The Window of Susceptibility – what you should know

Why oh why do puppies get so many vaccines in the first three months of life?

If your veterinary is not proactively sharing information on why, the real reasons why, not the pharma sales person pitch on why, two totally different monkeys by the way, than you either need to put your foot down, or search for a veterinary that is willing to share, teach, and exchange information with you.

So some cool stuff you should know about a very important, but rarely talked about topic, The Window of Susceptibility.

PLACENTA LIFE – What happens in the placenta, stays in the placenta. ha! Protective antibodies from Mom can pass through the placenta to the fetus in some species, giving passive and protective immunity. This means, Moms health, and her exposure to diseases, how her immune system coped, and her personal antibodies, count a whole awful lot. The healthier the adult female dogs immune system, the healthier and more vibrant the puppies immune system will be.

Natural exposure to disease builds life long immunity, and a stronger immune system. Fact.

BIRTH – When a puppy is born, their immune system is not fully developed. This means that if a serious disease was present, viral or bacterial, the puppy would most likely contract it.

But here comes Mom and Mother Nature to the rescue! During the first 12-18 hours of life, how much and how often a puppy nurses is critical. They are receiving mothers ‘first milk’ which is called colostrum, and through this antibody rich first milk, the puppy is receiving what is called, passive immunity, meaning Moms health, her antibodies, will protect the puppy anywhere from 12-18 weeks of age.

Colostrum is a mixture of large protein antibody molecules, water, vitamins, electrolytes, and nutrients. If any of you reading this are Moms yourself, and you nursed your babies, you will remember that thick yellowish milk you produced shortly after giving birth, colostrum serves the same purpose for all mammal species.

But this is an ultra short little time slot because, 12-18 hours after birth, the digestive system of the puppy begins to change, and the puppy begins to hydrolyze proteins, which in turn destroys any further maternal antibodies from the mom. So drink up little ones, the clock is a tickin’.

BREEDERS TAKE NOTE – You want to make sure your Dam has HIGH antibody titers before breeding so she is able to pass along strong protection to her puppies. In turn, the puppies will posses higher levels of protection, from Mom, for longer periods of time.

Please note, that for sure, 24 hours after birth, it does not matter how often a puppy nurses for ‘health’ protection. What happened in the first 12-18 hours of life with Mom, nursing, and colostrum, sealed the deal.

After a puppy is 24 hours old, there is no longer an ability to absorb Moms maternal antibodies, so supplementing with a colostrum rich formula is just chucking money in the trash can. If you don’t need to bottle feed in the first 24 hours, please don’t, let Mom do the work.

WINDOW OF SUSCEPTIBILITY – This is where life gets interesting. And if ever there was a time to believe in REAL health, this would be it.

There is a small window, between 5-18 weeks, where the puppies passive immunity from Mom fades, the puppy is left vulnerable to any serious disease that might be in the environment, BEFORE their own immune system kicks in. Each breed, each Mom, each litter, each puppy in each litter is different, so there is no exact concrete time frame, it is a guesstimate.

So the age at which a puppy can be effectively immunized or exposed to disease is proportional to the amount of antibody protection they received from Mom.

Health, health, health. This counts for everything.

This means, if Mom had a kick ass immune system, great gut health, species specific diet, a socially and emotionally balanced environment, and her puppies nursed strong for the first 12-18 hours, they would most likely be protected through passive immunity for longer than puppies born to an unhealthy Mom, on a poor diet, in an unstable emotional environment, with underlying health issues.

Here is where we learn that ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

So here is the reason there are so many office visits, and shots given (parvo and distemper) to puppies at such a young age – veterinarians do not know when the WINDOW OF SUSCEPTIBILITY is open and ready for business. So the guess is, that the more often we give vaccines, there is a chance that ONE will be timed just right and will be effective protection to the puppy.

That is the only reason there are so many visits, honest to God. Vaccines given while Moms passive immunity is protecting the puppy are null and void, this means they served zero purpose, other than putting a ton of junk into your puppies body. Moms passive immunity trumps everything, the true power of nature.

So, how to protect your puppy, safely expose your puppy, and do the right thing? First you need to find a veterinary that knows their shit, more than what a pharmaceutical sales rep has told them. They should know who Dr. Ronald Schultz is and his thirty five years of research, what a Titers test is, and be up to date on what is called ‘a safe vaccine schedule’. This schedule errors on the side of Mom being healthy to begin with, the puppies having unlimited access to Mom for nursing during the first 18 hours of life, and the passive immunity lasting longer in the puppy.


Health is not just about getting a vaccine. That would be an unfair reductionist view of real health.

Health is a whole, the whole dog, which encompasses the social, emotional, nutritional, and physical well being of each dog.

Here is to always being on a path to learning more – Nancy

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Susan says:

    Such a timely note as I am currently figuring out Baby Luke’s vaccine schedule! Thank you! Your explanation is easily understandable!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      HI Susan, glad it gave you some info … So excited to see you and Luke next week!!!

  2. dayphoto says:

    My vet is right on…I had gone to a vet who gave ever shot all at once. Then I had a very sick dog for a long time. I changed vets.


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