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  • Writer's pictureLeilani Nichols

Understanding Puppy Vaccines

Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting and joyful experience. However, it's important to ensure your puppy's health and well-being by providing them with the right vaccinations. In this blog post, we'll break down the concept of puppy vaccine series, titers, and immunity in simple terms, so you can make informed decisions about your new furry family member's health. We'll also touch on some common concerns regarding specific vaccines and the vaccination schedule followed by a responsible breeder.


Before diving into the specifics of puppy vaccines, it's essential to acknowledge the crucial role of passive immunity provided by the mother dog. Puppies are born with underdeveloped immune systems, making them vulnerable to various infections. Mother dogs, through their milk, pass on vital antibodies that offer temporary protection against diseases they have encountered or been vaccinated against. This passive immunity is a valuable gift from mom and helps protect puppies during their first weeks of life.


However, there's a delicate balance when it comes to passive immunity. While it offers protection early on, it can interfere with the effectiveness of vaccinations if it lingers too long. That's why the timing of vaccines begins when it does. The puppy vaccine series commences at around six weeks of age, as the passive immunity from the mother gradually wanes. This timing ensures that the vaccines can stimulate the puppy's immune system to create its antibodies, providing long-lasting protection as the passive immunity fades away. It's a carefully orchestrated process that helps puppies transition from their mother's protection to building their immunity independently, setting them on a path to a healthy and robust life.


The Vaccine We Use


We vaccinate using the Spectra 5 vaccine. This combination vaccine is designed to provide comprehensive protection by immunizing puppies against five important threats: Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, and Coronavirus. These diseases can be highly contagious and pose significant risks to young dogs. The Spectra 5 vaccine not only simplifies the vaccination process but also ensures that your puppy receives a well-rounded defense against these potential health hazards. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best vaccination protocol for your specific puppy.


Dispelling the Myth: Breeder's Vaccines vs. Veterinarian's Vaccines


It's a common misconception that vaccines administered by breeders might be less effective than those given by veterinarians. However, this assumption overlooks an essential factor: the qualifications and expertise of the person delivering the vaccines. Certified veterinary technicians, like breeders who possess this credential, undergo extensive training in animal health and care. They are well-equipped to properly handle and administer vaccinations, ensuring they are as effective as those administered by veterinarians. What truly matters is the knowledge, experience, and adherence to proper vaccination protocols, which can be found in both qualified breeders and veterinarians. My degree in animal science and certification in the state of Oregon as a Certified Veterinary Technician after passing the rigorous testing of the national board exam more than qualifies me to administer puppy vaccinations. I worked for several years in the field and have emergency, anesthesia, surgery, etc. experience under my belt.


Titers: Measuring Immunity


After completing the initial puppy vaccine series, some owners wonder if their pets need booster shots. Instead of automatically revaccinating, veterinarians can measure a dog's immunity through blood tests called titers. Titers determine the level of antibodies present in your pup's system against specific diseases. If the titer levels are sufficient, revaccination may not be necessary. Titer tests are often much more expensive than the vaccines themselves, so many owners opt to complete the vaccine series rather than test immunity.


The Increasing Strength of Immunity Titers with Each Booster


Immunity titers, those valuable blood tests that measure the level of antibodies in your pet's system, often show an interesting trend with each booster shot. When your dog receives a vaccine, whether it's part of their initial puppy series or a booster later in life, their immune system responds by producing more antibodies against the targeted disease. These antibodies serve as the body's memory of the pathogen, providing a defense mechanism if the dog encounters the disease in the future. With each subsequent booster shot, the antibody levels in the bloodstream tend to increase, indicating a stronger and more robust immune response. This gradual rise in titers illustrates the body's growing ability to fend off the disease, offering your furry friend better protection and a higher chance of staying healthy in the face of potential threats. It's a testament to the effectiveness of vaccines in fortifying your pet's immune system over time. We hope this helps explain the science behind booster vaccines to puppy homes.


Specific Concerns: Lepto and Unnecessary Vaccines


While vaccines are essential, it's important to be aware of specific concerns. Leptospirosis vaccines have been associated with seizures in small dogs in rare cases. Your veterinarian can help assess the risk and decide if this vaccine is necessary for your puppy. We do not vaccinate young puppies with Lepto while in our care to avoid the risk of seizure.


Additionally, some vaccines, like rattlesnake vaccines, may not be required for all dogs. Discuss the necessity of such vaccines with your vet, considering your pup's lifestyle and location. The risk of a vaccine reaction may not outweigh the reward if your dog doesn't live a lifestyle at risk of encountering certain things.


Breeder's Vaccination Schedule


A responsible breeder will ensure that your puppy receives proper vaccinations during their care. They typically follow a schedule that includes vaccinations at 6, 8, and 10 weeks of age. This schedule helps build immunity gradually and provides protection against common diseases that puppies may encounter.


Understanding the importance of a puppy's vaccine series, titers, and immunity is vital for your furry friend's health. While vaccines protect against life-threatening diseases, it's essential to consult with your veterinarian about specific concerns and the necessity of certain vaccines. Responsible breeders play a crucial role in ensuring your puppy's health and safety, with a well-planned vaccination schedule. By working together with your vet and breeder, you can provide your new pup with the best possible start in life.




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