As soon as puppies are born and start nursing, they get natural immunity from their mother’s milk that protects them from most diseases. The mother’s milk contains colostrum which is passed on to the puppies within the first 48 hours after birth. The puppies have this immunity for the first 5-6 weeks of their lives. Puppies in general obtain different amounts of colostrum from their mother. The amount of immunity they get from the colostrum also varies with each puppy. The immunity that these puppies get, even in the same litter, wears off at different times.
That is why it is so important that immediately after the 5-6 weeks after birth you start vaccinating your puppy to protect him against diseases. Talk to your veterinarian about your puppy and discuss what type of vaccinations he should start getting. Your veterinarian will recommend a series of vaccinations. Some puppies carry the immunity they get from their mother beyond their 5-6weeks of age, so any shots they get against distemper, parvo virus or other diseases will have no effect on them.
However, after the 5-6weeks after birth, this immunity has already worn off from other puppies. These puppies will definitely need the immunization shots to protect them against any diseases. It is so important then to repeat some of these vaccinations several weeks apart to ensure that your puppy continues to be protected against all diseases. You need to realize though, that puppies who start getting their shots at an early age can still get deadly diseases like parvovirus.
There are certain essential vaccines that all puppies should get. These are canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis and respiratory disease), canine parvovirus-2 and rabies. Other vaccinations for diseases such as bordetella, canine parinfluenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis and lyme are optional. Some of these shots are not necessary for all puppies and are not very effective. For instance, lyme disease vaccines are only given in certain parts of the country. Whereas, coronavirus is mostly given to very young puppies as the older puppies are not easily affected by this virus.
The question is, at what age should you start vaccinating your puppy? This is debatable as there are some people who are unsure as to what age to begin. Some people who believe that their puppies may have a high risk of catching the parvo disease start at 5 weeks old and there are others who start at 9 weeks old. One schedule that you can use is to begin your puppy’s vaccinations at 5 weeks old, then again between 6-9 weeks old and thereafter between 12-16 weeks old. Most people prefer to give their puppies their rabies shot between 12-16 weeks, but preferably separate from other shots, because they disrupt their immune system.
Vaccinations are given at different periods, once a year, every two years and every three years. Each of these vaccinations provides your dog with immunity for over one year. You should discuss with your veterinarian what type of vaccinations are necessary for your dog and which are the ones that he should get during these periods.
Remember that it is very important that you keep your dog’s vaccinations schedule up to date. This is the best way for you to make sure that you have a healthy dog.