When can my puppy go outside?

You adopt a new puppy and bring him in for his first puppy shots. He receives a clean bill of health and his first vaccine. At the end of the visit, the doctor tells you not to take your puppy on walks or to the dog park until he is fully vaccinated. But, what does that mean?

A puppy’s (or kitten’s) immune system development depends on his mother’s antibodies and the amount of colostrum he received after birth. A puppy that still has a strong maternal antibody pool will negate the effects of a vaccine. However, a puppy whose maternal antibodies are waning and is starting to rely on his own antibodies will mount his own antibodies in response to the vaccine. Since we don’t know for each individual puppy when that exact time occurs, a standard puppy vaccine protocol has been developed. This protocol involves several vaccine boosters several weeks apart until your puppy is 14-16 weeks old.

Even with the puppy booster protocol in place, there is still a timeframe during these boosters where your puppy may not have enough protection against disease from maternal antibodies, but they are still present at high enough levels to interfere with the vaccine. During this time period, your puppy is susceptible to diseases like parvovirus and distemper even though he has been vaccinated a couple of times already. That is why it is recommended that your puppy stay protected from the outside world as much as possible during this time.

At the 14-16 week mark, most healthy puppies will have developed their own protective antibodies in response to the vaccines. At this point, they are considered fully vaccinated and can go on walks or play at the dog park. Once the puppy booster protocol has been completed, your puppy will not need another booster for most vaccines until the next year. At Livingston Vet, we can help you develop a vaccine schedule customized to the needs and lifestyle of your puppy. Call us today at (517) 579-2237.