PUPPIES & KITTENS
the early years...best care for your young pet
Newborn puppies and kittens are very susceptible to many diseases.
The only protection they receive from their mother is in the form of antibodies. However, not all mothers have good immunity themselves, so they are unable to pass much protection on to their babies. Even if the mothers have good immunity or antibody levels, this protection is very short lived.
Vaccinating Puppies and Kittens
The kitten or puppy must begin to make their own antibodies to protect themselves over the course of their life. The only way for a new immune system to form antibodies is through exposure to the disease itself via a vaccination.
Vaccinations stimulate the immune system to create antibodies to various diseases seen in cats and dogs. The period between losing protection from maternal antibodies and the young making their own antibodies is very high risk.
For this reason, we recommend having new pups and kittens kept at home or only with other known healthy animals until their vaccines are completed.
The first time an immune system is exposed to a vaccine, short-term antibodies are made.
The next time the immune system sees this same vaccine, long-term antibodies are made. These will last for months to years depending on the type of vaccine.
The immune system is unable to make antibodies at all if there are still protective antibodies present from the mother. They actually prevent the vaccine from working.
As a result, we try to squeeze vaccination in after maternal antibodies are gone and before the puppy or kitten is exposed to the real disease.
When To Vaccinate
Vaccines for puppies and kittens are started at six weeks of age and repeated every three weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.
This allows enough time for the puppy or kitten’s immune system to have responded multiple times to the vaccine, assures long-term antibodies are produced, and yet also allows enough time between vaccines for the immune system to catch up.
It generally takes about two weeks for the body to adequately respond to a vaccine and then be ready for the next one.
This is why we don’t vaccinate any pet that is ill or has an infection. Their immune system is already busy and may not respond to the vaccine at all.
Every puppy and kitten is also dewormed several times throughout the vaccination process. Their first deworming should occur at two weeks of age. It is not uncommon for young pets to become seriously ill from these parasites.
Intestinal parasites, or worms, are passed from the mother and are even in the soil in some cases. Many intestinal parasites can cause problems for people too, so we deworm even if tests are negative. These tests are still important though.
The most common dewormers will not eliminate every type of worm and there are other common infestations, such as coccidia or giardia, that also require different medication.