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Puppy Vaccines 101

When deciding on the right time to take your puppy outside, it is helpful to include some knowledge about how vaccines work in your decision-making process.

Puppies typically receive multiple injections with the same type of vaccine starting at age 6-8 weeks. Puppy vaccinations are repeated every three to four weeks until 16 weeks of age.

The initial vaccine primes the immune system to make lots of antibodies in response when the puppy is vaccinated again against the same virus. That is why vaccines are called boosters—they boost the immune system.

Puppies already have some protection from antibodies found in their mother’s milk; however, these maternal antibodies also interfere with vaccines. Maternal antibodies start to decrease in a puppy’s body at different rates, and we have no way of knowing when those maternal antibodies decrease enough to allow the vaccines to start to work.

This is why puppies must be vaccinated multiple times and aren’t considered protected until they receive all their boosters by 16 weeks of age.

In order to protect your puppy against contagious diseases, the following precautions are recommended in puppies younger than 16 weeks of age:

  • Get all vaccines as recommended by your veterinarian.

  • Avoid taking your puppy to places where other dogs frequent, such as dog parks and pet stores.

  • Carry your puppy in and out of veterinary hospitals. Veterinary staff take every precaution to protect your puppy from infectious disease, but sometimes sick dogs can still contaminate floors, furniture and rest areas in a hospital before the personnel can disinfect the area. Be safe and carry your puppy.

  • Avoid letting your puppy sniff animal feces while walking, and do not let your puppy interact with dogs with an unknown vaccination history.

  • Make sure other dogs in your household are current on vaccines.

  • Allow your puppy access to a fenced yard. If your neighbors have dogs, let them know you have a new puppy that is not fully vaccinated.


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