Does my puppy really need five booster shots?

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Does my puppy really need five booster shots?

This is a discussion on Does my puppy really need five booster shots? within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi, I'm a new member here, a recent immigrant to the US, and a new puppy parent. Being new to the US and having a ...

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Old 06-15-2016, 02:05 PM
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Does my puppy really need five booster shots?


I'm a new member here, a recent immigrant to the US, and a new puppy parent. Being new to the US and having a new puppy is more challenging than I thought, and I hope to get some good advice here. Not having a job yet, I do have a lot of time and energy to spend on my pup, though, so it's not all bad. It's just harder to evaluate (contradicting) information given when I am also in a totally new area. Sorry for the lengthy post, I just wanted to get all the details in:

We got out puppy from a local shelter at 8 weeks old, after having fostered her and her litter mates from the age of 6 weeks. She had her first vaccinations when she was 6 weeks old, then again at age 8 weeks. The shelter recommended we get the next set of shoots at age 10 weeks, and then again at 16 weeks. They also sent us to a vet that gave a free wellness exam.

We did the wellness exam, but also booked an appointment with another vet for the 10-week booster. At the wellness exam, the vet suggested we do a different schedule of boosters, namely at 11 weeks, 15 weeks and 18 weeks. That means 5 shots in total, and seemed kinda off the charts. They also seemed to push a lot of dog food, boarding, etc, so I just didn't trust them to give strait advice. We had already booked the other appointment, and wanted to try the other vet as well, so we still showed up for that 10-week booster.

The new vet gave the 10-week booster, but also said that our pup needed two more shots, spaced three weeks apart. She did not provide a plan or talk about other vaccines and prevention, and seemed to be in a hurry. She did, however, strongly recommend not taking our puppy outside the backyard until she completed the next two shots, which goes against what the shelter and the other vet told me. Even puppy socialisation classes was off limits in her book. I wish the third vet could have told me when booking the appointment that they wanted the shots 3 weeks apart, and we will not be going back there anyways (long wait time and a loud environment with lots of yelping and whining very audible in the medical exam room - not the best way to get the pup to love vet visits and not an environment I want her to be in if she gets really ill)

So now I am extremely frustrated. From what I read online, the shots for parvo+etc should be given three weeks apart, and it seems normal to give 3-4 shots before the puppy reaches four months.

Are we forced to do five because she started so early and with short intervals? And is it really that high risk to take her to puppy classes after her third shot? We were not planning to take her to a dog park any time soon, but would love to start going for short practice/exploration walks around the neighbourhood and at friends and family's places.
The third vet also recommended not starting heart worm prevention until she was six months old, although the other vets have recommended that we do this on a monthly basis starting now (she already had one treatment).
What advice do I trust???

I feel very strongly about socialisation as well as just providing the puppy with an enriching environment. She obviously finds me highly entertaining, but I do not think it is good for neither her or me if me and my house is all she knows for the first four months of her life (well, in addition to my husband who is here in the evening, and the numerous vets who will be prodding her). We now live in Texas, in San Antonio, and I am completely new to this EXTREME danger of Parvo as well as the high number of stray dogs. Parvo and other diseases does occur in Norway where I am from, but not to the same degree. It is hard to discern what the risk really is at any given place and time, as fear and risk seem to be discussed in a very different manner here in the US (I will not get into politics).

I almost regret getting so many opinions in the first place, but here I am, asking for even more opinions What would you do? And how to go about finding a new vet and setting up a good plan for her puppy boosters?

