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When Do Puppies Get Parvo Shots? A Timely Guide for New Pet Parents

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

when do puppies get parvo shots

If you understand the importance of keeping your little furballs safe and healthy, then the question of when puppies get parvo shots must have crossed your mind. Since, parvo is the number one cause of death in dogs under a year old, it is absolutely vital that we know exactly when they need to get their jabs/

We know navigating the world of pet healthcare can be daunting, but with accurate information and timely action, our beloved pups can enjoy a healthy, happy, and parvo-free life. From here on, when do young dogs get parvo shots? We have looked through the lenses of the BSAVA manual of canine and feline clinical pathology to give you a better glimpse of the topic.

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Remember: If you adopt or buy a puppy already in the middle of this age range, you must ask for their vaccination records. If the previous owner or breeder cannot provide these records, consult a veterinarian to get them up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Following a proper vaccination schedule can significantly reduce the risk of our pooches getting this deadly disease that will leave you with a broken heart as you watch your pup struggle to walk, stressed, sleepless nights, and empty pockets at the same time.

Understanding and being proactive about CPV will ensure your canine companion a  happy and healthy life. Remember that maintaining regular check-ups with your veterinarian is crucial for your puppy’s overall health!

An eight-week-old puppy getting its first parvo shots or vaccination with injection

Understanding Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious and one of the most infectious diseases in dogs worldwide. The virus is primarily observed in young dogs between six weeks to six months of age and unvaccinated dogs, with 91% and 10 % mortality rates, respectively. 

The virus can survive in the environment for months, making it crucial to regularly clean and sanitize our pet’s living area. Vaccination plays a key role in protecting our pooches against this dangerous virus. 

Adequate timing is essential as it ensures the immunity provided by their mother’s milk doesn’t interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness and protects them before their immunity wanes. 

Causes of Parvovirus

The primary causes and factors contributing to the spread of CPV2 include:

1. Direct Contact

The virus primarily spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or feces. This can occur through sniffing, licking, or touching contaminated surfaces.

2. Fecal-Oral Transmission

If your dogs eat poop, they can contract CPV by ingesting the feces of an infected dog. This can happen if a healthy pup comes into contact with contaminated fecal matter in the environment.

3. Contaminated Environment

Infected dogs can shed the virus in their feces, and the virus can contaminate soil, water bowls, food bowls, kennel surfaces, and other objects.

Healthy and unvaccinated dogs coming into contact with these contaminated surfaces are at risk of infection.

4. Fomites

Inanimate objects, known as fomites, can carry the virus. This includes food and water bowls, leashes, collars, bedding, and the hands and clothing of people who have been in contact with infected dogs.

5. Virus Shedding

Infected dogs can shed the virus for several weeks, even if they are not showing clinical signs of illness. This means that healthy dogs can still spread the virus.

6. Crowded or Unsanitary Conditions

Places where dogs are close to each other, such as parks, shelters, and breeding facilities, can facilitate the rapid spread of diseases such as kennel cough and CPV2, especially if hygiene measures are not strictly maintained.

7. Unvaccinated or Under-vaccinated Dogs

Dogs not vaccinated against parvovirus or who have received the entire series of vaccinations are more susceptible to the infection when they come across it.

Factors Affecting Parvo Shots

10-week-old Basset puppy getting second parvo shots

Several factors can affect when a puppy should receive their CPV vaccination. This section will discuss the impact of the puppy’s age, health conditions, and environmental factors.

Puppy’s Age

Considering  their age when scheduling their parvo shots is essential.  The first vaccination at 6 should be at 6 weeks, followed by booster shots every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is around 16 weeks old. However, this schedule may vary depending on breed, maternal antibodies, and overall health.

Health Conditions

A puppy’s health condition plays a significant role in determining the timing and necessity of vaccinations. While CPV shots are essential, some health circumstances may require postponing or adjusting the vaccination schedule.

For example, if a puppy has a compromised immune system or is suffering from an illness, the veterinarian may advise delaying the CPV2 vaccination until the puppy fully recovers.

Additionally, youngings with a history of allergic reactions to vaccinations may need a modified schedule or other precautions.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which your puppy lives can also impact the timing and importance of parvo vaccinations. Young dogs exposed to high-risk environments, such as shelters, kennels, or areas with frequent dog gatherings, should be vaccinated as early as possible to minimize the risk of contracting CPV2.

In contrast, puppies living in more isolated, low-risk environments may have a slightly more flexible vaccination schedule. 

Why Do Puppies Need Multiple Parvo Shots?

A one-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog about to get a parvo booster shot

Young canines have passive immunization. These are the maternal antibodies passed from the mother to the unborn puppy through the placenta and mainly after birth through suckling. 

The antibodies provide temporary protection against various diseases, including Parvovirus. However, the maternal antibodies decline with age between eight to sixteen weeks old.

