Dear New Puppy Owner,

Congratulations! That bouncy, energetic, lovable ball of fluff is now a member of your family. This is the start of a wonderful relationship that will provide both of you hours of companionship and devotion. I once read a quote that dogs make great friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. That new puppy will need a number of things during its first year. I’d like to cover vaccines and deworming.

Vaccines- Vaccines stimulate the immune system by providing either a killed or attenuated (weakened) version of disease-causing, microorganisms to the pet. The activated immune system is then able to protect the pet from the  possibly life-threatening version of these diseases.  The reasons puppies receive so many vaccines their first year are two-fold. One reason is to boost the immune system. By giving vaccines between 2 and 4 weeks apart, the immune response is enhanced. The second and most important reason puppies receive several rounds of vaccines is to time the moment when the individual puppy’s immune system is competent to respond to the vaccine. This time to respond to the vaccine. This time is different for every individual, but lies somewhere between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Prior to 6 weeks of age, antibodies from the mother circulate in the bloodstream of the puppy, protecting it from any disease for which the mother was protected, but also blocking any vaccine give to the puppy. That’s why any vaccine given before 6 weeks of age is useless. Since this maternal antibody wears off at different times for different puppies, we begin vaccinating at 6 to 8 weeks and continue every 3-4 weeks until 4 months of age. This will help ensure that vaccines are given at the critical moment when the puppy’s immune system can respond.   Please watch for the next posting about deworming. Randal Burris, DVM

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