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Congratulations on your new puppy! We've summarized some of the most important aspects of puppy health. All puppies should have an examination as soon as it is convenient for you after you've adopted your new family member. We want to be sure that we get rid of any parasites that might be affecting your puppy's health, prevent common illnesses through proper vaccinations, maximize proper growth through good nutrition, and be sure that the puppy is being trained and socialized in an appropriate manner. We will discuss all of these in detail at your well-puppy visits that generally are timed in association with vaccination series. Even if your puppy is not due for a vaccine when you first get it, we want to work together to teach you up to date puppy training and health care so call us for an appointment. To help save you costs, we offer a Preventive Health Care Plan for Puppies which provides vaccinations, examinations, stool testing, de-worming, microchip insertion and registration, a year supply of heartworm and flea prevention, and our Preferred Plan Spay or Neuter, all at significant discount. For information, click on the Preventive Health Care tab at left or call our office at 574-654-3129.
Intestinal Parasites. It is so common for puppies to have intestinal worms and other parasites that all should be de-wormed at least once or twice. Even once this has been done, a stool sample should be tested microscopically for hidden worms that can not only harm your puppy but can spread to other pets and people too.
External Parasites. Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites are common in young puppies but must be treated safely yet thoroughly to prevent infestation of others and to prevent transmission of diseases to your puppy. Did you know that fleas can take so much blood from your puppy that it can be fatal and that blood transfusions may be needed for treatment?
Heartworms are deadly parasites spread by mosquitoes so even indoor animals are susceptible. Young puppies can be started on preventive medication without the need for a heartworm blood test; many of these preventives also prevent internal and external parasites.
Vaccinations are vital to prevent highly contagious and deadly viruses. A series of vaccines and boosters are needed starting at 6-8 weeks and continued every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 4 months of age when his immune system is strong enough to prevent the disease. This is for core vaccines that all puppies should get, protecting them against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis/adenovirus, and parainfluenza. He will receive his Rabies vaccine generally at 3-4 months of age; this is required by state law. You should not wait until this age to start the parvo series since this disease is extremely common, quite deadly, and very expensive to treat. Other vaccinations that might be given, decided on exposure risk include bordatella (commonly called Canine Cough or Kennel Cough) which should be given to puppies who are going to be around other dogs frequently, such as at boarding, grooming, or training facilities or at dog shows. Another common disease in this area is Leptospirosis which is spread from infected rodents, raccoons, opossums, etc through their urine and often into outside water; we use a vaccine that protects against the 4 most common strains. Lyme disease, which is spread by deer ticks, is recommended for pets traveling to high risk areas such as the upper midwest or east coast. Unfortunately, we have been seeing more of this disease locally so consider it if your pet has tick exposure.
Nutrition. Good nutrition and feeding schedules helps your puppy develop properly. Since space is limited here, to summarize, your puppy should be meal fed (i.e. don't just leave the food out for him to eat whenever he wants) a good quality puppy food that is appropriate for his size. You get what you pay for in terms of quality... we encourage use of premium foods such as Science Diet, Purina ProPlan, or Eukanuba.
Training. Proper training methods and socialization is critical at this age. Puppies have a critical socialization period up to 4 months of age. If you expose them to all types of experiences, situations, and people prior to this time, they will be much better adjusted and able to cope with change later on. Puppy kindergarten classes and later, obedience classes are wonderful! Behavior problems are almost always preventable and too many people treat them incorrectly with physical punishment, force, and dominance which induces additional fear. Behavior problems are the number one killer of dogs: owners relinquish an improperly trained or socialized puppy to a shelter where often it is euthanized. Of course, the first training issue everyone wants to get controlled is housebreaking... we will discuss this and other common behavior issues at your puppy wellness visits.
Spaying and neutering is best done at 5-6 months of age, prior to the first heat cycle and the development of unwanted hormonally induced behaviors. You will prevent various diseases prone later in life and prevent unwanted pregnancies that add to the unwanted pet population problem. If you are intending to breed your dog, you will want to wait until she is quite mature, usually 2 years of age, and be sure that she is free of inheritable diseases, having passed a variety of genetic testing, and is of excellent temperament since this is inheritable too.