A series of vaccinations are administered because the maternal antibodies can interfere with the effectiveness of any vaccines, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the puppy can be effectively vaccinated. 

To counteract this, it is recommended to measure the level of maternal antibodies in puppies before the vaccination to reduce the risk of vaccine ineffectiveness or administer a series of parvo shots to ensure proper protection after the maternal antibodies have worn off.

Here is a basic schedule for CPV2 vaccinations:

  • Initial vaccine: 6-8 weeks of age
  • Booster shots:
    1. 10-12 weeks of age;
    2. 14-16 weeks of age; then
    3. Additional shot at around 20 weeks of age (optional, depending on the vet’s advice).

Remember: It is crucial to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best vaccination schedule tailored to your puppy’s needs.

Here are some safety guidelines to follow when taking your puppy outside during their vaccination process:

  • Avoid dog parks, pet stores, and other areas with a high concentration of dogs.
  • If your pup is ready for strolls, choose quieter areas for walks with less traffic of unknown animals.
  • Keep your puppy on a leash, and do not let them interact with unfamiliar dogs or wander, as they can come across infected poop.

Signs and Symptoms

When a puppy gets infected with the CPV2, they might show several symptoms that we should be aware of:

  • Vomiting: Dogs with CPV often experience severe vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: The diarrhea associated with CPV is often bloody and has a distinctive foul odor. This is one of the most alarming and recognizable signs of the virus. The diarrhea is often bloody and has a strong foul odor.
  • Dehydration: The combination of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a serious concern.
  • Lethargy and Weakness: Young canines infected with CPV2 may appear lethargic and weak. They may be unwilling or unable to stand or move around.
  • Loss of Appetite: Parvo can cause a sudden and severe loss of appetite in affected dogs.
  • Fever: Infected pups may have a high fever.
  • Depression: Dogs with CPV2 may show signs of depression or a lack of interest in their surroundings.
  • Abdominal Pain: Puppies may exhibit signs of abdominal pain, such as hunching over or a tense abdomen.
  • Secondary Infections: Parvo weakens the immune system, making puppies susceptible to secondary bacterial infections.

Initial Vaccination Schedule

It is recommended to follow a vaccination schedule to ensure our canine companion are adequately immunized from the dangerous CPV2..

Here’s a brief outline of the recommended vaccination timeline:

  1. First vaccine: 6-8 weeks;
  2. Second vaccine: 10-12 weeks; and
  3. Third vaccine: 14-16 weeks.

Note: During this period, we must keep our puppies away from potentially contaminated environments to minimize their exposure to the virus.

Continued Vaccination

A booster shot is usually necessary to maintain our dog’s immunity against CPV2. The typical sequence for booster shots is as follows:

  • A booster shot within one year of the last dose in the initial series
  • Subsequent booster shots every three years after the previous booster.

How much does the parvo vaccination typically cost?

When you’re budgeting for our canine companions, one of the primary concerns might be the cost. 

While we can’t give you an exact price due to the varying factors, we can provide a general range and characteristics to keep in mind.

Typical costs:

  • Single vaccine dose: The cost for a single CPV2 vaccination can range from $30 to $40.
  • Puppy vaccine series: It’s recommended that puppies receive several doses of the vaccine, with prices for the whole series (usually given at 6, 8, 12, and 16 weeks old) ranging from $60 to $120.

Now, let’s discuss some factors that can influence these costs.

Type of Vaccine

Different types of vaccines are available for preventing the virus, and their costs can vary. Some vaccines may offer broader protection against multiple diseases, affecting the overall cost.

Vaccination Schedule

The cost of parvo shots can also depend on the specific vaccination schedule the veterinarian recommends. Puppies typically receive a series of vaccinations, and the number of doses can affect the overall cost.

Additional Services

Some veterinary clinics may include additional services or examinations in the vaccination package. These can include a general health check, deworming, or other preventive measures.

Veterinarian’s Expertise and Reputation

The experience and reputation of the veterinarian or veterinary clinic can influence pricing. Veterinarians with specialized knowledge or a strong reputation may charge higher fees for their services.

Discounts and Packages

Some veterinary clinics offer package deals or discounts for multiple vaccinations or when bundled with other services. It’s worth asking about any available discounts.

Pet Insurance

The cost of vaccinations may be influenced by whether the pet owner has pet insurance. Some insurance plans cover preventive care, including vaccinations, which can help reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

Government or Nonprofit Programs

In certain areas, government or nonprofit programs may offer discounted or free vaccinations for pets. These programs aim to promote public health and control the spread of infectious diseases.

You might want to explore your options for affordable vaccinations by considering the following:

  • Low-cost vaccination clinics: These clinics provide essential, low-cost vaccinations for your pets. You can search online for local options.
  • Mobile vaccination clinics: Some areas have mobile clinics that travel to offer accessible and affordable pet vaccinations.
  • Veterinary schools: Check for any veterinary schools nearby, as they may offer discounted vaccinations to the community.

