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Congratulations on getting a new family friend! The first thing we need to do is to make sure your pet is healthy and to be sure that training gets off on the right "paw". Below we've listed some health care concerns that apply to all dogs. The level of care your new dog has had in the past will determine which of these need to be addressed. Unfortunately, some times you do not receive any records that verify what has been done, or you are told "he's had everything." But, what is "everything" and when did he have it? For example, when did he actually have that rabies vaccine and can you verify it if you need to prove it to county officials? Therefore, we recommend a complete physical examination and dental examination for all new "adoptees," so call for an appointment at 574-654-3129. Be sure to bring along any medical records you might have so we can see what has been done and what has not. To help reduce your costs, we offer a Preventive Health Plan that covers examinations, blood and stool tests, a year supply of heartworm and flea prevention, and other services; the Dental Plan also includes a complete dental prophylaxis with anesthesia, IV fluids, ultrasonic and manual scaling, polishing, fluoride treatment and barrier sealant. Click on the Preventive Health Care tab at left for more information or contact our office.
Internal Parasite Control is a must. Various intestinal parasite infections are quite common in dogs and although may not show symptoms initially (you will rarely see worms with the exception of tapeworms and occasionally roundworms), they can drain valuable nutrients and blood. In addition, they are transmissible to other pets and even to people. Even if the pet has been de-wormed, you should bring in a stool sample for microscopic examination since no de-wormer gets every parasite that's possible or it might not have cleared all the worms that it should have.
Heartworms are deadly worms spread by mosquitoes. An adult dog needs to have a simple blood test to check for this infection, and if clear, should be on preventive medication every month. Some of these medications also help to prevent intestinal worms and external parasites.
Flea and tick treatment and/or preventive measures may be needed as well. We are always surprised by the number of pets that come in with fleas and their owner had no idea the infestation was present. You want to be sure to control these before other pets get infected or the house becomes infested, plus they can spread other internal diseases to your new pet and in sensitive animals, can cause terrible skin conditions.
Vaccinations should be current and include at the very least the combination vaccine of distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus as well as the state required rabies vaccine. However, you may have been told that the dog is current or "had all his shots" but you should bring his records for us to check to see if indeed they are up to date. Other vaccines to consider, based on your dog's risk of exposure include Bordatella (also called Canine Cough or Kennel Cough), 4-way Leptospirosis, and Lyme disease.
Nutrition. To avoid intestinal upset, especially in combination with the stress of coming into a new home, it is safest to avoid changing your dog's diet until he has had time to adjust. After that, he can be changed gradually onto a premium brand food such as Science Diet, Purina ProPlan, or Eukanuba. Meal feeding, in which 1-2 meals are given daily of measured portions is best in order to control his weight. Just filling up the bowl causes too many pets to get too heavy. Obesity is as much a problem as it is for us, contributing to diabetes, heart & lung problems, and joint damage. Most dogs also do not get nearly the amount of exercise for which they were designed (for example, most hunting breeds are genetically programmed to run all day long in the field!)
Training. Hopefully your new friend is already housebroken but if not, we can discuss ways to "teach an old dog new tricks" regarding his potty preferences. Although your dog is past the "critical puppy socialization phase," we still need to work to prevent behavior problems from developing, or possibly correct pre-existing ones. This is the number one reason for shelter surrenders and therefore becomes the main reason for euthanasia. Obedience classes are always recommended, and older training methods that involve force, dominance, or physical punishment are outdated and often harmful.
Spaying and Neutering. If your new dog is not already spayed or neutered, we strongly recommend doing this as soon as he is adjusted to his new home. By doing this simple procedure, you can prevent many potential health problems, lessen numerous behavioral problems, and avoid adding to the unwanted pet overpopulation problem. Unless your pet is AKC registered, has passed all of its genetic testing, and is of excellent temperament (and all of this needs to be true of a prospective mate), there is no good reason to justify breeding... "experience for the kids," "because his or her markings are so nice," or "to calm her down" are NOT sufficient reasons