Unvaccinated dogs can easily become ill from diseases such as distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis. Shots are essential to protecting your puppy's health, but since puppies receive a series of shots two to four weeks apart it can be hard to know just when your pal has gotten the immunity he needs. Seek your vet's guidance. You don't want to let your pup meet the world until it's safe.
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Puppy shots give your pet immunity to several doggy diseases that could otherwise make him seriously ill or kill him. When he's very young, your pup gets immunity from his mother. Vaccinations won't serve him as long as his mother's immunity lasts. Within a couple weeks, the mother's colostrum antibodies wear off and the puppy becomes vulnerable to all kinds of viruses and bacteria unless he gets his shots on time.
The exact time when puppies lose maternal immunity is different for every puppy, even within a litter. Giving puppies a series of shots instead of a single vaccination ensures that the antibodies vaccinations provide will do him some good. Boosters, or later rounds of shots, help to make the pup's immunity stronger as he grows so he is better able to fight off diseases he is exposed to.
Walking your pup may expose your puppy to various canine diseases, but at the same time it's important to socialize him so that he ends up as a secure, well-rounded adult. Take your pup for walks around your home but avoid areas where he's more likely to be exposed to other dogs. Don't ever let him come in contact with any dogs that have runny eyes, coughing, nasal discharge or other obvious signs of illness.
When It's Safe
To be sure your puppy is protected by his vaccinations, continue to walk him only at home until he has received his final puppy shot, usually at about 16 to 20 weeks of age. The Santa Barbara Humane Society recommends you wait at least five to seven days after that last shot before taking your pup for walks in areas frequented by lots of dogs.
By Cindy Quarters
Adelaide Animal Hospitals: Caring for Your New Puppy
The Oaks Veterinary Center: Dogs
Pet MD: Puppy Vaccinations
Santa Barbara Humane Society: Questions About Vaccinations
City of Rocky Mount, NC: Animal Control: Canine Illnesses
Sun Lakes Animal Clinic: The Importance of Booster Vaccinations
About the Author
A recipient of a business and technology degree from the master's program at West Coast University, Cindy Quarters has been writing professionally since 1984. Past experience as a veterinary technician and plenty of time gardening round out her interests. Quarters has had work featured in Radiance Magazine and the AKC Gazette.