Tips for Post-Vaccination Care

Keep an eye on your puppy during the first hours

Watching your puppy closely during the first 24-48 hours after vaccination is crucial. Look for signs of an adverse reaction, such as facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. If you notice anything concerning, call your veterinarian right away.

Ensure quiet and comfortable surroundings

To facilitate healing and minimize stress, provide your puppy a quiet and cozy space to rest after their CPV2 shots. Avoid loud noises and too much activity, which can overstimulate your pup and hinder its recovery.

Temperature & Bedding

Ensure their bed or designated resting area is neither too hot nor too cold, and provide them with a soft, comfortable blanket.

Limit their activity

While your puppy may seem full of energy post-vaccination, keeping their activity levels low for the next day or two is essential. This allows their immune system to build defenses against the CPV2 without any added stress.

Simple activities: Encourage calm and gentle play, such as interactive toys or puzzle games, to keep your pup entertained and stimulated without overexerting them.

Provide nutritious meals

Nutrition is an essential component in controlling diseases in dogs. Offer your young canines high-quality food post-vaccination to support their immune system. Nutritious meals can help your pup build a healthy immune response and recover quicker.

Monitor appetite: If your puppy has a decreased appetite after vaccination, offer them smaller and more frequent meals or try to force feed them, adding a bit of low-sodium broth to their kibble for added flavor.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Ensuring your puppy stays hydrated is essential for their overall health and well-being. Fresh water should always be available, and you can encourage them to drink by providing ice cubes or a small amount of low-sodium broth mixed into their water. If they seem reluctant to drink water, follow these steps to hydrate a dog.

Remember, it’s normal for puppies to experience mild side effects after their CPV shots, such as mild fever or discomfort at the injection site. However, if your pup shows severe symptoms or you’re concerned about their well-being, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for additional guidance and support.

Possible Side Effects and Risks

It’s essential to consider possible side effects and risks associated with CPV shots, so let’s discuss some common symptoms and concerns you might encounter.

Remember: Protecting our puppies from dangerous illnesses while being aware of potential side effects is always a top priority.

Mild Side Effects

Sometimes, our little canines might experience mild side effects following vaccination. These are generally not too serious and typically resolve within a few days. Some of the standard mild side effects include allergic response, toxicity, residual virulence, and neurological complications.

Severe Side Effects

Though rare, some puppies may experience more severe side effects that require immediate attention from your veterinarian. Keep an eye out for these alarming symptoms:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea: If these symptoms persist for over a day, consult your vet.
  • Difficulty breathing: Labored breathing or wheezing is not a normal response to the vaccination.
  • Collapse or seizure: These are signs of a severe reaction, and you should seek veterinary help immediately.

It’s essential to remember that while the possibility of side effects exists, the benefits of protecting our pups from dangerous diseases like CPV2 generally outweigh the risks.

Ensure you observe your puppy closely after vaccination and report any concerning symptoms to your veterinarian. Staying well-informed and vigilant helps us ensure their health and well-being as they grow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the recommended schedule for puppy parvo vaccinations?

We recommend following a specific schedule for puppy CPV2 vaccinations to ensure the best protection. Typically, the first shot is given at 6-8 weeks, followed by booster shots every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. However, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for the most suitable schedule for your puppy.

At what age should puppies receive their first DHPP vaccine?

Young dogs should receive their first DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) vaccine at around 6-8 weeks. This is a vital step to protect them against these potentially life-threatening diseases.

How many parvo shots are necessary for complete protection?

A series of 3-4 CPV2 shots is necessary for complete protection. This includes the initial shot at 6-8 weeks, followed by booster shots every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Protective levels may vary based on breed, environment, and overall health.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with parvo vaccinations?

CPV2 vaccinations are generally safe and effective; however, some puppies may experience mild side effects. These can include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, and sluggishness. 

Can a puppy socialize with other dogs after receiving the parvo vaccine?

We advise waiting until your puppy has received their CPV2 vaccinations before socializing with other dogs, especially in high-risk areas like dog parks. During this time, you can still introduce your puppy to well-vaccinated and healthy dogs in controlled environments to help with socialization.

Conclusion

The initial CPV vaccination is typically given to pups between six and eight weeks of age. Following this, booster shots are administered every three to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old.

It is essential to consult with a veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your puppy based on their specific needs. Breed, age, and medical history can influence the ideal timing for these shots.

To both protect your puppy and prevent the spread of CPV, we recommend always following the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian, keeping your puppy away from unvaccinated dogs and areas where CPV outbreaks have occurred, and maintaining a clean environment by regularly disinfecting surfaces, toys, and food bowls.

Don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian with any questions or concerns you may have. Our best wishes to you and your new puppy!

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Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.