vet Dr. Jed Schaible Signature

Pet Health Questions?  Meet Dr. Jed Schaible VMD

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February 17, 2011 at 22:55

J.D. brought clostridium from the park once. Other than that, we did good.

When he was little we went for walks to areas where people usually don’t go.

February 19, 2011 at 14:44

Wow Jana, a Rottie with Clostridium could be quite a scare and mess. Hope he recovered quickly and that no one else became ill.

February 19, 2011 at 15:09

We caught it early, since I’m obsessed with stool quality and all those things. So it wasn’t all that bad. Jasmine got a touch of it too, but we were already prepared knowing that she could get it also.

So all together it wasn’t much of a horror at all.

April 24, 2011 at 04:24

This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic.