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Is it Safe for an Unvaccinated Puppy to Play With an Older Dog?

I have a now two-month-old Siberian Husky puppy, that I am anxious to get socialized. I really want her to play with my cousins 3...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Apr 7th 2010


I have a now two-month-old Siberian Husky puppy, that I am anxious to get socialized. I really want her to play with my cousins 3 year old dog. Her dog is all up to date on shots. However, is this safe for either of them, until my little girl is vaccinated for the Parvo virus? Also at what age should I have my girl vaccinated for Parvo?

Danielle
Illinois

Socializing puppies–especially members of spirited breeds such as Siberian Huskies–is extremely important. Puppies are most easily socialized when they are less than four months old. Puppy vaccination schedules (recommended by reputable organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association and many veterinary schools) call for puppies to receive parvovirus vaccines every three to four weeks beginning at six – eight weeks of age and ending at 12 – 16 weeks.

In other words, puppies are most easily socialized when they are not yet fully vaccinated against the most dreaded (and most reliably preventable with vaccines) disease of puppyhood.

Any time a a puppy without its full complement of vaccines ventures away from home it will be at risk of contracting parvovirus. Because of this some vets recommend quarantining puppies until their shots are done. I am not one of those vets.

Although there are risks associated with taking your dog out before her puppy shots are complete, there also are risks to keeping her home. Poorly socialized dogs are much more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, aggressive or fearful behavior, and phobias.

My recommendation is to try to strike a balance. Until she’s had all of her shots, don’t take your dog to the beach (Lake Michigan has great beaches) or to dog parks. But if you have friends or relatives with well-cared-for, healthy dogs, the risk of introducing them to your puppy is minimal.

You mention that your puppy is two months old. She is ready for her first parvo vaccine. Keep her on schedule until she’s fully vaccinated. But I see nothing wrong with her playing with your cousin’s dog.