I recently debated with a friend of a friend who was claiming “puppies only need 1 vaccination for lifelong protection against diseases”, as I explained why this statement was incorrect I started thinking about how education is probably one of the most important aspects of my job and how technology can be a either a great friend or a nightmare, with the amount of incorrect information out there. With that in mind I’ve decided to write a series of weekly information blogs and my first topic is Vaccinations and Maternal Antibodies. I decided to start with this topic because once again we are seeing cases of parvo virus in the clinic with approximately 10 confirmed cases over the past 2 weeks.
Vaccinations and Maternal Antibodies
Antibodies are created when an animal is exposed to disease causing organisms, this can either be through natural means or through vaccinations. The body responds to the organism and produces antibodies (large protein molecules) designed to recognise a particular unfamiliar organism and destroy it. If a bitch is vaccinated or has been previously exposed to a virus she will be able to pass maternal antibodies to her pups via the placenta and through her colostrum. The opposite is also true; if a bitch has never been vaccinated or exposed to a virus she cannot pass any immunity to her puppies.
A common misconception is that puppies continue to get colostrum as long as they are nursing. This is incorrect. A puppy only receives the colostrum for the first 48 hours of life, after this period they cannot absorb such large protein molecules effectively, they are broken down into smaller pieces and lose their ability to attack viruses. This means that even if the bitch was still producing antibody rich colostrum after 2 days it would not be absorbed by the puppy effectively and they would gain no extra protection from it.
Maternal antibodies can stay with a puppy for up to 16 weeks before disappearing, they may be too low to provide protection but too high for a vaccination to provide an immune response therefore creating a ‘window of susceptibility’, this means even though they may have had 1 or 2 vaccinations, they may still contract the disease. At CAH we recommend puppy vaccinations every 2 – 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age or 8, 12, 16 weeks and then a booster at 6 months. Vaccinations and recommended every 1 – 3 years in adults depending on the type of vaccination OR titre testing is available to check your dog’s immunity level.
I hope this blog was helpful and now I want to hear from you, what topics would you like to read about? Nutrition? Behaviour? Pro’s and Con’s to Desexing? Hop on to our Facebook page and post your questions with #CAHinfoblog and I will do my best to answer them as well as I can. Alternatively you can email topics to firstname.lastname@example.org . Can’t wait to start these #infoblogs. J – Renae