A puppy is an exciting addition to any family. Taking it out for its first walk is a large part of the enjoyment. But before it can venture into the big wide world, a full set of vaccinations is essential. Puppies should have their first vaccinations at 8 weeks and a second set at around 10 to 12 weeks of age. Then you must wait for these to take effect.
When can I walk my puppy after vaccinations? You can take your puppy for its first walk 2 weeks after its second round of vaccinations as this is how long it takes it to develop immunity to the very diseases the vaccinations are intended to prevent. With the right antibodies in place, your puppy is good to go.
It’s tempting to take a puppy out earlier than this but once you read the reasons why you shouldn’t, it’ll be clear that it’s not worth the risk and you’ll be happy to wait just a little while longer. In the meantime, enjoy the company of your puppy inside!
There is a very good reason why the recommendation is to get a puppy vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. A puppy is susceptible to dangerous illnesses from the moment it is born until 10 to 14 days after its second set of vaccinations.
When a puppy is born it already has some immunity from its mother. Some of this is provided at the fetal stage and some once the puppy is born and suckles on the first milk its mother produces, known as colostrum.
Interestingly, this important source of antibodies is only present in the mother’s milk during the first 24 to 48 hours so it is vital that the puppy suckles from its mother during this timeframe.
If for any reason a puppy is hand-reared it will miss out on this essential immunity. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that the mother will only pass on antibodies for diseases that she has been vaccinated against herself. Hence, this is one of the first questions you should ask when looking at puppies at this young age.
Why should I vaccinate my puppy?
If you don’t have a puppy vaccinated it will be susceptible to a number of dangerous infections, including distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, and rabies. If a puppy is not vaccinated it is not safe for it to be exposed to other dogs or areas where other dogs have been. This is because it is impossible to know if all other dogs have been vaccinated.
Some of the diseases mentioned above can linger on surfaces for months so it’s just not worth risking placing your puppy on the ground unless you know for sure the area cannot be infected. I guess a better way of putting this should be, why shouldn’t we vaccinate?
The simple (and hopefully obvious after reading this article) reason is that there is none. There’s no logical reason to really delay this except if the vet suggests it for some medical reason, perhaps the puppy has a medical condition and is not strong enough so they may suggest leaving it just a little longer.
First puppy vaccinations
When should your puppy have its first vaccination? The answer to this is when it is about 8 weeks old and has been weaned (stopped having its mother’s milk). The vaccination may cause mild reactions including:
- discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site
- a mild fever
- decreased appetite and activity.
These symptoms are perfectly normal but seek advice from your vet if any of these signs persist for more than a couple of days.
Your puppy will be ready for its second vaccinations about 2 weeks after the first. Again you may notice some mild side effects. Ten days after the second vaccinations you are free to take your dog out to wow the world. You will get this appointment though when you go in for the initial one.
Going outside before vaccinations are completed
People often ask if a puppy can go outside before its first vaccinations have been administered. If you know other dogs have not been in your garden or that the dogs that have been in your garden have had all of their vaccinations, you can let your puppy out to play in it. Make sure there is no escape route and don’t leave it unattended.
You can also take it in the car to visit friends and family, just make sure you carry it and don’t let it walk from the car to the house. Only do this if you really feel you need to though. There are obviously risks associated with it and I know it’s so difficult keeping them inside but just weigh up the pros and cons before letting your new little one out through that door.
One area where I have noticed conflicting ideas is when it comes to socializing a puppy. I don’t mean taking it down to the pub with some other dog friends, I mean the initial introductions with other humans and animals! Some experts say that your puppy should socialize with as many children, adults, dogs and other animals as possible between the age of 8 to16 weeks.
This is because the more people and other animals it encounters by this age, the more sociable and well adjusted it will become. Yet others say puppies should be kept away from other dogs until they are fully immunized. It has been suggested that puppy training classes and vets waiting rooms are great places to introduce puppies to other puppies and dogs.
If you know a set of ‘safe-dogs’ who are up-to-date with their vaccinations, then these would be ideal for your puppy to meet. As there’s so much conflicting advice it’s difficult to know what really is best. I would always recommend getting expert advice from a vet if in doubt.
I have read often that traditionally people have delayed puppy training until the age of 6 months but this misses out on that 8 to 16-week window when a puppy’s brain is soaking up new experiences like a sponge.
But research has shown that puppies respond well to training at a much younger age (from 8 weeks) so it seems it is fine to find a class and start training as soon as you get your puppy.
The sessions should be relatively short as, like young children, puppies have a short span of attention. Opinion seems to be that the sooner you begin training your puppy, the better.
And it’s a great way for them to get used to being around other dogs. My advice would be to take your puppy to at least three. If after that you feel that neither of you is getting anything out of it, then perhaps it’s just not for you.
Whilst we’re talking about puppies and training, something you should start doing as early as possible is to start looking after their teeth. If you’re unsure how to do this, take a look at the article (opens in a new window).
Parasites: fleas, ticks, mites and worms,
Once your puppy is over 8 weeks old, you can use an all-in-one treatment such as Front-line to prevent fleas, ticks, and mites on a monthly basis. Worming tablets are available on prescription from your vet.
It is important to get the right dosage of these medications according to size and weight. There’s a good chance you’ll
Pet insurance is definitely worth investing in from the beginning as if ever your puppy needs a lot of treatment vet bills can soon mount up to a horrifying figure. There are many different policies to choose from so some research upfront is a good idea before selecting the right one for your puppy.
Remember, if you ever make a claim and then at a later date decide to swap to a cheaper insurer you can’t usually get cover for any pre-existing conditions.
My dad has a dog (a Deer Hound) and there have been several occasions when he’s needed his pet insurance (unfortunately). The fact is that without this insurance the cost of the medical bills would have come to such a large amount of money and he simply would not have been able to afford it the treatment.
The thought of not being able to have your dog treated for something critical because you haven’t bought pet insurance and so can’t afford the costs is too awful to contemplate.
There are a lot of people who suggest it should be mandatory to have pet insurance when you buy a dog – it’s a strong argument.
I hope you have found this article helpful. I know I have digressed from the original subject of ‘when can I walk my puppy after vaccinations’ but I have covered questions that have occurred to me as I have been researching into the things to consider before buying (or rescuing) a puppy.
There is a lot to think about but preparation and budgeting is the key to giving your puppy the best start to what should then be a long, happy and healthy life.