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Old 06-15-2016, 03:05 PM
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I think there is a bit of a panic about parvo this season, a few areas have seen really large numbers of cases. So there may be a reason for the extra shots in your area. I'd find a vet you are comfortable with who is able to explain the rationale behind their advice and follow it.
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:26 PM
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First off your pup's 1st vac at 6 weeks was way to early and probably provided no protection at all due to the fact that vaccines given too young are neutralized by residual maternal immunity ..... Dr Dodds Protocol is one that is the preferred .... Google it

9-10 weeks Distemper+Parvo MLV
14-16 weeks Distemper+Parvo MLV

then at 20 weeks give the rabies vaccination (here in Ca you are required by law to give at 16 weeks )

At 1 year comes Distemper/Parvo booster
Also rabies but separate from boosters by at least 2-3 weeks

I have friends in Texas who say PARVO is really bad there and I personally would be really careful about taking my pup to any places frequented by unknown dogs!
Here are a few suggestions on socializing your pup;

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Old 06-15-2016, 03:32 PM
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The subject of puppy vaccinations is complex and people have very strong opinions. What makes the subject complex is that a puppy has maternal hormones for a while and these can prevent the vaccinations from fully working. I suggest you read information from many places before you make up your mind.
First-Year Puppy Shots; A Complete Guide - American Kennel Club
Taking The Risk Out Of Puppy Shots - Dogs Naturally Magazine
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:47 PM
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Both of my dogs received five shots total in their puppy visits, each went to a different vet. Each went 3 times and one of the shots (I forget which) was given twice. I was also informed not to take them places until they were given, at both vets. I partially listened, as its true they can become ill since they are so young and unprotected. But I did let them outside. Maybe irresponsible but it was my own yard.
Rabies threw off the schedule a little bit because he had all baby teeth and had to wait another two weeks from the scheduled time.
They got lepto, parvo, bordatella, rabies, and Lyme. Spelling isn't great sorry
One of my dogs has been taking heartworm prev since 9 weeks. The other didn't start until 1yr but his blood work came back clean (thank god). I think they wait until 3-4months old before they even test for it though

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Old 06-15-2016, 04:56 PM
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I agree that the vaccines at 6 weeks and 8 weeks are a bit much, but that decision was out of my hands. Ideally I would stick with one of the many schedules that I've found at multiple sources where it seems that DHPP is given at a three week interval and in three to four shots. But finding out how to proceed when the puppy started out on such a different schedule and navigating vets with widely different advice is what's driving me nuts. I really see the value in finding a good vet whose opinion I trust. At least this has motivated me to try and find a good one before anything really serious happens!

Vaccines seem like such a hot button topic - why on earth? Are people afraid that their dogs will get autism? (Sorry, bad joke) I do want to minimise trips to the vet involving needles and pain, as well as costs, but if necessary we will go through with all five shots. Is there a way of finding out what areas are more prone to parvo outbreaks?
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by LuvMyFluff View Post
then at 20 weeks give the rabies vaccination (here in Ca you are required by law to give at 16 weeks )
Actually it just changed to 12 weeks in CA to keep in line with other states, but you'd be hard pressed to find a vet who will actually give the vaccine that young unless you're traveling out of state.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:14 PM
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I think you probably have enough opinions about the vaccine schedule to thoroughly confuse you... just to summarize, we do recommend puppies get a series of vaccines at 'intervals' (some say 2 weeks, some say 4.. our clinic says 3-4) until the puppy is 16 weeks old... at that age, they SHOULD be well vaccinated against parvo (and distemper, though that is a much rarer disease these days- still out there, though! Just had a puppy die of it last week at our clinic). The actual number of vaccines your puppy gets is not as important as the fact that the vaccine needs to be boosted at least once, and the last vaccine is at or near 16 weeks (or after). The reason 3-5 vaccines are sometimes given is partly due to some puppies being vaccinated earlier than recommended (or, if abandoned or have unknown histories, sometimes starting at 6 weeks is recommended still, even though that is earlier than most series begin) or some people/clinics are either paranoid, or trying to get the most funds/visits out of you as possible.

But the socialization thing kind of got glossed over above. It is too bad that dog's personality windows have been shown to close (not completely, but mostly) by about 14 weeks of age, so socialization up to that point IS very important (particularly for certain breeds, but ALL puppies really should have a decent amount of socialization). More dogs get euthanized for behavioral problems than any other single problem. Proper socialization sure is a huge step towards decreasing the likelihood of a behavioral problem in your puppy/dog.

