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Before you can understand the risk versus the benefits of getting your 9- to 12-week-old puppy out in the world to be socialized, it helps to understand how vaccines work. As you'll recall from our neonatal section, the puppies are protected from disease by drinking their mother's colostrum. If the dam has immunity to a disease, the puppies will have that same immunity. So if the dam has been successfully vaccinated for parvovirus, her puppies will have immunity to parvovirus as well. But that maternal immunity doesn't last forever. No one can say for sure when the maternal antibodies will wear off on any particular puppy, but they can wear off any time between 6 and 14 weeks. And in some cases, it might even be earlier or later than that. So now, we need to vaccinate our puppies. [MUSIC PLAYING] Vaccines work by taking the virus that causes the disease-- [LAUGHING] And modifying it slightly-- Huh? So it can no longer make the puppy sick, but yet will still trick the puppy's immune system into thinking it's caught the disease. The puppy's immune system then kicks into high gear and starts manufacturing antibodies to fight the disease. Once the puppy's body has manufactured those antibodies one time, if he gets the virus again-- [LAUGHING] His body remembers how to fight off the disease. Uh oh. He'll be able to manufacture an army of antibodies, kill the virus, and he won't get sick. It sounds simple. Vaccinate the puppy once when he's very young before you expose him to the outside world, and he'll be protected, right? Unfortunately, it's not that easy. We spoke with Dr. Leele about the science behind vaccinations. If you vaccinate the puppy when he still has maternal antibodies, the mother's antibodies will mask that vaccine. Cover it. Put a blanket over it. And so it's not going to establish an immunity because the mother's antibodies are grabbing onto the vaccine's virus before the puppy's immune system can respond. So now, you understand why puppies need three vaccinations. It's not that they need to receive the vaccine three times for it to work. It's that we never know for sure when the puppy will be able to be vaccinated. We don't know when the mother's antibodies are going to stop interfering with the vaccine. So we've established 8, 12, and 16 weeks as a guideline of when to vaccinate these puppies, looking for that specific window when that is a new system is going to be geared up to be able to respond to the vaccines without interference of the mother's antibodies. OK then. If we're looking for the earliest possible time, when the maternally-derived antibodies wear off, why not just start vaccinating every week as soon as the puppies are born? Wouldn't that give a 100% guarantee of protection? Again, unfortunately, it's not that easy. The reason we don't vaccinate puppies younger than 8 weeks or recommended is because the immune system is simply not well-established in that young of a puppy. So it really will be ineffective to vaccinate them. They won't have the ability to respond to that vaccine in most cases. This all sounds confusing, and you may be wondering, bottom line, at what age can I vaccinate my puppy and be virtually assured that he's protected from disease? You want to make sure the last vaccine they get, that that puppy is at least 16 weeks old. Because based on what we know now, that's when maternal antibodies are gone and the puppy's mature enough to establish a good immune response to that vaccine. This presents a dilemma because it's not until the third vaccine at 16 weeks that we can be virtually 100% sure of vaccination. And 16 weeks is after the close of the critical socialization period. So what is a puppy owner to do? I can tell you that, for me in my practice, and I've been practicing for a long time, for almost 30 years. And I've literally vaccinated thousands of puppies for distemper and parvo. And I can tell you, I really don't remember of any that I've vaccinated that ever came down with either one of those diseases. I can also tell you that what I now know, for me in my practice, behavioral issues are a huge part that can be prevented by early socialization. And so when we start comparing exposing puppies to socialization classes, for example, with only one vaccine under their belt, I think the risk is minuscule that they come down with one of those diseases compared to the high risk of developing behavioral issues I'm not being socialized during that critical period of the puppy. Every day, in her practice as a veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Herron sees the results of not getting a puppy out for early socialization. We spoke with her about her recommendations. If you're bringing in people, not dogs, and socializing them to objects, sights, sounds, and activities in the safety of your own home, that can start right away, from day one. Really need to get them started with socialization at home in a safe, controlled environment right away. But, Dr. Herron adds, socialization that takes place outside the safety of your own home requires different