By Dr. Jess Trimble
There are very few things in life more exciting than bringing a puppy home. But the moment you get home, it is common to feel paralyzed with fear, especially if you’re a first-time pet parent. What if I give him the wrong food? What if I get her the wrong toy and she chokes? What if the puppy gets sick? One of the scariest aspects about taking care of puppies is protecting your puppy against diseases while their immune system fully develops. Puppy vaccines are a critical part of their long-term health. It’s not the number of shots that matter, but rather the age and time between vaccinations you should take into account. Your veterinarian will determine the right personalized vaccination schedule for your pup. If we were to generalize, we would say that most puppies need vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks, until they’re at least 16 weeks old. The following vaccines are important to discuss with your veterinarian:
- DHPP (DHPP stands for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) - repeated every 3-4 weeks
- Leptospirosis (aka lepto) - this is very important in the Bay Area
- Bordetella (kennel cough)
- Canine Flu (or CIV)
There may be other vaccinations recommended by your veterinarian depending on the local risks. Although it’s frustrating to not be able to take your puppy outside, the risk of them contracting a disease, such as Parvo or Distemper, is a very real thing. So here’s the simple run-down of what you can and can’t do while your puppy goes through the puppy vaccine series:
What You Can Do
- Be outside in private backyards, where no other unhealthy or unvaccinated dogs have been for at least 6 months.
- Go to puppy socials and puppy classes, as long as they require that all puppies are healthy and vaccinated. We actually highly recommend you do this to help them become socially mature!
- Visit friends at houses with dogs, as long as they are healthy and vaccinated
What You Can' T Do
- Allow them on the floor or grass in public places until 1 week after the final set of puppy shots. This includes dog parks, patches of grass on public sidewalks, pet store floors, or anywhere else there is a risk of an unknown dog coming into contact with your puppy, or your puppy coming into contact with an unknown dog’s urine or feces
Drink out of communal water bowls or puddles
- Have contact with dogs or puppies that are ill or have unknown or overdue vaccine history
We’re here to help guide your pet’s health - have a health consult with our Veterinary Team or schedule an in-home checkup to get your puppy vaccinated.