Are Multiple Parvo Shots Really Necessary?
As a dog lover, you probably already know that welcoming a new puppy to the family almost always requires multiple trips to the vet. Aside from routine checkups, your veterinarian will talk to you about the Parvo vaccine and put your puppy on a vaccination schedule once they turn eight weeks old. That means that throughout the year, you will need to bring your puppy in for a Parvo shot every three to four weeks until they reach the age of 16 weeks, then again one year after the last dose, making it a total of three vaccinations.
To most pet owners, three Parvo shots may seem a bit concerning—excessive, even—which is completely understandable. Isn’t one vaccination enough? Does every Parvo shot increase a puppy’s immunity to the disease? Why is there a need to get puppies revaccinated every three to four weeks? Well, as unnecessary as multiple Parvo shots may seem, there is actually a good reason behind it. On top of having underdeveloped immune systems, puppies are born with maternal antibodies, which can interfere with the vaccination.
What Are Maternal Antibodies?
Maternal antibodies, as the name suggests, are disease and infection-fighting proteins transferred from a mother dog to her puppies. They are meant to provide temporary protection or passive immunity while a puppy’s immune system undergoes a vulnerable development period. During this time, puppies gain their mom’s immunity, meaning that they will be immune to the same pathogens their mother is immune to. However, as puppies get older, they gradually lose their maternal antibodies. Without timely vaccinations, they’re left unprotected from harmful microorganisms, like Parvo.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Maternal Antibodies?
Maternal antibodies normally begin wearing off when puppies reach the age of six to eight weeks. This is why veterinarians recommend that puppies receive their first round of Parvo shots, as well as other vaccines, around that time. However, every puppy loses maternal antibodies for different pathogens at different times. Some could stay protected from Rabies for up to three months but lose immunity to Parvo within three weeks. Through the different vaccination series, their immune systems learn how to combat various types of foreign bodies and prevent diseases and infections from the get-go.
So, How Do Multiple Parvo Shots Protect Puppies?
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if a puppy still has maternal antibodies or not. Veterinarians have simply observed that most puppies respond well to vaccinations once they reach six to eight weeks of age. However, when it comes to vaccines, guessing isn’t an option. There are cases where puppies still have maternal antibodies up until eight weeks.
One of the most common reasons for failed vaccinations in puppies is the presence of maternal antibodies. This is because maternal antibodies can inactivate vaccines before they get the chance to trigger a response from the puppy’s immune system, preventing them from gaining immunity. In the case of Parvo, puppies receive multiple Parvo shots between the age of eight to 16 weeks to make sure that they’re always protected. According to PetMD, puppies are likely to have no maternal antibodies left once they turn 14 to 16 weeks old, which is why the last Parvo shot is given around this time.
The bottom line is that puppies can lose their maternal antibodies at any given moment. Some may become susceptible to diseases and infections at eight weeks, others at ten weeks, and so on. To ensure that puppies are protected at all times, they need to receive Parvo shots every three weeks starting at six or eight weeks up until they reach 16 weeks of age.