Protect a Dog Before Vaccinations
Puppies that have not yet been vaccinated are at risk for serious illnesses including parvovirus and distemper if exposed to other dogs that have not been vaccinated. Young puppies need socialization and a variety of new experiences in order to become behaviorally healthy adult dogs, but too much socialization could mean exposure to potentially fatal viruses. To protect your puppy before vaccinations, allow him to nurse until at least 8 weeks of age, use proper hygiene in his living area and expose him only to vaccinated, healthy dogs.
1. Separate your puppy from her mother at no younger than 8 weeks of age. If possible, allow your puppy to nurse for a full nine weeks. Mother’s milk contains protective antibodies that can help your puppy avoid illness before she has been vaccinated.
2. Expose your puppy only to dogs that you are sure have been vaccinated and are in good health. Ask trusted friends to bring their dogs to your home for play dates with your puppy. Frequent play sessions with healthy adult dogs are important to your puppy’s behavioral development.
3. Avoid taking your puppy to public places such as dog parks or grooming salons where numerous dogs come and go every day. Even if a particular business requires proof of vaccinations from all visiting dogs, you can’t be sure that every owner has complied. Some dogs can even carry and spread a virus after being vaccinated.
4. Ask your veterinarian for the first appointment of the day when you do visit him for your puppy’s first checkup and vaccinations. This helps you and your puppy avoid exposure to any viruses left behind by sick dogs who recently saw the vet.
5. Clean your puppy’s toys and living area frequently. Ask your veterinarian to recommend cleaning products that are safe for pets. If a strange dog or a sick dog touches anything in your home or yard, disinfect the area and keep your puppy away from it for at least 24 hours.
6. Ask your veterinarian and/or a pet dietician about a healthful premium puppy food to help keep your puppy’s immune system strong.