We recommend a late start with puppy vaccines with the exception of the Parvo vaccine. Many breeders will vaccinate their puppies at 6 or 7 weeks for as many as 7 or 8 different diseases. We think that later is better for several reasons and recommend Dr. Jean Dodds vaccine protocol which says that a first vaccine should not be given until a puppy is 9-10 weeks old. Dr. Dodds is a nationally known research veterinarian well-respected for her work with regard to vaccines. If we are keeping a puppy for ourselves, we follow Dr. Dodds protocol exactly and do not vaccinate at all until 9 weeks. However, for puppies that will be leaving us, we will vaccinate for only Parvo and I will discuss why at the end of this article.
The first reason we advocate late vaccines is that the later the vaccine and the less number of them, the less chance of current side effects, and the less long term effects there will be. There is a trade-off between the benefits of multiple vaccinations and the long term problems of a worn out immune system such as auto-immune disorders, epilepsy, encephalitis, allergies, behavior problems, and even cancer. Then there are other problems caused by the toxins in the vaccines themselves.
But the biggest reason we don't recommend early vaccines is that in over 50% of cases where vaccines were done at 6-7 weeks, absolutely nothing is accomplished except stressing the puppy's immune system. No immunity results because of the antibodies that are still present in over 50% of puppies' systems that were derived from the puppies' mother's colostrum.
Puppies are vaccinated multiple times because new born puppies start their lives with antibodies that they receive from their mother. If the mother has a strong immunity, the puppies will get their immunity by acquiring antibodies from the colostrum that comes in the first few days of the mother's milk supply. The problem is that these antibodies do not stay with a puppy for a predictable amount of time. They give immunity to the puppy anywhere from 6-15 weeks. Ideally one vaccine should be given exactly one week after these antibodies get down to a level of not providing immunity to disease. The number of antibodies that a puppy has gets smaller all the time but at a variable rate. If a vaccine is given when the antibody level is high enough to protect from disease or even when it is a little lower than that threshold for disease protection, the maternal antibodies will wipe out the vaccine rendering it totally inaffective. The key is to time the vaccine perfectly so that the puppy is left unprotected for a minimal amount of time. However, even with perfect timing, there is still a period of about a week that the antibodies are too low to prevent disease, but too high to allow a vaccine to do its work. The traditional method of trying to minimize this period of time where the puppy is unprotected is to vaccinate over and over until eventually you hit on the correct timing. Some vets will vaccinate even every 2 weeks. But even with every 2 week vaccinations, a puppy could be left unprotected for up to 3 weeks.
For example, a puppy gets vaccinated at 7 weeks and his mother's antibodies had just gotten to a level of not protecting him at 6 weeks 1 day, but were still high enough to knock out the vaccine 6 days later at 7 weeks. Then you get the next vaccine at 9 weeks. That puppy has been unprotected from 6 weeks 1 day through 9 weeks, almost 3 weeks in spite of the fact that he had already received two vaccines that would have worn down his young undeveloped immune system. Expose that puppy to Parvo and he would have a harder time with the disease than a puppy who had never seen a vaccination. Throw in the fact that a vet's office is one of the best places for a puppy to be exposed to disease and a grim picture is being painted of what can happen even with early vaccinations.
All of this is done in order to correctly time the ONE vaccine that is actually the one that gives immunity, not that the puppy needs a series of vaccines to get immunity. Some vaccines that do not use live viruses do have to be repeated, but the Parvo and Distemper vaccine are MLV vaccines (modified live viruses) that do not need to be repeated.
If the vaccine is given too early, you have just given a puppy all the side effects and stress to his/her immune system with no benefits whatsoever. Dr. Ronald Schultze has done research on what percentage of puppies loose maternal antibodies at what ages. Only 30% of puppies have lost maternal antibodies at 6 weeks. By 9 weeks that number is up to 88%. By 12 weeks, it is about 95%. And by 15-16 weeks, there is almost 100% response. We feel that the wisest thing you can do for your puppy is to give him the vaccine at 9 weeks when there is a very good chance of it working. Dr. Dodds says that the chance of adverse reactions is much less at this age. Then just to make sure that your puppy is not in the 12% that do not have an immune response at 9 weeks, you need to repeat it again at 13 weeks and then again at 17 weeks and you can then know that your puppy is protected. We suggest that prior to that, keep your puppy away from places that other dogs go. Even if your puppy has had an early vaccine, chances are not good enought to depend on the fact that he/she has immunity. Early vaccines are just not reliable. Why not wait on the vaccine until you have a good chance of the vaccine doing what it's supposed to do with a better chance of fewer side-effects? See the links below for more details.
I have considered every possible option with regard to giving our puppies the best possible vaccine protection and researched all the ramifications of each possibility. We have added a new vaccine recommendation in early 2015 as vaccine manufacturers have begun to see the demand for individual vaccines. We've extended the number of days for our guarantee in order for new families to get a distemper vaccine at their initial vet visit if they choose this protocol. We give our puppies a Parvo vaccine at 7 weeks of age and then recommend that new families follow one of two protocols.
We recommend the Nobivac Puppy DPv vaccine. Make sure your vet carries it. This vaccine can currently only be ordered in a package that includes 25 individual vaccines. If your vet doesn't carry it or won't order it,the next best thing is to order individual vaccines for Parvo (Neo-Par) and a Distemper (Neo-Vac D). Have your vet give both vaccines at 10, 13, and 16 weeks of age.
Make sure you CARRY your puppy into the vet with any vet appointments and bring a towel or blanket with you so that you never put your puppy down on a possibly contaminated surface until after he/she has had his/her final vaccine. Socialize your puppy by having people come to your home or by taking him/her to places that other dogs have not been. Do not take your puppy to public places frequented by other dogs until your puppy has had his/her final vaccine at about 15-16 weeks whether you follow an early or a late protocol for vaccines. Young puppies are not always necessarily immunized no matter what vaccines they have had.
We have chosen to vaccinate 7 week old puppies for only Parvo and not the other diseases that many breeders vaccinate for for several reasons and only in puppies that will be leaving us. Right around the time puppies are 8 weeks old, they will be not only encountering who knows what while traveling but will also be going to two vets (my vet and each puppy's new vet). The possibilty of exposure is hard to avoid with all of this going on. Parvo is a fairly common disease in the U.S. and is also a very serious disease that can be deadly. The Parvo vaccine also has fewer possible side effects on young puppies than Distemper and some of the other vaccines. In my opinion, the risk of serious consequences from Parvo in a young puppy is greater than the risk of side effects from the vaccine. Parvo is the only vaccine that I can say that about for a 7 week old puppy.
Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet in California and Dr. Ronald Schultze at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine are both research veterinarians who have done much research in the field of animal vaccinations. See Dr. Dodds’s links www.itsfortheanimals.com/dodds-chg, and www.itsfortheanimals.com/HEMOPET.HTM for information on immunizations and her protocol using yearly titers. Google Dr. Ronald Schultze for a lot more reading information on his research and his thoughts on vaccines. Dr. Karen Becker at Mercola.com also has a lot of information on the subject as well as Dogs Naturally Magazine and the Whole Dog Journal.