precautions. Getting them to the outdoor world and introducing them to lots of different novel things, people, and other dogs. Really need to make sure they have the immune system that's going to protect them from infectious diseases. And my position is that puppies should have their first set of vaccines about seven days prior to that outdoor socialization where we're actually taking them to novel environments. So one really great way to have controlled opportunity in a safe, effective means of socializing these puppies is to get them into a puppy class, or what we might call puppy kindergarten. A lot of people have concerns about taking their puppy out into the world or to a puppy class with only one set of vaccines on board. We're exposing them to other dogs. They haven't had all their vaccines yet. I'll hear a lot of veterinarians actually recommend to their clients, we can't take them to puppy class because they don't have all vaccines yet. We really need to look at the risk-benefit ratio here when you're socializing your puppies. Recently, there was a study where they looked at over 1,000 puppies who attended a puppy socialization class, and the minimum requirement being they started class seven days after their first set of vaccines. And wouldn't you know, not single one of them had a case of parvo over 1,000 puppies. So really, the risk of infectious disease if you're following that minimum requirement of vaccinating that puppy seven days before the start of class is minuscule. Yet, the risk of their developing a behavior problem from a lack of socialization during that very critical time is substantial. My personal experience in seeing thousands of canine aggression cases, that those puppies that are not socialized before 12 weeks of age are going to develop serious problems. So it's actually quite devastating to me when I am presented with a puppy, say 6 or 7 months of age, that really has not been socialized at all. Because the problem is we can't turn back time. I can't go get that sensitive socialization period back. I can't go back to 3 to 12 weeks, make that brain sponge again, and give them that experience. Unfortunately, now all we're left with is a dog who sees life as novelty and potentially sees life as dangerous. And the risk is that that dogs potentially going to show aggression problems. Going to break that human-animal bond, going to end up potentially losing its home. And very tragically, some of these guys end up losing their lives. So when you compare the risk of a puppy losing its life to an infectious disease versus a puppy losing a life to a later behavior problem that may develop due to a lack of socialization during that 3 to 12 weeks of age period, there's no comparison. It's minuscule. The risk of that puppy, if they're vaccinated seven days before you're really exposing them to anything, is minuscule of getting that infectious disease. Whereas the risk is huge for them to develop a behavior problem that may lead to a serious issue of them either losing their home or losing their life. The importance of puppy class and socialization for puppies under 12 weeks old is well-accepted. Numerous universities and veterinary societies have come out in agreement with this position. There are, however, some safety guidelines you should follow. Along with most experts, Doctors Leele and Herron agree, that the two essential vaccinations puppies need to receive before heading out to the world for socialization are parvovirus, or parvo, and distemper. Once your puppy has received one round of vaccinations when he's at least 7 or 8 weeks old, you can feel safe socializing him in the outside world. But until he's received his last vaccine after he's at least 14 to 16 weeks old, you should take some additional precautions. Don't expose him to other puppies that are not vaccinated for things like distemper or parvo. Stay away from the dog parks, pet stores, and even roadside rest areas because these places have animals that may or may not be vaccinated. Finally, back to our original question, did we take a big risk by bringing our puppies on that road trip? As far as infectious diseases such as parvo and distemper, I don't think that's a big risk that you are taking it all. Essentially, you are very responsible for cautions to prevent them from being exposed to something like that. And if anything, it is a very big added benefit. For us, when we weigh the risk of disease versus the huge benefits that can be gained by socializing and getting your puppy out in the world during this critical period, we feel the benefits much outweigh the risks. There are no guarantees ever in life that nothing's going to happen to your puppy. And what it all comes down to is you weighing the risks and the benefits and coming up with a formula that makes sense for you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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Duration: 10 minutes and 50 seconds
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Posted by: norabean on Apr 2, 2018

17PCVOD

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