As you know here at Bouncy-Doodles we place a huge amount of emphasis on breeding healthy, happy and balanced puppies. As part of this we are focused on ensuring that every puppy gets the best start possible. This includes a vaccination regime in order to protect them from some particular nasties. In this section we wanted to share with you all of the research we have done into vaccinations and why we take the approach we do.
One thing we see time and time again is a blanket approach to vaccinating from vets regardless of current immunity (which can be tested for) and the likelihood of particular conditions vs the risk of having the vaccination. Here we are hoping to arm you with the detail to enable you to be confident in the decisions you make regarding vaccinations and share what we have learnt over the years (often the hard way) about what we are giving to our puppies and adult dogs.
We provide our dogs with 2 specific vaccinations:
Parvovirus at 4-5 weeks old
Distemper, Hepatitis and the Parvovirus (DHP) at 10 weeks old
There are other vaccines your vets will talk to you about but more on these later.
Vaccine 1 - Parvovirus
Our puppies are first vaccinated against Parvovirus between the age of 4-5 weeks old. We introduced this vaccination due to the potential risk of wildlife (from animals such as deer and foxes) bringing and spreading this awful, man made, virus onto our land. Sadly this virus is unforgiving and highly contagious! It can live on any surface for up to 6 months, can only be killed with a certain ratio of bleach and water and is almost always fatal for puppies! To give our puppies the highest amount of possible protection against this virus, we choose to vaccinate the puppies against it early in their life.
Vaccine 2 - Distemper, Hepatitis and the Parvovirus (DHP)
As of early 2018, we decided to keep the puppies with us until they were 11 weeks old rather than release them after 8 weeks like other breeders. One of the main reasons for this is that it enables us to have the puppies vaccinated once at 10 weeks old and send them to their new homes fully immune to Distemper, Hepatitis and the Parvovirus (DHP), giving them the maximum protection from these highly contagious, life threatening diseases.
We choose to vaccinate with Nobivac DHP for 3 key reasons:
It is a core vaccination;
It can potentially last a dog it’s life time; and
You can test the dog for immunity and efficacy via an annual 'Titre' test, rather than automatically needing a booster.
You will normally hear of a puppy being vaccinated twice with DHP before they are allowed out to socialise and for walks. This is typically for three reasons:
Income for the vet with annual boosters coming as part of the 'package of care' from them;
Your vets liability insurance; and
So that breeders can send their dogs away after only 8 weeks, leaving you with the risk of not having a fully immune dog.
For us, by keeping the puppies slightly longer we only need to do the ONE DHP vaccination at 10 weeks old, we do this for a couple of reasons:
1. Efficacy of the vaccination before 10 weeks old: when a puppy is given a vaccinations ‘before’ 10 weeks of age they require ‘two’ doses of the vaccine. This is because puppies are already given antibodies by their mother, these antibodies can interfere with the response any vaccine given before 10 weeks old. Once the puppy is 10 weeks old or over, you are only required to give the puppy ‘one’ vaccination, which gives them full protection.
2. Risks from over vaccinating: we do not believe or agree in needlessly over vaccinating dogs. To give more vaccinations than required can cause severe reactions, cancers, autoimmune problems, neurological issues and allergies.
Please click here for a copy of the leaflet from our vet, outlining the manufacturers guidelines for vet administration of our chosen vaccine (Nobivac DHP). We have also starred the section on dog dosage and relative age.
When can new owners start to walk / socialise their puppy
The result of us vaccinating the puppies at 10 weeks old, is that the puppies can go for their first walk one week after their vaccination (at 11 weeks old), which is when we allow them to go to their new homes (although we would recommend waiting a couple of days for your puppy to settle into their new home / environment before introducing walks).
How should new owners responsibly vaccinate their dog in the future
We do not recommend annual boosters, indeed the manufacturer themselves do not advise annual boosters as some of these vaccinations can give an animal life time immunity! Like mentioned above, over vaccinating - especially when not needed, can cause significant long term issues for your dog. However, we also would not recommend 'taking a chance' that they are fully immune - so what we recommend is taking your dog for a 'Titre' test to check their immunity each year.
How does a 'Titre' test work
A 'Titre' test is a quick blood test where the results can tell you whether the dog has low, moderate or high immunity to DHP. For your dogs health and wellbeing, it's so important that you know whether your dog actually needs a booster before administering it.
While the dog still has high immunity there is absolutely no need to booster them! Dogs do not have immunity one moment and then not the next, despite what vets will say to you, that isn’t how immunity works.
You can 'Titre' test for about £50 / £60 at most vets with a brand called Vaccicheck - please see their Facebook page here.
When would it be best to 'Titre' test
You can 'Titre' test at any time throughout your dogs life! Some of our past owners have chosen to 'Titre' test their puppy at 6 months old for their reassurance, then again at a year old, then annually from there. Other owners just test annually.
The drive to do such in-depth research into vaccinations and boosters came from a horrendous Lepto 4 vaccination reaction that our much loved, healthy, adult French Bulldog had back in January 2017. Since learning about the Lepto vaccinations we have stopped vaccinating puppies and dogs with the drug Lepto 2 and Lepto 4. It is worth noting that this is a separate drug that vets often administer at the same time as the Nobivac DHP vaccination.
The Lepto vaccination is a controversial vaccine which, in any event, does not make the dog or the dog owner any better protected against Leptospirosis, this is because Lepto is a bacteria and not a virus like Distemper, Hepatitis and the Parvovirus. As a result this means that your dog can never build up immunity, so you cannot test your dog for antibodies like with the DHP vaccination.
So in short - your dog cannot build immunity against Leptospirosis by having the vaccination, and the vaccination is only ‘likely’ to work, but doesn't even cover the whole year and the drug itself can actually cause life long and irreversible problems. Following our research, we have personally chosen to never again use the Lepto 2 or Lepto 4 vaccination again on any of our puppies or adult dogs.
Lepto is a pretty rare infection, with my vet only seeing a few diagnosed cases in all the years he has been at the practice.
We do fully agree with an appropriate and structured vaccination program, but taking the time to understand vaccinations and how to use them correctly for the maximum benefit of dog is incredibly important to us.
For more information about the Lepto vaccination, please click here.
What does this mean for owners pet insurance
People worry that they will not be able to get pet insurance if they do not regularly vaccinate their dog. You will be able to get a policy, however the insurance will not cover any disease a dog hasn’t been annually vaccinated for.
One useful fact to know as part of your decision making is that pet insurance will also not pay for reactions to puppy vaccinations... we think that says a lot!
Our goal in sharing this information is so that you can all feel comfortable to push back on your vet if they try and blanket vaccinate your puppy and do so safe in the knowledge that you know what is best for your dog when it comes to appropriate vaccinations.
Our vet signs individual letters of health for the puppies after their 10 week visit - these will be put into their going home folders.