Vaccinations: When is it Safe to Walk my New Puppy?
Vaccinations are an important and often lifesaving necessity when it comes to owning pets. More importantly, keeping up with routine vaccinations is crucial to ensuring their overall wellbeing and protection from debilitating viruses they may be exposed to. Particular care needs to be taken with puppies, especially when it comes to walking them pre- and post-vaccination.
If you’re wondering when to vaccinate your puppy, our friendly and dedicated team at Vetmed, are able to assist and guide you through this process. Puppies are usually vaccinated between the ages of 6-8 weeks, followed by a booster shot at 12 weeks of age and then a final at 14-16 weeks. This is a total of three vaccinations.
Walking my puppy
When it comes to walking your new puppy, there are a couple of things to take into consideration, particularly before vaccination, and the period after vaccination. Although there are no hard and fast rules – it is always advisable to put the safety of your pet first and heed the advice given by your vet. Puppies should have had all their routine vaccinations before going to high risk public places like the dog park, to reduce their risk of coming into contact with dogs of unknown health, or an environment that could be a source of infectious disease. Puppies are particularly at risk of Canine Parvovirus or ‘Parvo’ which can survive in the environment for up to a few years.
Many vets will recommend against walking your puppy before the vaccination course is complete however it is equally important to be aware of the need for socialisation. Puppies have a socialisation window from 3 weeks to 17 weeks and it is vital that they are safely and intentionally exposed to new experiences, new people and new dogs. This socialisation teaches them confidence and can be done through puppy school, visits to the vet and interactions with known friends and family with dogs
What Is Parvo in Dogs and Puppies?
Parvo is an infectious DNA virus that commonly causes severe illness in puppies and unvaccinated dogs, affecting the intestinal tract and bone marrow of your pet. When a puppy contracts Parvo, heart muscle cells are also at risk of being damaged. Although parvovirus is most common in puppies and adolescent dogs, it can also affect adult or senior dogs, especially if they are unvaccinated, which is why it is so important to vaccinate your pet and keep up with routine vaccinations.
Causes of Parvo in Dogs
So how do dogs and puppies get Canine Parvovirus? Parvo is an incredibly contagious disease that spreads quickly and while it’s not airborne, it can be found on many surfaces. Parvo is spread when dogs and puppies come in contact with contaminated faeces. This does not necessarily mean that you have to see faeces for the virus to be present:
- It can live on the ground, in kennels, on human hands, on objects, or on the clothing of those who have been contaminated.
- Dogs can also carry it on their fur or paws if they’ve come in contact with contaminated material.
- Parvo can survive in a dog’s environment for months, if not years, and is resistant to many disinfectants. However, it is susceptible to diluted bleach and some specialised cleaners commonly used in veterinary hospitals.
Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs
When a dog or puppy is infected with Parvo, symptoms will start to who within 3-7 days of infection. If your pet presents with any of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, which may be severe
Very sick dogs and puppies may have:
- A high heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Suffer from hypothermia as a result of dehydration and infection.
That said, your puppy will need as much stimulation as possible, and avoiding walks altogether can have a negative effect on their mental health and wellbeing. Using common sense is also key, in conjunction with veterinarian advice, so if you do decide to take your puppy out for a walk, here are some useful tips to keep them safe:
- Seek advice from your vet
- Check with your vet to determine when your puppy will be fully vaccinated, and can safely go to public places
- Carry your puppy and limit their exposure to other dogs and areas where dogs might have been
- Keep walks to within your own yard and neighbourhood
- Avoid areas with high dog traffic, such as dog parks and dog beaches altogether.
At Vetmed, we are always here to help and provide you with all the information you need in order to make an informed decision when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your pet. Please contact us at one of our four locations, where a member of our team will be able to assist you.