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How old should a puppy be when it is first vaccinated?

Updated on April 12, 2012

Dogs are typically vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper, coronavirus, rabies, kennel cough, Lyme disease, leptospirosis and canine adenovirus. Vaccination is the only way by which dog owners can ensure that the pet is protected from diseases that can maim the pet for life or worst cause the life of the pet. Dogs are wonderful creatures. Dogs are highly valued pets because of the difference they make to humans’ lives. To provide the pet with protection against diseases, it is the responsibility of the owner to know when the pet has to be vaccinated.

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When should you vaccinate your dog?

A dog can be vaccinated for the first time as late as four months of age. This commonly happens to adopted dogs. Without any records of vaccination, the new owner would have no other choice but to have the adopted pet vaccinated. Ideally, the first vaccination must be given to puppies at six to eight weeks of age. The puppy will receive a DA2PP vaccine which is for distemper, for adenovirus (type 1 and 2), parainfluenza and for parvovirus. Every 3 to 4 weeks, the puppy will receive booster shots. The final DA2PP vaccination will be given when the puppy is 14 to 16 weeks of age. By this time, the puppy will also receive its first vaccination for rabies.

Importance of the vaccination protocol for puppies

Puppies are born with Maternally Derived Antibodies. This is the natural immunity that protects the puppies against diseases. The mother’s antibodies are transferred to the unborn puppies through the placenta. When the puppies are born another infusion of antibodies will be received when the puppies nurse for the first two days after being born. The colostrums or the special milk the mother dog produces is very rich in antibodies. This temporary immunity will be depleted in time. The level of protection provided by this natural immunity will vary from puppy to puppy. Puppies that receive more colostrum will have longer immunity as compared to puppies that for some reasons were able to nurse only limited amount of colostrums. The natural immunity will wane rapidly and is believed to be depleted 16 to 20 weeks after the puppies were born thus artificial antibodies in the form of vaccinations will be administered.

Are vaccinated puppies totally free from disease?

Actually, no. There are situations when the vaccine introduced will fail to generate a response from the puppy’s immune system. A puppy that received core vaccination will still contract the disease. After the shot is administered, the puppy will not receive immunity at once. It would take about a week before the vaccine becomes effective. This is the reason why the vet would tell the pet parent to refrain from exposing the pet to other dogs as during this time the puppy would still be susceptible to diseases. Puppies are not vaccinated right after they are born as the natural antibodies will block out the vaccines so that no antibodies will be produced. The amount of natural immunity received by the puppy cannot be ascertained thus a shot may be ineffective if the level of natural immunity is still high.

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