The Immunity Dilemma


Most owners are understandably anxious to get their puppies out and about. After all, we love to show off the newest member of the family. Unfortunately, getting a puppy out too early can subject it to the dangers of contagious diseases before it is able to ward them off. William Young, D.V.M., owner of Chevington Animal Hospital in Pickerington, Ohio, advises his clients not to take their puppies places where other dogs frequent until their pup's vaccinations are complete, around 16 weeks of age. "Even though we start vaccinating a puppy at a few weeks of age, antibodies gained through the mother's milk interfere with their effectiveness. By the time the pup reaches 14 to 16 weeks of age, these antibodies have left its system, allowing immunity to take effect from the final vaccines."

Do yourself and your new puppy a favor, please leave him home until he is at least 16 weeks old. This includes taking the puppy for walks around the neighborhood or to friend's houses who also have dogs. People are always anxious to show off their new baby but have no idea of the jeopardy they are placing their new child in. Remember that adult dogs can be carriers of viruses or shed virus, yet look as healthy as normal as could be. The adult carrier/shedder has a strong adult system which fights off the bacteria, so he does not break out with a full blown case of the problem. Meanwhile, you have no idea that your's or your friend's adult dog is contaminating your new puppy. Precaution is much simpler than the work and expense of trying to save a puppy from one of the fatal viruses, besides that the puppy himself might loose his life. It just is not worth the risk. Keep your puppy home until he is at least 16 weeks old.

Even when going to the veterinarian's office for your vaccinations, there are certain precautions you may want to consider. Remember that a lot of sick dogs and puppies come in and out of the vet's office all day long. Since some of these sick dogs may have been infected with a virus, then your puppy can contract the same virus just by being exposed to the air in the waiting room. These are called air-borne viruses. Simply, your dog does not have to come in contact with the sick dog. It only has to breathe the air which the virus is living in. Now, your puppy is infected. The next question is, does your puppy have a strong enough immunity system built already to fight this off or will he, too, become affected. It is best to go into the vet's office to register that you are there for your appointment, then tell the receptionist that you will be waiting outside in your car. Please do not take the puppy for a walk all over the grass or parking lot. When called in for your turn, carry the puppy inside directly into the examination room and remember to bring a clean towel from home to put on the examination table and then put your puppy on your towel. Yes, the vet techs clean the table but there is a possibility that some of the germs from the prior client was missed or not destroyed. Do you really want to take that chance?

Don't forget that even when your puppy becomes an adult, you may want to consider waiting outside in the car. Some of the people who come to the vet's office have bad skin conditions which are contagious. Now, here you come into the reception waiting room with your dog, and have your dog sit exactly where another dog sat earlier that has a contagious skin problem. What do you think will be happening to your dog in the next two to three weeks? Think about it.


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