What Is Parvo Virus: Natural Immunity
New-born puppies are completely unable to manufacture any antibodies against infectious invaders (e.g. viruses).
This means that they would be totally unprotected … except for the fact that Mother Nature has found a way to protect them during those first, delicate weeks of life.
So, where do they get this protection from?
Well, it’s their mothers that provide it, in the form of a special milk she secretes, which is called colostrum.
She produces this special milk for the first day or two after she gives birth, and the colostrum contains all of the antibodies that the mother dog already has in her own body.
In this way, she passes on her own immune system to her puppies, who are then protected until the immunity wears off, which happens some time during the first four months.
Now, not all puppies receive the same amount of the mother’s antibodies, and the reason for this is that the amount of colostrum each puppy gets is dependent on a number of factors, which includes the order of its birth, and how strong a nurser it is.
However, the problem is that the antibodies have a sort of half-life: every nine days, the antibody levels decrease by half.
Once these levels drop to a certain point, then the puppies no longer have enough of the antibodies to protect them, and at this stage, if they are exposed to a sufficiently large quantity of viral particles, they will become infected.
There is a danger period when even the best cared for puppies can get infected, and this lasts for about a week, give or take, when the puppy has no antibody protection left over from the mother, but is still unable to respond to vaccinations.
For various reasons, we do NOT recommend Parvo vaccinations (or any vaccinations, for that matter), so you’re probably wondering what we do recommend instead.