Enhancing Puppy Health and Protection: The Benefits of Nomographs for Breeders

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I wrote more about this in another article–it’s more in-depth, so if you’d like to read it, check it out here.

The Significance of Nomographs in Puppy Health

As a breeder, understanding the concept of nomographs and incorporating them into your practices can greatly benefit the health and protection of your litters of puppies. Nomographs have been around for over 50 years, but until recently, their use has been limited due to testing constraints and access. However, now we have the opportunity to utilize this valuable tool.

Understanding the Nomograph Analysis Process

A nomograph is not a standalone test, but rather a practical application of a test with multiple steps. It takes into account various factors such as health conditions and lifestyle limitations to provide us with a personalized analysis. In our case, a nomograph analysis can help us estimate the optimal time to vaccinate our puppies against canine distemper virus and canine parvovirus, two deadly infectious diseases.

Fun with amazing Laurel Mt Llewellin Setter Puppies!

The Role of Maternal Antibodies in Puppy Immunity

We all know how crucial maternal antibodies are for the initial protection of our puppies. Within 36 hours of birth, the puppies receive maternal antibodies through colostrum milk from their mother. However, after this period, the effectiveness of these antibodies gradually decreases. Vaccinating too early, when the maternal antibodies are still active, can render the vaccines ineffective. The pups could even have 1, 2, or even 3 vaccinations and if the mother’s be because its mother’s immunity interfered with the pup’s ability to respond to the vaccination. And it is during the first 16 weeks of life that socialization is so important that our pups are the most vulnerable to these infectious diseases. That’s why finding the perfect time to vaccinate is of utmost importance.

Vaccination Timing: Key to Effective Protection

By following the nomograph analysis process, we can ensure that we are making informed decisions. The first step is to collect a blood sample from the mother dog either two weeks before or after giving birth. This sample is then sent to a veterinary reference laboratory where an antibody titer test for distemper and parvovirus is conducted. Based on the results, the laboratory provides us with a conservative estimate of the optimal time to vaccinate a litter against these diseases.

The Impact of Nomograph Analysis: Research Findings

Research has shown the effectiveness of nomograph analysis. A study comparing litters that underwent nomograph analysis to those that didn’t revealed that the nomograph group had significantly higher levels of protection. Around 95.7% of the nomograph group was protected against distemper, and 90.5% was protected against parvovirus. In contrast, only 85.5% of the non-nomograph group was protected against distemper, and 81.7% was protected against parvovirus. These numbers speak for themselves and highlight the benefits of incorporating nomographs into our breeding practices.

Limitations of Nomograph Analysis and Its Benefits

Of course, it’s essential to recognize that nomograph analysis is not without limitations. It assumes 100% transfer of maternal antibodies, which may not always be the case. However, the analysis still provides us with valuable insights and estimates, allowing us to make more informed decisions about vaccination timing on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Variables Affecting Puppy Immunity

In addition to nomograph analysis, other variables can influence a puppy’s immunity, such as the quality of colostrum production, the puppy’s ability to absorb colostrum, and the mother’s nursing behavior. By considering these factors and incorporating nomograph analysis into our decision-making process, we can enhance the protection and well-being of our puppies. As mentioned earlier, please check out the other article, here.

The Importance of Fresh-Frozen Plasma (FFP)

Moreover, for situations where a puppy is weak, orphaned, or didn’t receive sufficient colostrum, the use of fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) can provide crucial support. This plasma contains antibodies and nutrients that help protect the puppy against viruses and supply important nourishment. Having FFP on hand can be particularly beneficial for fading puppy syndrome or orphaned pups. It has a 5 year shelf life and you can order FFP from Hemo-Pet.

By utilizing the knowledge and tools available to us, such as nomographs and FFP, we can ensure that our litters of puppies receive the best possible protection against infectious diseases. It’s our responsibility as breeders to prioritize their health and well-being, and incorporating these practices can contribute significantly to achieving that goal.


More information, videos, and instructions on how to submit blood samples for nomographs for your dam and puppy titer testing is available here.


“CAVIDS Titer Testing.” Nomograph and Puppy Follow-up Video (30:42 Minutes) | CAVIDS Titer Testing, University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary School of Medicine, https://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/lab/cavids/nomograph-and-puppy-follow-up-explainer-video-30-minutes/

Dodds, W. Jean. “Puppy and Kitten Vaccinations: Timing Is Critical.” Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource, Tumblr, 5 Mar. 2014, https://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/78666367482/maternal-antibodies-vaccines#.YtgQfXbMLIV

Dodds, W. Jean. “Treating ‘Fading Puppy Syndrome’ or Orphaned Pups with Fresh-Frozen Plasma.” Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource, Tumblr, 7 Aug. 2016, https://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/148593018041/treating-fading-puppy-syndrome-or-orphaned-pups#.YtgWLnbMLIV

Larson, Laurie, et al. “Canine Nomograph Evaluation Improves Puppy Immunization.” Clinical Theriogenology, vol. 12, no. 3, Sept. 2020, pp. 215–221, https://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/lab/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2020/11/Larson-Clinical-Theriogenolgy-Official-Journal-of-Society-for-Theriogenology-Volume-12-Number-3-September-2020-215-221.pdf