You’ve bought a cosy new bed, the best quality food and adorable water bowls, all the toys you can buy and a collar and lead for your new family member. But have you thought about the most important thing of all, their vaccinations?
Getting your puppy vaccinated is the ultimate gift for them. A vaccine between 8 and 10 weeks, then a second injection just a few weeks after will give you peace of mind that your pup has the best chance of growing up happy and healthy. While we can't protect against everything, you'll be reassured that infectious diseases shouldn't be a problem for your puppy.
In this article we’ll be talking about all things puppy vaccination, including how long a puppy should wait between their vaccinations and how long after their vaccinations they can go outside.
What is a puppy vaccination?
Once your pup steps foot into the big wide world, they're at risk of contracting life-threatening diseases if they aren't properly protected. Puppies and young dogs have immature immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to these awful infectious diseases. Thankfully, vaccinations offer a high level of protection, and are easily accessible for most owners. A vaccination is a small immunological challenge, whereby a tiny amount of killed vaccine is administered into your dog's body, stimulating the cells to create a response to kill the virus.
These protective antibodies respond to any future infections, limiting the severity or preventing any infections. If your puppy meets the virus in the real world, they'll be ready and prepared to fight it off with ease.
When should a puppy be vaccinated?
In most puppies vaccinations are offered at between 8 and 10 weeks. Very young puppies have a certain level of protection from their mother's milk. This milk contains maternal antibodies that cover a young pup until they are old enough to be vaccinated. A full vaccination course usually requires two vaccinations, but depending on the age and the area you live in your pup may require a third to ensure full immunity. The first vaccine is usually given at 8-10 weeks, and depending on the vaccine type, a second is given 2-4 weeks later.
A vet will be best to advise you on the timings of the vaccinations, how many are required and when a booster vaccination for your pup is due. Booster vaccines are usually required 12 months after their initial vaccination.
Remember to keep your pup away from the ground and from unvaccinated dogs until they're fully protected by their vaccination.
How long should a puppy wait between vaccinations?
Your puppy will require a second vaccination in order to develop enough immunity to fully protect them against diseases, as well as a booster vaccine further down the line. With most vaccine protocols, the second vaccination takes place 2-4 weeks after the first. This depends on the brand and type of vaccination given. A vaccination once the puppy is at least 12 weeks old is recommended, as all maternally derived antibody protection should have disappeared by this time.
How long after the second vaccination can a puppy go out?
Puppies are much more prone to illnesses than adult dogs. For this reason, most vets advise owners to keep their puppy indoors until they’ve developed full immunity from their vaccinations. Unfortunately, your puppy won’t be immune straight away after their second vaccination. It takes time for those antibodies to be produced, and around two weeks after their second vaccination, they'll be able to head outside for walks. Newer vaccination protocols may be offered by the vet. Depending on the timing of their vaccination, your puppy may be allowed on restricted walks earlier in their vaccine course. Speak to a vet about when your pup will be allowed to explore the great outside.
Use your time inside to bond with your new friend, and also training and socialisation can be done at home. Basic training and play is something you'll both enjoy. Try getting them used to household noises. Puppies can be carried outside (but don't let them touch the ground or come close to other dogs) to get them used to traffic noise, and things that might be scarier than the hoover.
What are puppies vaccinated against?
Puppies in the UK are vaccinated against multiple diseases with just two injections. These core vaccines cover:
- Canine parvovirus
- Kennel cough: a group of viruses and bacteria.
These vaccines have reduced significantly in the UK because of the widespread uptake, but are still present in the dog population. Rabies isn't found in the UK, but if you're planning on travelling to a different country, your dog will need a vaccine and a blood test for this before they're allowed to enter a foreign land.
Puppy vaccination schedule
A standard vaccination schedule involves a first vaccination at 6-8 weeks, and often this is done with your puppy's breeder. At 10-12 weeks they're usually home and settling in with their new family, and they're taken to their chosen vet for their second vaccination. In some areas a third vaccination is offered to ensure full protection, this occurs around 12-16 weeks of age. Annual boosters are required for most dogs and the first of these happens 12 months after their initial vaccines are complete.
Is puppy vaccination risky?
In short, no. The risks of not vaccinating your puppy far outweigh the risks of vaccination. This topic is highly debated. Many holisitic vets and breeders are concerned that booster vaccinations aren't necessary, and may harm health long-term. Most vets agree that vaccinations are essential for the dog population, and individual health. Vaccines are tested for safety and efficacy, and any adverse reactions are reported. These reactions are few and far between – the most common being a stinging sensation when the vaccine is administered, but this wears off quickly. If left unvaccinated, your dog could contract a severe illness, and spread this to other dogs in the area.
Side-effects such as tiredness and a slight itch, swelling or rash at the injection site are common and should resolve on their own within a few days. But in a very small amount of puppy vaccinations, an adverse reaction called anaphylactic shock may occur. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are as follows:
- Sudden diarrhoea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Weak pulse
- Signs of shock
If you suspect your pup is suffering from anaphylactic shock after their vaccination, seek veterinary help immediately.
When should I talk to a vet?
A vet will always be happy to discuss any concerns you may have regarding vaccination, or to discuss the best protocol for your puppy. If you have any health worries, or just need some advice about the basics, give them a call for an appointment.