Puppy Vaccinations: When you get your beautiful new puppy he has some immunity already, passed on through the milk from his mother. However, it is vitally important to protect him before he goes out into the big wide world.
The normal sequence of events is:-
@ 8 weeks, he will receive his first vaccination
@ 10 weeks, he will receive his second vaccination (NOT before 10 weeks)
@ 10 weeks, you may choose to have the kennel cough protection given
Two weeks following the kennel cough and second injection, he will be ready to face the world outside.
Before the full sequence above has been completed, your puppy is NOT protected enough to go out into the general surroundings. He may go out in your garden where you know only your dogs (who presumably were also vaccinated as puppies) will visit.
He may NOT go outside the front door where you have no idea what dogs may have been visiting and therefore may also NOT visit parks, or pavements where other dogs go.
When your puppy is one year old, he will be recalled by the vet for his booster vaccination. This booster should ensure good immunity for the rest of his life, although Distemper is frequently included in booster vaccinations for other diseases when combined vaccines are used.
There is a lot of discussion as to whether vaccinations should be repeated annually (as per usual veterinary practice), three-yearly (as per recent Kennel Club directives), or not at all. This is a very diversary subject and one which I cannot advise on but would suggest that you do your own research on the matter and do whichever you believe is the best option for the safety of your pet. Puppy vaccinations, however, are NOT UNDER DEBATE. Everybody is agreed that these are a must.
So why vaccinate a puppy before taking him outside? Well, even the most hardened anti-vaccination supporters would agree with puppy vaccination, as the diseases we vaccinate against include some very nasty infections indeed including Parvovirus and Distempter.
ParvoVirus: See previous blog.
Distemper is a virus which is spread through quite close contact allowing the virus to be directly inhaled into the repiratory system. The incubation period is around 2 weeks.
In some milder forms of the disease, it is possible that it may go unnoticed, however, the symptoms of more serious cases of Distemper include:
nasal and eye discharge
troublesome cough (caused by respiratory infection or pneumonia)
diarrhoea and occasional vomiting
lack of energy & poor appetite are common in the early stages
As the dog starts to recover, it may begin to exhibit signs of permanent damage to the central nervous system in the form of fits and convusions or perhaps spasmodic twitches.
The characteristic symptoms above, particularly the respiratory infection, and then a selection of the other symptoms together, would direct us to a diagnosis but confirmation is very difficult as certain laboratory tests are not 100% reliable.
As with Parvovirus, there is no cure and merely supporting the dog with nursing until his own immunity kicks in and sees off the infection is the only recourse. Antibiotics may be given to prevent complications arising from bacterial infections and intravenous fluids might be beneficial in easing the effects of vomiting and diarrhoea. It is important that all discharges (nasal and from the eyelids) be cleaned away carefully and the areas kept moist and clean at all times.
Recovery may take from weeks to months and with severe bouts of the disease some of the symptoms may be permanent. For dogs who have experienced severe damage to their nervous system, human euthanasia may be the only course of action.
SO PLEASE – VACCINATE THOSE PUPPIES!