Ensuring that your puppy completes his/her full vaccination schedule is of vital importance. Burrinjuck Labradoodles have had first-hand experience dealing with the catastrophic and deadly Parvo Virus and I can assure you, it is a cruel and devastating illness. Several years ago, one of our dogs, Baci came in contact with Canine Parvovirus. Baci was fully vaccinated so did not develop symptoms however she became a carrier and exposed each of her puppies.
When puppies are first born, our team are always anxious to get our babies suckling as soon as possible. Colostrum contains Maternal Derived Antibodies (MDA). It is crucial that new-born puppies have sufficient intake of colostrum in the first 15 hours after birth to avoid sickness and disease.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE VACCINATION SCHEDULE?
The effectiveness of the Puppy Vaccination Protocol depends on these MDA blood levels decreasing to an insufficient level. Whilst MDA can provide protection against disease, high levels of Maternal Derived Antibodies can also interfere with immunisation. In most puppies, antibody levels will decrease below an interference level around 8 to 12 weeks of age but it is likely that a small proportion of puppies will have MDA’ s that will last until 16–20 weeks of age
It might be expected that roughly 50% of puppies may be protected from disease upon receiving the 6 week vaccination. This percentage jumps to roughly 90% of puppies that become fully immunised at 12 weeks when they receive their second immunisation. However this still leaves a small percentage of puppies that remain not fully covered until they receive their 16 week vaccination.
What did this mean for Baci's puppies?
Baci was still periodically feeding her puppies and this was the likely cause of transmission . The puppies were approximately 7 weeks of age and had received their 6 week vaccination. Of the eight puppies exposed to the Parvo Virus, four puppies did not develop symptoms of the disease so I assume they were protected by the 6 week vaccine. Four of the puppies developed Parvo. Each Puppy that became sick, required quarantine and intensive care. Two puppies recovered with the best veterinary care and two puppies died, despite the same expert veterinary care.
It is also important to keep in mind that it may be 7 -10 days post-immunisation before the vaccine becomes effective.
THE 16 WEEK VACCINATION BOOSTER IS REQUIRED TO ENSURE YOUR PUPPY HAS FULL IMMUNITY AGAINST CANINE DISTEMPER, CANINE PARVOVIRUS AND CANINE ADENOVIRUS
Puppies should be given a 6 week vaccination. It is usual for a second vaccination to be given at 12 weeks and a third vaccination to be offered at 16 weeks. Your puppy will not need to be vaccinated again for another 12 months. During adulthood, it may be an option to switch to a Tri-Annual Vaccination every three years.
It's a balancing act.
In the past, vaccinations were considered a simple part of animal care, but they are now considered a complex and controversial issue. While safe in the majority of cases, vaccines have been associated with adverse events and therefore it is prudent to reduce the vaccine load on puppies and dogs provided this does not increase the risk of disease. It is not a one size fits all situation.
Seek Veterinary Advice
The vaccination protocol to be followed and the vaccines to be used should be determined within a veterinarian–client–patient relationship. The decision should be determined by factors such as the individual animal’s health status, the animal’s age and likely effects of maternally derived antibodies (MDA) and environmental risks to the animal.
Suggestions to Minimise the Risk of Disease.
It is recommended to minimise contact between your puppy and other dogs until your puppy has reached 16 weeks of age. It is also advisable to refrain from putting your puppy on the ground out in public. In particular, avoid dog parks and public spaces where there is a high likelihood that other dogs may have visited the area. Your puppy does not have to be exposed to an infected dog directly. Parvovirus is present in faeces matter and in the dirt. It is believed that the spores can remain active for years – literally! Parvovirus can be carried by possums, foxes and other vermin as well as dogs.
The challenge for all puppy owners is to find a solution to the dilemma that the 16 week isolation period coincides with a 16 week “window of opportunity” for socialisation and learning. The first 16 weeks is believed to be a time where your puppy develops a blue print for what is safe in the world. Early exposure to a wide variety of environmental noises, sights, smells, and experiences appears to be crucial to a well-adjusted puppy.
You can still take your puppy out and about but minimise the contact with the ground. You can carry your puppy or transport your dog using some other arrangement. I have heard stories of people using baskets, prams, shopping trolleys and baby carriers. I am sure there are many more creative options out there and I would love to hear your suggestions.