But yes, 14 weeks comes before 16 weeks, so there has to be some compromise when it comes to exposing your puppy to others, yet still keeping it safe from getting parvo. You should understand the danger of parvo is primarily from feces, not the dogs themselves really (though avoid contact with obviously ill or reportedly ill dogs, too, of course). The problem is when you take your puppy outdoors for a walk in an area where other dogs have been and you don't know who those dogs are, that is a potential parvo risk (much higher in some neighborhoods than others). EVEN if there is NO obvious dog feces. Dogs that are shedding parvo virus do so in their stools, and their stools can harbor live, infective parvo for up to 6 months (some say 8 months)... and the spot where their feces were on the ground may have live virus as well, even after the stools are picked up or washed away, also for 6-8 months. THAT is the danger of walking your puppy along sidewalks, streets, in parks, etc. as those areas attract dogs that may not have been well vaccinated, or may not even have owners, and could be shedding parvo virus. Your backyard is safe (unless there have been dogs or coyotes roaming in it recently). Other's backyards are safe if their dogs do not leave the yard (much). Likely the conglomermate pet stores are fairly safe as their floors are cleaned and sterilized multiple times a day. Puppy socialization classes are safe ONLY if they are held in areas where stray/random dogs are not allowed.... but these can be incredibly useful and important experiences for your puppy, so you should NOT avoid them like the plague unless they seem to be held in very risky locations.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:31 AM
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Thanks lzrddr, that was a great summary of a lot of the more sensible information I've read and also a great reassurance!

I'll find a new vet, but will feel more comfortable with going through the whole five-shots-thing, as that seems to be the track we're already on. We'll see what they recommend I've read up on the reasoning behind it (anti-bodies from mother and all), so I definitely see the point of keeping on with the shots until she reaches a more "safe" age for the vaccine to take effect.

I just feel like it could have been avoided had the last vet taken some time to actually think about what my dog needed or some time to communicate with us (puppy girl could have had her shots at 12 weeks and then 16 weeks and still followed guidelines, and if the vet means she should not be outside until all shots are given, then what difference would it have made in terms of safety?). But I'll try to get over my bitterness Being home alone all day with a puppy obviously gives me too much time to fret over it - in Norway we always say you should not cry over spilled milk, it doesn't help.

Because we're new to the area, we don't have many friends or family with dogs here. I felt very strongly about taking her to a puppy socialisation class, and feel like I've found a good provider (it is held indoors, sterilised often, all puppies must show proof of vaccination, all their classes are positive reinforcement based, and all shoes will be disinfected before entering - and it is also held in an affluent neighbourhood). She'll go there on Sunday for the first time, and I look so much forwards to it! She seemed like a great play-mate in her litter, so I hope she'll do good with other pups to.

I have a background in animal behavior (behavioral ecology degree), so for me the social and welfare side is just as important as keeping her free of diseases. If a puppy grows up in an environment too stripped of stimuli and opportunities to exhibit normal puppy behavior, I know that can lead to lots of behavioral and welfare issues down the road. We're highly unlikely to return her to a shelter, and I have experience from fostering and working with dogs with various issues (separation anxiety, leash reaction, poor social skills), but we still want our girl to have the best possible start to her life. (Also, a dog that is constantly stressed out because of lack of stimuli/chance to influence and interact with her environment is not likely to have a great immune system..)

All your input here has really helped in terms of weighing the risks and evaluating the information I've found so far - thank you so much! We'll go through with the puppy class, but will keep her off the ground when in public areas accessible to other dogs for now. Maybe she'll make some puppy friends at the class that we can visit
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:59 PM
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Our puppy got Parvo/Distemper and Bordatella (kennel cough) at 8 weeks
2nd Parvo/distemper at 11 weeks
3rd Parvo/Distemper + Rabies at 15 weeks
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